Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Jonesin' 5:05 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni)  


NYT 4:13 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 05:47 (Matt F) 


USA Today untimed (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ 4:55 (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Strong Suits” — dealing with another puzzle. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 2/6/24

Jonesin’ solution 2/6/24

Hello lovelies! Let’s see what kind of hand Matt has dealt us this week with some circled squares in the theme entries:

  • 17a. [Remove all the dirt and grime from] SCRUB CLEAN
  • 54a. [They’re unbiased and accepting, and not short-sighted] BROAD MINDS
  • 11d. [“Disregard what you just saw…”] IGNORE THAT
  • 27d. [Went by quickly] ZOOMED PAST
  • 36a. [What you may need to do to understand the four sets of circled letters] SHUFFLE

If we shuffle the letters in the circled squares, we get CLUB, DIAMOND, HEART, and SPADE, or the four suits of a deck of cards.

Other things:

  • 43a. [Injection also used to treat migraines] BOTOX. Botulinum toxin is used for several medical conditions, including migraines, excessive sweating, and muscle spasticity. In migraines it is thought that Botox effects neurotransmitter release at the neuromuscular junction, thus reducing pain. Science is neat!

I’m not feeling great this week, so let’s leave it at that. Until next week!

Zachary David Levy’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Now That’s Dedication”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose second words can also mean “song.” The entries are clued as if the songs were dedicated (as on the radio) to workers related to the first words in the entries. The revealer is FOR A SONG (60a, [Very cheaply, or an apt way to describe this puzzle]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Now That’s Dedication” · Zachary David Levy · Tue., 2.6.24

  • 17a. [“This one goes out to all the traffic cops listening…”] FINE TUNE. Since traffic cops hand out fines. Maybe the song in question is Bruce Springsteen’s “Pay Me My Money Down.”
  • 24a. [“This one goes out to all the sanitation workers…”] MANHOLE COVER. Hmm. Not all sanitation workers go into manholes and manholes aren’t just for sanitation workers. But this has gotta be referring to “The Song of the Sewer” by Art Carney (see below).
  • 37a. [“This one goes out to all the switchboard operators…”] TELEPHONE NUMBER. I’m thinking “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen or “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” by Steely Dan.
  • 47a. [“This one goes out to all the crazy alchemists…”] GOLD STANDARD. Let’s go with “Everything You Touch Is Gold” by Gregory Porter.

Works for me. Imaginative and enjoyable wordplay. I especially liked trying to find songs to match the intent of each entry.

Not a lot of sparkly surrounding fill, unfortunately, but everything was gettable. I’ve never heard anyone say “EXACTO,” but maybe that’s newer slang. Didn’t know CHOU as clued [Clown role in Chinese opera], but I did learn K-DRAMA from a recent puzzle, so that went in easily.

Clues of note:

  • 62a. [Shelf rattler]. TREMOR. Works for both a geological shelf and a piece of furniture.
  • 4d. [Storm window?]. EYE. Nice clue.

3.5 stars.

Victor Barocas’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 2/6/24 – no. 0206

Love this theme. The revealer both works as a theme entry and an explanation of the theme’s mechanism: 62a. [Change a map of southern England? … or, when parsed differently, what you need to do to the answers to the starred clues], MOVE DOVER, playing on moved over, and “MOVE  the letter D OVER” to create a playfully clued phrase. Spiced rum becomes a SPICE DRUM. A loved one is a final LOVE (is) DONE. [*Play matchmaker?] clues FORGE DALLIANCES, which is great! Much more fun than forged alliances. And everyone in the category of wind-chime haters can appreciate CHIME DIN, [*Tinkling racket on a windy day?].

Silly clue I enjoyed: 23a. [Able is he and he is Elba], IDRIS.

Clue that had me thinking Nica, Beli, Pana …: 1d. [Woman’s name that’s also the first four letters of a Central American country name], ELSA.

Fave fill: RAISIN BRAN and CANDY LAND. Not keen on AISLED but the rest of the fill’s good.

4.5 stars from me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 662), “Kick It Down a Notch!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 662: “Kick It Down a Notch!”

Hello there, everyone! Hope all is well and that the start to your February has been good! 

We have some D-C follies going on with today’s grid. (How many of you remember that show, D.C. Follies? With all the puppets and Fred Willard?) Anyways, phrases and nouns are turned into puns when one of the Ds that appear in the phrase is changed to a C, completing changing its meaning.  

