Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Jonesin' 3:43 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 3:55 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal tk  


USA Today 3:04 (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


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

Jonesin' solution 10/25/22

Jonesin’ solution 10/25/22

Hello everyone! Hope you’re all doing well. The fall season includes holidays from a lot of religions and cultures. Matt’s grid this week is no different, as it includes pairs of different days, both holiday and otherwise.

  • 17a. [Rise in the ranks of prizefighters?] BOXING ASCENSION, a combination of Boxing Day (celebrated December 26 in Great Britain and elsewhere) and Ascension Day (the 40th day after Easter as celebrated by Christians).
  • 34a. [What to say to get a Missouri city’s attention?] HEY INDEPENDENCE, combining heyday (which is not a holiday but is still a positive time in someone’s life), and Independence Day, celebrated in many countries on different days.
  • 41a. [“Ill swap your Disneyland for Tuscany,” e.g.?] VACATION TRADING, a mix of vacation day, which sounds nice right now, and trading day, or the time a stock market is open in a 24 hour period.
  • 62a. [Magazine for the worldly woodchuck?] MODERN GROUNDHOG, including modern-day, or now, and Groundhog Day, celebrated February 2nd in the United States and Canada.

Other things:

  • Love how 9a. [Fish sauce taste] UMAMI sits atop 16a. [Nissin noodle] RAMEN.
  • Enjoyed the timeliness of 19a. [Truss’s lasted 45 days] STINT.
  • There’s a medical tie-in to 66a. [Bug that releases poisonous droplets] OIL BEETLE. They are also called blister beetles because they secrete cantharidin, which is poisonous if eaten and causes blistering if it comes in contact with the skin. Dermatologists actually use cantharidin, or “beetle juice,” to treat the bumps caused by a common viral skin infection, molluscum contagiosum.

Thanks for reading. Until next week!

Azriel Wasser’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Stairing Contest”—Jim P’s review

Today we have a debut puzzle all about…stairs. Each theme answer is a familiar phrase featuring a word that can also have something to do with stairs.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Stairing Contest” · Azriel Wasser · Tue., 10.25.22

  • 16a. [Celebrations on the stairs?] LANDING PARTIES. An odd place for a party, but conceivable.
  • 28a. [Spill on the stairs?] TREAD WATER. Safety is paramount. Better clean that up, pronto.
  • 33a. [Stairs for a tot?] BABY STEPS. This, too, is an accident waiting to happen.
  • 43a. [Stair that comes sooner than expected?] EARLY RISER. Hmm. Not a lot of surface sense on this. However, if your stairs are uneven, like the ones I put in going down the hill behind our house, you might encounter the next step sooner than expected.
  • 54a. [Stairs in a dream house?] FLIGHTS OF FANCY. Best entry of the lot. I googled “fancy stairs” and found this site with some amazing (and some awful) ideas. I like the Star Wars crawl stairs.

Not bad. I never considered that anyone would make a theme about stairs, but it works. There are even some stairway-looking black squares in the grid, so that’s a nice visual bonus.

Interesting configuration with the 14-letter entries in the 3rd and 13th rows causing the sets of blocks in the NE and SW corners. But it does allow for some separation between theme answers thereby reducing the constraints on the fill, most of which was quite good. Highlights include TREE POSE, BUG SPRAY, RED-EYED, ORVILLE, IRAQ WAR, and PIER ONE.

Clues of note:

  • 15a. [“Cherchez la ___”]. FEMME. Didn’t know this French phrase. Wikipedia says it “literally means ‘look for the woman’. It is a cliche in detective fiction, used to suggest that a mystery can be resolved by identifying a femme fatale or female love interest.”
  • 32a. [Dedicatee of a Beethoven bagatelle]. ELISE. I know that “bagatelle” means a light piece of music, but don’t hold it against me if the word makes me hungry.
  • 6d. [Off brand product?]. BUG SPRAY (which might make BUGS PRAY, if you like). Nice clue.

A fine debut. Congrats! 3.5 stars.

