Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Jonesin' 6:14 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 3:16 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal untimed (Matt F) 


USA Today 2:39 (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ 6:56 (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “No Fear” — just the first parts of the phobias. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 4/30/24

Jonesin’ solution 4/30/24

Hello lovelies! This week the theme entries hide the prefixes to some common fears:

  • 16a. [Ancient Greek mathematician who couldn’t bring his triangle theorem out into the open?] PYTHAGORAS. The circles reveal AGORA, and agoraphobia is the fear of being in a place where escape or getting help may not be possible.
  • 24a. [Job interview subject, even when you can’t face the work?] CAREER GOAL. Ergophobia is the fear of work and its features.
  • 35a. [1998 National League MVP who’s not big on germs?] SAMMY SOSA. Mysophobia is the fear of germs, dirt, or contamination.
  • 49a. [Exactly right, but without the blood?] ON THE MONEY. Hemophobia is the fear of blood.
  • 59a. [“Like that’s believable, even at this awful height!”] WHAT A CROCK. Last up is acrophobia, the fear of heights.

Other things:

  • 46a. [Cold War broadcast across the Atlantic, for short] RFE. Radio Free Europe was formed by the United States government and first presented uncensored news to Soviet states in 1950.
  • 21a. [Like fishnets] MESHY. I’m wondering if this was going to be clued as the AI generator, because I cannot remember fishnets or anything else being described as meshy.
  • 23d. [Internet comedy group since 2002] SMOSH. It started as one guy making Flash animations, then became two guys making lip sync videos, then became famous on YouTube, made other stuff, were owned by some other people, one of the guys left and eventually came back, and they have a bunch of content.

Until next week!

Joe O’Neill’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Poor Sports”—Jim’s review

Theme answers were originally familiar phrases whose final words could be synonyms of “team.” But a letter I has replaced an A in each word resulting in crossword wackiness. The revealer is THERE’S NO I IN TEAM (39a, [Axiom contradicted by this puzzle’s theme answers]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Poor Sports” · Joe O’Neill · Tue., 4.30.24

  • 18a. [Syncopated sheet music shortage?] RAGTIME BIND. Band.
  • 23a. [Competitive con job?] RIVAL FICTION. Faction.
  • 51a. [Self-sacrificing cephalopod?] SUICIDE SQUID. Squad.
  • 61a. [Prig in the workplace?] OFFICE STIFF. Staff.

Hmm. I’m having trouble with this one. For starters, I usually hear the phrase as “There is no I in “team.” But I can get past that for the sake of getting the phrase to fit in a grid. What I have more trouble with is that once you change the As to Is, the words have entirely new meanings and are not synonyms of “team” anymore. So the adage is not disproven by the theme answers from my viewpoint.

Lastly, OULU [City nicknamed “capital of northern Finland”]? I could handle the other crosswordese: MCII, “AH ME,” “IS TOO,” UNMAN, OONA, and AFTS, but OULU on top of all that is too much for me. Time for some re-filling or if necessary, restructuring of the grid for smoother fill.

The pedant in me would’ve preferred PLANS B to PLAN BS.

There are some definite highlights, though: OCARINAS, RUNS RIOT, and ROBONAUT [NASA humanoid]. This last one is new to me, but I loved learning it.

Clues of note:

  • 14a. [Canine attack command]. SIC. Doesn’t seem complete without the ‘EM.
  • 1d. [Daisy’s cousin]. ASTER. Flowers. My mind went to The Great Gatsby.
  • 26d. [How most legal documents are signed]. IN INK. Are there some that aren’t signed this way? I suppose an electronic signature may be sufficient in some instances.

2.75 stars.

Michèle Govier’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 4/30/24 – no. 0430

The theme revealer is WIGGLE ROOM, [Space to maneuver, or a hint to five sets of circled letters in this puzzle]. The circled letters snake back and forth in the grid and spell out PARLOR, STUDY, LOUNGE, PANTRY, and ATTIC. These five rooms could yield the Jeopardy! response, “What are five rooms my home doesn’t have?” Raise your hand if these rooms feel a bit exotic to you, too.


