Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Jonesin' 7:22 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 6:02 (Matt F) 


USA Today 3:03 (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ 4:30 (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Four Cheers” — the long answers point to a common goal. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 4/23/24

Jonesin’ solution 4/23/24

Hello lovelies! This week’s Jonesin’ puzzle should leave the crowd aroar, because each theme entry hides a celebratory OLE!

  • 17a. [Instruction at a bench] PIANO LESSON
  • 27a. [NHL #1 draft pick of 1984 and Pittsburgh Penguins superstar] MARIO LEMIEUX
  • 48a. [Partier who bails early, maybe] FIRST TO LEAVE
  • 64a. [Bad dancer’s excuse] TWO LEFT FEET

Other things:

  • 15a. [Pavlovian response] SALIVA. It’s a correct entry. The word just gives me the icks for some reason.
  • 8d. [1099-___ (IRS form)] MISC. I’m guessing most of us don’t want to be reminded of the IRS the week after Tax Day. *shudders*
  • 18d. [Only “Sesame Street” character whose name is in the NATO phonetic alphabet (until Tango showed up)] OSCAR. Tango is Elmo’s puppy, and she was introduced in 2021.

Until next week!

Tim Schenck’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Reconstruction”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are pairs of entries that spell out a type of domicile in circled letters between them but separated by a black square. The revealer is A HOUSE DIVIDED (37a, [Lincoln topic, and the theme of this puzzle]). I’m not sure what kind of home our constructor lives in, but based on the choices provided, it must be pretty nice.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Reconstruction” · Tim Schenck · Tue., 4.23.24

  • Row 1: 1a [Church with roots in the Church of England] / 10a [Aspire laptops, e.g.] EPISCOPAL / ACERS. Palace.
  • Row 3: 17a [Show on television] / 18a [Detectives follow them] BROADCAST / LEADS. Castle.
  • Row 13: 56a [Provide with a new staff] / 60a [Some hand-woven rugs] REMAN / ORIENTALS. Manor.
  • Row 15: 66a [Barista’s concoction] / 67a [Admitting] MOCHA / LETTING IN . Chalet.

Solid theme, but I have to admit, it just doesn’t excite me very much. Especially when you have weird entries like ACERS and REMAN as part of your theme. That last one is easily changed to HE-MAN (crossing HAM) as well. And I’m not keen on ORIENTALS even clued as rugs. Do people call multiple oriental rugs “ORIENTALS”? I would call them “oriental rugs.” When all you need is the OR, why not find something that doesn’t look so racist in the grid? You could even keep most of the entry the same with ORIENTING or ORIENTEER.

Other bits of clunky fill stuck out as well like SDS, ONEL, OTTOS, ALL TO, ANSI, ILO, MIS (clued as plural musical notes) and MONTI. Highlights include BALLERINA, TARHEEL, ENDEMIC, and ANCESTOR.

Clues of note:

  • 51d. [Peaks, in Pisa]. MONTI. I had to look up whether there are indeed mountains near Pisa. There are. “Mount Pisano, also known as MONTI Pisani, is a mountain range that divides Pisa and Lucca. The mountains of the Monte Pisano are all shorter than 1000 m, with some resembling hills. The highest mountain is Mount Serra (917 m).”
  • 62d. [“Fantasy Island” prop]. LEI. I don’t recall seeing this cluing angle before. Nice.

Three stars.

Judy Bowers’s New York Times crossword solution–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 4/23/24 – no. 0423

The theme revealer is TWO, [Number of letters in every word of the answers to the starred clues]. The theme answers are “OH NO! EW! HE IS MY EX,” “SO IS IT / UP TO ME” (awkwardly split far apart), “DO AS WE DO,” “HI, MA. I’M UP,” and my favorite, the most natural-sounding one, “OK IF WE GO IN ON IT?”

It’s a fresh theme, but I didn’t love the stilted nature of that first seven-word phrase with its two-letter EW (I’m an EWW aficionado).

Fave fill: APRICOT, ICE MACHINE, GEN X (we get overlooked too often!), and “I KNEW IT!” (though ideally maybe we’d have no two-letter words outside of the themers). Not wild about SAYS “PRESTO,” since it doesn’t feel idiomatic to me; it’s just SAYS + {word people say}.

3.5 stars from me.

