Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Jonesin' 4:46 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 4:18 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal untimed (Matt F) 


USA Today tk (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation tk (Ade) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “A Pair of Shorts” – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 12/20/22

Jonesin’ solution 12/20/22

Hello lovelies and Happy Holidays! This week’s Jonesin’ features words that can follow “short,” paired into some strange phrases.

  • 18a. [Shrinking of a bookstore section?] FICTION CUT (“short fiction” and “shortcut”)
  • 34a. [How electricity is conducted through a baguette?] BREAD CIRCUIT (“shortbread” and “short circuit”)
  • 44a. [Extra-strength bones, like the ones used to play a skeleton like a xylophone?] TEMPERED RIBS (“short-tempered” and “short ribs”)
  • 64a. [Instruction after a power outage?] CHANGE FUSE (“shortchange” and “short fuse”)

Other things:

  • 9d. [Potato dumplings] GNOCCHI. They’re not pasta, but they are delicious!
  • 31d. [Like cooked spaghetti] LIMP. Not if it’s al dente!
  • 52a. [Stuffs full of food] STODGES. This British term is fitting given all the food listed in the grid.
  • 12d. [Trouble, in Yiddish slang] TSURIS. To our Jewish readers, I hope your Chanukah celebration is full of light and love and free of tsuris.

Until next week!

Aaron Ullman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Build Your Own”—Jim P’s review

Today’s theme consists of familiar phrases whose final words can also be part of a burger.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Build Your Own” · Aaron Ullman · Tue., 12.20.22

  • 17a. [Stuck] IN A PICKLE.
  • 24a. [Head honcho] THE BIG CHEESE.
  • 38a. [Character who calls Charlie “Chuck”] PEPPERMINT PATTY.
  • 52a. [“Cool beans, bro!”] AWESOME SAUCE.
  • 63a. [Don’t-care hairstyles] MESSY BUNS. Never heard of the hairstyle, but it checks out.

Nice. I like that the items are roughly in the proper order. Of course you’d need a bun on top and bottom to do it right, and I’d be one for putting sauce on the top bun, but the essential elements are there. I also like that there’s no meat called out, so you can have whatever kind of patty you want.

STATE MOTTO is nice in the fill, and I guess TOP THE BILL is as well, though I’m more accustomed to hearing it as “getting top billing.” I’m going to continue to hate on SSTS even though they’re making a comeback. And I had never heard of the journalist Katy TUR, but the crossings were fair.

Clue of note: 10d. [“North to the Future” or “Live Free or Die,” e.g.]. STATE MOTTO. Alaska and New Hampshire respectively.

Smooth, solid grid. 3.5 stars.

Peter Koetters’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 20 22, no. 1220

Sort of a rebus-puzzle theme featuring “[verb] between the [nouns]” phrases:

  • 17a. [Gets overlooked, literally], CRACK FALLS CRACK. FALLS between the CRACKs.
  • 24a. [Gets into bed, literally[, SHEET SLIPS SHEET. SLIPS between the SHEETs.
  • 45a. [Makes suddenly aware of something, literally], EYE HITS RIGHT EYE. HITS RIGHT between the EYEs.
  • 58a. [Finding hidden meaning, literally], LINE READING LINE. READING between the LINEs. Small demerit for 3 -s verbs and 1 -ing verb.

Fun theme. Rather bendy for a Tuesday puzzle, though.

Fave fill: PLUM (I miss summer stone fruits!), AIR HORN, BIG BEN, OH MY GOD.

