Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Jonesin' 5:16 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni)  


NYT 3:52 (Amy) 


The New Yorker tk (pannonica) 


Universal untimed (Matt F) 


USA Today 3:49 (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ 4:00 (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “An Easy Puzzle” — some similar similes. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 9/26/23

Jonesin’ solution 9/26/23

Hello lovelies! We have another Mystery Clue puzzle this week. Let’s see what’s going on:

  • 20a. [Mystery clue 1] ALIAS NETWORK
  • 33a. [With 43-Across, [Mystery Clue 2]] NUMBER AFTER THE
  • 43a. [See 33-Across] TAKING OF PELHAM
  • 57a. [Mystery Clue 3] BAKED DESSERT

So Alias aired on ABC, the 2009 movie was The Taking of Pelham 123, and the baked dessert Matt’s looking for hereis  PIE. Combine this list of answers with the puzzle title and blurb, and we get three possibilities to complete the simile “Easy as ___.”

Other things:

  • 16a. [Hack-a-Shaq target] O’NEAL. This strategy involves intentionally fouling basketball players who are bad at free throws.
  • 63d. [“Extraordinary Attorney ___” (Korean Netflix show] WOO. Park Eun-bin stars as a new attorney with autism and photographic memory and details how she makes a name for herself while dealing with discrimination.

Until next week!

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 644), “It’s Payback* Time!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 644: “It’s Payback* Time!”

Hello there, everybody! Welcome to fall! Here is hoping all of you are doing well today!

If you solved the puzzle without looking at its title, it might have been hard to spot what the theme was, especially given that there was no reveal answer inside of the grid. Reading the title brings everything together, as the answer to each of the starred clues is an multiple-word entry in which the last word can also come before the word “pay.”

        • STOLEN BASE (17A: [*Wrigley Field heist])
        • ON MERIT (40A: [*One method of being considered for a promotion])
        • CANDY APPLE (64A: [*Sticky street fair treat on a stick])
        • THIS IS SICK (11D: [*Phrase that can mean “Awful!” or “Awesome!”])
        • MOCK COMBAT (29D: [*Staged battle where no harm is intended])

Halloween will soon be upon us, and there surely is a chance to see NORMAN/Anthony Perkins again on a re-air of Psycho on TCM during its tribute to the scariest characters movies and portrayals (18D: [Bates of “Psycho”]). I’m all about anything Vincent Price is in during that block. Nice to know the bit of information included in the clue for the oft-used MHOS (16A: [Electrical units (now named siemens)]). Worst part about the cooler weather coming in is making sure my body stays as TONED as it got during the summer when running on a daily basis and drinking enormous amounts of water and Crystal Light (Firmed up, as muscles]). It’s been raw, the past couple of days here weatherwise, as we’ve felt the remnants of Ophelia on the EAST coast (54A: [Sunrise direction]). Clear weather with temps in the mid-60s are coming this way in the next couple of days, so definitely can’t wait for that … especially since I’ll be outside most of the week watching baseball games.  

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: RATS (69A: [“Phooey!”]) – If you followed the Florida Panthers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final this past spring, you would have seen that  fans would throw plastic rats onto the ice when the team won a home playoff game. What the heck is that about? Well, it goes back to 1995, when former Panther player Scott Mellanby used a stick to kill a rat in the locker room before the season opener, then scored two goals using that same stick. The story got out, the team made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final that season, and fans threw plastic rats onto the ice after every goal. New rules were implemented to prevent delays associated with the cleanup of the rats, but the fake rodents have made appearances here and there since … including during last year’s magical run to the championship round.

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

Take care!


Laura Effinger-Dean’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Treasure Hunting”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar(ish) phrases with a HIDDEN IDOL (57a, [Valuable find on “Survivor,” and a hint to this puzzle’s theme]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Treasure Hunting” · Laura Effinger-Dean · Tue., 9.26.23

  • 17a. [Currency on which Elizabeth II’s image was replaced with local wildlife in 2013] FIJI DOLLAR. I couldn’t have told you what the currency of Fiji was, but I like that clue!
  • 24a. [Super Bowl champions in 1973 and 1974] MIAMI DOLPHINS. Were those the last times? Yikes.
  • 47a. [LeAnn Rimes song on the “Coyote Ugly” soundtrack] “BUT I DO LOVE YOU.” Not familiar with the song, but it wasn’t hard to parse out.

