Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Where is the Library?” – Erin’s write-up
Hello lovelies! Might as well start off this review with a Valentine’s Day poem: Roses are red, some folks read in nooks, so let’s review a grid about books!
- 17a. [Feat in a two-on-two wrestling match?] DOUBLE SLAM
- 27a. [“Air mail” or “63 cents,” for instance?] STAMP PHRASE
- 45a. [Fake info leading to a wrong (but funny) location?] JOKE ADDRESS
- 61a. [Nickname for a gangster with bags under his eyes?] POCKET FACE
- 68a. [Word that can follow both words of each long answer] BOOK
So the first theme entry’s words can precede BOOK to form the common phrases DOUBLE BOOK and SLAM BOOK, the second STAMP BOOK and PHRASE BOOK, and so on. It’s a good reminder to show the librarians in your life some love today.
- 13d. [Malaria fly] TSETSE. Malaria is caused by four species of the Plasmodium parasite, and it is transmitted via Anopheles mosquito. TSETSE are flies of the genus Glossina, and they’re deadly to humans in their own way by spreading Trypanosoma brucei, which causes sleeping sickness (not to be confused with Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease). Both potentially deadly illnesses, both caused by parasites spread by flying insects, but unless I’m missing something here, this clue/answer pair is incorrect.
- 6d. [Flower in a dozen] ROSE. Timely entry here.
- 14a. [Multivitamin additive] IRON. This mineral is excluded from many vitamin and mineral supplements because most people get enough iron in their diets, supplement forms are more likely to cause GI issues like constipation, and iron overdose can be fatal. Some people may benefit from supplementation, however, such as pregnant people, people with heavy menses, people with certain chronic diseases, and people who donate blood often.
- 44a. [Bird that a “de-extinction” company is trying to bring back] DODO. This Scientific American article discusses the company and the process by which the company hopes to bring back several animals from extinction. Sounds totally reasonable. *Jurassic Park theme spontaneously starts playing*
Until next week!
Alex Eaton-Salners’ Universal Crossword – “Like a Rock” – Matt F’s write up
Today I was expecting a more overt Valentine’s Day theme so I was pleasantly surprised by this puzzle. The theme was not readily apparent until I uncovered the reveal at 64A – [Cold-hearted … or like 17-, 30-, and 48-Across, based on the letters they’re spelled with?] = MADE OF STONE. Ah, nice! All the theme entries are comprised only of the letters S-T-O-N-E! Let’s check them out:
- 17A – [In the nick of time] = NONE TOO SOON
- 30A – [In direct confrontation] = NOSE TO NOSE
- 48A – [Ready for anything] = ON ONE’S TOES
This puzzle felt fresh and made excellent use of the longer slots — MATRYOSHKA, HOLD ON A SEC, I DOUBT IT, MASS GAIN — and I enjoyed the mix of clues as well. Small touches like the 15/16A pair [LED’s “D” / IPA’s “A”] made the puzzle shine and flow smoothly. Tough/cute clues include:
10A – [Key document?] = MAP
22A – [Word before “farm” of “frog”] = TREE
36A – [Bolt of lightning speed?] = USAIN
59A – [“A ___ in the Sun” (first Broadway play written by a Black woman)] = RAISIN
49D – [Start of four U.S. state names] = NEW
55D – [Poker pot piece] = CHIP
65D – [“Ni-i-ice!”] = OOH
Michael Nebesny’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Reel Lucky”—Jim P’s review
No Valentine’s Day themed puzzle today, unless the word “Lucky” in the title is meant to have multiple meanings. On its surface however, the puzzle’s about SLOTS (53a, [The circled reels wouldn’t be a winner in them]). The Down theme answers are familiar(ish) words and phrases that feature something you might see on the reels of a slot machine.
- 27d. [Cheerfully encouraging] HEARTENING.
- 20d. [Device for a remote patient] TELEMONITOR.
- 7d. [World’s largest twin-engine jet, and an especially lucky spin of the circled wheels] SEVEN SEVEN SEVEN.
- 14d. [Bygone interactive elements of websites] JAVA APPLETS.
- 11d. [Where to order a Choco Brownie Extreme Blizzard] DAIRY QUEEN.
