Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Jonesin' 7:03 (Erin) 


LAT tk (Jenni)  


NYT 3:50 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 6:28 (Matt F) 


USA Today tk (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ 4:21 (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “A Lack of Publicity” — two key letters are missing. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 8/8/23

Jonesin’ solution 8/8/23

Hello lovelies! This week’s Jonesin’ theme involves cutting out public relations by removing the initial PR from some phrases and allowing hilarity to ensue.

  • 20a. [Emptying and refilling freezer trays, perhaps?] ICE ADJUSTMENT (PRICE ADJUSTMENT)
  • 25a. [Headline about an exonerated kitchen appliance?] OVEN INNOCENT (PROVEN INNOCENT)
  • 47a. [Run away, but end up locking lips?] ELUDE TO A KISS (PRELUDE TO A KISS)
  • 53a. [Buyer’s remorse sound?] OOF OF PURCHASE (PROOF OF PURCHASE)
Chionoecetes opilio

Chionoecetes opilio (snow crab)

Other things:

  • 52a. [Former WWE rival] WCW. Ah, pro wrestling. WWE, who was once WWF, bought out WCW and ECW in 2001. Too many TLAs to keep straight.
  • 5d. [1989 Prince song for a movie soundtrack] BATDANCE. Prince created the soundtrack for the Batman film starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson.
  • 49d. [Angola’s unit of currency (the holiday ends in the double letter)] KWANZA.
  • 40d. [Alaskan entree] SNOW CRAB. In recent years billions of snow crabs have disappeared from the Bering Sea.

Until next week!

Kiran Pandey’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Enter Laughing”—Jim’s review

Theme: Pop culture clowns. The revealer is SEND IN THE CLOWNS (55a, [Song from Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” appropriate to this puzzle]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Enter Laughing” · Kiran Pandey · Tue., 8.8.23

  • 3d. [Response to 55-Across from DC Comics] HARLEY QUINN.
  • 7d. [Response to 55-Across from Stephen King] PENNYWISE.
  • 11d. [Response to 55-Across from “The Simpsons”] SIDESHOW BOB.

It’s just a list of mostly-villainous clowns, but I enjoyed it, because they’re all such great characters. I admit to not knowing HARLEY QUINN that well (haven’t read comics since I was a kid and have only seen one film with that character), but I know she’s a popular addition to the DC Universe. In fact, per Wikipedia, DC considers her the fourth pillar of DCU after Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. I guess you can’t have both HARLEY QUINN and The Joker in one puzzle, but the puzzle is no worse off for including her over him.

In the fill, I enjoyed those two long entries (stacked with a theme answer!) in the middle: PLAIN TRUTH and LATE-COMERS. Also good: SUNFISH and fully-named SÃO TOMÉ.

Clues of note:

  • 5a. [Company with a famous “1984” commercial]. APPLE. Check out the blast from the past here.
  • 57d. [Influential person, in British slang]. NOB. That’s not the British slangy meaning that I know.

Nice puzzle. 3.75 stars.

I debated whose version of the song to EMBED here: Collins or Sinatra. But since Sinatra’s version appears at the end of 2019’s Joker, let’s go with that one:

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 636), “Hi, Sugar!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 636: “Hi, Sugar!”

Hello there, everyone! Here is hoping you are doing well and once again staying cool.

One way to stay cool and enjoy the rest of your summer is to indulge in some sweet foods (in moderation, of course), and today’s puzzle is fun with food puns, as either common phrases or proper nouns are made into sweet treat puns. It’s more than OK to have a bite of this puzzle, so long as you don’t spill some of the good stuff onto your shirt.

