Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Sandwiched Between” — some deep cuts here – Erin’s write-up
Hello lovelies! This week’s writeup is causing me some psychic distress as I live right outside of Philadelphia, but grew up in Delaware, home of Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop and the amazing Bobbie. This week’s Jonesin’ theme involves adding SUB (short for submarine sandwich) to the second word of two-word phrases. My distress comes from my spouse, who was mostly raised in Upper Darby, PA, and refuses to call this type of sandwich anything other than a hoagie. He feels that a sub is a lesser form of sandwich on a long roll, while a hoagie is the real deal. I feel that no other part of the world calls it a hoagie and that he is just wrong. Anyway, please enjoy the theme entries:
- 17a. [Add “minus” to your math skills?] GAIN SUBTRACTION, from GAIN TRACTION.
- 37a. [Manuscript about the Milky Way, maybe?] SPACE SUBMISSION (SPACE MISSION).
- 55a. [Undermining scheme by a blanket hog?] COVER SUBVERSION (COVER VERSION).
Other things: nothing earth-shattering this week, and it’s time to run as I’m working extra this week and need to get home stuff done. Until next week!
Sam Koperwas & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Party People”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are idiomatic terms involving animals that are often applied to politicos. The revealer is POLITICAL ANIMAL (60a, [Human being, per Aristotle, who can be seen in 50-Across and 3-, 5-, 9- and 11-Down]).
- 3d. [Lawmaker who doesn’t toe the line] BLACK SHEEP.
- 5d. [President during his or her last days in office, e.g.] LAME DUCK.
- 9d. [Legislator who goes rogue] LONE WOLF.
- 11d. [Party boss whose bark is worse than his bite] PAPER TIGER.
- 50a. [Long-shot candidate who might come from behind] DARK HORSE.
Impressively tidy theme. I wonder if there were any animals left on the cutting room floor, because this set feels pretty exhaustive.
What do you do when you have as theme answers two 10s, two 8s, a 9, and a 15? See if you can make the grid with left/right symmetry of course. It works very well with this set and still leaves room for some nice fill.
Speaking of which, we get BRAD PITT, ODYSSEY, ABALONE, an ALGERIAN, some TECHIES, and a FLAGON (always liked that word). Nothing much slowed me down which is why I turned in a faster time than yesterday. Very smooth fill.
Clue of note: 34a. [“Cover me with white cold ___ kisses and let me rest tonight”: Maya Angelou]. ICY. From the poem, “Woman Work.” It’s worth two minutes of your time to read through.
Very nice puzzle. Four stars.
Katherine Baicker & Adam Wagner’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
There’s some constructing wizardry in this theme, as each of the five themers must have a number in the square following the apparent prefix., meaning there has to be a black square above it. (Maybe it’s not such wizardry? Looks daunting to me, though. Gridding’s not my strong suit.) Five words starting with negation prefixes do not take the opposite meaning when the prefix is ditched:
- 17a. [Casualness … even though 18-Across doesn’t mean urgency], NONCHALANCE. That first C is in the square marked 18, but chalance not really a word unto itself.
- 24a INDOLENT means “lazy,” but there’s no hard-working dolent.
- 36a DISCOMBOBULATED means “flustered” but there’s not an opposite unless you’re at Mitchell Field in Milwaukee and stop by the “recombobulation” area after the TSA check to put your metals back in your bag and your shoes back on your feet.
- 50a MISNOMER means “wrong name” but the correct one’s not a nomer.
- 59a UNBEKNOWNST, “not yet discovered,” lacks a beknownst opposite, outside of jocular usage.
Fun theme, and tidily executed.
Fave fill: your SOCIALS (shorthand for social media accounts/apps), an OPEN NET in hockey, EYEROLL, AP NEWS, “BOO-YAH!”, and Marvel’s THANOS.
Informative clue: 54a. [Tex-Mex snacks named after their inventor, Ignacio Anaya], NACHOS. Better Call Saul had a character called Nacho Varga, and that is actually where I learned that Nacho is a nickname for Ignacio. I’m sure Latino and/or Spanish-speaking solvers were years ahead of me here.
Fair amount of tough stuff for Tuesday’s newer solvers: PAS as if we pluralize “pa” as much as we do “dad,” ETON, maybe Italian plural CELLI, uncommon vocab LECTOR, UEY.
Re: 56d [Tech site since 1996] CNET, that’s on my “nope” list after they jumped headfirst into publishing AI-“written” articles and then had to pause that venture when it turned out that lots of articles assembled by bots are actually shite, containing errors. Wait till human writers are left out of the process of writing scripts for TV shows and movies–this is one of the issues the Writers Guild of America is striking on.
3.5 stars from me.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Tuesday puzzles here are billed as ‘moderately challenging’, but this one succumbed quite rapidly to my application. The time (yes I know I list it as ‘untimed’) was a little over 5 minutes.
Lot of flow in this sinuous grid boasting fat stacks.
- The most memorable entries to me were the ones that felt like regular words, longish ones that aren’t typically seen in crosswords: 38a [Fun] ENJOYABLE, 44a [Non-stop] CEASELESSLY. Know what I mean about that?
