Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Jonesin' 4:35 (Derek) 


LAT 2:50 (Derek) 


NYT 6:05 (Jim) 


WSJ 2:55 (Andy) 


Xword Nation untimed (janie) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 367), “All the Single Ladies”—Janie’s take

Crossword Nation 6/12 (No. 367)

Oh, man… Just say the title and the earworm starts. I’ll leave it to you to track down this iconic Beyoncé tune on your own. Yes, the theme is female-centric; but no (whew!) it has nothing to do with anyone’s “relationship status.” Instead, Liz gives us an array of four stellar women, each (as the clues make clear) a genuine standout in her field (gymnastics, film [2] and music), each of whose names contain the word ONE—the word that also sits at 40A., directly center in the grid and clued as [Single in a wallet … and a feature of the four starred answers]. The first word across at 1A. is OOMPH, and between the theme, the themers and the remainder of the fill, that’s something this puzz has in spades.

  • *17A. SIMONE BILES [With a combined total of 19 Olympic and World Championship medals, she is the most decorated American gymnast].
  • *10D. TATUM O’NEAL [At age 10, she won an Oscar for her portrayal of Addie Loggins]. In Paper Moon.
  • *29D. NORAH JONES [Her “Come Away with Me” was Album of the Year in 2003]. That was one of two Grammys she took home. The other was for Best Pop Vocal Album. Not bad for her first full-length album, eh?
  • *62A. SHARON STONE [Golden Globe-winning “Casino” actress].

In addition to this dandy array of dames, the puzzle also shines a light on Joni Mitchell, by way of HEJIRA [Joni Mitchell album whose title means “journey”]; [Clark’s girlfriend] LOIS Lane; [“Jimson Weed” painter Georgia] O’KEEFFE; HELEN, that [Beauty of Troy]; and those [May honorees], our MOMS.

With all that estrogen running through the grid, we also get gender parity through: ARI Gold of Entourage; ABE Burrows (he of Cactus Flower fame [among a looooong list of writing credits for stage and screen, both large and small…]); [Author Umberto] ECO; LON [Horror film legend Chaney]; REACHER [Jack in a Tom Cruise film] (a character-name eponymous film at that); ARES [Mars, to Greeks]; and (for men and women alike) the NCAA, that [March Madness grp.]. “THEN…, because it summoned thoughts of the Hunter S. Thompson, the GONZO [Freewheeling type of journalism] pair, too.

All of which makes for a high-OCTANE solve, imho. With lots to ADMIRE and little to LESSEN the enjoyment. Context is everything, which is why I liked the colloquial [“There’s nothing LEFT TO say”] and [Well-HEELED (affluent)]. Also the NASA-related reminder that [“Failure IS NOT an option”]. And how about that [Pro with a racket?] CONMAN pairing. I’m one who’s guilty of first trying to make NET MAN fit… D’oh. In addition to finding this puzzle to be association-rich (see also: EDITOR, OP ED and GONZO, and ODIE and ALPO), I also found it to be a particularly smooth solve. How’d it go for you?

The clue that took me aback some (yet also amused me)? That’d have to be [Fax button] for SEND. I SEND my share of documents electronically (love my little ScanSnap), but it’s been yeeeeears since I’ve sent a fax. “It’s a new world, Golde…”

And with that, folks, adios for today. Am hoping the week ahead will be a good one for you, that you’ll stop by again next week and that, regardless, you’ll keep solving!

Pancho Harrison’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Andy’s review

WSJ Puzzle 06.12.18 by Pancho Harrison

Hello! This is Andy, subbing in for Laura today. I hope the solution grid is legible: I’m solving almost all my puzzles nowadays on paper, so I decided to scan in my grid instead of resolving the puzzle in the WSJ applet.

Today’s theme is revealed at 62a, AHEAD OF TIME [Early, or a hint to where each half of each starred answer can be found]. Let’s look at those starred entries:


Of the eight “___ time” phrases, only “sack time” was unfamiliar to me, but it means exactly what I suspected it did. This is a fairly straightforward early-week theme, but it’s nicely executed: all four theme entries work well as standalone phrases and as “___ time” phrases, and the revealer, AHEAD OF TIME, is perfect.

A few notes:

  • I dropped in SATORI at 18d [Sudden enlightenment] but didn’t feel confident about it because (a) it’s a hard word for a Tuesday puzzle, and (b) it’s a Zen Buddhist term for a sudden awakening or comprehension, and nowhere in the clue was Buddhism mentioned.
  • I liked seeing the current actress EMILIA Clarke at 20a [Clarke who plays Daenerys on “Game of Thrones”]. I just saw Solo and thought she was very good in it!
  • Lots of short stuff in this one, and very little junk: all that stood out to me were he partials A NEST, IN A, and LE ROI, the foreign ESTADO, and the perfectly fine prefix NEURO-. Nothing else in the grid really stood out as good or bad.

