Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Jonesin' 3:48 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 4:00 (Matt F) 


USA Today 3:23 (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ 4:25 (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Incomplete Broadway” — some words don’t get an Act 2. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 4/16/24

Jonesin’ solution 4/16/24

Hello lovelies! Let’s delve into this week’s Jonesin’, which involves cutting off the second syllable of the first main word of some Broadway shows:

  • 18a. [Incomplete musical about royal footwear?] KING BOOTS. The musical is Kinky Boots, based on a 2005 British film. Cyndi Lauper wrote the score. I wasn’t sure whether the first syllable of KINKY would be KING instead of KIN, but the dictionaries I consulted list the pronunciation as /ˈkɪŋ.ki/, with ŋ pronounced as the “ng in sing”.
  • 31a. [Incomplete musical about someone who’s into Verdi and Wagner?] FAN OF THE OPERA. The 1886 Andrew Lloyd Webber classic, The Phantom of the Opera, is based on a 1910 French novel.
  • 46a. [Incomplete play about Yogi or Boo-Boo?] BEAR IN THE PARK. Neil Simon wrote the romantic comedy Barefoot in the Park, and it premiered in 1963.
  • 58a. [Incomplete musical about Chucky or Annabelle?] HELL DOLLY. Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart based Hello, Dolly! on a 1938 play titles The Merchant of Yonkers.
Human hand holding a blue-ringed octopus

Let’s hold a blue-ringed octopus. What could go wrong?

Other things:

  • 10a. [Blowfish delicacy that may be dangerous to eat] FUGU. Certain parts of the fish contain tetrodotoxin, which is also found in the super cute (but super lethal) blue-ringed octopus. Tetrodotoxin blocks transmission of nerve impulses, leading to paralysis of voluntary muscles, including the ones that allow you to breathe. Fugu eat other creatures that contain tetrodotoxin-producing bacteria. Some farmers keep fugu away from such prey, leading to poison-free fish.
  • 68a. [Sweet endings?] OSES. The chemical names of carbohydrates, or sugars, end in -OSE.
  • 26d. [Construction brand with an apostrophe and no silent letters] K’NEX. It’s pronounced like “connects.” I loved these growing up. They had giant roller coaster and Ferris wheel sets. I remember spending most of a winter break from school putting these together.

Until next week!

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 673), “Veggie-mania”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 673: “Veggie-mania!”

Hello there, everyone! Hope you all are doing well and that tax day (and the days leading up to it) went pretty smoothly and that, eventually, you get a nice refund to drop into your bank account!

Today’s puzzle has an interesting title, given that Wrestlemania was just a couple of weekends ago! (I don’t follow wrestling anymore and haven’t for a long while, but have a lot of friends I follow on social media who still do.) Instead of Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns, we have vegetables headlining the main event here, as the names of vegetables are used to replace similar-sounding words in common phrases to create puns.

      • MUSEUM PEAS (17A: [Art work displayed at the High-Fiber Gallery?])
      • CORN IN THE USA (26A: [Springsteen album that’s music to one’s ears?])
      • BEET COP (37A: [Quality control expert at the Better Borscht Bureau?])
      • YOU’VE GOT KALE (45A: [Green remake of a classic Hanks/Ryan romantic comedy?])
      • LATER TATER (59A: [Parting words to Mr. Potato Head?])

