Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Just Visiting” – Erin’s write-up
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
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
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.
- 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
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 Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 612), “Anagrammatically Yours”—Ade’s take
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!
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:
- 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: I‘M 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
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”.
- 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.