Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Jonesin' 5:01 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni)  


NYT untimed (Jack) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 5:23 (Matt F) 


USA Today tk (Sophia) 


WSJ 6:36 (Jim) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Another Steak Out” — they all make the cut. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 6/27/23

Jonesin’ solution 6/27/23

Hello lovelies! This week’s Jonesin’ grid features some “skirt” steaks…cuts of beef that “flank” the edges of the theme entries. Are two steak puns in one sentence too many? Should they be more rare, or does it not matter as long as they’re well done?

  • 18a. [Aggressive handshaker’s quality] STRONG GRIP. A STRIP steak is hiding in the borders here.
  • 32a. [Sudden good fortune, for example] CHANGE OF LUCK (CHUCK)
  • 41a. [Shade enhanced by a diet of shrimp] FLAMINGO PINK (FLANK)
  • 58a. [Betty White’s character on “The Golden Girls”] ROSE NYLUND (ROUND). I love this find!

Other things:

  • 25a. [Amorphous (or creepy U.K. TV character Mr. ___ … yeah, go look it up] BLOBBY. I looked it up. It’s from the BBC One show Noel’s House Party, and please don’t look it up. I’ll be having nightmares about it, I’m sure.
  • 63a. [School poster paper] OAKTAG. Oak tag, or tagboard, is thinner than poster board and is also used for sewing patterns.
  • 49a. [Home of the world’s tallest building for about six years] TAIPEI. Taipei 101 stands at 1,667 feet. It replaced the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lampur (1,483 feet) in 2004 and was beat out by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (2,722 feet!) in 2009.

Until next week!

Joanne Sullivan’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Put a Bow on It”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases (in the down direction) with circled letters that spell articles of clothing (in the up direction) that can be “wrapped” around one’s person. The revealer is WRAPS UP (49d. [Finishes, and a hint to the sets of circled letters in this puzzle]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Put a Bow on It” · Joanne Sullivan · Tue., 6.27.23

  • 1d. [Yarn batch identifiers] DYE LOTS. Stole.
  • 8d. [French road race card game] MILLE BORNES. Robe.
  • 10d. [NBA team whose name is a nod to auto and horse racing] THE PACERS. Cape.
  • 25d. [“Mighty Aphrodite” Oscar winner] MIRA SORVINO. Sari.
  • 34d. [Informal greeting likely heard often by Sophia Loren] “CIAO BELLA!” Boa.

That works well enough for me. Grokking the theme before I finished helped me resolve a couple themers I was unsure of (robe and stole, specifically). I know I’ve seen the game MILLE BORNES, but I needed just about all the crossings for the second word. (Wikipedia says the board game is in the GAMES Magazine hall of fame.) On the other hand, MIRA SORVINO was a gimme for me, so I’d call that about even. I believe CIAO BELLA appeared recently somewhere, and there were comments as to whether it was crossword-worthy. It sounds common enough to my ear, so I don’t have a problem with it.

There’s not much room for long fill with this grid design and the 7-letter revealer, but highlights include KENNETH Branagh, EUROPOP, CHABLIS, and NAIVETE.

Clues of note:

  • 10a. [Ink (when “too” is apparently too much)]. TATS. No idea on the meaning of the parenthetical comment here.
  • 30a. [Grow like ivy]. CLIMB. My mind kept trying to make CLING work here.
  • 21d. [Cosmetics brand owned by Estée Lauder]. MAC. Usually stylized as M·A·C.

Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 630), “Time for the Closing Bell!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 630: “Time for the Closing Bell!”

Hello there, everybody! Here is hoping that you’re well, and if you’re in the extreme heat that’s enveloping the South, here is hoping that a) you have power, and b) you’re staying cool.

Today’s puzzle rings the bell, literally. Each of the five longest across answers is a multiple-word entry in which the last word is also a type of bell. 

