Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Jonesin' untimed (Derek) 


LAT 3:15 (Derek) 


NYT 3:17 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Vic) 


WSJ untimed (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 401), “Bookends”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 401: “Bookends”

Hello there, everybody! Hope you’re all doing well and recovered from all that you might have consumed at the dinner table during Super Bowl Sunday a couple of days ago. Well, we have a grid in which what’s first is also last: Each of the four theme entries is a three-word phrase or noun in which the first word also happens to be the last word. Love that each of the conjoining words in the four entries are all different, from article to adverb to preposition. Now how come I have “Spy vs. Spy” in my head all of a sudden?!

  • HALF AND HALF (17A: [Coffee additive]) – Also an additive to the garlic mashed red potatoes that I whipped up a couple of weeks back. So good!
  • SORRY NOT SORRY (26A: [Sarcastic non-apology])
  • POUND FOR POUND (42A: [Ranking used in boxing or wrestling])
  • LOOP THE LOOP (56A: [Bygone Coney Island roller coaster named for its stomach-churning turns])

I could relate to the BUM KNEES fill more than any other in the grid, not only because of its lively fill but because that definitely describes the condition of my knees at this stage (34A: [Lousy joints?]). It wasn’t too, too long ago when I discovered that SNAFU was actually an acronym, but, for many years, I had absolutely no idea of that, as well as the word originating from military slang (26D: [Major mix-up]). And, as of right now, I just discovered the existence of a “Private Snafu,” a cartoon character/series of instructional shorts produced to help train military members of what and what not to do while in service. Oh, and the character was voiced by Mel Blanc and the series was co-written by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel)? How did I not know about this before today?!?!?

Speaking of the armed forces, there’s also CUTTERS that features in the grid (41D: [Coast Guard vessels]). Yes, there’s some crosswordese that pops up in the grid, but one of those entries, NBA’ER (27D: [Knick or Rocket, briefly), references a franchise in its clue (Houston Rockets) that caused me to make a link to another entry…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NIAGARA (5D: [Falls for a married person?]) –  Though Niagara University, located just outside of Niagara Falls in Lewistown, N.Y., is not the first school that comes to mind when thinking of college basketball powers, but it did produce one of the greatest basketball players in the sport’s history, the former San Diego/Houston Rockets great Calvin Murphy. While playing for the Purple Eagles (Niagara’s nickname) between 1967 and 1970, the 5-foot-9 Murphy was a three-time All-America who ended his career as one of the NCAA’s all-time leading scorers, finishing with 2,548 points (33.1 points per game). In the pros, Murphy was best-known for his near-impeccable free throw shooting, including a 1980-81 season in which he set NBA records for most consecutive free throws made (78) and free throw percentage in a season (206-of-215 FT, 95.8%). In 1993, Murphy was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and, to this day, remains the shortest player inducted.

By the way, how awesome was the clue to Niagara?!?!

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

Take care!

ADE/AOK (19A: [“Lemon” or “orange” ending])

Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 5 19, no 0205

The explanatory part of the theme is 58a. [“Let’s do it!” … or comment on the last words of 16-, 26- and 47-Across, when said together out loud], “SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN.” If you make plans, you make arrangements. Those other three themers are “READY WHEN YOU ARE,” DANNY AINGE, and BREATH MINT. Say ARE-AINGE-MINT out loud and it sorta sounds like “arrangement.” Not your usual Tuesday theme. (Which is a good thing. Too many Tuesday themes drag.)

Five more things:

  • 1a. [Leg muscle, in sports slang], HAMMY. Short for hamstring. Have definitely heard this.
  • 4d. [When the abolition of slavery is commemorated], MID-JUNE. Juneteenth is on June 19th.
  • 8d. [Naan-like Native American food], FRY BREAD. We made (likely inauthentic) fry bread in summer day camp once when I was a kid, over a campfire in the forest preserve. I recall deliciousness.
  • 59d. Airport code hidden in FUEL GAUGE], LGA. Sure enough, fueLGAuge. Quick! Find the other airport codes hidden in familiar parts of a jet.
  •  38d. [Smokey of R&B], ROBINSON. Enjoy a classic Smokey tune below. The picture’s not remotely HD, but the vocals, man oh man. The only thing I get ASMR from is great vocals. Whispering and other sounds, useless. But Smokey’s singing made my scalp tingle.