Ashleigh Silveira & Nick Shephard’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 10 25 22, no. 1025

Theme revealer: 7d. [Improves to meet a challenge … or a hint to this puzzle’s circled letters], STEPS UP ONE’S GAME. The circled squares stair-step upwards to spell SCRABBLE, RISK, CHESS, and MONOPOLY. Aside from that Down 15, I believe the rest of the Acrosses and Downs are just fill, nothing thematic.

I may have called out to my husband when I hit TAB right near POP TAB. Duplication foul! OOPSIE?

Fave fill: SONICARE, “SEE SPOT RUN,” and a newsy potential DEPOSITION.

Tough for Tuesdays: CAEN, ELY ([___ Culbertson, member of the contract bridge hall of fame]), ANODE, and, more for older solvers perhaps, slangy SESH (short for session) and PO-PO (short for police). And maybe INURE, T-BAR?

Three stars from me.

Erik Agard’s USA Today Crossword, “gj” — Sophia’s recap

Editor:  Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer is two words. The first starts with G and the second starts with J.

USA Today, 10 25 2022, “gj”

  • 18a [Beverage that’s usually purple] – GRAPE JUICE
  • 36a [Author of “Soledad Brother” and “Blood in My Eye”] – GEORGE JACKSON
  • 55a [Tropical fruit spread] – GUAVA JELLY
  • 13d [Jamaican-born model/singer/actress] – GRACE JONES
  • 26d [Nonpermanent panel member on a competition show] – GUEST JUDGE

I’m not 100% sure why these two letters were chosen for the theme. I googled the letters “gj” to see if this title was a reference to something I didn’t know – the things that came up were a BABYMETAL song and an abbreviation for “good job”. It’s probably the latter, but I have a close friend whose last name starts with the letters Gj, so I liked the theme because it reminded me of her.

Whatever the reason was, I liked this puzzle much more that most “phrases that start with the same letters” puzzles. All of the theme answers were great choices and felt distinct from each other. I didn’t know GEORGE JACKSON, but as soon as I saw where the theme was going I dropped in GRACE JONES no problem. It was fun seeing theme answers in both the across and down directions; I feel like we don’t get that from USA Today that often.

The rest of the puzzle played very easy to me – I didn’t feel like I was moving particularly fast, and I still almost broke 3 minutes which is rare for me. I think it’s because the grid overall was so smooth and there were not many proper names aside from the theme answers. Because of the 5 theme answers, there weren’t too many standout fill entries (LURKER, VEGGIE, and KPOP were my faves), but again! 5 theme answers! Including 5 Js! It’s quite a feat to get the grid so smooth with those constraints, and it really paid off – I had such a fun time solving this puzzle.

Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

This was a smooth solve. As I filled in the theme answers I felt like I was playing the last round of the old game show “$25,000 Pyramid.” Want to play along?

Los Angeles Times, October 23, 2022, Julian Lim, solution grid

  • 17a [*Equally disagreeable choices] are the HORNS OF A DILEMMA. “Things bulls have?”
  • 23a [*Easy to cut, as meat] is FORK TENDER. “Things with points! Things that can poke you!”
  • 40a [*Improvises] WINGS IT. “Things at a barbecue!” {realizes no one eats horns. Shakes head, moves on}
  • 51a [*Braking signals] are TAIL LIGHTS. “Parts of Satan!” and the lights flash and money falls from the sky. The last category is SPEAK OF THE DEVIL.

Solid, accessible Tuesday puzzle with a fun revealer. Five theme answers including the revealer makes for a lot of theme material in a 15×15 and I don’t think the fill suffered.

That’s all the time we have for today! I’ll leave you with what I didn’t know before I solved this puzzle: that KERI Russell appears in “The Americans.”

Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 10/25/22 • Tue • Agard • solution • 20221025

I’m back from a mini bout of travelling—apologies for not securing adequate crossword coverage while I was away.

This was a relatively well-integrated grid, although not being familiar with the central marquee entry was a minor impediment to breaking into the righthand section of the puzzle. More on that later.

Firmly anchoring the grid are stacked vertical pairs of 15-letter entries, all quite good: 2d [The America Girl Café, for one] THEME RESTAURANT; 3d [Vehicle that might take several minutes to cover one yard?] RIDING LAWNMOWER (watch The Straight Story (1999)!),;10d [Card game with eight foundational piles] SPIDER SOLITAIRE—hence the name, I now see; 11d [Process that increases the value of quarters] HOME IMPROVEMENT, made trickier because the clue lacks the optional question mark.

