Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Jonesin' untimed (Derek) 


LAT 3:46 (Derek) 


NYT 3:06 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 392), “Flaky!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 392: “Flaky!”

Hello, hello everyone! Hope the beginning to the last month of 2018 has gone well for you so far! Some of you may have already had some snowfall this fall, and today’s grid is all about snowfall..sorta. In the 14 x 15 grid, the four longest theme entries, all going across, are puns that are created by dropping one letter from the original phrase the pun is derived from. Going from top to bottom, those four letters omitted spell the word SNOW, which is also featured in the grid as the reveal (61A: [Winter “fall” suggested by the dropped letters in the four longest answers])

  • ELF-DRIVING CARS (16A: [Santa’s favorite Tesla models?])Self-driving cars.
  • NO MORE MR ICE GUY (24A: [Fighting words from a fellow who leaves people cold?]) – No more Mr. Nice Guy.
  • SCAR NOMINATION (43A: [Academy Awards honor bestowed on a villain in “The Lion King”?])Oscar nomination.
  • LITTLE HITE LIES (56A: [Fibs told by sex researcher Shere?]) – Little White Lies.

I have one question to ask you all: Which is your favorite BOND movie and/or title song (62A: [Foe of Dr. No])? By a hair, I’m going with From Russia with Love as my favorite movie, but my favorite Bond title song is “Goldfinger” because Shirley Bassey’s voice is absolutely unreal!! Given a couple of the entries in the grid, it is hard not for me to think about the unthinkable atrocities and the civil war that continues to be waged in YEMEN (31D: [Nation on the Red Sea]) and all of the innocent ARAB citizens that have been victims because of it and/or the people working there trying to improve conditions for the people there (10D: [Qatar resident]). Just the other day, I saw a grown man sporting a DORA the Explorer backpack, one of a number of adults I’ve seen in a span of a few months who wear children’s backpacks and not accompanied by their children (11D: [TV explorer]). If that is the latest fad, count me out…unless I’m doing it for a good cause/executing a prank! Outside of the theme entries, no other entry really stood out, though I liked the biographical information about TAFT (3D: [Cincinnati-born president]). For those who are math savants, there’s GEOM (54D: [H.S. math class]) and RADII to float your boat (28D: [Spokes of a wheel]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: AMOS (36D: [Hebrew prophet]) – Former Major League Baseball outfielder Amos Otis is best known as the centerfielder for the Kansas City Royals during the team’s dominance in the American League in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In a career spanning from 1967 to 1984, Amos batted .277 and had 1,077 RBI, and he also led the American League in doubles twice and in stolen bases once. He also batted .478 with three home runs in the 1980 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, as Amos became the first player in history to have at least one RBI in each of his first five World Series games.

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

Take care!


Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Tipple Threat”—Nate’s write-up

We’re in for a “Tipple Threat” with today’s drunken puzzle!

WSJ 12.4.18

WSJ 12.4.18

17A: PICKLED PIGS FEET [Brine-preserved treat in Southern cuisine]
26A: TIGHT SQUEEZE [Rush-hour subway, often]
43A: STIFF PENALTY [Hefty price to pay, maybe]
56A: LOADED QUESTIONS [“Gotcha” interview traps]

We have a fun set of fresh, in-the-language themers that each start with a synonym for drunk. My only ??? (which might not even be right) is that PICKLED, TIGHT, and LOADED are adjectives to describe a drunk person, whereas I’ve only ever heard STIFF as the noun version of drunk. I’m guessing I don’t get out enough and that STIFF, too, is used regularly in the adjective form. All the same, it was quite the fun and smooth Tuesday puzzle. (And that’s coming from someone who’s allergic to alcohol!)

(How can I go any further before referencing BEQ and Francis Heaney’s great crossword book, Drunk Crosswords. Check it out for more tipsy fun if you liked this puzzle!)

AUDIE Cornish

AUDIE Cornish

As you’d expect with BEQ, the grid is smooth and crisp (ZINE! <3), with very little crosswordese (other than the oddly-pluralized SASES). I super appreciated all of the women of color represented in this grid (DORA, AUDIE Cornish, ONO, ISIS) and even the men of color (CRIS Carter, ANG Lee, TPAIN). That’s the type of representation we can count on in a BEQ grid.

Happy Hanukkah!

Peter Gordon’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 4 18, no 1204

A straightforward vowel progression theme that goes all the way through Y—two-word phrases starting with S followed by A, E, I, O, U, and Y.

  • 17a. [Clothing store event to get rid of excess merchandise], SAMPLE SALE.
  • 22a. [Government agency charged with protecting the first family], SECRET SERVICE.
  • 28a. [Nursery rhyme character who met a pieman], SIMPLE SIMON. I think my favorite pie shop, Hoosier Mama Pie Company, is run by a piewoman. I’m not even a pie person, really, but I make an exception for Hoosier Mama. Damn fine pie, and the crusts don’t have lard in them.
  • 40a. [In the near future], SOMEDAY SOON.
  • 47a. [Brooke Shields sitcom set at a trendy magazine], SUDDENLY SUSAN.
  • 57a. [Nightclub singer who was given the nickname “Buddha” by Frank Sinatra], SYLVIA SYMS. I needed some crossings to put this one together.

So solid.

Five more things:

  • 36a. [Old Russian autocrat], CZAR. Hey! It’s not the more-common-in-crosswords TSAR spelling.
  • 43a. [Word before sells or cells], SEX. Great clue.
  • 64a. [Hot Chocolate or Vanilla Fudge], BAND. Between this and the pie clue, anyone else in the mood for dessert?
  • 2d. [Org. opposed by Everytown for Gun Safety], NRA. Ooh, nice clue.
  • 47d. [Second-stringer], SCRUB. One of those sports terms I never actually use.