- Right off the bat, however, we’re treated to a trick pitch: 1a [Park professionals responsible for swings and slides] has nothing to do with playsets. Instead, it’s BASEBALLERS.
- 12a [Morsels in some white-chocolate-chip cookies] MACADAMIA NUTS. Hey, why is that? Is it because the macadamias are paler than most other varieties of nut and thus complement the aesthetics of the chips? Or is it actually something to do with their flavor?
- 20a [Provided the fare for] CATERED. Didn’t fool me for a minute.
- 24a [Sixteen of them stand outside the Supreme Court’s main entrance] COLUMNS. There are also sixteen federal judicial circuits. Expand the court to sixteen justices, eh?
- 31a [Kansas or Alabama, e.g.] BAND. When I saw that the answer was only four letters long, the trick seemed obvious.
- 32a [Seating choice at a diner] COUNTER. 11d [Perch in a pub] STOOL.
- 41a [Mattel word-matching game with green and red cards] APPLES TO APPLES. I’ve never played it but recognized the name.
- 43a [Question following an order] WILL THAT BE ALL. Clue was phrased so well that I was able to get this with possibly no crossings. (Can’t recall exactly now.)
- 8d [Objects set adrift in lakes and rivers during the Hungry Ghost Festival] LANTERNS.
- 20d [Icy object in solar orbit] COMET. Should have gotten this immediately because it practically screams the answer. Instead, with the C in place, I thought of the rocky CERES.
- 21d [Still in the game] ALIVE. 9d [Never says die] ENDURES.
- 27d [Barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast] SANIBEL. Probably the toughest entry in the grid?
- 38d [Lazy lister’s abbr.] ET AL. Sometimes it’s for clarity and flow, but of course the clue remains accurate much of the time.
Did it play easy for you folks as well?
Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
I really enjoyed this puzzle! Lots of theme answers, good fill, and an amusing revealer.
Here’s the theme set:
- 19a [Pint equivalent] is a HALF QUART. This is my least favorite theme answer. It’s accurate, of course, but not really a thing people say.
- 15a [DC Comics’ Clown Princess of Crime] is HARLEY QUINN.
- 42a [Members of royal courts who may be crowned at halftime] are HOMECOMING QUEENS. My high school didn’t have a football team and didn’t have homecoming. In the movies I watched (OK, one movie – “Carrie”) the Homecoming Court is crowned at the dance. How did it work in your school?
- 57a [Deluxe] is HIGH QUALITY.
- 64A [Feels apprehensive] is HAS QUALMS.
The revealer is tucked into 52d, which is the reason we get five theme answers instead of four (I presume that also has something to do with this being a 16×15): [Command ctrs., and a description of five answers in this puzzle] is HQS. Nice!
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that TIC TAC has a Coca-Cola flavor. Ick.
Alex Eaton-Salner’s Universal Crossword – “Bookends” – Matt F’s write up
Each theme phrase ends with a word that is part of a book. Let’s take a closer look:
- 17A – [Low-growing plants] = GROUND COVER
- 26A – [Hornet’s cousin] = YELLOW JACKET
- 44A – [Riveting] = SPELLBINDING
- 56A – [Some helpers on the hill] = SENATE PAGES
You know, I first thought that each half of the theme answers could combine with the word “book” to make a new phrase. After all, “yellow book” & “book jacket” make sense, and so do “spell book” & “book binding,” but the other two phrases don’t make much sense in this form. Has anyone heard of a “ground book” or a “senate book,” not to mention the extremely redundant “book pages?” Anyway, I think based on the title I’m left to believe the intention was for each phrase to end with a part of a book. It’s much cleaner, so I’ll stick with that.
Alex delivers the goods in the bonus fill today, with the stacked 9’s in the NE/SW ( WINESKINS / HOUSE EDGE, WRAP PARTY / LIME LIGHT), and the mid-length stuff shines just as bright: EMOTION, REVIEWS, BIG ONES, INROADS, and even WRONGO. Very clean all-around and a joy to uncover.
Clues I enjoyed:
23A – [Ernie who won two U.S. Opens] = ELS. Great trivia clue for something that might have otherwise been clued as “Introduction to llamas?”
52A – [Switch companion] = BAIT. We’re not talking about a companion for your Nintendo Switch, but rather the phrase, “bait and switch.”
54A – [Purple boba flavor] = TARO. Great clue for an otherwise mundane entry.
1D – [Candy heart’s message to embrace?] = HUG ME. Straightforward pun, but clever nonetheless.
56D – [Teaching temp] = SUB. Subtle misdirect, for me at least, to reframe “temp” as “temporary / stand-in.”
Abbot Howard “Abbie” Hoffman was a founding member of the Youth International Party in 1967, commonly known as Yippies, which was a counterculture revolutionary offshoot of the anti-war movements of the 1960s. Abbie died by suicide in 1989, but remains an icon of the anti-Vietnam war movement and counterculture era.
Thanks for the puzzle, Alex!
