Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Lettuce Wraps” – Erin’s write-up
Hello lovelies! This week’s theme is…types of lettuce flanking the longer entries? Hmm. Lettuce see what’s going on in this grid.
- 17a. [Stewed meat dish with a French name] FRICASÉE. The circled letters spell FRISÉE, which is otherwise known as curly endive, and is part of the chicory family, which belongs to the same taxonomic subfamily as lettuce.
- 20a. [Handheld flame starter] BUTANE LIGHTER, which hides BUTTER lettuce.
- 35a. [“Stayin’ Alive” singer] BARRY GIBB of the Bee Gees, whose name contains BIBB.
- 54a. [Northeastern U.S. locale known as an art colony] ROCKPORT MAINE, containing ROMAINE lettuce.
- 59a. [Typical offerings from compilation channels like “Aww Animals” and “Pets Awesome”] CAT VIDEOS. The circled letters spell COS, which is…a British term for Romaine lettuce. It is said to come from the Greek island Kos.
Is it all right to include two names for the same thing in a theme? FRISÉE is very closely related to lettuce so I think that’s acceptable for a theme, but ROMAINE and COS are the same type of lettuce.
- 16a. [“Pass Out” rapper ___ Tempah] TINIE. The British rapper’s birth name is Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu, and “Pass Out” was his debut single in 2009.
- 38a. [Antidote source] SERUM. Some antidotes are made by injecting venom or another toxin into an animal and extracting the antibodies made from the animal’s blood. After the blood cells and clotting factors are removed from whole blood, serum is what remains.
- 41a. [Alkaloid in tomatoes] NICOTINE. TIL that other plants than tobacco contain nicotine. Tomatoes contain about 7.1 micrograms of nicotine per gram, while tobacco in a cigarette has about 10-15 milligrams per gram, which is over 1,000 times greater.
- 60d. [“And I ___” (Jasmine Masters meme)] OOP. The meme went viral in 2019 but is from a 2015 video. I won’t post the video here because I feel sympathy pains when I watch it, but it’s easy to find.
Until next week!
Seth Geltman & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Could Go Either Way”—Jim P’s review
We have two revealers today bookending the four main theme entries in the middle of the grid. Each of those four entries is a familiar phrase that STARTS WELL [What each of 22-, 27-, 37- and 46-Across does] but ENDS POORLY [What each of 22-, 27-, 37- and 46-Across does].
- 22a. [Heist that leaves no clues behind] PERFECT CRIME.
- 27a. [It may be of considerable interest] OUTSTANDING DEBT.
- 37a. [Decade following Black Tuesday] GREAT DEPRESSION.
- 46a. [Highly inappropriate appropriation] GRAND LARCENY.
Nifty theme! I was surprised to come across a revealer so early in the solve but then realized it was only telling half the story. I looked forward to uncovering each theme entry to see what was next. And I amused myself by saying each first word excitedly then each second word dejectedly. Try it, it’s fun!
Really impressed that our constructors managed to fit that much theme material (including two grid-spanners) in one grid, and all in the Across direction. Good grief!
The long fill isn’t especially sparkly—one wouldn’t expect it to be with that much theme material. But it gets the job done. HOT SEAT is certainly nice, as is RAMROD, and the movie OH GOD!, which I learned was directed by Carl Reiner. I remember seeing that in the theater with my family when it came out back in 1977 and enjoyed the chemistry between John Denver and George Burns. Oh and hey, crossword staple Teri Garr was in that, too, playing the long-suffering wife (similar to her other 1977 role in Close Encounters of the Third Kind).
Anyhoo, back to the grid. I feel I must point out A COG as an example of an unsavory partial, but it’s quickly gotten past and the rest of the fill is fine. Again, with a lot of theme material, there’s bound to be some compromises.
Clue of note: 59d. [Milk type]. OAT. Speaking of OAT milk, it does very well when comparing the environmental impact of the productions of various types of milk. You can read more about it here.
Good puzzle. Four stars.
Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Feels like this is one of the easiest NYT puzzles I’ve done in ages (caveat: I don’t typically do the Monday). It surely helps that I picked up on the theme pretty quickly:
- 37a. [Indication of more to come … or a hint to a feature of three consecutive letters in 18-, 20-, 59- and 61-Across], DOT DOT DOT. Technically, this clue repeats the answer with that “…” in the middle! Could’ve used a comma instead.
- 18a. [Longtime conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra], SEIJI OZAWA. I already had HIJINKS in place, with its three-dots “iji” portion, when I hit this clue and knew how the others would go.
- 20a. [Shenanigans], HIJINKS. These are both delightful words.
- 59a. [Host city of the 2008 Olympics], BEIJING.
- 61a. [South Pacific currency], FIJI DOLLAR. Not Tuesday-familiar, but FIJI insisted in joining the theme club.
The corner stacks of 7s aren’t so common in early-week puzzles, but their clues and answers all felt quite pliable to me. Heck, I’d just had FALAFEL for dinner tonight.
Three more things:
- 35a. [Narrow waterway], RIA. Okay, this is absolutely not Tuesday-friendly fill. I’m waiting for my cousin’s daughter Ria to become famous. She’ll become a crossword immortal!
- 44a. [Italian tourist town near Naples], AMALFI. This also feels hardish for a Tuesday. I think there are movies with sequences set along the Amalfi coast, though? Here’s a site that details the Amalfi coast connections of a bunch of movies. Bonus points for the “Mat Damon” and “hi-jinx” spellings!
- 52a. [Alan ___, folklorist who discovered legends like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger], LOMAX. When my sister and I were little, we absolutely loved our Pete Seeger album, American Folk Songs for Children. Little did we know that when Pete was our age, he was away at boarding school—just learned from Wikipedia that his parents sent him away at age four! I can’t imagine that.
Four stars from me.
Matthew Stock & Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “In a Pickle” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer starts with DI and ends with LL, so the answers are literally with a DILL pickle.
- 16a [Round piece of bread] – DINNER ROLL
- 34a [Reflective sphere] – DISCO BALL
- 57a [“The Girl in the Other Room” jazz pianist] – DIANA KRALL
Hey folks, Sophia here! From now on I’ll be writing up the USA Today Tuesday puzzles, and Emily will take over the Thursdays. I’m hyped that my first Tuesday is a Brooke and Matthew puzzle, since they’re two of my favorite puzzlemakers around. The theme is cute (even for a pickle hater such as myself) and it’s also not immediately obvious, which leads to a fun “aha” moment for solvers. DIANA KRALL was new to me, but the crosses were all fair. DISCO BALL was my favorite answer, and I kind of wish the clue was a bit jazzier to go with it.
Today’s puzzle has a very oddly segmented grid shape – if you imagine a black square at the O in DISCO BALL, the puzzle would be two completely disjoint pieces. This is not my favorite style for easier puzzles, because it limits the amount of help that solving any section of the puzzle will give you and makes it easier to get stuck or “locked out” of a corner you can’t find a foothold in.
That being said, the cut-off corners allow for smoother fill overall, as well as lots of fun long bonus answers. Today, I loved seeing LITTLE ROCK, EUROVISION, SLOW JAM, DEEP CUT, and HOT SAKE, which I had not heard of before. There were actually lots of new things to me in this puzzle in the clues and answers: 21a [Prayer to Allah] for DUA, [Qaumi Taranah language] for URDU, and 38d [Accessories for Garba dancers] for BANGLES, to name a few.
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
This pinwheel grid served up a moderate challenge, as advertised.
- My favorite three clues were all subdued misdirections: 43a [Not serious] MINOR (was thinking jocularity), 45a [Dreaded line at a bank] STICK ’EM UP (insufficient funds or somesuch), 19d [Throwing things out] SPITBALLING (disposal).