The down side of having non-Down, non-Across answers in the grid is that all those triple-checked squares dramatically reduce the flexibility when filling the puzzle. And so you get fill like A TO, TEMPI, IS IT I, TINCTS, APER, plural ANISES (good gravy! one is already too much for me), Albanian currency LEU (and in a Tuesday puzzle, no less), and IN R.E.M. offsetting the niftiness of the circled words. And so it is that I tend not to be a fan of this variety of theme (including diagonals and rings in the grid).

Fave clue: 46a. [Auto setting], STREET. I was thinking of the automatic setting on various devices and was still not seeing the answer when I had S*REE* in place. “How does SCREEN work? SPREES?”

2.5 stars from me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 675), “Ghost Ships”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 675: “Ghost Ships”

Hello there, everyone! Here is hoping you’re doing well and that you avoid any and all Justin Timberlake “It’s Gonna Be May” memes over the next couple of days! 

If you’re ready to go out on the water given the better weather, then this puzzle is for you. Types of ships and/or words that can come before the word “ship” feature at the end of the five theme answers .

      • NAIL CLIPPER (17A: [Mani/pedi tool])
      • TOM CRUISE (24A: [Star of “Vanilla Sky” and “Jack Reacher”])
      • GENERAL HOSPITAL (38A: [Longest-running American soap opera])
      • THE PIRATE (48A: [Walter Scott novel set in Scotland’s Shetland Islands])
      • EARTH MOTHER (58A: [Archetype of fertility])

Here’s hoping I’m not the only person who saw STOLEN CAR and thought of my neighboring state of New Jersey, even though I know it’s a reputation the state and some of the cities inside of it, like the often-frequented Newark, want to shed (12D: [Hot wheels?]). All of those nine-letter non-themed entries were pretty good fill, and MIDORI ITO makes me remember the ’92 figure skating competition and how our family’s favorite skater, Surya Bonaly, got screwed over by judges for being too athletic while a successful triple axel for Ito got her to rise to silver after being behind after the short program portion of the event (11D: [Japanese figure skater who win silver at the 1992 Olympics]). But I digress. Lastly, Seeing COVER ART brings back bad memories of being the worst at folding paper textbook covers neatly onto textbooks issued by my elementary school (25D: [Dust jacket illustration that often sells a book]). If you gave me a paper bag and a textbook and told me to make a book cover, I totally would fall flat on my face doing it all these years later, I’m sure.. 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ANT (57A: [Hill worker]) – OGet ready to hear this nickname A LOT over the next few years, as Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (a.k.a. Ant Man, a.k.a. Ant) is on the verge of being the next face of the NBA. the 22-year-old Atlanta native was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft after one year at the University of Georgia, and is now a two-time NBA All-Star (2023, 2024). This season, Edwards helped Minnesota stay in the No. 1 position in the Western Conference for most of the season, and in the first round of the playoffs, he put on a masterpiece in helping to sweep the Phoenix Suns out of the playoffs. Here was the coup de grâce from Sunday, a facial served up to his idol growing up, the Suns’ Kevin Durant. Absolutely SICK!!

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

Take care!


Kyle Dolan’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I had no idea what was going on with the theme while I was solving. To be fair, I didn’t expend much energy trying to figure it out since I didn’t need to know that in order to solve the puzzle. All the theme entries are clued straight.

Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2024, Kyle Dolan, solution grid

  • 17a [“Go,” to a driver] is GREEN LIGHT.
  • 26a [Insurance company whose slogan begins “Like a good neighbor”] is STATE FARM. You’re singing it in your head right now, aren’t you?
  • 37a [Trip of a lifetime] is a DREAM VACATION.
  • 49a [Boost for a hockey team after a penalty] is a POWER PLAY.

And the revealer: 60a [People who share a living space, and what both parts of 17-, 26-, 37-, and 49-Across can be?] is HOUSE MATES. Each word in the theme answers is a kind of HOUSE. Solid, cohesive Tuesday theme, and all the theme answers are solidly in the language.

My nit for today: 61d [Canoeist’s need] is just wrong. A canoeist doesn’t need an OAR. She needs a PADDLE. OARs are for rowboats. Not the same thing.

For a Tuesday, there seemed to be a lot of words that could have been something else with one letter changed. 1a [Speck released by fluffing cushions] could have been MITE instead of MOTE. 10a [Phishing, e.g.] could have been SPAM as well as SCAM. 15a [Friend in Oaxaca] could have been AMIGA rather than AMIGO. I doubt I would have noticed any of that on a Friday or even a Wednesday. On Tuesday it made me say “Hmmm.”

