Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Found Him!” – Erin’s write-up
Hello lovelies! This week we’re taking a trip back to my childhood and the wonderful “Where’s Waldo?” book series. Each theme entry contains the letters WALDO in order, not necessarily consecutively.
- 20a. [1987 hit by Was (Not Was) with a “Flintstonesque” video [OK, there he is!]] WALK THE DINOSAUR. Boom boom acka-lacka lacka boom / Boom boom acka-lacka boom boom! This song was released the same year as the “Where’s Waldo?” books. Coincidence? Hmm…
- 33a. [Town where Evel Knievel attempted to jump across the Snake River Canyon in 1974 [ Tough to spot, but right there!]] TWIN FALLS IDAHO
- 43a. [ABC hidden-camera show that was once a segment on “Primetime” [Took me a while, but found him!]] WHAT WOULD YOU DO. The show ran from 2009-2020 but has not been formally canceled.
- 59a. [It may extend a lease or passport [That’s it? He’s not even trying!]] RENEWAL DOCUMENT
- 19a. [“___ Vista Social Club” (1999 documentary)] BUENA. The film explores Cuba’s musical history and captures some of its legendary artists in a series of concerts.
- 2d. [Air filter acronym] HEPA. Short for High Energy Particulate Air.
- 47d. [Mandarin hybrid used in Asian cuisine] YUZU. This citrus fruit is a hybrid of the mandarin orange and another hardy citrus, the Ichang papeda.
Until next week!
Sue Fracker’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Theme revealer: 64a. [Adequate space to move around … as found in this puzzle’s circled letters?], ELBOW ROOM. The circled letters bend at an “elbow” and each makes a familiar phrase with “room” tacked on: BOILER, GUESTm DRESSING, PANIC, and ROMPER. I’m guessing the constructor (and this might be a debut!) is my age or older and thus has fond memories of TV’s Romper Room.
Fave fill: STIR-CRAZY, SUPERGLUE, CAFETERIA food fight, JIGSAW puzzles (insert heart-eyes emoji here), and David LETTERMAN clued via his Netflix interview show, which is usually quite interesting (skip the Kanye episode, though—it’s just weird).
Not wild about seeing IROC, AGUE, and SSTS on a Tuesday. Zero objection to 26d. [Spanish friend] cluing the feminine AMIGA instead of the masculine AMIGO with nary a hint towards the noun’s gender. The male default is so 1900s!
3.75 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 585), “As Good As It Gets”—Ade’s take
Good day, everybody! Here is hoping you’re all doing well as we plow through the month of August like fall is just around the corner…because it is just around the corner!
Today’s puzzle could easily been titled “As You Like It,” as puns are created from different phrases/nouns by adding the letters “AS” to them. This reminds me of all the times that I made it to Montréal around this time of the month for the past few years to watch the Coupe Rogers tennis tournament, and the flashing of “AS” on the scoreboard for every time an ace was hit. Man, I miss that place and that beautiful city!