Well, we have a mix of words that are parts of other words and words that stand on their own. Also, the clue for 7d (how apt!) was confusing. Why would three 7s be lucky in a slot machine that has five reels?
I’m not one to partake in SLOTS (didn’t gamble a thing on a recent trip to Vegas), so I wasn’t really aware that most machines these days have five reels. Classic machines just had the three. Also, I knew slot machines had images of fruits, but…a QUEEN? I googled “symbols on a slot machine” and saw fruits, bars, sevens, diamonds, etc. but no queens. I realize there probably aren’t that many symbols that are five-letters long and can fit in a crosswordable phrase with the letters placed just so in the grid, but still, the symbol has to be one that is known to be on a slot machine.
Those nits aside, I will say that it’s a pretty tall order to design this grid with the symbols centered and of course with everything still symmetrical. In fact, that probably explains the inconsistencies I noticed. Visually, the grid makes a nice simulation of a slot machine screen.
Moving on, highlights in the grid include ALLELUIA and “LA LA LAND.” Theme entries in the 2nd and 14th columns necessitated equal-length entries in the 3rd and 12th columns. They aren’t especially sparkly, but they’re solid enough, and it’s quite impressive to have them stacked with theme answers.
Still, grid constraints resulted in some crunchier fill: LUI crossing SIDRA, ESOP, and DDR. Pretty tough for a Tuesday.
Clues of note:
- 5a. [Group of players]. CAST. I was thinking sports so had TEAM here for too long.
- 31a. [Geniuses’ nos.]. IQS. Well, everyone’s got an IQ, I suppose.
- 34a. [Program in which workers get co. shares]. ESOP. Okay, I broke down and looked it up. It stands for Employee Stock Ownership Plan. Bleh. Terrible bit of fill.
Nifty grid design and a fun simulation of a slot machine. Constraints resulted in some inconsistencies and tough fill. 3.5 stars. Despite the downsides, this is an impressive construction—especially for a debut. Congrats!
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 611), “Love at First Bite”—Ade’s take
Good day, everybody! I hope you all are doing great on this Valentine’s Day, and that you are feeling love, affection and appreciation from loved ones, no matter who they are!
Today’s puzzle brings the funny along with Cupid’s arrow, with the first three theme entries, when combined, making up a riddle, and the fourth theme entry answering the Valentine’s Day riddle.
Do any of you have any Valentine’s Day plans tonight?
- WHAT DO PARISIAN FOODIES YEARN FOR ON VALENTINE’S DAY? (16A: [Start of a riddle], 25A: [Riddle, Part 2], 43A: [End of the riddle])
- HUGS AND QUICHES (59A: [Riddle’s answer])
I know I’ve seen a couple of different versions of the clue for CELLISTS in grids past, but doesn’t make it less amazing when encountering it (34D: [They follow in Ma’s footsteps?]). Seeing the clue for BOWL also put me in the mood for Mardi Gras and being in New Orleans, especially given that Fat Tuesday is officially week away (1D: [Gumbo vessel]). Impeccable timing with the clue for DIONNE given the song mentioned in the clue was composed by Burt Bacharach, who just passed away last week (5D: [“Walk on By” singer Warwick]). Depending on when you caught her career first, either this song or the “That’s What Friends Are For” collaboration — another Bacharach composition, I believe — is the song most would closely associate with Warwick. What a career, Dionne, and what a career, Burt! Rest in power, Mr. Bacharach.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BERRA (41D: [Yogi with 358 home runs]) – Most people are aware of both Yogi’s accomplishments on the field and his famous Yogi-isms, but Yogi also had a son who played in the Major Leagues. Dale Berra, an infielder who played a shade over 10 seasons in the Majors from 1977 to 1987, was named after Dale Mitchell, the Brooklyn Dodger who struck out to complete Don Larsen’s perfect game, which was caught by Yogi, in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. Dale, who was born two months after the perfect game, had a .236 career batting average and hit 49 home runs in his career, playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees and Houston Astros. Dale is best known for being on the wrong end of a memorable baserunning gaffe, being the second person tagged out on a play a home plate in which Chicago White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk tagged out two runners trying to score in a span of a second. Remember this play?
