Sunday, October 21, 2018

Hex/Quigley 15:56 (Gareth) 


LAT 8:53 (Jenni) 


NYT 9:14 (Amy) 


WaPo 14:28 (Jim Q) 


Finn Vigeland’s New York Times crossword, “You’re Going Down”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 21 18, “You’re Going Down”

The theme entries are familiar phrases all running in the Down direction, and they’re clued as if the word down is at the end of the phrase:

  • 3d. [Headline after a toddler C.E.O. resigns, literally?], BABY STEPS down.
  • 7d. [Car failure only a block from the mechanic, literally?], LUCKY BREAKdown.
  • 14d. [“For a massage, go that way!,” literally?], “THERE’S THE RUBdown.”
  • 34d. [Like the dress shirt that’s just adorable, literally?], CUTE AS A BUTTON-down.
  • 62d. [Dissed with flowery language, literally?], ELEGANTLY PUT down. Not sure ELEGANTLY PUT is the sort of phrase that a theme answer can be based on.
  • 73d. [Punch vs. Judy, literally?], PUPPET SHOWdown. Good one.
  • 77d. [One answer to the question “What’s your favorite music genre,” literally?], “JAZZ, HANDS down.” Cute.

Solid theme.

Seven more things:

  • 28d. [First African-American sorority], AKA. Short for Alpha Kappa Alpha. The one sorority wedding I’ve ever attended was an AKA one. Pink and green are their colors.
  • 55a. [Squared building stone], ASHLAR. This is the sort of word I’ve only encountered in a handful of crosswords. Meh.
  • 59a. [Rapper with the 2017 #1 hit “Bodak Yellow”], CARDI B. Her latest inescapable hit is “Be Careful.”
  • 117a. [“Silly me, rambling again!”], “THERE I GO.” Nah. “There I go again!” works, but I don’t care for this entry as is.
  • 4d. [Coiner of the term “generative music”], BRIAN ENO. He coined it … and then nobody much cared? I haven’t seen the term before.
  • 16d. [Do for Jon Batiste], AFRO. He’s the bandleader on Colbert’s late-night show.
  • 18a. [Where cuneiform was discovered], AMARNA. That is some hardcore crosswordese geography to pop in the 1-Across corner! Oof.

Four stars from me. Also, news flash! Be sure to tune in to Jeopardy! on Monday. Erik Agard won his first match on Friday and is the returning champion.

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Political Ascension” – Jim Q’s writeup

A puzzle for those of us whose trophy cabinets are full of red ribbons. Second place ain’t so bad!


8 also-rans (circled) read upward in the theme answers.

  • WaPo crossword solution * 10 21 18 * “Political Ascension” * Birnholz

    3D [Exemplars of grace (1848)]. CLASS ACTS. Cass. As in Lewis Cass. Lost to Zachary Taylor in 1848 (as indicated by the clue).

  • 71D [State for an astronaut (2000). ZERO GRAVITY. Gore. Safe to assume most readers of this blog remember that debacle.
  • 5D [Pianist who said, “Music is not a hobby, not even a passion with me; music is me” (1800)] ARTUR RUBINSTEIN. Burr. Lost in a close race with Jefferson. Not all that happy with Alexander Hamilton as a result… and the rest is musical theater history.
  • 65D [Controversial song by Prince that spurred the creation of parental advisory stickers on albums (1816)] DARLING NIKKI. King. Rufus King lost to James Monroe.
  • 36D [Structure for a Native American healing ceremony (1996)] MEDICINE LODGE. Dole. Clinton wins twice in this puzzle! (see 51D)
  • 11D [Document signed by a monarch (1844)] ROYAL CHARTER. Clay. Polk defeated Henry Clay.
  • 51D [Member of a study group (1992)]. RESEARCH SUBJECT. Bush. This is the first presidential race of which I have clear memories… Thanks to Dana Carvey.
  • 16D [Educational career path (1980)] TENURE TRACK. Carter. And so began the Reagan Era.
  • 86D [Second-place finishers, and an alternate title to this puzzle] RUNNERS UP. I prefer the title that already exists, because then I wouldn’t have to determine whether or not RUNNERS needs an apostrophe.

