Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Jonesin' 5:37 (Erin) 


LAT tk (Jenni) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 4:08 (Matt F) 


USA Today tk (Sophia) 


WSJ 4:54 (Jim) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Exactly!” — that’s what that is – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 6/6/23

Jonesin’ solution 6/6/23

Hello lovelies! In this week’s Jonesin’ grid, the clue numbers for the theme answers are the clues, too!

  • 19a. [<—] ADELE DEBUT ALBUM. Adele titles her albums after her age when she wrote them.
  • 24a. [<—] JACK BAUER DRAMA. 24 ran from 2001-2010.
  • 45a. [<—] OLD VINYL SINGLE. 7-inch vinyl records are designed to spin at 45 RPM and hold a few minutes of music on each side.
  • 50a. [<—] BILL WITH US GRANT. Former President Ulysses S. Grant adorns the fifty-dollar note.

Other things:

  • 1a. [Pulitzer-winning rapper Kendrick] LAMAR. His 2017 album DAMN. also won the 2018 Best Rap Album Grammy, BET Awards’ 2018 Album of the Year, and was 175 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
  • 21d. [“Four-Leaf Clover” singer-songwriter Moore] ABRA. I appreciate different ways to clue things, but this single was released in 1997, and Moore’s most recent album was 2007.

Until next week!

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 627), “Let’s Skirt Around the Issue!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 627: “Let’s Skirt Around the Issue!”

Hello there, everybody. Here is hoping you’re having a good couple of days to start the week!!

With the better weather outside, the opportunity for those who wear skirts to break them out and show off those legs are ample, and today’s grid hides four different types of skirts — revealed when combining the circled letters to create the word — at the perimeter of the theme answers.

        • GRADUATING CLASS (17A: [Honored group at a commencement ceremony])
        • ALUMNI MAGAZINE (30A: [Publication with articles about your college buddies])
        • PLEASE BE SEATED (46A: [“Have a chair!”])
        • MICHIKO KAKUTANI (60A: [Pulitzer-winning writer and former book critic for the New York Times])

Got a good chuckle out of seeing the clue, as well as putting in, MOLE HILL, a number of fun non-themed fill in the grid (37D: [Potential mountain, to a drama queen]). The intersection of CAVAS (19D: [Sparkling wines of Spain]) and VELUM is definitely one that could be a tough knot to untangle for some (28A: [Soft palate]). I’m typing this essay up while in Denver for the NBA Finals, which makes AURORA fitting to see since I’m about 10 miles away from there right now (2D: [Dawn goddess]). Seeing VALDEZ immediately took me back to when I was a young kid and seeing the wall-to-wall news coverage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill (10A: [Alaskan city named after a Spanish Navy minister]). That definitely was one of the first major news stories I remember watching that was etched into my brain for life.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HICKS (55A: [NBC play-by-play golf commentator Dan ___]) – It’s always been a pleasure listening to NBC Sports’ Dan Hicks behind the microphone, whether it be for golf commentary or, when I first caught him, doing a postgame interview with Indiana Pacers legend Reggie Miller during one of the times he tormented the New York Knicks in the playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Hicks’ most noteworthy call, however, came in the 2008 Summer Olympics, when he was the lay-by-play commentator for swimming events and was on the mic when Michael Phelps’ dream of winning a record eight gold medals was astonishingly kept alive at the end of the 4 x 100 freestyle meet. Want to take a listen (and look) to Hicks and analyst Rowdy Gaines in, arguably, the most memorable moment in US swimming history? Here you go…

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

Take care!


Ruth Bloomfield Margolin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sound Mixing”—Jim’s review

Theme: Medal and meddle are swapped as are metal and mettle in various phrases.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Sound Mixing” · Ruth Bloomfield Margolin · Tue., 6.6.23

  • 20a. [What the Greek gods tended to do in the lives of mortals?] OLYMPIC MEDDLE. I would call that “Olympic meddling” and not use “meddle” as a noun.
  • 32a. [Prize awarded to the best party planner?] MEDAL IN AFFAIRS. Meh. The base phrase “meddle in affairs” isn’t much of a phrase. I wish this could’ve been based on the Scooby Doo gang who are often referred to as “meddling kids.”
  • 40a. [Test of fortitude?] METTLE DETECTOR. This one works much better.
  • 54a. [What the pirate hopes to do by biting the doubloon?] PROVE HIS METAL, I like this one, too.

