Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Home Row Truths” — a little typing test, and pinkies out! – Erin’s write-up
Hello lovelies! Those of you solving on computer have an advantage for this week’s Jonesin’ puzzle, as the theme involves letters of the home row of the keyboard (or typewriter, for those of you who may be old-school solving) as shown in the drawing below:
- 17a. [Home clearance event [“Here’s where your ring fingers go …”]] ESTATE SALE. The circled S and L correspond to where the ring fingers sit on the home row.
- 30a. [Digital gambling game [“Position your middle fingers right there …”]] VIDEO POKER.
- 41a. [Steak and peppers dish [“Let’s get the index fingers back to home position …”]] BEEF FAJITA.
- 56. [1994 Robin Williams/John Turturro movie [“Now move those index fingers inward …”]] BEING HUMAN.
The pinky fingers get no love here, but including a semicolon or colon in the grid would be problematic. I love the elegance of having four 10-letter entries so each pair of home row letters sits in its proper place in the row.
Other things: I will never spell KACEY Musgraves’ name correctly no matter how hard I try. An S for C cost me 40 seconds. Also, I just don’t understand “Push th’ Little Daisies” by WEEN. I prefer more of a 2000s rave-style earworm such as Sandstorm by DARUDE. (Listen at your own risk to either.) The NE corner has some British flair with actress UMA Stubbs and actor/rapper RIZ Ahmed. Finally, why does PIXYISH look wrong to me? Not that PIXIEISH looks much better with the IEI combo, but it still floats my boat a little more.
Until next week!
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 623), “Canine Squad”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everybody! Hope all of you are doing well and enjoying the ever spring-like temperatures that’s descending upon a good part of the country. If you’re still kinda freezing where you are, my apologies!
Dogs, they say, are a man’s/owner’s best friend, and, in this case, some of those dogs end up being best friends of the solvers of this puzzle. Each of the five theme entries includes a series of circles, and, after filling them out, spell out the name of well-known pooches.
- GASTROPUBS (17A: [Eateries with good grub and grog])
- HAILE SELASSIE (23A: [Ethiopia’s last emperor])
- FOODIES (37A: [They’re always taking courses in restaurants?])
- PAJAMA BOTTOMS (52A: [Half of a bedroom set?]) – Here is hoping that the Otto being referenced is the Guinness World Record-holding skateboarder!
- PASTA SALAD (58A: [Elbows on a picnic table?])
Not so many long, non-themed fill in this grid as others, but I’m sure this is the first time that I have encountered AYATOLLAH as an answer in a puzzle (33D: [Religious leader among Shiite Muslims]). Seeing BOYZ was the earworm of the day for me, as I’m singing the chorus of “End of the Road” right now: Still I can’t let go/It’s unnatural/You belong to me/I belong to youuuuuuuu (57D: [R&B group ___ II Men]). Definitely was thinking of using ROSIE as the main topic for the next paragraph, as she is also the logo of the Metropolitan Riveters of the Premier Hockey Federation, formerly the National Women’s Hockey League (15A: [“Riveting” wartime worker]). But went a different direction, and something I knew about for a while — though the origin of the fact was completely new to me until today.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KOP (6D: [“Keystone” officer]) – For those who are fans of soccer in England, this term will be familiar given that one of the most famous seating areas in English football is called The Kop, which is the single-tiered stand behind the south goal. The word “Kop” is short for Spion Kop, the colloquial name for single-tiered terraces at sporting venues in England, particularly football (soccer) venues. The actual Spioen Kop is a steep hill in South Africa where a battle was fought between the British Empire and a couple of Boer republics — the South African Republic and the Orange Free State — during the Second Boer War in January of 1900.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Zachary David Levy’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Store Closings”—Jim’s review
Today’s revealer is BUSINESS END (60a, [Functional bit, colloquially, and a hint to 17-, 28-, 35- and 44-Across]). Those other theme answers are familiar phrases that end in a word that is also a place of business.
- 17a. [Investment account that yields little interest] MONEY MARKET.
