Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Jonesin' 5:34 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 3:42 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal tk (Amy) 


USA Today 3:16 (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Singularity” – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 9/20/22

Jonesin’ solution 9/20/22

Hello, everyone! This week’s Jonesin’ celebrates 1111 puzzles with a fun 1/I/one theme. Each of the theme entries replaces the letter I, which looks like the Arabic 1 or the Roman numeral I, with the written-out ONE.

  • 20a. [Art student who passed all the Impressionist courses?] MONET GRADUATE (MIT GRADUATE)
  • 27a. [“Mr. Robot” actor’s cousin who’s part of an influential pink band?] RAMONE MALEK (RAMI MALEK)
  • 45a. [Like writers of Seth Rogen comedies, maybe?] STONER-CRAZY (STIR CRAZY)
  • 53a. [“Have a sample, Mr. Clooney?”] GEORGE TAKE ONE (GEORGE TAKEI)
MAC D for Danger Lipstick, a dark pink shade in a black and silver tube

MAC D for Danger Lipstick

Other things:

  • 10a.[___ Danger (MAC lipstick shade)] DFOR. Normally I don’t love partials, but I can’t remember one being used to clue a lipstick shade before, so I’ll let it slide.
  • 47a. [Airport code at the 2002 Olympics] SLC. This would’ve been easier if I remembered the 2002 Olympics took place in Salt Lake City.
  • 23a. [Ancient Jordanian city] PETRA. The city, ٱلْبَتْرَاء in Arabic (Al-Batrā), was partly built from and partly carved into the sandstone cliffs.

That’s all for now. Until next week!

Trip Payne’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Backup Devices”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Apple devices are found backwards in familiar phrases. The revealer is APPLE TURNOVERS (47a, [Fruity desserts, and a hint to the circled words]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Backup Devices” · Trip Payne · Tue., 9.20.22

  • 20a. [Lysine or arginine, in biology] BASIC AMINO ACID. iMac.
  • 25a. [Listened to something break the silence] HEARD A PIN DROP. iPad.
  • 42a. [Request after a bad diagnosis] SECOND OPINION. iPod.

I needed the revealer for the aha moment. After the first entry I was looking for undergarments (like a Cami). After the third one, I was wondering (1) if this was some sort of weird word ladder or (2) if these were some whacked-out Dwarfs (Cami, Dapi, and Dopi). Thankfully, the revealer gave me what I needed. Enjoyable theme.

14- and 13-letter theme entries are a challenge to work with, but having only four of them gives the constructor some much-needed breathing room. So we’re still able to get fun entries like fully-named TERI GARR, HOLLERS, ID CARDS, and especially the lovely SKIVVIES…plus, “I’M NEXT” and GO BALD as well.

Clues of note:

  • 19a. [Pinocchio creator Collodi]. CARLO. I’m pleased to see this writer get some crossword love here. In many ways, Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio was a groundbreaking serialized story that became a book. It appeared in one of the very first periodicals for children and became a novel when children’s literature was itself a novel concept. The book has been translated into about 250 languages and sold countless millions of copies. Fun facts: Did you know Pinocchio originally killed the Talking Cricket by hitting it on the head with a hammer and that he himself died a gruesome death by hanging when the original serialized story ended? A 2020 adaptation included the hanging scene to some parents’ horror, and Guillermo del Toro’s take on the story is set to come out in December and may be even darker.
  • 5d. [Lose contact with one’s roots?]. GO BALD. Ha!
  • 30d. [The “nothing really matters” part of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” e.g.]. OUTRO. Sounds like a good choice for a musical interlude. Here’s Jake Shimabukuro’s version on the ukulele.

Nice puzzle. Four stars.

