Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Jonesin' 4:26 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 3:07 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 4:50 (Matt F) 


USA Today 4:10 (Sophia) 


WSJ 5:20 (Jim) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “On the Hunt” — they’ve been relocated – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 4/4/23

Jonesin’ solution 4/4/23

Hello lovelies! This week we’re looking for Easter eggs, which have been taken from the start of the theme entries and hidden nearby in the grid.

  • 17a. [It’s now just … a bowl of hot water with roses and daisies (look to the right!)] FLOWER SOUP. Not sure what FLOWER SOUP is, so let’s follow the instructions. If you look to the right, there’s some weirdness in the NE corner:
  • 11d. [Singer Carly ___ Jepsen] REGGAE. Huh? The singer is Carly RAE Jepsen, so where did REGGAE come from? If you’re unlike me you may have known that EGG FLOWER SOUP is the other name for egg drop soup, the delicious Chinese combo of broth, starch, eggs, and seasonings. So the EGG was taken from EGG FLOWER SOUP and hidden in RAE to make REGGAE. Neat!
  • 33a. [They’re now just … bread and lettuce meals (look above!)] SALAD SANDWICHES. For when you don’t know if you want a salad or a sandwich for lunch, have both! Or you can enjoy some EGG SALAD SANDWICHES, if you find the hidden egg:
  • 24a. [Mattress’s place] BEGGED. A mattress is usually found on a BED, but this one has an extra EGG.
  • 57a. [It’s now just … a tree in your texts (look to the left!)] PLANT EMOJI. There are tons of plant emoji, but only one EGGPLANT EMOJI. So where’s the egg?
  • 43d. [Compete (for)] VEGGIE. VIE is the synonym for compete we’re looking for here. This pair is kind of fitting, as eggplants are used in cooking as VEGGIEs, although technically they’re berries.

Fill things I enjoyed: WARP clued as [Skip levels, in early video games] (which I got immediately along with a rush of nostalgia) and the nicely paired NES.

Until next week!

Annemarie Brethauer’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Not Defying Gravity”—Jim’s review

My first guess at the theme—based on the title and the vertically-oriented circled squares—was that it was going to have something to do with floating things, or non-floating things as the case may be. This seemed to bear up when I found the first theme answer was LEVITATE…but then that’s as far as it went. Of course I saw the connection among the circled squares, but I needed the revealer to get the full picture.

Said revealer is SHOWDOWN (36d, [Critical confrontation, and a hint to the circled titles]). The other revealers are familiar words and phrases that hide a Broadway show within, and of course everything is presented in the Down direction.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Not Defying Gravity” · Annemarie Brethauer · Tue., 4.4.23

  • 3d. [Rise up] LEVITATE.
  • 7d. [Up-to-the-minute] CURRENT.
  • 9d. [Place for watching grass grow, maybe] LAWN CHAIR.
  • 31d. [Woodstock’s surroundings] CATSKILLS.
  • 40d. [Royal Albert Hall event] CONCERT.

Works for me. Although I do find the choice of theme answers interesting. Typically we’d see hidden words spread out over multiple words, and that seems like it would be do-able with this set (perhaps with PRISON CELL and LEDGER ENTRY for starters). But then of course your theme answers get longer and you’re starting to use up a lot of grid real estate.

With this themeset however, every hidden word is found within another word, and the theme entries are shorter (including 7s and 8s). That allows for five entries plus the revealer whereas trying to get six full-size theme entries the other way usually makes for a lot of un-fun compromises.

The other thing is that it feels like the theme is less the star of the show here. It’s still there and it’s solid and it does the job, but it leaves room for the rest of the grid to breathe and to show off some good stuff.

So yeah. I’m impressed with this grid design with its great big corners and its flowing white space. One could almost feel like this was a themeless grid if it weren’t for those circles in the middle.

Among the goodies we get are SELF-MADE, IDOLATRY, LOVELIER, “AW NUTS!,” HOT TIP, EYEWALL, “SUITS ME,” “SO BE IT,” RABBINIC, SLUSHY, and “HOW DO?” That’s a lot of lively stuff for a weekday grid.

The only thing I’m not so keen on is the title. The only relationship it seems to have to the theme answers is that it indicates that something is going Down…and the same could be said in just about every vertically-oriented grid. This grid’s title should hint at Broadway or musicals in some way.

