Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Jonesin' 4:18 (Derek) 


LAT 11:20 (Derek) 


NYT 3:58 (Amy) 


Universal 4:26 (Jim Q) 


WSJ 5:02 (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 409), “Core Curriculum”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 409: “Core Curriculum”

Hello there, everybody! Hope all is well with you as we begin April. Also hope you were not the butt end of an April Fool’s joke yesterday!

Today’s puzzle definitely hits at the core of…cores! Each of the theme entries is a multiple-word answer in which the first word can also come before the word “core.”

  • APPLE STORE (16A: [Selling point for an iPad?])
  • INNER CITY BLUES (22A: [#1 Marvin Gaye hit with the lyric “Make me wanna holler/The way they do my life”])
  • HARD-EARNED MONEY (34A: [Wages gained through the sweat of one’s brow])
  • COMMON COURTESY (48A: [Saying “please” or “thank you,” for instance])
  • SOFT SPOKEN (57A: [Like gentle readers of bedtime stories])

Can’t say that I can remember ever seeing OSTIA in a grid before, though, even if you were not up on your ancient Roman history, the entry would not have been too hard to suss out, though you might question yourself for a little bit if it looks right (50D: [Port of ancient Rome]). Got a little hungry fulling in GRATIN (1D: [Potatoes au _____ (creamy side dish]) and washing it down with some sweet MARSALA (42A: [Sicilian dessert wine]). Can’t tell you the number of times I watched YAN Can Cook on public television going back to when I was about five years old (41A: [Chinese-born TV chef]). Just found out that his show goes back to 1982, which is astounding! Am pretty sure I wasn’t aware enough back then to use any of his techniques in my cooking, but now might have to look up archived shows and see what I can incorporate!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BARON (5A: [British nobleman]) – Former NBA player BARON Davis was a two-time NBA All-Star (2002, 2004) point guard who played mostly for the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. Davis, who went to college for two years at UCLA, is probably remembered most for being the star player on the 2007 Golden State Warriors team that, as a No. 8 seed in the NBA Playoffs, became just the second No. 8 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, as the Dubs (Warriors, in Bay Area slang) defeated the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in six games.

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

Take care!


Natasha Lyonne & Deb Amlen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 2 19, no. 0402

The latest in the occasional series of celebrity collabo puzzles brings together film and TV star Natasha Lyonne, whose work I’ve enjoyed since she made Slums of Beverly Hills as a teenager, and Deb Amlen, who was a crossword constructor before she began writing about the NYT crossword for the NYT. You can read their comments at Wordplay. (There’s also a Times Insider interview with the actress.)

Both are dryly funny human beings, so I was expecting to be amused by the puzzle. The theme riffs on the BOB/FOSSE movie All That Jazz via three phrases that begin with those title words:

  • 19a. [Dressed like “a hundred-dollar millionaire”], ALL FLASH, NO CASH. Not sure I’ve heard this one, but the rhyme makes it easier to guess.
  • 36a. [“I think I made a mistake here”], THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT. How many times have you muttered these words to yourself when filling in a crossword?
  • 50a. [“Add some throw pillows or a pop of color around here, why don’t you!”], JAZZ UP THE PLACE.

The themers share a common casual vibe that makes them cohere, and they’re all lively entries unto themselves.

Highlights in the fill include “NOT FOR ME,” thanks; “Bedtime for BONZO,” which always amuses me; YOGA POSE; TZATZIKI sauce, which was famously misspelled on an NYC food cart as “twatziki,” and I will never forget my puzzler friend Jeff Schwartz relating that; and COPOUTS. I hate BROCCOLI, but I suppose it’s better in the grid than on my plate. ZUCK is fresh fill but I’m mad at Zuckerberg after reading a long Mother Jones article about how Facebook has chosen again and again to screw over real journalism (article might only be in the print magazine).

The clues had so much whimsy! For instance: 33a. [It might have golden locks], DOOR. (We’d settle for brass. My god, who has actual gold hardware?) And 6a. [Poehler vortex of funniness?], AMY, and 35a. [Howe he could invent!], ELIAS—just plain goofy. Some other nice clues:

  • [Creature to get down from]

    9a. [It might be on one’s radar], BLIP. Literal radar.
  • 48a. [#Me___], TOO. No less relevant now than when the hashtag first bubbled up. Alas.
  • 63a. [Creature to get down from], EIDER. Saddle up!
  • 50d. [Ghost at the altar?], JILT. For those who don’t know, ghost is now used as a verb. If you just stop seeing someone or responding to their calls and texts, you’ve ghosted them. The only people you can defensibly ghost are abusive or controlling creeps, 55d CADS.

