Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Jonesin' untimed (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni)  


NYT 3:37 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 5:04 (Matt F) 


USA Today 3:30 (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Serve It Up” — time to dish it. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 10/17/23

Jonesin’ solution 10/17/23

Hello lovelies! It looks like someone messed with the menu at this week’s Jonesin’ feast. Let’s see what happened…

  • 16a. [Like someone who spent a day a the beach without sunblock, maybe] RED AS A LOBSTER
  • 25a. [On-camera audition] SCREEN TEST
  • 46a. [Requested a Spanish-speaking agent, maybe] PRESSED TWO
  • 58a. [Went completely astray, like the circles in the theme entries?] VEERED OFF COURSE

Unscramble the circled letters in each theme entry to reveal the meal courses SALAD, ENTREE, and DESSERT.

Other things:

  • 8d. [Fluffy ’70s area rug] FLOKATI. For a rug to qualify as flokati, it must be Greek, hand woven, and 100% wool.

Until next week!

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 647), “Square Meal”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 647: “Square Meal”

Good day, everybody! Hope all is well with you as pumpkin season ins well and truly among us.

Once again, we have a theme in which all of the answers that make up the perimeter of the puzzle play a big part in the gimmick. All of those answers are words that can come before the word “food,” with the answer smack dab in the middle, FOOD CONTAINER, acting as the reveal (36A: [Restaurant take-out item … or the theme suggested by 10 answers on this puzzle’s edges]).

          • SOUL (1A: [Aretha Franklin, the Queen of ___])
          • CAT (5A: [“Cool” dude])
          • FINGER (8A: [Name names])
          • RABBIT (13D: [Classic Volkswagen model])
          • PLANT (50D: [Factory])
          • FAST (65A: [“Spartacus” author Howard])
          • PET (64A: [Favorite])
          • HEALTH (63A: [Part of NIH])
          • FRENCH (41D: [Philanthropist Melinda ___ Gates])
          • SUPER (1D: [Apartment building VIP])

Whew, there were a lot of names and information that a) I wasn’t sure if I was right when answering them and b) also happened to intersect each other. Definitely more of a challenge today because of that, which is more than fine. Finally figuring out EMPORIA (24D: [Shops in a pricey mall]), specifically when I realized I need to think about actual shops and not the act of shopping, finally revealed PYM (28A: [“Excellent Women” author Barbara]) and RENA (47A: [Sofer of soaps]). Eight 8-letter answers to feast on, and the adjoining entries of FIRESALE (36D: [Deep-discount event]) and OPEN AREA stood out the most from that octet (37D: [Clearing in a forest, for one]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TEO FABI (7D: [With 8-Down, Italian race car driver]) – Another couple of answers that might have tripped up some folks on this solve. Teo Fabi spent most of his racing career either in Formula One or Indy Car, and a couple of his most notable moments of his career came in races stateside. In 1983, Fabi qualified for the pole at the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie, and then led the first 23 laps of the race. One year later, Fabi made the first of his two podiums in Formula One (finishing in top three) when he claimed third place at the 1984 Detroit Grand Prix. He also finished third at the 1987 Austrian Grand Prix.

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

Take care!


Michael Berg’s Universal Crossword – “Dessert Case” – Matt F’s Review

Universal Solution 10.17.2023

Theme Synopsis:

We have a classic bookend theme today which may have been easy to spot if your solving interface, like mine, displayed circled squares. There are 4 phrases where the start + end of the phrase spells out a familiar candy brand:

  • 16A – [Giving nothing away] = SPOILER FREE (Spree)
  • 23A – [Teen facial hair] = PEACH FUZZ (Pez)
  • 37A – [Watches a boxer, say] = DOGSITS (Dots)
  • 49A – [Number of black cards in a deck] = TWENTY SIX (Twix)

And our reveal caps it off with a phrase that encompasses the visual element of the theme:

  • 61A – [Like Jordan almonds … or 16-, 23-, 37- and 49-Across] = CANDY COATED

This is a great theme in the spirit of October, aka “candy season.” Am I the only one who has a bowlful of candy in the open all month, just tempting you to grab a treat whenever you go into the kitchen?