- 28a. [Holes in the wall] POWER OUTLET. Cute clue. I would have said this needed a question mark, but since the first word is pluralized, I think it’s okay.
- 35a. [Magazine first published in 1867] HARPER’S BAZAAR.
- 44a. [Discussing work outside of work, e.g.] TALKING SHOP.
My first thought was that these would be words that could follow “business” in a familiar phrase, but, no, it’s sufficient that these theme answers end in a word that is also a business. I think we normally see “outlet” preceding the word “store,” but I’ve seen it on its own enough for it to pass muster here. I especially liked the theme revealer, and the title has a good play on words as well. Solid theme.
There’s plenty of long fill today, but much of it just holds the grid together; I’m referring to DENSEST, ASTUTELY, UNMELTED, and MCNAMARA. I did like TACITURN, VIRGIL, and RAWR though. Didn’t know PASSADO [Fencing thrust], so I needed every crossing there.
Clues of note:
- 31d. [Wise alternative]. UTZ. Never heard of Wise, and Wikipedia tells me why: Their products are only sold in 15 eastern seaboard states.
- 33d. [Hostess alternative]. DRAKE’S…And I’ve never heard of DRAKE’S either. Wikipedia says they’ve been primarily in the northeast but expanded into the mid-Atlantic and southeast in 2016. Boo on these regionally-oriented clues.
Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.
Amie Walker’s Universal Crossword – “Big Break” – Matt F’s write up
Some nuts are “cracking” across sequential entries in the grid, tied together by the apt central reveal at 38A – [Toys that are also tools, and a hint to the words split across the sets of asterisked clues’ answers] = NUT CRACKERS. I’m not going to show all the clues containing these nuts, but I will tell you where to find them:
- 17+18+19A = LAPIS TACH IOWA.
- 31+33A = TOTAL MONDE
- 46+47A = CREPE CANES
- 62+64+66A = IMAC ADAM IAMBS
Favorite clue in this group is 18A – [Speed reader, briefly?]. Brilliant.
Overall, this theme is nuts! Ahh, I crack myself up. All kidding aside, this is a solid offering that is subtly elevated by the symmetric placement of the theme words. Even the placement of the circles is almost perfectly symmetric. Very nice construction.
Amie does a great job utilizing the mid-length slots without complicating the rest of the fill. I loved the symmetrical pairings of MS. PAC-MAN (3D) / SUPER MOM (41D); and ICEBERG (28A) / HOT YOGA (53A). I’m a sucker for a good wordplay clue, so besides 18A (mentioned above) I really enjoyed 1D – [Put-down experts?] = TILERS.
Apparently the 1972 meeting in China between President Nixon and Chairman Mao Zedong created such a buzz that notable Campbell’s soup silk-screener Andy Warhol decided to make 199 paintings of the man between 1972 and 1973.
Thanks for the puzzle, Amie!
Margaret Seikel’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
Cute theme! The emoji of a hand with two fingers extended appears in each theme clue, and the multitudinous meanings of that gesture, depending on context. PEACE SIGN at an antiwar protest, “V” FOR VICTORY from Winston Churchill, “TWO, PLEASE” when ordering, BUNNY EARS over someone’s head in a silly group photo. Mirror symmetry to accommodate the 9/11/9/9 set.
Fave fill: NO-DRAMA / OBAMA, Lincoln’s LOG CABIN, POP-TART.
I’ll bet you a dollar the constructor clued BIG SPOON as the person whose body cups their partner’s probably-smaller body, and not [Implement for eating soup but probably not for stirring coffee], given that the implement for eating soup is generally called a … soup spoon.
Tough for the beginners in the Tuesday crowd: APSE, [Cathedral recess]. It can take the non-architectural and non-cathedral folks years to get a sense of where the APSE is vs. the NAVE. Here’s a page with a diagram! Note that the transepts and chancel keep the APSE and NAVE from getting too cozy with each other, and then forget all about transepts and chancels because those aren’t 4-letter words popular in crosswords.
Hoang-Kim Vu & May Huang’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
I like a Tuesday theme that isn’t obvious. This one is not!