Loved seeing the amazing TRACEE in the grid, especially since I just came across the news that her mom, Diana Ross, just celebrated her 80th birthday late last month (49A: [“Black-ish” star ___ Ellis Ross]). Seeing CAKE intersect with the “kale” in You’ve Got Kale definitely represents opposite ends of the food enjoyment spectrum (38D: [Birthday slice]). Though I’m sure enough people would much rather have, and eventually enjoy, kale more so than cake. I actually heard someone use “the fairer sex” when I sat next to a person at a bar last year in Denver, and that might have been the first time — and possibly last time — I had heard someone use FAIR SEX in real life (10D: [Women, in old-fashioned parlance]). Should I have interrupted the conversation and asked him, “What year did you time travel from?” Actually, I should go easy on that person, since I dropped an Alphonse and Gaston reference recently!! No sh*t!!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: THURMAN (21A: [Gold Glove-winning Yankee legend Munson]) – The legend and legacy of Thurman Munson grew soon after his death while landing a plane in Ohio took his life at the too-young age of 32. On the field, Munson was undoubtedly one of the greatest catchers of all time, and his awards include winning Rookie of the Year in 1970 and winning the American League MVP in 1976. In 1976, Munson was named the captain of the New York Yankees, the first captain of the franchise since Lou Gehrig. The postseason was where Munson really thrived, compiling a career .373 batting average in the playoffs as he helped the Yankees win back-to-back World Series in 1977 and 1978.

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

Take care!


Joseph Gangi’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Separation of Powers”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are pairs of entries in specified rows separated by a black square. The letters around said square spell out a military rank. The revealer is BREAK RANKS (57a, [Deviate from one’s group, and what the black squares in rows 3, 5, 8 and 11 do]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Separation of Powers” · Joseph Gangi · Tue., 4.16.24

  • Row 3: BEER GARDEN / SIGN => Ensign.
  • Row 5: RED SOX CAP / TAINT => Captain.
  • Row 8: CINEMA / JORDAN => Major.
  • Row 11: COLON / ELOPEMENT => Colonel.

Solid theme. I have to question the use of RED SOX CAP, though. This falls squarely into the category of green paint (i.e. a RED SOX CAP is a real thing, but it’s hardly a colloquial phrase). Why not use shower cap, market cap, bottle cap, or salary cap? Those are near-universal phrases that would be assets to the theme rather than detract from it. And the extra-wide break between CINEMA and JORDAN is an outlier. Lastly, ELOPEMENT is on the blah side. When all you need is the EL—, why not go for something more lively, like ELBOW ROOM, ELLINGTON, or ELEPHANTS? Much more fun for the solver (in my opinion).

Elsewise, I’m liking BIRD’S EYE, NITWIT, and ROOMMATE in the fill. TO RECAP crossing CAP isn’t really a dupe, but I wonder if it could’ve been avoided.

Clues of note:

  • 31a [Boxing great, until 1964] / 33a [Boxing great, after 1964]. CLAY / ALI. Clever pairing, especially with them being in the same row.
  • 64a. [Mississippi sighting]. BARGE. Needed just about all the crosses to realize we’re talking about the river, not the state.
  • 39d. [Somebody you just can’t live without?]. ROOMMATE. I call uncle. I’ve been mulling this one over for hours with no luck. Let us know if this makes any sense to you.

3.5 stars.

Adam Vincent’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 4/16/24 – no. 0416

Fun theme! The revealer clue is 39a. [Certain immature adult … with a hint to both halves of the answers to each starred clue}, MANBABY. Now, that’s a word that isn’t in standard dictionaries … yet. It’s used here to connect four notable men whose surnames are words for baby animals.

  • 16a. [*Actor who played Oscar Wilde in “Wilde” [fish]], STEPHEN FRY. Not many people use FRY to mean “young fish” but it’s legit.
  • 62a. [*Inventor who patented the first revolver [stallion]], SAMUEL COLT. COLT is a specifically male young horse.
  • 10d. [*Mouseketeer peer of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake [gander]], RYAN GOSLING. Gosling hosted SNL on Saturday, and the only sketch I’ve seen was the one below. It was too goofy for the cast members not to snicker throughout!
  • 24d. [*English essayist who wrote “Lawyers, I suppose, were children once” [ram]], CHARLES LAMB. Kind of a tough name for a Tuesday puzzle, but the ram’s baby is a LAMB so at least the last name’s easy.


Four stars from me.



Ricky Sirois’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I enjoyed this! A nice Tuesday-appropriate theme and solid fill to go with it.