        • ROBERT BROWNIE JR. (17A: [Chocolate treat invented by the actor who portrayed Iron Man?]) – Robert Downey Jr.
        • GELATO WINNER (27A: [Jackpot recipient of a state-run game inspired by Tuscan ice cream?]) – Lotto winner
        • THE TELLTALE TART (39A: [Poe story about a revelatory pastry?]) – The Tell-Tale Heart
        • TORTONI DUNGY (46A: [Italian dessert inspired by the NFL coach who led th Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI?]) – Tony Dungy
        • I WANT YOU BAKLAVA (63A: [Jackson Five hit song about a coveted Greek confection?]) – I Want You Back

Definitely some chances for some earworms to develop after doing this grid (especially since I just watched the “I Want You Back” video twice before starting this part of the blog), and the OH SO answer falls into the category…though I will be avoiding that song since I know it will creep into my mind and linger for hours after (35D: [“It’s ___ Quiet (song covered by Björk]). Maybe R&B singer Faith EVANS (the widow of Biggie Smalls) popped into your head, as it is now with “I’ll Be Missing You,” which won a Grammy Award (54D: [“Dynasty” actress Linda]).  How about a couple of different references to Edgar Allan Poe words instead of one, with LENORE to go along with the theme entry right in the middle of the grid (22A: [“The Raven” woman]). Fun puzzle. Now I want a couple of snacks to feed my sweet tooth because of it!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TATA (40D: [“Bye for now!”]) – Lionel Messi fever has officially hit the United States, and the greatest soccer player of our generation has not disappointed, scoring seven goals in his first four professional games on US soil, all for Major League Soccer team Inter Miami. If you’re wondering who the coach is for Messi’s team down near South Beach, it’s an Argentine named Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who coached Messi for one season at FC Barcelona, the squad Messi played for when be became a soccer icon. Martino has had success stateside as well, winning the MLS Cup in 2018 as manager of Atlanta United FC.

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

Take care!


Desiree Penner and Jeff Sinnock’s Universal Crossword – “First Look” – Matt F’s Review

Universal Solution 08.08.23

Today we have a classic add-a-letter theme that feels fresh thanks to its sparkly theme answers. However this partnership began, I hope whomever presented the theme closed their pitch by asking, “See what did there?”

Theme Synopsis:

Each theme answers takes a common phrase and drops an “I” in front of it to make a new punny phrase:

  • 17A – [*Computer symbol designer?] = ICON ARTIST
  • 32A – [*The Creator?] = IDEAL MAKER
  • 46A – [*Whiskey served with certain pancakes?] = IHOP SCOTCH

A fitting reveal tells us what’s going on:

  • 62A – [Astonishing and enlightening … or a phonetic hint to each starred clue’s answer] = EYE-OPENING

What a perfect reveal to cap off this theme. The “?” in each theme clue threw me off at first, but I think it works to let the solver know that something silly is going on in the answer. It’s a bit of a role-reversal: where typically the “?” would indicate a pun in the clue, here it is serving to indicate a pun in the theme answer itself.

Overall Impressions:

Even the most overplayed theme type can be zhuzhed up with the right theme set, and this one is a good example. I thought the theme answers were clever and the puzzle was a joy to work through. Subtle touches like 10A and 14A both using “inedible chips” in their clues helped elevate my solving experience. Hearing “drag race” in a totally different context lately, 6D – [Vehicle in a drag race] threw me for a second, and I really enjoyed that subtle misdirect.

Thanks for the puzzle, Desiree and Jeff.

Zachary Levy’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 8/8/23 – no. 0808

Neat geographic theme. The revealer is 64a. [Borders represented four times in this puzzle — both in the grid and on a map], STATE LINES. There are heavier bars between the words in the theme entries, representing those state borders. The first word each time ends with a two-letter state abbreviation, while the second word starts with one. Thus, ROYAL | FLUSH has ALabama neighboring the FLorida Panhandle. FANNY | PACK has NY and PA. STARBUCKS | COFFEE goes to the western edge of KanSas, where it meets COlorado. And while ANGKOR | WAT is in Cambodia, ORegon and WAshington are neighbors.

Fave fill: XANADU, BANK GUARD. I’m on the fence about a singular COCOA PUFF. From a trademark standpoint, it’s no-go, but if you’ve ever picked up a Cheerio, you know that singular cereal pieces are in the language. Crosswordy find: COCOA PUFF and tennis star COCO GAUFF share an awful lot of letters! Wonder if Peter Gordon has paired the two entries in one of his Fireball themelesses.

Fill in the “tough for a Tuesday” category includes T-SLOT, ULNAR, and maybe a TAM. And this one, which I did not know: 56d. [Actress Raymonde of “Malcolm in the Middle”], TANIA. Star Frankie Muniz was on 150 episodes; Ms. Raymonde played one of Malcolm’s classmates in a whole four episodes. TANIA is not a good name for crosswords now that we’re nearly 50 years past Patty Hearst using it as a criminal alias; America needs a current and significant TANIA for the entry to be worthwhile.

