Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Jonesin' 5:00 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni)  


NYT 3:36 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal untimed (Matt F) 


USA Today 3:11 (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ 4:40 (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “They’ve Got Chemistry” — multiple times, even. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 3/5/24

Jonesin’ solution 3/5/24

Hello lovelies! This week’s Jonesin’ theme involves the numerical prefixes used in chemical nomenclature. The circled letters spell out the prefixes for two to six in order:

  • 17a. [Pre-internet library feature] CARD INDEX
  • 24a. [“Dang straight”] YOU GOT THAT RIGHT
  • 40a. [Tutor’s task] PRIVATE TRAINING
  • 52a. [Browser issue that might slow your computer down] TOO MANY OPEN TABS
  • 63a. [Tests of numerical aptitude] MATH EXAMS

Other things:

  • 1a. [Begs for kitty kibble] MEOWS. Usually on one’s chest, first thing in the morning, before one is ready to get out of bed for the day.
  • 70a. [Former capital of Nigeria] LAGOS. Abuja became the capital in 1991 after it was planned and built in the 1980s.
  • 18d. [“Man’s ___” (viral 2018 song)] NOT HOT. British comedian Michael Dapaah created and performed the rap as his character Big Shaq, who spends his time in Miami in a heavy coat.

Until next week!

Adam Vincent’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Tight Spaces”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar(ish) metaphorical phrases that describe an intangible social barrier of some sort. The revealer is TRADE BARRIER (51a, [Quota or tariff, e.g., and an alternate description of each starred answer]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Tight Spaces” · Adam Vincent · Tue., 3.5.24

  • 19a. [*Figurative obstacle for women in business after the “frozen middle”] GLASS CEILING.
  • 32a. [*Figurative obstacle separating stage performers from the audience] FOURTH WALL.
  • 39a. [*Figurative obstacle representing a video gamer’s minimum ability to succeed] SKILL FLOOR.

Nice set, although that last one is new to me, despite my interest in gaming. I readily understand the concept though, since I can never beat my kids in certain multiplayer games (looking at Super Smash Bros. in particular).

I’m not sure I buy the revealer though, because I’m taking the word “trade” to mean “business,” and playing video games is not a business for most players. Checking M-W, another definition of “trade” is “an occupation requiring manual or mechanical skill” (i.e. a “craft”). Perhaps it’s this meaning which is most applicable here.

Aside from that sticking point, I looove this grid! Look at all these goodies: BRILLO PAD, HOUSE CALL, ALL NIGHT, BOILER ROOM, SEMI-SOFT, ANTACIDS, SUSHI ROLL, COOLED DOWN, ALACRITY, ART SET, and WISECRACK. That’s nothing short of amazing for a themed puzzle. And the surrounding fill doesn’t suffer either with only a smattering of crosswordese. Lovely job on the fill!

Clues of note:

  • 3d. [Doctor’s chance to supervise a resident?]. HOUSE CALL. Clever. See also: 28d. [Lost one’s temper?]. COOLED DOWN.
  • 53d. [“Well, really!”]. “I SAY!” This has become a catchphrase in our house as my daughters and I are slowly working our way through the entire series of Poirot episodes. The character of Hastings typically says this a few times each episode.

Good theme and a gorgeous grid. 4.25 stars.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 667), “High Country Favorites”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 667: “Third Edition”

Hello there, everyone! Spring weather is officially upon us in many parts of the Northeast, and it’s a welcome sight! Here is hoping that you’re having a good day so far.

Today’s puzzle, like a good photojournalist, follows the rule of thirds. In this case, the four theme answers, which all go down, are multiple-word entries in which the second word also comes “third” in a well-known sequence.