Let’s get the elephant out of the room… According to, NOTNILC can’t be found in any common phrases- hence Hillary’s absence.

My own ignorance prohibited me from enjoying the theme all that much. I’ve tried and failed to get a grasp of history as an adult and make up for all the times I cut that class in school. The names Cass, King, and Clay were all new for me. Also, due to my configurations with Across Lite, I didn’t see the whole clue and missed the years at the end of each, so that didn’t help. Still managed to find my footholds and finish in my average time. There was plenty of good fill along the way to enjoy.


  • 121D [Virginia Woof or Fyodor Dogstoevsky, e.g.] PUN. Who doesn’t love a good pun? These were great!
  • 28A [Madonna’s zodiac sign] LEO. Fun fact! I figured she was more… shall we say… Like a Virgo.
  • 63D [Word found in TEETOTALER, ironically] ALE. Nice find.
  • 35A [Soprano with a Tony?] Great clue for CARMELA. And although I got what the clue was going for, part of me still thought it was referencing a Tony Award won by Edie Falco. I overthought that. Also, while nominated once, she never won a Tony.


120A. [Sharp obstacles in “Sonic the Hedgehog”] SPIKES. I thought QUILLS at first.

Wasn’t familiar with DARLING NIKKI or MEDICINE LODGE, but both were inferable with crosses.

With two-word base phrases and the also-ran bridging both words, theme was certainly consistent. 3.3 Stars from me.

P.S. This song seems apt, especially with the “Rise Up” motif.




John Lampkin’s LA Times crossword, “The French Disconnection” – Jenni’s write-up

Black Ink, the program I use to solve .puz files, truncated the title so all I saw at first the The Fren…nection. After I stumbled around on the first couple of theme entries I went back and expanded the title, and the light dawned. Each theme entry is missing “le,” which is French for “the.”

LAT 10/21, solution grid

  • 23a [Painting of an annoying bricklayer at work?] is MORTAR AND PEST (pestle).
  • 30a [15th-century food-stained collectible?] would be GUTENBERGS BIB (bible). That feels off to me. I think of it as the Gutenberg Bible without the possessive. Google returns 6,150,00o results for “Gutenberg Bible” and 170,000 results for “Gutenberg’s Bible.”
  • 43d [Vehicle hired to carry steeplechase horses?] is a JUMPER CAB (cable).
  • 46a [Fabulist’s Cheer alternative?] is AESOP’S FAB (fable). That’s an egregious dupe. I’m not a constructor or editor but I think the clue could have been rewritten to get rid of “fabulist.”
  • 63a [Dollar for a shot?] is a BLET BUCK (buckle).
  • 67a [Dollars for shots?] is ROUND TAB (table). Cute.
  • 82a [“Snow White” witch’s download?] is the POISON APP (apple).
  • 94a [Mud, slop, pig, etc.?] are the ELEMENT OF STY (style). My favorite entry.
  • 107a [Sailing maneuver to avoid a pirate’s threat?] is a DEFENSIVE TACK (tackle).

And we have a revealer, sort of. 13a [French article whose singular form is “disconnected” from nine puzzle answers] is LES. That’s clunky and unnecessary.

A few other things:

  • 1a [Dropped-jaw stare] is GAWP. I started with GAPE and I suspect I’m not the only one.
  • 18a [First name in erotica] is ANAIS and we get another bad plural entry at 105d: [18-Across and family]. They are, of course, the NINS.
  • 20a [Place for a bootee] is a TOOTSIE, or baby-talk foot, and we have more baby talk at 69d with [Owie] for BOO-BOO.
  • I’m grateful that URIS at 48a was clued as [Exodus author] and not [ESP fraud Geller and his ilk].
  • I’m getting accustomed to seeing LAM as a verb. It’s clued here as 88a [Beat it]. Still don’t like it.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’d never heard of Anne SOFIE von Otter.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked Crossword, “TASK AT HAND” – Gareth’s summary

CRooked Crossword

The title serves as a complete revealer today – “Task at hand” – T as K – so change T’s to K. Then repeat eight more times because it’s Sunday. SCAVENGERHUNK and RAISEDASKINK are beautiful. EGGBEAKERS, BLOODSPORK and MULLIGANSKEW felt more strained: a mixed bag.

