Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Jonesin' 3:29 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 4:05 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal untimed (Matt F) 


USA Today 2:51 (Sophia) 


WSJ 5:03 (Jim) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “We Made It to the Finish Line — just you and me” – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 3/28/23

Jonesin’ solution 3/28/23

Hello lovelies! Let’s see what is going on with this week’s Jonesin’ theme. *plays “Just the Two of Us” in the background*

  • 17a. [Scientific group that includes limes and kumquats] GENUS CITRUS
  • 21a. [Icelandic electronic group with albums “Polydistortion” and “Lies Are More Flexible”] GUSGUS
  • 34a. [Repeated marks after “F” that jokingly denote a really bad grade] MINUS MINUS
  • 43a. [1993 Halloween film with a 2022 sequel] HOCUS POCUS
  • 53a. [Version of a North African semolina dish in Turkish cuisine (it sounds the same)] KUSKUS
  • 62a. [Hit HBO show (adapted from a video game) that illustrates the six theme answers] THE LAST OF US

Each word or syllable in the theme entries ends in US…but that doesn’t perfectly fit with THE LAST OF US to me. The last of each word or syllable is US, but the show isn’t THE LAST IS US. If you want to be completely literal, the last of US is S. I get how the theme ties together, and maybe I’m being too nitpicky, but it doesn’t quite work for me.

Fill I enjoyed: SAN DIEGO (mainly because of the potential of a Carmen Sandiego clue) and RATITE. The term for a certain group of flightless birds comes from the latin ratis, meaning “raft.” The keel, a bone attached to the breastbone, is flat like a raft in ratites because it does not have to support all the chest muscles needed for flying.

Until next week!

Adam Simpson’s Universal Crossword – “Reverse Engineer” – Matt F’s write up

Universal Solution 03.27.23 – “Reverse Engineer” by Adam Simpson

I think the only thing being reversed here is the traditional arrangement of a crossword puzzle, because the reveal smacks you straight away with a longwinded clue at 18A – [Alternative strategy, or a hint to the word whose letters progress in reverse through 18-, 23-, 36-, 49-, and 59-Across] = BACKUP (PLAN). Here’s the full theme set:

  • 23A– [“The Tell-Tale Heart” writer] = EDGAR AL(LAN P)OE
  • 36A– [Not too happy] = LESS TH(AN PL)EASED
  • 49A– [Where people wait to get on board] = TRAI(N PLA)TFORM
  • 59A– [Like some meatless diets] = (PLAN)T-BASED

I must admit, I’m kind of baffled by this theme. I can’t make sense of how the letters in “plan” are backing up or being reversed. I see the grouped letters in P-L-A-N physically “moving” backwards from top-right to bottom-left… ok. I see the progression of PLAN > LANP > ANPL > NPLA > PLAN and the only pattern I see here is some type of leapfrogging thing. What am I supposed to see in this theme that is backing up or going in reverse that ties all of this together?

Aside from the theme, the fill is very clean and this puzzle played very fast for me. I initially had STOP IN before COME BY, but the crossings rectified that real quick and I didn’t really get hung up anywhere else. 33A is a tricky clue – [Field that includes farmland?] = REALTY (here, “field” means occupation). I’ve been meaning to watch OLD but have not gotten around to it.

Thanks for the puzzle, Adam!

Daniel Kantor & Jay Kaskel’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3 28 23, no. 0328

The theme collects a bunch of gestural things that communicate various feelings:

  • 17A. [Phew! That was close!], BROW WIPE. This one feels off to me. I’d go with *wipes brow* rather than this unfamiliar noun.
  • 26A. [Har-har-har!], KNEE SLAP.
  • 40A. [Puh-lease!], EYE ROLL.
  • 51A. [D’oh!], FACE-PALM. Head slap is similar but with a different flavor to it.
  • 64A. [Woo-hoo!], FIST PUMP.

Fun theme, even with BROW WIPE not striking me as great. Here are a bunch of GIFs depicting the brow wipe, though, so maybe I just missed the boat on that term.

Fave fill: Might’ve included SHOOT-‘EM-UP if not for this morning’s latest school massacre. (Guns sure ruin a lot, even the crosswording experience.) I liked VRBO ([Airbnb alternative] that’s short for vacation rental by owner), LOW-CUT, PIE HOLE, BAD-ASS, and IN THE BUFF. Gunkiest fill in a Tuesday grid: foreign-vocab ALPE and A TOI; a hardware T-NUT, which I just did a Google image search on and man oh man, I can’t say I’ve ever actually seen one, and they seem to come in a zillion different shapes, many not at all resembling the letter T.