Overall Impressions:

Sweet puzzle! I worked through it without hitting any major sticking points, despite plopping in “error” at 5A before doubling back to correct myself – hardly a SNAFU! The fill was squeaky clean and fairly crossed for those who don’t know their Shakespeare (46D – TYBALT) or anything about 2001’s “Ghost World” (49D – THORA Birch). 30D – LOOSE ENDS is my favorite non-thematic fill today.

After this one I definitely had to get my sweet tooth in check so I wouldn’t raid that candy bowl I mentioned earlier.

Thanks for the puzzle, Michael!

Dominic Grillo’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 10/17/23 – no. 1017

The name of the game is 3-D PRINTER, or 61a. [Modern manufacturing device … or you, when answering 17-, 31-, 39- and 46-Across?]. I was typing the three-D phrases rather than printing the letters in the squares on paper, but the idea is there. Morse DOT-DOT-DOT, a DOUBLE-DOG DARE, DING-DONG DITCH, and DRESS-DOWN DAYS are the themers, mostly a lively bunch. (DOT DOT DOT would have been more fun as a spoken ellipsis than as Morse code, no?)

Fave fill: HATE-READ, MASERATI, a baseball team being DOWN A RUN, and a THUNDERCLAP.

Four more things:

  • BURIED ALIVE with work” is not an appalling concept, but oof, that is a tough phrase to include in entertainment during a war with bombing.
  • 13d. [“My word is my bond,” informally], “ON GOD.” I learned this phrase from an Erik Agard crossword, I think. The things you’ve never seen before that you learn from a crossword—they kinda stick with you, don’t they? Especially if you screwed it up in a tournament setting.
  • 40d. [Arizona city that hosts the Fiesta Bowl], GLENDALE. Sure, Glendale is only the sixth most populous city in its state, but it’s eight or nine times the size of Natick and it’s larger than Des Moines. What’s it notable for aside from a football stadium? No idea.
  • 71a. [Throw forcefully, in modern parlance], YEET. Is there something you simply cannot stand? Yeet it into the sun. (I suspect the constructor is under 30.)

3.75 stars from me.

Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 10/17/23 • Tue • Lucido • solution • 20231017

I don’t know what it’s called when a figure has all these symmetries. Left-right, top-bottom, 180­° and 90° rotational. It’s quite a grid.

Each quarter features a 9-letter/13-letter stack, and they’re all great: READ THE ROOM/HAWAIIAN SHIRT (aka aloha shirt), MRS POTATO HEAD/THE REAL DEAL, HARUM-SCARUM/RAISE A RUCKUS, MUSIC FESTIVAL/SHOULDER PAD. That’s some quality content.

  • 1a [Businesses that might offer gemstone massages] SPAS. Wha-a-a-t? Like, crystals or something?
  • 5a [Hole-in-the-wall creator] TACK. Oh, just a little hole. Sneaky.
  • 26a [“This is infuriating!”] I’M SO MAD.
  • 32a [Thumbs up in a text chain, say?] SCROLLS. Note that ‘thumbs up’ is not hyphenated, which points away from the emoji misdirection.
  • 47a [Place for a daith piercing] EAR. The  linked Wikipedia page includes the unfortunate phrase “This piercing was first brought into the public eye in …”
  • 52a [East, in Spanish] ESTE. Direct cognate.
  • 3d [“See ya!”] ADIOS. This is always ADIOS and never ADIEU.
  • 10d [Compelled to go] HALED. Sure enough, that’s exactly the wording of one of the definition senses. Did not know this verb.
  • 12d [Rash] HARUM-SCARUM. The inspiration for the title of a 1939 Looney Tunes short.
  • 17d [Australian sheepskin boots] UGGS. I prefer my Qwarubas.
  • 25d [Media-watchdog org. founded during the AIDS epidemic] GLAAD. 7d [Lawyer Roy who was played by Nathan Lane in the 2018 revival of “Angels in America”] COHN. (Boo, hiss!)
  • 50d [Brain in a __ (thought experiment)] VAT. Not JAR? Okay, Ngrams confirms the former as more prevalent.

Henry Lin-David & Kate Luo’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I had no idea what was going on with this theme. It’s a bit more complex than the usual Tuesday. Still solvable at a Tuesday level as far as I can tell since each of the theme answers is clued normally. It’s sort of like a Connections category! We didn’t have a tag for Kate Luo – if this is her debut, congrats!

