Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Them Apples” – Erin’s write-up
Hello lovelies! We have a simple theme this week: varieties of apples.
- 16a. [Annual fashion-based New York fundraiser] THE MET GALA. Gala apples originated in New Zealand and are a cross between Golden Delicious and Kidd’s Orange Red apples.
- 61a. [Japanese-manufactured photography equipment, perhaps] FUJI CAMERA. This cross between Red Delicious and Ralls Janet was developed in Japan in the 1930s and made it to the US in the 1980s.
- 10d. [Scoffing term used to criticize research of “softer sciences” (such as with the Nobel Prize in Economics)] PHYSICS ENVY. Envy™ apples are a New Zealand trademarked Royal Gala x Braeburn cross, which means the Braeburn plant pollinated the Royal Gala.
- 23d. [Traditional New Orleans procession with band accompaniment] JAZZ FUNERAL. Another trademarked New Zealand brand, but this time a Braeburn x Royal Gala cross (so the Royal Gala pollinated the Braeburn).
Some fill I enjoyed: HEY KID (which I appreciate as a geriatric millennial), BRA clued as [Cacique garment] and not quantifying any particular cup size as average or large or whatever, and BARRACUDA. Also, today I learned that the R-RATED Cocaine Bear is a film based on (SPOILER ALERT) an actual bear that ate almost 75 pounds of actual cocaine dumped out of a plane by an actual former narcotics officer turned drug smuggler in 1985. Wow. I need to stay more up to date on pop culture.
Until next week!
Sam Koperwas and Jeff Chen’s Universal Crossword – “Counter Culture” – Matt F’s write up
No, we’re not talking about the hippie movement of the 1960’s. The title here is referring to a
counter deli serving up culture cheese. Per the reveal at 72A – [With 73-Across, deli purchases found within each row of starred clues’ answers] = CHEESE | SLICES. Sam and Jeff literally cut types of cheese (with black blocks) across four complete rows in the grid.
- 1|7A – [HS class where students bond over bonds] | [Like some notes or blocks] = APCHEM|MENTAL
- 22|24|26A – [___’s razor] | [Glowing remnant] | [Explosive letters] = OCCAM|EMBER|TNT
- 39|41|43A – [Composer Stravinsky] | [Like Hunter S. Thompson’s journalism] | [Major chip maker] = IGOR|GONZO|LAYS
- 53|56|58A – [“Web” or “spy” follower] | [Writer Jong] | [Wafer brand] = CAM|ERICA|NILLA
This one stretched my knowledge of cheeses in the world. I was not familiar with Emmental or Camembert cheese, so I didn’t catch the theme until I uncovered “gorgonzola” in the middle. After researching a bit, I now know that Emmental cheese is more commonly known as Swiss cheese in the U.S., and Camembert is very similar to Brie except it has a lower fat content (45% vs. 65%). I love how each cheese is spread across a full row, even if our first example only shares 2 words while the others share 3. The 2-word example doesn’t bother me because it matches the reveal symmetrically, and ensures the corners could stay relatively open to enhance the fill. Also, this puzzle taught me about “gonzo journalism” which I was unfamiliar with.
Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story using a first-person narrative. The word “gonzo” is believed to have been first used in 1970 to describe an article about the Kentucky Derby by Hunter S. Thompson, who popularized the style. It is an energetic first-person participatory writing style in which the author is a protagonist, and it draws its power from a combination of social critique and self-satire. It has since been applied to other subjective artistic endeavors. -Wikipedia
Noteworthy non-theme stuff (there was a lot of “new-to-me” stuff in this one):
17A – [Another name for Buddha] = GAUTAMA (I had no idea!)
19A – [Boxer who said, “If you ever dream of beating me, you better wake up and apologize”] = ALI (love a fun clue for a short/common answer!)
35A – [Print smear?] = LIBEL
44A – [Co-op kin] = CONDO (co-ops and condos both rely on shared communities)
49A – [Inert gas whose name comes from the Greek for “lazy”] = ARGON (fun fact!)
3D – [Biblical promised land] = CANAAN (did not know this!)
