Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Jonesin' untimed (Derek) 


LAT 5:25 Downs Only (Derek) 


NYT 3:53 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


WSJ 7:00 (Jim P) 


Xword Nation 5:19 (Ade) 


Peter A. Collins’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Alternate Address”—Jim P’s review

Jim P. here sitting in for Nate, which is only appropriate because if you did last Friday’s contest crossword, you know you had to re-parse “Alternatives” to get “Alter natives”. Today’s puzzle is titled “Alternate Address,” and if you “Alter Nate,” you get this guy {*points two thumbs at self}. I’ll shut up now.

Well, not yet. We have to take a look at veteran constructor Peter A. Collins’s offering today. He’s got a nifty theme where he’s taken common phrases whose first word can be a famous person’s last name and whose second word can be a synonym of “name.” These phrases are the clues and you have to supply the first names.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Alternate Address” · Peter A. Collins · Tue., 6.4.19

  • 22a [Love handle?] COURTNEY Love was bigger in the ’90s than today, but she’s still crossword-worthy, IMO.
  • 24a [Black label?] Country singer CLINT Black.
  • 38a [Brand name?] British comedian RUSSELL Brand.
  • 53a [Ball marker?] L.A. Laker LONZO Ball. This name I didn’t know which made that corner tough. I kept trying to fit LUCY or LUCILLE in there somehow. And what’s a ball marker? Oh yeah, golf.
  • 57a [Price tag?] Opera singer LEONTYNE Price. I’ve heard the name in past crosswords, but had a hard time pulling it out of the depths of my brain. I wanted to fit JONATHAN in there. Ah, but he spells his last name “Pryce”.

I really like this theme. There’s only a small set of phrases that this can be done with and Peter managed to find most, if not all, of them. And to craft a symmetric set of famous-enough people on top of that is a tall order. So having some short (5-letter) theme answers is just fine in this case, and having names that aren’t universally known is to be expected (as long as the names are well-known enough).

But with all those proper names and more besides in the grid (OLAFS, IAGOGWEN, MERLE, ANNE, ABUALOU, EDNA, LOU), plus even more in the clues, I’m gonna bet some solvers won’t be too keen on this puzzle. I liked it fine, but, yeah, maybe some of the extra proper names should have been weeded out.


But the long fill is nice, eh? “OF COURSE NOT!”, BIG TENT, LAWN DARTS, DEERHOUND, NUANCES, HAIRNET, DRY MOP, REMNANT, BURUNDI, and THE SPINNERS [“I’ll Be Around” group]. That’s good stuff.

Clues of note:

  • 67a [Some Little League coaches] and 5d [Some Little League players] are DADS and SONS. Very nice. This is a more inclusive way to clue, because not all coaches are DADS (some are moms) and not all players are SONS (some are daughters). And some coaches and players don’t fit neatly into either category.

Bottom line, if you don’t like proper-name-heavy grids, then this one wasn’t for you. There’s always tomorrow. But if you can get past them, this grid has a nice theme and strong fill. 3.8 stars. Now I’ll shut up.

Jake Halperin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 6 4 19, no. 0604

The revealers CONS and PROS are clued [Disadvantages found in this puzzle’s three longest Across answers …] and [… and advantages found in them]. The three 15a are two-word phrases starting with CON- and PRO-:

  • 20a. [Need for targeted advertising], CONSUMER PROFILE. Not a familiar phrase to me. Tuesday entries should be more broadly familiar than this.
  • 39a. [Netflix or YouTube], CONTENT PROVIDER. A familiar phrase, but in general, I think YouTube is just hosting the content that’s created by outside providers, no? Netflix, on the other hand, pays to produce much of the original content it makes available to subscribers.
  • 55a. [It settles a case], CONCLUSIVE PROOF. Also doesn’t feel quite familiar enough to pass muster as a crossword entry, and this one sticks out a bit since PROOF doesn’t include PRO as a Latin word root.

I did a Onelook search for con* pro* phrases, and conic projection was the only one besides CONTENT PROVIDER that would fit into a 15×15 grid—and the only phrases I liked besides 39a have 18 and 20 letters. There aren’t enough familiar con-/pro- phrases to make for a fun crossword theme of any size, in my opinion.

Neatest fill/clue: 11d. [“Occasion” celebrated 364 times a year in Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass”] UNBIRTHDAY. Also a fan of OOF, which I wish I could play in Words With Friends because I certainly type the word regularly.

That was outweighed by the fill that felt ill at ease in a Tuesday grid, or just generally clunky: A MAJ, WTS, DAH, plural YOS, T-MAN, AM SO, IBID., UP ONE, and (for those of us who didn’t study music) A TEMPO.

2.75 stars from me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 418), “Glory Be!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 418: “Glory Be!”

Good morning, everybody! I hope you’re all doing well and my apologies to you all for the late(r) posting of today’s analysis. Well, this grid can only be described in one word: un-bee-lieveable! Each of the first words in the four theme entries also is a descriptor of a type of bee.  

