Sunday, June 9, 2019

LAT 9:56 (Jenni) 


NYT 10:27 (Amy) 


WaPo untimed (Jim Q) 


Universal 6:45 (Vic) 


Universal (Sunday) 9:39 (Jim Q) 


Seth Abel’s New York Times crossword, “Don’t Quote Me”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 6 9 19, “Don’t Quote Me”

The theme is famous movie misquotes and the characters who supposedly said them. The quote/character pairs sort of meander around the grid a bit, not tightly paired by location.

  • 23a. [Line never said by 58-Across], FLY, MY PRETTIES, FLY! / 58a. [Film villain who never said 23-Across, with “the”], WICKED WITCH. The dreaded with “the”.
  • 36a. [Line never said by 83-Across], BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY / 83a. [Commander who never said 36-Across], CAPTAIN KIRK.
  • 121a. [Line never said by 99-Across], JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM / 99a. [TV detective who never said 121-Across], SERGEANT FRIDAY. Would like this better with his first name, JOE, in there.
  • 44d. [Line never said by 17-Down], ME TARZAN, YOU JANE / 17d. [British noble who never said 44-Down], EARL OF GREYSTOKE. Which is weird, because we all just call him Tarzan.

Nice trivia set here, but perhaps not executed perfectly. What are your nominees for other movie misquotes?

Seven things:

  • I knew exactly what this was referring to, but never knew that was its name: 88d. [Rubin ___ (classic illusion)], VASE. It’s that optical illusion where you’re not sure if you see a vase or a pair of faces whose profiles have the same lines as that vase.
  • 42a. [Official language of a U.S. territory], SAMOAN. Man oh man, is there a long list of island nations colonized by the United States. Not just American Samoa, but also Hawaii, the Philippines (which eventually won their independence, but that was some ugly colonization … ugly like the Spanish colonization), Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Marianas … I’m surely forgetting others.
  • Words I have not ever used outside of crosswords: AHUM, UNLET, GASSER, plural SOYS.
  • This is weird, right? 27a. [“Please hold the line”], STAY ON? Who the heck says “stay on” when they’re talking to someone on the phone? Especially since STAY ON could also be clued as continuing to work in a position, or remaining attached to something.
  • 64a. [Manhattan’s ___ Stadium], ICAHN. I’ve heard of Carl Icahn, sure, but when did he buy naming rights for a stadium? And Manhattan has a stadium, not just the Madison Square Garden arena? How did “garden” get into that name, anyway. Google tells me Icahn Stadium is in Randall’s Island Park, whatever that is, and is for track and field. Cool.
  • 104d. [Cyrano de Bergerac’s love], ROXANE. And then the Steve Martin/Daryl Hannah movie adaptation of the Cyrano story was called Roxanne. The currently famous/notable ROXANE is, of course, writer Roxane Gay. If you like her sensibilities, check out her magazine, Gay Mag, on Medium.
  • 62d. [Small boat, maybe], BATH TOY. I like this clue/answer combo. I thought I needed something nautical, but it turned out to be quite domestic after all.

3.5 stars from me.

Paul Coulter’s Universal Crossword, “Classical Language”—Judge Vic’s write-up

Paul Coulter’s Universal Crossword, “Classical Language”–6/9/19, solution

Theme: Well, what’s going on here is that four dudes from either mythology or ancient history are so famous that adjectives have been made out of their names. And ILSA’s have developed by adding nouns to those adjectives. Thus, Paul Coulter, with his MERCURIAL TEMPER, showing PLATONIC LOVE for his fellow word nerds, EXERTHERCULEAN EFFORT … and (I dunno) spares us any DRACONIAN LAW.

WAHOO! ATTABOY, Paul! Thanks for not HORSING around.

Did you ever scan a grid’s fill for internal rhyme? This one has

 the DMV
the STEW
, OREO, and NERO are SO SO nearly rhymers, as are
  and TIED also are close.

I don’t know what it means.

3.5 stars from me.

Pam Amick Klawitter’s LA Times crossword, “Water Music” – Jenni’s write-up

The revealer’s in the center of the puzzle, appropriately enough: 67a [Keyboard centerpiece, and a phonetic hint to six long puzzle answers]. It’s MIDDLE C.