Universal Crossword Review by Matt F

Title: State Representative
Constructor: Josh M. Kaufmann
Editor: Taylor Johnson

Universal Solution 04.22.2024

Theme Synopsis:

Each theme answer is a state SYMBOL (60A – Emblem … and what each starred clue’s answer is, vis-à-vis its indicated letters) that contains said state’s postal code abbreviation:

  • 17/18A – Official flower of the Aloha State = YELLOW HIBISCUS
  • 24A – Official bird of the Hoosier State = CARDINAL
  • 36A – Official mammal of the Pelican State = BLACK BEAR
  • 53A – Official fish of the Prairie State = BLUEGILL
  • 58A – Official appetizer of the Ocean State = CALAMARI

Overall Impressions

Postal code themes can feel a bit thin, since only 2 letters are required to make the theme answers work. What I like about this one is that each state symbol contains the state abbreviation, and that adds a nice constraint to elevate this concept. The grid stays nice and open, which is tough to do with 53 theme squares. I liked NBA FINALS, TALL ONE, ROTELLE, CASH COW, and DEBACLE among the longer stuff. The fill overall is nice and clean. Dupes don’t bother me… not even when ONE NAME and TALL ONE are placed symmetrically in the grid.

Thanks for the puzzle,  Josh!

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 674), “Don’t Forget to Write!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 674: “Don’t Forget to Write”

Hello there, everyone! Weather has gotten a little bit more springlike in the East, and hopefully that’s the case where you are as well. 

Today’s puzzle contains a progression, with a set of four circles contained in five down answers. The word contained in each of the cluster of circles is “line,” which leads to the fifth themed down entry, DROP ME A LINE, which acts as the reveal (26D: [“Write!” … and a hint to the visual puzzle theme]).

      • LINE PRINTER (3D: [Office machine that produces paper documents])
      • LINE DANCING (20D: [Doing the Madison or the Macarena])
      • EVANGELINE LILLY (7D: [Canadian actress who played Kate Austen on “Lost”])
      • CLOTHESLINE (16D: [Place for a wetsuit?])

We have a stack of 10-letter, non-themed entries in the grid, and they all come with the fire! The two in the Northeast are the highlight for me with TRAVEL TIPS (18D: [Suggestions for a jet-setter]) and CAVALCADES, a word I love using when I get the chance (15A: [Processions of riders]). It just sounds awesome to say, just like DORITOS Cool Ranch or Spicy Nacho chips are awesome to eat — even if those helped to expand my waistline before I started cutting back on too much snacking a while back (38A: [Triangular chips]). Nowadays, my snack of choice is Snyder’s unsalted pretzels. . 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ALTMAN (43A: [“Gosford Park” director Robert]) – One of the best college basketball coaches currently, Dana Altman has been at the helm of the University of Oregon men’s basketball team since the 2010-11 season. His biggest achievement with the Ducks was leading them to the 2017 Final Four, and he’s led Oregon to the Sweet 16 five times. Before his time in Eugene, Altman won 327 games at Creighton University between 1994 and 2010, leading the Bluejays to seven NCAA Tournament appearances. After Oregon’s first-round victory in the NCAA Tournament last month against South Carolina, Altman’s teams have won eight consecutive first-round games in the Big Dance.

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

Take care!


Matthew Stock & Wendy L. Brandes’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

Monitoring the chicken soup so this will be quick. The theme answers are all residential puns.

Los Angeles Times, April 23, 2024, Matthew Stock, Wendy L. Brandes, solution grid

  • 16a [Digs for a member of a string quartet?] is a CELLO SUITE.
  • 26a [Digs for a gym rat?] is a MUSCLE BUILDING.
  • 42a [Digs for a Greek mythology buff?] is an OEDIPUS COMPLEX. This one doesn’t quite work for me. I don’t think OEDIPUS was a mythology buff.
  • 56a [Digs for a dancer?] is a BALLET FLAT. My favorite.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that “Liberty and Prosperity” is the STATE MOTTO of New Jersey.

Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 4/23/24 • Tue • Agard • solution • 20240423

I’ve ultimately decided not to fret about calibrating New Yorker crosswords’ difficulty level with their stated values. So—this was a relatively smooth and easygoing puzzle, in my opinion. Not much in the way of tricksiness, and any unfamiliar entries were fairly crossed.