Clues of note:

  • 41a. [Flying Solo]. HAN. It’s easy to miss that capital-S when trying to zip through a grid.
  • 57a. [Like chanterelle but not amanita mushrooms]. EDIBLE. Per Wikipedia, 95% of the human fatalities from mushroom poisoning are due to amanita mushrooms. Be careful out there, mycophiles!
  • 2d. [No-no per the Ten Command-ments]. IDOLATRY. The extra hyphen in the clue seems to be a holdover from the print version.

Solid theme, but the grid itself stands out. Four stars.

Andrea Carla Michaels & Christina Iverson’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 4 4 23, no. 0404

Today’s theme feels timely for me, as I just heard about my cousin’s somewhat unplanned home birth! (Mama and baby are doing great.) Theme revealer DELIVERANCE is clued [1972 thriller set in the backwoods of Georgia … or a plot point in 18-, 29- and 49-Across?], and those other three three themers are movies that involve something being delivered:

  • 18A. [1988 rom-com set in a New England restaurant], MYSTIC PIZZA. An early role for Julia Roberts, and PIZZA is often delivered.
  • 29A. [1987 film set in a Washington, D.C., TV station], BROADCAST NEWS. Holly Hunter plays a news producer who works with the anchors who deliver the NEWS.
  • 49A. [1968 horror film set in a New York City apartment], ROSEMARY’S BABY. Mia Farrow plays Rosemary, whose devilish BABY is delivered.

I like the location info in each movie’s clue, and that the three “delivery” movies all star women.

Clue that taught me a new word: 12D. [Pasta also called risoni], ORZO. Given that risotto starts with the same four letters as risoni, it wasn’t hard to guess the answer would be the rice-resembling pasta, ORZO.

Fave fill: SNOW ANGELS (did see a few snowflakes in Chicago the other day, but native Minnesotans like Andrea and the COEN brothers could’ve made snow angels this past weekend if they hadn’t left MN–in the Upper Midwest, that whole “groundhog predicts 6 more weeks of winter” thing is a sham, because winter drags on past mid-March!), EVIL TWIN, OUT OF ORDER.

Solid puzzle, four stars.

Jess Rucks’ Universal Crossword – “Going Through Hoops” – Matt F’s write up

Universal Solution 04.04.2023

If our tag tracker is correct I believe this is a mainstream debut for today’s constructor, Jess Rucks. Congratulations on the accomplishment! Jess gives us a timely theme today, as the NCAA basketball tournaments have just wrapped (I’m currently watching the men’s championship game while typing this). The reveal at 57A ties it all together: [People who put group success before their own, or what 17-, 27- and 44-Across have become?] = TEAM PLAYERS. Each theme answer becomes an adjective followed by a basketball position. Here are the remaining theme answers:

  • 17A – [Baller known for speed?] = FAST FORWARD
  • 27A – [Baller known for hitting the books?] = STUDENT CENTER
  • 44A – [Baller known for dribbling from sideline to sideline?] = CROSSING GUARD

None of these answers are contrived, and they all work well in service of the theme. Small ding for inconsistency in the clues – the first and third have descriptions that could be applied to the sport (speed, dribbling), and the second is non-sports-related (hitting the books). I would have rather seen 44A clued along the lines of, “Baller known for dribbling between their legs,” but I suspect this might be “too sportsy” for a general audience.

HUMAN ERROR and TIGER SHARK are fun entries in the bonus slots, and the rest of the fill is super clean. I enjoyed the split entry FRIDA / KAHLO, but I don’t think I’d consider a T-BONE to be a small steak. The tenderloin, used to make filet mignon, is a small steak cut from a T-bone. And that’s enough steak education for today.

The name IRMA Rombauer did not immediately ring a bell, but I have definitely heard of her famous cookbook, The Joy of Cooking (1931), which remains in print and has sold more than 18 million copies.

Thanks for the puzzle, Jess, and congrats on the debut! Hope we’ll be seeing more from you.

Sean Ziebarth’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I saw the pattern in the theme answers – it’s hard to miss with all the circles – and didn’t know what they were getting at until I filled in the revealer. It’s cute.

For today’s performance, orange letters will be standing in for the circles.

Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2023, Sean Ziebarth, solution grid

  • 20a [Muppet with blue feathers and a black unibrow] is SAM THE EAGLE.
  • 34a [Ceramic piece in a kitchen backsplash, say] is MOSAIC TILE.
  • 40a [Laryngeal projection] is the ADAMS APPLE.

And the revealer at 56a: [Going-out-of-business bargain event, and an apt description of this puzzle’s circles] is CLOSING SALE. The SA and LE get closer as we go down the grid. It’s a solid, Tuesday-appropriate theme. And, as I said, cute.