Los Angeles Times June 9, 2019, “Water Music,” Pam Amick Klawitter, solution grid

  • 14d [Frontier transport] is a HORSE AND BUGGY. Not just the frontier. I live near and sometimes work in Amish country. When WAZE gives you the estimated travel time, it does not take the buggies into account.
  • 22a [It happens without warning] is a SURPRISE ATTACK. See? (Sorry)
  • 43a [Reason for an ankle monitor] is HOUSE ARREST.
  • 54d [Item on the best man’s checklist] is PROPOSE A TOAST.
  • 96a [It’s more than right] is an OBTUSE ANGLE.
  • 118a [Fringe benefit for some reps] is an EXPENSE ACCOUNT.

I’m not crazy about PROPOSE A TOAST. All the other theme answers are solidly in the language and consistent. It’s not a particularly entertaining theme but it’s perfectly fine.

A few other things:

  • 5d [Garden of eating?] is OLIVE. That made me laugh.
  • 18a [DQ Blizzard flavor] gives us yet another way to clue OREO.
  • 33d [Arrived on wheels] is RODE UP, which I first had as RODE IN, which meant that was the last section of the puzzle to fall for me. This was not helped by my confusing ADT, the security company, with ADP, the payroll company that was actually clued at 48a.
  • 37a [Took off again] is REROSE. Feh.
  • 115d [USPS stack] is ENVS. Meh.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that there’s a nurse named TRIXIE in “Call The Midwife,” and that Irving Berlin wrote a song called “I Love A PIANO.” This clip features a player piano very much like the one my parents had.

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Kick It Up a Notch” – Jim Q’s writeup

Challenging 20×21 puzzle today with both the theme and the cluing difficulty being “kicked up a notch.”

THEME: Types of “kicks” in soccer are separated from common phrases by being moved up a row.


  • 22A [*Nickname of a warrior played by The Rock] SCORPION / KING.

    WaPo crossword solution * 6 09 19 * “Kitch It Up a Notch” * Birnholz

  • 34A [*Path by the curb] BICYCLE / LANE.
  •  56A [*Economic systems often espoused by libertarians] FREE / MARKET.
  • 65A [*Small retail shops] CORNER / STORES.
  • 74A [*Yellow marker carried by a “zebra”] PENALTY / FLAG.
  • 92A [*Recipients of the NHL’s Vezina Trophy] GOAL / TENDERS.
  • 118A [Competition featuring the types of kicks raised by one line in this puzzle] WORLD CUP.

My AHA moment came just now. Thank goodness. My initial description of the theme said this: The first half of theme answers are moved up, and separated from the second half of the theme answers by one row. I didn’t connect them with soccer at all. I was extremely distracted while solving, so that’s on me.

I’ve never heard of a SCORPION kick.

There’s a Wikihow article called “How to Do a Scorpion Kick” if you’re interested. I’d most likely break something.

Sounds dangerous. Perhaps having that one first in the themers is more risky than, say, PENALTY or BICYCLE? I dunno. All of the others sound more familiar.

That being said- I enjoyed this puzzle even though I didn’t get the entire theme whilst solving. That’s a testament to Evan’s prowess as a constructor. One should be able to enjoy a puzzle even if its theme has to do with a field (no pun intended) that is not in his/her wheelhouse.



  • 8A [Inconvenient request, in slang] BIG ASK. Fun answer.
  • 31A [Former White House middle name] BAINES. I had BAINER. Completely hearing BOEHNER. Which is neither a middle name, nor a “Former White House” name. Duh.

    Screech. Adorable.

  • 30A [Pocket diamonds, say] with 44A [Pocket diamonds, say?]. STEAL / CHEAT. The latter dealing with cards. Love me a good duped clue.
  • 58A [Screech at Washington Nationals games, e.g.] MASCOT. Never heard of Screech, but inferable. Good clue.
  • 85A [Avoids a bogey despite hitting into a sand trap, say] SAVES PAR. Being over-confident in MAKES PAR makes for falling into a crossword sand trap.
  • 27D [Highland games attire] KILTS. “Games” in the clue threw me off. I figured they had some sort of special outfit when they got together for a night of Parcheesi.
  • 48D [Start finish?] TEE. As in the last letter of the word “Start.”

Video Game Clue of the Week:

  • 98A [GameCube successor] WII.

Great puzzle. I feel like apologizing for a sloppy solve.

Happy Sunday!

