Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Jonesin' 5:46 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni)  


NYT 4:06 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 5:50 (Matt F) 


USA Today 3:49 (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Twisting Apart” — yes, I accept cookies. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution, 8/15/23

Jonesin’ solution, 8/15/23

Hello lovelies! This week Matt pays tribute to the crossword’s favorite cookie, the Oreo! Each theme entry contains the letters OREO separated by a letter in between.

  • 18a. [Brilliant feat] TOUR DE FORCE
  • 35a. [Place to see animals in southern Australia] MELBOURNE ZOO
  • 43a. [Golden Globe winner for “Lady Bird”] SAOIRSE RONAN
  • 61a. [“No way!”] OF COURSE NOT

Other things:

  • 46a. [User of recycled material?] FREEGAN. This portmanteau of “free” and “vegan” refers to someone who limits resource consumption and waste as much as possible.
  • 20a. [2023 Ali Wong show] BEEF. The BEEF here is a feud resulting from a road rage incident.

Until next week!

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 637), “Music Through the Ages”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 637: “Music Through the Ages”

Hello there, everybody! Hope all of you are doing well and continuing to enjoy what is left of summer.

If you love crosswords and have a good taste in music and/or a music historian, this is the grid for you. Not only are the first words in the four theme entries the names of music eras, they also come in the order in which they started and gained popularity (from top to bottom in the grid). 1) Very nice touch. 2) I knew my music appreciation class in high school would come in handy once again one day. Today is that day.

        • RENAISSANCE FAIR (17A: [Event at which you can drink mead and watch a jousting tournament])
        • BAROQUE PEARL (27A: [Lustrous gem with an irregular, non-spherical shape])
        • CLASSICAL GAS (48A: [Grammy-winning 1968 Mason Williams guitar piece with orchestral accompaniment])
        • ROMANTIC DINNERS (63A: [Evening courses on Valentine’s Day])

Isn’t it wild that two ’80s TV moms, who were not related in real life, happened to have the last name of KERNS (55D: [Joanna of “Growing Pains”])? Along with Joanna, there was Sandra Kerns, who was the mom in the ’80s comedy Charles in Charge, and I had thought they were related in some way for a while. Nope! Speaking of the 1980s, the SEOUL Olympics of 1988 was the first summer Olympic games that I remember watching with intent (39A: [Capital of South Korea]).  Ben Johnson, Greg Louganis, and FloJo were some of the standout performers there, though the first one mentioned had his gold medal stripped for doping. 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: AJAX (29D: [Trojan war hero]) – One of the powerhouse soccer clubs in Europe for decades, Dutch soccer club AFC Ajax (pronounced EYE-yaks) has had some of the greatest players in world football on its roster over the years, including Johann Cruyff. Ajax has won four European Cup/UEFA Champions League trophies, three in the 1970s when Cruyff was the star, and its most recent triumph in 1994-95.

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

Take care!


Robert S. Gard’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Voice-Overs”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose first words also last names of famous singers, and the entries are clued in relation to their music.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Voice-Overs” · Robert S. Gard · Tue., 8.15.23

  • 20a. [Freddie’s set list?] MERCURY PROGRAM.
  • 26a. [Bruno’s melodies?] MARS BARS.
  • 34a. [Stevie’s royalties?] WONDER BREAD.
  • 46a. [Johnny’s smooth delivery?] CASH FLOW.
  • 54a. [Billie’s encores?] HOLIDAY BONUSES.

Fun theme! I especially liked the first entry which set the tone for the puzzle, and I love that each entry is related to music (as opposed to something like CASH COW which would be difficult to tie to the singer without being overly goofy). The last one threw me because I was wondering how it was going to be about Billie Eilish.

The fill is interesting. There are some nice long Downs like DEAR ABBY and DOLLED UP, however there were a number of entries that were either on the crunchier side (SERAC, SVEDKA, SCHIST) or just provoked some raised eyebrows (EATEN RAW, REWRITER, FUSERS). On the whole though, the theme won me over, so it’s a thumbs up from me.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [Superior service]. ACES. Oh. Just realized this is a tennis clue.
  • 5a. [Dad, to a Brit]. PATER. I lived in England for 7 years. I’ve never heard anyone use this.
  • 24a. [Frozen Wasser]. EIS. The capital W doesn’t indicate a proper name; it’s just those kooky Germans capitalizing all their nouns.
  • 44d. [Religion involving gris-gris]. VOODOO. I’d heard of this but must have forgotten what it was. Gris-gris refers to an amulet worn to protect the wearer from evil or bad luck.

