Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Jonesin' 5:25 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 3:54 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal untimed (Matt F) 


USA Today 3:44 (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “An Existential Puzzle” – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 3/14/23

Jonesin’ solution 3/14/23

Hello lovelies! March 14th is a wonderful day for math and science fans, and for me in particular. 3/14 is Pi Day, it’s Albert Einstein’s birthday, and my oldest child turns 10! Lots of reasons to celebrate today.

Now for the puzzle…the flavor text with the title (which I need to start including in my writeups) is “lose yourself in the moment.” The theme entries require you to lose yourself in that we need to remove the letters I AM from each phrase.

  • 19a. [Prevent using “solar” as a word?] DETER OF THE SUN. The original phrase is DIAMETER OF THE SUN, minus I AM. Fitting to have a diameter entry on Pi Day, too!
  • 26a. [Place of higher learning to study bequeathments?] WILLS COLLEGE, from WILLIAMS COLLEGE in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
  • 41a. [U.K. intelligence service’s satellite branch in Florida?] MI DADE COUNTY. MI stands for Military Intelligence, and MIAMI-DADE COUNTY is the location in Florida.
  • 47a. [Poetic structure that can only be written in pen?] BIC PENTAMETER. As a lot of crossword solvers know, Bic makes mechanical pencils (and other supplies) in addition to pens, but this transformation from the original IAMBIC PENTAMETER is my favorite of the bunch.

Other tidbits I enjoyed in the grid: MANGA, NIELS Bohr to add to the math and science celebration, the ONE DOLLAR “The Price Is Right” bid, and TEEN DRAMA as my child gets that much closer to being a teenager.

Until next week!

Prasanna Keshava’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Half-Baked”—Jim’s review

Theme: PIE (68a, [Dessert choice, and what the starts of 16-, 25-, 46- and 59-Across are types of]). The other theme answers are familiar phrases that start with a word that can precede PIE.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Half-Baked” · Prasanna Keshava · Tue., 3.14.23

  • 16a. [One-room heater] POT-BELLIED STOVE. Pot pie. Huh. I’m partial to “pot belly stove” but POT-BELLIED STOVE wins the Google n-gram contest. Also, I briefly wondered of “pot-bellied pie” was a thing.
  • 25a. [King or queen, e.g.] CHESS PIECE. Chess pie. I’ll admit that I’ve never heard of this type of pie. It’s described as being similar to a pecan pie without the nuts.
  • 46a. [Seemingly self-deprecating statement that really isn’t] HUMBLEBRAG. Humble pie. The only entry I have no issue with.
  • 59a. [Excellent state, to an auto enthusiast] CHERRY CONDITION. Cherry pie. Not that familiar with the phrase CHERRY CONDITION, either, to be honest. But it also checks out.

Nice. Please note that I believe my issues with three of the entries are just mine, and it’s very possible that others have no problems with any of these. So…no harm, no foul. However, we have three pies that you eat, and one you don’t. It might’ve been a touch more elegant if we had a balance or all of one and none of the other. “Cutie,” “Sweetie,” or “American” might have worked as other potential theme answers.

I do like the title. While the pies don’t evenly comprise half 0f each entry (only CHESS PIECE is half-pie and POT-BELLIED STOVE is only 20% pie), I like the notion that you bake (roughly) half of each theme answer to get your pie.

What else have we got? CAT-DOOR, TABASCO, OSTRICH, TSARINA. Nothing new and notable, but nice enough. Ooh, wait. BOTNET is new and notable. Good, modern entry.

Clues of note:

  • 44a. [Bring up to speed]. CUE IN. Would anyone ever use this in this way? I would always go with “clue in.”
  • 45a. [Little fellows]. TADS. Similar issue here. “Lads” yes, but TADS?
  • 8d. [Regularly relied on, informally]. GO-TO. I like this cluing angle. As in, “This Pentel GraphGear 1000 is my GO-TO pencil for solving crosswords.”

Nice puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 615), “Bunny Hop!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 615: “Bunny Hop!”

Hello there, all! Hope you all are doing great to start the new week! Beware the Ides of March…and beware the No. 12 seed over the No. 5 seed in March Madness! 

Easter is one month away, but still close enough to mention an animal closely associated with the holiday, as each of the four answers have four of its letters circled. In all four of the answers, the circled letters, all spaced out from each other, spell out the word HARE. Unfortunately, the animal we’re still dealing with is the groundhog, as it was not playing this year in “predicting” another six weeks of winter!