Rebecca Goldstein & Rachel Fabi’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 20 22, no. 0922

You can say that again! A reduplicative phrase (one that repeats it words) goes one further with a distinct meaning for the single version:

  • 17a. [Verbal disapproval of a boy king?], “TUT-TUT, TUT!”
  • 28a. [Food for a sturdy Chinese dog?], CHOW CHOW CHOW. If you watched TV in the 1970s, you may remember the Purina Cat Chow commercials with the “chow chow chow” cat dance.
  • 47a. [Conference call for Mazda’s marketing team?] “ZOOM ZOOM” ZOOM.
  • 64a. [Glutes developed while dancing at the Moulin Rouge?], CANCAN CAN. Some dictionaries split the dance as “can-can.” I’ve never been keen on can as slang for the butt.


Three more things:

  • 46a. [Puts two and two together, e.g.], ADDS / 62a. [Put two and two together, e.g.], IDIOM. Fun two-fer!
  • 26a. [Fragrant conifer], CEDAR. Atlas cedar is one of the fragrances in my favorite fancypants hand soap.
  • 30d. [Bracelet dangler], CHARM. There’s a certain charm to a clue like this.

I do fret that newer solvers may have encountered some surprisingly tough stuff in this puzzle, such as singular ALGA and the multi-word answers SIP ON, I CARE, and TO NOW.

3.4 stars from me.

Kelsey Dixon & Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Doubleplusungood” — Sophia’s recap

Editor:  Amanda Rafkin
Theme: “Double-plus Ungood” – Pairs of theme answers intersect at the letter A in the string “BAD”, thus creating a plus-sign shape of “ungood” words.

USA Today, 09 20 2022, “Doubleplusungood”

  • 22a [McEntire album with a featured artist on every track] REBA DUETS
  • 13d [Event where the Sun and Sky select new players] WNBA DRAFT
  • 51a [Explore a coral reef] SCUBA DIVE
  • 35d [Caribbean islander who might celebrate Crop Over] BARBADIAN

This was the first USA Today puzzle where I couldn’t parse the title. I couldn’t even figure out where the word breaks were- was it “double plu sun good”? “double plu sung ood”? After I solved the puzzle, I googled the title: it’s Newspeak from Orwell’s 1984, and it means very very bad. Not an auspicious title to give your puzzle, but luckily the result could not have been more different.

I loved the theme answers that the constructors chose today! Congrats to the Las Vegas ACEs on winning the WNBA championship yesterday – I’ll almost forgive you for knocking out the Seattle Storm on the way there. I had never heard of REBA DUETS but the clue made it easy to puzzle out. Less easy for me was the spelling of BARBADIAN: I had the I as an O for most of the solve. The diagonally symmetric grid is very aesthetically pleasing although it did feel a bit choppy as I worked through it – there are almost 30 3 letter answers, and that many starts to feel like a lot to a solver.


Clue highlights:  47d [Surprised Pikachu, for example] – MEME, 27d [Breakfast chain with a Minions collaboration] – IHOP, 30d [Hiro, to Tadashi Hamada, for short] – BRO (a “Big Hero 6” reference, for those not in the know).

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 9/20/22 • Tue • Last • solution • 20220920

Tidy, smooth-flowing crossword here.

  • 1a [Empty-headed Adonis] HIMBO. That’s a Statement of sorts, opening the grid with this.
  • 6a [Pay as little as possible] SKIMP, 11a [Pay what’s owed] PONY UP.
  • 15a [Spherical infuser] TEA BALL. Not to be confused with TEE-BALL.
  • 26a [Type of vacuum tube] MAGNETRON. Needed a lot of crossings for this one.
  • 32a [Things that are “like Cobwebs which may catch small Flies, but let Wasps and Hornets break through,” per Jonathan Swift] LAWS. Some things never change, it seems.
  • ©Joel Sartore

    38a [Kinkajou, by another name] HONEY BEAR. Not the first time I’ve seen this alternate appellation in a crossword. Frugivorous in the wild, apparently they really enjoy honey when in captivity. “Honey bear” is also a colloquial name for sun bear, Helarctos malayanus. I just learned that the type specimen (important for taxonomy) was collected in Suriname.