Three things:

  • 10d. [Got completely destroyed], PERISHED? That is not how most of us use the word, I’d wager. You can perish from this earth (i.e., die) without being “completely destroyed,” no? “The family perished in the fire” is tragic, but substituting the clue and answer for each other, good lord, “the family got completely destroyed in the fire” feels markedly more violent.
  • 25d. [Difficult to sort out, informally], HAIRY. What? That is not at all how I use that word. Merriam-Webster offers “tending to cause nervous tension (as from danger)” and “difficult to deal with or comprehend.” The “sort out” bit in the clue feels off base to me.
  • 11d. [Father of Norway’s King Harald], OLAV. Shout-out to “CrossCan” Jeffrey, erstwhile Canadian Fiend member, for coining “Olaf” or “Olav” for a clue providing lots of information that doesn’t actually get you to an answer. Anything hinting at Norway and royalty is invariably going to be OLAV or OLAF. Thank goodness for Frozen bringing us a fresher OLAF option, at least.

Celine DION is in the puzzle (55d. [Celine with five Grammys]). You may have seen the news last week that she’s suffering from a progressive neurological condition known as stiff person syndrome.

The grid’s a bit crowded with 60 theme squares, producing tough-for-Tuesday-newbies fill like NICENE, double-A SAY AAH (usually we see SAY AH, which probably has no more validity than the AAH spelling), SEER, SPCA.

3.5 stars from me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 603), “Winter Pun-derland”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 603: “Winter Pun-derland”

Hello there, everyone! I hope you all are doing well during this holiday season, and given the cold weather that has ben taken a grip on most of the country and will continue to do this coming weekend, here is hoping you are all staying as warm as possible!

The holidays is also a time to be on the lookout for one of Liz’s trademark holiday-themed puzzles, and this one doesn’t disappoint…unless you hate puns like the one featured in all of the theme entries. 

      • WHY IS FROSTY DOING SITUPS ALL DAY LONG? (17A, 29A: [Riddle: Part I], [Riddle: Part II])
      • HE DREAMS OF BECOMING THE ABDOMINAL SNOWMAN (38A, 49A, 62A: [Riddle Answer: Part I], [Riddle Answer: Part II], [End of Riddle (if you can stomach it!)])

We have a two-letter entry smack dab in the middle of the grid, which is a 16×15 grid, a few things altered from standard grid norms to execute the theme. Definitely don’t mind it. Not sure if there was any intent to have the anagrams of NESSIE (36A: [Loch legend, affectionately]) and NEISSE on the same line, but that was a trip to notice upon finishing the puzzle and looking at the grid afterward (40A: [German border river]). Also have a nice pair of 8-letter pairings in the northwest and southeast, with KEYNOTES being the highlight for me with those entries (3D: [Important convention speeches]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: G-MEN (58D: [Fed. agents]) – Not sure if it is was because of ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman referencing the James Cagney movie a number of times when doing New York Giants highlights or otherwise, but one of the common nicknames of the New York Football Giants is the “G-Men.” The 2022 edition of the G-Men are looking to make their first playoff appearance since 2016, and after their win over the Washington Commanders on Sunday night, the 8-5-1 Giants have a good chance to break their playoff drought.

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

Take care!


Trent H. Evans’ Universal Crossword – “Poolside” – Matt F’s write up

Universal Solution – 12.20.22 – “Poolside” by Trent H. Evans

Theme: You might have initially expected to find accessories at a swimming pool party, but we’re actually dealing with pool, the game, otherwise known as billiards. The right side of each theme answer contains something you’d find in a pool hall:

  • 17A [“I gotta go onstage now”] = THAT’S MY CUE
  • 31A — I loved this clue! — [Aid in finding products?] = TIMES TABLE
  • 47A [Microwaved meals in a sleeve] = HOT POCKETS
  • 64A [Parties fit for a queen] = ROYAL BALLS

As someone who spent plenty of time playing pool growing up, I really enjoyed this theme. It’s clean, consistent, and tight — you won’t find many other items at a pool table except the rack (also called the triangle) and chalk.

