Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Jonesin' 4:23 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 3:12 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal untimed (Matt F) 


USA Today tk (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Sorry, Not a Winner” – Erin’s write-up

Hello lovelies! This week’s Jonesin’ puzzle, with the title flavor text “it’s a major award,” features folks whose have the same first names as famous awards they have not won.

  • 17a. [“Shameless” TV star who has never won the award she shares her name with (or even been nominated)] EMMY ROSSUM
  • 37a. [Novelist featuring Navajo detectives who never won the award he shares a name with (or wrote a play)] TONY HILLERMAN
  • 62a. [“Star Wars” film series actor who has never won the award he shares his name with (or even been nominated)] OSCAR ISAAC

It’s true that these people have not won the above awards, but they are all well-decorated otherwise, and Tony Hillerman even has an award named after him that honors mystery writers who set their first novel in the American Southwest.

Fill I especially enjoyed: UHURA (rest in power Nichelle Nichols), LOGJAM, I.M. PEI (which reminds me that the @PeiCheck Twitter account that was established to let people know that Pei was still alive until his 2019 passing at the age of 102), and PHILLY cheesesteaks (Jim’s is the best and I will die on this hill).

Until next week!

Drew Schmenner’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Rogues’ Gallery”—Jim’s review

The theme revealer is SEEDY CHARACTERS (57a, [Sleazeballs, and a phonetic hint to 16-, 27- and 43-Across]). The other theme answers are famous fictional characters with the initials C.D. (“seedy”).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Rogues’ Gallery” · Drew Schmenner · Tue., 3.21.23

  • 16a. [Aussie who visits New York in a 1986 hit movie] CROCODILE DUNDEE.
  • 27a. [Nobleman who’s out for blood] COUNT DRACULA.
  • 43a. [Stylish dognapper of book and film] CRUELLA DE VIL.

Fun theme! There are plenty of famous real people with the initials C.D. but not so many fictional characters that are widely known. In addition to the three listed, I also found Cedric Diggory (from Harry Potter) and Clarissa Dalloway (from Mrs. Dalloway). I wonder if there were any others left on the cutting room floor. But this is probably the best (most widely-known) set, and the fact that they fit in the grid symmetrically is a nice bit of serendipity.

The fill was plenty of fun too with BODY SURFS, VALUE MEAL, AA MILNE, LADY DI, and BOAT SHOW. Nothing much to balk at either. Very smooth.

Clues of note:

  • 56a. [Lamb lament]. MAA. I thought we reserved MAA for goats and “Baa” for sheep. Let’s be consistent!
  • 37d. [Craft fair?]. BOAT SHOW. Beautiful clue!
  • 58d. [Sound from a crib or a park]. COO. I was wondering why a baby would be cooing in a park. Then I remembered pigeons.
  • 59d. [“Ghosts” network]. CBS. I’ve only seen a few episodes of the American version and it was certainly entertaining. But for me it’s not nearly as lovable as the original British version which features an ensemble cast of actors who started working together 15 years ago on the BBC’s Horrible Histories. On that show, they taught kids about the more gruesome and gross parts of history through funny skits and music (think Monty Python but with a historical/educational bent). So playing ghosts from different time periods in a sitcom is a stroke of genius for the troupe, and they are all perfectly cast in their roles. The British version is broadcast on HBO Max.

Very nice puzzle. Four stars.

Michael Lieberman’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3 21 23, no. 0321

I warmed up for this puzzle by solving the Boswords Spring Themeless League puzzle (6:21 Stormy; I reckon that was more than double the solving time for the top competitors), and it might have sped up my journey. The theme answers in are goofy phrases made by tripling the last 3 letters of each 5-letter starting word, forming a reduplicative 6-letter word.

  • 17a. [Injury that’s so embarrassing no one is allowed to mention it?], TABOO BOOBOO.
  • 30a. [Result of forgetting to pack a toothbrush for a Doha vacation?], QATAR TARTAR. I’ll note here that the trio of 3-letter chunks are not all pronounced the same throughout the theme.
  • 46a. [Cuban dance performed at a Russian villa?], DACHA CHA-CHA. I was today years old when I learned that dacha has an English CH sound rather than a German one.
  • 59a. [Indistinct muttering from a ring-tailed primate?], LEMUR MURMUR.

