Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Free Spin” – Erin’s write-up
Hello lovelies! Matt has graced us with a themeless this week! I’m liking the roundish grid shape, almost like an S, or a Poké Ball. The central 12s, FAIRLY RANDOM and CHICKEN SHACK, stood out to me as nice fresh fill. PREMOISTENS [Dampens, as many towelettes] is a great clue/answer combo, but I’m one of those people who is irrationally grossed out by the word MOIST, so I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should. I have nothing but appreciation for BUTTON MASHERS [Video games (like Street Fighter) that require fast fingers and little nuance], though, as I have fond memories in the arcade hitting buttons as quickly as possible and hoping for a win.
Things I learned today:
- 6d. [North American indoor sports org. claiming among its total players about 10% Iroquois] NLL. The National Lacrosse League consists of 14 teams and players are about 80% Canadian. Average salary for a player is just under $20,000 a year.
- 16a. [Sagrada Familia architect Gaudi] ANTONI. This is more something I relearned, as Matt included him in a grid last year, and I promptly forgot.
- 42a. [University that’s a lock?] YALE. Linus Yale Jr. and Henry Towne founded Yale Lock Manufacturing Co. back in 1868.
- 50a. [“Anon ___” (2022 debut novel from @DeuxMoi)] PLS. DeuxMoi is an anonymous Instagram account that posts celebrity rumors? And they wrote a book about this?
Until next week!
There is no doubt that basketball betting fans enjoy puzzles as well. In fact, many will say that crosswords are one of their favorite pastimes. This might be because they offer an opportunity to use problem-solving skills, something that is often seen as beneficial when betting on the sport, about which you can find more by check this out.
Betting on basketball can be a very profitable venture, but it’s not the only game in town. In fact, one of the most popular ways to gamble on the sport is through crossword puzzles. The Daily News looked into this trend and found that avid basketball bettors like to combine their love for the sport with their love for words.
According to Brian Koppelman, co-founder of the startup Puzzleroom, there’s something about solving a crossword that makes people think faster than they do when they’re playing basketball. “The minute you solve a crossword puzzle, your brain starts churning out all these different answers and possibilities,” he said.
Annemarie Brethauer’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double Standard”—Jim P’s review
Theme answers are made-up two-word phrases where the second word is a “copy” of the final few (i.e. the “right”) letters of the first word. The revealer is COPYRIGHT LAW (52a, [Author’s protection, and a hint to 20-, 31- and 37-Across]).
- 20a. [Rule regarding exercises that put minimal stress on the body?] LOW IMPACT ACT.
- 31a. [Rule limiting use of a woodwind instrument?] RECORDER ORDER.
- 37a. [Rule requiring casting Cumberbatch in everything?] BENEDICT EDICT.
My first reaction on grasping the theme was that I wanted all three to have 5-letter second words, and I thought that inconsistency was unfortunate. But then I realized what I was missing. The second words are all synonyms of LAW (which I probably would have realized if I paid attention to the fact that each clue begins with “Rule”).
So that was a nice aha moment and really made me appreciate the theme. I especially liked that last theme entry because it did seem for a while that Cumberbatch was in quite a few popular works (him and Idris Elba). (Not complaining, because I enjoy both of their work. Have they ever been in anything together?)
Nice theme and nice long fill with EQUATOR, GRAMMAR, DULCET, a sarcastic “BOO-HOO!,” BIOPICS, and “C’EST MOI” (though I needed most of the crossings for that one). The solve flowed smoothly from start to finish—well, aside from SOP [Conciliatory gift].
Clues of note:
- 8a. [Powered bikes]. MOPEDS. Not what I think of when I think “powered bikes.” MOPEDS have been around for decades, but actual true powered bikes are a newer thing (right?).
- 45d. [“Poor baby, wah-wah!”]. “BOO-HOO!” I really enjoyed this clue.
- 53d. [“No More I Love ___” (Annie Lennox song)]. YOUS. I’ve been on an Annie Lennox kick the past week or so, so this one was nice to see despite being weird-looking fill. Today I Learned: Lennox’s version is a cover of a song by British band The Lover Speaks (never heard of ’em). With it, she won the 1995 Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, beating out Carey, Raitt, and others.
Good puzzle all around. 3.75 stars.