  • BROOKLYN CODGER (17A: [Eccentric Ebbets Field baseball team?]) – Brooklyn Dodgers
  • FOOTLONG HOT COGS (27A: [Oversized (and probably stolen) machine parts?]) – Footlong hot dogs
  • CRESS FOR SUCCESS (48A: [Slogan of a prosperous salad green farmer?]) – Dress for success
  • THE CUKE OF ESSEX (63A: [Nickname for a cool veggie that’s Prince Harry’s favorite?]) – The Duke of Essex

Nothing else needs to be said other than the fact that FIEND is smack dab in the middle of this puzzle, which makes this puzzle win all the awards on this site for the day (39A: [Diabolical one]). Well, actually, I can say a little more, including the timeliness of the clues to both BERNSTEIN (14A: [Maestro portrayed by Cooper in “Maestro”]) and RING, which either the members of Kansas City or San Francisco will get soon after Super Bowl LVIII is played this Sunday (7D: [Super Bowl jewelry]). Oh, and how about this, from the breaking news department: the NLRB ruled on Monday that Dartmouth College’s men’s basketball players are employees of the college and, therefore, can unionize (22A: [Agcy. dealing with unions]). Take that, NCAA, and your crock amateurism and “student-athlete” designation that they keep falling back on to keep the model of indentured servitude alove for so many years. Now with NIL and with this decision (which surely will be appealed), the sea change in direct compensation to athletes has its latest seminal moment.  

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NLRB (23A: [Agcy. dealing with unions]) – See Above.

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

Take care!


Universal Crossword Review by Matt F

Title: Fabric-ated Foods
Constructor: Marshal Herrmann
Editor: David Steinberg

Universal Solution 02.06.2024

Theme Synopsis:

The title really felt appropriate today. I find it interesting that certain food items, especially desserts, are named for fabrics. I’m craving dessert after this one!

  • 17A – [Fluffy treat, like its namesake] = COTTON CANDY
  • 28A – [Decadent treat, like its namesake] = RED VELVET CAKE
  • 48A – [Smooth treat, like its namesake] = FRENCH SILK PIE
  • 62A – [Delicate treats, like their namesake] = LACE COOKIES

Overall Impressions:

Fun food theme today. It left me wondering about the origin of foods like this that are named for seemingly unrelated items. I mean, cotton candy looks like cotton, so that one seems obvious, but what is it about dyed chocolate cake that would lead someone to think, “Ah, this cake is rich, and dark red… reminds me of velvet!” I hadn’t actually heard about lace cookies before this, but apparently they are very thin… like lace, I guess.

Elsewhere in the fill, I enjoyed the bonus entries BATTLESHIP and DWARF STAR, and the uncommon letter sequence in VP PICK. Squeaky clean all-around. I do have a small nit to pick with SKUNKED as-clued… I had always heard these types of beers, like Heineken, as “skunky,” but never “skunked.” Skunked, for me, will always be a cribbage term for when you lose by more than 30 points. A minor grievance in an otherwise smooth solve.

Thanks for the puzzle,  Marshal!

Madeline Kaplan’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

A nice smooth Tuesday solve. I didn’t grok the theme until I got to the revealer.

Los Angeles Times, February 6, 2024, Madeline Kaplan, solution grid

  • 20a [*Customer support line, typically] is a TOLLFREE NUMBER.
  • 25a [*Male minister] is a MAN OF THE CLOTH
  • 45a [*Rolled meaty entree that may be served “wet”] is a BEEF ENCHILADA.

And the revealer: 50a [“Too complicated to explain,” and a way to describe the end of the answer to each starred clue?] is ITS A WHOLE THING. This is the kind of conversational entry I really enjoy and it works well with the theme.

A few other things:

  • There are four potential answers to 17a [Four Corners state]. Luckily only one has four letters so it’s UTAH. We had a wonderful trip out to that area last spring. Highly recommend.
  • 31a [Step before a “big kid bed”] is a CRIB. Unsolicited parenting advice: skip the toddler bed.
  • I also liked [“…Kind of?”] for IN A WAY.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of a wet enchilada. What am I missing?

Brooke Husic’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 2/6/24 • Tue • Husic • solution • 20240206

I found this one rather odd. Many clue/answer combinations were dead simple, as if they’re consciously intended to make the crossword more easily solvable. As a result, the solving experience was schizophrenic (*see Comments below for discussion of this problematic word), herky-jerky.

