Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Show Some Backbone” — armed with knowledge – Erin’s write-up
Hello lovelies! Hope you’re doing well. This week’s Jonesin’ has an anatomical theme, but not the one I expected from the title. The “backbone” here is not spine related, but rather the grid-friendly ULNA found backwards in the three longest entries.
- 20a. [California city (and county) home to Bubblegum Alley] SAN LUIS OBISPO
- 38a. [Mercedes S-Class or Audi A5, e.g.] GERMAN LUXURY CAR
- 54a. [Captain of the Enterprise in two TV series] JEAN-LUC PICARD
Fill I particularly enjoyed: POOCH (it’s just a fun word to say), LARP (short for live-action role-playing), CORGI (they’re so darn cute!), and MILK A COW. Today I learned that ANDOR is a Disney+ series based on Cassian Andor from the Star Wars movie Rogue One.
Until next week!
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Misfiled”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are words and phrases that have the word TAX in them backwards. The revealer is TAX RETURNS (63a, [They’re filed this time of year, and a hint to portions of the starred answers]).
- 18a. [*What Russia is attempting with portions of Ukraine] ANNEXATION.
- 30a. [*Elementary particle in Lord Kelvin’s theory] VORTEX ATOM. New to me.
- 40a. [*Bound set of writings and drawings by Leonardo] CODEX ATLANTICUS. Also new to me, but with enough crosses, it came into focus.
- 49a. [*It doesn’t necessarily match gender identity] SEX AT BIRTH. I wonder if the WSJ-reading crowd will balk at this entry.
I noticed all the Xs after a while and then the word TAX in each one, knowing that Mike Shenk usually marks significant days throughout the year with at least one themed puzzle. I was so sure when I got to the revealer that it was going to be BACK TAXES that I filled it in without a glance at the clue…only to find it didn’t fit. No matter, the clue made it clear what the answer should be, and it was a quick change. I think BACK TAXES makes a better revealer, but TAX RETURNS does the job, too.
TEA CEREMONY is the highlight of the fill. It made me think of the episode of Taxi when Louie’s mom remarries a Japanese gentleman over Louie’s racist objections.
While not exactly a TEA CEREMONY, the Shinto wedding ritual features tea as a key component, as Reverend Jim explains to the gang and the audience. Well, so much for that. It’s not tea at all; I just assumed it was. Looking into Shinto weddings, I learned that it’s sake, not tea that they drink to complete the ceremony, and nowhere in the episode does Reverend Jim mention tea. Oh well, enjoy the scene below anyway.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 620), “You Are Joking!”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everybody! I hope you all are doing well today and that all of your taxes are done and that headache is out of the way!
Today’s puzzle includes the repackaging of phrases, where the letters U-R are inserted into them and changes the phrase’s meaning.
- FALSE GOURDS (17A: [Faux decorations on a Thanksgiving table?]) – False gods
- PASTEUR WAX (26A: [Porsche polisher created by vaccine developer Louis?]) – Paste wax
- CURRY FOUL (36A: [Court no-no by NBA star Steph?]) – Cry foul
- MURAL DE MER (49A: [Panoramic painting of the sea?]) – Mal de mer
- GLOOMY GURUS (59A: [Morose, melancholy mentors?]) – Gloomy Gus
Keeping track of a few friends who were running the Boston Marathon definitely made MILEAGE a little more poignant to see in the grid today (3D: [Odometer reading]). Congrats to all of the runners who participated! A number of 7-letter and 8-letter entries dotted this grid, which added to the fun with the solve. The intersection of UAL (38D: [“Friendly skies” co.]) and AARE might have been tough for new solvers, especially those who aren’t well-versed in their European rivers (42A: [Swiss river]). One of my sports reporting/photography friends is currently on vacation and is in ECUADOR as we speak, and totally jealous that I’m not there…even if I’ll be suffering nosebleeds left and right because of the altitude (39D: [Peru neighbor]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ROLLE (55A: [“Good Times” star Esther]) – Ever heard about the great college football player who became a neurosurgeon? Well, all of that unfolded in the past decade, as Dr. Myron Rolle was a third-team All-America safety at Florida State University in 2008. While he did get drafted by the Tennessee Titans and was on their roster in 2010 and 2011, Rolle was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 2009-10, and in 2013, started medical school at his alma mater. Today, he is a neurosurgery resident at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Kiran Pandey’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
Fun movie theme with a great punchline: three movies with “X vs. Y” titles, bound together with a sort of parentally chiding “BREAK IT UP, YOU TWO!” We’ve got ALIEN VS PREDATOR (film recommendation for you: Prey on Hulu. It’s technically a Predator prequel, but with a largely Indigenous cast and girl-power vibe. The critics even liked it!), GODZILLA VS KONG, and then a switcheroo to actual human adversaries in KRAMER VS KRAMER.