Some crunchiness in the grid, but overall, a nice puzzle. Congrats on the debut! 3.75 stars.

Malaika Handa’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

First, an announcement: August 15 is my birthday. It’s been a long damn year and I am accepting all well wishes, compliments, and good jokes!

NY Times crossword solution, 8/15/23 – no. 0815

Malaika’s theme revealer is 61A. [Feature of “Alien,” “Mulan” or “Clueless” … or what the answer to each starred clue has?], FEMALE LEAD. The themers all begin with words that are gendered female:

  • 17A. [*Plant used to treat rashes], WITCH HAZEL. There’s a bottle in my bathroom.
  • 29A. [*Crocheted hair extensions], GODDESS LOCS. Didn’t know the term. If you were similarly ignorant, here’s a little info and a bunch of photos.
  • 37A. [*Eco-friendly alternative to tampons], DIVA CUP. Appreciating this year’s unembarrassed inclusion of period-related things like TAMPONs and the DIVA CUP in the Gray Lady’s crosswords.
  • 44A. [*Epithet for Aretha Franklin], QUEEN OF SOUL. Legend!

Fave fill: CARAMEL, RETCON (short for retroactive continuity), MWAH, GAYDAR. Plus the sweetened booze: PROSECCO (nice to have our [Italian sparkling wine] not be crossword stalwart ASTI), MIMOSA, and the LIME garnishing your margarita.

Not entirely sure that OLD FOE is a crossword-grade phrase. Is it attested in enough writings that it passes muster?

Four stars from me.

Rebecca Goldstein’s Universal Crossword – “Eat Dessert First” – Matt F’s Review

Universal Solution 08.15.2023

The title promises something sweet today, and the puzzle delivers! Let’s jump in and see what exactly makes this puzzle so delicious.

Theme Synopsis:

Four marquee entries have one thing in common – they all start with a type of cake! Yum! The reveal at 28D spells it out for us:

  • 28D – [Figurine at a wedding reception … or the start of 3-, 8-, 13- or 25-Down?] = CAKE TOPPER

These are the complementary theme answers:

  • 3D – [Stuffed animal that came with an adoption certificate] = POUND PUPPY (pound cake)
  • 8D – [What a cellist reads] = SHEET MUSIC (sheet cake)
  • 13D – [Atari game inspired by M.C. Escher] = MARBLE MADNESS (marble cake)
  • 25D – [Option for washing a baby] = SPONGE BATH (sponge cake)

So there you have it! Now who’s got cake on the menu for dessert tonight?

Overall Impressions:

The theme was tasty, and the puzzle overall was a fun ride. The grid accommodated a fun suite of bonus answers, mainly in the NE/SW corners which feature some beautiful staircase stacks; impressive in their own right and doubly so because they spread across 2 theme answers. MILHOUSE / BALD EAGLE / THIRD PERSON up top and MALIBU BEACH / I’M AT A LOSS / MONSTERS down low… amazing construction!

Thanks for the puzzle, Rebecca!

Zachary David Levy’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

Team Fiend constructs! I figured out what the theme connection was. The revealer still came as a surprise, which was fun.

  • 17a [Wild West stage name of William Cody] is BUFFALO BILL.
  • 29a [Word processor error finder] is SPELLCHECK.
  • 43a [Something opened while on Safari?] is a BROWSER TAB.
  • 59a [Underwater explosive] is a DEPTH CHARGE.

And the revealer is at 34a [Vow made while shaking one’s fist or when referring to the ends of 17-, 29-, 43-, and 59-Across?] is YOULL PAY FOR THIS. I really like that entry no matter what and I like it even better as a revealer. BILLCHECKTAB, and CHARGE are all methods of payment. Nice!

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that ELI and Peyton have a podcast called “Manningcast.”

Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 8/15/23 • Tue • Shechtman • solution • 20230815

As advertised, moderately challenging. Each section had entries I didn’t know, but plenty of crossings to help things along and keep it honest.