When is the last time you heard anyone shout “RAH!” from the stands at a sporting event? For me, I think it’s never in 5+ decades.

3.75 stars from me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 617), “Let It Be!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 617: “Let It Be!”

Hello there, all! I hope you’re all doing well today and that you have great plans to close out the month of March in style.

Unlike tennis and table tennis, we are playing the let here in this puzzle. (So I guess this is more like volleyball, then!) As far as this puzzle is concerned, phrases are turned into puns when the letters “LET” are added to one of the words in the phrase.

        • PIGLET LATIN (17A: [Language spoken by Pooh’s best friend?])
        • FOOTLONG SUBLET (30A: [Teeny-tiny temporary apartment?])
        • HAMLET SANDWICH (45A: [Deli specialty named for a Danish prince?])
        • PAPER CUTLET (57A: [Croquette that tastes like cardboard?])

I may have seen it once or twice in a grocery store and not noticed, but ALPEN definitely did not ring a bell to me…though I definitely have not have muesli brands put to memory at any point in my life before today (12D: [Muesli brand]). There were five seven-letter entries in the grid to enjoy as well, with WANNABE (9D: [Hopeful]) and CALL NOW standing out amongst those (22D: [Urgent infomercial appeal]). Of course, because my mind is either in the gutter or because I’m a big 007 fan (the latter, I assure you), GALORE immediately made me think of Honor Blackman’s role in Goldfinger, Pussy Galore (10D: [Aplenty]). Do you expect me to talk?

No, Mr. Bond! I expect you to Die!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TREE (54A: [Arbor Day planting]) – One of the better defensive players in the NBA during the early part of the 1980s, Wayne “Tree” Rollins played 18 seasons as a center, with most of his career being spent as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. While in Atlanta, he was named a NBA All-Defensive First Team selection in 1984 and All-Defensive Second Team the year prior, a season in which he averaged a whopping 4.3 blocks per game! Almost 40 years ago now, on April 25, 1983, Rollins bit Boston Celtics guard Danny Ainge on the finger during a fight in a playoff game between the Hawks and Boston Celtics. The next day, the Boston Herald came up with the clever headline “TREE BITES MAN” on the back page.

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

Take care!

Tim D’Alfonso’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I enjoyed this puzzle. Didn’t figure out the theme until I got to the revealer. It’s a nice smooth Tuesday.

The theme answers:

Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2023, Tim D’Alfonso, solution grid

  • 17a [Nondigital means of telling time] is an ANALOG WATCH. When I was a kid, we just called that a “watch.” This is a retronym. See also “cloth diaper,” “acoustic guitar,” and “manual typewriter.” Oh, right, typewriters are no more…
  • 29a [Display after a poker player’s call] is CARDS ON THE TABLE.
  • 49a [Appreciation at a live performance] is a ROUND OF APPLAUSE. A watch is round, a table can be round…that’s where I was going. I was wrong.

And the revealer: 61a [Quick polling method, and what 17-, 29-, and 49-Across all are, in different ways]: SHOW OF HANDS. Nice!

A few other things:

  • Two clues cross-referenced to FDRWPA and WWII. I’m not crazy about cross-references, and even less crazy about two of them.
  • Also a Cold War vibe with CCCP and NYET. At least they weren’t cross-referenced.
  • 37d [Place for a peel] is a SPA. Skin peel. I’ve never done that. I’ll stick with massages for my spa day, thank you.
  • I don’t think of OPULENCE and wealth as synonymous. OPULENCE is a show of wealth, not wealth itself.
  • I filled in ODA MAE from crossings and thought it was a misspelling of EDAMAME for a second. It’s Whoopi Goldberg’s “Ghost” character, of course.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that MR PIBB is no more. It’s now called PIBB XTRA. Okay, then.

Desirée Penner & Jeff Sinnock’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Written in Stone”—Jim’s review

The clue gremlin strikes again. If you solved an early digital version of this puzzle, it was missing all the Down clues after 59d. It’s still solvable as is, and the pdf taken from the WSJ site has the missing clues, but this is an ongoing—if intermittent—problem at the Journal, whereby the .puz file gets truncated.