4.25 stars from me. And this puzzle reminds me that I still need to watch Lyonne’s Netflix show, Russian Doll, just as soon as I finish Shrill on Hulu.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Fly Free” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 04/02/2019

This is a 70-word themeless puzzle, but I got through it in well under 5 minutes! Perhaps that is a testament to being on Matt’s wavelength? (Can we get Matt to do an ACPT puzzle?!) Great puzzle, and I am still in awe of how Matt makes this look easy. Sure, there are a couple of fairly tough entries in here, as well as some obscure pop culture (because it wouldn’t be a Jonesin’ puzzle without it!), but there is very little crosswordese, and that is what you want. What people know and don’t know in a puzzle is highly subjective, but this was nothing but fun. 4.7 stars.

Some high points:

  • 11A [Nemesis for Hook] CROC – Is that what they called it? Isn’t this the crocodile that ticked like a clock? At least we aren’t referencing those awful plastic shoes!
  • 23A [Gp. with a Seattle team come 2021] NHL – I don’t think this team has a name yet. Hopefully it is not the Supersonics, which they need to save for when the NBA goes back to Seattle!
  • 41A [Home of California’s Mendocino College] UKIAH – This is tough. Matt is a west coaster, so this may be a little more familiar to him. Again, I have seen it before, but it did not quickly come to mind.
  • 55A [Bob Mould’s band before Sugar] HÜSKER DÜ – Per Wikipedia, this band name is full of umlauts! This is that obscure pop trivia I was talking about …
  • 61A [Drama with a title character voiced by Kristen Bell] GOSSIP GIRL – … as is this. I think I remember hearing this before, but this was a carefully guarded secret for quite a while, if I remember correctly.
  • 9D [Swimming pools, a la “The Beverly Hillbillies”] CEMENT PONDS – Awesome! Best entry in the grid. I believe this is a direct quote from Jed Clampett, right?
  • 10D [Krispy ___ (some doughnuts)] KREMES – Do you use this in the plural, or do you just say “Krispy Kreme doughnuts” are in the break room? Still gettable, and likely correct, but it sounds just slightly off to me.
  • 21D [PGA’s Calvin] PEETE – Calvin Peete passed away a few years ago, but this entry looks a lot like PEELE, which reminds me to tell you that if you have not watched The Twilight Zone on CBS All Access, stop what you’re doing and go pay for it. You will not regret it!
  • 24D [Explorative phrase in kids’ science shows, maybe] LET’S FIND OUT – Another great entry. This one got a smile from me!
  • 36D [Pork roast flavorer] DILL SEED – It was either SEED or WEED, in my mind! Is DILL WEED even a thing??
  • 45D [Old Scottish towns (as opposed to towns elsewhere?)] BURGHS – This is where this is from? Like “Pittsburgh?” I did not know this. I am smarter!

Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 04/02/2019

Yes, this puzzle took me over 11 minutes, but I solved it using Downs Only, and I wouldn’t necessarily say this was a speed solve. I think I will be solving most LAT puzzles for the foreseeable future using Downs Only. That may not work for the weekend puzzles, but this is one way to gain solving time, correct? I am ab0ut 15 minutes behind the best B solvers at the ACPT, which is about 2-4 minutes per puzzle. So we are in training mode!

This puzzle was a great one to solve and blog with Downs Only, since the theme is utilized in the Down answers:

  • 3D [*Tough period in life] HARD TIMES
  • 9D [*Grade school presentation] SHOW AND TELL
  • 24D [*Slim-fitting Dior creation] PENCIL SKIRT
  • 26D [*Nuclear treaty subject] TEST BAN
  • 35D [Caps, and a hint to the answers to starred clues] UPPERCASE

We are all familiar with the phrases hard case, showcase, pencil case, and test case. Very well done, and also elegant with using the down format in this case, making the “case” truly “upper.” I like it a lot. Full disclosure: I usually show my actual solving grid image, but it was pretty bad. This one was surprisingly tough to solve Downs Only, even with the theme clues clearly given. I have been doing this more, and it usually doesn’t go as bad as this one did! But a fine puzzle nonetheless; a solid 4.5 stars from me.