I noticed the pattern in the theme answers.

  • 18a [*Game timer that may implement the Fischer method] is a CHESS CLOCK. I have no idea what the Fischer method is and I still figured it had something to do with chess. Apparently it’s a way to make chess even more challenging.
  • 24a [*Choose selectively] is CHERRY PICK.
  • 52a [*Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band with the hit “The Flame”] is CHEAP TRICK.
  • 61a [*Silverado, for one] is a CHEVY TRUCK.

And the revealer: 31a [With 41- and 45-Across, go Dutch, or what the answers to the starred clues all do?] is SPLIT THE CHECK. I really like the way the three parts of the revealer are split over three lines. I see what you did there.

A few other things:

  • Seems to me that JAPED isn’t synonymous with [Made fun of] – that’s JAPED at, isn’t it?
  • It’s baseball season! 26d [Right over the plate, as a pitch] is IN THERE.
  • A Tuesday puzzle should be “no MUSS, no fuss.”
  • ECHOS? ECHOES? I think it’s the latter and the Ngram Viewer agrees with me. Maybe it’s different for the Amazon device.

echoes vs echos

  • 54d [Religious leader in many a Chaim Potok novel] is RABBI. I haven’t read them all; I have trouble imagining a Potok novel without a RABBI.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: the Fischer method. Also didn’t know that Cheap Trick is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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

New Yorker • 4/16/24 • Lucido • solution • 20240416

We’ve speculated as to a recent rejiggering of the difficulty levels in the New Yorker’s crosswords, but I note that this one is still labelled ‘moderately challenging’, as all Tuesdays have been, which indicates that (1) Thursdays and Fridays have been eliminated with no adjustments to Monday–Wednesday, or (2) the editors have redefined or recalibrated the difficulty descriptions.

Because once again this Tuesday offering is easier than those of weeks not-so-distant past.

  • 13a [Stink eye, so to speak] MEAN MUG. Not a collocation I’ve encountered before.
  • 20a [Mother of un bébé] MAMAN, crossing 8d [Algerian seaport where “The Plague” is set] ORAN. Interesting because the first line of one of Albert Camus’ other famous works—”The Stranger”—is “Aujourd’hui, maman est morte.” It’s been a springboard subject for the nature of translation, as witnessed by this 2012 essay in … The New Yorker.
  • 31a [Modern-day labor gift] PUSH PRESENT. New to me. I guess as a name it’s supposed to be somewhat ironic, or laconically humorous?
  • 48a [Type of video-game supporting role, for short] NPCnon-playing character, which is also a go-to insult from certain online types—e.g., an [Internet provocateur] EDGELORD.
  • 3d [Pastry that’s called Viennese bread in Copenhagen] DANISH. See also, the dog breed Great Dane, known as Deutsche Dogge in much of Europe.
  • 10d [Cat features found underfoot, affectionately] TOE BEANS. I, uh, filled this in with no crossings, even though in my previous professional life I know that such mammalian features are properly called digital pads. (There are also metacarpal pads, carpal pads, plantar pads, et al.)
  • 14d [Major disruptor] GAME-CHANGER, which to mind often trivializes important world events by likening them to pastimes.
  • 33d [Attempt to circumvent the wedding-industrial complex, say] ELOPE. Also a term used for leaving a hospital without being discharged.
  • 34a [Fried-rice snack] ARANCINI.
  • 38d [Portmanteau for a private account on a certain image-sharing app] FINSTA. I know the second part refers to Instagram, and I’m going to guess that the F is for “friends”.

Hoang-Kim Vu’s USA Today Crossword, “Coast To Coast (Freestyle)” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: None

USA Today, 04 16 2024, “Coast to Coast (Freestyle)”

Easy themelesses are an interesting type of puzzle to me. For a lot of themeless puzzles, the joys/aha moments are sparked by the solver needing to figure out particularly tricky clues… which isn’t really possible when the puzzle needs to appeal to a less experienced solving audience! This puts a ton of pressure on the fill to be both clean and attention-grabbing on its own, and for the clues to be interesting without being overly complicated. Today’s puzzle shines in both regards.