Fave fill: AUTISM (no reason to shy away from that entry), PARADOX, an OPEN MIND.
I can’t help wondering if more solvers under the age of 40 would get 3d ANIL more readily if clued as Indian actor Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire, one of the Missions: Impossible, and a zillion Indian movies) rather than crusty crosswordese [Indigo plant]. Thoughts?
I like 30d. [Google ___ Viewer (tool for charting word frequency over time)], NGRAM, but I’ll bet an awful lot of solvers were fighting their way through the crossings to piece it together. Ngram is cool tool, and various folks in Fiendland use it to compare a couple phrases to see when each has been used–such as “set foot in” vs. “step foot in.” I have yet to figure out how to generate an Ngram, but someday!
Four stars from me.
Justin Werfel’s Universal Crossword – “What a Spread!” – Matt F’s write up
You might catch this theme early, given the title, but I thought the reveal still added a nice cherry on top: 51A – [Hilarious … or a hint to the words bookending 19-, 32-, and 38-Across] = SIDE SPLITTING. Each theme answer “spreads” a common side dish:
- 19A – [Intentions that “often go awry”] = BEST LAID PLANS (BEANS)
- 32A – [They’re partially allies, partially adversaries] = FRENEMIES (FRIES)
- 38A – [Potential customer] = SALES LEAD (SALAD)
Fun phrases, fun theme, fun reveal – no complaints from me! Plenty of bonus content in the fill, too: LIBERAL ARTS, LOU COSTELLO, WALLABIES, ETSY STORE, HORSE HIDE, AT LEISURE. Good stuff all around. I also happen to be working my way through “Community” for the first time so I was happy to see 7D in the puzzle.
Clues I enjoyed the most:
18D – [Marvin the Martian and Superman, for two] – these are both fictional characters, yes, but they are also ALIENS (in their respective fictional universes).
30D – [Ye olde jerk] – fun clue for KNAVE.
TIL that an OKAPI (29A – “Zebra giraffe”), otherwise known as a “forest giraffe,” is the giraffe’s only living relative, and can only be found in the wild in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It also has scent glands on its hooves to mark its territory… weird!
Juliet Corless’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
The revealer is in the center of this puzzle. I doubt I would have figured out the theme without it.
The theme answers:
- 17a [Spot for holiday decorations] are the FRONT YARD.
- 26a [Component of many a 1980s dance performance] is MOONWALKING.
- 53a [Fruit-flavored loaf] is BANANA BREAD. Mmm.
- 62a [“Sometimes you feel like a nut”] candy] is ALMOND JOY.
And the revealer at 38a: [Persevere….or a hint to the ends of the answers to 17-, 26-, 53-, and 62-Across] is STICK WITH IT. YARDSTICK, WALKING STICK, BREADSTICK, JOYSTICK. Solid and perfect for a Tuesday.
A few other things:
- 1a [Outdated marriage vow word] is OBEY. Here’s hoping it’s outdated. Ugh.
- Does anyone actually say “Wow, that crowd is AROAR?” Didn’t think so.
- This is the second time recently I’ve seen HEY YOU as a synonym for “pssst.” To me “pssst” is quiet and HEY YOU is – not.
- We were lucky enough to spend some time in Croatia last year. Split and Dubrovnik were absolutely gorgeous and I’d love to go back and maybe see ZAGREB.
- “Blue Bloods” on CBS is on the long list of TV series I have never watched. Am I missing anything?