P.S. This is fun-





Sheryl Bartol and Debbie Ellerin’s Universal Crossword, “Capitalism”—Jim Q’s write-up

Wonderful wordplay from Sheryl and Debbie today!

THEME: Country capitals that sound as if they belong in common phrases.


  • 23A [Making a big bet in Ireland?] DUBLIN DOWN. Doubling Down. 

    Sheryl Bartol and Debbie Ellerin’s Sunday Universal Crossword, “Capitalism”–6/9/19, solution

  • 30A [Korean comfort cuisine?] SEOUL FOOD. Soul Food. 
  • 42A [Fish-filled North African lunch?] TUNIS SANDWICH. Tuna Sandwich. 
  • 71A [Taiwanese go-getter?] TAPEI PERSONALITY. Type “A” Personality.
  • 98A [Assemble quickly in Afghanistan?] KABUL TOGETHER. Cobble Together. 
  • 115A [Low-carb Ecuadorian food trend?] QUITO DIET. Keto Diet. 
  • 124A [Speed off in Switzerland?] BERN RUBBER. Burn Rubber. 

Fantastic set of theme answers that work wonderfully together. I’d never heard of the Keto Diet before, but it’s definitely a thing and it didn’t take me long to KABUL TOGETHER that answer. SEOUL FOOD was definitely bound to be in this puzzle (and perhaps BERN RUBBER was handed to the constructors on a platter), but it was surprising how many other capitals’ sounds could be found in American vernacular. I particularly liked DUBLIN DOWN and TAPEI PERSONALITY.

Excellent grid to accompany and excellent theme with answers such as SEAFARER, NONE TAKEN, ID CHIP, and the great FUZZY MATH. Coulda done without USEABLE, but everybody is allowed a (var.) clue now and again.

My favorite mistake was 3D [Fruits of one’s ___]…. I can’t be the only person who put in LOINS, can I?

Great way to start a Sunday.

4.4 Stars.



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25 Responses to Sunday, June 9, 2019

  1. Lauren says:

    Just finished WaPo, and I’m happy to celebrate the women’s World Cup! Thank you Evan, for giving it attention!

    And, since today was our DC pride parade, I’m reminded of Evan’s first year at the Post. Being a hater of change, I was skeptical. Then there was an animal themed puzzle, and he had me at “Gay Pride of Lions!” What was the clue? “Reason for big cats to have a parade”? Something like that.

    • Good memory and thanks for sticking around! That was my seventh puzzle for the Post Magazine and it holds a special place for me since it has one of my personal favorite theme clues:

      [Place where sturgeons can become surgeons?] = MED SCHOOL OF FISH

    • Norm says:

      Very close. It was “Why some big cats hold a parade?”
      [I save them all. Yes, I know I’m strange.]

  2. Steve Manion says:

    Play it again, Sam is the most famous one i can think of and the most universally misquoted

    Fun puzzle


    • Christopher Smith says:

      “Come up and see me some time.” The first major instance of the audience collectively improving a scriptwriter’s work.

  3. JohnH says:

    I liked the NYT theme a lot. I hadn’t actually heard of the Wizard of Oz misquote, but I didn’t mind, and I didn’t even know that the others were misquotes, which was interesting to discover.

    I do live in Manhattan and am not sure I ever heard of Icahn Stadium. (I’m old enough to remember when Mahattan Island had a stadium, the Polo Grounds, where before my time the New York baseball Giants played.) I did know that Randall’s Island has a stadium, but I couldn’t have told you why. I also don’t usually think of the island as part of Manhattan, but I guess it has to fall somewhere in the five boroughs. (I’ve been on it a few times, mostly as the site of one of the huge spring art fairs, Frieze.)

  4. pannonica says:

    NYT: Regarding the silly AHUM, this in my opinion is a much better parsing:

    Wordy bonus: the album title is a play on Latin declensions.

    • WhiskyBill says:


      I didn’t even notice that the answer could be parsed that way–and I love that album. What a great observation, pannonica!

  5. Jenni Levy says:

    The Wizard of Oz misquote I was thinking of is “And your little dog, too!” At least I don’t think she ever said that.

    I always figured the “Garden” in Madison Square had the same etymology as the Boston Garden – that “Garden” was an old word for “arena.” The Times basically agrees

  6. DH says:

    When I saw “fly” at 23A, my first thought was Hannibal Lecter:

    “You fly back to school now, little Starling … fly fly fly … fly fly fly …”

    The chills I felt as a child watching the Wicked Witch of the West have been replaced by this.