The theme answers:
- 18a [Review site used by students] is RATE MY PROFESSORS.
- 28a [Honor, with “to”] is PAY TRIBUTE.
- 49a [Alliterative chant from “Jack and the Beanstalk”] is FEE FI FO FUM.
And the revealer: 64a [Entry-level wages, and a hint to the first words of 18-, 28- and 49-Across] is STARTING SALARIES. RATE, PAY, FEE. Nice!
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that GEMINI is the sign after Taurus.
Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Needed some extra time to complete the last few entries, and then to go back and determine where I had made an error or two.
Otherwise, as advertised: a crossword that put up a measure of resistance. A fun challenge.
- 1a [What many games require] TWO. Always nice to make a correct intuitive leap on an early clue.
- 4a [Server error?] FAULT (tennis). Ditto as above.
- 20a [Mo. of Indigenous People’s Day] OCT. Easy to remember, as it’s meant to counteract the mythologies swirling around Columbus.
- 28a [“What kind of white nonsense . . .”] THE CAUCASITY. I should have gotten this one more readily, but somehow got distracted by CAUSALITY and couldn’t shake it.
- 32a [Early W.N.B.A. powerhouse whose logo featured a tail but no animals] HOUSTON COMETS. Clever clue, but it sure would have been easier had I been more familiar with the teams in the league.
- 48a [Cranberry-sauce characteristic] TANG. 32d [One side of a cranberry-sauce debate] HOMEMADE; the other being (ew) canned.
- 49a [What might result in standing water?] BOTTLE FLIP. This refers to an internet fad of tossing smallish (0.5 liter?) full water bottles with a flick of one’s wrist in an attempt to get them to land upright.
- 51a [“Whatever,” in a text] IDC (“I don’t care”).
- 52a [Opposite of division] UNITY. It’s only now that I notice this might have been intended to get solvers to think of something more like multiplication.
- 2d [Is after] WANTS. Toughish clue.
- 10d [Things in the kitchen that might be seasoned but aren’t eaten] SKILLETS. The cast iron kind. How-to here.
- 13d [Post-party confetti, for example] DETRITUS. And yet I’m thinking of the troll watchman from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.
- 17d [Cold mugful?] DEATH STARE. This clue feels as if it’s trying too hard. Swing and a miss.
- 21d [Bodyguards of the Black Panther] DORA MILAJE. Definitely needed crossings to figure out the spelling of the second part.
- 23d [Footwork drills for a soccer player] TOE TAPS. Oh so that’s what they’re called.
- 38d [Chill] MELLOW. This section would have been much easier had I not been directionally dyslexic (would that be a secondary sense of ‘disoriented’?) and entered ESE for 56-across [Dir. from Khartoum to Lagos] WSW, despite picturing the cities’ relative positions accurately. This also affected my ability to get the answer for 47d [Gush] SPEW.
- 42d [Parts of most eagles] PUTTS (golf).
- 45d [Nowhere to be found] GONE.
Erik Agard’s USA Today Crossword, “K…” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer starts with a word that could also start with a silent K.
- 14a [Coalition that advocates against Native mascots in sports] – NOT IN OUR HONOR
- 30a [Birthplace of bounce music] – NEW ORLEANS
- 39a [Last possible moment] – NICK OF TIME
- 58a [Title job for Thomas Wazhashk in a 2020 Louise Erdrich novel] – NIGHT WATCHMAN
This was a pretty high concept theme for the USA Today – I had absolutely no idea what was going on the whole time I solved the puzzle, and when I looked it over afterwards I was looking for K’s, not for their absence. So even though I basically solved this as a themeless, I still really liked it! Both NOT IN OUR HONOR and this context of NIGHT WATCHMAN were new to me. I also like how many L-shaped blocks of black squares there are, it gave the grid a really interesting shape.
Fill highlights: TOO SLOW, I’M AWARE
Clue highlights: 64a [“It’s Janet . . . Miss Jackson if you’re ___”] for NASTY, 52d [Like a wool sweater that feels like a steel wool sweater] for ITCHY