A sampling: [Lubricates again] REOILS, [ __ for the ride] ALONG, [Neither’s partner] NOR, [Ctrl + Alt + __ ] DEL, [Calligrapher’s liquids] INKS, [Steeped beverage] TEA, [Christmas-tree decorations] ORNAMENTS, [Speaks untruthfully] LIES, [Pigpen] STY.

Of course, most every crossword has such entries, but here it felt more deliberate.

  • Started of very auspiciously by answering 1-across cleanly, [Top prize awarded at the Berlin Film Festival] GOLDEN BEAR (Goldener Bär).
  • 16a [Hookah-bar item handled with tongs] COAL. I’m so ignorant that I considered VIAL here.
  • 17a [Getaways for gal pals] GIRLS TRIPS. Greenpainty?
  • 23a [Grilled Indonesian dish] SATAY. Sometimes misidentified as Thai.
  • 27a [Pro/__ (system for moving between tiers, in many soccer leagues)] REL. Promotion/relegation.
  • 51a [Nickname for an organ associated with certain orgasm] P-SPOT. Prostate, not penis.
  • 54a [Made use of a gym membership, perhaps] GOT FIT. However, this was the nexus of my biggest error, which needed hunting up after I’d completed the grid. For 55-down [Give money to] FUND I had had LEND (and GOT LIT), and didn’t realize that 60-across was incorrect [Spanish slogan against gender-based violence] NI UNA MENOS (not one less), which seemed plausible as NIEN A MENOS.
  • 56a [Telfar accessory] BAG. Unknown to me, but I gather that Telfar is a trendy brand.
  • 5d [Half of an inning?] ENS. Three of the six letters.
  • 8d [Bridal-couture designer Saab] ELIE, 14d [“Frozen” queen who’s been called a queer icon] ELSA, 53d [Sophia Nomvete’s role in “The Rings of Power”] DISA.
  • 12d [Observed cuffing season, perhaps] COUPLED UP. A relative neologism that’s new to me.
  • 13d [Unique I.D.s in many Deaf communities] NAME SIGNS. Makes sense. Note also the capitalized Deaf.
  • 28d [Motivating content, familiarly] INSPO. For inspiration, obvs.
  • 29d [Unit __ (way to check a block of code)] TEST. Inferable, but I still needed crossings.
  • 32d [Spoke ill of] BAD-TALKED. BAD-MOUTHED did not fit.
  • 51d [Type of bean, horse, or Ford] PINTO. Was this the only clue in the puzzle that had personality?
  • 57d [Theatre ending?] -GOER. Is ‘theatre’ New Yorker house style?

Rafael Musa’s USA Today Crossword, “Macs” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: Three word phrases in the form of [word starting with M] A [word starting with C]

USA Today, 02 06 2024, “Macs”

  • 19a [Do what’s necessary to overcome an obstacle] – MEET A CHALLENGE
  • 37a [Not go on stage when you were supposed to, for example] – MISS A CUE
  • 50a [Win a game after being way behind at halftime] – MAKE A COMEBACK

I don’t solve the USA Today puzzle every day, but it seems like tomorrow’s puzzle should be phrases with words starting with P and C… Anyways, this is a solid puzzle and theme. MAKE A COMEBACK is my favorite, and MISS A CUE reminds me of my old days doing high-school theater. MEET A CHALLENGE feels a little less “in the language” to me – I feel like I hear that phrase with “the” more than “a”? But that’s a very minor nitpick.

Fave fill: SMELL TESTS, DOG PARKS, TABBY CATS (appealing to both the dog and cat people of the world!)

Fave clues: [State whose license plate says “Famous Potatoes”] for IDAHO, [One of 10 for Taylor Swift]] for ERA – although this is out of date now! 11 ERAs as of the “Tortured Poet’s Department” announcement on Sunday!

New to me: [Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque’s country (Abbr.)] for UAE

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18 Responses to Tuesday, February 6, 2024

  1. Barry Miller says:

    This was a great puzzle.

    • Dallas says:

      Agreed! Very fun theme, clever revealer, and great fill to go along with the rest. Fantastic Tuesday.

