Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Jonesin' 6:18 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 4:20 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal untimed (Matt F) 


USA Today 3:27 (Sophia) 


WSJ 6:20 (Jim) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Supernova” — you’re all so bright – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 5/23/23

Jonesin’ solution 5/23/23

Hello lovelies! This week’s Jonesin’ theme might leave you a little starstruck, in that the last word in each theme phrase is an anagram of STAR:

  • 17a. [Substitute leader pre-1918?] GUEST TSAR
  • 23a. [Command for pirates to start talking?] CONVERSE ALL TARS
  • 39a. [Pointer painting and Scottie sculpture, for instance?] DOG ARTS
  • 53a. [Deeply discounted versions of porcupines (with way fewer quills)?] FIVE POINTED RATS
  • 62a. [Fruit-flavored candy (or what happens at the end of each theme answer)] STARBURST

Love the inclusion of CONVERSE ALL STAR sneakers here. Did you know you can customize a pair of Chuck Taylors on the Converse site? It’s tempting. Anyway, I don’t love the porcupine entry. I get the FIVE-POINTED as only having five quills, but despite also being rodents, porcupines don’t look much like rats.

Other things:

  • Today I learned a SQUIB is an itty-bitty firecracker.
  • I love the clue [It’s OK to call him Boomer] for Boomer ESIASON.
  • Loup-GAROU was new to me. Loup means wolf in French, and garou stems from the Old French garoul or garulf, meaning werewolf.

Until next week!

Stella Zawistowski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Line ‘Em Up”—Jim’s review

Theme clues are familiar two-word phrases ending in the word “line.” Theme answers are colloquial phrases (“lines”) associated with the first words in the clues.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Line ‘Em Up” · Stella Zawistowski · Tue., 5.23.23

  • 17a. [Assembly line?] “COME TO ORDER
  • 26a. [Hot line?] “I’M SWEATING
  • 50a. [Finish line?] “THAT’S A WRAP
  • 59a. [Straight line?] “IT’S THE TRUTH

Nice. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this exact theme before, but there are a lot of possibilities for theme answers so I don’t mind seeing it again. And having common, colloquial phrases as theme answers always makes for a fun and lively grid, at least in my book.

In the fill I’m liking “NO MATTER,” REELED IN, HONESTY, ANCIENT, and RATTY. I didn’t know RAFFI nor the book titled LEAN IN.

Clues of note:

  • 15a. [Nabisco creation of 1912]. OREO. Maybe, but they stole the idea from Hydrox (which, let’s be honest, is a terrible name for a cookie).
  • 20a. [“Brush Your Teeth” singer]. RAFFI. Never have I ever heard this song, despite my years as a stay-at-home dad. I like his performance of it in the video below, but I think I’m glad my kids never had it as an ear worm.
  • 23a. [Hand or foot, but not wrist or ankle]. UNIT. Tricky, but good, misdirection.

Fun puzzle. Four stars.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 625), “It’s High Time!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 625: “It’s High Time!”

Hello there, everybody. Here is hoping that you are all doing well to begin the new week!

We have a puzzle in which all of the theme answers are going down, and the first word in each of those is a word that can come before the word “time.” The second theme answer is definitely appropriate given the warmer weather across the country … and not a bad song to have in one’s head when thinking about the hot weather!

        • QUALITY IS JOB ONE (3D: [Former slogan of the Ford Motor Co.])
        • SUMMER IN THE CITY (5D: [Lovin’ Spoonful hit with the lyric “back of my neck getting dirty and gritty”])
        • PRIME REAL ESTATE (9D: [Scenic oceanfront property, to an investor])
        • PERSONAL PRONOUN (11D: [I, for one])

Speaking of good songs to have stuck in your head, I’m sure a couple can pop into your head after putting in BANANARAMA, with “Venus” definitely being a fine candidate to hum out loud in the next few seconds (2D: [“Venus” musical group with a fruity-sounding name]). Keeping with the summer theme, can’t wait to smell all of the juicy meats cooking on BBQS when walking around during a summer weekend (1A: [July 4th cookouts, for short]). Very timely entry of MIAMI, with the Miami Heat one win away in its Eastern Conference Finals series from making it to the NBA Finals (18A: [Heat setting?]). Another timely answer, in a sense, is POLE, as the pole position for next weekend’s Indianapolis 500 was determined this past Sunday (59A: [Copernicus, by birth]). Congrats to pole-sitter Alex Palou, whose name is definitely Scrabbly enough to be a welcomed addition to crosswords everywhere if he were to win The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DONS (60A: [Mob bosses]) – Before becoming one of the best players in the history of the National Basketball Association, Bill Russell was a member of the University of San Francisco Dons men’s basketball teams that won back-t0-back national championships in 1955 and 1956. In that 1954-55 season, USF and its head coach, Phil Woolpert, became the first major college basketball squad to start three Black players, making up the majority of its starting lineup: Russell, KC Jones and Hal Perry. Russell and Jones are said to be one of the first pairs of teammates to run the play that is known today as the alley-oop.

