Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Jonesin' 12:23 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 3:20 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 5:42 (Matt F) 


USA Today tk (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ 5:25 (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Freestyle, Full Substance” — celebrating puzzle #1200!. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 6/4/24

Jonesin’ solution 6/4/24

Hello lovelies, and congrats to Matt for 1,200 Jonesin’ grids! That’s an impressive feat. He’s gifted us with a difficult themeless this week.

There is so much innovative fill in this grid. I loved seeing words and phrases not often found in crosswords such as STARGAZERS, DALEKS, HORSE SENSE, CHUCKLEHEADED, and FROM THE WORD GO. On the other hand, I had to straight Google LEONSIS, SEABORG, TAE, YEREVAN, LLEYTON, and LATKA just to get a foothold in the grin. Even with looking up several entries, this grid took over twice my usual solve time.

Today I learned that the Sony’s robotic dog companion AIBO was first sold in 1999 for $2100 US dollars. The newest version can be yours for a mere $2899.99!

Until next week!

Josh Goodman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Backfield”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar names and phrases that hide common grain types backwards. The revealer is AGAINST THE GRAIN (57a, [Contrary to what’s expected, or how the circled letters are flowing]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Backfield” · Josh Goodman · Tue., 6.4.24

  • 15a. [Do an impossible geometry feat] SQUARE THE CIRCLE. Rice.
  • 28a. [Armstrong and Aldrin collected about 47 pounds of them] MOON ROCKS. Corn.
  • 36a. [“Let You Love Me” singer] RITA ORA. Oat.
  • 45a. [Site of a famous London “zebra crossing”] ABBEY ROAD. Rye.

Great theme set with fun answers. I love the two grid-spanners, and the revealer makes a solid basis for a theme. MOON ROCKS and ABBEY ROAD are universally familiar (or nearly so), and most crossworders know RITA ORA, even if they’ve never heard any of her music. Well done.

But where the heck does CHUMBAWAMBA get off putting that A between the W and M and then pronouncing it like the U near the beginning? Like a normal person, I spelled it CHUMBAWUMBA with crossing AVU [“Abbott Elementary” principal] (never seen the show, so while it seemed odd, it felt plausible). But still, fun entry.


Clue of note: 12a. [Feeling after doing squat?]. ACHE. That should really be “squats” or “a squat,” but some leeway is warranted.

Solid theme and strong fill. 3.75 stars.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 680), “What’s the Dealio?”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 680: “What’s the Dealio?”

Hello there, everybody! Here is hoping all of you are doing well and that you haven’t found yourself experiencing a June swoon at the moment.

We have some fun with a few vowels in this puzzle, as common phrases and proper nouns are turned into puns when adding the letters “IO” at the end of one of the words. This one definitely deserves a patio on the back.

      • ARBORIO DAY (17A: [24-hour celebration of an Italian short-grain rice?])
      • THE RATIO PACK (23A: [Group nickname of Vegas math nerds Frank, Sammy, Dean , Joey and Peter?]) – This is probably the first time that I knew the first and last names of each member off the top of my head. I’m proud! Peter Lawford was always the one that elided my memory bank for the longest time!
      • CRAZY SEXY COOLIO (36A: [TLC album dedicated to the “Too Hot” rapper?]) – Two different references to TLC in this puzzle? Solid! “Don’t go chasing waterfalls … “
      • BRONX CHEERIO (47A: [“Toodle-oo!” from New York’s northernmost borough?]) – My personal favorite theme answer
      • CASH CARDIO (57A: [Johnny’s exercise video with the soundtrack “I Power Walk the Line”?])

I didn’t notice the use of FRANK as an entry and a word in the clue for one of the theme answers until I started to type up this take (12D: [Candid]). Again, I’m more than OK with dupes like that as long as it’s not obvious, and that wasn’t obvious to me … not did it take away from my solving experience.  Please tell me the universities that offer the fictional (?) class mentioned in the clue for EASY A, as I would totally want to sit in that class one time (49D: [“The Geopolitics of the Kazoo,” course-wise]). Now I can totally see someone doing that sort of class, but with the vuvuzela instead of the kazoo given the former’s prevalence at sporting events, peaking at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BAM (20A: [Kapow!]) – At this time last year, Bam Adebayo was getting ready to play in the NBA Finals with the Miami Heat. The center just completed his seventh season in the league, and the third in which he made the All-Star team. Adebayo also was named as a First-Team All-Defense selection for the first time at the end of this season. Bam’s given first name is Edrice, but was nicknamed “Bamm-Bamm” as a kid by his mom after watching the Flintstones and her baby showed his strength by flipping over a table. Nice way to earn a nickname!