The theme answers:

Los Angeles Times, October 17, 2023, Henry Lin-David, Kate Luo, solution grid

  • 17a [Baton-passing race with co-ed teams] is a MIXED RELAY. Please note that “co-ed” is a perfectly acceptable adjective and a loathsome noun.
  • 26a [German white wine with a high sugar content] is a SWEET RIESLING. Not a fan unless it’s a dessert wine. Otherwise I prefer my riesling dry, like my men.
  • 43a [Start of something great] is a PROMISING IDEA. I don’t think this is a commonly used phrase. Makes perfect sense, though.

And the revealer, which made me laugh: 55a [Surprised shout when a spot on the wall starts moving, and what can be said about 17-, 26-, and 43-Across] is ITS GOT LEGS! Each theme answer has a different meaning of “legs.” 17a has physical legs on the runners. 43a has metaphorical legs, meaning “staying power.” And 26a – well, wine can have legs. Wine Enthusiast describes the phenomenon as “a ridge of liquid ris[ing] up the sides of the glass, and then [dripping] back down in little rivulets that form a sort of necklace around the inside.” They look like this

Not a riesling.

and in my experience are unusual in a SWEET RIESLING unless it’s the aforementioned dessert wine. We recently took a wine-tasting trip up to the Finger Lakes where insipid, cloyingly sweet Rieslings are common, which is probably why I’m making a fuss. I can’t say it’s wrong. And it is a complex and interesting theme in a Tuesday-appropriate puzzle, which is quite a feat!

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that ALI Wong appeared in “Beef.”

Jasmeet Arora and Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Out of the Closets and Into the Streets (Freestyle)” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: None

USA Today, 10 17 2023, Out of the Closets and Into the Streets (Freestyle)

This was a great introductory “themeless” – I use the quotes because, even though this was a freestyle puzzle, the two standout answers are both related to major things in the LGBTQ+ community. STONEWALL RIOTS and PARIS IS BURNING are both great anchors in this puzzle (and symmetrically placed, too!) that help give the puzzle a distinct vibe throughout.

Fill highlights: MINIBAR, GLUTES, SNARK, TRAIL MAP, EN ROUTE. Also, there was kind of a mini-theme in the middle of the puzzle with ART and art-related clues for DOT and OIL.

Clue highlights: [Insect once brought to the International Space Station] for ANT, [“Sister, Sister” sister] for TIA (because it’s fun that the clue is the same word three times). Also, I have a friend who has very strong opinions that frosting and ICING are different things, and her take is that [Cake coating] would refer only to the former. But I personally don’t care.

New to me: That [Tea, in Mandarin] is CHA.

Karen Steinberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Surprise!”—Jim’s review

Sorry for the late posting, folks. Tested positive yesterday and feeling un-great. I’m afraid I’ll just be doing the minimum here for this week.

Theme answers are things known for having other things hidden inside them. The revealer is LOOK INSIDE (55a, [“Open it up!”…and a hint to this puzzle’s theme])

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Surprise!” · Karen Steinberg · Tue., 8.17.23

  • 17a. [Russian nesting doll] MATRYOSHKA.
  • 25a. [Strap for cached cash] MONEY BELT.
  • 34a. [Great Greek “gift”] TROJAN HORSE.
  • 46a. [Plastic object in a seasonal basket] EASTER EGG.

I don’t know that MONEY BELT rises to the same level as the others, but whatever. Those long Downs (SETTLED THE SCORE and CAUSE A SENSATION) are remarkable for crossing three theme answers. 3.5 stars.

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27 Responses to Tuesday, October 17, 2023

  1. Dan says:

    NYT: I may be somewhat rules-bound, but the same word appearing twice in this puzzle (where 46A crosses 41 D) definitely struck me as very uncool.

    By contrast, the appearance of an unexpected character in this puzzle was a nice touch.

    • huda says:

      Yes, I definitely hesitated to put DOWN twice, especially crossing itself and not in a thematically related way. I understand that there were many constraints with all these D’s that needed to be included in the puzzle.
      I sort of reconstructed DING DONG DITCH, not an expression I knew.
      But interesting puzzle theme. 3D printers are used more and more in individual lab settings to customize small equipment, etc. Such a fun thing! Nice to see a theme capturing it.