  • 17a [Chassé or grapevine, e.g.] DANCE STEP. Have heard of the former, but not the latter.
  • 1967 [Shirley Clarke documentary shot in a single night at the Hotel Chelsea] PORTRAIT OF JASON. It’s a very significant and historic film, although I have yet to see it.
  • 45a [Jewish sectarian associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls] ESSENE. Seeing PSS— to start this led me to correct 45d [Slip past] to EASE BY from PASS BY.
  • 51a [Subjects depicted by the motion-picture pioneer Eadweard Muybridge] HORSES. In part it was to settle a bet as to whether they had all four feet off the ground during a gallop.
  • 1d [Classic piece of cocktail attire, for short] LBD, little black dress. Not TUX, as I’d initially expected.
  • 3d [Channel launched in 1980 with the motto “Go live, stay with it, and make it important”] CNN. Comically, I misinterpreted live the adjective as live the verb.
  • 23d [Not 55-Across]—where the referenced clue/answer is 55a [More than just unfamiliar] ALIENTERRESTRIAL. I feel the clue for 23-down should have a limiting qualifier, as there are plenty of non-terrestrial organisms and things that are not exactly alien.
  • 30d [Book-jacket features] BIOS. Wonder if it’s ever been clued in the sense of Basic Input/Output System, which is core software for many computers.
  • 33d [Dog shelter] KENNEL. Many pet shelters are now experiencing severe overcrowding of dogs, cats, and others. Reasons include increased adoption rates during COVID followed by altered living circumstances, inability to afford to care for pets (including veterinarian fees), and landlords not allowing pets. If it’s within your means and desires, please consider adopting from a shelter.
  • 39d [Black and White, e.g.] JUSTICES. Apparently these are Hugo Black and Byron White, whose SCOTUS tenures overlapped during the Warren and Burger courts. Earlier there was also a Justice Horace Gray, as well as a Justice Edward Douglass White.
  • 47d [Expressed things] GENES. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
  • 59d [L.A.-based company that represents entertainers and athletes] CAA. Uh, ok.

Hoang-Kim Vu’s USA Today Crossword, “Accidentally” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: Each theme answer starts with a type of accidental.

  • 19a [Slender family room fixture] – FLAT SCREEN TV
  • 37a [Drink made of unadulterated fermented grape juice] – NATURAL WINE
  • 54a [Gillian Flynn novel-turned-HBO miniseries] – SHARP OBJECTS

I’m not a particularly musically inclined person, so I didn’t know that flat/sharp/natural were called accidentals! So the title of the puzzle made a lot more sense after I finished the puzzle and looked up the term. I love all three of the answers here today – I was sure I had something wrong when the first one ended in “NTV”, but nope! I also really liked the book of SHARP OBJECTS, although I have not watched the series.


Clue highlights: [Haim member who plays bass] for ESTE

New to me: ARTIST Yayoi Kusama, Bahn TET, that Shirin Ebadi was born in IRAN.

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

34 Responses to Tuesday, August 15, 2023

  1. huda says:

    Happy Birthday, Amy! I hope next year will be full of joy.
    You and the Fiend Team bring me joy every day.
    I’ll raise a glass of Prosecco Rosé in your honor this evening.

  2. PJ says:

    Happy Birthday, Amy!

    How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?
    None. It’s not the lightbulb that needs changing.

  3. Jenni Levy says:

    Happy birthday to the Queen of Fiend!

    There once was a lion who was beloved by all the animals in the jungle because he was so gentle and kind. And he was so gentle that a pair of birds built a nest in his mane. The lion didn’t mind because he was gentle and kind and he enjoyed the company. But then the baby birds hatched and the noise was keeping the lion awake. He didn’t want to throw the bird family out of their home. He didn’t know what to do, so he went to the wise old owl for advice. The wise old owl told him to get some yeast and sprinkle it in his mane. The kind, gentle lion thought this was ridiculous but he was kind and gentle and didn’t want to argue with the wise old owl, so he got the yeast and sprinkled as directed. Within an hour the birds had packed up and gone away and he could sleep in peace. He went back to the wise old owl and thanked her profusely and asked why on earth that worked. The wise old owl said “Yeast is yeast and nest is nest and never the mane shall tweet.”

    I’ll show myself out.

  4. e.a. says:

    happy birthday Amy!!!

  5. JohnH says:

    Happy birthday.

    I’m probably too old for today’s NYT. Admirable as the theme is, it already takes one to pop culture I don’t all know well enough, and I didn’t know about RETCON, LOCS for locks, HOGG (much as we need gun control), or HEEL exfoliation either and was defeated by HO_I / _EE. Oh, well, win a few . . . .