- TAPAS DANCE (17A: [Foodie’s fancy footwork at a Barcelona bar?]) – Tap dance
- SEA EASEL (24A: [Prop for a van Gogh painting of the Mediterranean?]) – Sea eel
- PORTS OF CALLAS (34A: [Wines produced in an opera legend’s backyard?]) – Ports of call
- HOT TUBAS (50A: [Big, sexy marching band instruments?]) – Hot tub
- SOUSA’S CHEF (58A: [Culinary pro who works for “The Washington Post March” composer?]) – Sous chef
Only thing that really threw me off today was seeing THOUS and not realizing there was a plural form to “thou” (36D: [Big bills, slangily]). Other than that, another grid to admire the long non-themed fill, and, in that category, UPHEAVAL (10D: [Turmoil]) and ALMIGHTY stood out (38D: [Omnipotent]). Can’t wait to be at Arthur ASHE Stadium and the USTA National Tennis Center at this time next week for US Open tennis qualifying (55D: [Legendary name on a Queens tennis stadium]). Oh, did I tell you all that I now write tennis articles on the US Open for the US Open’s website, usopen.org? I didn’t? Well, now you know, and if you head there when the tournament starts on August 29, you will be sure to see at least one article per day penned by yours truly. For a couple of samples of where my mind goes when writing some of these features, click here or here or here. Hope you enjoy!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CHAPMAN (47A: [“Fast Car” singer/songwriter Tracy]) – Lots of names and other items to choose from to highlight in this space, but I’ll mention the former NBA shooting guard and current social media influencer Rex Chapman, who rose to Internet fame with a series of videos called “Block or Charge,” where he would post videos of people or animals crashing into other people or animals and pose the question whether, if the incident took place inside a basketball arena, if it would be a block or a charge. In his playing days, he was one of the best guards to play at the University of Kentucky, earning First Team All-SEC and winning the SEC Tourney MVP in 1988. He went on to a long NBA career, averaging 14.6 points per game in 13 seasons, splitting time with Charlotte, Washington, Miami, and Phoenix.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Pawel Fludzinski & John Witzke’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Going South”—Jim P’s review
Theme: DECAY (73a, [Crumble away, and a phonetic hint to six answers in this puzzle]). Those other answers are two-word names and phrases with the initials D.K.
- 17a. [Ominous tolling] DEATH KNELL.
- 34a. [Popular sports betting company] DRAFT KINGS.
- 45a. [Like some polyester garments] DOUBLE-KNIT.
- 66a. [New York-based fashion designer] DONNA KARAN. Didn’t know the name, but I’m aware of her brand DKNY.
- 11d. [Nintendo game that Mario debuted in] DONKEY KONG.
- 30d. [Batman moniker] DARK KNIGHT.
Solid. A theme with six names and phrases—including some that cross each other—is an impressive feat for a 15x grid.
In the fill, I like ART SCENE, SUNSWEET, and SULTANA. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the term ICE RAIN as opposed to “frozen rain.” The crossing of SAMI [People of Lapland] and MIRO [Surrealist Joan] might be a tough spot for newer solvers.
I really could’ve done without 41a GIRLIER, which still looks gross even with the clue’s attempt to soften it: [Less manly, to insecure macho sorts]. I had a go at excising it but had to resort to a cheater square where the Y in YOKE currently is. I ended up with EKE at what would be 44a and so had to make changes to the right side because it duped EKES. This caused the inclusion of GBS (George Bernard Shaw) at 50a, which isn’t a great entry, but has precedence. Maybe there’s a better configuration I’m not seeing.
Other than that, a fine grid. 3.5 stars.
Gary Cee’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
My personal reaction to this puzzle was “meh.” Anyone else think it was more Monday-ish than Tuesday-ish? The pattern to the theme was immediately evident, so there was no challenge or “aha” moment to solving the rest of the themers, and while there’s wordplay in the clues it wasn’t enough to really hold my interest.
Each theme answer is an adverbial phrase where the second word repeats the middle of the first.
- 17a [Playful but egocentric?] is SELFISHLY ELFISH.
- 27a [Hopeful but insubstantial?] is MEAGERLY EAGER.
- 44a [Terrible but legal?] is LAWFULLY AWFUL.
- 58a [Impolite but uptight?] is PRUDISHLY RUDISH. This one amused me the most and is also not quite right, since RUDISH isn’t really a word.
Company walking in our door…..so that’s it for me!
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
A nicely constructed puzzle here, featuring a few entries that felt edgy in that I can’t recall seeing them before in crosswords. Stuff like the dark 9d [Subject of some intrusive thoughts] SELF HATE (which I first filled in as SELF HARM, so maybe it wasn’t dark enough for me!) and 26d [Take down as a team] GANG TACKLE, which feels rather violent.
Another one is the marquee entry, the colloquial IN A WORLD OF HURT (19a [Facing serious negative consequences]).