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

Take care!


Daniel Bodily’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 6/4/24 – no. 0604

I’ve got a quibble with the theme revealer, “CAN’T / TOUCH /THIS,” [With 67- and 68-Across, MC Hammer lyric that applies to each of the answers to the starred clues]. The lyric is “you [or U] can’t touch this,” so it feels a bit off-kilter. The five things you can’t touch in this theme are a CAMERA LENS, WET PAINT, an ELECTRIC FENCE, the LIMBO BAR you’re shimmying beneath, and a CRIME SCENE (unless you’re collecting evidence there). Bonus point for poison SUMAC and the black MAMBA; the INSECT could’ve been a murder hornet rather than it’s-not-sports [Cricket, e.g.].

Overall, the fill’s quite smooth, Fave fill: SLIMS DOWN, AMNESIACS, and the children’s menu/PLACEMAT/puzzle page.

I looked up 20a. [“Woman in a ___” (Degas painting)], TUB. There’s a Wikipedia page for Degas’s set of pastel drawings with the woman/tub theme. Boy, that last one looks awkward! If you can find a Degas painting called “Woman in a Tub,” let me know.

3.75 stars from me.


Taylor Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

Fun theme! Did you figure it out before you saw the revealer?

The theme answers follow a pattern.

Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2024, Taylor Johnson, solution grid

  • 17a [Vegetable patch pest] is a GARDEN SNAIL. So far I haven’t seen any this season. Lots of rabbits, though.
  • 25a [Feline who lives indoors] is a HOUSE CAT. I prefer those to the felines who stalk our bird feeders. Grr.
  • 37a [Workplace companion] is an OFFICE DOG. This can be controversial.
  • 52a [New York City rodent that went viral in 2015] was the PIZZA RAT. Google it yourself. I hate looking at rats.

And the revealer: 62a [Really fun person, or an apt descriptor of 17-, 25-, 37-, and 52-Across?] is PARTY ANIMALGARDEN PARTYHOUSE PARTYOFFICE PARTY, and PIZZA PARTY (my fave!). Nice!

A few other things:

  • 1a [Pool or polo] is GAME. I’ve been doing a lot of cryptics lately so my brain fastened on the anagram and wouldn’t let go.
  • 11d [Judy Garland or Cher] is a GAY ICON. Why is that?
  • Anyone run into ANIL in the wild (i.e. not in a crossword) lately?
  • The Baltimore ballplayers are fierce this year. It’s a good time to be an ORIOLE fan.
  • Love The Great BRITISH Baking Show!

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that IRAN borders Armenia. I think we’ve established that geography is whatever the opposite of a strong suit is. Also did not know that FILA is based in Seoul.

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

New Yorker • 6/4/24 • Tue • Lucido • solution • 20240604

(Again I can’t figure out where the New Yorker’s difficulty determinations have landed, or if they’ve landed. This one was not challenging.)