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that ALGERIANs live in the largest country in Africa. It’s no secret that I don’t know much geography.

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 4/30/24 • Tue • Berry • solution • 20240430

At this point I’m compelled to conclude that the New Yorker has decided to make their crosswords easier as part of the reshaping of the weekly lineup. Were it unintentional, they would have been able to recalibrate by now.

  • 5a [Frequent subject of protests in the sixties and seventies] DRAFT. Current protests on university campuses seem to me to be more altruistic and geopolitically aware.
  • 20a [N.F.L. team whose fans are known as the 12s] SEATTLE SEAHAWKS. As the ’12th man’, I presume.
  • 23a [In the future] ONE DAY.
  • 31a [Fish that are leaf-shaped prior to metamorphosis] EELS. Still on my reading list: Patrik Svensson’s much-lauded The Book of Eels.
  • 39a [Soviet counterintelligence org. featured in James Bond novels] SMERSH, which turns out to not be purely fictional, as I’d assumed: “Joseph Stalin coined the name ‘СМЕРШ’ (SMERSH) as a portmanteau of the Russian-language phrase Смерть шпиoнам (Smert’ shpiónam, ‘Death to spies’). Originally focused on combating German spies infiltrating the Soviet military, the organization quickly expanded its mandate: to find and eliminate any subversive elements—hence Stalin’s inclusive name for it.” (via Wikipedia)
  • 42a [1984 comedy with an IMDb rating out of eleven stars rather than the usual ten] THIS IS SPINAL TAP. The BBC player app’s volume control used to do this as well.
  • 1d [Good Queen __ (nickname of a Tudor monarch] BESS.
  • 4d [Castle-building opportunities, maybe] LOW TIDES. 16a [It’s not seen when new] MOON. During full and new moons, high tides are higher and low tides lower.
  • 12d [Clothing items that may be no-show] SOCKS. The ones that are finished low on the ankle, and not a reference to the odd one that disappears during laundry time.
  • 27d [PrettyLitter alternative] FRESH STEP. Pretty sure I won’t be seeing ÖKOCAT in a grid anytime soon, despite its crossword readiness.
  • 29d [Ship that safely passed through the Clashing Rocks, in myth] ARGO. They were known as the Symplegades.
  • 43d [Cover a lot] PAVE, made slightly trickier by choosing not to use a question mark.

Jay Silverman’s USA Today Crossword, “Pb&J” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Jared Goudsmit
Theme: There are three theme answers, each beginning with a homophone (in order) of the letters in PB&J.

USA Today, 04 30 2024, “Pb&J”

  • 17a [Tube for small green projectiles] – PEA SHOOTER
  • 38a [“Do as you wish!”] – BE MY GUEST
  • 61a [Comedian who played Barack Obama on “SNL”] – JAY PHAROAH

Cute simple theme! On a cursory glance I thought that the theme was just that each answer began with the *letter* of PB&J, not the word. So I’m glad there was a bit more going on than just that. JAY PHAROAH is great to see, even if I can never remember how to spell his last name. Kind of funny that the constructor of this puzzle is also named Jay… wonder if that was some thematic inspiration :)

Fill highlights: GLACIER, COWROTE, MIMOSA.

Clue highlights: [“___ Vu” (Beyonce hit with the lyric “Seem like everywhere I go, I see you”)] for DEJA, [Paddington Bear’s birth country] for PERU

New to me: [Danbing ingredients] for EGGS, [Rajah Caruth’s sports org.] for NASCAR

Universal Crossword – Matt F’s Review

Title: Regional Expressions
Constructor: Michael B. Berg
Editor: David Steinberg

Universal Solution 04.30.2024

Theme Synopsis:

If you find yourself disoriented by today’s puzzle, take a look at 37A to get your bearings:

  • 37A – Device hinting at the directions that were added to the starred clues’ answers = COMPASS

The circled letters are fittingly aligned with compass ordinates, and are tacked onto otherwise normal words to create punny phrases.