        • THE ARCTIC CIRCLE (16A: [Parallel of latitude that circumscribes a frigid zone])
        • D.H. LAWRENCE (22A: [Author of “Women in Love”])
        • THAT’S SO ADORABLE (34A: [“How cute!”])
        • HITS A NERVE (46A: [Provokes reaction via sensitive topics])
        • HARD AND FAST RULE (53A: [Strict guideline, such as “No smoking in this building])

Of course I’m going to give this grid an extra shoutout because of the inclusion of my heritage, NIGERIAN (28D: [Resident of Benin City]). Loved the paralleling entries of VERTEBRA (9D: [Chiropractor’s concern]) and TENSED UP (37D: [Exhibited stage fright, say]). I’ll be in Denver starting this Thursday for the start of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and there’s a chance that I’ll be seeing ASU, Arizona State University, while I’m there, so long as it wins its First Four/play-in game on Wednesday (13A: [Tempe sch.]). Only entry that I really was not familiar with was ARAM, which I’m sure I’ve come across a couple of times but hadn’t put to memory (47D: [Composer Khachaturian]). Also have to become familiar with his music as well soon!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: VIDA (9A: [“Livin’ La ___ Loca”]) – Baseball season is around the corner, so perfect time to talk about one of the centerpieces of the Oakland Athletics’ dynasty of the 1970s, starting pitcher Vida (pronounced VIE-dah) Blue. Before the A’s won three consecutive World Series from 1972-1974, Blue won both the Cy Young Award and AL Most Valuable Player Award in 1971, as the hard-throwing lefty went 24-8 with an 1.82 ERA and 301 strikeouts. Blue was also the first pitcher in Major League history to start an All-Star Game for both the American (1971) and National League (1978).

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

Take care!


Peter Gordon’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

New York Times crossword solution, 3 14 23, no. 0314

I am 110% good with this puzzle not being a Pi Day puzzle. It’s still seasonal, though, with the big college basketball tournament going on. Fans use BRACKETOLOGY (note: not an actual science) to fill out their brackets predicting the winners in MARCH MADNESS, and there are often a couple 15- or 16-seeds (those with the lowest odds of winning) that flirt with becoming CINDERELLA TEAMS via upsets of higher-ranked squads. The winning teams from the first two rounds advance to the 16a. SWEET Sixteen, where the outcomes produce the 8d. ELITE Eight. That round’s winners make it to the 4d. FINAL Four, with just the final game to follow. (And those three answers are slotted in the appropriate spots in the grid.) Let us call the final the Terrific Two.

Unexpected fill: PSALMIST. Have you ever met one?

Fave fill: SCREECH owl, TOP BANANAS, the good OLD DAYS.

Eww fill: “AW, GO ON,” really? Also, I feel like I mainly encounter UPROSE in crosswords, with “rose up” being the version writers and speakers are much more apt to use.

3.5 stars from me. I have not filled in a bracket this year. Should I? Is it too late?

Carly Schuna’s Universal Crossword – “Pay Up!” – Matt F’s write up

Universal Solution – 03.14.2023 – “Pay Up!” by Carly Schuna

Today we are taking common financial terms and recontextualizing them as descriptions for spoken phrases. The reveal at 60A calls it like it is: [“Wealth is power,” or a hint to 16-, 22- 38- and 51-Across] = MONEY TALKS.

  • 16A – [“I owe it all to my parents.” e.g.?] = CREDIT LINE
  • 22A – [“That’s a large pile of snow,” e.g.?] = BANK STATEMENT
  • 38A – [“I verified everything and then confirmed it,” e.g.?] = CHECKING ACCOUNT
  • 51A – [“My left leg is wobbly, but I can stand on my right one fine,” e.g.?] = BALANCE REPORT

After I got the first one, I began trying to think of how each spoken phrase could be translated into a financial term. I didn’t get them all without crosses, but I enjoyed the lateral thinking exercise. While the entries themselves are fairly mundane, I love this theme because of how much heavy lifting is required by the clues to pull it off. The two long bonuses here are great, HEEL BONES and DUCKTALES, and the mid-length stuff also shines.