  • KILLER ABS (17A: [“Dangerous” description of a body builder’s midsection])
  • QUEEN LATIFAH (29A: [Grammy-winning “U.N.I.T.Y.” rapper and one of hip-hop’s pioneer feminists])
  • BUMBLE BOOGIE (50A: [Jazzed-up version of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “flight” of a busy insect])
  • HONEY WINE (65A: [Fermented drink made cool again by “Game of Thrones” (some call it “mead”)])

Don’t know why I’m obsessing over this now, but seeing CONGA LINE, while making me happy for its fill, has made me sad that I’ve never been part of one in my life before (35D: [Novelty “snake” dance based on a Cuban carnival dance]). One of these days, I’ll be part of a conga line, for fear that I’ll be putting these hips and/or shoulders, which I have a whole lot of, to waste!!  Love the subtle (though maybe not-so-subtle) shoutout to June being Pride Month with addition of TRANS in the grid (71A: [Prefix that means across]). This grid takes us around INDIA (20A: [New Delhi’s country]) as well, with both AGRA (15A: See 10-Down]) and TAJ MAHAL being included (10D: [World-famous mausoleum at 15-Across]). With the French Open being contested now, nice to remind you that BJORN was just as good on clay as he was on the grass courts of Wimbledon, winning six singles titles at Roland Garros to go along with his five consecutive titles at Wimbledon (19A: [Borg who won five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LOBO (59D: [Gray wolf]) – No one may have played more of a role in the rise to prominence by the University of Connecticut in basketball than former player and current ESPN women’s basketball analyst Rebecca Lobo, who led the Huskies to their first of 15 national championships in the sport (11 women, four men) in 1995, a season in which the women’s team went a perfect 35-0. She won the both the Naismith Award and Wade Trophy as the national player of the year. After her time in Storrs, Conn., she became the first face of the New York Liberty WNBA franchise, assigned to the club in the league’s first season in 1997. Lobo was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.

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

Take care!


Dexter Coleman’s Universal Crossword, “Fresh Takes”—Jim Q’s write-up

I’m currently supervising a high school study hall, and a student just let me know I had deodorant marks on my shirt. Fitting.

THEME: Common phrases with deodorant brands in them.


  • 17A [The Queen’s deodorant?]  VICTORIA’S SECRET.

    Universal crossword solution * 6 04 19 * “Fresh Takes” * Coleman

  • 28A [Spy’s deodorant?] SHADOW BAN.
  • 44A [Warrior’s deodorant?] BATTLE AXE.
  • 59A [Single man’s deodorant?] BACHELOR’S DEGREE. 

I like this idea! Both the consistency in the cluing and answers makes for a tight puzzle. SHADOW BAN is a new term for me, and I betting some others may not of heard it before. Per Wikipedia: Shadow banning (also called stealth banning, ghost banning or comment ghosting) is the act of blocking or partially blocking a user or their content from an online community such that it will not be readily apparent to the user that they have been banned.

That’s a fun term. Glad I know it now.

Clean fill all around, though I am noticing JML’s comment that the clue 36A [Cool 2002 Disney film?] for ICE AGE is just plain wrong (it seems JML is correct).

Looks like a debut for Dexter Coleman! And a strong one at that. Congrats.

3.75 Stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Pairin’ Up” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 06/04/2019

The theme was, I thought, readily evident after I got the first theme answer solved at 28A, but it turns out ALL of the double letters are Ns! That did NOT help, however, in sussing out the theme answer at 18A, whom I do not know!

  • 18A [Fred who directed “High Noon” and “From Here to Eternity”] ZINNEMANN – Who?? New name to me!
  • 28A [“Walking on Broken Glass” singer] ANNIE LENNOX
  • 35A [Transportation link between Folkestone, Kent and Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais] CHANNEL TUNNEL – You mean CHUNNEL?
  • 47A [Role revived in “Fuller House”] DANNY TANNER
  • 58A [Super Bowl X MVP] LYNN SWANN – I heard he recently ran for office somewhere …

It is OK that I don’t know someone; perhaps others did know who this was. My main issue was brain-cramping at 6D. Good thing my timer didn’t start! I wasn’t in a hurry once I realized that it wasn’t working. Still not too slow of a solve, though. At least I don’t think so! 4.3 stars for a puzzle that taught me a thing or two.

More fun stuff:

  • 26A [John of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”] BOYEGA – I think this actor is British. No one in the US wants to be typecast with Star Wars movies, perhaps?
  • 3D [___ Man (anime series about an extremely powerful hero)] ONE-PUNCH – Again, leave it to Matt to produce the obscure pop-culture reference. This isn’t the only one in this puzzle …
  • 5D [___-Freez (soft-serve chain mentioned in “Jack and Diane”)] TASTEE – Grew up near a restaurant called Tastee Twirl, which I think is still there!
  • 6D [Activity on a placemat] MAZE – I made this harder than it should have been. Which didn’t help with getting 28A!
  • 29D [“___ Springfield” (Kent Brockman show)] EYE ON – This is reference to The Simpsons, if you didn’t know.
  • 39D [Designer in “The Incredibles”] EDNA MODE – I have to say, the Incredibles movies are fantastic.
  • 45D [Singer/actress Gray who was on Season 1 of “American Idol”] TAMYRA – … more obscure pop culture references! I don’t remember her at all; perhaps because she didn’t win!
  • 62D [1990s R&B group Bell ___ DeVoe] BIV – This is well in my wheelhouse. These guys are all just about my age!