  • 3D – Grammy for “Straight Outta Compton”? = NWA TROPHY
  • 18A – What someone born to two scuba instructors has? = DIVER GENE
  • 33D – Most recent error in judgment? = LAST LAPSE
  • 59A – Nap in the hive? = SWARM REST

Overall Impressions

The symmetric theme placement is a nice touch today. NE/SW in the across direction, and NW/SE in the down direction. The theme answers clicked into place with a nice “aha.” I think DIVER GENE is my favorite in the set. The mid-length slots are put to good use, too, with CAROUSE, HOT TODDY, BOOSTERS, and NAIVETE holding down the grid.

Thanks for the puzzle, Michael!

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15 Responses to Tuesday, April 30, 2024

  1. Dan says:

    It was an enjoyable solve, but the theme played no role in the solve at all.

    I have come to wonder: Why bother with such themes? You read the revealer WIGGLE ROOM and you see the five rooms spelled out in wiggly letters in the circles and you almost chuckle for a half-second.

  2. Jenni Levy says:

    The theme did help me since I had TINGES first and realized I needed the T for ATTIC. We have an ATTIC and a STUDY. No LOUNGE unless you count the porch, and our PANTRY is a cabinet, not a room.

    • huda says:

      The theme did help me in a couple of spots.
      And no WIGGling can take place in our cabinet/PANTRY, nor in our non-existent ATTIC or LOUNGE.
      I wanted ELBOW ROOM when I first saw the clue, but it obviously doesn’t fit.

    • JohnH says:

      Amy’s points are well taken, and STREET had me stumped for a long while, too. (Ah, that sense of “setting.”) But I’d defend IS IT I. I find it rather poignant actually, and of course The Last Supper is part of a reasonably well-known story, no?

      I had a pantry in my kitchen but knocked it out and used the space to get more countertops and pantries in new wood. The rest, I guess not, but for feminists in lit crit there is always the “madwoman in the attic.”

  3. John L. says:

    Yeah, the first thing I think of when hearing the phrase “stolen car” is “New Jersey”. Sheesh. The facts are that based on the most recent data, 2022, New Jersey is not in the top ten states for auto theft in terms of either volume or rate, nor is Newark among the top metropolitan areas for same. But thanks for the mention. It’s a great place to raise a family and earn a living.

  4. dh says:

    re: WSJ – I guess there’s a pedant in me also; I left the last two letters after PLAN blank until I got the crossings, and I was a little disappointed in the answer. As for NJ, I grew up there and raised my kids there – but if you want to talk about theft it shouldn’t go unnoticed that the state and local tax burden there are among the worst in the country. Great beaches, great music scene in Asbury Park, but not so hot for retiring.

    I also had a small chuckle at 71A in the WSJ.

    • Zach says:

      I also chuckled at 71A, especially coming at the end of one of the worst grids and themes in recent memory. It was almost like an ad!

    • JohnH says:

      I’m inclined to cut the WSJ a break, insofar as one can get excited about an early-week puzzle. IT’S sounds just fine to my ear, maybe even more natural, and placing I in team making a new word with a different meaning just felt like an added layer.

      OULU is pretty bad although easy enough to get (and here I am reading a Norwegian writer, Jon Fosse, and struggling with pronunciation), and I’m sick and tired of supposed schoolyard comebacks (AM / ARE / IS . . . TOO /SO), but alas they’re hardly unique to this puzzle. Now if only we could get rid of them and supposed A- words like AROAR and AGLARE. It says something that Frank Longo disallows them in his Sunday Spelling Bee.

    • David Roll says:

      I am confused–your comments are not about the WSJ–and 71A was NYT

  5. JT says:

    NYT – considering today’s crossword is edited by the author of today’s Mini, I was really surprised to see the crappy “ESS” answer in both puzzles on the same day.

  6. marciem says:

    WSJ: I’m with Jim, it seems to me the revealer should be “PROVES the axiom….”, since when you put the I in place of the A in the words for team, there is longer a team (but there is an I in WIN :D :D)

  7. Seattle DB says:

    LAT: I agree with Jenni’s critique of the puzzle and while I give constructor Kyle Dolan a 3.5, the editing was either wrong or too vague in three other areas — so I deducted one point and rated the puzzle a 2.5.

  8. Lois says:

    New Yorker: Berry had a surprising (to me) number of proper nouns crossing each other. Ultimately gettable, but a sticky southwest corner.

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