Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Jonesin' 4:55 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni)  


NYT 3:48 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 6:40 (Matt F) 


USA Today 2:43 (Sophia) 


Xword Nation tk (Ade) 


WSJ 4:24 (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Style and Swagger” — I’ve got it here. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 1/30/24

Jonesin’ solution 1/30/24

Hello lovelies! Matt’s bringing the Gen Z slang this week with a grid full of RIZZ (short for “charisma,” it’s the ability to attract a partner through charm, attractiveness, or style):

  • 18a. [“Mr. Buscemi, meet this Muppet rat” introduction?] STEVE RIZZO. (Steve-O) Steve-O is the British entertainer who starred in Jackass.
  • 28a. [Municipality that’s been cooked in a well-oiled pan?] FRIZZLED TOWN (fled town)
  • 49a. [The further biography of a family in a 1985 Anjelica Huston crime comedy?] LIFE OF PRIZZI (the 2012 movie Life of Pi) The Huston film is Prizzi’s Honor
  • 64a. [Army led by the “30 Rock” character who’s friend with Dot Com?] GRIZZ FORCE. (G-force) Grizz and Dot Com were part of main character Tracy Jordan’s entourage in the NBC series.
Lilac wearing lilac

Lilac wearing lilac

Other things:

  • 44a. [Bath salt scent] LILAC. My 80-pound Pittie mix is named Lilac because she is a delicate flower.
  • 53d. [Fragrant root used in perfumes] ORRIS. It is the root of two species of iris and is very commonly used in potpourri.
  • 42d. [Id’s opposite, to Freud] SUPEREGO. One of my husband’s department chairs at work is in a band called Pink Freud.

Until next week!

Matt Forster”s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sock It To Me!”—Jim’s review

Today’s puzzle is a debut, but if the byline seems familiar, you might be thinking of Team Fiend’s Matt Forest. There sure are a lot of Matts in crosswords.

Theme answers are idiomatic phrases whose first words can also be synonyms for “smacks.”

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Sock It to Me!” · Matt Forster · Tue., 1.30.24

  • 20a. [Starts or ends a day of drudgery] PUNCHES THE CLOCK.
  • 33a. [Avoids a trip up the river] BEATS THE RAP.
  • 42a. [Discovers something valuable] HITS PAY DIRT.
  • 57a. [Avoids going to extremes] STRIKES A BALANCE.

Solid synonym theme. I would’ve thought I could quickly find other examples of this exact theme in the Cruciverb database, but a cursory search didn’t produce a single one. Kudos to our constructor for finding a straightforward, accessible theme for a debut.

DECOMPRESS and GEOTHERMAL are really nice long Downs. I also liked WASHTUB, “TOO LATE,” GAG RULE, and ALL EARS. On the other side, “TRUE DAT” feels dated at best.

That SE corner looks a little rough to me with NOBU and ETRE crossing TIBER and ETUDE. I took a stab at cleaning it up and came up with NOAH, CURE, and ET. AL. crossing TIARA and ETHEL. Elsewhere, IS ME at 58d could’ve been I SPY, and SWIT at 35d crossing SAW could’ve been SPIT and SAP.

Clue of note: 5d. [Part of a jug band’s bass]. WASHTUB. Here’s a quick video on making your own bass with a 5-gallon bucket (in case you don’t have a proper metal WASHTUB lying around). And here’s an amped, multi-string WASHTUB bass in action.

Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Universal Crossword Review by Matt F

Title: The Gravity of the Situation
Constructor: Dylan Schiff
Editor: David Steinberg

Universal Solution 01.30.2024

Theme Synopsis:

Some common “situations” are weighed down in today’s puzzle. In fact, the situations are so heavy that they sunk to the bottom of the slots! You might have guessed this results in some silly syllable switching and consternating clues. Let’s have a look:

  • 5D – [Do I choose pancakes or waffles?] = BREAKFAST FIX (fix breakfast)
  • 11D – [Do I choose a panel or roundtable discussion?] = SESSION JAM (jam session)
  • 23D – [Do I choose Britney or Jamie Lynn?] = SPEARS PICKLE (pickle spears)
  • 31D – [Do I choose chandeliers or sconces?] = LIGHTS SPOT (spot lights)

Overall Impressions:

Fix, jam pickle, spot… solid synonyms for “situation.” I think two answers sound plausible, BREAKFAST FIX and SPEARS PICKLE, but I can’t picture anyone saying the other two. The theme set is cohesive at least. There can’t be too many alternative phrases that would fit this gimmick.