3.5 stars from me. I liked the theme!

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

New Yorker • 8/8/23 • Tue • Last • solution • 20230808

This one felt right on target for ‘moderately challenging’.

  • 10a [Sarah McLachlan hit that lost a Grammy to “My Heart Will Go On”] ADIA, which is a latter-day crossword staple that I haven’t seen very recently.
  • 17a [Minecraft and Limbo, for two] INDIE GAMES. I hadn’t realized Minecraft was an indie, since it seems to be so pervasive.
  • 18a [Striplings] LADS. 47d [Rascal, maybe] TYKE.
  • 22a [“Shut it, __?” (curt request for silence)] WILLYA. Crossed by the very New Yorker-esque cluing for 22d [Letters of disquietude in a Marc Maron podcast title] WTF.
  • 24a [One with a leg up in a cast, perhaps?] is a very precious misdirection clue for the trendy term NEPO BABY.
  • 27a [Just having some fun, say] DOING A BIT. 37d [Pretends to be sore] ACTS MAD.
  • 30a [Woodland male] HART. In crosswords, woodland almost always codes for deer, just as river codes for otter.
  • 34a [Word after “Trade” and “Class,” in the title of a 2020 book on how economic inequality threatens international peace] WARS. 2d [Economic class in Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-first Century”] RENTIER.
  • 4d [Frames for a Tinseltown job?] STILLS, as in movie stills. But does the clue actually work? “for” seems misapplied, yes?
  • 36d [Sleepy number?] HEIGH HO.
  • 40d [ __ League] LITTLE. My least favorite clue of the puzzle, despite its innocuousness. Maybe because it’s so wide open?

So, was it too laden with pop-culture references for some solvers? That seems to be the standard complaint with this constructor’s offerings.

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24 Responses to Tuesday, August 8, 2023

  1. Anne from Oz says:

    NYT: This is an instance of crosswords making me feel stupid. Finished the puzzle and stared at it for a while before coming here to find out the answer. 🤦‍♀️

    Once revealed I thought the theme was great.

    • Eric H says:

      I didn’t have that experience today, but I know how it feels.

    • Art Shapiro says:

      Nexus Solver didn’t show the heavy lines, so I never came close to grasping the theme. My older version of AcrossLite will not open the file, saying it requires a newer version of AcrossLite. (I’ve had problems with those newer versions.) That’s twice in a week that Nexus did not correctly portray the grid.

      • Lois says:

        I only use the Times’s XWord Info when I do puzzles online, but I have a lot of issues with printed versions of the crosswords. XWord Info did not allow for the usual Inksaver version of this printed puzzle, but forced us to use the newspaper version. I now eyeball the newspaper version online every day to see whether I can print the puzzle out, because XWord Info doesn’t always provide such safeguards. On my Mac, the Inksaver version at XWord Info does not reproduce italics, for instance.

  2. PJ says:

    TNY – “So, was it too laden with pop-culture references for some solvers?”

    While I was solving I thought it might be for me. However, I finished in twelve and a half minutes without an error so I guess my answer is no.

    I did do some image searching of “Meet the Beatles.” Every image I saw labeled the sides as 1 and 2, not A and B.

    • Gary R says:

      I found this puzzle “just right” for a Tuesday TNY – I was challenged, but never frustrated. I knew more of the cultural references than I didn’t, which is unusual for me with one of Mr. Last’s puzzles.

      I questioned SIDE A, too – I always thought album sides were numbered and single sides were letter-designated.

      Re: pannonica’s comment about Minecraft – I believe it’s currently owned by Microsoft, but it was developed by a smaller shop, so maybe it’s still considered INDIE.

  3. Henry T says:

    To answer pannonica’s question: Yup, for me.

  4. damefox says:

    NYT: Theme is great, didn’t see it until the end, which is always fun. There was a little bit of iffy fill, as Amy said, but my main complaint about this puzzle is something else entirely: JCREW is not an [L.L. Bean competitor]. Banana Republic, American Eagle, Gap, etc., but not L.L. Bean. Or maybe that’s just me? Anyway, that’s really an editorial quibble — I enjoyed the puzzle!