- Final area to fall was the lower right, where I’d entered TAB for 37a [It may be open at a bar] rather than MIC. Should’ve corrected this as soon as I saw 37d [Bellini alternative] which as an archetypal brunch cocktail could only be BLOODY MARY or MIMOSA. Other entries in this section that notably needed coaxing were 42a VITO Genovese and 52a GROUSED.
- 18a [Ones getting bucks for their bang?] PORN STARS feels as if it’s trying too hard.
- We’ve got a pair of British expressions symmetrically placed near the center: 26a [“Cheerio!”] PIP PIP and the new-to-me 36a [Like __ (quickly, in British slang)] BILLY-O. The latter I gather was inspired by Downton Abbey (Lord Grantham: “But darling, you don’t want to rush into anything.” Rose: “But I do. I want to rush in like billy-o.”) but it appears the meaning was misunderstood here; it signifies ‘very much, very intensely’ and is akin to ‘like the devil’.
- 29a [Austere way of life] MONASTICISM; 13d [Where casts may get plastered] WRAP PARTIES. I group these two long entries together because I had the same experience with both—I immediately knew what the clues were getting at but could not for the life of me come up with the answer, though I felt I should have.
- 32a [Animated movie about the 1925 serum run] BALTO.
- 40a [Not fully shut] AJAR. Right after that [It might be open at a bar] clue. Cute.
- 1d [Saturation of color] CHROMA. Feel as if I should have known this.
- 9d [“Reckon that’s true”] I S’POSE SO. Ignoring the laconism of the clue, I tried the straight I SUPPOSE first.
- 29d [Perseverance, e.g.] MARS ROVER. The old veiled capital trick.
- 34d [Philosopher who supposedly said, “Writing is the geometry of the soul”] PLATO. That epigram seems as if it would make a good essay prompt for a class.
- 35d [Chinese rice-based liquor] SAMSHU. Apparently I’m familiar with this, but only under its more contemporary name, baijiu, which could have a place in the NYT crossword today.
Again, a good workout and a satisfying crossword.
Mangesh Ghogre & Kevin Christian’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
I thought I knew what was going on and I was not entirely right. I like an early-week puzzle with a revealer that makes me say “oh!” in a good way. This one definitely qualifies.
The theme answers are a bit beastly.
- 17a [*George Plimpton football memoir set in Detroit] is PAPER LION.
- 25a [*Courtroom hotshot] is a LEGAL EAGLE.
- 35a [*Informer] is a STOOL PIGEON.
- 48a [*Cowardly type] is a SCAREDY CAT.
Birds and felines! Two of each, nicely symmetrical. That’s not all, though. 57a [Asanas found at the end of the starred clues] are YOGA POSES. I do not do yoga. I’ve heard of PIGEON pose and CAT pose. Lion pose apparently involves the tongue
And eagle pose looks very challenging
I liked this! All the theme answers are solid, although I suspect the Plimpton book is not familiar to younger solvers, and the revealer was fun.
A few other things:
- 2d [1980s President Ronald] is REAGAN. Was there another President Ronald in some other decade?
- I liked [“Why does this keep happening!?] for NOT AGAIN. It’s the interrobang that makes it art.
- Speaking of things that might not be familiar to younger solvers, Wide World of Sports stopped airing in 1998. They appear to have an exhibit? experience? at Walt Disney World and I suppose they might show the AGONY of defeat intro. And now I know that my husband can still recite the voiceover from memory, cued by the music.
- Two trig functions may be one too many for one puzzle. We have SECANT and ARCSINE.
- Do we care about having ORE–IDA and ORE in the same grid? I can’t decide.
What I didn’t know before I did that puzzle: see above re: yoga poses. I had also never heard of Zesty Curly frozen French fries, and now I think I’ve been missing out.
Jill Singer’s Universal crossword, “The Old Switcheroo”
The title explains the theme: The clued phrases are given the old switcheroo, and their two halves are flipped to form familiar words/phrases.
- 20a. [*Carrying heavy packages, say], DOWNLOADED. The clue matches LOADED DOWN.
- 32a. [*Up-court rush in basketball], BREAKFAST, for a FAST BREAK.