So hit and miss for me. The first two feel awkward, but the second pair work just fine.

Some nice long fill entries today with VALENTINO, INDONESIA, and “WE’RE TOAST!” CHEM LAB, LEAD OFF, and DEEP SEA aren’t bad, either. Didn’t know YANCY, and I assumed YAWL was what was called for at 6a. I wonder if that Y crossing will be troublesome for some solvers.

Clues of note:

  • 63a. [Good things that come to those who wait]. TIPS. Once again, I really think a question mark is called for here. We’re still early in the week and the meaning of the phrase “those who wait” is used differently here than it usually is.
  • 32d. [Irish author Binchy]. MAEVE. We also would have accepted [Irish comedian Higgins], an occasional guest on NPR’s Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me.

3.25 stars.

Daniel Jaret’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 6 6 23, no. 0606

This crossword is what some call a STUNT (53a) puzzle. The theme is easy to miss since there are no theme clues and all but one of the entries have 3 to 6 letters. Hence, the editors chose to include a note atop the puzzle: “Today’s puzzle has an extraordinary quality. Can you discover what it is?” That quality is that instead of just having the unfilled grid exhibit 180-degree rotational symmetry, the filled grid does, too! (Provided you flip the letters over.) Where 1a is DAP, it sits opposite 69a PAD. Obscure [Bittersweet Italian liqueur] AMARO is paired with partial O-RAMA. Palindromic RACECAR and STETS cross in the center square, since they don’t have partners in the grid.

Given the extreme constraints in filling this grid, lots of compromises must be made. And so we encounter plenty of non-Tuesday-friendly answers. For instance: AMARO PILS TNUTS ENROL STEN OPER RETROS STETS TERP DELS and the phrasal verb entries SATAT RIPAT LAPUP.

Some people groove on such ultra-challenging constructorial feats and look past the general solving experience. I’m in the camp that wants the puzzle itself to entertain throughout the solve. Where do you fall on the spectrum of the enjoyment/nonenjoyment of a stunt puzzle? And is the liqueur AMARO better-known than I think it is? My go-to AMARO is Danny Pino’s character on Law & Order: SVU.

I’ll omit a star rating today, because the puzzle sort of feels like it’s outside the category of “Tuesday puzzles.”

Adam Simpson’s Universal Crossword – “Hush-Hush” – Matt F’s write up

Universal Solution 06.06.2023

Theme Synopsis:

The title hints that we’ll be working with the “shh” sound, but that’s not all… we have a reveal to narrow the focus at 36A – [2018 horror flick starring Emily Blunt … or each starred clue’s answer?] = A QUIET PLACE. Here is the rest of the theme set:

  • 17A – [*English county bordering Wales] = SHROPSHIRE
  • 30A – [*Idaho city named after a tribe] = SHOSHONE
  • 42A – [*Where people get their kicks?] = SHOE SHOP
  • 58A – [*Chain with thick drinks] = SHAKE SHACK

After I found the first theme answer I was confident the rest would follow the same structure – two-syllable words where each syllable starts with SH. That knowledge helped me gain a solid footing with the remaining theme answers. Despite SHOE SHOP being wildly generic compared to the others, I really have nothing to complain about. All we’re promised is that each answer will be a place, not a specific type of place.

Overall Impressions:

This puzzle played fast for me, in part because I knew every theme answer would start with SH, and I think also because the longest non-theme fill is only 8 letters. Those two mid-length slots are fun, though, and they anchor the NE/SW corners: ANECDOTE and AVOCADOS. No sticking points except starting with “none” instead of NADA at 10A, which sorted itself out quickly.

