Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Capital Letters” – Erin’s write-up
Hello lovelies! Let’s see what happens when world capitals are inserted into unrelated phrases:
- 19a. [“No, start with the second Japanese ‘thank you'”?] GO FROM ARIGATO B. We add Riga, the capital of Latvia, to the phrase GO FROM A TO B.
- 33a. [Sharing battle between “Quantum Leap” star Scott and family?] CO-BAKULA WARS. COLA WARS plus Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital.
- 42a. [Eighteen-wheeler obstructing freeway traffic, say?] TOO SLOW TRUCK. This time we add Oslo, capital of Norway, to TOW TRUCK.
- 57a. [Run-down version of a basic two-dish pasta meal?] SHABBY CHILI MAC. SHABBY CHIC plus Peru’s capital, Lima.
- 15a. [Palindromic Quebec university] LAVAL. It’s the oldest French-language university in North America.
- 72a. [Kidney-related] RENAL. Do your kidneys a favor and drink some water! Unless you have to restrict fluid intake for some reason, that is.
- 43d. [Seasoning associated with Maryland] OLD BAY. TIL that McCormick makes several varieties of the spice blend, including hot sauce.
Until next week!
Dory Mintz’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Extreme Measures”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Familiar names and phrases that end in a word that is also a unit of measurement. The revealer is UNITS PLACE (57a, [Position just left of the decimal point, or the last five squares of each starred answer]).
- 17a. [*Oscar and Golden Globe nominee for 2012’s “The Impossible”] NAOMI WATTS.
- 25a. [*Side dish at many a pizza parlor] GARLIC KNOTS. Not something I encounter much even though I am not a stranger to pizza parlors. CELTIC KNOTS could’ve gone here.
- 36a. [*Crossword game that comes in a fruit-shaped pouch] BANANAGRAMS.
- 48a. [*Home of the Orioles] CAMDEN YARDS.
Nice. The first two entries made me think this was a rhyming theme, but the third one quickly dispelled that notion and replaced it with the correct one. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard UNITS PLACE before, though; if I have, it wasn’t very often. It’s interesting the revealer clue pointed out the fact that the units are all five-letters long. I thought that was odd. Why not just say “the ends of each starred answer” as is usually done? Is it because BANANGRAMS is typically seen as one word?
Moving on, PANDORA’S BOX is wonderful, of course. PACE CAR is nice as well, and the stacked duo ATE IT UP / DETESTS make a nice contrast. I didn’t know SPINGARN [___ Medal (NAACP award)], but that’s on me. DISBARMENTS and ACTS UPON aren’t too thrilling, but when entries cross multiple themers, choices become limited.
Besides them, the grid felt loaded with proper names: NATE Robinson, Sebastian CABOT, Peter O’TOOLE, actor Tom EWELL, author Zora NEAL Hurston, and baseballer TED Williams as well as fictional SADIE Hawkins, PAM from The Office, and ARON from East of Eden. Some solvers may have felt FED UP after all that.
Clues of note:
- 30a. [Fifth of a year?]. MAY. Being the fifth month of a year.
- 35a. [There are 200 in the Indianapolis 500]. LAPS. Seriously. Why is it called the Indy 500, then? Not that I care.
Good theme. A mixed bag in the fill. 3.5 stars.
Ross Trudeau & Wyna Liu’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Cute theme! As someone who is continually on the lookout for fresh ways to clue various 3-letter names, I appreciate this word-ladder theme featuring seven names with the vowel-consonant-vowel pattern:
- 18a. [The Food Network’s “Barefoot Contessa”], INA GARTEN. (First name can also be clued as the partial IN A.)
- 22a. [Civil rights leader who co-founded the N.A.A.C.P.], IDA B. WELLS. Chicago’s Congress Parkway was renamed Ida B. Wells Drive … and that intersects the unrelated Wells Street.
- 29a. [Mathematician regarded as the first computer programmer], ADA LOVELACE. There’s a character in The Gilded Age named Ada, the American Dental Association, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- 35a. [Portrayer of the nurse Marta Cabrera in “Knives Out”], ANA DE ARMAS. Because her name has an even number of letters, the grid is 16 squares wide.
- 47a. [Director of the miniseries “When They See Us”], AVA DUVERNAY. Such a talent!
- 54a. [“Girl in Progress” star with a line of cosmetics], EVA MENDES. Longoria, Gabor, Peron, Green….
- 59a. [“The Vagina Monologues” playwright], EVE ENSLER. Biblical Eve, New Year’s Eve, and so on.