  • LOUISE JEFFERSON (3D: [’70s/’80s sitcom character played by Isabel Sanford])
  • WACKY WEDNESDAY (8D: [Dr. Seuss book that features a shoe on a wall and a palm tree growing in a toilet])
  • CAME DOWN TO EARTH (10D: [Faced reality])
  • THE IDES OF MARCH (14D: [2011 political drama film featuring Clooney and Gosling])

Anyone ever been on the Divine Coast and taken in AMALFI at any point (29D: [Italy’s ___ Coast])? If so, lucky you!! Still trying to add to my list of visits to Italy than the one time I made it to Rome years ago. Did make it to Madrid not too long after college for a couple of days, and took in a Real Madrid game at the Santiago Bernabeu, which was just north of the museum mentioned in REINA (62A: [Madrid’s ___ Sofia Museum]). I did walk around Plaza Mayor and go to the National Music Auditorium that’s right near the stadium, so I get some culture in me before leaving. With LeBron James now crossing the 40,000-point mark, definitely time for another shout-out to KAREEM and how great he was, the man who was the NBA’s all-time leading scorer before LeBron surpassed him last year (21A: [Abdul-Jabbar of the Lakers]). Actually, it wasn’t Kareem who did that. It was Roger Murdock! My apologies…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KROC (64A: [Ray of McDonald’s]) – After Ray Kroc’s time at McDonald’s, and after he was the driving force behind the expansion and eventual worldwide fame of the company, he saved the San Diego Padres from being relocated to Washington, D.C. when he purchased the team for $12 million in 1974. Kroc owned the team until his death in January 1984, and later that year, the Padres wore a “RAK” patch on their uniforms in honor of him. The 1984 Padres won the NL West, defeated the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series and reached the World Series before losing to the Detroit Tigers.

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

Take care!


Christina Iverson’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3/5/24 – no. 0305

The theme capper is 54a. [Spring-loaded office device … or a collective hint to 16-, 26-, 34- and 41-Across], THREE-HOLE PUNCH. 41a is FRUIT DRINK, that’s your punch. The other three themers are holes. LOGICAL FALLACY is a hole in your reasoning. EMPTY SPACE is pretty much a definition of a hole. And then the [Messy living area] called a PIGSTY is a … shithole? The closest hole definition I can find in Merriam-Webster is “a wretched or dreary place,” but that’s got naught to do with messiness. Am I the only one hung up on not seeing how a PIGSTY is a non-profane hole? The pigpen sort is an enclosure more than a hole.

Three things:

  • 11d. [Chocolate source], CACAO. My husband’s been buying cacao beans and grinding them like coffee beans. Brewing his own mocha, I guess?
  • First-person pronouns: I’M UP, partial GO I, ON ME, Spanish YO TE AMO. One would prefer fewer of those.
  • 28d. [Comedian Sedaris], AMY. I’m not crazy about her, but I’m absolutely done with her brother David.


3.5 stars from me.

Patti Varol’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I usually really like Patti’s puzzles. This one didn’t thrill me. The theme seems to be “phrase starts with the same letter and is followed by a different vowel each time” and the vowels are in order A, E, I, O, U going down the grid. I know it’s Tuesday….still not the most interesting. The fill is smooth. And I know I’m not the target demo for Tuesday puzzles.

The theme answers:

Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2024, Patti Varol, solution grid

  • 17a [Oscar-nominated writer of “Fried Green Tomatoes”] is FANNIE FLAGG.
  • 24a [Herbal brew with a licorice flavor] is FENNEL TEA.
  • 37a [Physical therapy that targets hand pain] is FINGER EXERCISES. The clue is perfectly fine. I associate this more with music than PT.
  • 51a [Container with melted cheese] is a FONDUE POT. Also possibly with hot oil or broth to cook thinly sliced meats or vegetables. Or maybe chocolate. It’s not just cheese!
  • 62a [Button needed in some macros] is the FUNCTION KEY.

Nothing wrong with that. Nothing particularly entertaining about it, either. If I’ve missed something and I’m being unfair, let me know!

A few other things:

  • I feel like I’ve seen some version of UH, NO in a lot of puzzles lately. Just me?
  • 15a [“Act your age!”] is GROW UP. I can hear that in my mother’s voice.
  • We’re thinking of going to Acadia National Park in MAINE this summer or next. Open to travel tips.
  • I sneeze just at the sight of AXE body spray in the grid. Ugh.
  • 49d [Cute name for a black-and-white pet] is a lovely clue for our old friend OREO.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Julia GARNER won an Emma for “Ozark.” That may have something to do with the fact that I’ve never watched “Ozark” and never heard of the actor. No relation to James or Jennifer.

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

New Yorker • 3/5/24 • Tue • Husic • solution • 20240305

Quite a bunch of stuff I didn’t know, and maybe a couple of spots where they crossed and made completion a quasi- guessing game. But since I was able to finish it without tears, I guess it’s fair.