  • 1a [Hunter that only comes out at night?] ORION. We’ve seen this plenty of times before, so it was a gimme.
  • 6a [Marcel Marceau character] BIP. Conversely, this used to be more common in crosswords, but not of late.
  • 14a [Knockout] HOT TAMALE. Just yesterday we were discussing English pluralizations of  loan words.
  • 16a [“This one’s __” (“Not my fault”)] ON YOU. 17a. [Someone’s gotta tell it like it is …”] JUST SAYIN’. 37d [Possible reply to “You wouldn’t dare …”] WATCH ME. 53d [“Let’s leave __ that”] IT AT.
  • 23a [Travel with class?] STUDY ABROAD. Nice clue.
  • 33a [One who might say “I don’t mean to pry …” and then proceed to pry] BUTTINSKY. 11d [Non-verbal equivalent of a groan] EYEROLL. 23d [Metaphorical transport for someone experiencing difficulty] STRUGGLE BUS. 41d [Lunch option, jocularly] SAMMICH.
  • 36a [Cutesy palindromic emoticon face. UWU, or more accurately uwu, or perhaps more accurate still:  u ω u). This skews younger and my guess as the clue/answer most likely to flummox solvers.
  • 46a [Viral tumblers that come in a wide array of colors] STANLEY CUPS. I don’t get the hype. In unrelated news, the NHL’s championship finals are just about to commence.
  • 58a [Facial hair sported by John Cleese on the BBC’s “Fawlty Towers”] MOUSTACHE. An oddly specific context, the sort of thing I imagine is a manifestation of an authorial touch.
  • 1d [“Well that’s wonderful,” sarcastically] OH JOY. I have been known to use this a time or two.
  • 4d [“A Man Called __” (2022 Tom Hanks film)] OTTO. Remake of the Swedish film adaptation featuring title character OVE, which I feel is even better crossword material.
  • 25d [“The Power of the __” (2021 film)] DOG. Overall I was underwhelmed by it, despite some good sequences. More than a couple of plot holes/errors, too. 29a [Make a mistake] ERR.
  • 50d [They’re thrown down in some forms of divination] BONES. This could be hakata or osteomancy.

Universal Crossword – Matt F’s Review

Title: Rack Up
Constructor: Dylan Schiff
Editor: David Steinberg

Universal Solution 06.04.2024

Hoo boy, this is some theme. I’ll take a stab at making sense of things for you, but I’ll be honest I was not quite sure how everything was meant to add up here while I was solving the puzzle.

Theme Synopsis:

I’m going to start by laying out the theme answers to see if I can extract any meaning from the set as a whole. Bear with me.

  • 17A: 1+1+1, for a word meaning “fish catcher” = NET WORTH
  • 23A: 3+1+1+3+4, for a word meaning “fire starter” = MATCH POINTS
  • 39A: 3+1+1+2+1+3+1+1+1+1, for a word meaning “manufacturing” = PRODUCTION VALUE
  • 51A: 3+1+1+2+1+1, for a word meaning “recognition” = CREDIT SCORE
  • 61A: Game that inspired this puzzle = SCRABBLE

Ohhhh, ok. Got it!

When I solved this I totally skipped over the reveal (the rare time I “quick fill” a word without reading its clue and it happened to be the revealer. Ha! My luck). Now that I see the theme laid out, this is pretty straightforward.

Each of the theme answers is comprised of a word spelled out by its tile point values in Scrabble. So at 17A, N-E-T on a Scrabble board would be counted “1+1+1” and this totals to the score of that particular Scrabble play.

N-E-T is worth 3 points (1+1+1)
M-A-T-C-H is 12 points (3+1+1+3+4)
The value of P-R-O-D-U-C-T-I-O-N is 15 (3+1+1+2+1+3+1+1+1+1)
The score for C-R-E-D-I-T is 9 (3+1+1+2+1+1)

Overall Impressions

Ok, got the hard part out of the way. Maybe I would have caught onto the theme gimmick if I wasn’t so focused on just solving the puzzle. I’m no speed solver, but I’ve heard anecdotally that many of them do not pay attention to theme content whatsoever while solving. It happened to me today and I didn’t even try to avoid it. I just didn’t take time to appreciate it until afterwards. Anyway, upon reflection, this is a playful, solid theme set. The back half of each theme answer is a synonym for “total,” the front half completes an in-the-language phrase, and the clue gives us the Scrabble tile values for the first word.  Nice throughline!

Thanks for the puzzle, Dylan!

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18 Responses to Tuesday, June 4, 2024

  1. Martin says:

    Many of Degas’ pastels qualify as paintings.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: I thought it was very clever. I had no idea about the lyrics and I got ” CAMERA LENS” and “ELECTRIC FENCE” and thought may be things should rhyme, which I needed to discard promptly. So, it took a while for me to see the connection, but it was a good aha moment.

    SUMAC is a wonderful spice, especially if you get the right kind. Check out Musakhan recipes, which I fell in love with when living in Jordan.

    Re the Degas Paintings/Pastels- All these different women in such a shallow, unsatisfying tub… this one feels better (but it’s not called a tub)
    It’s intersting to look at the body of his work and recognize that it was mostly about capturing movement.

