Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Jonesin' 4:05 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 5:05 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 6:47 (Matt F) 


USA Today tk (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ 5:45 + 1 error (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Out for the Count” — a familiar set. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 6/11/24

Jonesin’ solution 6/11/24

Hello lovelies! We’re back to themed puzzles this week, with an easy 1, 2, 3, 4 flanking the theme entries.

  • 19a. [Night of amateur comedy or music, more formally] OPEN MICROPHONE
  • 31a. [City between Cleveland and Akron which hosts an annual festival for multiple births] TWINSBURG OHIO
  • 40a. [Shel Silverstein children’s book that has drawn controversy] THE GIVING TREE
  • 53a. [Washington, for one] FOUNDING FATHER

Other things:

  • 41d. [Singer/songwriter Shepard who recurred on “Ally McBeal”] VONDA. She recorded the show’s theme song “Searchin’ My Soul” as well as five soundtrack albums.

Until next week!

Geoff Brown’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Domain NameS”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are famous people whose first names are also U.S. state capitals. The revealer is HUMAN CAPITAL (55a, [Employee knowledge and skills, and a clue to 20-, 27-, 37- and 45-Across]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Domain NameS” · Geoff Brown · Tue., 6.11.24

  • 20a. [Best Actor nominee as Elvis in “Elvis”] AUSTIN BUTLER. Austin, TX.
  • 27a. [Former three-term senator from Maine] OLYMPIA SNOWE. Olympia, WA.
  • 37a. [“A Place in the Sun” star] MONTGOMERY CLIFT. Montgomery, AL.
  • 45a. [Fashion designer who introduced the bubble dress] PIERRE CARDIN. Pierre, SD.

Nice theme. There certainly aren’t that many well-known names that fit in this category, so I’m impressed a suitable set could be found. The names are decidedly older, but at least there’s one newer name included. Austin Powers could’ve fit where AUSTIN BUTLER is, but then the puzzle would’ve been inconsistent with one fictional name. With such a tight theme, I think we can look past the pronunciation change in the last entry.

I did finish with an error that I couldn’t find, however. I answered 10d [Use a keyhole, say] with PEEk IN instead of PEER IN. This gave me AUSTIN BUTLEK which looked odd, but having never heard of the actor, seemed feasible. I never even considered an R there.

PEER IN isn’t great fill and there were some other entries that detracted from the puzzle as well: KEPI, RAU, UHS, ORT, IN RE, REHOOK, and the UP trio: UP AT, “I’M UP,” and RE-UP. All that plus RICRAC [Zigzag ribbon trimming] which was completely new to me and uninferable. Some of that would be tough to expunge from the grid, but I’m sure it could be cleaned up at least a little bit. For example, the artificial REHOOK could become REHOME by changing OHIO to EDAM and WALK to LATE.

Highlights CHAIR LEG, CHIA PETS, CAN OPENER, and SKI BUM were quite nice on the other hand.

As for the puzzle title, I was convinced it was an error, but now I’m not so sure. The “capital S” may just be a hint that the theme answers include “capitals”. Let me know if you agree.

Nice theme, but the fill knocks it down a peg. 3.5 stars.

Chloe Revery’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 6/11/24 – no. 0611

Today’s theme revealer is FIRST LADY, [Title for Jackie or Jill, and a hint to the answers to the starred clues], and the four themers begin with words that can complete “Lady ___”:

  • 17a. [*Crazy for], GAGA ABOUT. Props to Lady Gaga, but I’m not gaga about GAGA ABOUT as a crossword entry. HAPPY ABOUT wouldn’t fly at all as an unthemed entry, right?
  • 23a. [*Title role for Lee Marvin in a 1962 western], LIBERTY VALANCE. The movie is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
  • 36a. [*Get seriously fortunate], LUCK OUT.
  • 48a. [*Meteorological description in a Beatles song], MARMALADE SKIES. In a line from Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” Also not loving this as a crossword entry. “Lady Marmalade,” of course, is also a song, albeit with a different pronunciation vs. the common noun marmalade.

I just bought a pair of Danskos, which did not help me one whit with 14a. [Danish shoe brand]. Designer Marc Ecko and kitchenware brand Ekco interfered, too. The shoe brand is ECCO.

Did not know: 16a. [Poet Frank who led the 1950s-’60s “New York School”], O’HARA. I have now read three of his poems. Here’s one of them, “The Eyelid Has Its Storms…”.