The word ladder goes INA IDA ADA ANA AVA EVA EVE, kind of an all-star list of 3-letter women’s names in crosswords.
Fave fill: “WELL, DUH,” BEATDOWNS, CABBIE. Given the challenge of placing seven themers in a specific order, some of the other fill feels a bit crusty. AREEL, ROUE, ACR., EELIEST, plural EASTERS? Some of these mightn’t be in a newer solver’s vocab.
3.75 stars from me.
Tim D’Alfonso’s Universal Crossword – “Official Business” – Matt F’s write up
Theme: No reveal today — the title says it all. We have business lingo being recontextualized as job descriptions for sports officials:
- 25A [MLS referee: Applicant must be ___] CARD CARRYING
- 29A[NBA referee: Position requires individual to be an effective ___] FLOOR MANAGER
- 44A [NHL referee: Seeking a candidate who is ___] GOAL ORIENTED
- 53A [MLB umpire: Employee will periodically need to ___] WORK FROM HOME
These are fun, very on-the-nose job descriptions for sports officials that I hadn’t really considered before. Cute turns of phrase. Instead of a card-carrying union member, we have a yellow- and red-card carrying MLS official (very top-of-mind this week in the midst of the World Cup). Instead of a grocery store floor manager, we have an NBA ref managing the floor (I really wanted this one to be WHISTLE BLOWER). An NHL referee is “goal” oriented, and an MLB umpire most definitely could work from home [plate]. It’s not the most consistent theme set, since the answers cover many parts of speech (adjective, noun, adjective, verb phrase), but I actually enjoyed the flexibility afforded here because it allowed for such fun phrases.
Clean fill all around as one would expect from Universal, though the word HALE clued as [healthy] was new to me. The theme limits the room for lengthy bonus fill here, but Tim did a nice job working with what he was given. Tops for me are BAR NONE, ENIGMA, NARNIA, and T-BONES.
Standout clues include [Read at a supermarket?] for SCAN; [Ivy with a tradition of throwing toast] has me itching to dive deeper into the history of this tradition at PENN; [What the unique letters in “garbage” can aptly spell] creates an unflattering but clear image of a garbage BARGE, but I also learned there is a New York Times Best Illustrated Book from 2010 called “Here Comes the Garbage Barge!” by Jonah Winter that looks interesting; and, lastly, [One may put on a suit for a suit] is a great clue for LAWYER who might wear a nice suit to a lawsuit hearing.
See you next week!
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 601), “The Temperature is Falling!”—Ade’s take
Hello there, all! Hope all of you are doing very well and continuing to stay warm along with avoiding getting sick, which I wasn’t able to do all last week. Only coming out of it now, and hoping the rest of the winter will be free of any more maladies.
Today’s theme beautifully displays what the mercury on our thermometers has done over the past few months, with the words HOT, WARM, COOL and COLD all appearing inside of longer entries and, from left to right, descending down the grid.
- HOT BUTTERED SOUL (3D: [Hit 1969 studio album by Isaac Hayes]) – Hot and buttered, the best type of soul!
- WARM FUZZIES (22D: [Feelings of happiness and contentment])
- STAYING COOL (15D: [Remaining calm])
- IT’S FREEZING COLD (10D: [“The temperature’s falling — turn up the heat!”])
Not only do we have Isaac Hayes mentioned, but there’s also Otis Redding and the COLE family in this grid to really lock down the music aspect of this puzzle (62A: [Natalie or Nat]). It was at around this time seven years ago when I was assigned to cover a college football bowl game in Charlotte, but had to arrange my own lodging despite being a broke-as-a-joke reporter — which isn’t too far from what I am at this very moment. I booked the hotel, though it was one of those deals when the information of the hotel you booked wasn’t revealed until after booking the room since the hotel chain had many rooms available but didn’t want to advertise it that cheap and decided to withhold the info until after you paid. It turned out that the hotel chain I booked, for about $75 a night, was ALOFT, and, to this day, was the best stay I’ve had in a hotel (23A: [Flying high]). Had a suite as big as my apartment, a great view of Charlotte, and other cool amenities. Haven’t stayed at an Aloft since, but totally want to for old time’s sake. Unfortunately, I’ll probably have to play about $250 a night for that same experience unless I luck out again.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OTIS (14A: [“King of Soul” Redding]) – I’ve been spending many nights before bed watching highlight reels of games from NFL seasons in the 1970s, which is perfect to mention today’s featured person, former St. Louis Cardinals running back Jim Otis. (Yes, we’re talking the football Cardinals who are now in Arizona, not the baseball St. Louis Cardinals.) Otis played six of his nine seasons in the NFL in St. Louis, and his best year came in 1975, when he led the NFC in rushing with 1,076 yards.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Beth Rubin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
Today’s theme is sort of Tom-Swiftie-adjacent with variations on “Wow!”. I can’t exactly explain it so I’ll just show you.