Morton J. Mendelson’s Universal Crossword – “One Way or Another” – Matt F’s write up
Pay attention to the title today because it’s the only theme hint you’re going to get! Each starred across entry is a straightforward clue for “one way,” and for the corresponding down entry, you’re tasked with figuring out “another,” as in, a word that is opposite of the across answer. To be completely honest, “another” doesn’t really strike me as synonymous with “opposite,” but let’s run with it. I convinced myself the puzzle was going for another = alternate = different than. Let’s investigate the whopping nine (9!) pairs:
- 1A/1D – [*Have no food] = FAST/FEAST
- 5A/5D – [*Lend a hand] = HELP/HINDER
- 9A/9D – [*Big] = LARGE/LITTLE
- 22A/22D – [*Stable] = STEADY/SHAKY
- 33A/33D – [*Mean] = NASTY/NICE
- 41A/41D – [*Brightly lit] = SUNNY/SHADY
- 45A/45D – [*Go into] = ENTER/EXIT
- 57A/57D – [*Swift] = SPEEDY/SLOW
- 64A/64D – [*Blaring] = LOUD/LOW
From a construction standpoint this theme is a tall task! The gimmick applies to every single across/down pair that starts in a corner — look at the grid again if you didn’t notice! — and to create 9 pairs of opposites under these conditions, while maintaining a relatively clean grid (IDYL notwithstanding), is an impressive feat. It’s also cool, by word-nerd standards, that so many antonyms share a starting letter.
The theme is so dense it doesn’t leave much room for pizazz, but I enjoyed what we got in the mid-length fill: SOPPED UP, MAESTRO, EQUITY, EDIT WARS… and how about the nod to Nestlé QUIK powder? I’ll shamelessly admit to having loved this stuff as a kid, after it had officially been rebranded as Nesquik (one of the great portmanteau product names if you ask me). I can still taste that sweet chocolaty nostalgia if I close my eyes and think about it. Ahh… the good ol’ days.
Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Hey! HALO-HALO! That’s a Filipino treat, 16a. [Crushed-ice dessert with a reduplicative name]. (Reduplicative refers to words/phrases like choo-choo, mama, and pooh-pooh.) You’re gonna have your shaved ice, evaporated milk, and assorted sweet fruits and veggies, and then you top it all with a scoop of ube ice cream (ube is a purple yam, mainly used in Filipino desserts). Thank you, Erik, for dropping HALO-HALO into your grid, and with easy crossings so I don’t want to hear complaints.
I did not pick up on the theme till after reaching the revealer, 24d. [Chanteuse with chart-topping hits found at the tops of 4-, 14-, 16- and 19-Down], MARIAH CAREY. Those four are SOMEDAY SOON, HERO FOR HIRE (had not known that as a Luke Cage title), HONEY LOCUST (so that’s why the tree has that name: [Tree whose pods contain a sweet-tasting pulp]), and FANTASY SAGA. I wasn’t listening much to pop or R&B in the 1990s, so I don’t really know the songs “Someday,” “Hero,” “Honey,” and “Fantasy.” Mariah has has more #1 hits than Elvis, Madonna, or Michael Jackson, so this theme definitely qualifies as notable pop culture.
Fill I liked besides the themers and the dessert: “FIRST UP…,” “THAT HURT,” CAT CAFE (Chicago has a bunny-petting place, not sure if there are cat cafés here, too), ETHIOPIA and LIBYA’s African tour with a side of Swahili (MATATA).
The grid is bizarre-looking, owing to the fancy staggered stack of themers in the center. Each section connects to its neighbors, though, so my solving flow through the grid was smooth.
4.25 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 609), “The Mixed-Up Quintet”—Ade’s take
Good day, everyone! Hope all is well with everyone as we wrap up the first month of 2023.
We have some fun with anagrams with today’s puzzle, as the first words in the five theme entries are all anagrams of each other. So glad that each of those words can stand alone as a word instead of those letters being the beginning four letters of a bigger word.
- LIAM HEMSWORTH (15A: [“The Hunger Games” actor])
- MALI EMPIRE (24A: [West African kingdom founded by Sundiata Keita, the “Lion King”])
- MILA KUNIS (35A: [Ukrainian-born “Friends with Benefits” actress])
- MAIL PICKUP (49A: [Post office employee’s job])
- LIMA BEAN SALAD (58A: [Fiber-rich side dish for legume lovers])
The theme entries and their placements in the grid did not allow too much long non-themed fill anywhere else. There were those two stacks of seven-letter down entries, with MALL RAT standing out the best for me…and possibly taking some of you back to your 1980s youth (1D: [Youth who hangs out at a shopping center]). The times where I am thankful that I observed my mom watching QVC in the past are the times when she tells me that she’s a fan of ISAAC Mizrahi’s collection and of him when he comes on TV, making this answer a layup when it wouldn’t have been otherwise (34D: [Designer Mizrahi]). Love that LAILA (50D: [Undefeated boxer who is the daughter of 47-Across]) and ALI appear almost side-by-side in the grid (47A: [“Sting like a bee” boxer]). Alright, I’M OUT (25D: [“This deal isn’t for me”]), but before I go, I leave you with some thievery…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: STEALS (7A: [Appropriates inappropriately?]) – A number of sport fans would know that former Utah Jazz player John Stockton holds the all-time NBA record in steals, but would you know who has the single-game steals record in league? Well, that record belong to two people: Larry Kenon, who recorded 11 steals for the San Antonio Spurs in a 1976 game against the Kansas City Kings, and Kendall Gill, who had 11 for the New Jersey Nets in a 1999 game against the Miami Heat. Alvin Robertson, one of the all-time great defensive guards of all time, had 10 steals in a game four different times. In one of the games, on February 18, 1986, Robertson, playing for the Spurs, recorded a super-rare quadruple double: 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
John Guzzetta’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
This is a perfectly fine Tuesday theme that didn’t really grab me, possibly because I’m sitting in an airport on hour four of an eight-hour travel day which started with very loud garbage collection at 5:30 AM. So maybe it’s not the puzzle’s fault.