  • 1a [Berlin club that’s been called the world capital of techno] BERGHAIN. An unknown right out of the gate. I knew that techno was big in Germany, but no way I was going to be able to name the venue.
  • 9a [Supermodel Adut] AKECH. Unknown to me. The crossing with 13d [Yoga-teacher-certification units: Abbr.] HRS was among my final fills.
  • 16a [Cost associated with classifying menstrual products as nonessential luxury items] TAMPON TAX. Seriously, that’s criminal.
  • 17a [Hungarian mathematician known for collaborating] ERDŐS. Hence the Erdős number.
  • 19a [Powdered cereal product than can be added to smoothies] OAT GRASS. Between this and yoga teachers, there’s a definite stereotype happening here. Oh look, 27a [Spa booking that includes multiple services] PACKAGE. (There are still others I could add.)
  • 23a [Strange little object] CURIO.
  • 50a [Group that might debate “Us” vs. “Them!”] FILM CLUB. Both are in the horror genre. The exclamation mark helped out a lot.
  • 53a [Believer in the concept of livity] RASTA.
  • 58a [Shares weed with] SMOKES OUT. Not a term I knew.
  • 63a [Description of fae/faer/faers, but not they/them/theirs] NOUN SELF. Or is it NOUNSELF?NOUNS ELF? ELF NOUNS? Rudderless here … <checks> Okay, it’s NOUNSELF.
  • 2d [Name that anagrams to a 50-down’s mom] ERMA. 50d [Little pony] FOAL (mare). Normally I don’t care for such step-removed cross references, but here it helps with the tough 1-across entry.
  • 20d [Sicilian shaved-ice desserts] GRANITAS. Obviously I knew they were Italian, but was unaware that they are specifically Sicilian in origin.
  • 30d [Fish prized by Maori] EELS. Did not know this. It’s the New Zealand longfin eel, Anguilla dieffenbachii.
  • 33d [Jewel-case inserts] CDS. Jewel cases were a big mistake. Wasteful, heavy, fragile. I’ve transferred all my jewel case CDs to individual clear sleeves that save so much space and weight.
  • 46d [“You’ve got that right!”] SURE IS. Was unsure what the two-letter conclusion to this entry would be. Auditioned am and do before IS. Made 63-across that much tougher.
  • 55d [Controversial football surface] TURF. Huh? I thought that was the ideal?
  • 59d [Role for Kingsley, Ncuti, Ryan, or Simu] KEN. All in the same film, Barbie.

Jake Halperin’s USA Today Crossword, “Texting ppl” — Sophia’s recap

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

USA Today, 03 05 2024, “Texting ppl”

  • 17a [Pout-enhancing product] – LIP PLUMPER
  • 37a [Deep dish for eating minestrone, maybe] – SOUP PLATE
  • 60a [“Just in case” strategy] – BACK UP PLAN

A simple theme but a well executed one. I like that all the answers Jake chose spread the “ppl” across multiple words, as opposed to just being, like, “apple”.  BACK UP PLAN is my favorite answer, but I’m happy to learn the technical name for a SOUP PLATE – I’ve always just call them “you know, those plate-bowls”.


Clue highlights: [End of a Berkeley or Berklee address] for EDU, [“Hair Love” won one] for OSCAR – who else is excited for the awards this weekend?

New to me: [“Pretty Baby” author Belcher] for CHRIS, [Chocolate syrup brand] for BOSCO, [“3 Boys” singer Apollo] for OMAR.

Universal Crossword Review by Matt F

Title: Doctored Figures
Constructor: Drew Schmenner
Editor: David Steinberg

Universal Solution 03.05.2024

Theme Synopsis:

Hey, it’s another “hidden anagram” puzzle! Unlike last week, though, we aren’t scrambling the same substring in each theme answer. Instead, each scrambled set is a type of shape. Our revealer tells us as much:

  • 61A – [Takes a different form, or a hint to this puzzle’s scrambled 4-, 5-, 9-, and 3-sided figures] = SHAPE SHIFTS

Here are the theme answers:

  • 17A – [Large type of a small crustacean] = J(UMBO SHR)IMP (rhombus)
  • 23A – [Major headline material] = FR(ONT PAGE N)EWS (pentagon)
  • 38A – [Unwelcome one] = PERS(ONA NON G)RATA (nonagon)
  • 51A – [Being authentic] = KEEPI(NG IT REAL) (triangle)

