Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Jonesin' 6:13 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni)  


NYT 2:53 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal untimed (Matt F) 


USA Today tk (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ 5:55 (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “That Can Be Arranged” — there’s a time and place. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 8/1/23

Jonesin’ solution 8/1/23

Hello lovelies! This week we have a more visual Jonesin’ theme. Let’s see what’s going on with the strange theme entries and the seemingly randomly placed circles…

  • 9a. [Fabric (which is underneath the grid, in this puzzle)] CLOTH
  • 18a. [Poker player’s wear, maybe] DARK GLASSES
  • 39a. [Armadillo feature] PLATE
  • 61a. [Uncaging (also, kinda the opposite of what this puzzle is)] SETTING FREE
  • 2d. [Laptop item (which should go underneath the circled item in the same column)] NAPKIN
  • 28a. [Whittling tool] PENKNIFE
  • 37d. [How serious players play] FOR KEEPS
  • 51d. [Finite units of energy during the day, in a coping mechanism theory] SPOONS
  • 56d. [Postpone indefinitely (or where you’d see what this puzzle represents)] TABLE
Schematic of a basic table setting, from realsimple.com

Basic table setting. Image from realsimple.com

When we look at the circled words and their representation in space, combine this with the CLOTH on the TABLE, and place the NAPKIN below the FORK, we’re gifted with a visual representation of a basic table setting. Neat!

Other things:

  • 70a. [Royal ___ (butter cookie brand with those reusable blue tins)]  DANSK. Who else grew up with Schrödinger’s tin? Was it full of delicious crispy cookies, or sewing supplies? You didn’t want to shake the tin to check because if you got lucky and there were cookies, they were now a pile of crumbs.
  • 45a. [“Werewolves of London” singer Warren] ZEVON. I figured Warren was the last name for some reason and had Devon and Levon before I Googled the answer.
  • 11d. [Someone who gathers and sells shellfish] OYSTERER. To me this looks like it shouldn’t exist. Sure, there are fishers and crabbers and eelers and shrimpers, so OYSTERER would logically follow, but I’d trip over the pronunciation way too much to use it if it were my career. (Apparently there are also lobsterers.)
  • 19d. [One of two guards in a classic logic problem, e.g.] LIAR. My favorite example of the guard problem is, “Sir Mix-a-Lot likes big butts and cannot lie. His twin brother does not like big butts and cannot tell the truth. You may ask one question.” (commonly attributed to Ranjit Bhatnagar on Twitter…er, X *eyeroll*)

Until next week!

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 635), “Parking Box”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 635: “Parking Box”

Hello there, everybody! I hope you’re doing well today as the calendar officially turns to August!

Today’s theme incorporates every answer that makes up the border of the puzzle, with each answer being a word that also can describe a type of car. Smack dab in the middle of the grid is SIDECAR, the reveal entry (36A: [Brandy cocktail…or a hint to the theme at the puzzle’s perimeter]).

        • CLUB (1A: [Sandwich type])
        • CLOWN (5A: [Buffoon])
        • CAFE (10A: [___ con leche])
        • ECONOMY (13D: [Class leader?])
        • PRIVATE (44D: [Boot camp figure])
        • PACE (66A: [Walk to and fro])
        • SMART (65A: [Emmy-winning “Hacks” actress Jean])
        • TOWN (64A: [Hamlet’s cousin])
        • COMPACT (37D: [Face powder case])

I always marvel at the puzzle themes that encompass each of the answers that make up the grid’s borders. Did that once for a medium-sized puzzle and can’t tell you how much of a hair-pulling experience it was trying to make all of it work while incorporating fill good enough to accommodate. The grid allowed for a good number of longish fill, especially those stacks of sevens in each corner. Seeing O CANADA made me remember the time I sang all of the words while sitting in the stands of a hockey arena in Nashville back in 2007, when a Canadian hockey team (Vancouver Canucks) was visiting to play the hometown Nashville Predators (42D: [Ontarians’ national anthem]). I was alone, and after the anthem played (and before the Star Spangled Banner), a couple of fans turned to me and asked if I was Canadian, and I simply said, “No, but I know the words so I wanted to sing it.” They thought it was cool, though I was deathly afraid of what their reaction would be to a Black person by himself at a hockey game in the deep South singing “O Canada” and telling them that I just felt like singing it right before the American national anthem. Went better than I thought!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NIELSEN (21A: [“The Naked Gun” star Leslie]) – Former NBA head coach Del Harris led teams to the NBA postseason in 11 of his 14 years as a head coach, and won the NBA’s Coach of the Year while leading the Los Angeles Lakers. While coaching the Houston Rockets, he led them to the 1981 NBA Finals. In 2022, Harris, who ended with 556 career NBA coaching wins, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Wait a minute! Why am I talking about a person named Del Harris when I highlighted Leslie NIELSEN? Well, Harris’ biggest claim to fame, despite his coaching acumen, is that he’s bears a striking resemblance to the actor! What do you think?