Great fill all around with lively bonuses, TOUGH BREAK and I DON’T SEE IT. The cluing is playful in this one, too, and these were some I enjoyed:

  • 19A [“Practice PUTS brains in your muscles” (Sam Snead)]. “Slammin’ Sammy Snead” is regarded as one of the greatest golfers of all time.
  • 24A [Captain, for Horatio Magellan Crunch] = RANK. I did not know this was the full name of the beloved Cap’n Crunch character!
  • 46A [Butter sculpture, e.g.] = ART, which could be a lot of things but a butter sculpture is fun and evocative.
  • 67A [Where an Illinois-shaped cornflake sold for $1,350] = EBAY. Fun bit of trivia to liven up this entry.
  • 2D [Pain from shoveling snow, perhaps] = ACHE. A very timely clue, for me at least.
  • 27D [Baby food] = PAP, which, per my research, is a “semisolid food made of flour or bread crumbs cooked in water with or without milk,” and it was one of the early “artificial foods” made for babies before 1860, when commercial formula was first introduced.

Thanks for the fun puzzle, Trent!

Erik Agard’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I didn’t notice the byline until I started to write this and now I know why the fill is fresh and smooth. Even with the revealer it took me a minute to figure out the theme, which is pretty cute for a Tuesday.

The theme clues have asterisks.

Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2022, Erik Agard, solution grid

  • 1a [*Fictional swordfighter with a horse named Toledo] is ZORRO.
  • 20a [*”Parasite” director] is BONG JOON HO.
  • 31a [*Abolitionist who was the first person executed for treason in the United States] is JOHN BROWN.
  • 40a [*Former MLB pitcher nicknamed “Flash”] is TOM GORDON.
  • 52a [*Marvel supervillain who created deadly robot clones of himself] is DOCTOR DOOM.

And the revealer: What one might say after figuring out what the answers to the starred clues have in common?] is OH MAN. The only vowel in each man’s name is O. Let’s stand back and admire this for a minute. It’s a Tuesday-accessible theme which is symmetrical, solid, and consistent. There are six theme answers counting the revealer, which is a lot of material to pack into a 15×15 puzzle and the fill does not suffer even a tiny little bit. Erik has demonstrated that a puzzle does not need to be head-crackingly difficult in order to be an example of excellent construction. Of course he has.

A few other things:

  • I felt seen by this puzzle as a choral singer who spends time standing on a RISER and a doctor who makes HOUSE CALLs. Yes, we still exist. One day I called 911 for a patient and the paramedic walked in and poked me in the shoulder, saying “They told me there was a doctor here. I wanted to see if you were real.” Dude.
  • I loved [Did an uncanny impression of] for CHANNELED.
  • Also enjoyed [Slump-shoulders response to a task] for DO I HAVE TO. All of us who have raised teenagers can relate.
  • [Ran out of batter] for DIED also reminded me of my kid, who is no longer a teenager and still manages to not regularly charge her phone overnight so is often frantically looking for a charging cord and often absconding with ours.
  • I would not say UGH to Kung PAO chicken.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: because it’s Eric, I have a few things even on a Tuesday. I did not know that ZORRO‘s horse was named Tornado. I did not know that Doctor DOOM created robot clones of himself. And I did not know the pitcher “Flash” GORDON‘s first name was TOM.

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 12/20/22 • Tue • Berry • solution • 20221220

Was occupied this morning, so it’s an early-afternoon write-up.

This was an exceptionally smooth crossword and felt much easier than the advertised ‘moderately challenging’ rating. There were no appreciable obstacles or pauses during the solve.