- 40a. [*Ignore an alarm clock], SLEEPOVER, for OVERSLEEP.
- 51a. [*Approval for a project], LIGHT GREEN, for GREEN-LIGHT. LIGHT GREEN feels a little iffy as crossword fill.
Overall, the fill’s pretty smooth, though UTAHNS is a word that many of know only from crosswords, LAP AT is overused in grids (as is HIT AT), and “ARF, ARF” looks weird to me.
3.75 stars from me.
Raise your hand if you’ve heard of SEIJI OZAWA…. or Alan LOMAX. I wonder how many FUJI DOLLARS do two DISCI cost?
Both hands up. Those answers were gimmes for me.
I wasn’t crazy about DISCI, but I found it in the fourth dictionary I checked, so I will grudgingly admit it’s a word.
My hands up, too, and agreed on DISCI.
Hand raised for both. And definitely rolled my eyes at DISCI.
OZAWA was a gimme, but for some reason I always struggle to remember and then spell his first name.
LOMAX was unfamiliar – but I don’t know that much about folk music.
DISCI has shown up multiple times in relatively recent NYT puzzles. My go-to online dictionary (American Heritage) doesn’t like it, which I find interesting, because they’re fine with foci, loci, and menisci.
It was a fast solve, and I thought the theme was kind of cute – but solving in AL with all caps, none of those dots actually show up.
Change LSU to LEE and that takes care of DISCI, assuming you think Italian numbers 1-10 are fair game.
PESCI would be such an easy fix it makes me wonder why it wasn’t opted for.
Disci (insert rolly-eye emoji) is too far out of the general language loop for a Tuesday, IMO.
Your solution/fix would have been perfect if anybody was awake at the editing desk. :) .
Interestng? Do bear in mind that the test isn’t whether a certain English plural properly accords with Latin. FWIW, MW11C, the most common source of a publication’s house style, prefers foci to focuses, while RHUD, a popular unabridged and long the source for the National Puzzler’s league, has it the other way around. Both, though, not only accept loci but don’t so much as mention locuses as an alternative, which matches my memories of what I’ve seen in print and heard. Admittedly, my usage experience there is almost all math, and sometimes disciplines have unique usage. Just not here.
One and a half hands raised. OZAWA was a gimme (but I lived in Boston during his tenure with the BSO) and while music is one of my strong suits (including folk), I needed a couple of crosses before vaguely recognizing the name Alan LOMAX.
No hands raised by me. I thought both of those names were pretty obscure for a Tuesday. Plus I had never heard the expression about resting on one’s OARS (I thought maybe EARS, but that didn’t make sense).
The WSJ is absolutely adorable.
Agreed. A neat theme. I got three of four entries before the revealers and was in no hurry, but quite a twist. (I down-rated it by a slip of the mouse. Sorry.)
Yes, it was a fun theme, and Jim P’s Charlie Brown shot is a perfect addition to the nice write-up!!
TNY: Not sure if saying the clue for PORNSTARS is “trying too hard” is itself a pun (but it could be).
On that note, I believe if anyone said either of these Britishisms (unironically) to a Briton today they’d probably be considered a wanker.
TNY … As usual, a stiff challenge for me by Natan Last. I was very proud of myself for getting through it without a cheat. Too bad I submitted my solution with a typo. I hate when that happens!
I’ve got the same question as Bill Harris (see above) about BALTO (“Animated movie about the 1925 serum run”) in this puzzle. Has anyone out here heard of either the movie or the event outside of crosswords? Once I looked it up post-solve, I remembered seeing it in crosswords before this one. It’s been in four Shortz-era NYT puzzles with reference to the dog’s name and only once with reference to the film, but never with the mention of a “1925 serum run”.
Balto is familiar to New Yorkers from his statue in Central Park, commemorating the serum run.
I read a long article in Sports Illustrated last year on the sled race to deliver a diphtheria serum to Alaska about 100 years ago which is where Balto’s story arose. The article also credits the dog Togo who should have received more acclaim.