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

Take care!


Lee Taylor’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 5 23 23, no. 0523

The themers are sort of a riff on cryptic crossword “container” clues. Spell out the number in the clue, insert that number’s name inside the word clued at the beginning of the clue, and what you get is defined by the clue words that follow the equal sign:

  • 16A. [Poets + 10 = Serves drinks], BARTENDS. TEN inside BARDS.
  • 35A. [Small amphibian + 7 = Story worth covering], NEWS EVENT. NEWT has eaten SEVEN.
  • 58A. [Phase + 1 = Ancient period], STONE AGE. ONE in STAGE.
  • 18D. [Supervisor + 9 = Quality that makes a fish hard to eat], BONINESS. NINE in BOSS.
  • 28D. [Annoyed + 2 = “Success!”], IT WORKED! TWO, IRKED.

I’m guessing that the theme clues are in italics because the themers are otherwise hard to spot—four 8s and a 9, they blend in with the fill.

Fave fill: NYONG’O, GAZEBO, and the ZIP FILEs that EDITORS like me use all the time.

Four stars from me.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 5/23/23 • Tue • Last • solution • 20230523

Wow, for me this one played significantly harder than yesterday’s offering in the same venue. I attribute that to the quantity of proper names I was unfamiliar with, but also with some tough cluing.

After finally completing the grid I was informed that at least one letter was off. Took some time to locate it even though it was right there in the first across entry (and the first answer I had put in): 1a [“Kermit the Frog” preceder] HI HO, for which I’d filled HI-YO. The associated crossing helped: 3d [Kathryn of “Glass Onion”] HAHN is much more believable than YAHN!

  • 12a [Author of the 1795 romance “Clisson et Eugénie”] BONAPARTE. Had no idea of that aspect of Napoleon’s career.
  • 18a [Premed sci. hurdle] O CHEM, for organic chemistry.
  • 23a [ __ Corner (D.C.-area suburb)] TYSONS. Now officially called just Tysons.
  • 26a [Avant-garde writer Theresa Hak Kyung __ ] CHA. One of the names I didn’t know. Others include 37a [Emmy-winning writer and actress __ Nicole Black] ASHLEY, 22d [Portrayer of Tiffany Welles on “Charlie’s Angels”] SHELLEY HACK.
  • Needed significant crossings for all three of the long across stepstair entries: 28a [Production with contributions from both the right and the left?] FRENCH BRAID, 30a [Punny progressive motto since 2015] FEEL THE BERN, 31a [Author of the Pulitzer-winning collection “Postcolonial Love Poem”] NATALIE DIAZ. It seems I have not been keeping pace with current celebrated authors.
  • 34a [Trans, perhaps: Abbr.] GNCgender non-conforming.
  • 40a [Second-to-last letter, before ampersand, in an obsolete version of the alphabet] ZEE. Yes, ampersand was for a time considered a letter. The recitation concluded with “… and, per se, and“, which through elision became ampersand.
  • 44a [They may be pricked or cocked] EARS. Quasi-racy observation there.
  • 46a [“Temporarily __” (phrase used by accessibility activist Ed Roberts)] ABLE-BODIED. Effective term; provides a very different perspective for most people.
  • 1d [Hair-razing stuff?] HOT WAX. Ouch!
  • 5d [Group of countries once expected to drive twenty-first-century economic growth, whose name is an acronym of its five members] BRICS. I’ve read that it was overblown; that it was the creation of a British economist, and that the countries’ economies are so dissimilar that it was never a really useful tool for analysis.
  • 7d [TV set with antennas] TELETUBBIES. Great clue! Such a good misdirection that I’ll overlook the minor duplication of television and Teletubbies.
  • 10d [Wednesday the third?] SILENT D. Don’t know if the intended misdirection was for the calendar or for Jenna Ortega, the third high-profile person to portray Wednesday Addams (needed to look up the other actresses: Nicole Fugere (1998–1999), Krysta Rodriguez (2009–2011), Rachel Potter (2011)).
  • 24d [“Power” player?] STARZ. I had no idea.
  • 27d [Nickname for a Serbian tennis star, thought to derive from his penchant for impersonations] THE DJOKER. Would have preferred that the clue had stipulated “derived in part”, because it’s obvious that it’s also inspired by his surname, Djokovic.
  • 28d [ __ position] FETAL. This was a key entry in my solve. At first the clue was so open-ended that I had no idea. Once I settled on 32a [“Can we chat real quick?”] as starting with GOT A and thus had the A, I was able to make the conceptual leap to FETAL—that in turn helped me break in to that big central section.
  • 43d [“__ without an object cannot live”: Coleridge] HOPE. Good quote, although LOVE seemed equally plausible.