A few other things:

  • I filled in 3d from crossings and couldn’t figure out what AGAME was. That’s because it’s AGAME. My kid is a recent SDSU grad so we’ve watched more college basketball in the last three weeks than  – ever, really. I’m writing this Monday afternoon; by the time you read it on Tuesday, we’ll know what happened. No matter what those boys have played their hearts out. Go Aztecs!
  • 5d [Liberty] is FREEDOM. Those are the two high schools in nearby Bethlehem, PA. Liberty was originally Bethlehem High School. In the late 60s when the northern part of Bethlehem was developed they built the second school and renamed the first one to match. #localtrivia
  • I haven’t thought of ARSENIC and Old Lace in years. When I was a kid it made a regular appearance on high school stages. Somehow I doubt that is still true.
  • 33a [Highway barricade] is ROADBLOCK. For some reason I was thinking of the more permanent concrete barriers used to block off construction zones and it took me longer than it should have to see the right answer.
  • I was going to comment on [Journalist Koppel] feeling like a bit of a fusty entry until Wikipedia informed me that he’s still working. Sorry, TED.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Alan ALDA received a SAG Life Achievement Award in 2019.

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 4/4/23 • Tue • Berry • solution • 20230404

I solved yesterday’s Natan Last offering as a warm-up for this one. Neither was particularly onerous, but today’s crossword, as (14d) BEFITting its Tuesday appearance, was marginally easier.

There’s an agreeable flow to the swirly grid, which features meaty corners and a trio of stepped 13-letter entries in the center.

The first of those three long entries was easy to get with just a few crossings, and that opened up so much of puzzle: 30a [Bit of gear for a paparazzo] TELEPHOTO LENS. The second was a bit tougher, especially with that doubled A: 34a [Fortune 500 company with the slogan “Keep Climbing”] DELTA AIRLINES. The third featured a pun, and with a few crossings it was clear what the twist was: 36a [Zip line?] YOUR FLY IS OPEN.

  • 11d [Bird that may follow rainclouds in search of water] EMU. We learn so many EMU facts via crosswords, as constructors and editors search for novel information.
  • 6d [Something that might be held down with a tie?] OFFICE JOB. I appreciate the wordplay, but maybe the clue is too much of a stretch? Only grasped it after filling in the answer. The symmetrical partner for this is similarly punny, but is more quickly grasped: 56a [They’re bound to help note-takers] STENO PADS.
  • Straightforward clues for longish answers helped speed the solve along. I’m thinking of entries like 18a [Fashioned from] MADE OUT OF, and 33d [Becomes disconnected] SEPARATES.
  • 21a [Graduation-day garland] LEI. Is that exclusively a Hawaii/West-Coast thing (for USians), or is it practiced elsewhere in the country?
  • 26a [Garfield or Lincoln, e.g.] ANDREW. I know the former is an actor, but am unfamiliar with the latter. Presidential misdirection.
  • 38a [Insects in colonies] ANTS, 57a [Insects in colonies] WASPS.
  • 40a [Drove] HORDE. Little tricky, this one. One assumes the clue is a verb rather than a noun.

Great crossword. My only complaint is that perhaps it leans a tad too heavily on the names of actors and entertainers. Change one or two of those clues and it’s near-perfect.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 618), “Hit Parade”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 618: “Hit Parade”

Hello there, everybody! Hope all of you are doing well to begin the month of April! 

Here is a puzzle with perfect timing, as we are still in the first full week of the new Major League Baseball regular season, and the first words in each of the four theme entries are the four types of hits that a batter can achieve on the baseball diamond. (Of course, hitting one of each in the same game is called a cycle.) Batter up!

        • SINGLE LADIES (14A: [Beyoncé hit single with the lyric “you should put a ring on it”])
        • DOUBLE STROLLERS (25A: [Transports that are a hit among parents of twins])
        • TRIPLE SCOOP CONE (42A: [Multi-tiered treat that’s a hit at the ice cream parlor])
        • HOME RUN BAKER (53A: [Legendary baseball Hall-of-Famer with a “smash hit” nickname])

Despite the nine-square blocks in the corners, still room for a lot of long non-themed fill in the grid, which is always fun. I am sure that, in the basement in our mom’s house, we saved the Lionel TOY TRAIN set that my dad bought when we were kids, and I so hope to put that together again for old time’s sake (49A: [Tot’s choo-choo]). Always remember that burning smell those trains emitted, which I’m pretty sure now wasn’t a good thing to inhale back then. A Hawaiian island not maned Oahu or Maui features with MOLOKAI, which I’m sure is just as pretty as many other parts of the island (39D: [Hawaiian island]). At the moment, traveling back home from the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four in Space City (aka Houston), and was so honored to be in the city at the same time as NASA announced the crew that will make the first mission to the moon in over 50 years (12A: [March Madness gp.]). Oh, and of all things, some lucky reporter got to talk and take a picture with one of the amazing astronauts, Victor Glover, who becomes the first Black person to take part in a lunar mission! 