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

Take care!


Kathryn Ladner’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 8/1/23 – no. 0801

Wow, this is accomplished! It’s a quick and easy Tuesday puzzle, the fill is super-smooth, and the theme entails the names of nine trees running upwards in the grid (the revealer being UP A TREE) so a bunch of the squares are triply checked? And and! And there’s grid art of a PINE or FIR. It’s surprising to see such good fill with the backwards MAGNOLIA, ELM, BIRCH, ASPEN, CEDAR, PINE, MAPLE, FIR, and SYCAMORE. Granted, it would be more elegantly wrought if the trees were symmetrically placed in the grid, but I will 100% take scattered trees in a smooth grid over rigidly placed trees in a terrible grid.

Mind you, I solved the whole thing (what with the overall briskness of the clues and fill) without ever seeing what was in the circled squares. I don’t object when this happens. If you’re a fast solver, that happens a lot on easier puzzles. But I do like trees and was pleased to see who was represented. The 8-letter trees are particularly nice to find.

Fave fill: ARCHIVE, ART DECO, Miles MORALES, CHAPLAIN (this was a lovely article about a Princeton “hidden chaplains” program to recognize campus staff who brighten students’ moods). I do know the store ZARA (25D. [Multinational clothing retailer based in Spain]); it’s “fast fashion,” a term that was in Monday’s New Yorker crossword, which means cheap and trendy clothes that aren’t meant to last. Never keen on fill like IN A FLAT, because some of us have absolutely no idea what notes anything is in. (Don’t @ me, I’m hearing-impaired so how the hell would I know?)

4.25 stars from me.

Daniel Bodily’s Universal Crossword – “Cocktail Hour” – Matt F’s Review

Universal Solution 08.01.2023

I happened to pour myself an Old Fashioned before sitting down to solve this one… fitting! What is it about drinks that make for such fun crossword themes? Drinks and food. I surmise that it’s something to do with the evocation of other senses – taste, smell, touch – that adds a layer of enjoyment to the solve. Anyway, I hope you evening solvers were fortunate enough to have a cocktail by your side for this one.

Theme Synopsis:

Daniel presents a set of cocktails that are appropriate for a specific wee-hour of the morning, and caps off the set with a cheeky reveal:

  • 19A – [Bartender’s answer to “Which cocktails are served one hour after midnight?”] = VODKA MARTINIS (see that one AM there? Aha!)
  • 31A – […two hours after midnight?] = ALABAMA SLAMMERS (two AMs!)
  • 40A – […three hours after midnight?] = BAHAMA MAMAS (three AMs!)

And finally, the groaner you didn’t see coming:

  • 54A – [Bartender’s answer to “Which cocktails are served four hours after midnight?”] = SORRY, WE’RE CLOSED!

This theme had me searching for the connection as I uncovered each theme answer. About halfway through, after I dropped in ALABAMA SLAMMERS, I caught on to the fact that “AM” was tied to the hour represented in the clue. Very clever! And it’s hard not to laugh at such a fun joke in the reveal.

Overall Impressions:

I thoroughly enjoyed this breezy solve and light-hearted theme. The left-right symmetry works well here, opening up the top half for some stacked 8’s in the corners (WHOVILLE/LEMONBAR + MAGICSET/PROSPERO) as well as a pair of fun 10’s closer to the midline (HEAVYMETAL + NATURALGAS). And none of this seemed to constrain the fill – always an impressive feat!