I haven’t seen a bunch of triple-stacks in the USA Today before, but LAND ANIMALS/ON AUTOPILOT/ STAGE MANAGE and VOICE LESSON/PAPAYA SALAD/ STAR SYSTEMS are both great. Yes, there are a lot of three letter words crossing them, but that makes it easier to get a foothold on the long sections. The other stacks – NOT ONE WORD/ CRAFT BEERS and HOMOEROTIC/I CAN RELATE are also standouts.

Clueing highlights: [Snails and quails but not whales] for the aforementioned LAND ANIMALS, [Burnt ___ (trimmings from smoked brisket)] for ENDS

New to me: That OCT(ober) is World Mental Health Day month, actress Sandra MAE Frank

Universal Crossword Review by Matt F

Title: I’m Stuffed
Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: David Steinberg

Universal Solution 04.16.2024

Theme Synopsis:

Today we have a bookend theme where food items are split apart and “stuffed” by the rest of the theme answer:

  • 16A – [One helping others buy clothes] = (PE)RSONAL SHO(PPER), or, a rsonalsho-stuffed pepper!
  • 22A – [Death Valley’s prevailing weather] = (D)ESERT CLIM(ATE), or, an esertclim-stuffed date!
  • 47A – [Charming lady from Charleston, say] = (SO)UTHERN BEL(LE), or, an uthernbel-stuffed sole (the fish, not the bottom of your shoe)
  • 57A – [Lifetime tennis achievement] = (C)AREER GRAND S(LAM), or, an areergrands-stuffed clam!

Overall Impressions

All of the food items listed in the theme are commonly served stuffed – pepper, date, sole, and clam – so that’s a nice tight theme constraint. Obviously the “stuffing” in today’s grid has nothing to do with food or any ingredients that might be stuffed into the circled foods; but I had fun imagining what “esertclim” could be nonetheless. I love the bonus words in the grid – TOP SECRET and PUMPS IRON – and of course the overall fill is sparkly clean. I came in a 4:00 flat on this solve which might be my fastest Tuesday yet? I don’t really keep track of speed but it does feel nice to come in under 5 minutes.

Thanks for the puzzle,  Zhouqin!

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19 Responses to Tuesday, April 16, 2024

  1. David L says:

    TNY: They seem to be struggling to find their footing after the change to their pub schedule. The ‘challenging’ puzzles have been not very, and the others are pretty straightforward too.

    The only awkward spot in today’s was FINSTA/NPC/ARANCINI. I knew of INSTA and had vaguely heard of ARANCINI. I’m familiar with NPC as ‘non-playing captain’ in certain team activities.

  2. Tony says:

    Loved the clue for SGTS at 56-A. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a clue of this type reference Sgt O’Leary. Makes me wonder how many are still upset at CBS after the Billy Joel concert fiasco.

  3. Greg says:

    I enjoyed Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker puzzle today, and also agreed it seemed a bit easier than the typical New Yorker Tuesday.

    I had no problem with the answer, but has the word “fart“ appeared before in the major puzzles? (Certainly, Margaret Farrar would be spinning in her grave. 😉)

    • Yes, in fact Aimee used BRAINFART in the Feb. 18, 2022 NYT puzzle, clued as [Mental goof]. Kameron A. Collins used FART by itself clued as [Brain ___] in the Aug. 18, 2023 NYT puzzle.

    • Martin says:

      “Brain ___” in 8/18/23 NYT by Kameron Austin Collins.