    As soon as we figured out the theme (early on), we were anticipating “Play It Again, Sam” as Steve M. mentioned, but it never surfaced. I think we were disappointed by this.

  7. Christopher Smith says:

    Re the Philippines: I know several people whose parents/grandparents grew up in the Philippines & other Asian countries during WWII and have some thoughts about the Japanese

    • Gale Davis says:

      Why does Amy see fit to badmouth her Country in a crossword puzzle evaluation?

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I’ll badmouth colonization and imperialism no matter who does it. I did recently learn that the U.S. carried out atrocities and some genocide during and after the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). Puerto Rico is filled with U.S. citizens and yet the U.S. assistance they received after Hurricane Maria was sadly lacking—but the hurricane response in Texas was much swifter and more generous. The British were terrible in India. Numerous European countries were terrible in Africa. The Spaniards and Portuguese exterminated millions of people in the Americas. Indigenous languages were supplanted by European and American languages. These are … not good things. Do you see fit to support all these things enthusiastically? Or only American colonization efforts, because rah-rah jingoism suits you?

        • Christopher Smith says:

          Right just to be clear: I have no quarrel with what you’re saying here. Just pointing out that the Japanese have also had much to answer for. Omitting them from the list of foreign peoples who have wronged the Philippines seems odd.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            My husband’s grandfather was essentially “disappeared” by the Japanese. But if you’re talking about empires that have taken over lots of other territories, it’s Europe and the U.S. that have done most of that in the past couple centuries. At least the Japanese didn’t cross oceans to colonize. (Yes, Japan was terrible in WWII. We all know this.)

      • DD says:

        @Gale — I can’t speak for Amy or anyone else, but I believe that loving anyone or anything (including one’s country) means wanting the best for it — and the US can’t improve if we don’t face our mistakes. (A lot of what the US does and has done, at home and abroad, is troubling.)

        With regard to meaningful commentary in puzzle reviews — why not? The language that everyone uses matters; including something in a puzzle in a non-criticized way is to condone it. Others will argue that’s not so, but look at it this way: Certain words and names never appear in puzzles because they are so offensive — meaning that they are specifically condemned by the constructors and editors. Which means that whatever appears in puzzles is basically condoned by them.

        I think it’s good for the reviewers to point out problems with language in the puzzles — as above, we can’t improve if we don’t face the problems.

        • Leonard Levine says:

          I don’t understand how the clue is problematic. Not to argue for imperialism of course, just not taking issue with the clue.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Nowhere did I say there was a problem with the clue. The clue was just a springboard to thinking about modern-day colonialism.

  8. R says:

    NYT: I wasn’t sure about calling this a “movie” theme per se, but then looked around and saw that all four franchises/universes/properties/whatever (Wizard of Oz, Star Trek, Dragnet, and Tarzan) have had major movies, as well as TV series, radio serials, and a variety of other media adaptations. I have to imagine these exact phrases pop up in there somewhere, but not in the most familiar versions. Fun theme!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Shoot. I know that “Dragnet” and “Star Trek” are more prominently TV properties! Thank you for finding a way in which I was correct to call them all movie misquotes when half were really supposed TV quotes. :-)

  9. David L says:

    I wasn’t sure that EARLOFGREYSTOKE was strictly correct, and sure enough, his title per Burroughs was Viscount Greystoke. He became the Earl of Greystoke in the 1984 movie titled Greystoke — perhaps because of concerns that American viewers would be perplexed by ‘viscount’ and rhyme it with ‘discount’?

  10. Brenda Rose says:

    Universal Puzzle:
    Although this topic has been done a ton of times I distinctly remember Merl Reagle using this theme & likewise referencing all the cities except for Quito in the diet context. He was the master of the original xword pun &, sigh, originals are copied by those who don’t have an original idea themselves (& haven’t done their research.) I miss Merl as well as Henry Hook who invented the step quote. I was hoping someone would had taken up Hook’s mantle. I recall how he would intentionally skew clues to further complicate solving the quote which was usually obscure. He certainly presaged all the directions a xword puzzle could go including the meta.

  11. e.a. says:

    just a fantastic construction by bartol&ellerin, you love to see it

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