Anyhoo, the revealer for this grid is HIDDEN GEM (39a, [Diamond in the rough, and what can be found in each set of circles)]. Theme answers are familiar names and phrases with circled letters that spell out a gemstone.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Written in Stone” · Desirée Penner & Jeff Sinnock · Tue., 3.28.23

  • 18a. [“Giant” star] JAMES DEAN. Jade.
  • 23a. [Fellow in a musical cast] CHORUS BOY. Ruby.
  • 57a. [Where the going rate is charged] TOLL PLAZA. Topaz.
  • 63a. [One of many scattered on Valentine’s Day, perhaps] ROSE PETAL. Opal.

Usually a hidden word theme has the letters in sequential order and typically spanning two or more words, but maybe that just wasn’t possible with a gemstone theme.

I suppose there’s nothing about a hidden word theme that requires the letters to be consecutive, but this just feels a lot looser, and thus somewhat less satisfying. For example, there are any number of words and phrases that hide the letters in OPAL (hospitality, control panel, dog paddle). Perhaps if there was a way to tighten the theme by placing the letters in a regular pattern, such as every other letter like in SOUP LADLE? Again, I don’t know if that would be possible with the other gems, but I think it might be more aesthetically pleasing. As it is, the theme is fine, but it feels loose to me.

The fill is solid with highlights HOME GIRL, IN A COMA (where you at, Morrissey?), HAIRIEST, ITALIAN, OTHELLO, JOJOBA, and ORINOCO.

Clues of note:

  • 53a. [Brother of Jack and Bobby]. TED. Silly me. I saw Bobby and three letters and went immediately for ORR.
  • 12d. [Grounds]. REASONS. We also would have accepted [“Because ___”].
  • 58d. [Chris of “Jurassic World”]. PRATT. This clue could’ve been given a timely update. PRATT is notably the voice of Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Movie coming out next week. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to win over skeptical fans.

A nice grid with smooth fill. The theme is good, but looser than the usual hidden word themes.

Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 3/28/23 • Tue • Shechtman • solution • 20230328

At first it seemed as if it was going to be as difficult as a Monday New Yorker puzzle, but I just kept finding things to fill in. Before long I was faced with a mystery square at the intersection of 49d [Bollywood star Mukerji] and 56a [Program used for some Twitter apologies]. Fortunately I guessed correctly that it was an N—NOTES APP seemed more plausible than VOTES APP (though I’m not aware of how a NOTES APP is employed in such a situation). Here’s the WIKI (24d) page for RANI Mukerji.

  • 1a [Action that’s illegal in basketball unless the ball touches the backboard, the hoop, or another player first] SELF-PASS. I just glazed over at the long clue and skipped any confrontation until crossing letters developed. Had I not been so glib, however, I believe I would have been able to reason out the answer, in time.
  • 16a [Subject of interest for a Rhodes scholar?] COLOSSUS. Ha, ha, ha.
  • 30a [They’re good to have in case of breakdowns] REPAIR KITS. The right-to-repair movement seems to be steadily growing, which is a good thing. Break that stranglehold!
  • 35a [“The Matrix” symbol co-opted by the alt-right] RED PILL. And completely misunderstood, too. Additionally, I’ve heard comment that “alt-right” vs “right” is a distinction without a difference.
  • 36a [Ena in “Bambi,” e.g.] DOE. Callback to oldschool crosswords with ENA mention.
  • 41a [Phony] POSER. Surprised (puzzled?) that this publication—with its syntactical rigor—wouldn’t stipulate that POSEUR be used exclusively for that definition.
  • 57a [Ross of vexillological renown] BETSY. Helps to know that that adjective means ‘flag-related’.
  • 3d [Schifrin who composed the “Mission: Impossible” theme] LALO. I’ve always preferred the incidental music called “The Plot” that would play during the ‘preparation’ montages.
  • 7d [Dachshund,, colloquially] SAUSAGE DOG. The original German name indicates what it was bred for, hunting and pursuing badgers into their burrows. Der Dachs is ‘the badger’ and it ultimately derives from the New Latin taxus, as seen in the scientific name for the North American badger, Taxidea taxus.
  • 22d [Playwright whom Jacques Barzun called “perhaps the most consciously conscious mind that has ever thought”] SHAW. Am I mistaken or is that a veiled insult?
  • 35d [First responder, often?] REPLY GUY
  • 38d [They’re showcased in showcases] TALENTS. 43d [Bakery-case centerpiece] TORTE.
  • 41d [Like many college students taking orgo] PRE-MED. I have not-so-great memories of organic chemistry classes.
  • 46d [Sum of one’s virtues, to the ancient Greeks] ARETE. Not to be confused with the geologic term arête, which comes from French.