Noteworthy non-theme stuff:
20A – [Monty Python musical] = SPAMALOT
42A – [Waste maker?] = HASTE
50A – [Name between Jay and Elle?] = KAY
67A – [Princess with “cinnamon buns”] = LEIA
8D – [Friend on paper?] = PEN PAL
61D – [Cooperation barrier] = EGO

Thanks Carly!

Katie Hale & Brian Callahan’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I figured out the theme before I got to the revealer, and the revealer made me smile. Fun! We didn’t have a tag for Brian, which always makes me wonder if this is a debut. If so, I look forward to more of Brian’s work.

Each theme answer has two words with something in common.

Los Angeles Times, March 14, 2023, Katie Hale & Brian Callahan, solution grid

  • 18a [Symbol on some traffic lights] is a YELLOW ARROW.
  • 26a [Cheap shot] is a LOW BLOW.
  • 41a [Winter road clearer] is a SNOW PLOW.
  • 53a [Expertise] is KNOWHOW. OK, maybe that’s one word.
  • 65a [Small cushion] is a THROW PILLOW.

And the revealer: 73a [Furnish with funds, and when parsed differently, a double feature of the answer to 18-, 26-, 41-, 53-, and 65-Across] is ENDOW – or END OW. Nice!

A few other things:

  • I enjoyed having [Raidated] and [Radiate] next to each other for SHONE and EMIT, respectively.
  • 21a [Business in a dyeing industry?] is a fun clue for SALON.
  • 37a [Meals with matzo] are SEDERS. Coming up in less than a month! I do love charoset.
  • NOTE TO SELF: Find the recipe for the Sephardic charoset we made last year. Yum.
  • 48d [Creature in a 1984 horror film] is a GREMLIN. Horror film? I’ve never seen it and I think of it as a comedy. Guess not.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: the name LILA Kedrova was vaguely familiar. I did not know she appeared in “Zorba the Greek.”

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Reciting Pi” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: The first syllable of each theme answer is “PI”, spelled differently each time.

USA Today, 03 14 2023, “Reciting Pi”

  • 17a [Casino card game] – PAIGOW POKER
  • 30a [Fireworks] – PYROTECHNICS
  • 64a [Dessert with a crust and a scoop] – PIE A LA MODE

Happy Pi Day, everyone! This puzzle is a nice take on a timely theme. I hadn’t heard of PAIGOW POKER, so it took me a while to fill in the first half of the answer and understand just what was going on. Luckily PYROTECHNICS and PIE A LA MODE bailed me out.


Clue highlights: 21a [Something black and yellow that can’t see red] for BEE, 24a [City north of Carson City] for RENO

New to me: DOSA, the clues of [Tatsuo Kusakabe, to Mei and Satsuki] for DAD and [Musical group like Yu Quan] for DUO

Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 3/14/23 • Tue • Liu • solution • 20230314

Brief write-up as I’m getting to this later in the day (appointments this morning).

This one played harder than the Monday offering, with a few recalcitrant entries preventing me from having a fluid solve.

Last one to fall was 54a [Second, but not first] UNIT, which I didn’t understand until a few beats after finally realizing that UNIT was the only thing that fit. Second is the chronological UNIT, not an ordinal, as first is here. I was tripping up on second units in filmmaking.

  • 60a [Launches for a target audience?] STAGE DIVES. Phenomenal clue.
  • 10d [Sphynx’s rewards] CAT TREATS. Not the ‘y’ in the spelling.
  • 37d [With “La,” annual Valencia food-fight festival that the Times described as “Juicy, red, vitamin-C-packed mayhem”] TOMATINA. Not knowing how that one ended, and being unfamiliar with NATASCHA McElhone of “Solaris” (2002) factored in to my problems with UNIT, outlined above. (I’ve only seen Tarkovsky’s original version, and couldn’t name any of the actors in that.)
  • 44d [City west of Venezia] PADOVA. Venice and Padua, to us anglophones.

How’d it treat you?

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20 Responses to Tuesday, March 14, 2023

  1. Hans says:

    Did a puzzle with THU for “Letters seen in a little window under glass.” Is that a reference to Thursday on a calendar on a mobile device?


  2. dh says:

    I’m OK with this puzzle not being about “Pi Day”, but would be equally OK without it being about March Madness. I learned about “Brackets” during the Obama administration when his brackets were the stuff of fluff in the newspapers; everything else I learned in crossword puzzles.

