Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Jonesin' 5:03 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 4:11 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 5:06 (Matt F) 


USA Today 3:26 (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Just Visiting” – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution, 2/21/23

`Jonesin’ solution, 2/21/23

Hello lovelies! This week’s Jonesin’ theme is names and phrases that start with the letters J.V.

  • 17a. [Fictitious “100% Colombian Coffee” farmer in an old ad campaign] JUAN VALDEZ
  • 31a. [Musician such as Stéphane Grappelli (and not many others in that genre)] JAZZ VIOLINIST
  • 46a. [Business partnerships] JOINT VENTURES
  • 63a. [French science fiction novelist who’s the second most-translated individual author in the world] JULES VERNE (Agatha Christie is the first)

Other thing for today: 44a. [Conditional suffix?] –OSIS. I had AS IS (which isn’t a suffix but is conditional) until over a minute of typo-hunting helped me realize AVERJOY is not a word.

Until next week!

Drew Schmenner’s Universal Crossword – “Tech Hub” – Matt F’s write up

Universal Solution – 02.21.2023 – “Tech Hub” by Drew Schmenner

Straightforward puzzle today with a simple theme and a spot on reveal at 51A – [Fuji discard … and a hint to the devices hidden in 25-, 34-, and 46-Across] = APPLE CORE. Each theme answer contains the name of an Apple device:

  • 25A – [Suffer sudden back pain] = SLIP A DISK
  • 34A – [Nearest star to the sun] = PROXIMA CENTAURI
  • 46A – [Auto mileage counters that can be reset] = TRIP ODOMETERS

I like the use of left-right symmetry here. Each theme answer is physically centered in the grid, adding a nice “core element” to the construction. I wonder if IPOD will see a decline in crosswords since it was discontinued in 2022 (after an impressive 20-year run). I thought this puzzle flowed smoothly despite the four tight corners, and it had some nice clues throughout:
9A – [Manipulated, as the system] = GAMED
65A – [Turned pink, say] = DYED
3D – [One whose pants are on fire?] = LIAR
13D – [Paper pusher’s place] = DESK
33D – [Barista’s jarful] = TIPS
61D – [Couch potato’s home?] = DEN

Thanks Drew!

Jared Goudsmit’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Duffel Shuffle”—Jim P’s review

Theme: MIXED BAG (64a, [Potpourri, and a hint to the puzzle theme]). The other theme answers are familiar phrases that feature the letters BAG consecutively but scrambled.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Duffel Shuffle” · Jared Goudsmit · Tue., 2.21.23

  • 17a. [Trendy type of seat] YOGA BALL. Did not know this was a thing. But the jury is still out on whether a YOGA BALL seat is good for you.
  • 21a. [Where you’ll find the thyme] HERB GARDEN.
  • 33a. [Cotton Club ensemble, perhaps] SWING BAND.
  • 45a. [Unwelcome lawn growth] CRAB GRASS.
  • 56a. [Insect with jaws resembling antlers] STAG BEETLE.

Solid theme. Each phrase is firmly in the language, and elegantly, each permutation of the letters is represented. A nice touch, that.

When a grid has six lengthy theme answers, there’s usually not much room for long fill, but we get a few niceties thrown our way today including BUDDHA, ATLANTIC (Ave. in Monopoly), FOURFOLD, HOBBIT, and PLACEBO. There are only 15 3-letter entries which is on the low side. That ends up meaning that there’s a healthy dose of mid-length entries to sink our teeth into. And since there’s not much crosswordese, the solve was mostly smooth and enjoyable.

I didn’t find many clues to take note of, so I will close things out here. The theme certainly isn’t groundbreaking, but it does the job, and it does it well. The fill was quite nice for a grid with six theme entries. 3.75 stars.

Dani Raymon’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 2 21 23, no. 0221

Today’s theme is a HIDDEN / AGENDA, clued [With 68-Across, ulterior motive … or what 21-, 37- and 59-Across each has?]. Those three themers are phrases in which the word AGENDA is split across two words:

  • 21a. [New York City-born ice cream brand with a Danish-sounding name], HAAGEN-DAZS.
  • 37a. [1970s auto that shares part of its name with one of Santa’s reindeer], VOLKSWAGEN DASHER. I do not remember that one. Apparently this was the U.S. name for the first Passat B1, a homely creature; I drove the B5.5 in the ’00s.
  • 59a. [Name for the star on Israel’s flag], MAGEN DAVID. Did not know this! Star of David, sure. Wikipedia informs me that it means “shield of David” in Hebrew, and the Yiddish pronunciation is used for the wine label Mogen David. (#TheMoreYouKnow) The not-so-familiar MAGEN part is more gettable thanks to the hidden AGENDA giving you most of the letters.