Overall Impressions:

Not only do we have circles on the scrambled substrings, but the revealer contains such a generous hint that you barely have to think about what shape is contained in each answer (except maybe “rhombus” since there a few other 4-sided shapes to consider). I found this to be a little too much hand-holding for my taste, but your mileage may vary. Fortunately, I did not read the second half of the revealer while solving so I had the luxury of looking back and figuring out the shapes all on my own. The 4-sided umboshr, 5-sided ontpagen, 9-sided onanong, and 3-sided ngitreal were staring right at me plain as day!

PRANK CALL and HAIRSPRAY make nice use of the bonus slots today. OLEG was a tough name but received an easy clue. I did not recognize LINDA Ronstadt, though apparently Salena Gomez is slated to play her in an upcoming biopic.

Thanks for the puzzle,  Drew!

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Tuesday, March 5, 2024

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: I spent as much time trying to figure out what the theme was as I did solving the grid — maybe more. I saw PUNCH as FRUIT DRINK, but didn’t see the other theme answers as HOLEs.

    I finally gave up try to understand the theme and read Wordplay. I don’t know how I would reword “collective hint” to make it more obvious to imperceptive people like me, but “collective hint” didn’t work for me.

    • Dallas says:

      Yeah, I missed it too; came here to understand what I was missing. I guess I expected each answer to have holes and a punch or something… but … yeah. And a PIG STY as a type of “hole” seems iffy to me. Not my favorite theme. But a fast Tuesday fill nonetheless.

      • Jack2 says:

        Maybe it’s a generational thing, but seeing “pigsty” as a “hole” came easily. As in, what a dump, what a hole.

  2. Gary R says:

    NYT: Amy – American Heritage Dictionary (on-line) offers “An ugly, squalid, or depressing dwelling” as one definition of “hole.” So I guess PIG STY works.

    Like Eric, I didn’t quite get the theme on my own. But now that I see it, it seems fine, if perhaps a bit intricate for a Tuesday.

  3. Bill Harris says:

    After reading the comments I finally got the theme. “3 hole” are the 3 theme answers meaning “hole” and then the lone answer for “punch.”
    Lot of heavy lifting

    • JohnH says:

      I never did get it, even after Amy’s review. I could see that an empty space might be a hole (although not every empty space would be called that, I think) and a punch can be a fruit drink. But then I struggled to make a connection between a logical fallacy and THREE, which also then left no words left in the revealer for PIG STY.

      I don’t know. Maybe the idea of three holes plus punch would work better if they all had the same relationship to the theme words. FRUIT DRINK is a near synonym and EMPTY SPACE, well, close. But then you have to draw out the other two to “hole in an argument” and, as Amy suggested, something unprintable before hole, although point taken that we do say, “what a hole.” Maybe I’m thinking about it all the wrong way, but felt like a big stretch.

      • Me says:

        I agree. PIGSTY=hole is a stretch, especially for a Tuesday. I spent way too long trying to figure out the theme on my own and got nowhere. This is one of my least favorite NYT themes in the past couple of years.

  4. huda says:

    NYT: I liked it. I too didn’t see the theme right off, but when I got that it was a sequence it made me laugh. It’s an interesting mind that looks at a THREE HOLE PUNCH and thinks about turning it into a NYT puzzle theme!
    BOBA and BOLA was an interesting way to start. But the rest of it felt like an easy solve. I like the combo of SLANGY and DWEEBY, it somehow fits.

    • DougC says:

      +1. I’m not usually a fan of themes that are of no help in solving, but this one was delightfully quirky.

  5. Mutman says:

    NYT: on the plus side, it was a 14×15 grid.

    BOLA new to me.

  6. David L says:

    TNY: I suppose this is an Old White Dude complaint, but I found today’s much harder than yesterday’s. In fact, it was a DNF for me, since I guessed wrong at the cross of AKECH/HRS — I tried AKECY/YRS. A strange last name, to be sure, but so is AKECH.

    Also unknown: BERGHAIN, OATGRASS, NOUNSELF, SMOKESOUT, GRATS. I’d heard of HALSEY, at least, but couldn’t tell you anything about her (I think she’s a she).