Juliana Tringali Golden’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I am very very tired today, so perhaps I missed something in this theme. I hope so, because right now I don’t quite get it.

The theme answers:

Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2023, Juliana Tringali Golden, solution grid

  • 17a [Good dog?] is LHASA APSO.
  • 25a [Good shot?] is ESPRESSO.
  • 37a [Good condition?] is PROVISO.
  • 40a [Good measures?] is CALYPSO.
  • 48a [Good character?] is TED LASSO.

And the revealer at 60a: [For good reason, and a hint to five answers in this puzzle] is RIGHTLY SO. I guess each theme answer fits the definition in a punny way and ends in SO. Is that it? The puns are amusing but something just doesn’t quite hang together. It could totally be my tired brain.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: As I said, tired. I got nothin’.

Rafael Musa’s USA Today Crossword, “Splits Pose” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer begins with PO and ends with SE, literally splitting the word POSE.

USA Today, 05 23 2023, “Splits Pose”

  • 16a [Formidable team] – POWERHOUSE
  • 34a [Writer’s artistic freedom] – POETIC LICENSE
  • 55a [Most spoken language in the Southern Hemisphere] – PORTUGUESE

I like this theme, but I thought it was just called “the splits”, not “splits pose”? Unless that’s a different thing… I don’t know, I have never been able to do a split in my life so I’ve managed to avoid learning all the technical terms. I also didn’t know that PORTUGUESE was the most common spoken language in the the southern hemisphere, that’s a cool fact! POETIC LICENSE and POWERHOUSE are also great choices for theme answers.

Fill highlights: All 8 (!!) of the long down answers are great: PARAMORE, POSTPONED, SNEAK PEEK, STONE FACED, OH IS THAT SO, IN A MINUTE, I’M AT A LOSS, SIDE NOTE. This puzzle makes incredible use of the freedom it has in only having three theme answers.

Clue highlights: [“Oops! . . . ___ It Again”] for I DID (love elevating a partial!), [Dumpster visitor] for RAT.

New to me: [“Obie Is ___ Enough” (Schuyler Bailar novel)] for MAN.

Sam Acker’s Universal Crossword – “The Color of Money” – Matt F’s write up

Universal Solution 05.23.2023

First up, I want to apologize to the constructor and anyone who was expecting this post earlier today. I was catching up with work after a week-long vacation and my blogging duties fell by the wayside. I’ll do my best to stay on top of these going forward! Now, onto the puzzle.

Theme Synopsis:

The first word in each theme answer is a synonym for the clued color and the last word is a synonym for “money.” Let’s take a look at the set:

  • 20A – [Red money?] = STEAMED (as in ticked off) CABBAGE
  • 35A – [Blue money?] = LOW (as in sad) NOTES
  • 44A – [Green money?] = RAW (as in inexperienced) DOUGH
  • 56A – [Yellow money?] = CHICKEN (as in cowardly) SCRATCH

Nice tight theme today. All phrases make sense as standalone entries, and I appreciated how the synonyms, especially for the colors, were not super common – red = steamed; yellow = chicken? – these elevated the solving experience for me. I did not know “yellow” was synonymous with “cowardly,” but after looking it up I can confirm it is a legitimate answer.

Overall Impressions:

I didn’t hit any major snags in the grid, and enjoyed the use of uncommon letters like Q, X, and Z (QUIZ / DOZED, TAXI / HOAX). The long bonus slots are put to good use as well – NANNY CAMS, YOU BET I DID, NO WORRIES – great stuff. You don’t often see USMA in puzzles (for U.S. Military Academy), and despite feeling a bit gluey it does hold up a nice little section in the left pocket of the grid, so I’ll allow it!

Thanks for the puzzle, Sam!

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14 Responses to Tuesday, May 23, 2023

  1. huda says:

    NYT: When I entered the first theme response, I wondered whether the theme was too elaborate for a Tuesday. But it unfolded remarkably smoothly and I think it’s a fun way to introduce an early week solver to more playful types of themes. IT WORKED!

    • Eric H. says:

      When I got the first theme answer from the crosses, I didn’t pause long enough to think about how it fit the clue. I think anyone who does will figure the theme out (which I did with the second theme answer) and be able to use it to solve the puzzle a bit more quickly. It’s a great idea for a theme.

      • DougC says:

        I also saw the trick early on, but then found that ignoring it actually led to a faster solve, as all the themers were so easy to fill in from crosses. I came in well under my average Tuesday time, even after being slowed down briefly by my inability to recall the spelling of NYONGO. So the theme was more “interesting” to this solver than entertaining or useful.