  • 4d [“Thank you,” in Swahili] ASANTE. Good to know.
  • 12d [To-do list parts] ITEMS, symmetrically balanced with 39d TASKS answering the same clue.
  • 16d [Belt to match?] SING ALONG. That clue needed a BIG question mark.
  • 31d [Chloe x Halle, for example] DUO. Didn’t know them, but the format of the name made it fairly easy to surmise. Sister Halle Bailey is the star of the new live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, which is upsetting people for some mysterious reason.
  • 47d [Garment that’s reversible?] BIB. In the sense that it’s a palindrome.
  • 14a [Chongqing culinary specialty] HOTPOT. I love Wong Kar-Wai’s films, especially In the Mood for Love, but have yet to see his earlier hit, Chungking Express.
  • 19a [Part of M.F.D.P.: Abbr.] DEM. That’s the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
  • 25a [Stretch in a seat] TERM. Nice, subtle clue.
  • And here’s that central across, marquee entry. It looks to be one of Agard’s didactic variety, so I’ll once again oblige. 29a [Director of the 1972 film “Sambizanga”] SARAH MALDOROR. She was a French filmmaker of West Indian descent, per Wikipedia. The film is about a 1961 anti-colonialist uprising in Angola.
  • 42a [Like some people in queerplatonic relationships, for short] ARO, which is short for aromantic, and can apply equally to heterosexual platonic relationships as well. Not sure but I believe it can be pronounced to either rhyme with arrow or how you would say the first two syllables of aromantic.
  • 45a [Rays whose snouts are lined with sharp teeth] SAWFISH. Extant species fall into two genera: Pristis and Anoxypristis, with ‘pristis’ being the Greek word for ‘saw’. The anoxy- prefix refers to the fact that they’re harmless toward humans (in truth, the Pristis species are also harmless).
  • 49a [Word after Disco or Dante’s] INFERNO. This clue startled me into a little laugh.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 595), “Reality Bites!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 595: “Reality Bites!”

Good morning, people! I hope you’re doing well and preparing yourself for all the trick-or-treaters that will be roaming the streets very, very soon!

I’m sure a good number of those getting in the Halloween spirit will be dressed as the Transylvanian vampire, and today’s puzzle gives him a shoutout in a riddle. 

    • WHY IS DRACULA A LOUSY HOUSE GUEST? (19A, 30A: [Halloween riddle: Part I], [Riddle: Part II])
    • BECAUSE HE IS A BIG PAIN IN THE NECK (38A, 51A: [Answer to Riddle: Part I], [Answer: Part II])

I have never had a PEAR CRISP before, but it sounds as delicious as it looks appearing in the grid (58A: [Crumbly fall dessert made with Boscs or Bartletts]). The entry was just one of a few awesome 9-letter entries in those stacks in the northeast and southwest, including DISCO BALL (15A: [Mirrored orb at a dance party]) lying on top of OVERLORDS (18A: [Feudal bosses]). Seeing TCM reminded me to make sure to head to that channel soon, as I’m sure they’re going to have another Halloween-type marathon of movies, probably heavy on Vincent Price flicks, that I want to catch again (47A: [Airer of timeless films, briefly]). Like the Halloween-themed touch to the clues to TITLE (14A: [“Halloween” or “Scream,” e.g.]) and IAN as well (22A: [“E’gad, Zombies!” narrator McKellen]). I would say to you that I hope you enjoy spooky season, but, like I few fanatics who I know, I’m sure some of you have been enjoying since the calendar flipped to October 1! I’m sure one of my neighbors put up their decorations on Oct. 1 or Oct. 2.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: WEEB (27D: [Coach Ewbank]) – This New York Jets fan is absolutely giddy about their 5-2 start to the season, so seeing the greatest coach in their history be included in the grid is perfect timing. Weeb Ewbank was the head coach who led the Jets to their upset victory over the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, one of the seminal moments in the history of the league as the NFL was preparing to merge with its rival, the American Football League, a few months after that game in Miami. Funny enough, Ewbank led the Colts to two NFL championships one decade earlier, in 1958 and 1959, and was also the head coach in a game that also had a long-lasting impact on the game of football. The 1958 championship game against the New York Giants, a 23-17 overtime victory, was viewed by an estimated 45 million people in the US, the catalyst in pro football’s popularity surge that eventually led to the sport becoming the most popular one in the country, a designation that definitely stands to this day.

