Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Jonesin' untimed (Derek) 


LAT 3:15 (Derek) 


NYT 3:38 (Amy) 


WSJ 5:52 (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 385), “Taking a Knee”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 385: “Taking a Knee”

Good day, everybody! I hope the ides of October are treating you well at the moment. Today’s grid could have given solvers a little bit of a tougher time than expected — especially a couple of the theme entries — if one was not careful. In the homonymic theme, phrases and names are altered by adding letters to the end of one of the words, forming the sound similar to the word “knee.”

  • MARCONI POLO (3D: [Top designed by a wireless wizard?]) – Marco Polo.
  • PUNK ROCKNE (18A: [Musical category created by Knute & the Sex Pistols?]) – Punk rock. If you had no idea who Knute (Rockne) was, then you definitely would have had to rely on the crossings at the end of the entry.
  • BARNEY FIGHT (26D: [Rubble vs. Fife boxing match?]) – Bar fight. This would definitely be must-see-TV! Can Miller be the judge? Can the dinosaur do the post-match interviews?
  • CARNY HORNS (57A: [Megaphones for sideshow barkers?]) – Car horns.

Not knowing LAMÉ off the bat and putting in “lace” right off the bat not only was lame, but it cost me some serious time in solving (1A: [Glittery fabric]). Even worse, I did not come off of my initial answer for a long while and made me doubt the “Marconi” portion was correct going down, even though it had to be. All that is to say that I’ve come across lamé in passing a few times, but it hadn’t been etched into my memory enough so that I would not have an issue with it. Other than that, and outside of putting in “ETAS” initially instead of ETDS, things flowed pretty smoothly (67A: [LAX postings]). Absolutely loved the entry of SNOOKERED (41A: [Deceived, slangily]).

I wonder if there was hidden shout out with this grid, with SEPT (38A: [Labor Day’s mo.]) and TELETHON both appearing, as connecting the two immediately made me think of the Jerry Lewis Telethon on Labor Day that I always remembered watching when I was younger (39D: [On-air fundraiser]). In New York City, the telethon aired many years of WWOR-TV, the same network that aired a number of New York Mets baseball games. Every time I would go to that channel on Labor  Day, I would see the telethon on instead. Even with the disappointment of not seeing a Mets game on, was always fascinated at the setup of the telethon when growing up. I’ll admit that I was tempted a couple of times to call the number, just to see if the people operating the phones who appeared on camera would pick up the phone as I dialed. I’m glad I did not follow through on that mischievous plan…sort of.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PRESS (43A: [Use an iron]) – One of the top American soccer players in the country, Christen Press is a forward/striker on the United States Women’s National Team, making over 100 appearances in international play representing the USA while scoring 46 career international goals. In 2010, Press won the Hermann Trophy, awarded to the best collegiate soccer player. She made her debut with the senior national team in 2013 and, two years later, was a member of the 2015 team that won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. i

Thank you very much for your time, people! Have a great rest of your Tuesday and, as always, keep solving!

Take care!


Colin Gale’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Decked Out”—Nate’s write-up

Card-carrying puzzle solvers might enjoy today’s WSJ puzzle:

WSJ 10.16.18

WSJ 10.16.18

35A: THREE PIECE SUITS [Exec outfits, and the contents of the circled spaces]

The WSJ makes use of its new circle-in-the-square functionality in a nice way. Each of the four suits is split in three parts across multiple entries in the same row. This can’t have been easy to put together, especially with having to find fill starting with TS and DS. I’ll admit that fill like LUB STADIA MON DST make me say UGH a bit, but I’ll take it for the overall payoff. I very much enjoyed the revealer and appreciated its prominence in the puzzle.

Because the theme entries were just pieced together portions of shorter fill, it was odd to have the longer fill be unrelated to the theme; in that way, parts of the puzzle felt a bit like a themeless, which I’m not so mad about. I especially like how it allowed for tasty fill like HEATHBARS. I appreciated the double dip in chemistry with ATOMS and PROTON and was glad for a mostly clean grid, though some of the theme constraints showed in the fill around theme entries.

Gracie ALLEN

Gracie ALLEN

#includemorewomen: Not only do we have wayyyy more men than women in today’s puzzle, the men in the puzzle are largely outdated; both are dings against the puzzle for me. We have MON SIAN ALDAS ALPERT PALIN (one of the) ALLENS ELIAS vs. just Gracie ALLEN. Seriously, I’m the most liberal dude in the world, but I’d even take PALIN clued with respect to politician Sarah just to get a bit more gender balance in the representation of the puzzle. Many dudes vs. half a piece of fill to represent women isn’t a great look.

Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

This is a little like those “the theme answers are more like clues for a short answer” themes I don’t care for. “THAT’S LIFE” is clued 66a. [Comment of resignation applicable to 17-, 28- and 50-Across?], and LIFE could be the answer to these three theme answers, if they were used instead as clues:

  • 17a. [Classic activity for family night], BOARD GAME.
  • 28a. [Serving in a bowl with milk], BREAKFAST CEREAL. I don’t appreciate the mention of cereal here—I’m getting fasting labs tomorrow morning and will have no cereal beforehand!
  • 50a. [Periodical format not much seen nowadays], PICTURE MAGAZINE. Is PICTURE MAGAZINE actually the sort of phrase that passes muster as an in-the-language term? If it does, it’s certainly quite dated.