  • Longest answers: 19am [Like most beanies and scarves] ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL. 53a [“Don’t sugarcoat it …”] TELL ME THE TRUTH.
  • 22a [Things that are, despite their name, mostly copper] NICKELS. 75% copper and 25% nickel, per Wikipedia.
  • 29a [She played Foxy in “Foxy Brown” and Jackie in “Jackie Brown”] PAM Grier.
  • 39a [Org. that knows the drill?] ROTC. Briefest of pauses here while I sorted and dismissed ADA or something along those lines.
  • 41a [First feature film to have a fully computer-generated protagonist (1995)] CASPER. I suppose that it’s good for it to be notable for something.
  • 47a [Abandon one’s principles for principal] SELL OUT. Nifty clue.
  • 61a [River in which the Pied Piper drowned Hamelin’s rats, according to legend] WESER. Okay, I did not know this, but the crossings were amenable.
  • 10d [Features that are new yet familiar] REMAKES. The cleverness of the misdirection is diminished slightly by the similar use of ‘feature’ in the clue for 41-across.
  • 11d [Cocktail that’s poisoned and offered to the heroine of Disney’s “Enchanted”] APPLETINI. Hadn’t realized the story was ‘adult’. Save me your appletinis, but I’m happy to have an apple manhattan.
  • 22d [One of two in Alabama] SCHWA. Second and fourth syllables.
  • 27d [Doctor who created oobleck] SEUSS. For some reason that I cannot recall, I was thinking about oobleck a couple of days ago. Not the original Seussian version but the real-life namesake stuff.
  • 30d [Chance for an introvert to recharge] ALONE TIME. Uh-huh.
  • 40a [Many a Ray Johnson work] COLLAGE.
  • 54d [Greater or lesser follower] THAN. I wisely held off on filling in EVIL until some crossings were made.

Again, a really fluid and enjoyable crossword.

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8 Responses to Tuesday, December 20, 2022

  1. JohnH says:

    I found TNY really easy, which surprised me, as it’s by Patrick Berry. While he’s always totally fair in a way that TNY puzzlers often aren’t, I think of him as also totally reliable, so if you ask him for a day of the week with an expected difficulty (Monday through Thursday), he always delivers.

    I did go wrong by entering I DO for 57D’s “wedding pledge,” slowing me up in the SW. (Oops.) Funny to see a change from what has, after all, become a bit of crosswordese from its frequency alone, much as it exists in real life.

  2. Gary R says:

    Quiet Tuesday here – everyone must be out Christmas shopping (or maybe shoveling snow)!

    I liked the NYT theme – pretty impressive to find four 15-letter in-the-language phrases that fit the pattern. Thought the fill was good. I grew up Catholic, so NICENE was not a problem. I agree with Amy on the clue for PERISHED, but I was fine with HAIRY as something tough to sort out.

  3. MM says:

    I take issue with Falls Between The Cracks in the NYT. Something overlooked falls through the cracks, but between the cracks are floorboards (or whatever the surface is).

    • JohnH says:

      Of course, I don’t mean to speak for you, but could you be mistaking the theme? I almost did, because “literally” is so suggestive. It could indeed have one reinterpreting the phrase to see what is literally between the cracks in, maybe not flooring, but something.

      But no, all it means is that FALLS is kinda sorta literally between the cracks because one enters it between CRACK and CRACK. And then “falls between the cracks” is a synonym for the clue. Other themers work similarly. I can’t speak for others either, but the theme won me over. Literally smiles.

      Just received TNY by mail, and it’s a puzzle issue. Can’t wear it will please anyone. Many readers will miss, well, articles (apart from one about the GOP House presumptive leader), and puzzle fans won’t find a lot of traditional puzzle types. The cryptic appeared online Sunday, as a cryptic will (and not a fave of mine, with the need of proper names). But go for it. Some will love the issue. I have hardly glanced yet.

  4. Doug C says:

    LAT: This was one terrific Tuesday puzzle. I completely agree with Jenni that it was “fresh and smooth” and also “pretty cute for a Tuesday.” It was LAT Tuesday-easy while still being interesting and entertaining.

  5. nice song tune i really love this.

  6. Steve G. says:

    In the WSJ crossword, didn’t Tony Gwynn win the 1996 batting title rather than Arod

    • sanfranman59 says:

      That clue is a little off the mark because a batting titles is awarded in each league (i.e. there really is no “MLB batting champ”). That made much more sense in the years before the advent of interleague play since batters only faced pitchers in one league (and vica versa), but it makes less sense now. Gwynn won the NL batting title that year and ARod won the AL title. ARod actually had a slightly higher batting average than Gwynn did (.358 vs .353), so I guess you could say that he was the MLB batting champ, if such a thing existed.

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