    • marciem says:

      Wiki has “Woman in a Tub” as a drawing. Then there’s the Degas PAINTING of “The Tub”. Two different works. Then again there is “Woman in THE tub”… another work and I don’t know which that one is. It’s a pastel… drawing or painting?

      Wow, I always associated Degas with ballet motifs, not bathing… he did lots and lots of ladies performing ablutions as well as dancing. And yes, calling some of those little pans of water “tubs” is misleading.

    • Martin says:

      There’s always a shaker of sumac on the table at Iranian restaurants, to be sprinkled on the koubideh kabab and rice. I’ll never forget the look on the waitress’s face when I innocently asked how you say “sumac” in Persian (Farsi). I had no idea it was a Farsi and Arabic word.

  3. David L says:

    Things that I have definitely touched: CAMERALENS and WETPAINT (both by mistake) and ELECTRICFENCE (it was a dare when I was a boy, seeing who could hold on to an electric fence longest).

  4. marciem says:

    TNY: Are we olds supposed to squint our eyes or crick our necks or what to see the 36a: u w u emoticon? I’ve tried, even with pannonica’s help, and it isn’t there for me :( . What does it signify, cutisily?

  5. JohnH says:

    TNY made me feel out of it (to mention just a few, STANLEY CUPS, UWU, STRUGGLE BUS, or the change in name/spelling from Calcutta, although it’s been some time now). So I wouldn’t call it a breeze by any means. I’m old enough to have seen a bit of Bewitched and Marcel Marceau but remember nothing of either. The placement of long entries also make it hard to break into new corners. But interesting entries, for sure.

  6. Dallas says:

    NYT: I gotta say that while I was a teen when U Can’t Touch This came out and am very familiar with it, I would’ve bet $100 that the specific lyric was “can’t touch this” in the song… something about the rhythmic pattern erased the “you” from my memory. But you’re right… I guess that’s a TIL moment. Nice puzzle!

  7. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: While I never mind being reminded of John Cleese’s wonderful performance as Basil Fawlty, perhaps he was mentioned in the clue to point the solver to what may be the preferred spelling of “mustache” in British English?

    The only STANLEY CUP I’d ever heard of was the NHL trophy. Yeti (the cooler company) is based in Austin (where I live), so if I were looking for an expensive insulated tumbler, that’s what I’d likely see.

    I’ve never heard of the UWU emoticon, either. I can’t imagine using it. I’ll admit to sometimes using a smiling face emoticon if I want to be sure people know that I’m joking.

    Minor missteps: 9A nErdY before GEEKY and 41D SAMMIes before SAMMICH. Throw in a bazillion typos and I get an unimpressive solving time for a nice, breezy puzzle.

    • Gary R says:

      That was my take on the MOUSTACHE clue, too.

      I use emoticons in emails and texts, but UWU (or uwu) made no sense to me at all. Looked at the references @PJ provided and still don’t get it. I had the same reaction as @marciem to the “w” – but couldn’t see how that worked. For what it’s worth, neither Outlook nor my messaging app turns “uwu” into anything (they do with smile and wink emojis).

      I got lucky going with GEEKY first and think “sammies” is a better answer than SAMMICH.

      I really do abhor JUST SAYIN’!

      • pannonica says:

        I always spell moustache that way. Didn’t realize it signal(l)ed a Briticism.

        • Eric H says:

          My dictionary has both spellings and doesn’t mark the “ou” one as especially British. That’s just me speculating. (I checked the Collins dictionary, which is the only British English dictionary I know of, and it doesn’t show a preference for that spelling.)

          But c’mon — the Brits write things like “colour” and “labour”!

    • Lois says:

      I wondered briefly about the choice of spelling of MOUSTACHE, but didn’t do any research on it. Now that it’s a few hours later, my preferred theory is that it’s the New Yorker spelling. “I don’t know it for a fact, I just know it’s true.”–Bill Maher

      • Eric H says:

        You could be right. They do have a fusty style manual.

        And sometimes, I can be a bit naïve.

  8. Seattle DB says:

    Jonesin’: I rated this puzzle a 2 because it wasn’t fun or funny (which is Matt’s usual style).

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