Some highlights from my difficult Downs-Only solve (I still haven’t looked at any Across clues!):

  • 5D [Hit the jackpot] WON – I had WIN in here. When you don’t know the tense, that makes it a little tough. The crossing of AORTA here is what helps!
  • 27D [Camper’s cover] TARP – I had TENT, which also caused issues.
  • 33D [Irish poet who wrote “Easter, 1916”] YEATS – Is it YEATS or KEATS? How do you differentiate these two? Especially when you don’t necessarily read poetry often?
  • 52D [Philippines peak: Abbr.] MT. APO – I keep forgetting this mountain, but you need to have it in your vocabulart for solving purposes.
  • 53D [Looks flushed] IS RED – This is a difficult partial phrase, but the fill necessitates this to a degree. Not sure there is a better option here, at least not without poring over this for quite a while. When it isn’t a word that is recognizable, that is what makes it tough.

More on the Downs Only solving as the year progresses! Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Greg Johnson’s Universal crossword, “Colorful Characters” – Jim Q’s writeup

Anyone else humming “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown” after that solve?

THEME: Fictional characters with Brown as a surname.

Universal crossword solution * 4 02 19 * “Colorful Characters” * Johnson


  • 17A [22nd and 24th president] GROVER CLEVELAND.
  • 27A [Tamer of wild horses] BRONCO BUSTER
  • 50A [StarKist tuna catchphrase] SORRY CHARLIE.
  • 65A [Attorney’s reference book] LAW ENCYCLOPEDIA.
  • 70A [Last name of the fictional people at the ends of {the theme answers}] BROWN.

“I was snubbed?!”

I never realized how many characters have Brown as a last name. The fact that they can be symmetrically placed with one additional word attached is a nice find.

LOST KEYS and TOLL FREE highlighted the overall clean fill (though I suppose most numbers are “toll free” nowadays with modern phone plans, no?).

Tight theme, and it made me fondly recall my obsession with Encyclopedia Brown books as a youngster.

3.6 Stars.

Peter Gordon’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up

I don’t predict many snickers about the mounds of great theme entries in today’s WSJ puzzle from Peter Gordon:

WSJ 4.2.19

WSJ 4.2.19

18A: PAYDAY LOAN [Usurious offering from a place with a “Checks Cashed” sign] – Did you know that these legal operations are allowed to charge up to 400% annual interest?!
24A: HEATH LEDGER [Oscar winner as the Joker]
38A: CLARK UNIVERSITY [School in Worcester, Massachusetts] – Likely as well known as gridmate RPI.
53A: CHUNKY STYLE [Like some salsas] – Especially on a delicious TACO.
61A: KIT KAT KLUB [“Cabaret” cabaret] – Do you think they sell CAT LITTER there, too? Is this technically a dupe?

Each themer starts with the name of a candy bar, which ties in nicely to the “How Sweet It Is” title. I’d never heard of a CHUNKY bar or a CLARK bar, so it looks like it’s time for me to raid my local candy shop! Otherwise, this was a solid, clear theme that made for a fun solve. What also helps is how wonderfully smooth the fill is – that certainly helped my solve time.

That said, I was thrown by the inclusion of Michael VICK, convicted dog fighter, in the puzzle. : ( Also, SARAH [Duchess of York] is the only woman who made it into the puzzle vs. at least seven men in the top third of the grid alone. That’s not so sweet.

Lastly, I’ve always wondered what the heck a BAS-relief is, so I finally looked it up! It is a type of sculpture that “has less depth to the faces and figures than they actually have, when measured proportionately (to scale).” Now I know!

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7 Responses to Tuesday, April 2, 2019

  1. Dave S. says:

    It was a nice Tuesday puzzle and tribute. My only nit was REHAB, and using “habit” in the clue. Why not addiction, or something else.

  2. anon says:

    NYT: 33a. [It might have golden locks], DOOR. This clue/answer has been called out a few times, and I’m still not sure I understand it. Is it just misdirection, where golden locks usually refers to hair?

  3. David Roll says:

    WSJ–not showing up.

  4. Ethan says:

    The NYT definition of COPOUT is different from mine. I think of a cop out as being a kind of evasion, not a rationalization. For example, if a presidential candidate were asked what her favorite state was, and she said “I like all 50 states equally,” that answer would be a cop out. I’m not sure what kind of example would work for the NYT’s definition.

    • Steve Manion says:

      Think criminal justice. Perps often cop a plea. The genesis of that term is that prosecutors for reasons related to sympathy, judicial economy, suspected mental issues, lack of absolute evidence or many other reasons will rationalize not throwing the book at someone. If you are an aggrieved victim, such rationalizations are strictly a cop-out. I hyphenate that expression, but am not sure if it is correct to do so.


  5. Doug says:

    @Derek – If you grow dill for the leaves (dill weed) harvest before the plants go to seed. If you grow it for the seed, well….

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