  • 44a [One-__ max (weight lifter’s limit)] REP. Sounds as if that’s describing a weight at one’s maximum strength. I mean, what else could it mean?
  • 50a [In high __ (angry)] DUDGEON. Looked as if it would have an interesting etymology, but m-w and American Heritage both indicate that the origin is unknown.
  • Something wry about stacking SATURNALIA and KIERKEGAARD, eh? 6d [Festival that the poet Catullus called “the best of days”], 7d [Author of “Either/Or”]
  • 43d [Common conjunction combination] AND/OR.
  • 11d [New York suburb bordering New Rochelle] PELHAM. I feel this would be difficult for people not from the NYC region. Perhaps they might know it from the film The Taking of Pelham One Two Three?
  • 14d [They might be replaced by xeriscaping] LAWNS. Another good option is rewilding them, replacing sod with a variety of native plants. Often more aesthetically pleasing and decreases one’s environmental footprint.
  • 22d [Wisenheimer] SMARTYPANTS, 27d [“The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” novelist] ANNE BRONTË. This is the stacked pair symmetrical with 6- and 7-down.
  • 40d [Biblical creation with a double standard?] ARK. Cute.

No vocals on this, strangely I would think, for an Yma Sumac recording, so it just sounds like a typical exotica recording of the period:

Amie Walker’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I didn’t understand the theme until I started writing a blog post about how it doesn’t work. It works. Let’s take a look.

Each theme answer has a word circled in the middle.

Los Angeles Times, September 20, 2022, Amie Walker, solution grid

  • 17a [Showers someone with money?] is MAKES IT RAIN. Train.
  • 27a [“Spit it out!”] is TELL ME ALREADY.
  • 44a [Cheese, beans, guacamole, sour cream, etc] are NACHO TOPPINGS.

And the revealer at 58a [Voter’s crossover ballot, and what can literally be found in the circled letters] is SPLIT TICKETTRAIN TICKETMEAL TICKETHOT TICKET. That makes sense. I didn’t understand the SPLIT until I looked at what I just typed and realized that each type of ticket is SPLIT over two words. Aha, as they say! That’s a nice solid theme in an appropriately accessible Tuesday puzzle.

It’s been a long day so I’ll skip to “what I didn’t know before I did this puzzle.” I didn’t know that LAURA Linney was in “Ozark.”

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 590), “Sal Paradise”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 590: “Sal Paradise”

Good day, everyone! Hope you all are doing well on these final couple of days of summer!

Each of the theme answers in today’s puzzle has a man in the middle! That is, the name “SAL” is hidden in all of those entries, spanning multiple words in the theme entries. 

    • THE GANG’S ALL HERE (17A: [Shout heard at a fully-attended reunion])
    • CARLOS ALCARAZ (23A: [Spanish tennis player who, at 19, became the youngest World No. 1 (he also won the 2022 U.S. Open)]) Seeing “Carlitos’ march toward the title, which included three five-setters and a couple of matches that ended well into the next morning, was captivating!
    • AS GENTLE AS A LAMB (38A: [Totally harmless])
    • IT’S A LONG STORY (50A: [“There are many chapters in this saga…”])
    • THREE TIMES A LADY (58A: [1978 #1 hit for the Commodores])