    I don’t like HINDU as the name of the religion — should be Hinduism, I would say. And I was perplexed by the clue for TURF — it’s artificial turf that’s controversial. To me, turf is pretty much synonymous with grass or sod.

    • Eric H says:

      The New Yorker was technically a DNF for me. I had all of pannonica’s unknowns, and all of yours, plus KEN (still haven’t seen “Barbie”). Not knowing NOUNSELF, I finally caved and looked up BOLU Babalola (I wasn’t even sure where “Babalola” was a first or last name, but I will try to remember it.) That helped me finish out the SE corner.

      I remembered that Quvenzhané Wallis’s performance in “Beasts of the Southern Wild’ was highly praised, and recognized her name. But I couldn’t remember the name of the movie and had no idea of what the character’s name was — and now I see that the clue refers to a different film that I don’t remember hearing about.

      I’m OK with the TURF clue. I expect that people more into football than me (which is to say almost everyone) use TURF as shorthand for “artificial TURF.”

      Overall, much tougher than Monday’s New Yorker.

      • Gary R says:

        TURF is indeed the usual shorthand for “artificial TURF” in the NFL. The alternative is “natural grass” or, often, just “grass.” The “controversial” part is that players seem to be more prone to foot/ankle/knee injuries when playing on TURF. Because it’s not as yielding as natural grass (except when that natural grass surface is frozen solid) there’s also more concern about concussions on TURF fields.

        BOLU/KEN/NOUNSELF made it a DNF for me. Thought the rest was pretty manageable.

    • Mr. [just himself] Grumpy says:

      I want to thank Ms. Husic for validating my Monday post by creating such a mess of a puzzle. Brava. Or maybe there’s a non-binary word I should use that is not in my vocabulary. Bra-fae, perhaps?

      • Matthew S. says:

        This is completely uncalled for

        • Philip says:

          I agree. Hate the puzzle all you want, but there is no need to be nasty on a personal level.

          • Darby says:

            I’m with Matthew and Philip. There’s no need to attack a constructor. A lot of work goes into a puzzle, and it’s awful to come here just to criticize a person.

      • YouKnowNothingJohnH says:

        Shut the fuck up

        • Gary R says:

          YouKnowNothingJohnH says: “Shut the fuck up”

          Your erudition astounds!

          I hope the rest of your life is better than this.

      • JohnH says:

        I’m with Grumpy, who is just contrasting a great and not at all great puzzle, although not in blaming Husic personally. Rather, another way to look at is that with TNY it’s never worth going by the day of the week. They’re just not capable of editing like that. You have the setter’s name, and since yesterday’s was Gorski, it was going to be clever and fair.

        And other way is just to figure that yesterday was a rarity, a real TNY challenge, and now it’s back to itself.

        • Matthew S. says:

          It sounds like you feel that, especially with TNY puzzles, enjoyment and difficulty are significantly impacted by how much the constructor’s experiences and references mirror your own. I think this is a fine point, but I stand by that it’s completely unnecessary to single out constructors and malign them for not sharing those experiences with you, a random person on the internet.

          I really don’t understand why people solve puzzles by constructors whose work they know they don’t enjoy (we seek out work by constructors that we do enjoy, right?). If certain people’s puzzles aren’t your cup of tea, don’t waste your time with those puzzles, and certainly don’t bring personal critiques of those constructors into public forums.

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ … Video gaming is a “trade” now? Really? Yes, SKILL FLOOR is an unfamiliar term for me and new lingo often detracts from my solving experience, but the fact that it doesn’t really seem to work with the theme is a demerit in my puzzle analysis. Then again, that’s really my only complaint about this otherwise enjoyable grid, which is saying something these days.

    • Philip says:

      I don’t know that I would use the word trade, but there are certainly people who make a living doing it. Maybe “occupation” would be better? I have friends whose son got his engineering degree and then earned a very nice income gaming for a few years.

  8. Papa John says:

    Did I miss it or has no one offered good wishes to Will Shortz since he had a stroke a month ago?

    Get well soon, Will.

  9. janie says:

    xword nation — last week was “high country…” territory. today’s is titled “third edition.” p’raps someone can make the edit. helps to frame/make sense of the theme. thx!!


Comments are closed.