- 17a [Thelma’s “Wow!”?] is GEEZ LOUISE. I usually spell it GEEZE so this one threw me off for a minute.
- 24a [Astronomer’s “Wow!”?] is OH MY STARS.
- 39a [Saint’s “Wow!”?] is GOOD ONE.
- 48a [Safari guide’s “Wow!”?] is THAT‘S WILD.
- 60a [Chameleon’s “Wow!”?] is OUT OF SIGHT.
Cute theme! It’s consistent and not too tough for a Tuesday without being predictable. The last two are particularly amusing.
A few other things:
- EELY is one of those words I never see outside of crosswords. Does that make it crosswordese?
- FOND memories crossing FEAST seems particularly appropriate for this time of year.
- Loved NAG NAG NAG and the clue [“I heard you the first dozen times!”]
- I’m so grateful not to live in a time where it’s expected to lace and UNLACE a corset. Also grateful that second-wave feminism did away with girdles as a standard part of a woman’s undergarment. I know we still have Spanx but as I sit here in my jeans and sweater I appreciate the women who came before me.
- OTS is clued as [Bonus WNBA periods]. Nice to see a major outlet mentioning women’s sports.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Sophie Turner played SANSA Stark on “Game of Thrones.” Everything I know about GoT, I learned from crosswords.
Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Directly with 1-across I learned something—but had to wait for all the crosses. [Author of the 2022 romance novel “Honey and Spice”] BOLU BABALOLA. If you had told me it was BOLUBA BALOLA I wouldn’t have batted an eye. Here’s her web page.
- 14a [“List of Lists of Lists” is one] WIKIPEDIA ENTRY. Sounds like a slippery slope precedent.
- 20a [Scandinavian name meaning “boy”] SVEN. I have learned something again.
- 45a [Aid in turning up the volume?] LIBRARY CATALOG. Cute.
- 48a [Rocket with a rock on it?] ACE OF DIAMONDS. Two bits of slang there.
- 1d [Sits in the hot sun] BAKES. Had BASKS first, which impeded my entry of the WIKIPEDIA ENTRY entry. That was the sole misfill of the solve.
- 2d [Name that rhymes with another answer in the same column of the grid] OTIS (c.f. 22d LOTUS). On the heels of that we get 3d [It’s bitten by the smitten] LIP.
- 11d [ __ Than Lice (punnily named nit-removal service)] LARGER. That pun barely makes any sense to me. Sure, I see that it’s based on ‘larger than life’ but what really are they telling us about being larger than famously tiny lice? Even if it’s some metaphorical rather than physical aspect of being larger, I’m just not getting it. 23a [“I’m not seeing it … ?”] WHERE.
- 25d [Turns brownish, maybe] RUSTED. Was pleasantly surprised that it was unrelated to rotting, which I somehow expected. Clue seems somehow fresh.
- 43d [First word of some restaurant names] CAFÉ. Have to rescind what I said about BAKES. For this one, I tried CHEZ first, CASA second, and finally the correct answer.
A nicely integrated grid and moderate workout, perhaps a little tougher than typical New Yorker Tuesdays.
Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Soul Mates” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: The first word of each theme answer can be preceded by the word “soul”
- 17a [Event to combat hunger] – FOOD DRIVE (soul food)
- 26a [Something I love to hear] – MUSIC TO MY EARS (soul music)
- 42a [List of visited webpages] – SEARCH HISTORY (soul search)
- 57a [Journey from Union Station] – TRAIN RIDE (soul train)
This is a cute theme – if it had run in two months it would have been very valentine’s day appropriate. I like all the theme answers, but the last two tripped me up in that I tried “browser history” and “train trip” before SEARCH HISTORY and TRAIN RIDE.
Speaking of soul mates! There were a bunch of paired clues/answers in the puzzle that tied disparate words together in cool ways. Some examples:
- 64a [Ruby-colored parts of some guinea pigs] for EYES/ 65a [Guinea pigs, for example] for PETS
- 33a [The Fugees, for example] for TRIO/59d [Fugees genre] for RAP
- 53d [Sage] for WISE/ 55d [Sage beverages] for TEAS
I loved PUSH PRESENT and TAKE ME THERE, and the trickiest part of the puzzle for me was the area around ELIUD, since he was new to me and has an unusual name.