Some schlub with Victor Glover

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MCENROE (38D: [Borg’s foe in a classic Wimbledon final]) – That classic Wimbledon final took place on July 5, 1980, as the combustible John McEnroe looked to stop the cool Swede, Bjorn Borg, from winning his fifth consecutive Wimbledon gentlemen’s singles title. It was a match that went the distance, and then some, with Borg winning in five sets: 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16), 8-6. McEnroe saved seven match points in the match, with five of them coming in that fourth-set tiebreak that the American won 18-16. For many years, this match was considered the greatest tennis match ever played in Wimbledon, and overall.

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

Take care!


Erik Agard’s USA Today Crossword, “4/4 Time” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer is made up of a four letter word, followed by another four letter word, followed by a unit of time

USA Today, 04 04 2023, “4/4 Time”

  • 20a [It may be cut short by a strong wind] – GOOD HAIR DAY
  • 34a [Right now] – JUST THIS SECOND
  • 53a [Regardless of any future obstacles] – COME WHAT MAY

Happy 4/4 everyone! I can see why today’s puzzle ran on this date, which almost adds an extra layer to the theme.

While solving the puzzle, I noticed the DAY and SECOND, and thought “ok, so it’s units of time”. After I finished solving the puzzle, I saw the 4/4 part of the theme, which is what really elevates it. But, and I’m sorry to say this, COME WHAT MAY really doesn’t work for me. MAY is not a time span, at least not in the same way that “day” or “second” are. I so so wanted something ending in “month”, or “year”, or “minute”… having the specific month as the final theme answer felt like a letdown after the first two answers were so strong. I also kind of wanted there to be four theme answers given the title of the puzzle? But that one’s probably just me.

Loved all the big corners today – UNBOXING and FACE CARD were standouts. USA Today puzzles can sometimes feel choppy and today’s didn’t at all – look how few three letter answers there are! I also really enjoyed the 2×2 black square squares in the middle, I’ve never seen that grid design before.

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9 Responses to Tuesday, April 4, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: I’m a sucker for a puzzle with a good movie theme, especially when I have seen all the movies. Fast but no personal best. I somehow skipped the “1988 rom-com” in the clue for 18A and was briefly wondering what the 2003 thriller MYSTIC River had to do with any kind of delivery.

    I also drew a blank on DELIVERANCE’s title, though I knew immediately which movie the clue was about.

  2. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: Loved this puzzle! I couldn’t see the connection between the first three films at all. The revealer really delivered (haha) a satisfying aha moment and made me chuckle at the same time. Plus all the wonderful long fill and nary a bit of crosswordese to be found. Smooth and satisfying all around.

    • JohnH says:

      Ditto. I couldn’t see where the films were leading until the end. Really nice puzzle, especially for early in the week.

  3. marciem says:

    NYT: Loved the reminder of Mystic Pizza!! Best romcom scene ever (possibly tied with Meg’s scene in “When Harry met Sally” [‘I’ll have what she’s having’])… Julia & friends “deliver” fish to her boyfriend’s porsche… classic! Much better than today’s “revenge porn” payback :D :D . Had some other good scenes too.

    Deliverance… not so much ugh.

  4. Jim Peredo says:

    Ade, you never cease to amaze! Wow to that picture!

  5. David Roll says:

    Once I figured out that 1A wasn’t “shed,” things went better.

  6. Milo says:

    WSJ: Bravo! Being a big-time Broadway musical buff, this one really sang my tune. Nice summary as always from Jim. I also noticed the hidden words not being spread out over multiple words, but my take is that it’s Tuesday and so not a big deal if they’re a bit easy to parse.

    I couldn’t help snickering at the nit that the puzzle’s title, “Not Defying Gravity,” should have hinted at Broadway or musicals in some way … (*cough* Wicked *cough*)

  7. Christopher Smith says:

    TNY: I may be missing something, but LOLA was, as explicitly stated in the song, not a woman.

    • Michael Hooning says:

      I think that Lola’s gender was purposely ambiguous in the song. The character is always referred to as “she.” The last two lines, “I’m glad I’m a man / And so’s Lola” can be taken two ways – either Lola is a man, or Lola is glad that the singer is a man (or both?)

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