I’ll be back with the Thursday NYT review… until next time!

Tracy Gray and Samuel A. Donaldson’s New York Times crossword — Jim’s review

Jim here sitting in for Amy who is attending her son’s high school graduation. I will be doing the same on Friday night (except for my son, not hers).

We have a dynamic duo today bringing us a whole mess of hot shoe action!

NYT – Tue, 6.12.18 – By Tracy Gray and Samuel A. Donaldson

  • 20a [Cat burglar’s shoe purchase?] SUCTION PUMPS. I had SUCTION PUMAS at first (because of the word “cat” and the shoe brand), and I thought this theme was going to get dicey. I’m glad it resolved itself into a recognizable phrase.
  • 28a [Synchronized swimmer’s shoe purchase?] WATER MOCCASINS. That would be unusual in an already unusual sport.
  • 42a [Event coordinator’s shoe purchase?] PARTY PLATFORMS. The perfect party shoe for the vertically-challenged (like me). My brother has PLATFORMS. Er, I should say, one platform. One of his legs is shorter than the other.
  • 48aR [Why the buyers of 20-, 28- and 42-Across are in the shoe store?] JUST FOR KICKS

Cute theme which I found to be enjoyable. However, I’m not feeling that the revealer ties things together. I get that it’s meant as a more literal joke, but I don’t think the cat burglar is intending to do much kicking. That might defeat his purpose. I think it would have been nicer if a fourth entry were found since a revealer really isn’t necessary.

Still, it was cute, and JUST FOR KICKS is such a fun entry. But do you think they’re trying to manipulate us subliminally with entries like GREATS, SUPER-SIZED, HOOPLA, “YOU WIN!,” and “WHAT A TREAT!”? Well, it worked on me.

Some crusty bits crept into the grid like ABIE, EDDA, and dated IROC. WHO DAT also feels dated, but there’s other good stuff in there like G-FORCES (with clever clue [Pressing concerns for astronauts?]), HALFTIME, and MEMOIRS.

And did you notice the pseudo-selfie at 39a [Newsman Donaldson]? Fair’s fair, though. Where’s TRACY?

Cute theme. Fun fill. 3.5 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Triple 8″ – Derek’s write-up

We have another milestone for this week’s Jonesin’ puzzle. Not many people have made nearly 1,000 puzzles, but just for this venue alone this marks the 888th puzzle, which translates to just over, at one each week, 17 years of Jonesin’s! I think Matt had a similar theme for 777 or 800, I don’t remember. I will try and look that up later today, but no promises! Each them answer today, appropriately, has a hidden EIGHT:

  • 20A [Defunct newspaper from North Carolina’s state capital] RALEIGH TIMES
  • 35A [Certain Winter Olympics squad, as spelled in some countries] BOBSLEIGH TEAM
  • 50A [Compare pros and cons] WEIGH THE ODDS

Nothing overly special here, other than the usual nice solving experience. I will give plenty of kudos for the longevity. I am curious to see what Matt has in store for number 1000, which will be around August 2020! There are a couple of toughies in this grid, but I don’t notice the pretty-much-weekly obscure pop culture ref this week. Or maybe I just knew them all this time! 4.3 stars this week.

A few notes:

  • 14A [Cholesterol drug with the generic version Simvastatin] ZOCOR – There are so many drug commercials anymore I cannot keep the names straight. I don’t take anything for cholesterol (yet!), so I have no reason to know.
  • 23A [ __ el hanout (North African spice)] RAS – I said there was no obscure pop culture trivia, I didn’t say there wasn’t any obscure trivia! This seems hard to me.
  • 62A [Pied __ (“Silicon Valley’ company)] PIPER – This I suppose does count as that obscure pop culture trivia! My one error is in this answer, since BOCCI can be spelled with an E (I think!) and I have not seen this HBO show yet.
  • 5D [Basement apartment resident at 123 Sesame Street] ERNIE – This bit of trivia I know! My favorite Muppet!
  • 8D [Having as a goal] ASPIRING TO – I swear I have seen this entry before, and probably in a past Jonesin’, but xwordinfo.com shows zero hits for this one. I was a little surprised at this.
  • 24D [Exclamation often misspelled with the second letter at the end] WHOA! – WOAH! People misspell this?
  • 49D [Italian lawn bowling] BOCCI – Again, I don’t have a solid grasp of Italian evidently!

That is all for today!

C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Under three minutes! I tried to hurry, and I have done so many of C.C.’s puzzles that this one fell easily. We have an anagram theme today, with a revealer in a unique position at 35D:

  • 16A [Area behind velvet ropes, often] VIP SECTION
  • 60A [Former “SNL” regular known for Sinatra impressions] JOE PISCOPO
  • 10D [Commercial rental property] OFFICE SPACE
  • 24D [Beverage-named Denver arena] PEPSI CENTER – Home of the NBA’s Nuggets and the NHL’s Avalanche.
  • 35D [Curry powder, e.g. … and what each set of puzzle circles contains] SPICE MIX

I thought the revealer might be in the middle, but it is better in this spot. It should be more towards the end, and it is in a spot you don’t think it would be, which lends to the solving experience. A pleasant solving experience again by the prolific C.C. Burnikel. A solid 4.4 stars today.