The other, symmetrical marquee entry is the seemingly-but-not-really-more-benign PLATE TECTONICS (42a [Theory that explains why earthquakes don’t occur everywhere on Earth]). It’s a question of scale, isn’t it—geologic and temporal.
The grid features midlength entries in all four corners and a staircase of fives traversing the center.
- 4d [Gallery collection] ARTWORKS. This was an easy clue and answer, but somehow my brain twisted it to ‘collection of galleries’ and I was thinking about art districts.
- 10d [Gallery collection?] ROGUES. 24a [Not very recently] YEARS AGO.
- 16d [“You’re a lifesaver!”] MY HERO. I’m a little tickled by how this crosses IN A WORLD OF HURT. Different outcomes, different sensibilities.
- 23d [Creative catalyst] SPARK.
- 33d [Genius : Einstein :: womanizer : __ ] CASANOVA. These archetypal names are a kind of antonomasia.
- 36d [Namesake of an undrinkable cocktail] MOLOTOV. See? That’s dark framing too.
- 41d [Bobby of seventies music?] MCGEE. The question mark confused me, but I guess it’s necessary because without it, the clue would be even more misleading.
- Conversely, the question mark in 18a [Kid’s father?] BILLY GOAT helped enormously, as I was able to fill it in sans crossings.
- 28a [Stiff ones are a sign of a good meringue] PEAKS. No idea if this is a generally difficult or easy clue. I thought it was the latter but am curious to know if it played that way for most.
- 34a [Garibaldi’s soldiers wore it] RED. Not exactly arcane, but a very New Yorker clue.
- 41a [Andalusian city where Pablo Picasso was born] MÁLAGA.
- 47a [Toy company whose name is the last half of a Minnesota lake] TONKA. So I guess that’s Lake Minnetonka? And the company makes mini-trucks, okay!
- 48a [Being held, in a way] ON RESERVE. Does this have a different meaning than in reserve, or is just one of those phrases where the preposition is variable? If they have the same meaning, than ON RESERVE ngrams much more poorly than IN RESERVE.
A solid, moderately challenging crossword, as advertised.
Ada Nicolle & Rafael Musa’s USA Today Crossword, “Home In” — Emily’s write-up
Very smooth fill today, though the themer was more challenging for me than usual yet not too tough of a puzzle, which is just what I needed today!
Theme: each themer contains the word NEST, a type of home
- 16a. [Taking feminizing hormones], ONESTROGEN
- 22a. [Non-lead actor with a memorable performance], SCENESTEALER
- 47a. [Shops that might offer discount codes], ONLINESTORES
- 56a. [Short loin beef cut], TBONESTEAK
Today’s excellent themer took my a couple of minutes after completing the grid to figure out what was going on. The title is a great hint, so I was looking for “home”-related words or partial words within the themers and as soon as I saw the …ST… in common, very quickly then …NEST… was clear. Great cluing allowed me to easily drop in ONESTROGEN, SCENESTEALER, and ONLINESTORES but I had to chew on TBONESTEAK for a while, until I had some small bites of it via crossings. New York strip steak is my go-to, though it’s been a very long time since I’ve had one so steak of any kind just wasn’t at the forefront of my mind today.
Favorite fill: LATTEART, OPTICS, TOPUP, and IMPULSEBUY
Stumpers: RIFF (stuck on “tabs”, “strum”, and “chord”), SPRY (needed crossings), and VEINY (also needed crossings)
Loved the collab! Enjoyed the slightly tougher themer, awesome grid design and fill throughout, fun themer set, and excellent cluing. Hope to see more from Ada and Rafael in the future!
Brooke Husic’s Universal Crossword, “Second Shift” — Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: A word + its anagram = Wacky new phrase, clued wackily
- 15A [Online session for an aspiring sommelier?] WINE BAR WEBINAR.
- 27A [Daily task for an egg farmer?] CHICKEN CHECK-IN.
- 42A [Dress-up activity inspired by a nymph in the “Odyssey”?] CALYPSO COSPLAY.