6D – [High-end German appliance brand] = MIELE
8D – [Tip for a revision?] = ERASER
53D – [Señor’s residence] = CASA (I added this here because the .puz format cannot show the tilde, which is an unfortunate shortcoming of that file format. C’mon .puz developers, we need symbols and italics already!)
Thanks Sam and Jeff!
Jesse Goldberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Cut the Comedy!”—Jim’s review
Synonyms for “joke” are found in the circled letters as parts of two entries, separated (or “cut”) by a black square. The revealer is CRACK A JOKE (60a, [Say something funny, and what the sets of circled letters do]).
- GAG: EYE-POPPING / AGES. Any 10-letter entry ending in G would suffice for the first part, so…not the tightest theme.
- PUN: PROPPED UP / UNDER. Similar issue here.
- ONE-LINER: COLONEL / INERTIA. This one was a bit surprising in a good way. I especially liked that clue for COLONEL [Mustard sometimes used with a knife]. (Yes, “used” isn’t quite the right word, but I’ll allow it.)
- JEST: MINAJ / ESTRANGED.
Seems like we had a similar theme not that long. Ah, here it is. Five weeks isn’t that much time between such similar themes. They could’ve been spread out more, but I guess they are different enough.
This one’s pretty loose, though, as I mentioned above. With the exception of ONE-LINER, there’s a plethora of ways to build this theme, mainly because the “joke” words are so short.
But the theme does its job and should help any solver who gets stuck toward the bottom of the grid, by not knowing Nicki MINAJ, for example. And EYE-POPPING is a fun entry even though only one letter goes toward the theme.
Ooh, I LOVES me some EMPANADAs. But I mainly know the kind we Chamorros from Guam make. Pictured are some I made for the very first time a few weeks ago. They came out okay, and they were a ton of work, but at least I know what to do for next time.
I also like PIMM’S, but I’ve never heard it used as clued [___ cup (fruity gin drink)]. It’s the traditional drink to have on hand when enjoying a match at Wimbledon.
Clues of note:
- 14a. [Swinging joint?]. ELBOW. Nice clue.
- 5d. [Attacks like an eagle]. SWOOPS IN. Hmm. I suppose that’s technically true, but we humans can swoop in as well, and I think that angle would’ve made for a more fun clue.
A fine theme and grid, but it just didn’t engage me as much as I’d hoped. Three stars.
Enrique Henestroza Anguiano & Matthew Stock’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
Cool theme. The revealer in this 16×15 puzzle is the 16-letter spanner in the middle, OPPOSITES ATTRACT. The other themers are phrases whose first two words (in some form or another) have opposite meanings: OFF ON A LARK, BIG LITTLE LIES, LEFT RIGHT AWAY (nice find! never noticed this about the phrase), and OUT IN FRONT (pick a side and go with it!).
Fave fill: idiomatic LIT UP ([Got visibly excited, in a way]), SUPERFOODS, SHANGHAI, TAME IMPALA.
A tad surprised to encounter STENO in a 2023 crossword, though it appears the word (it’s shorthand for stenographer, which used to be a person using Gregg shorthand with pen and paper) is still out there in corners of the working world, court reporters and whatnot. If you have no idea what Gregg shorthand is, take a gander at this. My mom used to use Gregg … sometimes for writing lists of what Santa was getting for my sister and me. It still looks incomprehensible to me.
Four stars from me.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
This one was pitched just right for the magazine’s ‘moderately challenging’ offering, in my opinion. There were plenty of impasses but they were transitory, as I was able to nimbly redirect and refocus my efforts to make consistent but not unbroken progress. In fact, the grid was completed in basically a single clockwise circuit starting from and ending with the upper left section.
- 1a [Less ordinary] is ODDER, but my instinct was for RARER, which was not cooperating with crossing entries. Got some satisfaction later on upon encountering 38a [Collector’s superlative] RAREST.
- 18a [Sets of goals] HAT TRICKS is a clue that’s increased in difficulty by maintaining a certain vagueness and generality.
- 21a [“The Stroke” singer Billy] SQUIER. Easy for an Xer like me, but I suspect tough for other demographics.
- 26a [Existed] BEEN, not WERE.