I moved through most of this puzzle eyeballing some Across clues and then filling in the crossing Downs one after the other. So it played like an easy puzzle. I have some concerns, though. Why, in a Tuesday puzzle, would you clue ATONE as the awkward and incomplete AT ONE (with)? 68a. [Agreeing (with)], really? Especially when ONE-ACT repeats the answer’s ONE, there’s no earthly reason not to clue it in the “make amends (for)” sense of ATONE. That crossing awkward IDEATE at the T, also not so hot. 27d. [Competitor of the Essex or Hupmobile], REO? Dust and cobwebs.

Now, CRAB CAKE, BAT PHONE, and ZEALOT were nice to see.

Not too keen on the lower right corner, where three dudes (KAZAN OMAR NERO) intersect with “Why??” ZIMA and uncommon-in-the-mainland TARO. Could tweak that corner to have GALAS, OVAL, and (meh) prefix TERA crossing LIVE AFAR SELA, replacing three men and a brand name with one woman and some common words.

3.25 stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Suit Yourself” – Derek’s write-up

Card play is at play here! I think I have said this in a blog post recently, but I am in the mood to play some cards! What am I talking about? Notice the words in the circled squares, which I will highlight in red:

  • 17A [Cartoon detective played by Matthew Broderick] INSPECTOR GADGET
  • 32A [Flip option] HEADS OR TAILS
  • 41A [Prepared nuts used for baking and pastries, maybe] DICED ALMONDS
  • 60A [Pink Floyd classic from “The Wall”] COMFORTABLY NUMB

I was thinking it would be nice if the suits were in order, as suits are ranked in bridge, for example. And guess what? They ARE in ranked order in this puzzle! Nice little feature there, especially if you’re familiar with bridge rules. Bridge always fascinated me, but I don’t have three friends who know how to play! It’s a good thing I have crosswords to keep me company! Strangely, I didn’t find the usual obscure-pop-culture-reference in this week’s puzzle, meaning I must be hipper than I thought this week! The most obscure is probably the Pink Floyd song, but I have heard of it, even if I don’t know song right offhand. 4.3 stars for another fine Jonesin’!

A few highlights:

    • 14A [Olympic skater/commentator Johnny] WEIR – This guy is worth watching just for his flamboyant outfits, but he actually does a great job on commentary. Very entertaining to watch, and I am not the biggest figure skating fan!
    • 30A [Beans that often get refried] PINTOS – This makes me hungry for Chipotle!
    • 56A [“You Will Be My __ True Love” (song from “Cold Mountain”)] AIN – This is also relatively obscure, but this song was nominated for both an Oscar and a Grammy. It is perfomed by Sting and Alison Krauss, and Alison Krauss has the most Grammys by a female artist ever with 27. I’ll stop talking and you can listen!

    • 38D [“I Put a Spell On You” singer __ Jay Hawkins] SCREAMIN’ – This can also be classified as obscure, but I have heard this name too! And I KNOW you all know this song!

  • 54D [Batmobile passenger] ROBIN – Batman never DID let him drive!
  • 63D [“__/Tuck” (medical drama)] NIP – I never watched this show, but I think it still may be available to stream somewhere. (I just looked, and I might be wrong!)

May everyone have a great week!

Kevin Christian & Abbie Higashi’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Abbie Higashi is a name that is not already in the constructor database for this site, leading me to the conclusion that this may be a debut crossword! Simple enough theme, and once again, I was solving so quickly that the theme escaped me for a minute. It should have been abundantly clear after the second theme answer, but to clear up any ambiguity, there is actually a revealer that crosses the last theme entry!

  • 17A [Relative of “The pen is mightier than the sword”] BRAINS OVER BRAWN
  • 25A [Rear-window alert about an infant] BABY ON BOARD – Do they still have these little yellow signs??
  • 43A [Dog show award] BEST OF BREED
  • 54A [Arizona stadium renamed Chase Field as a result of a financial merger] BANK ONE BALLPARK – A slightly dated reference, but easy for a baseball fan.
  • 56D [Short haircut, and a hint to 17-, 25-, 43- and 54-Across] BOB

Yes, each answer has the initials BOB. As mentioned, quite simple, yet still elegant. I said I was solving quickly, so ignore the mistakes (typos?) in the grid image! If this is indeed a debut puzzle, it is a mighty fine debut, and kudos to the constructors! 4.6 stars from me.