    • JohnH says:

      I enjoyed it, but then (thinking of the setter’s comment Sunday that cryptics inspired his puns, even though that’s not really a cryptic device) I love cryptics, and a “container” is a real clue type for those. (In an actual puzzle, the clue would not just be its scheme as an equation, but smoothed out so that the “surface sense” is meaningful, both for entertainment and to mislead you.)

      Much as Amy loves seeing a fave like NYONGO, if you don’t know it, you have to choose between SHOT and SHUT for “kaput.” I guess the first is indeed closer.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        You’d think winning an Oscar would give Nyong’o household name status.

        Did you see the first sentence of my write-up, where I mentioned container clues in cryptics?

        • Eric H. says:

          I agree that Lupita NYONG’O is a fine entry (and a wonderful actor; her small role in “The Force Awakens” was a lot of fun to watch).

          But it seems a bit much to think she should be a “household name” based on an Oscar for a movie that’s 10 years old. And I used to go to a lot of movies, and I still read about them. (That answer was a gimme for me. Do I remember who won Best Supporting Actress this year? Not really.)

    • Mutman says:

      Nice huda! ISWYDT

  2. JohnH says:

    Themes, of course, are what themers have in common. Often that’s what the entries have in common (say, the last word of each belongs to a set). At other times, it’s what the process of getting the entries has in common (such as punning on a common phrase or squeezing two letters into a square).

    In the WSJ, for a change, it’s what the theme clues have in common. Interesting. Reminds me that Mike Shenk, when he writes the Friday contest puzzle himself, leans toward a meta that depends more on the clues than the answers. I was slow to see a theme, in fact, but then I never get a meta either. Stupid of me, really, I know.

  3. Eric H. says:

    New Yorker: My experience was much like Pannonica’s, except that I’m sure it took me a lot longer. Looking at the grid now, I don’t see many answers that I didn’t know, so I have to conclude that the clueing was just hard. Even after I had TUT-TUTS and FRENCH BRAID, it took a while to see SILENT D.

    Christina Ricci was the only Wednesday Addams I could think of. There’s a new show on Netflix about that character, but I have no idea who plays her.

    I knew the name SHELLEY HACK, but I was never a fan of “Charlie’s Angels.” The only name I could remember was Farrah Fawcett.

    I thought the Coleridge quote might’ve been about “hate.”

    The clue for TD PASS was clever. I didn’t see that coming until I had at least four letters.

    I also finished with a wrong letter — my “obsolete . . . alphabet” ended just after P. ZEE makes much more sense, so I can’t say the crossing was unfair.

    • Eric H. says:

      I forgot to say that it took me way longer than it should have to get LAW. I used to draft legislation for the Texas legislature. My colleagues and I occasionally got invited to gubernatorial bill-signing ceremonies for bills we had worked on. (Most bills don’t get signing ceremonies.)

      In almost 30 years, I was invited to one such ceremony — when George W. Bush was governor. Being of the liberal persuasion, I politely declined.

    • JohnH says:

      Not me. For me, yet another record from TNY hardcore cluers for number of things I didn’t know. Took Pannonica longer than yesterday? Only to be expected, given the setters and the puzzles’ excuse for editing. Gorski writes puzzles of whatever level; Last writes trivia quizzes for the like minded

      I guessed a lot and was tempted by GAPE AT / PEE instead of a Z crossing, since after all an obsolete alphabet ending in & could be anything. FRENCH BRAID made no sense to me, but it seemed to fit. Ditto GMC. I know the word AROMANTIC but was thrown by the clue since it’s not in the various abbreviations beginning LBGT. Still, even with good guesses, I had blanks for crossings of “Power” player and Serbian nickname with “Postcolonial Love Poem” and for the Serbian and HHACK with the yoga pose. Up there with my least favorite puzzles ever, and this on a Tuesday.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Natan’s New Yorker puzzle took me more than twice as long as Liz’s Monday TNY did. Usually I’m more on Natan’s wavelength. Surprised to see SHELLEY HACK in the mix, given that she was on just one season of a hit show over 40 years ago. A Google news search finds an admirable post-acting gig that I bet Natan’s aware of:

      “But by the late 1990s, Hack left acting to focus on a career as a media consultant for post-conflict countries, where she helped to funnel independent media sources to people as an alternative to the biased content that was seen on state-run TV stations. “I did it for 10 years,” Hack told NJ.com.”I traveled all over the world. It was not a cause; it was a business. It’s a huge, huge thing to do in a post-war country.””

      Read More: https://www.looper.com/1094934/whatever-happened-to-shelley-hack-after-charlies-angels-ended/

  4. Sam Acker says:

    No worries Matt, life happens. Thanks for getting to it eventually!

Comments are closed.