Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Jonesin' 5:35 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni)  


NYT 3:37 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 5:55 (Matt F) 


USA Today tk (Darby) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ 4:48 (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Bar Numb” — I must’ve heard it differently. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 11/21/23

Jonesin’ solution 11/21/23

Hello lovelies! This week’s Jonesin’ theme involves an MB for N substitution. Let’s see what we have…

  • 20a. [Game show for graveyard enthusiasts?] NAME THAT TOMB (Name That Tune)
  • 34a. [Water container fastened to a mountaineer’s belt?] CLIMB BOTTLE (Klein bottle)
  • 41a. [Hair styler used while waiting to move on the freeway?] TRAFFIC COMB (traffic cone)
  • 55a. [“Don’t agree to that! You’re being cheated!”?] IT’S A DUMB DEAL (“It’s a done deal”)

Other things:

  • 14a. [Word flashed on “The Circle” when news comes through] ALERT. “The Circle” is a Netflix social experiment show.
  • 67a. [Shortening for a really tall NBA star] SHAQ. This definitely added some time to my solve because I had IRA_ for the crossing, confidently plopped in an N because what else ends with Q?, then found my error when I finally read the across clue.
  • 15d. [Trifling amount, in British slang] TWO BOB. Two bob are two shillings, or one-tenth of a pound in British currency.

Until next week!

Hal Moore’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Taste of Europe”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are breakfast foods from Europe known by their country of origin. Clues are in the language of that country. The revealer is CONTINENTAL (59a, [Kind of breakfast suggested by the starred answers (though they wouldn’t actually be part of one)]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “A Taste of Europe” · Hal Moore · Tue., 11.21.23

  • 18a. [*Giaoúrti] GREEK YOGURT.
  • 24a. [*Kahve] TURKISH COFFEE.
  • 37a. [*Tortilla de huevos] SPANISH OMELETTE.
  • 49a. [*Kempense galette] BELGIAN WAFFLE. There’s no language called “Belgian” but I think this is Dutch which is one of three official languages (the others being French and German).

This seemed like it was going to be quite difficult at first, but I had the aha moment with the second theme answer, and that made things much easier. I thought the whole language/food gimmick was the entire theme, but then I had the unexpected second aha moment when I hit the revealer and realized these were all breakfast items. Very nice! I enjoyed this quite a bit.

Fill highlights include HOUSEMATE, RAIN BANDS (of a tropical storm), DUST MOP and “AW, RATS!” Biggest eyebrow-raiser was “IT’S I” clued [Awkward (though grammatical) answer to “Who’s there?”]. Awkward is right.

Clues of note:

  • 15a. [Go on a spree, maybe]. GET LIT. I took the clue to mean “go shopping” but that’s not correct. I guess “spree” is meaning “bender” here.
  • 21d. [Firestone Country Club location]. AKRON. The tire connection didn’t register with me  until just now.

Surprising theme with multiple layers. Four stars.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 651), “Dressing for Thanksgiving”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 651: “Dressing for Thanksgiving”

Good day, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well and also hope that you have a great Turkey Day ahead!

I was listening to a radio broadcast yesterday and one of the co-hosts asked the other what is his go-to dish during Thanksgiving, and the person’s response, without any hesitation, was stuffing. Correct answer!!!! So this puzzle is down my alley, too, with the first four theme answers hiding the letters SAGE in them before getting to the reveal, SAGE STUFFING (53A: [Thanksgiving favorite … and what all of the starred answers have]).

          • MASSAGE CHAIR (13A: [*Seating that may rub one the right way?])
          • JAMES AGEE (21A: [*Pulitzer-winning “A Death in the Family” author])
          • A PASSAGE TO INDIA (32A: [*1924 E.M. Forster novel])
          • IRS AGENTS (44A: [*Treasury Dept. workers with taxing jobs])

They’re not staples on the dinner table during Thanksgiving, but, just in case, there’s some TAHINI (5A: [Sesame paste in a baba ganoush recipe]) and AIOLI in this grid if you’re in the mood for something other than some thick gravy (38A: [Garlicky mayo]). Has it really been almost eight years ago since REMAIN was one of the topics dominating world headlines as part of the Brexit referendum (1D: [Stick around])? Probably the only sticky spot in the grid is the intersection of TASSO (47D: [Byron’s “The Lament of ___”]) and ULTA, which I remembered last as Ulta 3 (51A: [Chain that sells beauty products]). Guess I haven’t been paying attention to rebrandings of beauty stores in a while!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: JORGE (21D: [Yankees catcher Posada]) – If you followed the New York Yankees during their last dynastic run in the late 1990s/early 200s, you no doubt know the impact that catcher Jorge Posada had on the team. An infielder when he first entered the Yankees minor league system before being switched to catcher, Posada was, arguably, the premier hitting catcher of his time, as he finished his career as one of only five backstops in Major League history with at least 1,500 hits, 350 doubles, 275 home runs, and 1,000 RBIs.