Fun Fact:

“About 15 miles (25 km) north of Shoshone are the Shoshone Ice Caves. The caves are lava tubes that stay cool enough for the ice inside them to remain frozen throughout the summer. In the days before refrigeration, this feature […] made Shoshone popular with travelers as “the only place for hundreds of miles where one could get a cold beer.””

Thanks for the puzzle, Adam!

Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 6/6/23 • Tue • Liu • solution • 20230606

Hard for me to say if the difficulty was pitched as advertised (“moderately challenging”), as I was distracted and interrupted several times. It all seemed to go smoothly, though.

  • 6a [Parliament members?] OWLS. Collective noun alert!
  • 15a [Place where both employees and clients might get tips] NAIL SALON. Rather clever.
  • 25a [It’s long and has special characters] STRONG PASSWORDS. With several crossing letters in place, I couldn’t shake the notion of something-GLASSWORKS, which doesn’t actually comport with the clue at all.
  • 43a [Snarky test in response to an unwanted question] NEW PHONE WHO DIS. Does this still have currency?
  • 46a [Qipao, e.g.] DRESS. And now I’m thinking of cheongsam and In the Mood for Love.
  • 47a [Toxic protein found in castor beans] RICIN. News you can use?
  • 53a [Fried potato patties] ALOO TIKKIAloo is Hindi for ‘potato’.
  • 57a [Means of selecting top-shelf products] STEPSTOOL. 31a [Nose-in-the-air sort] SNOOT.
  • 3d [One rolling around in salt, perhaps] SNOW TIRE. Too clever by half, in my opinion. Okay, maybe a quarter.
  • 4d [Certain social science, familiarly] ANTHRO. Yes, but there are different kinds of anthropology: social anthropology, cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and physical anthropology. I happen to be most familiar with the latter, although we are all to some extent amateur anthropologists in all the varieties.
  • 6d [How some mixtapes are distributed] ON CD. Anachronistically.
  • 13d [Foursome seen on a digital clock before making a wish, perhaps] ONES. Is this some sort of superstition that I don’t know about?
  • 27d [Source of many bad calls] ROBODIALER. Presumably this was some sort of misdirect for REFEREE OR UMPIRE or some longer relative, but with ROB- already in place, I wasn’t fooled.
  • 50d [What polydactyl cats have more of than other cats] TOES. Based on the length and straightforwardness of the clue, I’m thinking this was considered to be a tough one, but it seems easy to me. I mean, what else could it be? Lives?

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Tuesday, June 6, 2023

  1. MattG says:

    NYT: I noticed the symmetry about halfway through (when I entered STOPS and noticed that SPOTS was symmetrically opposed), which meant that I could complete the grid simply by applying the symmetry instead of using the clues. A neat trick for the constructor but not an enjoyable solving experience for me.

  2. Jim G says:

    NYT: I didn’t notice the symmetry, and usually don’t read the note in the NYT puzzle app, so it wasn’t until I got here that I realized what was going on. As a solve, it was mostly fine.

    But DSL is not an “Ethernet alternative.” Ethernet is a LAN technology, used inside the home or office to connect devices to each other. DSL is a (now fairly dated) internet access technology, like fiber or cable (or, if you want to get more technical, T1, DS3, etc.). One is not an alternative for the other.

    • Philip says:

      This really jumped out for me too.

    • JohnH says:

      I had the same thought (and wished AMARO weren’t crossing AMAL, although the liqueur did vaguely ring a bell).

      I got thrown at first by looking to RACECAR for its prominence and seeing RACE scrambled in SPACER and RECAPS. I’m also lousy at metas. But impressive to have the construction without messing up the fill quality completely.

  3. Mutman says:

    NYT: RACECAR tipped me off. Saw no note.

  4. Dallas says:

    I noticed the note as the little “I” was blinking on the app, but I didn’t notice the symmetry until after it was over. It was a pretty reasonable Tuesday time for me, though the bottom felt tougher than the top. I was briefly hoping it was related to pride month, and even jumped back to check Monday to make sure I didn’t miss something there. I liked it, though I think it would be a tricky Tuesday for someone who wasn’t solving regularly.