Universal is known for having smooth fill, and this puzzle is no exception. This theme didn’t accommodate long bonus words, which is fine – smooth fill takes precedence over anything else. There’s still some good stuff in here, like REKT, CADDIE, NERDY, and I especially liked the clues at 1D and 54D.

Thanks for the puzzle, Dylan!

Freddie Cheng’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 1/30/24 – no. 0130

Neat theme. The revealer is 63a. [Bodies of advisory experts … or, when reinterpreted as an imperative, a hint to 17-, 24-, 38- and 52-Across], THINK TANKS. Rather than being the noun, it tells us to think “tanks” in order to connect the four themers. A tank HOLDS WATER (and that’s a great phrase to drop into a grid, too). A tank can be a COMBAT VEHICLE. If a competitor tanks, it DROPS LIKE A STONE. And a SLEEVELESS TOP is commonly called a tank.

T JUNCTION sounds like the revealer in a puzzle with a black-square T’s or entries connected by a T, but it’s also a T-shaped intersection. The other long fill is LONE EAGLE, [High-flying metaphor for independence], but I can’t say it rings a bell. The phrase is also the title of a Danielle Steel novel.

I appreciated the trio of ELLA Fitzgerald, ETTA James, and DINAH Washington. I don’t really know Washington’s music, so here’s one of her songs.

Four stars from me.


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

It’s Team Fiend’s own ZDL in the LAT today! (No relation, at least not as far as I know.) It wasn’t hard to figure out what the theme answers had in common since there were circles to point it out. The revealer was still fun.

Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2024, Zachary David Levy, solution grid

  • 17a [Playful tune] is a LITTLE DITTY.
  • 27a [Threw in the towel] is CALLED IT QUITS.
  • 46a [Roadside channel for water runoff] is a DRAINAGE DITCH.

And the revealer which has nothing to do with editing: 60a [Stage a comeback, or an apt title for this puzzle] is TURN THE TIDE. Nice!

A few other things:

  • 1a [“I’ve been here before” feeling] is DEJA VU or, as a somewhat ditzy friend of mine once said, “that feeling of bourgeoisie.”
  • PRIVETS crossing PEAS and carrots gave me a bit of British vibe. Cheerio!
  • 19a [Half a score] is TEN. Kind of a fusty clue for a word with a lot of other options.
  • What’s your favorite ERIC Carle book? I’m a cliché so it’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
  • Nice to see USA clued as [Can. neighbor].

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that DHARMA is the Hindu concept of “proper conduct.”

And look what I found!

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 1/30/24 • Tue • Last • solution • 20240130

Solving this one was an unusual experience. Aside from the opening, top left corner, at no point did I feel in control—so many entries seemed iffy as I filled in the grid. And yet, even without that familiar reassurance, I progressed more or less steadily through the puzzle.

  • 11a [Divide] SLICE UP. Of course I originally had the more sensible SPLIT UP here.
  • 16a [Certain competitive jumper] SHOW HORSE. Would have gotten this sooner, and finished the puzzle much more quickly, had I not typoed TEE for THE as the start of 14-down.
  • 26a [Sinking sensation?] POOL SHARK. Great clue, with ‘sensation’ slyly referring to a person and not an abstract phenomenon.
  • 28a [Actor who’s barely in the frame?] PORN STAR. I immediately grasped the gist of the clue, but couldn’t get past thinking of something like BODY DOUBLE.
  • 32a [“Zero to Hero” singers in Disney’s “Hercules”] MUSES. Lucky guess with only the crossing E in place.
  • 43a [Trivia rounds with ranging subjects] GRAB BAGS. Could only think of POT POURRI. Maybe that’s a Jeopardy! influence, even though I haven’t watched the show in many years.
  • 44a [Org. responsible for some recalls] THE FDA. Borderline unfair with that unsignalled definite article.
  • 7d [L.A. neighborhood once nicknamed the Red Gulch owing to its abundance of blacklisted residents] ECHO PARK. Not to be confused—as I did in my youth—with “Echo Beach”, an ’80s song by Canadian band Martha and the Muffins, which may or may not be referring to the real Echo Beach in Ontario.
  • 9d [Credit __ ] SUISSE. This is one of the clues where my first instinct was the correct answer, but where I also felt it couldn’t be the intended one. It happened quite a lot today.
  • 14d [HBO series based on a post-apocalyptic video game] THE LAST OF US. Constructor’s signature?
  • 16d [Textiles repaired by Kashmiri rafugars] SHAWLS.
  • 18d [Issue of a noble family] SCIONS. I’d immediately thought of SCION, but without a strong indicator that the answer would be plural, I held back. Ironic that this is another one that induced the same feeling as 9d, as SUISSE is an anagram of ISSUES.
  • 25d [The West African percussion instrument aslatua, e.g.] SHAKER.
  • 28d [Work-out schedule, informally?] PUB DATE. So, we know something’s up because work-out is hyphenated rather than a compound word. The answer is a bit of industry argot for when a written work is published.
  • 34d [Behind the times] OLD HAT.
  • 35d [Fairy-tale bogeywoman] OGRESS. BABA YAGA did not fit. New motto: “Can’t spell progress without ogress”?