- 35a [The Houyhnhnms identify Gulliver as one] YAHOO. A very New Yorker clue.
- 42a [Innocents of the past?] POPES. Ooh, tricksy.
- 53a [Down state?] ILL HEALTH. A mildly tricky clue.
- 58a [Asia’s Tian __ Mountains] SHAN. The name translates to ‘Mountains of Heaven‘, so there’s a bit of redundancy here.
- 4d [Pride and joy] EMOTIONS. Clue toughened by omitting a subordinate qualifier such as ‘for two’ or ‘for example’. Compare 30d [Gruel and grits, for two]
- 9d [Erik whose autobiography is subtitled “My Road From Harlem to Hollywood”] ESTRADA. That would be East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem.
- 11d [Sanctioned by law] Legal? Legit? LICIT.
- 16d [What’s denoted by a frowning mask] TRAGEDY. As seen in the Sock and Buskin symbol, but I wouldn’t call that expression a frown so much as distraught. Am I in error?
- 21d [Mercury model with an animal name] SABLE (Martes zibellina). Am supposing this is the mustelid rather than the fish (Anoplopoma fimbria).
- 36d [Android : Google :: iPhone : __ ] APP STORE. I didn’t realize that it has such a generic name (rather than Apple Store—which I now realize is the name for the company’s brick-and-mortar locations) and was seriously considering that there might be an uncharacteristic single rebus square in this puzzle.
- 47d [Mystery Inc. character who became a queer icon] VELMA. Surname: Dinkley.
This crossword was a nice start to the day.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 614), “The Common Touch”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everybody! Spring will eventually spring, and until then, hope you all are staying warm. Just traveled from D.C. back up north, and let’s just say that I wish I was back in the nation’s capital right now since it was close to 60 degrees there before leaving.
Can’t stay too long on here because of aforementioned travel — and continuing travel — related to March Madness, but hope you all like the progression that went on in the grid, with the first word in the first theme entry becoming the second word in the next theme, and so on and so on!
- GOING OVER (16A: [Thorough examination])
- OVERSTATE (22A: [Hyperbolize])
- STATE LINE (29A: [Nebraska/Kansas border, for one])
- LINE DRIVE (39A: [Solid baseball hit])
- DRIVE HOME (46A: [Emphasize with clarity, as a point])
- HOME GOING (56A: [Yaa Gyasi’s 2016 novel, winner of the Pen/Hemingway Award])
Love that, despite the theme density, we still has four other nine-letter entries that were a part of the grid, and all of those entries shined, with AS I RECALL being the best one for me (3D: [“If memory serves…”]). Oh, and RELAX has caused a Frankie Goes to Hollywood earworm to crawl inside (47D: [“Stop stressing out!”]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DEE (36D: [Capital of Delaware?]) – Shoutouts to two separate basketball players named Dee Brown: the first, who spent much of his NBA career with the Boston Celtics, won the 1991 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, while the second, who played at the University of Illinois before playing in the NBA, was the 2005 Big Ten Player of the Year on a team that went 37-2 and went to the Final Four before losing to North Carolina in the national championship game.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “First Light/ Sun Up” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Anna Gundlach
Theme: Double theme! The first word of the thematic across answers can precede “light”, and the first word of the thematic down answers can follow “sun”.
- 18a [Brewpub’s outdoor seating area] – BEER GARDEN
- 38a [Impressive performance that gets massive applause] – SHOWSTOPPER
- 59a [Inexpensive reds and whites at a restaurant] – HOUSE WINES
- 2d [Workouts performed on hands and toes] – BEAR CRAWLS
- 5d [Asana with a divine name] – GODDESS POSE
- 29d [Chewy orange snack] – DRIED MANGO
This is probably the most amount of thematic material that I’ve ever seen in a USA Today puzzle. And it’s symmetric! And all the theme answers sparkle! It’s a really impressive construction, and I liked how the two title parts were related (although I did notice the “first light” much sooner than the “sun up”). I also loved how clearly the puzzle’s voice came through via the clues.