Four stars from me.

Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up

Let’s see what “Creature Comforts” our constructor has in store for us today!

WSJ 2.5.19

WSJ 2.5.19

17A: COOPERSTOWN [Where to find Lou Gehrig’s 1939 glove and jersey] – COOP
26A: PENICILLIN [Antibiotic from blue mold] – PEN
36A: STYROFOAM [Cup material] – STY
52A: BARNEY FIFE [Mayberry resident] – BARN
62A: ANIMAL HOUSE [1978 John Belushi movie, and a hint to the first three or four letters of the starred answers]

I generally liked this theme set, though the revealer is a bit awkward ([…first three or four letters…]) since each ANIMAL HOUSE isn’t the same number of letters long. Even still, I can’t think of many more ubiquitous members of the set, so it feels relatively tight to me, which I like.

Other random thoughts:
– I was glad to see the puzzle start off with some strong female representation in RITAS [Hayworth and Moreno], and DELLA Reese.
– But…. [Tom, Dick or Harry] does not refer to ANYONE. A set of three male names, in this day and age, no longer extrapolates to ANYONE.
– A lot of this puzzle felt dated, with entries that haven’t been relevant in 15+ years: BARNEY FIFE, WIL Shriner(?), bridge expert(?!) ELY Culbertson, McCarthy’s REDS quarry, TRW, and MOD. ANIMAL HOUSE, as popular as it still is, also feels like a dated reference (and I went to Dartmouth, where it was set!).
– Side eye to YRLY and NOU. Also, wouldn’t a [Carpenter’s punch] be an awl, not a NAIL SET? That clue seemed off for me and stymied me for a bit in that SE corner.
– TIL: It’s called an INBOARD motor, not an onboard motor. I’ve had that wrong!


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Shore Thing” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 02/05/2019

Speaking of “shore”, I am hoping to be on a sandy one in about three weeks. Vacation is almost here! Some sun therapy will feel good, I am sure. Anyway, there is a puzzle here!

  • 17A [Coen Brothers movie of 1991] BARTON FINK
  • 25A [2007 T-Pain song feat. Yung Joc] BUY U A DRANK
  • 37A [Good value, slangily] BANG YOUR YOUR BUCK
  • 47A [Color categorized as #DA1884 and Pantone 219C and trademarked by Mattel] BARBIE PINK
  • 57A [Islands off the North Carolina coast, or the theme of this puzzle] OUTER BANKS

So our themers are all wrapped in the letters in BANK, hence “Outer Banks.” I have never been to the Outer Banks, but I hear it is quite nice. Al Roker is usually there when a hurricane is bearing down. Perhaps a future retirement destination … ? I will surely have to scout it out someday! Yes, T-Pain does spell his song with a DRANK on the end. Say what you want about rappers; he appears to actually have some musical talent. Do a YouTube dive and you will see what I am talking about. My timer didn’t work again; maybe 5 minutes or so? Nice puzzle, Matt! 4.3 stars.

A few more things:

  • 16A [“___ for Steve” (Morley Callaghan short story)] A CAP – This is your obscure pop culture reference of the week!
  • 31A [Queen of Quebec?] REINE – I wrote REINA at first. Am I confusing my Romance languages?
  • 2D [“___ Carter V” (Lil Wayne album of 2018)] THA – I am not a huge fan of Lil Wayne, but I suppose a lot of folks are. I have said before his music makes a person angry! Also, I think all of his albums show a picture of him as a little kid:
  • 9D [Actress Bullock of “Bird Box”] SANDRA – Is Netflix now so powerful they can get A-list talent to star in their movies? I have seen Bandersnatch, but not this yet. Or Roma. Soon!
  • 21D [“Princess ___” (Gilbert & Sullivan operetta)] IDA – Slightly tough. Unless you’re a huge fan of Gilbert & Sullivan!
  • 22D [___ loading (marathon runner’s strategy)] CARBO – I have heard this more often as CARB loading, but it is a thing. You do need fuel to run this far. I have completed three of these, and my hope is to do some more once I figure out my life schedule.
  • 34D [Gold, in Latin] AURUM – This is also slightly tough. Gettable, if you think a second, but tough.
  • 40D [Hand down to heirs] BEQUEATH – I tried BEQUEST at first and ran out of letters!