  • 1a [Class rife with division?] MATH. The question mark gave it away. 21a [Make sense] ADD UP.
  • 10a [Org. whose first president was Martin Luther King, Jr.] SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference).
  • 15a [Big city person?] MAYOR. Again, the question mark made it a gimme. Or perhaps I was just operating on ea’s wavelength.
  • 17a “I’m so happy for you!”] THAT’S GREAT. Both can sound milquetoast, depending on delivery.
  • 19a [Early film star __ May Wong] ANNA. I’ve only seen her in Shanghai Express, and wouldn’t mind screening other films of hers.
  • 20a [“Switched-On-Bach” instrument] SYNTH, specifically a Moog synthesizer. Not a fan of that record.
  • 24a [Isfahan’s country] IRAN. I feel contractually obligated to post Duke Ellington’s gorgeous melody by that name, but since I’ve already done it so often in these pages, I’ll just link to it remotely.
  • 28a [TV spinoff?] WHEEL OF FORTUNE. Cute clue. Needed some crossings, so it wasn’t totally obvious.
  • 35a [Source of much modern slang: Abbr.] AAVE, African-American Vernacular English.
  • 39a [Bánh mì ingredient, often] PÂTÉ, not (necessarily) PORK.
  • 45a [Actress who starred in the stage and screen versions of the musical “The Color Purple”] DANIELLE BROOKS. Musicals, not my thing.
  • 60a [Loaded with a disgusting amount of cheese?] FILTHY RICH. I have never in real life heard anyone call money or wealth ‘cheese’.
  • 66a [Curvy shape approximated by either two hands or an index finger and thumb] HEART. Don’t know how the latter version works. Is it simply forming one-half of the figure as synecdoche?
  • 67a [Lend a little money to] SPOT. 27d [“Cut it out!”] STOP (or maybe STAHP).
  • 9d [Historian __ Alfonso Schomburg] ARTURO, he of Harlem’s famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
  • 12d [Record writings] LINER NOTES. I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading them with new acquisitions. I should address that.
  • 28d [Question elicited by an overly high-concept Halloween costume] WHAT ARE YOU? Nicely turned.
  • 30d [Bichon __ ] FRISE. Not to be confused with the similar-looking Coton de Tulear.
  • 31d [What Mitch McConnell used to block his own bill, in 2012] FILIBUSTER. Grr, politicians (in general, and that one in particular).
  • 52d [First name in the rhyming name of a peg toy] LITE-Brite.

Michael Berg’s USA Today Crossword, “Breaking Free” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Anna Gundlach
Theme: Each theme answer is contained inside the string FREE.

  • 20a [Nail treatment with a white tip] – FRENCH MANICURE
  • 37a [“So stinking amazing!”] – FREAKING AWESOME
  • 51a [Caveman on a box of Fruity Pebbles] – FRED FLINTSTONE

Top notch theme set – I absolutely love all three theme answers Michael chose. I don’t mind the “free” being “broken” in the same place in each of the answers; it honestly might have been weird if it was the same in two and then different in just one. 14 letter answers can be tough to put into grids, so I’m always happy to see them get some love.

Fill highlights: AMARETTO, I’M GAME, ME TIME

Clue highlights: [2024 Super Bowl halftime performer] for USHER (how have I already forgotten this?), [Like some pasts and picnic blankets] for CHECKERED

New to me: “Doppelganger” author NAOMI Klein

All I was thinking about during my solve:

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25 Responses to Tuesday, April 23, 2024

  1. Ethan says:

    NYT: Fun idea, but repeating words in two different theme entries kind of (WE, IS, IT) spoils it for me. Would be more elegant if all the words were only used once.

    • Me says:

      This is a debut constructor, so I don’t want to be too harsh, but I agree that the execution is not ideal. The first theme answer is very awkward, and HIMAIMUP also seemed too contrived.

      • Ethan says:

        Maybe we didn’t need five themers (really six). A lot of stress put on that fill. I agree with Amy that SAYS PRESTO is not great, but filling that ??Y???E??O slot had to be tough.

  2. Eric H says:

    NYT: Novel theme that would have been much better without 16A. Besides being hard to parse (especially at the NO EW junction), HE IS MY EX is just wrong. HE’S MY EX, I‘d buy. Having that be the first theme answer most solvers will encounter just starts the puzzle off on the wrong foot.

    On the other hand, OK IF WE GO IN ON IT? has a natural ring to it. Too bad it wasn’t up top.

    • Dallas says:

      Agreed; I got that first across from the crosses, and it looked so weird that I jumped down to the revealer (at first I thought it was going to be an “inserted word” or “sounds like” theme, the “EW” really threw me off). But the rest of the theme answers were better… Although I wasn’t sure if it should be GO AS WE GO or DO AS WE DO, but … yeah. A cute theme idea.

  3. JohnH says:

    I liked the NYT much more than did the vast consensus. I know it’s forced, but I figure that’s kinda the point, little as I liked EW and much as I’m not convinced by SAYS PRESTO. I also was looking for a chemical for protein, and I’m still not sure I buy it as a definition for a high-protein food. But I found it novel, interesting, and hard for a Tuesday, all pluses.

    • Eric H says:

      Does the TOFU clue work better for you if you read “Protein” as “Protein source” or “High-protein food”? I agree the clue doesn’t work as a definition, but I don’t think it’s trying to be one.

      • DougC says:

        I agree. I’ve heard it said, for instance, that a traditional American home-cooked dinner consists of “a protein, a starch and a vegetable” where “protein” denotes a class of foods, rather than a molecule.

    • Gary R says:

      I see a lot of restaurant menus that invite me to “add a protein” to a salad or grain bowl. The list of options often includes tofu, along with chicken, beef, shrimp and some type of fish.