    • Amy Reynaldo says:


      David Hogg is a young man who survived the Parkland, FL, school shooting. Marjorie Taylor Greene harassed him in public a few years ago because she’s such a class act.

  6. Eric H says:

    Happy birthday, Amy!

    Thank you and all the Team Fiend folks for providing this wonderful forum. Solving puzzles and having a place to chat and argue about them is more fun than doing them in a vacuum. (There’s more dust and pet hair in a vacuum!)

  7. David L says:

    Happy Birthday, O Leader of the Fiends!

    TNY took me a couple of minutes longer than yesterday’s. Now I’m curious — does the TNY team sort through puzzles from all their constructors, rank them by difficulty, and decide which day to publish each of them? Or do they assign each day to a particular constructor and ask them to tailor it to the expected level of difficulty?

    Either way, it’s an impossible task because the difficulty depends so much on the solvers as well as the puzzle itself.

    • Eric H says:

      Today’s New Yorker took me about 30 seconds more than Monday’s, but it felt much harder, enough to make me wonder at one point whether I would be able to get it all on my own.

      I remember seeing LACE FRONT in a Brooke Husic grid some time back, but I needed several crosses to get it. And I’ve never worn a little black dress to a cocktail party (or anywhere else), so that added to my difficulty in the NW.

      I also had trouble in the SE-ish area. I had “pass by” at first, and had forgotten that the Dead Sea scrolls are associated with the ESSENEs. The clue for JUSTICES threw me for a while, even though I know both names. (The documentary doesn’t sound at all familiar.)

      And then I spelled GANEF with an O and didn’t notice that the crossing made no sense.

      Nice puzzle, though.

      I have only been doing the New Yorker puzzles every day for a few months. Most days, the level of challenge the editors have assigned seems fairly accurate. And as you note, David, a lot depends on the solver. Anyone who knows PORTRAIT OF JASON would probably have an easier time with this puzzle than I did.

      • JohnH says:

        I started with GONIF, which is how I learned it growing up, but adjusted. The justices clue seemed a little demanding; hey, there have been lots of them over the years, and it crossed a movie title new to me. And I never did crack the crossing at 1A itself. Felt like it could have been almost anything. The NW of course also had the kitchen brand, the hockey trophy, “livity,” and “mustelid.” CAA was also unfamiliar.

        Still, this was downright solvable by the Shechtman’s standards, so I’ll count myself grateful.

    • Gary R says:

      Very different experience for me. Yesterday’s puzzle, which I enjoyed, took me about 25 minutes and today’s (which I also enjoyed) took about 13 minutes. Yesterday’s time was inflated a bit because it took me a while to recover from a couple of missteps in the NE corner, but that aside, it still struck me as considerably harder than today’s. For me, “challenging” and “moderately challenging” were proper labels.

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMY!! Hope you have some fun today! Thanks for all the hard work you and the Team put into this site.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Thanks for the good wishes, David!

  8. cyberdiva says:

    Feliz cumpleaños, Amy. Muchas gracias por todo lo que haces.

  9. placematfan says:

    I had no idea that “locs” was spelled without a K. Hard to believe I’ve never seen it in print. Learn something new here everyday, usually something with a high coolness or utility factor. Happy birthday, Amy.

  10. sanfranman59 says:

    Best wishes, Amy. Thanks for making this forum available to the residents of CrossWorld. Here’s hoping the next year is easier on you.

  11. Mani says:

    Happy birthday Amy. It is also Independence Day in India!

  12. Art Shapiro says:

    And a Happy Birthday from the West Coast.

    Doing anything out of the ordinary to celebrate?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:


      Just the ordinary. Day off work, lunch with a friend, dinner out with the family. All that was out of the ordinary is that the restaurant took nearly two hours to bring dinner to our table! And it’s not a place that puts a bread basket or some chips and salsa on every table.

  13. placematfan says:

    “Witch Goddess Diva Queen”–sounds like a le Carré title.

  14. Matt Gritzmacher says:

    Big fan of today’s NYT! Malaika makes a lot of great puzzles, but I think this may be my favorite of hers yet. I found the fill interesting throughout, and personality shining/surviving through the NYT editing process.

  15. chris says:

    I love videogame clues, and Universal today had MARBLEMADNESS as an answer… I know the creator of the arcade game so it was fun to get to send a pic to him. He was excited to see the game still being referenced 39 years after it launched!! Really fun puzzle overall today too.

Comments are closed.