I found it amusing to see both NATURAL GAS and PROPANE in the same grid… two options for your outdoor grill or fire pit that I hope you’re enjoying this summer!

Thanks for the puzzle, Daniel. Cheers!

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Squeeze Play”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar(ish) phrases that feature the letters FILE in strategic locations. As we proceed down the grid, the letters come together (compress) into the revealer: FILE COMPRESSION (54a, [Aid in saving disk space, as displayed by the circled letters]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Squeeze Play” · Mike Shenk · Tue., 8.1.23

  • 17a. [Bottle up one’s unhappiness] SUFFER IN SILENCE.
  • 24a. [Reservoirs] ARTIFICIAL LAKES.
  • 41a. [Professional rugby team of South Yorkshire] SHEFFIELD EAGLES.

Not the most exciting of themes, but it definitely helped me resolve those second two theme answers and consequently the whole left section where I was struggling. I like the consistency of spacing between the letters and the progression as we go down the grid, even though I know that there are very few solvers who will have heard of the SHEFFIELD EAGLES.

Similar to the theme, the fill gets the job done without being too flashy about it. SKI POLES and LEG RESTS are the highlights. I was afraid the crossing of proper name MEANY and French TANTE was going to be a sticking point, but the A seemed like the logical choice there.

Clues of note:

  • 23d. [He’s first to tell Harry Potter that he’s a wizard]. HAGRID. Maybe one of the more well-known quotes from that first film: “You’re a wizard, Harry!”
  • 26d. [Spouse of un oncle]. TANTE. Not one of the French words I know, but apparently it also means “Aunt” in German, Dutch, Indonesian, Danish, and Yiddish.

Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Micah Sommersmith’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

August! Here we are. I didn’t figure out what the theme was until I got to the end and there I found not one but two revealers.

The theme answers are starred.

Los Angeles Times, August 1, 2023, Micah Sommersmith, solution grid

  • 17a [*Google maps feature] is STREET VIEW.
  • 21a [*Ultrasound sweep that produces a wedge-shaped image] is a SECTOR SCAN. Never heard this. I’m not a radiologist so it could well be a thing.
  • 31a [*Observation wheel on the Thames] is the LONDON EYE.
  • 41a [*Local security patrol] is CITY WATCH. This feels very roll-your-own to me.

And those dual revealers I mentioned: 50a [Top spot on the podium, and what the answers to the starred clues all have?] is FIRST PLACE and 59a [Reappraisal, and what the answers to the starred clues all have?] is SECOND LOOKSTREETSECTORLONDON, and CITY are all PLACEs. VIEWSCAN, EYE, and WATCH are all near synonyms for LOOK. The theme hangs together well despite my quibble with 41a. I don’t understand the ? in the revealer clues, which is not a big deal.

A few other things:

  • I haven’t seen any RAVE reviews for “Oppenheimer.” We’re going tomorrow because my non-movie-going husband actually wants to see it in a theater.
  • Nice to see Margaret ATWOOD clued without reference to the “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Yeah, yeah, “Testaments” is the sequel. Still.
  • 11d [Stick on a horse?] is LANCE. Made me laugh.
  • 30a [“___ my peas with honey…”] is I EAT. The verse continues “…I’ve done it all my life/it makes the peas taste funny/but it keeps them on the knife.” It’s a partial and a FITB and I still enjoyed it, so call me inconsistent.
  • It was a pretty medical puzzle, what with the ultrasound at 21a, ENTS at 5d clued as [Sinus docs] rather than [Tolkien creatures] and two dermatologist shout-outs: WART and ACNE.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I was going to say I’d never heard of the magazine POP SCI and then I realized that “Mag” in the clue is a signal for some kind of abbreviation and it’s really Popular Science, which I have definitely heard of. I didn’t know they produced a podcast called “The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week.” That might be the weirdest thing I learn this week, but it’s only Tuesday, so we’ll see.

Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 8/1/23 • Tue • Agard • solution • 20230801

Noticeably more difficult—or at least it took more time to solve—than yesterday’s New Yorker offering.