Four stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Ask Me How I’m Doing” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 12/04/2018

Someone is not having the greatest day! But at least it’s not a BAD day!

  • 21A [Judge on two versions of “The X Factor”] SIMON COWELL
  • 26A [Went on sabbatical, perhaps] TOOK A YEAR OFF
  • 46A [Newton’s first, alternately] LAW OF INERTIA
  • 53A [Historical peak] ALL TIME HIGH

Do these get progressively worse, even in a gradual, ever so slight way? Again, at least no one is having a terrible day! And how can it be a terrible day when one is solving a crossword puzzle? If solving a puzzle makes a good day, then I haven’t had a bad day literally in years. 4.2 stars.

A few highlights:

    • 43A [1980 “Dukes of Hazzard” spin-off] ENOS – I remember this show. It may qualify as an obscure pop-culture reference if you are younger than 30!
    • 62A [Notre Dame’s Fighting __ ] IRISH – The Irish football team did squeak into the College Football Playoff and get to show if they have learned any lessons from the last time they went to the finals in 2012 and got blitzed by ‘Bama. I am an Irish hater, so this will be a difficult winter if they find success!
    • 66A [“__ Wonderful Life”] IT’S A – ‘Tis the season. Is this on TV yet?
    • 7D [ __ d’Italia (cycling event] GIRO – Simply called the “Giro,” this is one of three three-week cycling events in the summer. We all know about the Tour de France, but there is also the Vuelta a España. Some people do all three! The Giro is in May-June, the Tour of course in July, and the Vuelta in August-September.
    • 13D [Berry scheduled to be in “John Wick 3”] HALLE – I did not know this. I have seen the first two, and they are surprisingly both really good. Next May is the release date!
    • 30D [“Arrested Development” actress Portia de __ ] ROSSI – Ellen DeGeneres’ spouse has a prominent role in this series that I still have not finished watching, but it is on Netflix and the few episodes I did see are absolutely hilarious.
    • 37D [“American Pie” actress Suvari] MENA – This crossword famous actress has not been, as far as I know, in anything nears as significant as this Best Picture winner, although this movie is on some people’s list of worst Best Picture winners ever.
    • 63D [“Pretty sneaky, __” (Connect Four ad line)] SIS – I remember this commercial, too. But I am getting quite old.

That is all!

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

LAT 12/04/2018

It’s a zoo in here today! Time for some homonym fun with cartoon animals and well known phrases:

  • 16A [Hesitation from Sylvester?] CAT’S PAUSE
  • 20A [Accomplishment by Porky?] PIG’S FEAT
  • 37A [Affirmative from Tony?] TIGER’S AYE
  • 59A [Story from Remy?] RAT’S TALE (Remy was the rodent in Ratatouille)
  • 63A [Water source for Simba?] LION’S MAIN

This is not the first collaboration I have reviewed from this pair; I believe this is at least the third puzzle I have seen with this byline. All have been very well done. This is a puzzle that you could easily introduce someone to puzzles with. 4.4 stars today.

A few more things:

    • 5A [“Whip It” rock band] DEVO – This song is now nearly 40 years old. Still sound innovative even today!

  • 43A [Tech sch. near Albany, N.Y.] RPI – I only know this as Tyler Hinman’s alma mater. They just visited South Bend this last week and got blitzed in hockey by Notre Dame.
  • 12D [Crayola Factory’s Pennsylvania home] EASTON – Pay attention to the side of the box!
  • 34D [“The Chronic” rapper, familiarly] DRE – Dr. Dre, the crossword famous rapper, has been quite influential, whether you are a rap fan or not. Do you have a pair of his headphones?
  • 41D [“The hour has arrived”] “IT’S TIME” – Another great casual phrase that is in almost every C.C. Burnikel puzzle.
  • 46D [Special Forces headgear] BERETS – And worn by no one else!

Have a great week everyone!

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9 Responses to Tuesday, December 4, 2018

  1. janie says:

    nyt — wish SOMEDAY SOON coulda been clued with the ian and sylvia song (written by ian tyson and later recorded by judy collins). still: thx for the memories!


  2. Old Meta says:

    Jonesin: Is Texas Holdem considered a variation of DRAWPOKER? I would think not.

  3. JohnH says:

    I most certainly did NOT “super-appreciate” the crossing in the WSJ of TPAIN and AUDIE.

  4. Doug says:

    LAT: Re 46D, the beret has been the standard headgear of the Army Service Uniform since 2001; red for Airborne, tan for Rangers, green for Special Forces, black for everyone else.

  5. Joe Pancake says:

    Possible quibble with NYT: Is a second-stringer a scrub? In many sports the first backup at a position is still pretty good and plays frequently. I think of a scrub as being even lower on the depth chart.

    I would have preferred “Benchwarmer” or “Practice squad player” or even “Third-stringer.” I don’t think of “second-stringer” and “scrub” as being synonymous.

    • Steve Manion says:

      I agree that the terms are not synonymous, but the y can be. Second string means simply what it says–the immediate replacement for the first stringer.

      I think of “scrub” as more of a skill level term. When I was freshman in high school, I was second string shortstop on the varsity baseball team, but I was quite young but also quite good and was not considered to be a scrub. On the other hand, when I was a junior, I was second string on the varsity basketball team and was definitely a scrub–the last guy on the 10-man team who only got in a game when it was out of reach.


  6. Gareth says:

    Am I the only one who found the SYLVIASYMS and BRIAN clues in poor taste? Sorry, I am a bit behind (as I frequently am, these days)…

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