Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “23 and Me” – Erin’s write-up
Hello lovelies! Last week Matt reviewed 2002. This week he rings in 2023 with a 23-themed grid:
- 17a. [MVP of Super Bowl XXIII (23)] JERRY RICE
- 29a. [Early 1900s “King of Broadway” whose musical “Little Johnny Jones” is credited with popularizing “23 skidoo”] GEORGE M. COHAN
- 37a. [His jersey #23 was retired by two NBA teams (even though he never played for one of them)] MICHAEL JORDAN
- 46a. [“Quiz Show” actor whose character reels off “23”-based facts before a pivotal scene] JOHN TURTURRO
- 60a. [Comedian and star of the 2007 thriller “The Number 23”] JIM CARREY
I would have loved to see at least one women in the theme entries, such as former star of the Minnesota Lynx, #23 Maya Moore. She won several championships, Olympic gold, WNBA Rookie of the Year, and regular and All-Star MVP awards. Moore now focuses her time on criminal justice reform.
- 1a. [Don’t hassle the ___”] HOFF. “”Don’t Hassel the Hoff” is the title of entertainer David Hasselhoff’s autobiography.
- 19a. [“Like, run, ___!”] SCOOB. Shaggy’s trying to get his old friend Scooby-Doo away from some villain who is most likely some guy trying to get rich.
- 35d. [Parminder of “ER” and “Bend It Like Beckham”] NAGRA. Her newest show, a drama called “Maternal” that depicts the lives of three woman physicians managing work after childbirth, premieres next week on ITV.
That’s it for today. Until next week!
Gary Larson & Amy Ensz’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Wurst Case Scenario”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Sausage puns.
- 17a. [Conversation about a sausage?] FRANK DISCUSSION. A good start.
- 25a. [Foot-long aficionado?] RED HOT LOVER. Hmm. I associate the term “red hots” with the candy more than any sausage.
- 44a. [Unaccounted-for brat?] MISSING LINK. Ah, well. What’s a sausage pun theme without this phrase? But I’d rather see something less predictable like maybe something to do with Linked In?
- 58a. [Starting to grill a wiener?] PUTTING ON THE DOG. Never heard of this phrase. Apparently it means pretending that you’re very stylish or rich.
So I had issues with most of these, so I’d say this theme wasn’t for me so much.
In the fill I liked BEAN BALL and ON COURSE, but I don’t think I’ve ever encountered MAN-YEARS [Workforce units]. Man-hours I’ve heard used plenty, but where would anyone use MAN-YEARS?
My biggest problem though was that SE corner with the two uncommon proper names (MOSS HART [“Winged Victory” playwright] and ELZIE [Popeye creator Segar]), ambiguous clues for HELM and ADZE, and a product whose first letter could be anything if you don’t know it (T/GEL). I ended up with an error because MOSSHAST seemed perfectly plausible with SOIL satisfying the clue for 56d [Muddy up]. All this on a Tuesday. I have no doubt that corner could’ve been made quite a bit fairer with a little more effort.
One other clue of note: 43a. [Science advocate Bill]. NYE. Isn’t it sad that science needs advocates? It’s science, people. We’re dealing with straightforward facts here. It isn’t rocket science. Well, sometimes it is.
Drew Schmenner’s Universal Crossword – “Be In Touch” – Matt F’s write up
In today’s puzzle we have a smattering of BB’s — as the title suggests, they are “B’s in touch.” The theme became apparent pretty early on but I have to give it to the constructor for coming up with a truly excellent reveal at 60A [Flickering … or, read differently, what connects 16-, 20-, 36-, 38- and 50-Across?] = BLINKING (read as B-LINKING). Let’s look at these theme answers:
- 16A [Site with lots of posts?] = JOB BOARD
- 20A [Safari or Chrome] = WEB BROWSER
- 36A [Underworld leader] = MOB BOSS (Ok, was I the only one confused by this clue? [Edit: Yes, yes I was. The “underworld” of organized crime is definitely a thing!]
Mob bosses run the underworld?? Underground, maybe… underworld? That’s a stretch.)
