Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Twisting Apart” — yes, I accept cookies. – Erin’s write-up
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
- 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 Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 637), “Music Through the Ages”—Ade’s take
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!
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.
- 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!
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
The title promises something sweet today, and the puzzle delivers! Let’s jump in and see what exactly makes this puzzle so delicious.
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?
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!
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 YOU‘LL PAY FOR THIS. I really like that entry no matter what and I like it even better as a revealer. BILL, CHECK, TAB, 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
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] ALIEN—TERRESTRIAL. 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.
Fill highlights: THIRST TRAP, IT’S ALL AN ACT, UPSTAGES, MAKES A SCENE
Clue highlights: [Haim member who plays bass] for ESTE
New to me: ARTIST Yayoi Kusama, Bahn TET, that Shirin Ebadi was born in IRAN.