Sala Wanetick & Emily Biegas’s USA Today Crossword, “4 Non-Blonds” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Anna Gundlach
Theme: Each of the four theme answers begins with a hair color that is not blond. Also, “WHAT’S up?” by 4 Non-Blonds is referenced in the center of the puzzle

USA Today, 01 29 2024, “4 Non-Blonds”

  • 16a [Misleading clue] – RED HERRING
  • 26a [First superhero film nominated for Best Picture] – BLACK PANTHER
  • 42a [The bright side of dark times] – SILVER LINING
  • 58a [Baking ingredient that gets its color from molasses] – BROWN SUGAR
  • 36a [“__ Up?” (’90s hit by 4 Non Blondes)] – WHATS

Great song, and great puzzle in tribute! I love how the colors are a mix of literal (i.e. BROWN SUGAR) and idiomatic (SILVER LINING, RED HERRING). I haven’t actually seen BLACK PANTHER, although this year I’ve seen 9/10 of the Best Picture nominees. I’m bummed that “Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse” didn’t get to become the second superhero film nominated for Best Picture though; it definitely deserves it. Justice for animation!


Fave clues: [Word before “pillow” or “blanket”] for THROW, [“If I ___ a Boy” (Beyonce song)]

New to me: The Snellen VISION chart. Also, looking at the clue: [How cold brew is often served] my only idea was “….cold??”

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14 Responses to Tuesday, January 30, 2024

  1. Genevieve says:

    Who likes Squanto?

  2. David L says:

    I couldn’t make sense of the NYT theme. The revealer didn’t help – I interpreted it as THINK, TANKS! – i.e. an instruction to empty vessels to cogitate. Even with the correct interpretation, I don’t buy DROPSLIKEASTONE as a synonym for tanks in the sports sense.

    The puzzle itself was straightforward, though, except for LONEEAGLE, which is new to me too.

    • Me says:

      I think of TANK meaning DROPSLIKEASTONE more in reference to stock prices. It’s pretty common for a commentator to say that a stock is TANKing, meaning that its share price is plummeting.

  3. David L says:

    Another TNY shocker: Today’s moderately challenging Natan Last puzzle took me 50% longer than yesterday’s challenging puzzle from Liz Gorski.

    • PJ says:

      It seems I’ll always complete a Gorski grid in less tine than one from Last. Although at 15:42, today’s puzzle wasn’t that much of a grind.

      THE was well represented today.

    • Gary R says:

      The Liz Gorski Mondays typically feel to me like they should have appeared on Tuesday. Always good puzzles, but just don’t strike me as TNY “Challenging.”

      Today’s puzzle was a good workout. BOWER was new to me, as was OSMAN, so that crossing was hard. In the SE, I had to run the alphabet a couple of times for the crossing of TOP and OASES, and still got it wrong. Frustrating, because I’ve heard of TOP surgery, and the clue for OASES makes sense – I just couldn’t see them at the time.

  4. Galabria says:

    As expected, Natan Last created a trivia game.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Hey, changing your display name to cuss out a constructor is the sort of thing that will get you blocked from this community.

  5. Eric H. says:

    New Yorker: Slightly faster than Monday’s, but it felt more challenging. I’m not exactly up on Beyoncé lyrics and Disney’s “Hercules,” but the unknowns were ultimately inferable and made sense (OK, I needed Pannonica’s write-up to understand PUB DATE). That and a few well-worded clues like the one for PORN STAR are enough to keep me happy.

  6. Mhoonchild says:

    TNY pannonica writeup Re: GRAB BAG vs potpourri. Sadly, Jeopardy seems to have retired the “Potpourri” category, as well as the “Potent Potables” category, in the post Alex Trebek era.

    I also finished yesterday’s Liz Gorski TNY in less time than today’s from Natan Last.

  7. JT says:

    NYT – kind of irritated that we got EDYS two days in a row, and an EFILE answer on Sunday and Tuesday, that’s an editing issue.

    I’ve also never heard “LONE EAGLE” before, that was a real oddity as it became obvious what the answer was based on crossings and the general idea, but it’s not a phrase I’ve heard before.

Comments are closed.