Fave fill: LIBERACE, SWOLE (I enjoy informal newer words that add flavor to our language; see also: doggo, pupper, rando, hundo P), a DEEP SIGH, GONE AWOL, and MIA HAMM (toughish clue with no mention of soccer: [Sports star inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2021]).

Hard for Tuesday NOVICEs: ARRANT crossing ENNEAD (when’s the last time you encountered one of these words in conversation?), MENLO Park, KETONE, ENID the [Camelot lady], AAHED as a verb sans oohed. Do you think this should have been a Wednesday puzzle instead? I think maybe yes.

3.5 stars from me.


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 612), “Anagrammatically Yours”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 612: “Anagrammatically Yours”

Hello there, everybody! Here is hoping you are all doing well as we get to take advantage of the last full week of February to the fullest! Oh, and if you’re in the path of the latest winter storm up north, stay safe and stay warm! Spring is coming soon…I think?!

Today’s puzzle was more fun with anagrams, with the puzzle reveal also acting as an instruction of what is going on with the first three theme entries — the word “ALONG” being anagrammed. Awesome bit of info contained in the reveal answer’s clue as well!

        • GOLAN HEIGHTS (14A: [*Hilly region northeast of the Sea of Galilee])
        • ANGLO-SAXON (28A: [*Old English])
        • LOGAN LUCKY (44A: [*2017 heist comedy film by Steven Soderbergh])
        • SHUFFLE ALONG (57A: [1921 Broadway show, the first major African American hit musical (whose title hints at the puzzle theme — see starred answers)])

The left side of the middle of the grid took a while longer than I would have wanted to take down, and that was caused by putting in “inns” for DENS which left me trying to figure out what all of those downs could be (31A: [Cozy rooms]). MAX BAER, on the other hand, was no issue for me, and his story is, in and of itself, something out of Hollywood, similar to “Cinderella Man” James J. Braddock (18D: [’30s boxing champ depicted in “Cinderella Man”]): insulted by Nazi Germany when he fought then-heavyweight champion Max Schmelling, defeated Schmelling at Yankee Stadium for the world title, became a boxing referee, was a headline actor in Hollywood, did comedy, worked as a disc jockey, and more.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TREA (46A: [Phillies shortstop ___ Turner]) – The Philadelphia Eagles might not have won the Super Bowl, but fans can now concentrate on baseball to see how the defending National League champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, look on the field with new shortstop Trea Turner, who signed an 11-year, $300 million contract this offseason. Turner’s production has been worth the money, as he’s been a two-time All-Star (2020, 2021),  a two-time National League leader in stolen bases (2018, 2021) and won the World Series as a member of the Washington Nationals in 2019.  Turner is also tied for the all-time Major League lead in the number of times hitting for the cycle (a single, double, triple, and a home run in the same game), with three. Since his three cycles came in 2017, 2019, and 2021, that suggests he will set the new record sometime this season, in 2023.

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

Take care!


Erica Hsiung Wojcik’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I did not see the common thread in the theme answers until I got to the revealer. It’s all about initials. Going left to right instead of numerical order, we have:

Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2023, Erica Hsiung Wojcik, solution grid

  • 3d [*”A Matter of Life and Death” heavy metal band] is IRON MAIDEN.
  • 22d [*Fencer seeking revenge in “The Princess Bride”] is INIGO MONTOYA.
  • 9d [*Ralph Ellison novel about the Black American experience] is INVISIBLE MAN.
  • 32d [*Noisy amenity in a motel hallway] is an ICE MACHINE.

And the revealer is 53d [“Count me in!,” or an apt description of the answers to the starred clues: IM DOWN. All the theme answers start with I M. This is a solid execution of a tried-and-true theme, entirely appropriate for a Tuesday.

A few other things:

  • 18a [Attractive person with gray hair] is SILVER FOX. Does that apply to women as well as men?
  • Does anyone say I DIG any more? Or, for that matter, call someone’s mouth the KISSER?
  • If only the EPA really did ensure that water was POTABLE everywhere in the country.
  • The SAMI people live in what we used to call Lapland; it’s properly called Sapmi.
  • 64a [“I can be better”] is an awkward construction. I like the answer, SHAME ON ME. It deserves a better clue.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of Fela KUTI. Glad I have now!

Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 2/21/23 • Tue • Agard • solution • 20230221

Aside from some very minimal turbulence at the end, this felt easier than the New Yorker‘s typical Tuesday offerings.