    • Eric H says:

      If I wanted a new polo shirt, I could get one from either L.L. Bean or J. Crew. That makes them competitors in my book.

      • Me says:

        I think J Crew and LL Bean have enough overlap to make this a fair clue. And I think the “LL” part of the clue is a hint to the “J” of JCREW, which is a nice hint for a Tuesday.

        • Eric H says:

          Nice catch on the initials!

          I agree the two retailers are not direct competitors, but they each sell enough of the same products that the clue doesn’t bother me at all.

    • Eric H says:

      By the way, I enjoyed your “Bread Boxes” puzzle. I’m pretty sure I got the correct answer. It didn’t strike me as particularly difficult, at least in comparison to some of the other metas I’ve failed to solve recently.

    • Nina says:

      I agree! I wanted it to be Eddie Bauer.

      As for the theme, I couldn’t see the lines either, so I was stumped even with a fully solved puzzle.

  5. Mutman says:

    NYT: since the bold lines are all vertical, I was expecting E/W borders. But two are N/S

    And KS/CO are backwards.

    Seemed a bit amiss.

    • Eric H says:

      New York and Pennsylvania share a couple of borders that run north/south. When I was a kid, we drove through that little bit of Pennsylvania that touches Lake Erie once or twice a year visiting my grandparents in Cleveland.

      There’s also a relatively short north-south border between the Florida panhandle and the bit of Alabama that touches the Gulf of Mexico.

      • ZDL says:

        Aside from the issue where two states may have both E/W and N/S borders, keeping the borders “accurate” is not possible with certain states (i.e. can’t start a word with KS unless you’re talking about KSTATE, in which case it’s redundant, and there’s no idiomatic expression that will fit anyhow.)

        I agree, it would have been a more impressive grid if I had pulled that off.

        • Jim says:

          Re: KS — or you could try to find a noteworthy Russian (or Eastern European) named KSENIA, which is actually a fairly common name.

          For example: Russian news anchor and presidential candidate Sobchak.

        • Eric H says:

          The only border inaccuracy that bothered me at all was the KS/CO line, because having caught on to the theme, I blindly plunked MO next to KS.

          Overall, I enjoyed the puzzle and appreciate that it inspired me to learn a little bit more about ANGKOR WAT. Thanks!

  6. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: I’d put this puzzle on the easy end of “moderately challenging.” There’s too much like RENTIER (which I got from crosses) and HUMANITARIAN AID for it to be “lightly challenging,” but I finished it in 7:34, which is almost exactly my average Tuesday time for the NYT puzzles.

    Too much pop culture? Not for me. The stuff I didn’t know was easy to get with a few crosses. Oddly, I needed the MA- to come up with Taj MAHAL, though “singer Taj” should have made it a gimme.* And I hope Sarah McLachlan doesn’t have any hits with four-letter names other than ADIA, because when I see her name in the clue, that’s what’s going in the grid.

    This is the first time I remember seeing NEPO BABY in a grid. It’s the rare occasion where something I learned outside of a crossword puzzle has come in handy.

    *I checked Wikipedia to see if there’s another singer named Taj something. Their “list of people with the name Taj” doesn’t include Taj MAHAL. That’s Wikipedia for you

    • Eric H says:

      Fun fact: At least in the NYT, if the clue includes “McLachlan,” the answer is either ADIA or Sarah.

  7. Zev Farkas says:

    Desiree Penner and Jeff Sinnock’s Universal Crossword – “First Look” – Matt F’s Review

    Can someone please tell me how
    10A Piles of inedible chips
    gets us to POTS?


  8. Sophomoric Old Guy says:

    NYT Theme OK, not great, in my book. This is another one of those puzzles we see more and more of where the constructor uses circles or lines as some sort added facet to the puzzle, but it doesn’t really help the solver, until after the fact. By that I mean, it doesn’t help the solver fill in the themes.

    I also agree with those who thought it would be better if the state abbreviation was on the correct east or west side of the line. I’m sure there is some small section of border between WS, OR and KS CO that could be viewed as West East, but for the most part those state lines divide North South.

    2.5 to 3 stars


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