Just a few more things:

  • 14A [Bosc relative] ANJOU – I love pears!
  • 22A [Levy that led to a 1773 “party”] TEA TAX – My, how life has changed. I cannot picture a riot today among “tea drinkers.” Coffee drinkers, maybe!
  • 59A [Nano or Shuffle] IPOD – These are already dinosaurs! Smartphones are now ubiquitous, and the only question nowadays is who is going to get your $1,000 for one!
  • 3D [Early competitor of Mr. Clean] AJAX – REAAALLY early competitor! This stuff was been around since 1947!
  • 12D [Old Sony brand] AIWA – Is this tough for people? I was around enough audiophiles and car stereo enthusiasts in my environments that I know this brand. Younger people may not know this at all.
  • 30D [24 sheets of paper] QUIRE – We all know a ream of paper is 500 sheets, now that everyone has a printer and has to buy paper all the time. This seems like an arbitrary number that I will bet has a fascinating history behind its original usage.
  • 53D [Gumbo vegetable] OKRA – I love gumbo!

That is all!

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23 Responses to Tuesday, October 16, 2018

  1. Steve Manion says:

    I thought it was funny that the clue for PRESS was “Use an iron.” My first thought was that iron was a golf iron and the humor was that PRESS is a universally used gambling term in golf matches. If you are playing a $2 Nassau (front nine, back nine and total are each a separate $2
    bet). a PRESS is a new $2 bet, which normally occurs when the player is two holes down, but has many other variations.


  2. janie says:

    really enjoyed both xword nation and the nyt *a lot* today — and for the same reasons: solid theme and themers, and actively peppy non-theme fill. in liz’s puzzle, that would include the likes of MERMAIDS, SNOOKERED, PECAN PIE, STUD HORSE, DAPPER and DANDY; in ed’s, ELECTRIC, BAT PHONE, ZEALOT, EUROPA and ENDORA. also… the wordplay in liz’s themers just made me happy. PUNK ROCKNE? that’s gold in my book!


  3. GlennG says:

    I notice the Jones puzzle isn’t available from either of the usual places. Hopefully there isn’t any major problems going on…

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Ack, my mistake — forgot to send to poster. Just did it now.

      • Lise says:

        It still does not seem available. I have tried two different browsers to no avail. But since Derek has done it, it must be available somehow…

    • Martin says:

      It’s there now. Matt sent it to me while I was on a ferry from Mykonos to Athens, with no connectivity. But in Athens, we’re connected.

      • Lise says:

        Wow! That sounds complicated, but really fun. Have a great time. And thanks for the puzzle! It’s our favorite family-dinner-out-on-Tuesday-evening puzzle.

  4. GlennP says:

    WSJ: The circles weren’t visible in the .puz version.

  5. JohnH says:

    WSJ: I could have lived without SOCHI crossing SIAN, whom I’ve never heard of. I misspelled it as Soche.

  6. Marcy Luna says:

    CWN: REALLY disappointed with Liz Gorski’s reference to Ogden Nash’s puerile quote, particularly inapt at the current moment and any time in the future.

  7. m says:

    link’s still not working in the Jonesin puzzle

  8. Phil says:

    Links to Jonesin’ and LA Times don’t work. No circles in the .puz version of the WSJ. The technology is winning.

  9. cyberdiva says:

    Janie, you list EUDORA as one of the answers in the NYT, but I think it’s actually ENDORA, which I knew only from the crossings, and since I know zilch about canasta, ENDORA was still a bit of a challenge.

  10. Drfrizby says:

    C’mon, Nate–In your review of today’s WSJ puzzle, your complaint about too many men’s names included SIAN. SIAN PHILLIPS is a woman. You really out to check the facts before putting things in print.

    • christopher brisson says:

      Dr. Frizby, you beat me to it. Sian Phillips is definitely a woman–a dame actually–and a beautiful one at that. There is also a somewhat known American actress named Sian Allen.

      The larger point is valid, though. Instead of “Alan and Robert” as clues for ALDA, Mr. Gale could have used “Alan and Rutanya,” since Rutanya Alda is comparable in terms of level of fame as Robert Alda (whereas Alan is super well-known).

  11. Lester says:

    Is no one going to comment on the slight similarity between the themes of the Jonesin’ and the WSJ puzzles?

  12. dj says:

    NYT – “picture magazine”? I’m 62 and grew up with Life magazine and have never, ever heard that term before. Should have been a deal killer IMO

    • janie says:

      i’ve got ya beat by eight and can’t say it’s a term i actively *recall*. but google ngram will give you an idea of its common usage back in the day. and not only in the 1940s-60s, but also in the 1880s. it was probably our parents who were more familiar w/ the term, but (imho) it summons up something real (if nostalgic or time-capsule-like) and is hardly a deal-killer.


  13. David Steere says:

    Puzzle Society Crossword: Just a note to recommend an easy but charming puzzle today by David Alfred Bywaters. His comments about this puzzle and David Steinberg at The Puzzle Society Crossword Crossing blog are quite illuminating.

  14. Lise says:

    Derek, my husband’s response to ROBIN (in the Jonesin’) was the same as yours. He never got to drive! And thanks for those two music links. The Cold Mountain song is beautiful, and I actually have a recording of SCREAMIN’ Jay Hawkins, so, good memories.

    I thought that the answers containing the card suits were really good, especially INSPECTOR GADGET and COMFORTABLY NUMB. This has to be one of my favorite Jonesin’ puzzles.

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