Solid hidden word theme. I don’t think I’ve ever watched an episode of Survivor, so the revealer wasn’t a familiar phrase to me. But it’s a key part of the show, so it makes for a good theme basis.

Nice long fill with PAJAMA TOP, MISGUIDED, EROTICA, “AM I LATE?,” KER-PLOPS, and MS. PAC-MAN. Having only four theme answers gives plenty of breathing room, and our constructor took good advantage of that.

Clues of note:

  • 42a. [“Tik Tok” singer]. KESHA. Not to be confused with TikTok the social media app or Tik-Tok, L. Frank Baum’s mechanical man.
  • 41d. [Program listing?]. CODE. Nice trickeration there.

Solid theme, good fill. And a debut! Congrats! 3.75 stars.

Shannon Rapp & Rebecca Goldstein’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 9/26/23 – no. 0926

Theme revealer is 38a. [Dietary network in an ecosystem … or a punny hint to the answers to the starred clues], FOOD WEB. The themers are tech terms that begin with foods:

  • 17a. [*Program that detects junk emails], SPAM FILTER.
  • 23a. [*Slang term for convoluted and unstructured computer programming]. SPAGHETTI CODE. Not a term I knew.
  • 49a. [*Online icon comprised of three parallel horizontal lines, familiarly], HAMBURGER MENU. This one I knew, from work, but I dispute the logic of calling three flat lines of equal thickness a “hamburger.”
  • 60a. [*Download that may improve streaming lags], JAVA UPDATE.

Here’s a spamghetti “recipe” for you–you’ll need a pound of pasta, a can of Spam, and a jar of spaghetti sauce, sounds pretty gourmet.


You know what’s bugged me for decades? These NYT puzzles that clue AVES as [Street crossers: Abbr.], as if it’s universal that “streets” and “avenues” are always perpendicular to one another. Looking at one little section of downtown Chicago (Streeterville and River North), you find Grand Ave. crossing Wabash Ave., and Huron St. crossing St. Clair St. Is this a rule in NYC, that streets go one way and avenues are perpendicular?

A little surprised to find ONE-L in a Tuesday puzzle.

3.5 stars from me. Your mileage may certainly vary, but the theme didn’t particularly grab me.

Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I noticed the pattern in the theme answers and figured there’d be a cutesy revealer. I was right. Well-pitched for a Tuesday!

Los Angeles Times, September 26, 2023, Doug Peterson, solution grid

  • 14a [*Like birdies and eagles] is UNDER PAR.
  • 23a [*Expert in community development] is an URBAN PLANNER.
  • 40a [*Published of scholarly journals] is a UNIVERSITY PRESS.
  • 53a [*India’s most populous state] is UTTAR PRADESH.

And the revealer: 70a [Presumptuous newcomers, and what the answers to the starred clues literally have] is UPSTARTS. Each themer starts with U P. Nice!

A few other things:

  • Who decided that ODOR is an [Off-putting smell]? SCENT is good, ODOR is bad.
  • 4a [Generic dog name] is FIDO. I suspect I’m not the only one who started with SPOT.
  • 16a [“Tres chic!”] is OO LA LA. I always thought that was more “sexy!” than “chic.”
  • I gather CATAN dropped the “Settlers of” from the name.
  • AND is not a very interesting entry; a clue like [“Is there more?”] makes it a bit more enjoyable.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that AARON Paul was in “Breaking Bad.” I had to look him up to figure out which was his first name.

Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Inner Nerd” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: Each theme answer contains the string “NERD”.