Matthew Stock’s USA Today Crossword, “Feed Me!” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: The first word of each theme answer can fill in the blank in the phrase “feed the ____”.

USA Today, 03 28 2023, “Feed Me!”

  • 17a [State of elite performance] – BEAST MODE
  • 28a [Measuring device that’s slightly over 3 feet long] – METER STICK
  • 44a [Diagonally across the street] – KITTY CORNER
  • 57a [Fails quickly] – FLAMES OUT

Quick write up today because it’s a busy day at work, but I love this puzzle! It’s a solid yet simple theme, and all the theme answers themselves are strong. Being from Seattle and having fond memories of Marshawn Lynch means that I especially love BEAST MODE, even if it’s slightly dated now.


Favorite clue: [Bird ___ (card holder in Wingspan)] for TRAY (Wingspan is a very fun board game; give it a try if you don’t know it)

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15 Responses to Tuesday, March 28, 2023

  1. Adam Simpson says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for your review! I constructed today’s Universal puzzle.

    You are correct in that the letters in “PLAN” are backing up, but also the placement of the plan is backing up from right to left within the puzzle itself.

    The long-winded clue is just an unfortunate sacrifice needed to make sure publications without the ability to print circled squares can understand the puzzle.

    • Zev Farkas says:

      I thought it was rather cool that the letters of “PLAN” neatly rotated while their placement within the answers shifted right to left (i.e., backing up).

      This must have taken a lot of thought. Thanks!

    • Matt F. says:

      Hey Adam! I totally understand the need for the long reveal clue – I did not mean for that to sound like such a negative critique of the puzzle. I absolutely agree w/ Zev that the construction is impressive as far as the spacing of the “plan” and your consideration of the letter progression. It’s the rearranging of P-L-A-N at each level that just doesn’t connect for me in relation to the reveal or title. I certainly did not think this was a “bad” puzzle by any stretch. I appreciate your comment and I did thoroughly enjoy the solve. Hope to see more from you!

      • Adam Simpson says:

        PS: Old is not a very good movie and I don’t recommend watching it, but I’m a horror film nerd so I couldn’t resist clueing it as such. >_<

        • marciem says:

          LOL, on your “recommendation” I started watching “Old” this rainy afternoon. Started out ok with beautiful scenery and amusing idea and I liked the kids, but deteriorated muchly. I didn’t finish the watch, so I’m glad you’ve added that it wasn’t a very good movie here :) .

          I did enjoy your puzzle, and hope to see more from you soon!

  2. huda says:

    NYT: I thought it was a fun Tuesday and it played faster than Monday for me.
    Are some of these relatively newer expressions? It feels like I started hearing Face Palm more recently relative to, say. Eye Roll.

  3. Tony says:

    NYT has an incorrect clue. Tampa is not the only city to have its NFL team win at it’s home stadium. It is the first, though.

    The following season, the Rams won Super Bowl LVI vs the Bengals at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

  4. Greg says:

    Loved the Tuesday New Yorker, which was a relative breeze — compared to Monday’s, at least.

    Great cluing and fill. My only fusty cavil: I still cleave to the idea that the only “correct” definition of “poser” is: a difficult question or one who poses (as for a photo shoot). I believe it only became synonymous with “phony” (the clue in 41A) because the words and spellings were easily confused. But I fully accept that this battle has been lost, and the vast majority of English speakers either consciously ignore or are unaware of the distinction.

    This complaint is almost certainly a generational thing. I also cringe every time I hear someone say or write “This begs the question of” (as opposed to “this raises the question of”).

    Even more obscurely (and even more pedantically), I still cling to what was once the distinction between “nauseous” and “nauseated.” One would speak of a “nauseous mess.” That is, the mess itself made one feel nauseated, not nauseous.