Have a great week!

Tyler Lian & Jeff Chen’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 02/05/2019

A new constructor perhaps? I don’t know Tyler, but I do know Jeff, and he is one of a few constructors that focuses on developing new gridsetters. If this is your first puzzle, Tyler, congratulations! If it isn’t, where are some of  your other ones, because this one is pretty good! The theme has a revealer at 56-Across:

  • 17A [Immigrant’s ID] GREEN CARD
  • 27A [Tuition-paying aid] STUDENT LOAN
  • 42A [Competitive swimming venue] OLYMPIC POOL
  • 56A [Emmy-winning reality series for entrepreneurs … and a place for the ends of 17-, 27- and 42-Across?] SHARK TANK

I like Shark Tank, but I don’t watch it that often. It is not exactly appointment television for me, but when it is on it can be entertaining. Maybe I just don’t like rich people talk about how they want to throw their millions around that much! All in all, though, a fine theme. Here’s to more puzzles, Tyler! (Jeff, I know you’ll have many more!)

A few more things:

    • 38A [Eric Carle’s “The __ Hungry Caterpillar”] VERY – This title sounds very familiar. I should get it for my son!
    • 49A [Old phone company nickname] MA BELL – This is actually quite old. Who still has a land line??
    • 1D [Rapper whose name sounds like an endangered cat] TYGA – I would not recognize this rapper if he walked past me, but these young kids would!
    • 3D [Many an action film hero] ONE-MAN ARMY – Like Rambo!
    • 10D [The Roots’ frontman on “Late Night with Jimmy] QUESTLOVE – He is the drummer with a pick always in his ‘fro. He is quite talented. One of the things I enjoy is when Fallon and his crew do songs with toys. Like so (Questlove is in the back on the far left):

  • 23D [Tracking implants, for short] ID CHIPS – People get these in their pets quite a lot, I think, but my first thought went to a far more sinister use of these!
  • 37D [Sam of “Peaky Blinders”] NEILL – This show is on Netflix, one of many from the UK that they apparently own the American rights for. I have not seen it; there are too many shows these days and no time to watch them all!
  • 41D [Tot’s comforter, affectionately] BLANKIE – I like this a lot. An image of Linus pops up, but I don’t think he used this exact word.

That is all for now. Enjoy your day!

Christopher Adams’s Universal Crossword, “Three of a Kind”–Judge Vic’s write-up

Yesterday, Jim Q. welcomed you to Team Fiend’s first Universal Crossword write-up, noting that we are in the David Steinberg Era. Welcome now to the second such write-up.

THEME:  In this 72-answer grid—with only four three-letter answers!—Christopher gives us a trio of phrases with a common homophone.

Christopher Adams’s Universal Crossword, “Three of a Kind”–2/5/19–solution


  • 16a [Windows’ alternatives, on planes] AISLE SEATS
  • 35a [“Let me think about it”] I’LL GET BACK TO YOU
  • 57a [2018 Wes Anderson film] ISLE OF DOGS

Plus a lot of other good stuff:

  • 19a [German white wine] RIESLING
  • 42a [“Su-u-ure”] YEAH I BET
  • 49a [Timely Kesha song?] TIK TOK
  • 52a [Skull-faced Mattel villain] SKELETOR
  • 4d [Pentagon Papers leaker] ELLSBERG
  • 8d [Mythical reptile] BASILISK
  • 17d [Secretary of transportation since 2017] ELAINE CHAO
  • 21d [Reminder starter] NOTE TO SELF
  • 36d [Faith Hill hit with the line “It’s perpetual bliss”] THIS KISS
  • 38d [Let one’s guard down] OPENED UP

Sara Keller did this theme in a 2003 NYT, with three different phrases. So what? A solid homophone theme is bound to get repeated once per decade or two.