USA Today, 09 26 2023, “Inner Nerd”

  • 16a [Candlelit meal, perhaps] – DINNER DATE
  • 36a [Salsa or tango, for example] – PARTNER DANCE
  • 57a [Met Gala outfit, often] – DESIGNER DRESS

Solid theme/title and a great theme set to go with it! Interestingly I had already been thinking about the word “partner” after seeing the clue [Romantic “other half”] (turned out to be SPOUSE), and then PARTNER DANCE was right beneath it. It’s fun that both DINNER DATE and DESIGNER DRESS are alliterative, too.


Clue highlights: [Insect with a species that’s all female] for ANT, [“King of the jungle” that doesn’t actually live in jungles] for LION

New to me: [“Solo: A Star Wars Story” actress Kellyman] for ERIN

Evan Kalish’s Universal Crossword – “Animated Discussion” – Matt F’s Review

Universal Solution 09.26.2023

Theme Synopsis:

It’s an anagram theme you didn’t see coming! (More on that later). In case you got to the end like I did without seeing the pattern, we have a helpful reveal to shed light on what’s going on:

  • 60A – [Engender public controversy, or a hint to the word scrambled in each starred clue’s answer] = STIR DEBATE

The remaining theme answers contain the string D-E-B-A-T-E in some “stirred” order:

  • 17A – [Put some bucks on the Bucks, maybe] = PLACED A BET
  • 25A – [Oscar nominee for “Network”] = ED BEATTY
  • 37A – [Cover that gets plugged in] = HEATED BLANKET
  • 50A – [Process by which a neutron might become a proton] = BETA DECAY

Overall Impressions:

As I alluded to above, it’s unusual for Universal to run an anagram puzzle without a major tip-off to the solver, such as circled letters or even hints in the clue like, “see letters 7-12 in this answer.” To that end, today’s reveal provide a nice “aha” and a reason to look back at the grid to see what was going on in the theme answers. I think I prefer a puzzle like this that does not blatantly tip its hand to the solver. A nice change of pace in my opinion.

Clean grid with some fun bonuses, too: IS THAT OK, ALWAYS ON, STARGAZER, and SERIES ARC are all great.

Thanks for the puzzle, Evan!

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31 Responses to Tuesday, September 26, 2023

  1. PJ says:

    NYT – The theme didn’t grab me, either. I use app based email, not web based, spaghetti code isn’t web specific, and I haven’t actively updated Java in years. Didn’t it fall out of use on many sites or am I thinking of another language.

    In Birmingham streets and avenues are perpendicular.

  2. Cavin says:

    NYT — In DC, possibly the most premeditated and auteur-crafted city plan in the US, avenues run diagonally and streets run at right angles. Either can cross either, of course.

    It’s amazing how much NYCese the rest of the world navigates to do this puzzle every day.

  3. Jenni Levy says:

    Yes, in Manhattan the streets run east-west and the avenues run north-south. There are places like Greenwich Village that are not a grid and streets can cross streets, but for the most part streets cross avenues. Can’t vouch for the rest of the boroughs.

  4. Stephie says:

    Two lines can cross without being perpendicular.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Regardless, I don’t know that “avenues cross streets, they go in different directions” is a common thing in most cities other than NYC.

      • Stephie says:

        Between you and I, I didn’t mean to make you feel poorly.

      • DougC says:

        It is, actually. The “grid system” was first used in NYC and Philadelphia, then copied in cities all across the continent. It was so distinctly different from the layout of major European cities that it became known as the “American plan.”

        Cities differ as to which directions the streets and avenues run, but a north-south oriented grid with streets and avenues running perpendicular to each other became the norm in both Canada and the US.

        • David L says:

          Older cities on the east coast don’t have that pattern. And when I lived in a small town outside Chicago, the streets going one way were numbered and the perpendicular ones were named after trees or notable people etc. So it’s not always streets and avenues even in cities or towns with a grid plan,

          • Stephie says:

            I think most people would know that this isn’t always the case. I don’t think the clue insisted that this is always the case.
            But it certainly is common.

            • JohnH says:

              That was my reaction. I’ve commented before that it’s a mistake to complain on the grounds that the rule in a clue should be universal. Of course, it should be fair, so if the statement pertained to only one city, perhaps one not so heavily frequented and populated as New York at that, it would not be fair. But this didn’t bother me at all.