That is all!

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

LAT 06/04/2019

My Downs Only ability is getting better! This one wasn’t too bad, even though the theme wasn’t readily evident until I was done and stared at the grid a bit:

  • 17A [Suspected 1930s-’40s spy] ALGER HISS 
  • 30A [Jamaican resort] MONTEGO BAY 
  • 46A [“Humboldt’s Gift” Pulitzer-winning novelist] SAUL BELLOW
  • 62A [Canoe material] BIRCH BARK 

What should we call this theme? All of the long answers end with scary or annoying animal sounds. I’ll lean toward the scary side; some of these sounds, depending on the animal, I never want to hear! Another clean grid from the still prolific C.C. Burnikel; 4.3 stars.

A few more highlights (from the Down, of course!

    • 1D [Org. for Naomi Osaka] WTA – The #1 player in the world lost already in the French Open, but she should do fairly well at Wimbledon and extremely well at the U.S. Open later this summer.
    • 6D [Declared with authority] SAID SO – Like your mom used to tell you! Which was bad parenting!!
    • 8D [Walkman insert, once] CASSETTE – I am dating myself, but I remember these well … shoot, I remember 8-track cassettes well!
    • 10D [Cave] GROTTO – Notre Dame has a famous one of these. Never been inside it. I am also not Catholic.
    • 11D [Jam fruit] GOOSEBERRY – I HAVE however, tasted gooseberry pie. Imagine grapes soaked in vinegar!
    • 22D [“Before __ you go … “] I LET – This gets a song in my head … enjoy!

  • 29D [Sleeps till noon, say] GETS UP LATE – I am not really a late sleeper anymore. I would rather get up and do something I want to do than just trudge off to work!
  • 41D [Marijuana] CANNABIS – This still is illegal here in Indiana.
  • 48D [Some Lincoln Center productions] OPERAS – I have never seen an opera. I don’t even know where you would go to see one!
  • 64D [__ Kan pet food] KAL – Not clued as [Actor Penn], which seems easier. But I don’t have dogs!

More Downs Only solving this Saturday. I hope!

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13 Responses to Tuesday, June 4, 2019

  1. JML says:

    Universal’s 36-Across: not a Disney film

    • Martin says:

      The producer is Blue Sky, which is now owned by Disney. So “Ice Age” wasn’t a Disney film last year but is a Disney film this year.

      • JML says:

        Sure, if you’re playing devil’s advocate… But specifically as clued, Disney did not own Blue Sky in 2002

        • JML says:

          So by extension of your logic, one could clue LOUISIANA as “2019 French territory”. See the fault with that?

          • Martin says:

            See below, but no, I don’t see that as the same. Louisiana is not a 2019 territory. “Ice Age” is a 2002 film.

            • JML says:

              Ok, let me pick a similar example that will get you to focus on the logic rather than the semantics: cluing TEXAS as a “2019 Mexican state” (since Texas was, at one point, a state in Mexico). Texas is a state in 2019 and was at one point a Mexican state, but it is not a Mexican state in 2019.

            • Martin says:

              Still not the same. It’s a nice try, but ultimately sophistry. A Mexican state and a US state are different things. You’re relying on the fact that “estado” in English is “state,” but the natures of the Mexican state and the US state are different.

              On the other hand, a film is a film.

              There are lots of wordings that would be wrong — “2002 Disney release,” for example — but I think this one is kosher.

              You don’t have to like the clue, but my opinion is that it’s not incorrect. I’m happy to agree to disagree.

  2. DH says:

    I’m not as tuned in to the subtleties of differentiating between the daily puzzles, but I find the three theme answers to be very much “in the language”, and filled them in pretty quickly with only a few crossings. Nor does it occur to me that simple three-letter combinations in theme answers must include Latin roots … is that a thing?

    There is one entry in this puzzle that I’d love to see retired, only because it’s so overused IMHO. Any form of “Playground Retort” elicits an eye-roll from me, and an “ugh, not that again!”

    • Norm says:

      I think the assorted variants [e.g., is too, are not] have too many useful letters to ever go the way of snee and orle, but I feel your pain. 5A and its ilk have the same effect on me. Oh shit, which of 7 notes is it this time?

    • Lois says:

      I really agree with DH about the irrelevance of the Latin roots and wanted to post the same thing. After all, the “cons” here don’t mean “against” at all; they’re just letter combinations within the theme answers.

  3. M483 says:

    L.A. Times: The other layer of the theme and the revealer is the across animals clued as making the sound at the end of the theme answers. I didn’t what you to miss half the fun, Derek, just because you work downs only.

  4. Martin says:

    Not devil’s advocate at all. I early-solve these puzzles and knew it would be a trap for the unwary. It’s a 2002 film and it’s a Disney film. The clue doesn’t say that it was a Disney film in 2002.

    Disney has acquired so many studios that this kind of clue can be applied to lots of movies.

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