    All these battles were lost a long, long time ago. But it doesn’t mean that, as a card-carrying curmudgeon, I can’t still gripe about them. 😉

    • JohnH says:

      I’m a curmudgeon, too, and I cringe at many a loss of distinction. I also practice my principles professionally as a writer and editor. Yet I think you’re mistaken on all three counts. Nor can I agree that it’s generational. I’m a boomer, and I modeled myself after my father, who of course spoke the language of the “greatest generation,” as some call it. I also know that language evolves and that it reflects nothing more than usage, and I have no problem with that. I just prefer to err on the side of useful distinctions. But I don’t see them at play here.

      Even when I was little, and I’m talking before 1960, I learned to speak of being nauseous meaning physically sick. I might reserve “nauseated” for disgusted with, and both RHUD and MW11C consider that metaphorical usage, which makes sense. They also come down hard against a further distinction. MW11C calls it outright mistaken, while RHUD insists that the usage you call mistaken goes back to the origins of the term in the 17th c. I doubt I’d heard of the objection until recently. I suspect it’s just something that some language advocates made up to feel more educated.

      I’d never heard of your objection to “poser,” in fact, until your comment, and the usage hardly seems to stem from mere confusion of sounds or meanings. Both dictionaries define the word as simply one who poses, without further narrowing, and both offer a clear etymology for what you may dislike. It comes down to what you might mean by “pose” itself, as in “adopts a pose.” MW11C defines it as a something assumed for effect, which makes perfect sense. (Why else would you pose for a picture? There are plenty of photos of someone caught unknowningly and a long history of paintings that strive for the appearance of the unposed.) So it’s only natural for that to be taken to mean phony. RHUD in turn explicitly reserves a meaning for pose as “a studied attitude; affectation,” with the example “his liberalism is only a pose.”

      My objection to your third quibble is different. There I’d advocate the distinction but have never once heard that abuse of “beg the question.” Not once. And neither dictionary this time mention the mistaken usage. So by all means fight the error here. Just don’t insist on a decline or mistaken laxity that doesn’t exist.

      • Greg says:

        I’m delighted, John, that another language nerd has thought to take the time to discuss this stuff (which would make most ordinary people instantly black out with boredom).

        I certainly agree with your basic premise: that it makes sense to preserve useful distinctions. However, even though reasonable people can differ, I think you’re a bit too cavalier about my gripes. To wit:

        1. “Begs the question” is incorrectly used all the time. Here’s a link to a New York Times article discussing this point:


        2. I’m far from alone in arguing for preserving the distinction between “poser” and “poseur.” Even the pronunciations are different, in terms of emphasis on the syllables.


        And from Merriam Webster:


        3. I freely admit that the most thoroughly lost battle is “nauseated” and “nauseous.” But I’m not alone. So-called “purists” prefer it, presumably for the very reason that it does preserve a useful, if nuanced distinction:


        Finally, just because you and I may be the only folks truly interested in kicking this stuff around, how do you feel about “that” and “which”? (You may not be shocked to learn that I prefer to use exclusively “that” for the restrictive use — even while being well aware that writers as esteemed as Shakespeare never bother with the distinction at all.)

        Best regards.

        • huda says:

          Interesting discussion.
          I just wanted to note that in French poseur comes from the verb poser and it has both meanings- to pose for a painting and to be pretentious. I always felt that using poser in English to mean pretentious was a way to avoid being meta– i.e. to be less pretentious by using the English version rather that the French-sounding version from the same verb root.

          • Nina Keilin says:

            I like this comment! And I enjoyed all the above ones too. I’m still a stickler on using that and which in the “traditional” manner. But I would use nauseous for nauseated. That ship sailed decades ago, I think.

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ … Come on. Morticia has way more hair than Cousin Itt. ‘weIrDEST’ is clearly the better answer for “Like Cousin Itt, of all of the Addams family”.

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT … “Also a Cold War vibe with CCCP and NYET” … The reviewer seems to imply a connection between the Cold War and FDR, WPA and/or WWII, but the Cold War period was after FDR was gone (1945) and well after the WPA was dissolved (1943). In fact, the US was allied with the Soviet Union during WWII, even though the seeds of the Cold War were planted before the war, germinated during the war and came to fruition in its immediate aftermath.

  7. Philippe says:

    NYT: Alp is crossword est, Alpe… I do not even know.
    Correct denomination in French is ‘Les Alpes’. Period.

Comments are closed.