              I’ve always taken pleasure in how 4th and10th Streets cross at nearly right angles in the West Village, though.

        • Mhoonchild says:

          Of course, this is the *New York* Times, where the streets and avenues are perpendicular. It’s also true here in Seattle, with avenues running north/south, and streets east/west.

  5. David L says:

    TNY: half as difficult as yesterday’s, per my time. I didn’t know the marquee name at 13A but the crossings were all straightforward. The clue for 39D fooled me until the very end, and I don’t understand the clue for 25D. Other than those, no real obstacles. 48D is cute.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Keep an eye out for the upcoming film “Origin,” directed by Ava DuVernay. 13a stars in it as “Caste” author Isabel Wilkerson, and there’s Oscar buzz already.

    • Eric H says:

      My experience exactly: All the stuff that I didn’t know, I was able to get from the crosses (which makes it my kind of puzzle).

      I knew that the “King Richard” actress was AUNJANUE ELLIS, but it took me three tries (and a puzzle check) to spell it correctly.

      In the “It Pays to Read the Paper” category, at breakfast I read a NYT article about how the Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter, and Me Too have failed to accomplish any real social change. The article mentioned Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò and his book “Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (and Everything Else).” (Fun fact: There’s another political science/philosophy professor named Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, who’s apparently no relation to Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò.)

      The clues for ANIMATED FEATURE and SHORT A are nice.

      Re: 25D, as Wikipedia puts it, “Universal design is the design of buildings, products or environments to make them accessible o people, regardless of age, disability or other factors.” I don’t remember if I had heard that term before. I was an architecture major for about a year and a half, but that was long before the Americans With Disabilities Act.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        Thanks for saving me some Google time with the explanation for the clue/answer connection for RAMPS

      • David L says:

        I googled ‘universal design’ and almost all the hits were about an educational/pedagogical system, so there wasn’t any obvious connection to ramps. But I didn’t look very hard.

    • JohnH says:

      It was certainly easier than Monday’s, which isn’t saying much. Heck, I finished it. But hard enough, especially the parts below the main black diagonal.

      13A was at least not horribly unfair, as the crossings sufficed. Still, when I have to work a fill that long entirely from crossings, down to the very last letter, with a spelling that looked to me highly unlikely, and with some crossings a bit much at that, you can’t expect me positively to enjoy it.

  6. Dan says:

    LAT: As for the 34 Across clue “Feel poorly” for AIL, I was always taught that the adverb “poorly” should not go with the linking verb “to feel”. One feels good, or well (=healthy), or bad, or poor, but not poorly (unless, say, one’s fingers are numb).

    No doubt dictionaries say this is just fine. But still.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I suspect many of the “feel poorly” speakers also say “just between you and I,” because they think “feel bad” and “between you and me” must be grammatically incorrect when they’re not.

      • Dan says:

        Yeah, I think linguists call that “hypercorrection”.

        And as for Jenni’s point about ODOR — I tend to agree that this is an entirely neutral word. People may speak about a “bad odor”, but that’s precisely because “odor” itself does not mean bad.

      • David L says:

        In England, ‘feel poorly’ is standard for not feeling well. And you can be poorly. ‘Feel bad’ means you regret something, in my book.

      • Gary R says:

        I don’t think “feeling poorly” is hypercorrection. In the midwestern rural area where I grew up, it was common terminology – and I don’t think the folks there were especially concerned with grammatical correctness.

        And I’m with @David L on “feel bad” – where I grew up, “I feel bad” meant I was sorry for/about something.

    • David L says:

      If I feel poor, it’s because I have no money.

  7. Matt J. says:

    Well, that’s a lovely thing to wake up to. 😜

    • Christopher says:

      I always do the Jonesin’ puzzles on Sunday. I wait to do them until my wife and I can relax and take our time on it because we enjoy them so much. This week’s was a fun one! 3.5 out of 5 stars this week from us.

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