        • NEW YORK LIBERTY (16A: [Brooklyn-based WNBA franchise whose alums include Teresa Weatherspoon and Rebecca Lobo]) – Two original Liberty players from the league’s inaugural 1997 campaign! Can the Liberty finally win its first WNBA title this year?!?!
        • RIGHT HAND (23A: [Essential assistant])
        • REHEARSAL DINNER (34A: [Pre-wedding event])
        • FOUR ALARM (46A: [Very spicy-hot chili designation])
        • TAKE ME TO CHURCH (53A: [Hozier hit song with the lyric “Amen, Amen, Amen”])

Lots of long, non-themed fill to like in the grid, especially the tag team of ESTROGEN (11D: [Hormone type]) and SOY SAUCE in the northeast (12D: [Japanese condiment]). Speaking of soy sauce, how many of you keep different varieties of soy sauce in your kitchen? When I make Thai food, especially a pad cew ew dish (grilled chicken mixed in with wide rice noodles and cut broccoli), I add in both regular soy sauce and sweet soy sauce in the wok. Soooooo good! The intersection of IPSA (13A: [“Res ___ loquitor]) and SPECIE could have been a tough one to untangle (2D: [Coined money]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DEER (50A: [Woodland grazer]) – Back when he played baseball in the 1980s, former Milwaukee Brewer and Detroit Tiger outfielder and designated hitter Rob Deer was much more of a novelty with his prodigious power and propensity of striking out. In an eight-year stretch from 1968 to 1993, Deer racked up a whopping 1,298 strikeouts, leading all of baseball in whiffs four times (1987, 1988, 1991 and 1993) and going down on strikes at least 147 times in seven of those eight years. Deer also hit at least 20 home runs in each of those seasons, including a career-high 33 in 1986 for the Brewers.

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

Take care!


Anthony Gisonda’s New York Times crossword — Jack’s write-up

Tuesday, June 27th New York Times crossword solution — by Anthony Gisonda

Theme: circled letters in the grid contain four types of mustaches written out in the same shape that they take on a person’s face.

  • DALI
  • 59-Across reveals the theme: [What each set of circled letters in this grid represents] = MUSTACHE



I love when an empty grid sparks intrigue. The wobbly patterns of circled squares promise a fun time and the puzzle did not disappoint. I paused before starting my solve to study the shapes and see if I could guess what they would all have in common, but nothing clicked. DALI was the first one I uncovered and I thought for sure that the theme would be about his painting, The Persistence of Memory, where the other curved entries in the puzzle would represent melting clocks. It’s a cool idea for a theme but I was disappointed that I figured it out so early. Then FU MANCHU jolted me out of my overconfidence. Mustaches shaped like the real thing! What a creative idea.

I’m curious how difficult it was to fill this grid. On the one hand, it has fewer thematic squares than average and only AND THEN, and ALOHA span two themers. On the other hand, the themers are contorted in unusual ways. Fitting FU MANCHU in particular requires clean crossings on the MUF and CHU. Whatever the answer, Anthony did a wonderful job keeping the fill smooth. Whiskers aside, there wasn’t a hairy corner to be found.

Great fill at every turn too. GLAM ROCK, AS PROMISED, BABADOOK, MOM-TO-BE, and even the colloquial I’M A FAN in the ever-important 1-Across position was more than enough to delight this solver.

It appears that this is Anthony’s crossword debut — congratulations! I hope we see more from you soon.

Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 6/27/23 • Tue • Lucido • solution • 20230627

Not too tough today, although there was some material I definitely didn’t know—most notably the crossing of 5a [Delevingne of “Only Murders in the Building”] CARA and 6d [“Sommersby” director Jon] AMIEL. Fortunately, the most conservative guess turned out to be the correct one.

The only other major misstep—as opposed to holding off on an answer until the crossings were more informative—was 4d [Music genre for David Guetta and Calvin Harris] EDM (electronic dance music), for which I had EMO, another crossword staple.

Oh! And also the minor correction to 5d [How one might feel after a massage] CALMER, to which I reasonably answered CALMED.

  • 46a [Inscribers of the Linear B tablets at Knossos, e.g.] CRETANS. ‘Knossos’ was a big hint here.
  • 54a [Shut Down alternative] SLEEP. Computer settings.
  • 21d [Not available] IN USE. Quite literal.
  • 23d [Digs through a sock drawer, maybe] SNOOPS. I hadn’t initially considered that this was in reference to someone else’s sock drawer!
  • 30d [Some retro audio players] TAPE DECKS. This is a trend that surprises me, that cassettes are popular again. And I say this as someone who prefers to listen to full albums in their original track sequence.
  • 37d [Hard drive disks?] HUBCAPS. Too much of a stretch in the wordplay department?
  • 40d [Climbed] WENT UP, 29a [Mounted] GOT ON. Both very simple formulations; as such, they kind of snuck under my radar.