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

Take care!


Kevin Christian & Andrea Carla Michaels’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 11/21/23 – no. 1121

Fun theme! BEAN COUNTER is the revealer, 56a. [Corporate number cruncher who might be interested in the ends of 17-, 26-, 37- and 47-Across?], and the count is 54d FOUR beans. The beans are the final words in FREIDA PINTO, UBER BLACK, AIR ON THE G-STRING, and the ROYAL NAVY. I guess we’re short on zippy phrases that end with KIDNEY … though 37a. [Bach piece whose title sounds a bit risque] certainly had me drawing a blank (thank goodness for the trusty G-string!).

Main complaint: Too much broccoli. A broccoli FLORET and broccoli RABE? At least give us a cauliflower floret. I don’t mind cauliflower.

Solvers who struggle with names in the grid may be feeling cranky about this one. I like a preponderance of names myself; YMMV.

Are AGAR, COE College, YAWED, E-CIG, and IONIC columns truly Tuesday-easy fill?

Four stars from me.

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 11/21/23 • Tue • Berry • solution • 20231121

After a lapse last Tuesday where the crossword was too easy, we’ve bounced back with a more appropriately challenging puzzle.

Despite a few of the answers being decidedly in my wheelhouse, it still took a not insignificant amount of time to complete. In a good way.

  • 11a [Word ignored when alphabetizing] THE. Yes but some computer applications haven’t gotten the memo on this. Foobar2000, which functions as the repository for my digitized music, for instance.
  • 14a [Shemar of “S.W.A.T”] MOORE. I was unaware that there was a recent reboot of the series.
  • 15a [Despondent outburst] I CAN’T GO ON. Samuel Beckett wrote, “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”
  • 17a [Switched places?] MOVED. I couldn’t even be confident in provisionally putting in the -ED suffix because—especially with the question mark—there was no guarantee that ‘switched’ was a verb. If it were an adjective, then the answer would be a plural noun, most likely ending in S.
  • 25a [Computer-monitor attachment, perhaps] POST-IT. Low-tech!
  • 31a [Subject of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”] DINER. The clue would function just as well for DINERS, referencing three of the people inside the establishment.
  • 32a [Ruby or emerald, e.g.] HUE. Not GEM.
  • 33a [Title role in a 1999 Best Picture nominee] RYAN. Had to look it up after finishing the crossword. Duh, it’s Saving Private Ryan.
  • 42a [Steel-cut __ ] OATS. The best kind.
  • 43a [Herb that attracts butterflies] CATNIPNepeta cataria.
  • 51a [Rarity on Top Forty radio] OLDIE. First I thought I’d have to determine if it was B SIDE or SIDE B, then it looked like INDIE …
  • 3d [Odd road to travel solo] LOVERS LANE.
  • 8d [Ordnance banned by the Ottawa Treaty] LAND MINES. They’re a scourge. Notable non-signatories of the Treaty include the USA, China, and Russia. These three are also not part of the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Hmm.
  • 27d [Cuts made in an unabridged dictionary?] THUMB INDEX. A gimme.
  • 28d [One who tends to make sound purchases] AUDIOPHILE. This past weekend I stayed with some friends, one of whom is an avowed AUDIOPHILE.
  • 38d [“Nice job!”] HATS OFF.
  • 45d [1952 Winter Olympics host] OSLO. A sort-of gimme. Combination of what would be likely for that time, four letters in length, and vague recollections of a vintage poster design.
    Were ski poles made of bamboo back then?

Rebecca Goldstein’s Universal Crossword  – “Focus, Focus” – Matt F’s Review

Universal Solution 11.21.2023

Theme Synopsis:

Like the title, each theme clue repeats the name of a Ford vehicle model to create a punny phrase. The grid entry is a literal interpretation of that phrase.