      • rob says:

        NYT: Agreed! This was a fantastic Tuesday theme, almost at the level that we so often see on Thursdays. Just so clever! (I rarely comment on Monday and Tuesday puzzles. Not that I don’t enjoy them (I do!) but because their themes do not generally provide me with a true “Aha moment”)

        • JohnH says:

          While I might be even more dismissive of easy MTW puzzles, I agree. This one went down nicely. I didn’t know that alliances are “forged,” but I can live with that just fine.

  2. dh says:

    NYT: I learned recently that the game “Candyland” was originally invented as a way of occupying and empowering children in the 1940’s polio wards. In fact, the early design of the box featured a little boy in leg braces.


  3. Zach says:

    WSJ: Kudos to ZDL for slipping in some less frequently used letters (multiple Js, Ks, Vs, Ws, and Xs) in the grid! I love little touches like that.

  4. David L says:

    TNY: Another challenge-o-meter fail. Yesterday’s challenging puzzle was tough in places but fair, but today’s moderately challenging one was a DNF in the SE corner. No idea about the long Spanish phrase or the Telfar clue, and I was tripped up by the New Yorker’s absurd fixation with British spelling in the clue “theatre ending?” I assumed it had to do with the ‘-re’ ending, but no, it was a perfectly ordinary clue spelling in a misleading way.

    • PJ says:

      That was my last area to complete. Took a shot on the theatre ending and got lucky. Telfar isn’t on the radar for my wife or daughter. That logo, woof!

    • Eric H. says:

      That SE corner gave me trouble, too. I don’t think I have ever heard the Spanish slogan, and I had to Google “Telfar” — for all I knew, it was some Hebrew word.

      Having leND for FUND didn’t help, either. Nor did my unfamiliarity with the P-SPOT. Fortunately, there’s no gINTO bean.

      I generally liked the triple stacks, though. GOLDEN BEAR was a gimme, which is not often the case for 1A. But every time I look at the grid now, I keep parsing 17A as GIRL STRIPS.

      • David L says:

        Ditto on 17A!

        I meant to say that BADTALKED seemed artificial to me. The ‘Canadian currency’ clue was misleadingly cute, in that I assumed the answer would be LOONIE or TOONIE not the plain old dollar.

      • Eric H. says:

        I belatedly figured out what “P-spot” means. I know the organ but had never heard that nickname.

      • Gary R says:

        SE was the last bit for me, as well. Telfar was unfamiliar. I know enough Spanish to translate the slogan, but it still didn’t mean anything to me. I know both P-spot and G-spot, but made the wrong guess initially. But I thought all the crosses down there were reasonable.

        Like pannonica, GIRLS TRIPS struck me as green-painty, but I gather there was a movie a few years ago titled “Girls Trip,” so maybe it’s more of a thing than I realized.

        Thought this was a pretty good Tuesday puzzle.

    • JohnH says:

      I’d mixed feelings. Lots were either new to me (GOLDEN BEAR, DISA, ELIE, Jones, Telfar) or not exactly in my vocabulary (unit TEST, GIRLS TRIPS, I ADORE IT, where I might have expected, say, “it’s so adorable”). I never did come up with interpretations for Pro/REL, P-SPOT, or INSPO. With all that and the long Spanish entry, no question the SE was hardest of all.

      Overall, though, I could work it out, even if it took every single crossing letter, so I’ve felt worse Tuesday challenges. At times the prominence of weird vocabulary over names even approached fun.

  5. e.a. says:

    re: New Yorker write-up – with the utmost respect, i don’t think “schizophrenic” is a good word to use to describe something that is “herky-jerky” in that way, in that it both stigmatizes and contributes to misunderstanding of a serious condition that can be really hard for people. not sure what the best word would be there, but “bimodal” comes to mind (albeit that was not my personal experience of the puzzle – loved it, great stacks)

    hope everyone is having a great week!

    • pannonica says:

      I consciously try to use ‘schizophrenic’ in the sense of being contrary/antagonistic in an attempt to distance it from the misperceptions about the namesake mental disorder. Perhaps my efforts serve only to reinforce them?

      • Jerry says:

        I have great respect for you and your writing, but in this case, I would strongly suggest avoiding it.

      • DHJ says:

        It’s an evocative word with dictionary support of your non-medical usage. By no reasonable, logical means can you be dissuaded from using it.

  6. Mhoonchild says:

    LAT @Jenni I’ve never heard of “wet enchiladas” – there are wet burritos (also called enchilada style) that are smothered in enchilada, or other, sauce.

Comments are closed.