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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15 Responses to Tuesday, October 25, 2022

  1. huda says:

    NYT: The theme idea was cute.
    I’m not a purist (and I’ve never constructed a puzzle) but 2 TABs, one line apart, seemed unfortunate and worth reworking? I kept thinking that one of them had to be wrong.
    I never heard of the MUD HENS as a team. That cracked me up.

    • Eric H says:

      I originally had a POP-top and the ever-popular ESC key above caps lock, so I was a bit surprised to have to change them both to TABs. POP TAB sounds wrong to my ear, but I gather it’s a regional variation.

      • David L says:

        I wanted POPTOP too but I have done enough crosswords to fill in POP and wait for crosses to see what would come next. I don’t think I’ve ever heard POPTAB in real life.

        TAB dupe seems like a major demerit to what was a nice puzzle otherwise. ELY Culbertson should have been a gimme for me because I spend so much time playing bridge, but I misremembered him as ELI.

        Speaking of bridge, I was playing in a tournament in greater Boston recently, and when I looked at the results after I got home I noticed that a fellow by the name of Joon Pahk had been there too. His team finished a couple of places higher than mine. I wish I had known he was there so I could have said hello.

    • marciem says:

      Huda said: “I never heard of the MUD HENS as a team. That cracked me up.”

      How does the UC Santa Cruz team BANANA SLUGS grab you? I always smile at that.

      I’m on the Pop-top side, I’ve never called it a Pop Tab. Maybe Pull Tabs ? Sure didn’t like the egregious dupe at all.

      • huda says:

        I love these names! Thank you for providing another chuckle!

      • Art Shapiro says:

        And out my way, UC Irvine is the Anteaters.

        The Toledo Mudhens are quite familiar to any of us who happen to read the daily comic strip “Crankshaft”.


    • Jim says:

      The MUDHENS are Klinger’s hometown ball club on M*A*S*H (TV version) and are mentioned frequently.

      • marciem says:

        I knew I’d heard of the Mudhens before… thanks for the reminder of where!

        MudHens and BananaSlugs are the most smile-inducing team names I know of :D :) Anteaters would be a close second ;)

  2. e.a. says:

    pannonica: “It looks to be one of Agard’s didactic variety, so I’ll once again oblige.”

    don’t do me any favors! 😂 i still don’t get where all this “didactic” business is coming from

    • pannonica says:

      I meant it in the best possible way! Surely I can’t be the only one you’re introducing worthy personages and concepts to.

      p.s. it seems you might know

      • e.a. says:

        thanks for that! i didn’t interpret it as you meaning it in a negative way, and i’m sure you’re right. however if i understand the word “didactic” correctly it ascribes an intention of teaching to my constructing choices. i don’t get why when i put a titan of african literature or film in a puzzle there has to be a specific justification for why, and that justification can only be that i was doing it for solvers who don’t know those references. that doesn’t ring true for me (and it’s not a lens i can remember seeing applied to, e.g., other new yorker puzzles with marquee answers that skew erudite)

    • Leah says:

      Erik- I always get a little thrill when I see you, Evan, and other constructors responding in the comments here. I like the idea that I, who’s never even competed in a crossword contest or tried to build one, can be in conversation with y’all. Thanks for continuing to participate here!

  3. JohnH says:

    I found TNY much harder than Monday’s — or if you prefer (and I suspect that Amy given her Monday review does) Monday’s was awfully easily for that do. I needed every crossing for the center long entry that also slowed up Pannonica. But I got them all, and it worked out to a nice puzzle.

    Historical aside worth learning about the Mississippi movement. Not that I’d have learned it without looking it up after the face or coming here. So I guess virtue in a puzzle can take you only so far.

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