  • 17A – [Edge edge?] = FRONT BUMPER (the edge of a Ford Edge)
  • 25A – [Expedition expedition?] = ROAD TRIP (an expedition in a Ford Expedition)
  • 39A – [Escape escape?] = JOY RIDE (an escape in a Ford Escape)
  • 50A – [Fiesta fiesta?] = TAILGATE (a fiesta – er, tailgate party? – in a Ford Fiesta)
  • 62A – Explorer explorer? = CAR MECHANIC (an explorer of a Ford Explorer)

Overall Impressions:

I think this theme works well enough, given the constraints: 1. Every clue must use a Ford model name, and 2. Every grid entry must be a car-related phrase. Most of the theme synonyms felt loose, like “joy” for “escape” and “tailgate” for “fiesta” and “explorer” for “mechanic.” For the Fiesta themer I think it would have worked much better if the full phrase, TAILGATE PARTY, could have been used in the grid (but that’s a pesky 13 and you also have to worry about grid symmetry, etc. etc.).

Aside from the theme, this grid is expertly filled. Rebecca is a skilled constructor and she made the most of this, with bonus pairs of 10’s and exciting mid-length fill. ALPACA WOOL / NO SPOILERS + INTER MILAN / FIRE ISLAND, and even JETPACK and PANCAKE (with an excellent clue!) take this puzzle up a notch. I had fun solving every corner of this grid, and that’s not always the case.

Thanks for the puzzle, Rebecca!

Natasha Erickson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I enjoyed this one. Each theme answer is a punny description of a certain kind of male person.

Los Angeles Times, November 21, 2023, Natasha Erickson, solution grid

  • 18a [*Dude who knows his ABCs?] is an ALPHA MALE.
  • 24a [*Dude whose favorite season is autumn?] is a FALL GUY.
  • 38a [*Dude who always pipes up to support a proposed motion?] is the SECOND GENTLEMAN.
  • 51a [*Dude who attends every formal dance?] is the BALL BOY.
  • 59a [*Dude who refuses to use even numbers?] is an ODD FELLOW.

Nice assortment of male identifiers! All the theme answers are solid and the clues gave me a giggle. Fun!

A few other things:

  • 5d [“For the millionth time….”] is YET AGAIN and I can just hear the tone of voice.
  • 26d [Jumbo suffix] is TRON. Yay for a clue that doesn’t reference the 1982 movie. Any time I see [1982 movie] in a clue for a four-letter word I know what it is, and I’ve never seen the damn thing.
  • Anyone planning on APPLE-containing Waldorf salad for Thanksgiving?
  • Not sure if I’ll be baking anything that requires YEAST. Mostly pies and quick breads around here.
  • That’s all for now! IM SET.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of the Courteney Cox vehicle “Shining VALE.”

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30 Responses to Tuesday, November 21, 2023

  1. Dan says:

    NYT: I would prefer never to see ODOR clued as a “foul smell”, simply because **that is not what the word means**.

    It means a smell of any kind.

    • Dan says:

      Similar to a recent clue (LAT or NYT, I forget which) “Burlap bag” for SACK.

      But *any* bag is a sack.

    • Dan says:

      I’ve always heard the common name for Bach’s piece from Orchestral Suite #3 as “Air on a G-string” and NOT “Air on *the* G-string”.

      Despite what Wikipedia calls it.

      • Martin says:

        The name comes from the notation in the sheet music of the arrangement, indicating it should be played on the G-string. “A” wouldn’t make sense. Interestingly, the error started to crop up in the 1940’s, but never appeared more than the correct title.

      • JohnH says:

        Must admit I’d heard it that way, too, whether it makes sense or not. (Must admit, too, that it still does to my ear.)

        Another musical clue, for VINYL records, reminds me that yesterday included a reference to 78 LPs. (It also contained the result of dividing 78 by 60, and all you needed to do was to recognize that as converting RPM into the kludge RPS.) That seems wrong to me.

        From the Web, I see that 78s were the standard until 33 1/3 recordings drove them out a long time ago and were called simply records, and with good reason. They could barely hold a song, which is much of why they were driven out. You can see why they ran only a very few minutes. They were 10 in. across, not 12 (and, I am guessing, still had to use some of that space for a label), and turned so much faster. The term LP caught on only in contrast.

    • pannonica says:

      This is a bugbear of mine too, as regular readers will know.

    • JohnH says:

      I’m not so sure about that. Of course, it’s come up here often that you can’t ask a crossword clue to stipulate all meanings, only the one it chooses, so you’d have to be right that this is not at all what the word means. But I’d have said I’ve heard it used both ways.