Things that made me pause:

  • REDBOWTIE : kind of arbitrary that, even with the clue.
  • [Scottish flower], DEE; old school river clue (“flow-er”) for a 3rd tier river, I did want its rival the TAY.
  • [Eliel’s son], EERO – Saarinens. Another very old-school clue, one that makes assumptions of familiarity.
  • However [“I, __” (2017 movie)], TONYA is definitely not an older clue.
  • [“Blame me!”], ITSI ; who says that??
  • [Conductor Claudio], ABBADO. New name for me. Definitely handy letters!
  • [Bud rejector, perhaps], BEERSNOB; that’s a thing?
  • [15-18 in a series], OPQR. I really feel like that is redo the puzzle bad!?
  • [French ram], MOUTON. That’s very hard French for an English puzzle, though it’s a cognate of MUTTON. It also doesn’t seem precisely correct, though I don’t speak French so would like confirmation of that.
  • TSAR, [Old red head] – What??? That makes no sense.

2.25 Stars

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13 Responses to Sunday, October 21, 2018

  1. PhilR says:

    I was once amused in real life when I learned Ashleys (as in Father Martin’s Ashley) were made of ASHLARs.

  2. e.a. says:

    5 star sunday from vigeland, impeccable

  3. Lise says:

    NYT: You got me with NOLITA/HULOT! I could never have guessed either one of those.

    Excellent theme! Also, the fill was great, and I am happy with how often I am seeing OTTERs in puzzles, because, otters. And also, the daily OREO-related answer.

    Our neighborhood is home to two great horned OWLS, who provide us with beautiful owl music in the early morning.

    Did not know ASHLAR; Wikipedia provides some beautiful examples.

    Thanks for a very enjoyable puzzle.

    • Christopher Smith says:

      NoLita is basically the northern end of what used to be Little Italy before it was surrendered to real estate moguls about 10 years ago in one of the turf wars that constantly churn on this island. Wedged between this new neighborhood & an expanding Chinatown, Little Italy can now be generously described as comprising 2 1/2 blocks on Mulberry St.

      • Lise says:

        Thank you for the information; that’s very interesting. I have absolutely no concept of New York City area geography and looking at a map can be overwhelming. It’s a fascinating area.; so much history in there…

  4. Jenni Levy says:

    I flailed around with the BEQ CRooked for what felt like a really long time even after I figured out the theme. Just not on his wavelength this morning, I guess.

  5. Evan says:

    I have a question about yesterday’s Stumper: can anyone explain the answer for 35D? How does [persona to be seen soon] clue GHOUL?

  6. JohnH says:

    As often, my strengths and weaknesses for the NYT differ from others. I didn’t think of NOLITA right away, but it’s a perfectly familiar term for New Yorkers, and Tati’s M. Hulot was a gimme (and two just plain great and funny films I saw when they came out). But much else i didn’t know and had mixed feelings about. I actually still can’t quite explain what JAZZ HANDS means. (Presumably it’s not the same thing as jazz, for which I have more than 100, yeah, LPs and CDs, plus a healthy past in NYC jazz clubs?)

    • Elise says:

      I’m with you, John. I loved seeing Mr. HULOT. Glad to see Brian ENO’s full name. There seemed to be a lot of brand names — JIF ARBYS RITEAID UBER …

  7. Norm says:

    Gareth: I assume TSAR means “old … head” of Russia, but it was not a red state when they were in charge, so that was … really a stretch.

  8. David Glasser says:

    Amused by the NYT/WaPo pairing of “CVS rival”/”Rite Aid rival”.

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