Though probably not intended, we also have a “SAL” appearance with SALMAN intersecting one of the theme entries (9D: [“Midnight’s Children” author Rushdie]). I’m now losing track of all of the movies and TV shows that IDRIS has been on the past few years, and only knew pretty recently that he was in Thor (50D: [“Thor” actor Elba]). OPEN RANGE (3D: [Extended area where cattle roam freely]) was nice fill, while seeing NATIONALS reminded me that, not too long ago, the team that is well on its way to a 100-loss season in 2022 was a World Series champion just three years ago (35D: [Washington team that won the 2019 World Series]). Oh, and about the song mentioned in the clue for ISAAC to give you a wonderful earworm as you go about your day (8D: [Hayes who sang “Walk On By”])?! Let’s go!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BAGEL (4D: [Food described a “a doughnut with the sin removed”]) – The term “bagel” has picked up in popularity in the tennis world, as that’s the nickname for a set in which a player wins by a score of 6-0. The reason it’s been in the news in the tennis world regularly is because of the No. 1 player in the world, Iga Swiatek, who has recorded 19 bagel sets this season during her dominant season, one in which she amassed a 37-match winning streak. For more on the Polish powerhouse who just won the US Open alongside Carlitos, read this feature here. I hear the person who wrote it is a funny guy!

Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!

Take care!


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12 Responses to Tuesday, September 20, 2022

  1. BryanF says:

    NYT: As someone who races triathlons, I did give the BIKE clue a little side-eye glance. I appreciate the inclusion of the sport (at least it’s not baseball!), but that’s a weird way to clue it. I’ve definitely run more than 10 miles in a lot of triathlons as well as have seen triathlons where the bike portion is less than 10 miles. But hey, at least my sport got some love! :P

    • Jim says:

      As the “support crew” for my triathlete wife, I also paused at this. If it had been clued as either “Olympic triathlon” or “sprint triathlon” the ambiguity would have been eliminated.

  2. Zach says:

    WSJ: IMO, lots of issues with today’s publish:
    1) Double natick with JANIE/JONES and PINKO/JONES. The JONES clueing could have been a reference to her time on SNL or any other famous Jones (Tommy Lee, Tom, Indiana, etc.) instead of an obscure film.
    2) SEAM/SEEM crossing was weak.
    3) A plethora of wonky crosswordese: UGLI, PAEAN, ILIE, etc.

    I’d forgive all this if the theme blew me away, but I was underwhelmed.

    I did love the clue for GO BALD and will use that in the future to joke about my own situation!

    • JohnH says:

      I’d two problems with JONES, too, although with ALI and not PINKO, which is in my vocabulary. I’d say the theme didn’t stand out, in part because entries like IMAC are so short.

    • David Roll says:

      I agree. And way too many names of obscure “artists.”

    • Eric H says:

      I’m not usually too bothered by pop culture names, but this one did seem to have a lot of them. JANIE Fricke was the only one I had not heard of.

      I picked up the theme before the revealer, but like Jim P, the CAMI in the first theme answer made me think the theme was undergarments. (I have a bad habit of ignoring puzzle titles.) The revealer doesn’t quite work for me; the Apple devices aren’t “turned over.”

  3. Mike Nelson says:

    Really enjoyed the themes in the NYT – fun tuesday!

  4. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT … Doesn’t the phrase “make it rain” originate in rap music as slang for throwing money at dancers in strip clubs (the internet seems to agree)? Given that, it seems very odd to me that it seems to have made its way into popular parlance. I was pretty surprised when it cropped up as the tag line in those annoyingly pervasive DraftKings ads that I see all the frickin’ time(!!!) since I watch a lot of sports programming. Now it’s made its way into the LAT crossword puzzle? Huh.

    • Eric H says:

      I think the usage is older than that. Lawyers who bring in clients are known as rainmakers. I’ll bet that usage is fairly old.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I know of the term “rainmaker” in a business sense, but I was referring specifically to “make it rain” as a phrase since that’s what’s in the puzzle (and in those annoying TV ads for that fantasy sports outfit).

  5. Eric H says:


    If you’ve seen and enjoyed “Breaking Bad,” you might give “Ozark” a try. Laura Linney is wonderful in it (but she’s great in just about everything I’ve seen her in).

  6. marciem says:

    CN: Shoutout to Liz for referencing Isaac using his lesser known version of Walk on By… I hadn’t heard it, so I thank you so much Ade for posting it up. I LOVE IT! very different from Dionne’s. That intro is so reminiscent of the Tempts intro on “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” … taking me back :) .

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