I saw the pattern and didn’t find the revealer either necessary or particularly entertaining (see above re: probably cranky reviewer).
- 20a [Rebate redeemer’s requirement, usually] is PROOF OF PURCHASE
- 39a [Motto for a socially responsible corporation] is PEOPLE OVER PROFIT.
- 56a [Academic ultimatum] is PUBLISH OR PERISH.
And the revealer: 70a [With 71-Across, Destiny’s Child or The Supremes, and an apt description of this puzzle’s longest answers] is POP/TRIO. Each theme phrase starts with P–O–P. Nothing wrong with this. Also nothing particularly compelling.
A few other things:
- [Shapeless mass] is both BLOB and LUMP.
- 25d [Lights-out music] is TAPS. I presume this refers to bedtime and not death.
- 41a [Assorted] is VARIOUS, not VARIABLE, as I first attempted.
- 56d [Prefix with sail] is PARA. I love parasailing, which is a surprise since I used to think I was afraid of heights. It’s not heights I fear. It’s falling, and that seems unlikely. Plus it’s fun!
- Took me a while to parse CAR TOP for [Like some cargo carriers] at 50d. Don’t know why. See above re: tired.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Mara ROONEY was nominated for an Oscar for “Carol.” Movies and geography are my trivia Kryptonite.
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
As advertised, moderately challenging. The toughest part for me was the upper right section. But a little time and torque, et voilà.
- At the heart of that section was 16a [Twenty-seven-year-old Jane Austen protagonist with “every beauty except bloom”] ANNE ELLIOT. (It’s nearly symmetrical to 54a [Jane Austen protagonist to whom it is observed, “You seemed almost as fearful of notice and praise as other women were of neglect”] FANNY PRICE.)
- Other SNAGs (50d) in the upper right: the broad 6d [Hardware bit] T-NUT, 5d [Like drop-crotch pants] SAGGY, the two other long acrosses … really just about all of the entries there. It was slow and deliberate going to complete it and the puzzle.
- 32a [Slogan for an unconventional switch hit?] CLAP ON CLAP OFF. Does this clue work well enough? Does ‘hit’ indicate that it sells—or sold—well?
- 3d [“A real without origin or reality: a hyperreal,” per Jean Baudrillard] SIMULACRUM. Seemingly with new import in our digital age.
- 13d [Metaphor for workers alienated from their labor] COGS. Or too enmeshed in it.
- 26d [Sublease] RELET. I was surprised to discover that let and lease are etymologically unrelated. Also, neither is related to LENT (42a [Advanced]).
- 45d [Serves with sauce?] SASSES. Cute.
- 46d [Controversial pizza condiment] RANCH. Holy shit (ew).
- 49d [In __ delicto (equally at fault, in a lawsuit)] PARI. Marginally better than cluing it as a partial of pari-mutuel.
A welcome Tuesday workout.
Amanda Rafkin’s USA Today Crossword, “Wait Around” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer starts with WA and ends with IT.
- 17a [“Care for a taste?”] – WANT TO TRY IT
- 37a [Exercise outfit] – WARM UP SUIT
- 61a [Mami Wata, for example] – WATER SPIRIT
This is a classic USA Today theme type, which in my opinion lives and dies by how fun the theme answers are and the cleverness of the title pun. Both of these are executed well today by Amanda, and I really enjoyed the puzzle. I had never heard of Mami Wata, so I needed most of the crosses on WATER SPIRIT. I also kept trying to make [Exercise outfit] start with “workout”, even though that doesn’t even work with the theme.
- My favorite clue in the puzzle was [Like this face :( ] for SAD. I don’t know why, it just amused me (ironically).
- Is CITI the full name of the Wells Fargo competitor? I thought it was “Citi Bank”, but I could just be wrong about that
- [Morticia, to Wednesday Addams] for MOM – a well timed clue given the popularity of “Wednesday”! I have yet to watch.