- 38A [Mishmash of items] = GRAB BAG
- 50A [Flavorful spread with dill, maybe] = HERB BUTTER
With a whopping 6 (six!) theme answers in this grid, I’m amazed how cleanly this one played. Some of the fill was awkward for me — hello PAEAN — but overall this is a very impressive construction. Mid-length bonuses like DAD BODS, RUN A RISK, BAD EGG, and EAST BAY helped this puzzle shine, along with some clever clues like [Opportunity close to home?] = AT BAT. Great puzzle, Drew!
Emily Rourke’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Today’s theme is anchored by HELLO KITTY, 39a. [Fictional feline from Japan … or how one might greet 17-, 24-, 54- or 65-Across]. Those four are the PINK PANTHER, TONY THE TIGER, the COWARDLY LION, and the CHESHIRE CAT. Cute!
Note that the grid is 16×15 to accommodate a center entry with an even letter count, and to allow space for five long Acrosses.
- 15a. [Darling one], MOPPET. A quaint, old word, but doesn’t it generally mean a small child rather than a darling one of unspecified age?
- 30d. [Morse code “morsel”], DAH. Is this actually still in use in the 21st century, this DAH? I learned it from crosswords, not in school, and I can’t imagine others were learning this in school unless they’re over 70.
- 50a. ___ Gay (W.W. II plane)], ENOLA. Aww, man, this old thing? The plane that dropped bombs to kill over 100,000 Japanese civilians, when there are a couple recent Enola Holmes Netflix movies? Enola Holmes 2 was released just two months ago. (Tangent that amused me: “The Conan Doyle Estate filed a lawsuit against Netflix over the film, claiming it violated copyright by depicting Sherlock Holmes as having emotions.”)
3.25 stars from me. Some of the fill (OOO OTT ITT ONO ENO, for example) felt less than ideal for Tuesday solvers.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 606), “Split-Level Home”—Ade’s take
Good day, everyone! Hope you are all doing well to start the new week!
We have living spaces featured in the grid, but with a nice twist. The circled letters on five different lines in the grid are separated by black squares, but when combing the letters, they form a word that is a type of room. The black square acts as the word’s divide, and the ROOM entry is the puzzle reveal (25D: [___ divider (residential privacy screen…or the puzzle theme)]).
- LEER AT (17A: [Lasciviously]) + TICKETED (18A: [Fined for double parking, say]) = Attic
- AREA CODE (28A: [Three-digit telephone number starter]) + NAPOLI (31A: [City in southern Italia]) = Den
- MAKE PAR (37A: [Play as expected, on the golf course]) + LORIMAR (41A: [“The Waltons” production company]) = Parlor
- RISK IT (46A: [Take a chance]) + CHENILLE (48A: [Grandma’s bedspread fabric]) = Kitchen
- FREECELL (62A: [Popular solitaire card game on the computer]) + ARCANE (66A: [Obscure]) = Cellar
Grid allowed for a couple of 8-letter clusters in the Northeast and Southwest, and reading BUDAPEST‘s clue doesn’t hurt my curiosity in wanting to head to that city the next time I’m in Europe (6A: [Hungarian capital known as the “Pearl of the Danube”]). Outside of Swiffer, I don’t think I know any other companies known for making mops, so O-CEDAR was definitely new to me (2D: [Maker of mops and brooms]). There’s LORAIN again, making me think once more that Toledo is what I’m looking for after putting in the first O before having to pull back (50D: [Ohio birthplace of Toni Morrison]). Only noticed A HOLE at the end of solving, and now it’s hard to not think of the insult when looking at it instead of the literal way to read it for the clue (36A: [Burn ___ in one’s pocket]). OK, time to wash my mouth and mind with soap right now about.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GRIER (43A: [“Jackie Brown” actress Pam]) – There is Black excellence right in the vicinity with ALTHEA Gibson, but the choice today is to highlight not one, but two Black people in upper management in major professional sports. Oh, and they’re brothers! Mike Grier, who was a hockey star at Boston University before going to play more than 1,000 games in the NHL, is currently the general manger of the San Jose Sharks, becoming the first Black GM in NHL history when he was named to the position by his former club last summer. Mike’s older brother, Chris, is currently the general manager of the Miami Dolphins, who just clinched a playoff spot in the NFL postseason this past Sunday and will play the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon in the first round.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Precisely as advertised: a moderately challenging crossword. I particularly noted some novel cluing while solving:
- 10a [Sharpness, of prose or flavor] BITE.