      • Greg says:

        Thanks, Martin and Evan. I wonder. Can other commonly used four-letter words be far behind? 😉

        • Lois says:

          There are not many taboos in New Yorker crosswords, which are more daring than the New York Times puzzles (this is not a compliment from me, just a fact). The most well-known four-letter word has already been used in a clue (not an answer). Racy concepts are frequently used. Sometime, the clue is spicy but meant to be misleading, and the answer is bland. Four-letter words have been allowed in the New Yorker magazine itself for many years, with standards depending on context, I guess. The unusual, age-old New Yorker spellings (“focussed,” for example) are used for the crosswords as well, at least for the clues.

          • Greg says:

            Yes, William Shawn would be appalled, but, presumably, not Tina Brown.

            Despite modernization in many salutary ways, it’s surprising to me that the New Yorker still clings to some of its hoariest old conventions, such as spelling out numbers, no matter how long they are.

  4. Gary R says:

    TNY: Tough one for me – lots of unfamiliar/vaguely familiar fill. MEAN MUG MAMAN/MARAT, PUSH PRESENT, DANAE, EDGELORD, FINSTA, and my personal Natick, NPC/ARANCINI.

    Took me almost as long as yesterday’s puzzle, and nothing especially exciting in the cluing (I did like the clue for SPIDER).

    • sanfranman59 says:


    • JohnH says:

      I agree, and the division of comments into two conflicting threads says something. I’ve long been complaining that the problem with trivia quiz crosswords is that you either know it or you don’t, no clever cluing at all, so what seems impossible to the majority of us is no doubt an NYT Monday level to the TNY setter and friends.

      And sure enough, quite a few here keep saying, unhappily, each day how the puzzle has gotten so easy since it’s reverted to M-W, while clearly at least an equal number find it daunting and not a lot of fun. (Those who like are more likely to comment, it appears, those who dislike to rate.)

      Today, though, while among the dissenters, I did find the puzzle solvable from crossings and so enjoyed it quite a bit. If the new scheme turns out to mean hard, medium, easy, then today seems just right to me for Tuesday. But my appreciation to those who were not as satisfied.

    • Eric H says:

      I ran into trouble at the NPC/ARANCINI crossing, too. I have heard of both, but as yet, neither one has stuck in my head.

      It didn’t help that I mistyped ARIANA Grande, putting an extra A where the I belongs.

      I shared most of your other unknowns except MAMAN/MARAT. My lousy French is good enough to encompass MAMAN et Papa. And there’s a famous painting by Jacques-Louis David of a dead guy who’s been stabbed while in the bathtub. (You’ve probably seen it.) The guy is Jean-Paul MARAT.

    • Mr. [somewhat] Grumpy says:

      I only know ARANCINI from the Spelling Bee, which delights in obscure food names while excluding other common words.

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ: @Jim … FWIW, my post-solve notes include: The clue for ROOMMATE {39D: Somebody you just can’t live without?} makes no sense. You can’t just throw a question mark at the end of a dumb clue to make it work. In this case, it basically says, “Sorry. I couldn’t come up with a decent clue for this answer, so I’m punting by making it look like it’s a pun.”

    • David Roll says:

      I think it means, if you don’t have a roommate who splits the cost you are SOL. Back to living with the folks?

  6. Lois says:

    New Yorker: Pannonica, the former “beginner-friendly” Thursday crossword now appears on Wednesday, with that phrase being used to describe it–at least as far as I’ve noticed. The old moderate Wednesday puzzle (I don’t remember the words used to describe it) has been eliminated, I think, unless that will vary. Of course, as you point out, there’s flexibility in how these descriptions are carried out, and, as we know, difficulty varies for solvers according to areas of our personal knowledge or the lack of it.

  7. marciem says:

    LAT: 30d… I’ve always thought of a lancet as more thin scalpel-like than needle… are the things that are used to prick fingers for quick blood sugar test actually needles or teeny tiny blades?

    I always enjoy seeing my maiden name (Piety… or Pietà, my favorite sculpture) in a puzzle :) .

  8. Adam says:

    The “F” in FINSTA stands for “fake”, but your interpretation makes more sense.

Comments are closed.