Also did not know, and I’d wager maybe 1% of us have ever encountered this word: 38d. [Trumpet flourish], TUCKET. What the tuck is that? The crossings are reasonable, but boy, I wasn’t expecting to run into such vocab in a Tuesday puzzle.


Three stars from me.

Will Nediger + Jeffrey Martinovic’s Universal Crossword, “On the Bandwagon” — Matt F’s Review

Universal Solution 06.11.24

Ba-dum-tss! This one is for the music fans out there. We have some lively musical puns in today’s theme. Let’s dig in and see what Will and Jeffrey cooked up for us.

Theme Synopsis:

Take a list of instrument parts: strings… keys… sticks… slides… ok, nice grouping. Now, find common phrases that use these words in a different context, and voila, you have a crossword theme!

  • 18A: What harpists do? = PULL STRINGS
  • 24A: What expert pianists do? = MASTER KEYS
  • 34A/36A: What drummers do? = PICKUP STICKS
  • 49A: What expert trombonists do? = ROCK SLIDES
  • 54A: Bring together the instrumentalists in [all of the above] = POOL PLAYERS

Overall Impressions

That long diagonal string of black squares is something found more commonly in a themeless. Interesting to see it utilized here in a themed puzzle. The split central entry makes it possible. Even with that dividing line, the top and bottom theme pairs have five crossing entries each that go through both theme answers. It’s hard enough to cross 2 themers twice, let alone 10 times. Kudos to the constructors for keeping this all so clean. What I like most about this theme is that each phrase, normally, is an adjective + noun pair, and in the musical context here the adjective changes into a verb. This is a subtle yet important shift that really elevates this theme. The final theme answer works double duty, fitting the theme gimmick and also service as a semi-reveal to tie the other themers together. Furthermore, I love the double 8’s that hold down the NW/SE corners: NEED ASAP + APRÈS SKI \ KEN DOLLS + SIDEKICK – excellent use of those slots. This puzzle is certainly no ATROCITY. Great stuff all around.

Thanks for the puzzle, Will and Jeffrey!

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 681), “Common Knowledge”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 681: Common Knowledge

Hello there, everyone! Summer weather is here, and I hope you are enjoying it so far!

There’s a progression that is featured in the theme, as all of the theme answers are two words (or two syllables). Starting with the first theme answer, TRACK STAR, the first word in the next theme answer is the last word of that previous themed answer, and so on and so on, until the last theme answer ends with the word that began the cycle.

      • TRACK STAR (17A: [Sha’Carri Richardson or Florence Griffith-Joyner])
      • STARBUCK (25A: [Ahab’s first mate])
      • BUCKEYES (30A: [Ohio State athletes])
      • EYES LEFT (41A: [Drill instructor’s command])
      • LEFT BACK (45A: [Defensive position in soccer])
      • BACK TRACK (58A: [Retrace one’s steps])

Four nine-letter, non-themed answers featured in this grid, with STEAM BATH giving me reason to sweat even more as I’m sitting in my already-warm room (35D: [Sweater compartment?]). Not much of a fan of peanuts, so, unfortunately, I have never enjoyed MACAROONS the way many others have (9D: [Delicate almond-flavored cookies]). We’re moving closer to the 55th anniversary of the moon landing, so nice to see ALDRIN featured so close to that historic day of July 20, 1969 (40A: [Apollo 11 astronaut “Buzz”]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OTTO (62A: [Sgt. Snorkel’s canine]) – As much as I want to talk about the name of my alma mater’s mascot, Otto the Orange, I’ll talk about one of the great offensive lineman in NFL history who passed away last month, Jim Otto. Otto, who was one of the rare players to wear “00” as his jersey number, was an original member of the Oakland Raiders when they began operations in the 1960, and did not miss a game in any of his 15 years as a pro with the Raiders, playing (and starting) in 210 consecutive games. Otto was inducted into the Pro Football HAll of Fame in 1980.

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

Take care!


Jay Silverman’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

The revealer was the most entertaining part of the theme. It’s a fine Tuesday puzzle.

I noticed something about the theme entries.

Los Angeles Times, June 11, 2024, Jay Silverman, solution grid

  • 18a [Like some boots] is THIGHHIGH.
  • 23a [Jewish New Year] is ROSH HASHANAH.
  • 37a [With 39-Across, considered carefully] is THOUGHT/THROUGH.
  • 48a [“How do you tell them apart?”] is WHICH IS WHICH.

and the aforementioned revealer: 57a [Youth organization that 18-, 23-, 37/29-, and 48-Across could be members of?] is the FOUR H CLUB. Cute!