All told, a good, moderate challenge with decent grid flow.

Prasanna Keshava’s Universal Crossword – “Full-Page Spreads” – Matt F’s write up

Universal Solution 06.27.2023

Sorry, I mistakenly put up Wednesday’s puzzle for today’s review! I think I have it all straight now.

Theme Synopsis:

We have a nicely executed bookend theme today, as hinted at by the reveal at 50A – [Newsstand attractions … and a hint to the first two and last two letters of 20-, 36- and 41-Across] = MAGAZINE COVERS. Each theme answer features a 4-letter magazine title split 2/2 at the front and back:

  • 20A – [Audrey Hepburn’s role in “My Fair Lady”] = ELIZA DOOLITTLE (Elle)
  • 36A – [Final, in sports] = TITLE GAME (Time)
  • 41A – [Vehicle on Boston’s Green Line] = STREETCAR (Star)

Not many 4-letter magazines out there for a theme like this. Each theme answer is also enjoyable on it’s own. I had a good time working through this one!

Overall Impressions:

The puzzle had sparkly fill all-around, to the point it felt nearly like a Universal Freestyle. Smooth and flowy, with long spaces used well: POOL SHARKS, AWARD GALAS, LEGO ART, and IT’S A BOY claiming the top slots.

Thanks for the puzzle, Prasanna!

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Ed Beckert’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I noticed the connections (!) between the first two theme answers. The revealer still made me smile. Nice solid Tuesday theme.

The theme answers:

Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2023, Ed Beckert, solution grid

  • 18a [*Ocular opening] is EYE SOCKET.
  • 23a [*Noise blocker] is EAR PLUG.
  • 51a [*Parachute opener] is a RIP CORD.
  • 55a [*Fall planting in a flower garden] is a TULIP BULB.

And the revealer: 35a [Facetious comment when turning on a device whose components end the answers to the starred clues] is LET THERE BE LIGHTSOCKETPLUGCORD, and BULB are all parts of a light fixture. Nice!

A few other things:

  • Am I the only one who hears the old McDonald’s commercial every time she sees the phrase BEEF PATTY?
  • 41a [Alpine warbles] had me thinking about birds. Nope. It’s YODELS.
  • 46a [Perches in churches] is an amusing clue for PEWS.
  • I filled in NYAH from crossings and was confused. The clue is [Taunting symbol that’s usually repeated]. Not my favorite entry.
  • Cream is what I think of when I see the word CLOT. Occupational hazard, I guess.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of THAD Jones. My loss.


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21 Responses to Tuesday, June 27, 2023

  1. Mac says:

    Really nice NYT Anthony, congratulations indeed. I definitely smiled when I figured out the theme.

    • Mark says:

      Very nice puzzle!
      I never heard of BABADOOK – and I’m gay!

      • Papa John says:

        Now you know how some straights feel to the (frequent) gay references in puzzles — and I’m straight.

      • JohnH says:

        I’d never head of it either (and, if it matters, I’m straight but highly approving of gay cultural referrents in puzzles). But all the crossings were fair enough that I finished quickly.

    • Mutman says:

      Agreed. That was a great concept and well executed.

  2. PJ says:

    TNY – Took me longer than yesterday (14:11) and the names almost did me in. I got off to a slow start in the NW when I entered EMO at 4D and not knowing 6D and 14D. The NE fell quickly as I entered 9D, 10D, and 16D immediately and the lower crossings did in CHEAPSEATS. SW offered no resistance. I knew all the across entries from 39A down. That got me the two long downs. SLAPHAPPY took a lot of crossings and I had ELSE (on me) instead of ALSO. When I decided RIFLES wasn’t 23D these things worked out. SE was the toughest largely due to the actor. My daughter told me I’d enjoy the movie but I haven’t gotten around to it. I caught on to the ? retirement clue right away. C’est is bon was on my father’s playlist in the 60s. I think Nat Cole was the singer. The intersection of 43D and 55A was my last square. I tried ‘I’ and when that didn’t produce a happy pencil I entered a ‘E’. I was put out with myself for that mistake.