I wonder if Taye Diggs has ever beheld an aye-aye, or if the candy company has ever considered a sedum Dum-Dum.

Tired of seeing the military cited in YES SIR clues like [Soldier’s affirmative]. Uh, there are women in the military–at high ranks, even. Do better, NYT!

Fave fill: DAPPER, SWERVE, FLORETS (been on a raw cauliflower kick lately), and DECADENT. What’s your latest bit of decadence?

Four stars from me for a solid Tuesday offering.

Lee Taylor’s Universal Crossword – “Catch My Drift?” – Matt F’s write up

Universal Solution – 03.21.23 – “Catch My Drift?” by Lee Taylor

With no reveal today, the solver is left to decipher this puzzle’s theme all on their own, using only the title as a hint. I think I understand what’s going on here, but please correct me if I’m wrong. I spotted caught 5 answers that start with a synonym for “toss.” Let’s take a look:

  • 14D – [Bring into question, with “on”] = CAST DOUBT
  • 18A – [Be subtly yet publicly critical] = THROW SHADE
  • 31D – [Go ballistic] = PITCH A FIT
  • 36A – [Spew nasty words] = HURL INSULTS
  • 57A – [Express relief] = HEAVE A SIGH

Lee pulled out all the stops to put as many toss-adjacent phrases into this grid as possible, including the two down answers that intersect HURL INSULTS – nice touch! They all work idiomatically to tweak the meaning of “throw” just enough to make the theme work. HEAVE A SIGH was a tad tricky to deduce because almost certainly the complete phrase should be “heave a sigh of relief,” but in the context of this theme I think it holds up well enough. I’m no astrophysicist so the QUASAR corner was the last to fall for me. Great word though! The grid was clean and fun, and CLIQUISH was my favorite non-theme answer.

Thanks Lee!

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 616), “High-Energy Workout”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 616: High-Energy Workout”

Hello there, everybody! Spring has sprung…or so we think?! I hope you’re doing well and the weather is treating you nicely. Also, Ramadan Kareem to my Muslim brethren across the world!

Today’s puzzle had all of the four theme entries, and all 15 letters in length, going down, and it’s for a good reason. Each of those entries starts with a word that is also a source of energy, and all of those words are located at the top of the grid, hence the title!

        • NUCLEAR FOOTBALL (3D: [President’s emergency briefcase])
        • SOLAR TELESCOPES (5D: [Devices for astronomers who follow the sun])
        • THERMAL BLANKETS (9D: [Bed covers for cold climates])
        • CLEAN AS A WHISTLE (11D: [Absolutely spotless])

Only real sticky spot came with the sweets, initially putting in “sno cone” and then “softees” before SUNDAES came to light (10D: [Ice cream treats]). In that area, also liked ARMBAND, though, for some reason, that did not click for a while as I was thinking of something related to urns (25A: [Symbol of mourning]). Of course, you see armbands many times on sports uniforms after an instrumental person in that franchise passes away. Having ARF (36A: [Basset’s sound]) on top of POODLE was a nice touch for the doggie lovers out there (40A: [Curly-haired dog]). I played five-card STUD a couple of times with friends during the Texas hold ’em poker boom in the early 2000s, and that’s when I knew there were so many other types of poker that I had never heard of, like Omaha and Razz (14A: Poker variety]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KERSEE (52A: [Olympian Jackie Joyner-___]) – One can definitely make the argument that Jackie Joyner-Kersee is the greatest American athletes the country has ever produced. An Olympic medalist in four different Summer Olympic games, Joyner-Kersee won the gold in the heptathlon in 1988 (Seoul) and 1992 (Barcelona) while winning the silver in 1984 (Los Angeles). She also won three medals in the long jump in the Olympics, a gold in 1988 and bronzes in 1992 and 1996 (Atlanta). In college at UCLA, she was a standout basketball player and scored over 1,000 points in her career as a Bruin. She did all of this in college while being diagnosed with asthma, which she did from her coaches because she said she was afraid that her coaches wouldn’t let her run, therefore denying her from playing.