Some notes:

  • 15A [Jackson 5 hairdo] AFRO – They’re coming back! I cannot grow one, sadly …
  • 22A [Cholesterol-inhibiting drug] LIPITOR – The Jonesin’ also has an entry that is a cholesterol medicine. This country lives on pills!!
  • 46A [John of “Star Trek” (2009)] CHO – This was 9 years ago??
  • 1D [Cleveland NBAer] CAV – Of which LeBron James will only be a member of for a short while longer after getting railroaded in the recently concluded Finals!
  • 2D [“Moonlight” Oscar winner Mahershala __ ] ALI – Always a welcome alternative to a common crossword name!
  • 4D [Argentine soccer superstar Lionel] MESSI – A major player in the World Cup that starts on Thursday!
  • 14D [“Wonder Woman” publisher] DC COMICS – Growing up, I was solidly a DC fan over Marvel. The Marvel movies have been MUCH better so far, but DC is catching up!
  • 47D [Ryder of “Edward Scissorhands”] WINONA – If you thought Star Trek was a long time ago, this movie came out in 1990! It is nearly THIRTY years old!!

Have a great week everyone, and I will see you on Saturday.

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17 Responses to Tuesday, June 12, 2018

  1. David says:

    Wow! Both Jim (here) and Jeff (at xwordinfo) missed the revealer as a themer. “Kicks” is a word for shoes.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      Well, we’re both West Coast guys. Is that a regional term? I’ve never heard it.

      • Lise says:

        I don’t hear “kicks” here in Virginia, and I have a lot of shoes. Way too many, say some in my family. But to be fair, a great many of them are Chucks. I looked the word up, and there’s a business called KicksUSA which pretty much covers the East Coast and which I should definitely avoid because, see above.

        So “kicks” does look like a regional term. Is anyone else familiar with it?

        • Huda says:

          I never knew KICKS meant shoes. I do like the expression, though.
          Like Jim, I though kicking should be evoked by the theme entries. It worked for the swimmer and for the party (kicking up your heels?) but I was straining to make it work for the Cat Burglar (unless he was rappelling). Lots of gyrations to make it fit!
          And like Jim, I entered PUMA first, for the same reason.

    • Howard B says:

      “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People. #3 hit in 2011, went Platinum in 2014.
      Huge song. You can find the links ;).

      • ahimsa says:

        Yep, that song instantly came to mind after I got the reveal.

        I’m also on the west coast.

  2. janie says:

    big week for team fiend and high school graduations. sweet. congrats to you, too, jim!


  3. Jim Hale says:

    Very enjoyable puzzle. Not very knowledgeable on women’s shoes but I do recall a woman I knew that was which brought back her memory.

  4. Ethan says:

    Elegant and smooth NYT grid. Some good midlength stuff like TROUNCED. WHO DAT is more familiar to me as a chant by New Orleans Saints fans, and I wonder if it was originally clued that way?

  5. Scott says:

    For the record:

    I also started with PUMAS.

    I do know the term Kicks for Shoes.

  6. Ethan Friedman says:

    Nice smooth NYT. Do know “kicks” for shoes; I suspect it’s an under-35 thing (although I don’t fall into that category).

  7. Matthew says:

    My sixty-something mother from the south definitely uses “kicks” for shoes.

  8. Gareth says:

    One thing that makes Zhouqin’s puzzles stand out, is how often she works in great non-theme answers into the puzzles: LIPITOR, HINTHINT and DCCOMICS are all answers I’d love to find in a themeless…

  9. scrivener says:

    I enjoyed both the NYT and LAT puzzles today, but I am going to step behind my English Teacher lectern and beg people to stop calling Stuart Little a mouse!

    WHEN Mrs. Frederick C. Little’s second son arrived, everybody noticed that he was not much bigger than a mouse. The truth of the matter was, the baby looked very much like a mouse in every way. He was only about two inches high; and he had a mouse’s sharp nose, a mouse’s tail, a mouse’s whiskers, and the pleasant, shy manner of a mouse. Before he was many days old he was not only looking like a mouse but acting like one, too—wearing a gray hat and carrying a small cane. Mr. and Mrs. Little named him Stuart, and Mr. Little made him a tiny bed out of four clothespins and a cigarette box.

    Sure, he looks and behaves something like a mouse (the hat and cane would normally be dead giveaways), but he speaks English, and his parents and brother are human. And he’s in love with a robin, so how can he be a mouse? He’s clearly a person!

  10. Clamato8 says:

    There is also a terrific, if harrowing movie called “Kicks, with a plotline that revolves around a pair of Air Jordans: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4254584/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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