- 34a [Coloring for lips or cheeks] STAIN.
- 2d [Repeated sound in “Silent Night”] LONG I.
- 5d [Low-level access?] PET DOOR.
The LONG I clue isn’t especially novel as a genre, but the misdirection worked very well on me, and this seems the proper context to acknowledge it.
- 17a [Consciously uncouple, say] END IT. Ugh, that notorious phrase.
- 19a [Identity under the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. + umbrella] AGENDER. 64a [Term of identity added to the O.E.D. in 2022] ENBY.
- 22a [Self-proclaimed title for the Hong Kong calligraphy artist turned folk hero Tsang Tsou-choi] KING OF KOWLOON. Was helpful that I knew Kowloon is a neighborhood in Hong Kong and that in Chinese culture there are frequently designations such as King of … and God of …. Even so, I needed several crossings to complete this entry. Once I did it allowed me to finish the top right section, which was my last of the solve.
- 25a [Martian day] SOL.
- 39a [Itself, in Latin] IPSO. 45a [Of the same form, legally] IN SPECIE.
- 49a [Critical awards-season hashtag] OSCARS SO WHITE. Is that still a thing? I guess we’ll see in a couple of months.
- 57a [Has feelings for, in that way] LIKE LIKES. Interesting answer/clue.
- 63a [Secondary social-media profiles, for short] ALTS. Intuitive, even if it’s new to you.
- 8d [Language suffix] -ESE. I will never not make a languagese joke.
- 10d [Food whose name means “twice-baked”] BISCOTTI. The German version has a similar etymology: zweiback. Also, I encourage folks to try making them at home—they’re easy and very forgiving.
- 33d [One in a commonly confused trio of homophones] THEIR.
- 24d [Inquisitive contraction] WHY’RE. Can’t recall seeing this in a crossword previously.
29d [Hungarian dog breed whose coat resembles a mop] PULI. Its larger cousin is the Komondor. The most common coat color is black, but those in the photograph here are obviously not that.
- 46d [Pointer, or a pointy part of a pointer] CANINE. Clever, but maybe trying too hard?
- 53a [Comedian Izzard who once described the European Union as “the cutting edge of politics, in a very extraordinarily boring way”] EDDIE.
Sara Cantor’s USA Today Crossword, “Breaking Bad” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer is surrounded by the string “BAD” – they start with B and end with AD.
- 18a [Sweet loaf sometimes made with walnuts] – BANANA BREAD
- 29a [Collectible that jiggles] – BOBBLEHEAD
- 47a [Book enjoyed on a summer vacation] – BEACH READ
- 55a [Single dude’s lair] – BACHELOR PAD
Cute theme! I’ve been meaning to watch the show “Breaking Bad” for about the last 10 years; maybe this puzzle will be the push I need to actually start it. I love all the theme answers that Sara chose, my personal favorite being BEACH READ. It might have been a little more elegant to choose answers that didn’t have A as their second letter as well as their second to last one, but that’s just a nitpick from my constructor brain. It’s way more important to have fun theme answers, and this puzzle has them in spades.
- People who were new to me: [“Squid Game” actress Yoo-mi] for LEE, [___ Ressa, journalist who co-founded Rappler] for MARIA, [“Lost Boy” singer ___ B.] for RUTH
- All of the big corners in this puzzle are excellent but the best has to be the SIDEBAR/PREGAME/LONG CON stack.
- 62a [Part of a royal flush] is always a funny clue to me because both ends of the royal flush, ten and ACE, have three letters.
- There is nothing I love more in a puzzle than a Frog and TOAD reference.
NYT: After a less-than-pleasant seven- or eight-hour drive across Central and West Texas, it was kind of nice to have a second Monday puzzle. Hello Kitty kind of gives me the creeps, though I acknowledge I am not and never was their target audience.
The “less than ideal for Tuesday solvers” fill felt like it hit every bit of too-common crossword fill, missing only “Oreo,” “épée,” and “eel” as a verb.