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

Take care!


Tom Pepper & C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I saw the pattern in the theme answers and was afraid the revealer would annoy me. I should have known better.

The theme answers:

Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2023, Tom Pepper & C.C. Burnikel, solution grid.

    • 17a [Black-and-white cruisers] are PATROL CARS.
    • 26a [Former name of Ball Arena] is the PEPSI CENTER.
    • 39a [Public space in London’s West End] is PICCADILLY CIRCUS. I suspect this was the seed entry, since the grid is 16×15 to accommodate it.
    • 53a [Influential duo] is a POWER COUPLE.
    • 64a [Snack Pack product] is a PUDDING CUP. Ah, the lunches of my youth.

I had a feeling we were heading in a political direction. I should have known Patti Varol wouldn’t take us there. The revealer at 63d is [Some laptops, and a hint to five long answer in this puzzle]: PCS. Phew. Solid theme set, perfectly Tuesday-appropriate. Nice!

A few other things:

  • 5d [Home Depot purchase] is a TOOL. When my kid was little, she called Home Depot “the big orange place where Daddy buys toys.” Pretty much.
  • HALAL is one of those words I always miss in the Spelling Bee.
  • SPFS lands oddly on me.
  • I enjoyed the proximity of IM POOPED and BEAT for [Tuckered out].
  • RSVPD also lands oddly on me. I expect it to have ED at the end.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of either Ball Arena or the erstwhile PEPSI CENTER. It’s in Denver.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 3/21/23 • Tue • Last • solution • 20230321

For the Natan-haters in the comments, I think even you folks will agree that this crossword falls on the easy side. I finished in just over five minutes, which means it wasn’t difficult at all. Anytime I encountered an impasse, there was always another congenial place to expand or relocate my endeavors.

In fact, the only misstep made was for one of the long 13-letter entries in the central stairstep: 35a [Permanent] ETCHED IN STONE for CARVED IN STONE. Good thing I was solving online and not chiseling my answers, eh?

  • 2d [“Free Solo” monolith, for short] EL CAPEl Capitán.
  • 5d [Largely white and rural set of voters, in early-two-thousands political analysis] NASCAR DADS. In comparison, most likely, to suburban SOCCER MOMS.
  • 11d [“This is nice, but it isn’t enough”] I WANT MORE.
  • 18d [Person feigning illness] MALINGERER. Was briefly tempted to consider the too-long GOLDBRICKER, which is a related term. See also 43d [Exploits] MILKS.
  • 29d [U.S. city whose airport features a thirty-two-foot-tall horse sculpture with glowing red eyes] DENVER. It was this fact, which I knew, that allowed me to smoothly correct my ETCHED answer. Oh, and it’s just as creepy as it sounds—it’s called Blucifer.
  • 31d [Covering whose name is often shortened to its first four letters] TARPAULIN, which sounds like an eponym, but apparently it is not. There was a period when I was quite young that I confused tarpaulins and trampolines.
  • 33d [“The Haywain Triptych” painter] BOSCH.
  • 34d [Indo-Aryan language also known as Koshur] KASHMIRI. The K from KANGAROO COURT (34a [Mock-trial venue?]) strongly pushed me to guess correctly here.
  • 27a [The “L” in P.S.L.] LATTE. I’m pretty sure that the full phrase is … pumpkin soy latte? Scary if true.
  • 31a [Gertrude Stein book with the line “There is no use at all in smell, in taste, in teeth, in toast, in anything . . .”] TENDER BUTTONS. Well that sounds terrible. Full quote:
    “There is no use in a smell, in taste, in teeth, in toast, in anything, there is no use at all and the respect is mutual.
    Why should that which is uneven, that which is resumed, that which is tolerable why should all this resemble a smell, a thing is there, it whistles, it is not narrower, why is there no obligation to stay away and yet courage, courage is everywhere and the best remains to stay.”
  • 36a [Old Turkish coins] ASPERS. New to me.
  • 39a [Execrate] ABHOR. I more commonly see the adjective execrable, which is still not so frequently.
  • 47a [Centers of microbiology research?] NUCLEI. Nice. See also 26d [Drawings on some signs at abortion-rights rallies] UTERI for a similarly-constructed plural.
  • 53a [“Musetta’s Waltz,: for one] ARIA. Kind of redundant to say that an aria is ‘for one’. >rimshot<  Anyway, it’s from Puccini’s La Bohème.
  • 57a [“See you on the flippity flop”] LATER. People are not actually saying this, are they? Please tell me that they are not.