  • 1a [Bridge’s place] SHIP. Had a misstep right off the bat, as I somewhat confidently put in NOSE, as it was the only four-letter answer that came to mind. And then I was denied again when confronted with the five-letter 6d [Bridge’s place] RIVER.
  • 5a [Newcomer] FRESH FACE, which somehow seems orthographically aligned to 49a [Material for some wigwams and canoes] BIRCH BARK.
  • 16a [“Ellington at Newport,” for example] LIVE ALBUM. Showcasing the famous extended Paul Gonsalves saxophone solo on “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue”.
  • 20a [Times to stop the presses?] REST DAYS. Refers to weight training.
  • 27a [Piece of plastic used to make things sharper] CONTACT LENS. Nifty clue.
  • 35a [“Candyman” insect] BEE. I think this is movie? A horror movie, maybe?
  • 39a [One with a mouthful of stems?] VASE. Weird clue.
  • 42a [Fragrant conifers] CEDARS. 43d [Experience longing] PINE.
  • 43a [Mac display?] PASTA BAR. This one definitely sidetracked me.
  • 4d [Not put off by things being put off] PATIENT. Fun clue.
  • 12d [Incur asterisks, perhaps] CUSS, for which I’d first tried DOPE.
  • 15d [Nation in the Haudenosaunee Confederacy] SENECA. “Haudenosaunee (hoe-dee-no-SHOW-nee) means ‘people who build a house.’ The name refers to a confederation or alliance among six Native American nations who are more commonly known as the Iroquois Confederacy. Each nation has its own identity.” (from educational material provided by the National Museum of the American Indian)
  • 22d [“Here’s the reality …”] FACT IS.
  • 25d [Movie with a snotty audience?] TEARJERKER. oof.
  • 28d [U.K. company-name ending] LTD. I used have a business card that I kept from an antique store named something like Artefacts Unlimited, Ltd. It entertained me more than it probably should.
  • 30d [Word in many Vietnamese dish names] BÁNH.  “In Vietnamese, the word bánh mì is derived from bánh (which can refer to many kinds of food, primarily baked goods, including bread) and (wheat). It may also be spelled bánh mỳ in northern Vietnam. Taken alone, bánh mì means any kind of bread, but it could refer to the Vietnamese baguette, or the sandwich made from it. To distinguish the un-filled bread from the sandwich with fillings, the term bánh mì không (‘plain bread’) can be used. To distinguish the Vietnamese-style bread from other kinds of bread, the term bánh mì Sài Gòn (‘Saigon-style bread’) or bánh mì Việt Nam (‘Vietnam-style bread’) can be used.” (Wikipedia)
  • 39d [Sticky] VISCID, Not a word you see every day.

I continue to be thankful to the New Yorker for providing toughish early-week crosswords.

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19 Responses to Tuesday, August 1, 2023

  1. Dallas says:

    Enjoyed the Tuesday with all of the trees; didn’t help with the fill other than the revealer, but enjoyed it overall. I prefer IN A FLAT (though I first put in B, then E, then A) to A SNAP; it took me a bit to recognize the first word as “A” and not “AS”. Nonetheless, really pretty Tuesday.

  2. PJ says:

    TNY – Just about a perfect easy puzzle for me. I finished in less than seven minutes but I wasn’t just entering letters as quickly as I read the clues. I did have to figure out some things, 11D and 53A come to mind, but figuring them out didn’t take too long. The cluing seemed clever, 43A and 25D are examples.

    I’ll be interested in seeing how others found this puzzle.

    • Eric H says:

      I wasn’t quite as fast — about nine and a half minutes. I zipped through all but the SW corner, where ANTI-ELITE was a new word for me, and a bit hard to guess from the letters I had. I also didn’t recognize the name Danielle DEADWYLER, but I appreciate the reminder that I should watch “Till.”

      The clueing was generally good. The one for CONTACT LENS* might be my favorite, because I had no idea where it was going until I had half the letters. The TEAR-JERKER clue amused me, too.

      *(I solved this while I still had my contacts in. They don’t correct my near vision, so I’m not sure if my solving time was a little slower than it would have been if I had my glasses on.)

  3. pannonica says:

    NYT: 17a [Cat breed with distinctive light/dark coloring] SIAMESE.

    factette: Siamese cats’ coat patterns function as heat maps. It’s related to a melanin-producing enzyme called tyrosinase, which is selectively activated by temperature. As a result, the cooler extremities (ears, nose, feet, tail) are darker. Further, newborns are all-white, after having been in the womb, whereas older cats grow darker as their metabolisms slow down.