      It may be a hard call, but in that case I’d let it go. RHUD actually has separate entries for a smell of any kind, a disagreeable smell, and a nice scent. But MW11C has only a smell of any kind, apart from a nice smell, which it relegates to “archaic.”

    • Martin says:

      Anyone ever seen a commercial on TV where “odor” was a good thing?

    • Papa John says:

      Per online def: “1: a distinctive smell, especially an unpleasant one:..”

      That seems to pass the smell test.

    • anna g says:

      i mean, different dictionaries will go different ways with the definition, but:

      “a smell, often one that is unpleasant”

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Yes, fun theme– even though BEAN COUNTERS are not my favorites…
    Very smooth and quick. Almost Monday time.
    And that Bach clue cracked me up…

  3. Really liked this one. Though where were the Marines?

  4. Sheik Yerbouti says:

    NYT: A better revealer would have been the line from Into the Woods: “If the end is right, it justifies the beans!”

  5. Jan O says:

    ALPACAWOOL in the Universal puzzle was jarring to me. Alpaca yarn is my favorite thing to knit with, and I live near an alpaca farm. While “alpaca wool” is Google-able, my understanding is that what is shorn off of alpacas is referred to as fleece or fiber, and not wool, by those raising alpacas and using their fleece.

    • Matt F says:

      I didn’t even think twice about this but I think you’ve raised a valid critique. ALPACA FIBER seems more appropriate. Nice observation!

  6. DougC says:

    NYT: This was fun, but awfully easy. Faster than my Monday average.

    I am one who does not like a lot of names in a puzzle, and did not feel that this one had too many – maybe because the one I didn’t know was so easy to get from crosses. It was amusing that the hypothetical BEANCOUNTER was actually counting types of beans.

    My nit for the day: the clue for 49 A, as I read it, would seem more appropriate as a clue for for zig or zag. When a vehicle yaws, its orientation deviates from its direction of travel. It continues to travel along the same course, but is not pointed in the direction of travel. But I guess you could call that a deviation “from a straight course” if you assume that it’s the orientation that deviates, and not the direction of travel, soooo… weak, but OK for crosswords, I guess.

  7. Shanda says:

    A belly rub.
    That’s all I ask.

  8. Sophomoric Old Guy says:

    NYT – nice puzzle but AIRONTHEGSTRING was a complete unknown. Had to work the crossing downs and backed into G-STRING.

    • pannonica says:

      It’s probably something you’ve heard countless times.

      • Martin says:

        Love the Bach, but technically that’s not “Air on the G-String”!

        The first violin part cannot be played on a single string. But violinist August Wilhelmj transposed it so that it could be played on the single string. This was really a side effect of his goal: to simplify the texture of the original so that it could be played with simple accompaniment, as say a single piano. It was the notation in the score, “auf der G-Saite” that gives the arrangement its name.

        Note the lower register. The arrangement became so popular since it could be played at home, that the original movement, requiring four instruments and many strings, just for the theme, is now quite mistakenly called “Air on The/A G-string.”

        There must be a word for that.

      • Andrea Carla Michaels says:

        Thank you for this! I didn’t even know the name! Kevin teaches me so much! Full disclosure I didn’t know UBERBLACK nor FREIDAPINTO tho loved the film

  9. JohnH says:

    Can I get help understanding a GOAL NET in TNY as a “penalty catcher”? I imagine it involves a penalty kick. Thank you.

    • Eric H says:

      My understanding is the same as yours.

      GOAL NET seems a little green painty to me, but I don’t watch much soccer. Maybe that’s a term they use, though I have only heard it called the net.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      That clue/answer combo got the side-eye from me. That’s very unusual for me with a Patrick Berry puzzle.

  10. Seattle DB says:

    WSJ: The clue for 2D is ingenious. “Like more than a billion Indians”, and the answer is “Hindu”.

    • Martin says:

      Reminds me of one of my favorite clues, from a Patrick Berry puzzle: “Like William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy” (JEWISH).

    • Ethan says:

      Just curious, what did you find ingenious about that clue? Unless I’m missing something it seems pretty straightforward to me.

      • Martin says:

        At least when I solved it, I went down a Star Trek rabbit hole, so got a good laugh when I saw the answer. I suspect I wasn’t the only solver so misdirected.

        • Ethan says:

          I meant the clue about India. It is a majority Hindu country with some significant religious minorities, and this seems like a pretty basic fact that you would learn about in middle school social studies.

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