      • JohnH says:

        Fair enough.

        Oh, UPRISE bothered me, too, although I could swear I’ve seen it before in puzzles. I figure it’s one of those dumb crossword things, like words starting with A.

  4. David L says:

    I thought the NYT was cute, although as well as SAYSPRESTO I didn’t care for UPRISE, which seems like a word no one would ever actually use.

    TNY: I wouldn’t call it moderately challenging. No obstacles for me except I have no idea what LITE-Brite is and as usual I am too lazy to look it up.

    • JohnH says:

      It’s characteristic of the you know it or you don’t school of constructors like Agard in TNY that there’s no telling what the level will be for others. In this case, it was wildly inconsistent for me within the puzzle. Tons of gimmes starting in the very first corner, but since the grid’s long entries cut off sections, I had to face a ton of names and facts to get enough footholds to finish.

      I got The Color Purple actress mostly because it looked like a plausible name and crossings ruled out Gabriella. I got AAVE but had to look it up once I was done to make sense of it. SYNTH for synthesizer isn’t something I’d use, but I’ll trust that it’s real. I didn’t like the clues for for SAID GRACE and FILTHY RICH (cheese??), although the phrases, like all English phrases, seem wholly legit fill. In the end I was just plain defeated by the crossings of SHREK, KERRI, FRISE, and ASIAN.

  5. Gary R says:

    TNY: Nice puzzle today from e.a. Fell a little short of “Moderately Challenging” in my mind, and I agree with pannonica that eliminating the question marks from some of the clever clues would have improved the level of difficulty. Good fill and some good cluing.

    Personal pet peeve – I’ve never cared for the phrase FILTHY RICH. I’ve known some very rich people, both personally and from afar. Some of them are disgusting, but not usually because of their wealth. Most are good folks who got wealthy through some combination of good luck, good sense, and hard work/perseverance. I don’t really like the connotations of the “filthy” modifier.

  6. Dan says:

    LAT: Good point that Jenni made: Oedipus does not seem to be part of Greek *mythology* per se, but rather Greek literature.

    • jason chapnick says:

      The clue: 42a [Digs for a Greek mythology buff?] is an OEDIPUS COMPLEX is not suggesting the OEDIPUS was a mythology buff , but rather a modern day person who obsesses over the OEDIPUS story would have a COMPLEX. Lighten up

      • Gary R says:

        (a): I think the clue is suggesting that a Greek mythology buff might live in “digs” (housing) that is an Oedipus “complex” (as in apartment complex).

        (b): I think Dan’s original point was that the Oedipus story isn’t really a part of Greek “mythology,” but rather a part of Greek “literature.”

        Dan – correct me if I’m misrepresenting you here.

    • Martin says:

      Oedipus is mythological. Maybe “apartment complex” is only a thing regionally. It worked for me.

      • Martin says:

        Testing. Restoring avatar?

      • Gary R says:

        I generally think of mythology as the stuff dealing with gods/deities, but I guess that isn’t necessarily so. And given that, I have no problem with the clue/answer.

        But the crux of the clue is still “digs” vis-a-vis “complex” as a living space, which I don’t think jason was getting. From M-W (on-line):

        2 digs plural
        a: accommodations (see ACCOMMODATION sense 1a) for living or working
        “buying furniture for his new digs”

        4: a building or group of buildings housing related units
        “an apartment complex”
        “a sports complex”

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni … Just for the record and FWIW, with the exception of the two seasons affected by COVID, the NBA FINALS have been held in June only since 1987. So the clue seems a little off (“Annual championship series held in May-June”). OTOH, the Stanley Cup Finals sometimes begin at the end of May and sometimes not until June.

  8. JT says:

    NYT – I didn’t love this theme, but I was able to live with it a lot better than the fill around it. I cannot remember groaning more than I have with the fill on this one. Even worse, some of the clues left me frustrated, 33D doesn’t fit very well, while 59A is technically correct but has been moving away from being exclusively layered for decades and didn’t play off of 51D in any sort of clever way.

  9. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Fun puzzle; I usually enjoy Erik Agard’s clueing. My favorite from today is probably 60A FILTHY RICH.

    There does seem to be a lot of pop culture. Stuff I got mostly from the crosses includes 4D HOTTIE and 45A DANIELLE BROOKS. A lot of the rest of it I’ve absorbed from other crossword puzzles.

    But I would have labeled it “Lightly challenging.”

  10. Steve Grogan says:

    I thought some of the WSJ clues were tough for a Tuesday but I liked the theme.

    Orientals in this context and indeed other contexts isn’t racist. It’s almost like you’re trying to find things that upset you about WSJ puzzles. It’s puzzling.

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