Favorite clues: [Ending for “kilo” or “candy”] for GRAM, [Big ___ placements (sun, moon and rising signs)] for THREE, [Trans ___ are human ___] RIGHTS (and don’t you forget it).
Most embarrassing moment for me: 45d [Number of B’s in this clue] … I put in “one”.
New to me: 23a [“Celia’s Song” writer Maracle] for LEE
Little help, please.
In the last Puns & Anagrams, LENT is the answer for “time to give up.” If Lent is a time to give up where’s the wordplay. To have lent something is a time of giving up but I don’t really see the wordplay here either.
Anyone see how LAG works for “fall slower”? Saw that in a crossword and not sure about it.
LENT is the period leading up to Easter for Christians. Many Christians “give up” something during Lent as a show of sacrifice. I guess the wordplay is in the ambiguity of Lent as a religious season vs. lent as a verb.
Don’t know about LAG.
I don’t remember the last P&A. Must have been a few weeks ago in the Sunday NYT? And I don’t understand LAG either. But these clues apart, bear in mind that the format is pretty much anything goes.
When I first discovered it, when Mel Taub (an anagram, by coincidence, of MUTABLE, as Cox and Rathvon have pointed out) wrote them, and I loved them for their cleverness and accessibility. Now that I’ve been introduced to cryptics, with rules limiting wordplay and always pairing wordplay with a definition, P&A’s free form actually got harder for me! Go figure.
So it’s hard to criticize a P&A clue, but I think “Time to give up” functions as a punning definition. Lent is a time of year to give up something (transitive), but the clue (which in an ordinary crossword would not be accepted with that meaning) has you thinking instead of time to concede defeat (intransitive).
Thanks for the replies.
Maybe LENT doesn’t allow for a good pun, anagram or clever clue.
Fall as in take place, occur, thus, LAG.
NYT: I agree, interesting theme. And it’s one of my favorite broader themes of highlighting the quirks of the English language.
Expressions like OUT IN FRONT and OFF ON A LARK are part of what makes idiom confusing when you first learn English as a non-native speaker.
Some of these short words can be rather perplexing- If you look up the word “OUT” in the dictionary, it’s everything: an adverb, a preposition, and adjective, a noun and a verb. In the couple of other languages I know, you’d need completely different words to cover all that… If you put OFF in Google translate, you have to specify whether it’s a preposition or an adjective.
But these words are very handy for adding nuance– Out in front is quite different from simply In Front. Very cool aspect of the language.
NYT: I enjoyed this more than any Tuesday puzzle in recent memory. The theme is simple to understand but plays out in a variety of interesting ways. The fill is as close to spotless as is possible, and there are a number of amusing clues.
TNY – Lower half of the puzzle was about expected, but as for the top half…
3d [Walkie-talkie user’s question] DO YOU READ. Surely not, right? Do you read ME? maybe, or Do you COPY, absolutely, but this clue-answer combo just feels wrong.
The whole NW section was by far the hardest for me. I wasn’t aware there was an alternate spelling of KOs in the 17a KAYOS so nothing was working for that entry, and I’ve never heard of the 21a singer Billy SQUIER (not my era, as you can tell). I got no help from the Downs either. I wasn’t able to parse out what 2d [Kim Chi or Jujubee] meant, though I should have known something was up with the extra ‘e’ on Jujubee. I’ve already explained my confusion on 3d, and it took me way too long to get EMOTIONS. Why is there no qualifier for this clue but on 30d [Gruel and grits, for two] there is? Just seems inconsistent.
And then there was 37a [Adjournment]. That is by definition not an END, but a break or recess before continuing something. Couldn’t figure out a 3-letter word for it, and so I wasn’t helping my Down-solving woes. Like 3d, this clue-answer combo seems incorrect. Maybe I’m being petty, but it feels like it was deliberately worded in such a manner to increase difficulty, but throwing away accuracy in the process.
I found it on the easy side for a Tuesday, but also interesting and fair. I had not encountered SQUIER that I can remember in a crossword, although I could be wrong, but it and the DRAG QUEENS came quickly enough somehow from crossings.
Canadian bozo–Hoser? Being from Montana, does that mean I can tell my Canadian jokes and not be ostracized?