Very impressive! 3.5 stars.

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15 Responses to Tuesday, February 5, 2019

  1. XxWordLoser says:

    WSJ – worked as a carpenter when younger.
    NAILSET is a carpenter’s punch, setting nail heads below the wood surface (specific).

    AWL is a leather punch – shoemaker/leatherworker (and others).
    Good Clue/word pair

  2. JohnH says:

    I think the WSJ clue isn’t extrapolating unfairly from three names but rather referring to a dated but still recognizable idiom in “any Tom, Dick, or Harry” for something like people generally or the least common denominator.

    Tom Waits used it in his best album, “Nighthawks at the Diner”: “All my friends are married, Every Tom and Dick and Harry. You must be strong if you’re to bear it alone.”

  3. David L says:

    With puzzles like today’s NYT, I am always left wondering whether the constructor really thinks ARE AINGE MINT sounds like ‘arrangement’ or whether he thinks it’s close enough for puzzle purposes. In ‘arrangement’ only the middle vowel gets its full value; the other two are schwas. Neither ARE nor MINT have Ə when spoken in isolation.

    • Victor Fleming says:

      In areas of the deep South, where I grew up, folks’d say RAINGE-MEEUNT, with equal stress on all four syllables.

  4. RunawayPancake says:

    WSJ – Hey, Nate! Minor quibble. Animal House wasn’t set at Dartmouth. One of the screenwriters went to Dartmouth, but the movie was set at fictional Faber College and was filmed in and around the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.

    • Eric says:

      And the movie happens to look exactly like my mother’s 1962 yearbook from Ohio University, though that’s probably true for most college yearbooks published then

  5. pannonica says:

    NYT: Two comments, and I hope they don’t fall into the category of 35a [Something a pedant picks] NIT. Both are editorial asides rather than challenging accuracy.

    2d [Human’s closest relative] APE. While technically correct, it seems to reinforce the idea that humans are somehow separate from other apes. With understanding of even basic evolution even at this late date so lacking in society, this seems to passively preserve the status quo of ignorance and thus reinforce a dangerously hubristic view of the world.

    8d [Naan-like Native American food] FRY BREAD. It isn’t quaint or traditional; it’s a legacy of systemic genocide, oppression, and persecution at the hands of the US government. More here and here,

  6. pannonica says:

    WSJ: I point out things like this a lot, but it’s so pervasive that my comments comprise only a fraction of the instances: 70a [Mosquitoes and mice] PESTS. So pejorative and anthropocentric. Such clues could easily be mollified with an “at times” qualifier.

    • John Lampkin says:

      So true! Mice, in terms of pharm testing and research have saved many human lives, and of course they are an indispensable component of raptors and owls.

    • PJ Ward says:

      Mosquitoes are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths annually from malaria alone.

      • pannonica says:

        Does that make them merely a “pest”?

        It’s true that they are the most deadly animal to humans in terms of total deaths (the various diseases they carry), but that doesn’t quite seem to be the issue.

        • PJ Ward says:

          No, it makes them a good bit more than a pest. So much so that being called a pest doesn’t seem so pejorative.

  7. Steve Manion says:

    My senior year in high school in Niagara Falls was Calvin Murphy’s first year at Niagara. The story is that he enrolled at Niagara because he got an offer from the Buffalo Bills to be a baton twirler at Bills games. He was a world champion baton twirler.
    It was the era in which freshmen could not play varsity basketball. Murphy averaged 48 points a game as a freshman.
    I played on western New York championship basketball team in my junior yeAr. In the championship game, he held the other team’s best player (averaged 25 per game) to two points. The next year he played for Niagara County Community College and held Murphy to 42. Murphy was the most unguardable player I have ever seen.


  8. Sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ: YRLY (37D) kinda spoiled the puzzle for me today since it was situated in the narrow passageway from the middle of the puzzle into the SW. My hat’s off to all crossword constructors since I’ve never even tried it, but that seems like something that should have been reworked.

  9. Eric says:

    Am I nitpicking, or should NYT 58-Across have instructed to say the other 3 words “consecutively” or maybe “successively” rather than “together”?

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