  4. Thanks for the write-up of my LA Times crossword! My original clue for 41A was [Commander Vimes’s organization in Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” novels] which I think was probably (and probably rightly) considered too obscure for a newspaper crossword.

    • pannonica says:

      On the other hand, it’s far less ‘roll-your-own’ in that context!

    • Lester says:

      Micah, That certainly would not have increased my enjoyment of the puzzle. I counted 22 instances in your puzzle where the clue and/or the answer was based on a name. I don’t know how unusual my taste is, but that struck me as an excessive number. For example, it would have been easy to clue 10D and 43A without referring to the name of a sitcom or the name of a cereal. As far as I’m concerned, fewer names and more wordplay would make the puzzle more fun.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        In my experience, when the number of proper nouns exceeds 14 in a 15×15 puzzle, more solvers seem to complain. Certainly 22 is a lot! And if I’d done the puzzle, I’d probably have zipped through it because names tend to be things I know.

        • Eric H says:

          I have a theory that when proper names are ones a solver knows, they don’t even register as proper names.

          I did the LAT puzzle and didn’t really notice an over abundance of proper names. I do think Lester makes a good point that some of the answers in that puzzle were clued in a way that required some pop culture knowledge, when they could have been clued more generally.

    • Seattle DB says:

      Hi Micah, I just want to let you know I really enjoyed your double-themed puzzle! And it doesn’t matter to me about the proper-name count in the cluing because the editors are ultimately responsible for what gets published. Thanks again!

  5. Pavel says:

    TNY: I had to laugh at 42A, 43D, and 49A, since I solved this right after today’s NYT…

  6. DougC says:

    NYT: The ELAND clue led me to wonder what, precisely, is meant by the description “the size of a moose.” As tall? As wide? As long?

    Now, I’m quite familiar with moose, having once lived in a small Wyoming town where they wander through town and browse the lilac bushes so conveniently planted there by the human residents. And moose are quite impressively large, especially when standing just outside your window, and perhaps causing you to wonder what would happen should some noise startle said moose when he is so near the thermopane window that separates you from the sub-zero weather.

    Since I’ve never seen a moose and an eland side by side, however, I don’t know how they compare, so I did a little research. Turns out there are TWO kinds of eland, the Common Eland and Giant Eland. The latter is, not surprisingly, the taller and heavier of the two.

    The moose, however, stands about a foot taller, on average, than even the Giant Eland. A large bull moose can stand just shy of seven feet tall at the shoulder. Big.

    But BOTH varieties of eland, though shorter, are considerably heftier than the average moose, weighing in at more than a ton for the average male, vs. around “only” 3/4 ton for a large bull moose. Also very big.

    So the moose is “bigger” by height, but the eland is “bigger” by mass, and I concede that by the rather indefinite measure of “bigness” the two animals are roughly equivalent.

    I will also note that I did no research on the comparative term EVILER, thinking it unnecessary since that is so obviously not even a word.

  7. Eric H says:


    I didn’t do the puzzle, but this line from Erin’s review jumped out at me: “45a. [“Werewolves of London” singer Warren] ZEVON. I figured Warren was the last name for some reason and had Devon and Levon before I Googled the answer.”

    It makes me sad that people don’t know who Warren Zevon was, though I realize it’s probably generational.

    He put out some great stuff in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He recorded his final album, “The Wind,” shortly after he was diagnosed with inoperable pleural mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lung). It’s got some truly heartbreaking songs on it.

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Enjoyed Erik’s New Yorker themeless today. Lots of terrific fill (FRESH FACE!), nothing too hard but also not too easy. Just what I look for in a Tuesday TNY.

    • David L says:

      I found it mostly pretty straightforward but I was stumped by one crossing – I had PASTAJAR crossing JAIL and couldn’t suss out my error. PASTABAR makes more sense, but JAR is not entirely unreasonable.

      I didn’t understand the clue for RESTDAYS so thanks for the explanation.

  9. Lear B. says:

    My Jonesin’ solving was On Fleek! Thank you very much

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