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Ella Dershowitz’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
Our Valentine’s Day dinner will be a SQUARE MEAL (the theme revealer) consisting of processed foods sold in squares. The salad course is the chewy candies called STARBURSTS. For our entree, we’re having KRAFT SINGLES cheese food slices sandwiched between SALTINE CRACKERS. And for dessert, as many KLONDIKE BARS as you want, plus some fiber supplements because this meal is no friend to your innards. (Dupe check: ICED two rows below KLONDIKE BARS’ “ice cream” clue.)
Fave fill: THE CURE (seminal 1980s goth culture–I like the song, but if you are sensitive to strobe effects, skip the video), MALE MODELS, and a KETTLEBELL for your workout. Tough for Tuesday newbies: Latin ESSE, churchy APSE, maybe ECRU?
3.5 stars from me.
Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
This was one of the easier Tuesday New Yorkers that I’ve solved, aside from the last square filled, which I took an educated guess on. A guess which turned out to be correct.
That square was the intersection of 5-across [“Place where nobody goes,” in a 1984 Cure album’s title track] THE TOP, and 10d [Ancient empire of the Tigris-Euphrates valley] PARTHIA.
The other most salient aspect of the experience was the misdirection and question mark clues falling flat, or at least not misleading me: 21a [State in French] ÉTAT, 32a [School band?] CLASS RING, 42a [Activity that’s done in a vacuum?] SPACE WALK, 4d [Scent you take off a lot] NEW CAR SMELL, 5d [Place to saw logs] TREE FARM, 11d [Something strengthened by fibre?] WIFI SIGNAL (how does that clue work anyway), 12d [Orange pop?] CREAMSICLE, and even a few more.
- 1a [Word with dryer or doctor] SPIN. Yes, I thought of a lint doctor.
- 15a [Macula locale] RETINA. As in macular degeneration.
- 63a [Regnal abbreviation whose first letter can stand for two different words] HRH. A fancy way of pointing out that the abbreviation works for either a king or queen (his vs her).
- 24d [“¡Nos vemos!”] ADIOS, 27d [Número that resembles a sideways simbolo de infinito] OCHO, 50a [When sung six times, a popular stadium chant] OLÉ.
- 54d [Coffee or tea, e.g.] NOUN. Okay, this one did ‘fool’ me in the sense that it was open-ended enough to give me pause and wait for crossings.
Overall, it’s a a well-integrated, flowing grid, thanks in no small part to the overlapping and stacked long answers.
Matthew Stock & May Huang’s USA Today Crossword, “Down to Earth” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each down theme answer ends with a synonym for “earth”.
- 19d [Destination invoked in King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech] – PROMISED LAND
- 21d [Unsolid foundation] – SHAKY GROUND
- 22d [Share gossip] – DISH THE DIRT
When I first read the title, I was thinking about earth more in the “planet” sense than the “soil” sense (blame it on all the sci-fi I’ve been reading recently), but I quickly caught on to what was going on here. The first two theme answers only needed a few letters to fall, but DISH THE DIRT took a while to come to me even though I’ve heard the term before. I liked how even though the puzzle was asymmetric, the three theme answers were numerically adjacent in the down clues.
Fave fill: TOM YUM, SPRITZES, JELLO
Fave clues: 14a [Filling for Ethiopian sambusas] for LENTILS (these are so good), 42d [What feet and noses can both do] – RUN
New to me: 36a [WNBA All-Star Ogunbowale] for ARIKE, 5d [Poetic form used by Basho] for HAIKU
Lynn Lempel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
I didn’t look at the byline until I started to write this review and then I said “I should have known.” This smooth and satisfying solve has Lynn Lempel’s fingerprints all over it.
Each theme answer is a punny “support group” for an actor or musician.
- 17a [Support group for singer-songwriter Neil?] is YOUNG PEOPLE.
- 28a [Support group for singer-songwriter Ruthie?] is FOSTER FAMILY.
- 49a [Support group for actress Glenn?] is CLOSE FRIENDS.
- 65a [Support group for actor Jude?] is LAW PARTNERS.
This feels really fresh to me. I don’t remember seeing anything like it before, at least not recently (if at all). I like the symmetry of two singer-songwriters and two actors. Ruthie Foster is new to me, and that’s clearly been my loss. She’s amazing.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: Ruthie Foster.