    I had a pause at 63-A, where I thought the correct answer should be “me”. Putting “YOU” in there, from a solver’s perspective, would have been Peter Gordon, but he constructed it. “You” and “Me” are speaker-dependent.

    • Eric H says:

      The NYT has used a clue such as “Who’s solving this puzzle” at least a dozen times in the last few years. I agree that it doesn’t make sense grammatically, but I also know that’s what the answer will be.

    • JohnH says:

      Can’t say that I give a darn for March Madness (and so am not enjoying the puzzle at all), but it’s only fair to recognize that lots of people do.

      YOU makes perfect sense if the questioner is answering his own question, as surely a constructor must.

    • Milo says:

      The college b-ball theme was perfectly okay, gettable I would think even to folks with only a passing interest in the game. The bigger issue for me was its pileup of stale entries like UPROSE, as Amy mentioned, as well as GASSER, GEOG, etc. Factor in AETNA, RICOH, and NAIR, and it just seems like a bit too much glue was needed to hold this one together.

  3. Katie+M. says:

    WSJ: Lemon Chess pie is my favorite pie.
    I wouldn’t describe chess pie as pecan pie without nuts. That sounds terrible. I see that the Wikipedia source for that description is “Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink”. That explains it, I guess. Chess pie is a Southern thing.
    Nice puzzle for Pi Day.

    • JohnH says:

      Must admit it bothered me a little that the whole PIE is visible in CHESS PIECES but for us to add to the others as the revealer instructs. Minor inconsistency, though.

  4. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni … I found this to be a smooth and easy solve, but I do have a question. Are there really people out there who say things like “IT ME” and “I rule” or does it only happen in CrossWorld?

  5. Mr. [a little bit] Grumpy says:

    Clue for NYT 51A: Um … there are actually TWO tourneyS, folks.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Even if you’re just “a little bit” grumpy this time, I don’t understand your objection. Neither the clue nor the answer suggests that the men’s NCAA tournament is the only college basketball tournament (if that’s what you’re implying). I realize that the vapid talking heads on the ESPN and CBS Sports hype machines only ever talk about the NCAA tournament (mostly the men, though the women have finally managed to garner some attention the last 10-20 years). There are more than just two college basketball tourneys that I think of as part of MARCH MADNESS. Fans are free to include both the men’s and the women’s NIT, Division II and Division III tournaments in the party, though you have to look a little harder to find more than taken coverage of any of them. I think they all use Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and Final Four as descriptors for those rounds of their tournaments.

    • Gary R says:

      IIRC, “March Madness” is trademarked by the NCAA and traditionally applied only to the men’s Division I basketball tournament. I believe that a couple of years ago, amid an outcry over unequal treatment of the men’s and women’s teams in their respective tournaments, the NCAA started including the women’s D-I tournament as part of “March Madness.”

      I’m pretty sure it doesn’t (officially) apply to other NCAA division tournaments, nor to other post-season tournaments not run by the NCAA.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I’m not at all surprised that the NCAA has trademarked “March Madness”, but that still doesn’t mean it only applies to the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. The NCAA also runs the NIT, Division II and Division III tournaments. I even consider the conference tournaments to be part of March Madness since they also always happen in March.

  6. Martin says:

    Hi from Cairo,

    At home, we’re getting pummeled with storms and the power is out. Sorry, but there will be some puzzle interruptions.

  7. JohnH says:

    Agreed that TNY got harder to the bottom, and pannonica mentions all the tough ones in the SW. I had a much harder time, though, in the SE, not knowing STAGE DIVE, KONAMI CODE, ADDY, or RATTAIL, and together they’re almost the entire quadrant.

    Didn’t help that crossing those I had entered “beater” for one with a paddle rather than BIDDER, nasty as that is, and could not for the life of me remember the Italian for Padua, much as I’m sure I know it. (Also was distracted by alternatives like “had it” and “got it” for “understood,” but misdirection is always a good thing.) And still nowhere near as bad as Monday’s.

    • Sophomoric Old Guy says:

      Agree. Same trouble point. Can someone please verify ADDY for me? Is this short for ADDRESS in some new slang?

  8. Brenda Rose says:

    I could not get The Universal, WSJ nor Jonesin on Fiend today. Did anyone else have trouble? Thx

    • Hi. says:

      “Hi from Cairo,

      At home, we’re getting pummeled with storms and the power is out. Sorry, but there will be some puzzle interruptions.”


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