  5. huda says:

    NYT: Re STUNT Puzzles: I’m glad that constructors are always trying new ways to be creative. It’s cool to know there is another layer, and depending on time, energy or ambition, one can choose to try and figure it out, or solve without worrying about it.

  6. Mark says:

    New Yorker – Wyna dumped a can of Natick in the SW. Frustrating. I want to love The New Yorker puzzles but I generally don’t.

    NYT – Cool feat but a dull solve.

    • David L says:

      NYer: I suppose the crossing of 53A and 44D might qualify as a Natick, but the latter is pretty well known, IMO. I didn’t see anything else that was overly tricky.

      • Mr. [moderately] Grumpy says:

        Sorry, but 43A and 60A and 39D on top of the others = ugh. I liked the rest of the puzzle; hated that sector.

      • Steve says:

        I assume that Mark meant the natick was at 53A and 39D, not 44D. That was my last square. I wasn’t familiar with either answer, but I got it right on the first guess (which was truly a stab in the dark).

    • JohnH says:

      Interesting. Comments have ranged from the puzzle as easy to dull and unfair. I found it easy until I neared the bottom (not specifically SE or SW) but still solvable, despite much I didn’t know. In other words, just right for Tuesday. That doesn’t happen often enough.

  7. Eric H says:

    NYT: I’m impressed that Daniel Janet was able to pull this off, but I didn’t particularly enjoy solving it. As Amy notes, a lot of the fill is not Tuesday-friendly — or even any day-friendly. I didn’t see the note or notice the symmetry until I was finished.

    My experience was surely colored by a typo in SNOOPS. When I got the “not quite there” message, I spent too much time trying to figure out if RAOS was right. I’ve never heard of it and still don’t know how it’s pronounced.) I should have trusted the R, because 52D could only be RIP AT.

    After a few minutes, I finally saw where I had mistyped. But by that point, I had already soured somewhat on the puzzle.

    • Dan says:

      I have an unopened bottle of Rao’s Marinara Sauce in my pantry right now.

      • Gary R says:

        Same here – it’s my go-to jarred marinara.

        Eric – I’ve heard it pronounced both RAY-oh’s and RAH-oh’s. Not sure which is correct.

      • JohnH says:

        Rao’s had a long reputation (my entire life, for sure) as a place that only regulars could get into. That intrigued me to the extent of wondering whether it was that good but turned me off. No matter, though, as I wouldn’t have the choice of going.

        I don’t know how long it’s been a brand name and what its regional or national penetration is. But NYers would know the name. My closest supermarket displays its sauces prominently, week in, week out.

  8. David L says:

    NYT: I didn’t notice the symmetry but I did notice that the fill went from ultra-easy in the NW to strange and unfamiliar in the SE. RETROS? RAOS? ORAMA? NOSIDE? The price of this particular STUNT, I guess.

  9. PJ says:

    TNY – Very smooth solving experience for me. I don’t keep notes but I’m pretty sure this was the easiest Monday/Tuesday TNY I’ve solved in a while (ever?).

    Entering KEELED for STEVEN at 2d cost me a good bit of time. WINTERTIRE is very close to green paint. The crossing of 44d with 46a and 53a provided my learning experience for the day. But once I had 43a, all was good.

  10. T Campbell says:

    I wouldn’t like to see a whole subgenre of puzzles like today’s NYT cropping up, but I think one is more than fine! It may have been assigned a Tuesday rating because once you do discover the puzzle’s “extraordinary quality,” you have twice as much help in solving the answers as you otherwise would.

  11. pannonica says:

    NYT: AMARO in my opinion is not all that obscure. It’s the category for all sorts of herbal liqueurs—aperitifs and digestifs—that many will recognize: Campari, Fernet-Branca, Averna, Cynar (a favorite of mine), and even Jägermeister.