  2. Alan D. says:

    Yeah! The NYT finally clued ANIMA correctly!

  3. ktd says:

    NYT: Replying to Amy’s comment: According to the constructor’s notes on Wordplay, he is just shy of 50. I suspect YEET has made its way into some popular wordlists given its useful letters and relative currency as short fill.

    • Eric H says:

      I’m always surprised when people make assumptions about who a constructor is or what they like based on some random grid entry — especially when the person making the assumption has some understanding of how crossword construction software and wordlists work.

      Not every “Aida” or aria means that the constructor cares at all about opera. Etc., etc.

  4. JohnH says:

    The NYT just wasn’t for me, but interesting. My first impression was of way, way too much tired fill, and then to the contrary I ran into much I didn’t know, like ON GOD, SEAL, GLENDALE (somehow Scottsdale wouldn’t fit), NETI, and two long ones: the dare and the ditch. I also think of itchy hands as a metaphor or idiom more than omen, and you see variants on Sean or Shawn more than SHAYN. And I’m not convinced ARI works as sound-alike for two letters. (The hope of ARTIE had me looking for another rebus.)

    Didn’t help that I thought first of casual Fridays, ruled out by casual in the clue, and stuck to Fridays for a very long time. That had me entering DOWN as a rebus (in my case, with a down arrow), but then I couldn’t get that to work with, um, down clues. A pity, as the revealer had me looking to enter non-alphabet characters elsewhere. How could it not? I’m still not quite getting it. (Yeah, I know each time you “print” a D three times.) Anyway, maybe just me, but the puzzle felt like a bit of a mess.

  5. David L says:

    I know DOUBLEDOGDARE only from crosswords, and DINGDONGDITCH is a mystery. A consequence of not having grown up in this country, I guess.

    I was perplexed by the clue for SHAYNE, but on reflection I guess it’s meant to be read not as ‘Irish variant of a name equivalent to John’ but as ‘(English) variant of an Irish form of John.’ It’s ambiguous, at any rate.

    ONGOD was another unknown. It seemed old-timey to me but evidently it’s new. The clue for OMEN is another thing that’s unfamiliar to me.

    Oh, and SPANS for ‘traverses’ doesn’t seem right. A bridge spans a river; a ferry traverses it.

    Maybe I’m just in a nitpicky mood this morning but I thought the theme was only OK and some of the fill was questionable, especially for a Tuesday.

    • Eric H says:

      From Merriam-WEBSTER’S definition of “traverse”:

      to lie or extend across : CROSS

      “the bridge traverses a brook”

      • David L says:

        Huh, I guess, he said reluctantly and grumpily.

      • JohnH says:

        Yep, to me “traverse” is just a fancy word for “cross,” and it makes no difference whether, when you come to a river, you do it over a bridge or through the water in a boat. RHUD is even more explicit: “to pass or move over, along, or through.”

        Oh, I should have included YEET in my litany of things in the puzzle that felt obscure to me. And TNY is what a Tuesday should be, a worthy challenge with a nice grid. HALES there was new to me, too.

    • pannonica says:


      It’s part of a memorable scene in A Christmas Story (1983), swiftly superseded by “the sinister triple-dog dare”.

  6. Mutman says:

    We’ll if we’re calling out questionable war terms, BURIEDALIVE crosses SIEGE. Yikes!

  7. David Roll says:

    No WSJ today?

  8. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: The grid exhibits supersymmetry (according to my understanding of the term).

    I’m not sure why it amused me so much to see Mrs. Potatohead in the grid. We had that toy, and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t a favorite.

    Guess I never knew what HARUM-SCARUM means.

    Fun puzzle.

  9. Seattle DB says:

    Jonesin’: I usually get chuckles out of Matt J’s puzzles, but this one was no fun for me. I hope he injects more of his punny humor into future efforts!

  10. QueenB says:

    I was super annoyed with the cue for “omen.” Enough that I felt compelled to find a user site and leave a comment.

    I just don’t see the connection: omen is portentous/future indicative of a highly likely negative outcome. You can have “itchy hands” w/out suffering any negative consequences—just describes your present state (selfish) needs.

    Someone back me up here, lol…

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