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Portia de ROSSI was in “Arrested Development.”

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

New Yorker • 6/11/24 • Agard • solution • 20240611

Well. This one seemed appropriate to the ‘moderately challenging’ designation.

I completed the grid with one error, which I needed to hunt up—it was the crossing of 29a [Actress who played Sandra Clark and Lisa Landry] JACKEE HARRY and 9d [Cal, by another name] BERKELEY. Perhaps influenced by the unusual spelling of the former, I conflated Boston’s BERKLEE College of Music with Berkeley University. And neither is to be confused with Berkeley Square in Mayfair, London.

  • 1a [Something drawn before a slash?] SWORD. Agard throwing down the gauntlet right at the outset!
  • 22a [Memento __ ] MORI. A classic example is a skull in artwork, especially during northern Europe’s Vanitas movement.
  • 39a [Vote that sounds like a letter] AYE. 42a [Animal that sounds like a letter] EWE. 44d [Verb that’s a homophone of 45-Down] WON, 45d [Number that’s a homophone of 44-Down] ONE.
  • 43a [They’re researched by S.E.O. specialists] KEYWORDS. SEO is search engine optimization.
  • 12d [Ball two?] HEMISPHERES. That works.
  • 23d [Orders of magnitude?] DECREES, but with the DEC- in place I tried for DECIBELS, which (a) doesn’t fit, (b) doesn’t actually make sense for the clue.
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35 Responses to Tuesday, June 11, 2024

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: Two really nice puzzles in a row. MARMALADE SKIES gave me a bit of trouble, as “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds” is not one of my favorite Beatles songs.

    After easily getting GAGA ABOUT and LIBERTY VALANCE, I tried to guess the revealer. Not only did I fail miserably at that, the import of “Jackie and Jill” went over my head. I needed Sam Corbin’s Wordplay column to help me to more fully appreciate the theme.

    Like Amy (and many other solvers), I didn’t know TUCKET. One reason I solve crossword puzzles and play other word games is to learn things. I recently decided that I stood a better chance of retaining that stuff if I kept a list, so TUCKET is now there between “step and repeat” and “wigwag.” It remains to be seen whether I will ever use any of my new words, but who knows?

    • Martin says:

      Another Spelling Bee addict, I presume.

      • Eric H says:

        The “wigwag” gave it away, didn’t it?

        I started doing Spelling Bee a few months ago after having abandoned it a couple of times over the past few years. This time, I am trying to be less obsessive about always finding every word and more tolerant of Sam Ezersky’s capricious editing of the word list.

        I’m also using the new Spelling Bee Buddy, so it was mostly the knowledge that I needed a six-letter word beginning with WI- that prompted me to try “wigwag.” But I think I also read a reader comment that the WI- words were particularly obscure.

        • marciem says:

          Bee Buddy is a great help for knowing how far you are from “QB” status…I really like it. I challenge myself to get to “genius” before firing up Buddy, just my own way of playing. Sometimes I just gotta give in and use it after “amazing”.

          • Eric H says:

            That’s pretty much how I use the Bee Buddy.

            My rationalization is that it basically just combines the two hints grids they’ve provided for a few years.

            I usually resist the urge to use the reader-supplied hints. Yes, they help me get all the words, but the damage to my self-respect is too high.

            • marciem says:

              I sometimes purposely leave a few just to try to figure out some of SteveG’s hilarious hints… I have not much ego about it, its a game and I learn new words all the time. I like a challenge but also stay for the humor. And now I know what an ugly color NANKEEN is from SteveG’s hint of Sherwin-Williams #6397 I think it was yesterday, though I had already gotten nankeen from prior puzzles.

  2. PJ says:

    TNY – Moderately challenging (11:49) for me as well. I finished with WILLAM instead of WILLEM. Along the way I had DEGREE instead of DECREE, mainly because I solved this one clockwise from the NW. 27a straightened that out for me

    I checked out JACKEE HARRY at IMDB. Despite her very lengthy entry, I haven’t encountered her in a way I’d remember. Just a couple of minor or one off roles.

    The trip from BERKLEE to to Stan Getz was enjoyable

    • JohnH says:

      Pretty good, especially for Natan Last, and appropriate for a TNY Tuesday. It does have some of his quirks, like a central long answer that’s a name and requires every single crossing. But mostly fair.