The ENOLA Gay clue really belongs in the scrap heap. I’m by no means advocating that we forget that the USA dropped atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Just spring it on me when I’m trying to relax.
“Just don’t spring it on me . . . ..”
I get the theme, but… for nine years we’ve known that Hello Kitty is … NOT A CAT :-)
It did help me understand something I saw in Japan: a collection of different Hello Kitty dolls, all wearing costumes… one of which was a *cat*. At the time, I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but since 2014, it’s made sense.
Anyway, while I like the answer and theme (and cats!), I think this would’ve been a great opportunity to use that weird fact that Hello Kitty is not a cat in the clue….
I had no idea… how did I miss that?
Since. both the puzzle and I were equally ignorant, it made for an easy solve, with a Monday time…
I don’t kmow. In all fairness, this from Wiki sure seems to match the online images I get in a search for Hello Kitty: “Sanrio depicts Hello Kitty as an anthropomorphized white cat with a red bow and no visible mouth.” Doesn’t really matter one way or the other to the puzzle, though, a normal Tuesday. If it depended only on a pun on “Kitty,” that’d be fine, too.
Would’ve been superfast on this one except I plunked in POPPET instead of MOPPET and it took far too long to track down the error. I know very little Spanish but I should have realized that PANO was not right. Spanish for bread, maybe?
A fist is not a body part. The hand is held out as a fist.
Good catch. That one should not have made it past the proofers. Shame they didn’t clue it to the classic Bruce Lee movie “Fists of Fury.” But that might have been a bit out there for Tuesday.
Another cinematic candidate:
In Rochester, NY, a “Red Hot” is a hot dog. If you try to order a “hot dog” up here you’ll get a funny look. Also available are “White Hots”.
Today’s New Yorker took me longer than Monday’s to solve. What I didn’t know took more crossings to get culminating with a DNF at the crossing of 22a and 9d. I did enjoy the puzzle.
That one was way out there and unguessable for me, too. But then, on top of new vocabulary in that section, there’s also another proper name crossing in the CHANTALS and LISA. (Tempting also to put the iPhone App under that heading as well, although the fill itself isn’t uncommon or hard to guess.)
But my toughest by far was the W and SW. PULI and POP SOCKET, both new to me, crossing IN SPECIE with the hashtag and LIKE LIKES just below, facts like ALBA and RIEL. I must have heard ENBY before but can’t swear to it. DECALS are sticky rather than clingy in normal usage, if you don’t know pop culture HIPSTERS could just as well have been hamsters from the crossigns I had, and ARCTAN and arcsin both fit even once I deciphered the tricky clue for CANINES. (I’ll have to take others’ word for it that dogs have all-pointy teeth.)
Specifically, their canine teeth, the ones between the incisors and molars.
Uni … FWIW, in my experience, “underworld” is a pretty common way to refer to the world of organized crime and MOB BOSSes, but I seem to be attracted to movies, TV shows and books about that topic, so maybe I’m more familiar with the terminology than the average person.
The criminal underworld is definitely a thing. Money laundering, chop shops for stolen cars, protection rackets, etc.
I’m with y’all but when I searched for underworld that meaning did not jump out at all. It really surprised me since I don’t know the movie franchise.
I’m not aware of a particular movie franchise.
Oh I’m completely in agreement on what I consider the usual meaning. I wondered what someone who wasn’t familiar with that usage would have seen had they searched for it. My thought was they’d quickly see the criminal sphere meaning.
Here’s my google search
Ah, I see. I guess that bears as much resemblance as Don DeLillo’s monumental 1997 novel.
Thanks for setting me straight! I most certainly will Google it next time. First definition that pops up: “The world of criminals or of organized crime.” Well, this is the beauty of crosswords… now I know! I was definitely of the Hades mindset when I first read the clue.
About Matt F’s write up of Drew Schmenner’s Universal Crossword – “Be In Touch”:
I’ve often heard of the world of crime, organized or otherwise, referred to as the “underworld”. OTOH, “underground” was more often used for organizations fighting against corrupt and/or evil governments, or London’s subway system. Maybe it all depends on where we grew up, what books we read, what TV shows we washed our brains with, etc. ;)
can I receive your crosswords by email?