  12. Dan says:

    NYT puzzle:

    I’m usually of a mind where it’s just the solving experience that matters in evaluating a crossword.

    But this construction is so spectacular that I can’t help greatly admiring this puzzle for its *answer* symmetry.

    I did not consider anything about it to be “non-Tuesdayish”.

    • rob says:

      NYT: Why all the naysayers? This was an amazing feat of construction! And I thought that it was fine for a Tuesday as well

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        A crossword neophyte is not too likely to know words like STEN and British spelling ENROL, to name just two entries that jumped out at me.

        • Dan says:

          True. But I see the word “enroll” spelled as “enrol” (for better or for worse) often enough right here in the U.S. that “enrol” doesn’t seem very alien.

        • JohnH says:

          Enrol/enroll is one of those words where I have to look it up each time I want to use it to see how it’s spelled (often, in fact, with doubled letters). Not that I knew there are two right answers, depending on country. So this was easy for me to roll with.

  13. Milo says:

    LAT: Trigger alert for Mr. Grumpy … On the heels of yesterday’s KEEP IT BETWEEN US in the NYT, today we get BETWEEN YOU AND ME here. Good heavens, the two constructors are no doubt enjoying a pizza with Hillary as we speak!

  14. AmyL says:

    NYT: That’s an amazing puzzle! At first, I thought the stunt was that only letters with a Scrabble value of 1 or 2 were used, but that was just a side effect of the arrangement, the higher value letters being harder to double up on. Learning about the trick here changed my whole idea of the puzzle.

  15. e.a. says:

    i don’t know why people are calling NYT a stunt puzzle, fill symmetry should be the standard. if you don’t impose this level of constraint when constructing then how can we know that you really deserved to be published. puzzles with non-symmetrical fill are just so unsightly to me i don’t think they should be allowed /j

    • PJ says:

      But no symmetry in the clues?

    • Dan says:

      Do you really mean “fill symmetry should be the standard?

      Or do you mean *diagram symmetry* ?

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Erik comes in for some criticism for running quite a few USA Today puzzles that deviate from symmetrical diagrams. He’s having a little Swiftian fun with us, taking “grids should be symmetrical” to the “fill should be symmetrical” extreme.

        • DJ says:

          The hallmark of insightful wit and humor being the need to lengthily explain the joke, naturally.

          So funny, in fact, that I forgot to laugh.

    • Seattle DB says:

      E.A. – I think people missed your “/j” sign-off, lol!

      • Dan says:

        Thanks, E.A. (I sure missed it.)

      • sanfranman59 says:

        … or thought it was a typo and didn’t know that it was meant to communicate something … or simply didn’t know what it means … (or should that be /hu?)

  16. Adam Simpson says:

    Universal: Thanks for the solid write-up Matt!

    This puzzle is dedicated to my late father who was born in SHROPSHIRE.

    More from me in the coming months!

    • Mr. [not at all] Grumpy says:

      A true Shropshire lad, eh? We’ll include him in our Father’s Day toast this year. Slainte!

  17. placematfan says:

    re pannonica’s “we are all to some extent amateur anthropologists in all the varieties”: I really dig Neil deGrasse Tyson’s spiel about Kids Are Scientists, and about how important curiosity is to a healthy childhood and adolescence, and that taking that curiosity with you into adulthood, rather than labeling it “childish” and more or less abandoning it, makes for a more well-rounded grownup. There must be 50 occupations or job titles that I’ve used to refer to myself by placing the word “layman” in front of them. How many of us reach 30, 40, 50, 60 and think to ourselves, “I got this. What more information do I really need? I’ve arrived at a place where I know everything I most likely need to know for the remainder of my life.”? How many of us leave learning (and curiosity) behind when we leave high school or college?

  18. Seattle DB says:

    Jonesin’: Not many people write about lesser-known puzzles, but Matt Jones created a beauty that had me stumped for the longest time until I figured out the variety to his theme. Kudos, Matt!

  19. Two days in a row the LAT doesn’t get a review? Someone wake Jenni up plz.

Comments are closed.