  • 5a [Deli orders in bowls] CAESARS. I’ve exclusively heard them called by the full name, including the salad.
  • 16a [Holding no water] MERITLESS, 9d [Totally dominated] ATE ALIVE. Metaphors!
  • 17a [Creator of TransLash Media] IMARA JONES. One of my final hiccups was filling in the square intersecting 18d [ __ and James (villainous duo in “Pokémon”)] JESSIE. It was a case of WECIB (‘what else could it be’?).
  • 20a [List of house rules] STYLE SHEET. Had STYLE GUIDE initially. This is primarily an editing thing, in my experience.
  • 24a [ __ doors (car doors that open up instead of out)] SCISSOR. These are the ones that pivot up, as compared to gull-wings, which truly open up.
  • 28a [Heads out, or parts of some heads] LEAVES. Not understanding the second part of the clue.
  • 41a [Name that’s also an Australian airport code] MEL. My first instinct was SYD, but that wasn’t playing well with the surrounding fill. After completing 42d [What very few are able to pull a one-eighty on?] with PSAT (it’s LSAT), I was further stymied. Eventually I sorted out this other hiccup to complete the crossword.
  • 43a [Detractor’s activity] HATERATION. This is legit, but I predict there will be detractors.
  • 3d [Game tactics, for short] STRATS. For strategies, not Stratocasters.
  • 13d [Form of online trolling named for a pinniped] SEALIONING. Here is the original  2014 Wondermark comic that originated the concept.
  • 29d [Switch to a hands-off approach?] AUTOMATE. Toyed with AUTOSAVE, AUTODATE, and perhaps something else before figuring it out via MEL (41a).
  • 31d [Brand that makes half-pound cups] REESE’S. I sincerely hope that these are not ingested by individuals. That’s way too much for one person!
  • 44d [Count against?] NAYS. Eloquent, economical clue. 28d [More economical] LEANER.

Solid crossword with an unusual grid.

Rafael Musa’s USA Today Crossword, “Second String” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer’s second word can precede “string”.

USA Today, 02 21 2023, “Second String”

  • 17a [“You’re such a goof”] – THAT’S SILLY
  • 33a [Invisible “instrument”] – AIR GUITAR
  • 47a [Holiday dish often served glazed] – CHRISTMAS HAM

Some quick bullet point thoughts:

  • Solid iteration of a classic theme, great title, loved all three of the answers themselves.
  • I spent a while trying to figure out if PASSPORT was a theme answer too, but I *think* a “port string” isn’t a thing??
  • Lots of duplicate/similarly themed clues today: airlines DELTA and UNITED, woolly animals ALPACA and LLAMA
  • Fave fill: LIKE LIKE, PIXAR SHORT (both “Bao” and “Lava” are great), EASTER EGGS, MUPPET
  • New to me: Goalkeeper Guillermo OCHOA, the abbreviation “AYCE” for ALL you can eat.
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20 Responses to Tuesday, February 21, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: Nice theme. I like that the schwa sounds of the second A in AGENDA is different in each of the other theme answers.

    Pretty easy puzzle overall. The hardest thing was remembering how to spell HÄAGEN-DAZS (which I just had to check again).

    I’ve seen SWOLE in two or three previous puzzles. While it’s very evocative, I don’t care for it orthographically. (And to be honest, I don’t much care for the image it evokes.)

  2. Mary Flaminio says:

    I clicked on the NYT icon and yesterday’s puzzle came up!

    • Eric H says:

      Reboot your device. Or exit the app and try again.

    • cyberdiva says:

      I don’t have the NYT app, but I too got yesterday’s puzzle when I went to the crossword page (https://www.nytimes.com/crosswords), clicked on the Print icon (because I print out the puzzles and solve them in pencil), and then on Newspaper Version, as I always do. Instead of today’s puzzle, there was yesterday’s. I wrote to inform them of this last night, but…. Anyway, I found that if instead of Newspaper Version, I clicked on Standard Layout, today’s puzzle appeared.

    • Lois says:

      As cyberdiva says, the reformatted version is the way to go. The correct newspaper version of the puzzle is still not on the Times site. I was wondering whether that was because someone was trying to update the puzzle and has not been successful. There is a subtle but big grammatical error in the theme clues of 9-across and 68-across. In this case, there should have been a plural verb in the clause beginning “what 21-, 37- and 59-Across each … .” “Each” is not the subject of the clause–the group of clues is the subject.

      • Lois says:

        The Times Tuesday puzzle finally appeared on the Times’s XWord Info, with an uncorrected clue for 9-across, so I was wrong about the reason for the absence of the puzzle. But the use of the singular here is incorrect.

    • JohnH says:

      I’d the same problem and didn’t think of undoing the choice of newspaper format. Interesting. Rather, I exited the browser (which in my settings clears data) and tried again, also manually clearing history and running CCleaner, which clears Windows temp files. Then trying again. No help. (So no to Eric H’s suggestion.) But eventually, indeed by coincidence only a few minutes later, poof, and Tuesday’s was there.