Will Nediger’s USA Today Crossword, “Yes and No (Freestyle)” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Hey, it’s a USA Today themeless! Have they done these before? I don’t do the USA Today every day, just when I’m blogging, so I definitely might have missed one. In general I love seeing easier themeless puzzles – so many folks think that since the NYT runs them late in the week, they must always be too tricky. But between this and the New Yorker themeless puzzles, the space is becoming much more open to newer solvers.
This puzzle really is a freestyle in every sense of the word, since the black square pattern is totally asymmetric. I think the title stems from the juxtaposition of I’LL PASS and I’M GAME, but I might be missing something. Overall this was a fun solve, but I wish there were a few more clever/wordplay clues – everything felt straightforward, which can get a little boring when there’s no theme to provide that extra layer.
Fill highlights: STAGE WHISPER, ANNE HECHE (RIP), AFTERPARTY, SLEEPER SOFA, NAGWARE, HOME SIGN
New to me: [Egyptian Christian] COPT (I wasn’t sure if this referred to the demographic or a specific person named Christian), [Haitian revolutionary Toussaint] LOUVERTURE
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 624), “Meet the Racket-eers!”—Ade’s take
Hello there, all! Hope all is well with you and that you’re staying safe.
Tennis anyone? Well, it’s definitely tennis weather right now, and we’re just a couple of weeks until Roland Garros (French Open) gets underway. In this puzzle, the five theme answers are multiple-word entries in which one of the words is also associated with a game of tennis .
- FOOD COURT (17A: [Tennis player’s favorite gastronomic venue?])
- STRING CHEESES 23A: [Tennis player’s preferred protein snacks??])
- OUR LOVE (39A: [Tennis player’s favorite wedding song?])
- OVERHEAD COSTS (55A: [Tennis player’s “smashing” business expenses?])
- SOFT SERVE (63A: [Tennis player’s favorite ice cream, presented with a twist?])
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TOI (45A: [French pronoun]) – Former New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers player Toi Cook was a defensive back who played for 11 seasons in the NFL fron 1987-1997. After a standout career at Stanford, which included being a member of the 1987 baseball team that won the College World Series, Cook was drafted in the 8th round by the Saints. His arrival coincided with the Saints’ defense become one the best in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Cook won a Super Bowl as a member of the 1994 San Francisco 49ers. Cook ended his career with 20 career interceptions and five career touchdowns.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
NYT: Love that theme!
The NYT has an awful lot of tired fill if you ask me. Whether that’s a burden on newbies and whether newbies are more the target of easy puzzles, like those early in the week, I couldn’t tell you. I just know that it was awfully trite.
OK theme, though, maybe even an encouragement to look up etymologies — although that leaves it open to the objection that in at least three the etymology isn’t in the least paradoxical. Say, how could a MISNOMER not be misnamed? Anyway, however clever it is, can’t get up enthusiasm for the fill.
“The NYT has an awful lot of tired fill if you ask me.”
Did someone ask?
Was that really necessary?
TNY – A smooth solve for me, as well. APPLESTOAPPLES was new to me. BASEBALLERS and CEASELESSLY took a few crossings. I should have gotten LITTLEROUNDTOP sooner than I did. MACADAMIANUTS and WILLTHATBEALL were gimmes.
Once KNEELS caused me to change ENJOYMENT to ENJOYABLE, SANIBEL fell. MEMOS filling inboxes seems quaint, at best.
It was fun solving this one in less than ten minutes with only one typo.
Agreed that it went easily, maybe more than I’d have wished for a Tuesday (or expected even after the pleasure of seeing the byline and knowing from that alone that I could solve it), but it had its rewards, like the stacks, and I had never known the battlefield or APPLES game or SANIBEL. Fortunately the name crossing it was unambiguous with other crossings.
New Yorker: Pretty smooth solving, but I needed a lot of crosses to get most of the six long answers. I also had trouble getting started until I saw the Desmond Dekker clue. I’m not sure how I knew he’s a SKA musician, but that allowed me to get SANIBEL off the S.
Fun seeing ADDLE clued as “Discombobulate” the same day “discombobulated” was a theme answer in the NYT. It’s a word I don’t hear much anymore.
The first puzzle I solved after the New Yorker was the New York magazine/vulture.com midi, “The Coronation Puzzle.”
What are the odds that it too would have a clue with a gratuitous reference to Desmond Dekker? Less of a gimme this time; it quoted some lyrics that I didn’t recognize, but once I had the answer, I knew I was somewhat familiar with the song.
By the way, the vulture.com puzzle is a fun little addition to my puzzle-solving routine. It’s small enough that it only takes a few minutes to complete, and they’ve got some good constructors like Malaika Handa and Stella Zawistowski.
TNY – Pannonica, there are 13 federal judicial circuits. But it’s been quite a while since justices rode circuit!
Okay, 13 is good with me.
Re the NYT puzzle:
The theme idea was cute. Its execution was not.
I found the choices of “misnomer” and “unbeknownst” to be incredibly lame examples of this phenomenon, because the blatant root still appears in the word after the prefix is removed.
Surely there are much better examples of this. Like https://www.ling.upenn.edu/courses/Fall_2007/ling001/mccord.html.