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15 Responses to Tuesday, March 21, 2023

  1. Scott says:

    I didn’t like YESSIR for a different reason. It should be SIRYESSIR.

    • Mutman says:

      I’ve seen YESMAAM referenced in military clues before, or at least similar references.

      Whatcha gonna do when it’s only 6 letters???

  2. ZDL says:

    NYT theme made my day. Now I want to do the TOUCANCANCAN while waiting for my MUKTUKTUKTUK delivery guy.

  3. Me says:

    Today’s NYT Mini is called, “On the Road.” There are three theme answers – CAR, VAN, and BUS – each heading down in parallel “lanes.” I’m having trouble figuring out the clue for 3D, which is REBUS. The clue is:

    Picture puzzle, like T_RN (can you figure it out?)

    Is this supposed to be “TURN,” with the U represented by “you”? Or is the blank supposed to be some kind of picture? I was assuming it should be some form of transportation like CAR/VAN/BUS, but I can’t make that work.

  4. David L says:

    It took me a long time to understand the intended joke in 9D, GEOMETRY. And when I finally got it, I hated it. Pronunciation is not even close, except for the last syllable.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      The joke’s about as old as Pythagoras. Take it up with him.

    • placematfan says:

      I have similar disdain for the mushroom who punchlines, “I’m a fungi!” (“fun guy”). Because it’s Not Funny. It’s a plural noun preceded by an indefinite article; that construction makes it Not Funny; it doesn’t work. A joke that ended with “I’m a cats” or “I’m a trees” or “I’m a logs” wouldn’t work because of said construction, therefore “I’m a fungi!” isn’t just bad because it’s silly or low humor or anything like that, but just because it doesn’t work. It’s Not Funny.

      However, if I steel-man myself (which I’m using to mean to bracket one identity or belief and through empathy and imagination try to embody and grok the counter identity or belief, because I’m not sure there is a word that means that), if I imagine being on the receiving end of the above commentary, I could see myself telling the complainant to get a life. But nah, what feels most natural is noddingly and proudly agreeing with the pedantry of it.

  5. Jim says:

    NYT: If it had been a west-central Asian who’d failed to brush his teeth, the result would be TATAR TARTAR.

  6. carolynchey says:

    WSJ – Crocodile Dundee is most definitely a “CD” character, but I wouldn’t call him “SEEDY”!

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    TNY … re “For the Natan-haters in the comments, I think even you folks will agree that this crossword falls on the easy side” … I prefer not to think of myself as a “hater” of anyone, but I acknowledge that I’ve made some frustrated solver comments out here about NL’s puzzles over the years. FWIW, my solve time was 16% above my 6-month TNY Tuesday median and I have the puzzle categorized as Medium-Challenging. I averaged about 8% above my 6-month median on NL’s previous six Tuesday puzzles, so it wasn’t “on the easy side” for me by that metric either. That said, solve time is only one way to assess puzzle difficulty and since I was able to complete this one, I’m a satisfied solver.

    The toughest part for me was not knowing the Gertrude Stein title (TENDER BUTTONS) and struggling with a few of its crosses (MALINGERER, BOSCH, deciding between NASCAR momS and NASCAR DADS and having ‘I WANT MinE’ instead of I WANT MORE). ASPERS was another mystery answer.

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