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’ve always misread pizza BIANCA as BLANCA. Oops.
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
This one played for me as advertised—moderately challenging—as Tuesday New Yorkers generally do.
Oh, I see I left a highlighted entry in the grid capture—I generally don’t do that, but it’s fortuitous today because I can highlight the last bit of fill that I needed to correct. For 32a [Copacetic] A-OK I originally had SOP. Didn’t notice that 29d [Just got (by)] EKED had been the nonsensical EPED. I’d correctly identified 20d [Fodder for a trendspotter] as a plural and placed an S in its final square. Tangentially related, I was fooled by 24a [Kid’s cry] and initially entered it as MOM rather than MAA (because that’s what goats say, by our convention).
- 5d [“__ Gold” (Peter Fonda film)] ULEE’S. The ULEE star seems to be fading in crossworld.
- 7d [Tackles, e.g.] LINEMEN. Have you done Spelling Bee today?
- 9d [Rabbit’s tail] SCUT. Was this a gimme for everyone, or just me?
- 11d [With “the,” “that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational language,” per Audre Lorde] EROTIC. With such an awkward clue, I have to assume that they really wanted to highlight the clue. So I’m obliging by repeating here.
- 28d [Chicano rock group Los __ ] LOBOS. They’ve had such a long and fertile career.
- 41d [Certain pressure ulcer] BED SORE. Ew?
- 43a [Kitt who laughed and said “Stupid” when asked, “If a man came into your life, wouldn’t you want to compromise?”] EARTHA. Ditto this lengthy quote-clue as the Lorde (although it isn’t as awkward).
- 53d [Some fifteen-eighties performance venues for the Queen’s Men] INNS. 22d [Subject of a lesson for Katherine in “The Taming of the Shrew”] LUTE.
- 1a [More than a pair] THROUPLE. Why does this portmanteau exist? Is it functionally distinct from a threesome or triad? Or is it [More than a pair] but somehow 42d [Less] NOT AS much as those other terms indicate? Also because it’s a very clunky lexical formation.
- 18a [“A map of the world that does not include __ is not worth even glancing at”: Oscar Wilde] UTOPIA. Got to take issue with Wilde here. “Utopia” literally means “no place”. There’s a place for imagination in some maps, but not all of them.
- 41a [Curve-hugging, as a dress] BODYCON. Looks like an abbreviated mashup of body and contour(ed); not a term I’ve seen in the wild.
- 51a [What Jean-Luc Goddard described as “a question of morality”] TRACKING SHOT. I had the K in place (and perhaps the C?) and TRACKING SHOT occurred to me, but I egotistically thought I was being uniquely brilliant and poetically intuitive. Turns out Goddard was a clever genius long before my time.
- 55a [Early, in a way] AT DAWN.
- 61a [Magazine that was once, per a former editor, a “camarilla of kingmakers and bullyboys”] ARTFORUM. I looked up the definition of camarilla at m-w.com: a group of unofficial often secret and scheming advisers; also : CABAL“
Wendy L. Brandes’s USA Today Crossword, “Etc, Etc, Etc” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Anna Gundlach
Theme: Each theme answer contains the string ETC.
- 17a [“No funny business!”] – DON’T GET CUTE
- 38a [They’re useful for toting cats and dogs] – PET CARRIERS
- 64a [Decorative cases for comforters] – DUVET COVERS
This is a solid example of a hidden letters theme – I especially like how the ETC is spread across two words in each example. DON’T GET CUTE is a fun conversational phrase, which are always great to see in puzzles.
There was a lot of content today that was new to me, which was great! Some of it was answers that I just straight up didn’t know (e.g. ROBERT Guillaume or the Ottawa SENATORS), and some were fun facts for answers I did know (SETH Rogen is also a ceramist! ERIE is the warmest great lake!) I only knew [Sci-fi saga set on the planet Arrakis] was DUNE from the board game, rather than the book or movie. And despite all this, the part of the puzzle that stumped me the most was putting in “generic” rather than GENERAL for [Unspecific].
Other fill/clue highlights: GASKETS, GYM BAGS, OCTOBER clued as [LGBTQ+ History Month].