- 56A [Woe for a grounded child?] BEDROOM BOREDOM.
A familiar theme-type today, but handled very well. Most of the entries here are quite lively! I liked the first three the best, particularly CALYPSO COSPLAY. I’m sure Odysseus wouldn’t have minded that dress up activity after being stuck on Calypso’s island so long against his will kinda-sorta-not-really.
I often find Brooke Husic puzzles take me more time than usual, this one being no exception. The cluing is unique and more often or not there’s something to learn. Today the unfamiliar entries (for me) were CALAVERA, AYO Tometi, and… wait is that it? I think so. Maybe just hit a lot of hard clues for me?
Showing my age that I wanted [“Desperado” singer, to fans] to be something about The Eagles or Linda Ronstadt. And really had a lot of difficulty getting a foothold up north. Had EDITOR for [Professional critic] and that started a big hot mess, so I jumped to the south and moved up with fewer stumbles.
Thanks for this one!
3.3 stars from me.
I’ve decided to post comments only when I like a puzzle because there is too much negativity in the world. I thought that today’s NYT puzzle was a cute, well-executed theme with smooth fill, perfectly suited for early in the week. I was particularly impressed that the constructor did something other than four long themers and still kept the puzzle smooth and easy. That is not a trivial achievement.
I remember ROMPER Room but didn’t really watch it. I was more of a Sesame Street / Electric Company / Zoom kid.
I think we come here for a review of puzzles, and I don’t think of noting perceived shortcomings as negativity, but that’s just my view — and my varying name when I post probably says it all. I wholeheartedly agree the NYT today was a lovely Tuesday puzzle. Not perfect, but it’s Tuesday, right? For example, I would have preferred it if boil had been clued in a way distinct from the concept of a boiler room [the way dress was for dressing room], but maybe a skin affliction would not have passed the breakfast test. And I would have loved to see a locker room or an escape room, but Romper Room definitely made me smile, since I was born in 1952. The same feeling I get when I see old crossword-ese like arete in a puzzle and I remember my nana and solving puzzles with her on her living room rug when I was little more than a Rug Rat [ha ha — topical TV reference].
I knew SAMI in the WSJ from the recent criticism here of LAPP in a puzzle. (So Crossword Fiend has its uses!) Indeed, it felt like a deliberate response.
NYT: Amy. When you watched Romper Room, did you get a glass of milk from the ICEBOX?? :)
Although I use/hear the term “stir-crazy” with enough frequency to call it very familiar, I am less familiar with the slang use of “stir” meaning “prison”. I can’t be 100% sure, but I think my familiarity with that term is entirely from crossword puzzles. I had an “aha” moment this morning and finally realized that the two terms were related. My favorite part of crossword puzzles is making discoveries like this and doing a few minutes of research.
I do not understand the title of the Universal puzzle [which I really liked BTW]. Help?
It’s an anagram theme … i.e. the letters from the first word are “shift”ed around in the second … I’m not big on anagrams, but I was very impressed by this puzzle. It helped that it didn’t seem to have nearly as many off-my-wavelength clue/answer combinations as I usually encounter in BH’s puzzles.
Ohh-kay, I guess. I was looking for something a little more elegant, but the second letter as the basis for a “shift” did not work for all, and not all the letters were moved between the words. I enjoyed the puzzle, but I still think the title was a dud … if that’s not too negative. :-)
Universal: The silly anagrams mostly amused me, which is not always the case with that kind of thing, and the whole puzzle was enjoyable.
Like sanfranman59, I find Brooke Husic’s puzzles often contain many cultural references that aren’t part of my world. I tend to enjoy her work more when it’s in a mainstream publication.
The only cultural reference that seemed new to me was CALAVERA, which I can picture but I don’t think I knew had a special name.
TNY: Dark, yes, but as always a master class in smoothness from PB. Thanks, Pannonica, for the atmospheric soundtrack. Another apt title would be Robert Cray’s “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.”
Always pleased to hear when they’re appreciated!
I always appreciate James Booker!