    Not my favorite but not that bad, either.

    • Henry T says:

      Ridiculous number of proper names. First puzzle I gave up in minutes in years.

    • JohnH says:

      Not my favorite and, while I won’t raise it to not bad, not the worst yet either. Still, the whole had its share of names, and the top was especially hard, and the top-center arguably unfair. The NW has that EMO temptation and the punning definition of MIND GAMES, which really doesn’t work for me so was hard to fill in. The NE has the long sit-com name running down. But the N center has not just the crossing of AMLIEL and CARA, which alone would be guessable. They also cross GAIMAN. And I did have that MIND GAMES problem and took a long time to remember what nephrology is. OH, at bottom I needed every darn single letter crossing the actor.

      I still don’t get what makes THE STONES especially apt.

    • Pavel says:

      I had the same Natick at the end as pannonica, and happily made the same guess. I hesitated forever on MIND GAMES until the crossings forced it, and I still don’t understand that clue. Can someone please shed some light on it for me?

      Both of the long entries in the SE were new to me, and that had me a bit worried, but a guess at 52A confirmed by the crossings brought 55A into view. (I also haven’t seen that movie, and I have also been told I’d enjoy it.)

      I liked seeing HOO-HA at 15A: made me chuckle.

      • Eric H says:

        Merriam-Webster defines “mind games” as “actions that are meant to confuse or upset someone in order to get an advantage.” Since psychology is a study of the mind, and a “power grab” is an attempt to get a specific type of advantage, the clue makes sense to me, though I needed several crosses to get the answer.

  3. JohnH says:

    Oh, the mysterious parenthesis in the WSJ will make sense to cryptic fans. The idea is that TATS is TATTOOS without the TOO (in more ways than one).

  4. Me says:

    NYT: I was really surprised that FUMANCHU, a horribly racist character, got casually dropped into the puzzle, but the comments on the NYT website show that many people had no idea that FUMANCHU is racist. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to raise awareness of racism against Asians and Asian-Americans.

    A commenter on Wordplay left this link, which talks about why FUMANCHU really shouldn’t be in a crossword puzzle: https://www.inverse.com/entertainment/shang-chi-racist-origins

    • Mark says:

      I would wager that most if not all people who don’t know that FUMANCHU is a racist character are fully aware of the pervasive and often violent racism against Asians and Asian-Americans.
      I believe it’s best to focus on the big picture and the smaller details will work themselves out.

    • JohnH says:

      I’d go easy on it in that it’s not referring to the character, the novels, or the film adaptation(s), such that it might sanction them. It’s referring to the mustache, which has entered the language enough to have widespread dictionary support. One might know the term without knowing where it comes from.

  5. Charlie says:

    Todays Universal puzzle is “Full-Page Spreads” by Prasanna Keshava. The wrong puzzle was reviewed.

    • Matt F. says:

      Oops! Didn’t get to blogging until after midnight and I forgot that “tomorrow” was actually today. I’ll get this straightened out.

  6. David R says:

    Really nice TNY and Jonesin felt like the perfect mix of trivia and regular fill. Much of the long fill TNY that would have been trickier due to cluing was revealed with some of the crosses so overall quite smooth. Jonesin put up a bit more of a fight but cluing more then anything kept things moving and is a great one to look at to see how to clue more obscure fill and make it gettable.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Re TNY … I almost always find Aimee Lucido’s TNY puzzles tough, but to date, I’ve successfully completed all 44 of them without resorting to Google. It seems like she always manages to throw me a bone in the crosses to come up with answers I don’t know. I can’t say the same about puzzles by several other TNY constructors that I struggle with.

  7. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Much smoother for me than yesterday’s Elizabeth Gorski offering. My biggest slowdowns were the Emo/EDM challenge, where I went with Emo until it didn’t work (and I remembered what David Guetta’s genre is); the middle, where I misspelled HAILE (an L for the I); and the SE, where Ke Huy Quran’s name hasn’t quite sunk in yet. (Maybe if I’d actually seen “Everything Everywhere All at Once” instead of just thought about going to see it.)

    Gimmes like GAIMAN, RENAL and HAMER were offset by sort-of knowns like RON SWANSON and CARA Delevigne.

    Nice puzzle.

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