      I’m not convinced, though, that Berkeley is another name for Cal. It’s just one school in the Cal system.

      • marciem says:

        *”I’m not convinced, though, that Berkeley is another name for Cal”* Yes, it is known as Cal. Other universities in the system go by different names, often their cities or initials (i.e. UCLA, UCSB etc.), but Cal is Berkeley.

        This puzzle was e.a., not n.l. :)

      • Gary R says:

        Have to disagree with your second point. In an academic context, if you hear someone mention “Cal,” they are definitely referring to Berkeley. The other campuses in the system would be referred to as “UC – fill in the blank” (and you’ll also hear Cal referred to as UC – Berkeley). I’ve never heard “Cal system,” rather “UC system.” The other major public university system in California is (informally) the “Cal State system.”

      • Martin says:

        The entry that always gets my goat is UCAL, either clued as Berkeley or sometimes the UC system. No one says “U Cal.” Hopefully our complaints have had the desired effect, since UCAL hasn’t appeared since 2013. But we must remain vigilant.

        • P Merrell says:

          My parents both attended Berkeley, and we lived within driving distance until I was 9, when we moved east. During those years, as a family, we would visit the campus occasionally, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized my mother was saying we were going to the “Cal camp” (short for “campus”) rather than the “cow camp.” I always wondered why there were no cows.

  3. marciem says:

    NYT: Count me in the 99% never heard the word of the trumpet “tucket” before. I might say “tucket” when I mean something less genteel :) ..

    TNY: Enjoyable solve with enough new to keep it interesting and good crosses to make it do-able for me. Did not know Jackee Harry nor what a S.E.O. was. Crossings were fair. Had to look up Memento Mori after the fact. I also enjoyed the juxtaposition of Cal Ripkin Jr and Cal Berkeley :)

  4. Lise says:

    NYT: I had not heard of TUCKET or APEROL, good to learn them. I hope to see them again in a puzzle or SB. I knew the shoe brand, because shoes. I’ve never owned any ECCOs, but still. I quite liked the puzzle, and I thought it was fun to have the DAME of Notre Dame crossing LADY.

    More on SB: I haven’t used hints or the Bee Buddy, but I do keep a list of words I’ve missed and I look at it on occasion, so I suppose that’s the equivalent of checking the hints. Some words appear on my list more than once, which shows you how thoroughly I look at it. 😀

    • pannonica says:

  5. Gary R says:

    TNY: Thoroughly enjoyed this. Several clues I thought were quite clever: for EXES, MIMIC, HEMISPHERES, JOINED HANDS, DECREES, TAX YEAR. Also thought the AYE, EWE, WON and ONE entries were kind of fun – not always easy with three-letter answers.

    A pretty smooth solve overall, but there were a few missteps. “Rumba” before MAMBO, “up and coming” before GOING PLACES (I was feeling quite pleased with myself for getting that one right with no crosses), “degrees” before DECREES.

    I think they could have left the question marks off the wordplay clues and this would have been squarely in the “Moderately Challenging” category.

  6. GTIJohnny says:

    WSJ print edition has DOMAIN NAMES (all letters capitalized), which is normally how all titles appear. That furthers the disconnect with the puzzle’s theme.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I texted my sister last night to ask if her husband knows a 6-letter word for a trumpet fanfare. He’s been playing trumpet for about 55 years, never encountered the word TUCKET. So! Hardly seems fair game for a Tuesday puzzle. Heck, it’s pretty out there even for a Saturday puzzle!

  8. Chris Anderegg says:

    NYT-I looked up “tucket” in the OED and the most recent usage they showed was 1891. Shakespeare used the word several times.

  9. DougC says:

    From Merriam-Webster: “Tucket can be found most notably in the stage directions of several of William Shakespeare’s plays….tucket is rarely used in contemporary English.”

    So an obsolete term, clued without any hint to its obscurity. That would be bad on any day of the week.

    • JohnH says:

      It didn’t trouble me. Some others here have noted it was nice to learn. (I didn’t know Aperol myself, but ditto.) In my case, I recognized it once I finally got it, no doubt from Shakespeare.

  10. pannonica says:

    No tucket limericks yet?

  11. Allen K says:

    I am a classical musician and composer. I know or at least have seen most common musical terms in many languages. Tucket esp. in a Tuesday puzzle is bizarre, not in common usage and really makes me wonder about the editing.

    • Martin says:

      TICKET crossing IN TOW crossing POWS and a partial NO I would have met with some griping, but probably better in retrospect.

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