      But question for you all. In the meantime, I clicked on the main link rather than the print icon, bringing up the online solve. It had the Tuesday puzzle, so I tried Crossword Scraper, which has been invaluable with TNY. (Thanks again to the kind people here for suggesting it months back.) But it brought up a request to allow certain permissions that I don’t recall from TNY. And then neither option (accept or cancel) was an active link. I recall having a similar issue in trying Crossword Scraper on WSJ, but with a slightly different request for permissions (relating to something starting with “amazon” of all things). What should I have done? Thank you!

      • sanfranman59 says:

        At one point or another, I think I’ve successfully used CS for all of the puzzles I do (NYT, LAT, WSJ, Universal, USAT, TNY). I use it to grab scrape NYT puzzle every day because I much prefer to use my usual app vs the NYT online app. If memory serves (it doesn’t always!), the first time I use CS for a particular puzzle, it asks for permissions. Thereafter, I believe that it remembers and works for that puzzle.

        Disclaimer … it’s entirely possible that I’m misremembering a detail or two … it may not have worked for one of the above puzzles … USAT maybe?

        p.s. Yes … I just verified that I can’t get it to work with the USAT puzzle, but I’m almost sure that it works with all of the other puzzles listed above.

  3. marciem says:

    NYT: 50d: Utahan
    TNY: 34a: Utahn

    Turns out the Utahn (no second ‘a’) is the preferred nickname of those residing in that state :) .

    And wow… interesting re: Magen David / Mogen David (the wine) “Shield of David” !! I love this place :) .

    • JohnH says:

      Ah, thanks much. I’d been wonder whether Utahn was actually a word, especially given the availability of Utahan, which looks more familiar or natural to my eye, but what do I know. (Actually, turns out, both MW11C and RHUD list both, but with Utahan first. I’d have thought they based that on usage by natives, since others are so much less likely to refer to them, but who knows.)

      Unlike Pannonica, I definitely did not find TNY easy for a Tuesday. I’ll spare you all a list of the multiple crossings that are frustrating me.

      • JohnH says:

        Well, ok. After a good dozen wild and unsatisfying guesses of other dense crossings, I ended up defeated by IMARA JONES crossing JESSIE. IMHO, it is not at all in the category of “what else could it be?” In fact, to me it could be practically anything.

        Also, while I won’t list my frustrations, is the clue for WEAN at all correct? To me and the dictionaries I’ve checked, you wean someone on or off something. You don’t wean something from someone.

        • Mr. [very] Grumpy says:

          Not sure what the complaint is about WEANED since the “Removed gradually” clue does not refer to something or someone in any particular order.

          That said, I thought this was a horrible puzzle. The “creator of TransLash Media” [whatever that is] crossing a Pokémon character crossing a character in the Black Panther movie – not to mention nonsense words like SEA LIONING and HATERATION. Ugh.

          • JohnH says:

            Thanks. Agree strongly. As for _ ESSIE, could have been Tessie, Nessie, Bessie, and more, while the across entry could have been all sorts of names obscure to me.

            I guess I should accept “removed gradually” as applying to the eater and not just to the food, although to my ear that means putting the eater between “removed” and “gradually.”

            • sanfranman59 says:

              For me, the JESSIE/JONES cross was inferrable even though I didn’t know either name. JESSIE goes naturally with James in the clue because of Jesse James (in fact, I’d be pretty surprised if that’s not the reason those two names were paired by the people who are responsible for the English language version of Pokémon). JONES is an ultra common name and certainly way more feasible than tONES, nONES or bONES among the other letters that you suggest could have fit with _ESSIE.

              I see no problem at all with the clue for WEANED. I don’t understand your objection to it. How is “Removed gradually” incompatible with “you wean someone on or off something”? I don’t get what you mean by “putting the eater between “removed” and “gradually.”

      • marciem says:

        My info was that the people who live there prefer Utahn.


        As for wean/weaned, seems fine to me as clued. Having weaned several children, the “off of (the bottle, breast etc)” is implied.

  4. Papa John says:

    pannonica — ” [Heads out, or parts of some heads] LEAVES.” Think of leaves on a head of lettuce.

  5. Milo says:

    TNY: Quite the workout, with plenty of crunchy entries (or nonsense words in Mr. Grumpy’s parlance) that initially offered a lot of resistance but were ultimately inferable with crossings. I was chuffed to employ an expression I had heretofore only seen in crosswords and cry out “it me!” when filling in 29-A.

  6. Martin says:

    Another power outage.

    About 3,000 homes affected, so I hope it will get some attention. But if puzzles go missing, it means my backup power supply has run out (it’s good for about 2 hours).

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Dang, Martin! You’ve had a rough winter there! I recall you having this many outages over the years you’ve been hosting puzzles for Amy’s community out here. Thanks again for your service and I hope you’re plugged in again soon.

  7. Seattle Derek says:

    Universal: 17A: “Neutral and reverse, for two”. Answer: “Gears”. Hmm, I’ve taken apart a few auto transmissions in my time and I’ve never located a “neutral gear”…

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