Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Jonesin' 5:34 (Derek) 


LAT 3:37 (Derek) 


NYT 3:34 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Vic) 


WSJ 5:03 (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 426), “Crossing Over”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 426: “Crossing Over”

HIYA, people (11D: [Informal greeting])! I hope you all are doing very well and, once again, staying cool in the latest heatwave that’s gripping parts of the country. Today’s clever crossword involves four theme entries in which the circled letters, which span from one word to the next in the theme entry, form a separate word that’s also a type of club. The fifth theme entry, BRIDGE CLUBS, acts as the reveal of what’s going on with those circles (61A: [Groups for card players…and a hint to the puzzle theme]).

  • GOOGLE EARTH (17A: [In “Lion,” Saroo uses this computer program to search for his hometown in India])
  • PO’ BOY SANDWICH (23A: [Traditional Louisiana hero with roast beef or fried shrimp])
  • DIARY OF ANAIS NIN (38A: [Multi-volume journal penned by “DElta of Venus” author, with “The”])
  • CATCHES SOME Z’s (49A: [Takes a nap])

Thelma is one of my favorite roles of GEENA Davis in her illustrious career, though I’ll always be partial to Dottie in A League of Their Own and/or Muriel in The Accidental Tourist (5D: [Susan’s “Thelma & Louise” co-star]). Geena isn’t the only leading lady in the grid with TOSCA present as well (48D: [Title heroine of a Puccini opera]). For the second consecutive week, a reference to the TV show Frasier made the grid, and I forgot to mention last week that, other than Niles (David Hyde-Pierce) and Frasier (Grammer), I totally would have remembered EDDIE the dog as well from that show without having to look up the cast (51D: [“Frasier” pooch]). Seeing RHOMB always throws me for a loop, only because I only learned about the shape when it was referred to as a “rhombus” in my elementary school years (3D: [Parallelogram with four equal sides]). There’s a pretty good chance that the first time I came across the word “rhomb” was in a crossword puzzle, despite hearing of “rhombus” when I was nine years old or so. Weird.

In less than a month, I’ll be inside one of my favorite places, Arthur ASHE Stadium, covering the 2019 U.S. Open tennis tournament (31A: [“A Hard Road to Glory” author Arthur]). With being in Flushing, Queens for the event, the question now becomes how many Grey Goose Honey Deuce cocktails will I consume during the fortnight. I know one should not drink while on the job, but…tennis is the one sport where alcohol is served in media dining rooms. At the U.S. Open, there’s Happy Hour every day, with free Heineken/Heineken Light/mixed drinks served. True story!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DONS (30D: [Underworld figures]) & NCAA (22A: [March Madness gp.] – Twelve years before UTEP made history by winning the men’s basketball national championship with an exclusively African American starting lineup in 1966, the DONS of the University of San Francisco (“Dons” is the nickname of the sports teams at USF) became the first major college in men’s basketball to sport a starting lineup in which the majority of the quintet was African American: Bill Russell, K.C. Jones and Hal Perry. (Both Russell and Jones are enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.) Led by Russell, one of basketball’s all-time greats, the Dons won back-to-back NCAA national championships in 1955 and 1956. As one would suspect given the time period, the team was subject to massive amounts of racial abuse on their road trips, something that Russell, known as much for his social activism than his myriad of championships with USF and with the Boston Celtics, has pointed to in the past in explaining his foundation in being vocal and active against prejudice and racism.

Sports is a whole lot more than esoteric stats, numbers and names that a number of people in the crossword world view as a spot of bother/anathema when solving a crossword, regardless of the gender makeup of  those who consume information relating to sports. Does a sports clue (especially one that’s intended to play difficult) appearing in a crossword skew much more towards a man being able to answer it with less effort? Yes, and I am not a fan of that at all. I’m trying to fix that in my own little world, on here and elsewhere. From my personal experience with sports — from playing sports since I was a kid to becoming a compensated sports journalist to being very active in including more women and the LGBTQ+ community in the makeup of sports journalists — is that, as divisive as the genre can be and sadly remains, sports is almost equally a unifying force in many realms (e.g. the 2019 United States Women’s National Soccer Team’s run to its second successive FIFA World Cup victory), and my time discussing sports on this space is purely intended as one of unification and/or for simply pointing something out that you may (or may not) find interesting for the short amount of time you are on here reading this blog on any given day. There are a number of subjects that appear in crossword puzzles that are not in my wheelhouse, and it is welcome and appreciated and doesn’t come close to ruining my solving experience. For some, coming across a sports clue (or a misleading clue that tests something sports-related) is the ingredient that ended up spoiling the whole gazpacho. I absolutely understand your frustration much more than the previous lines have expressed, but I would understand it much more if crosswords were littered with 5-10 sports-related clues per crossword and you felt as if you were being force-fed.

Is it OK for someone to be progressive in wanting much more balance in gender representation and genre variety when it comes to crossword puzzle construction and be a massive sports enthusiast who lights up when seeing sports clues in crosswords (if they appear in one)? I guess I’m about to find out the answer to that shortly.

Along with telling you about the Dons’ historic and socially-ahead-of-their-time basketball teams of the 1950s, something I’m fairly sure a number of readers coming across this were not aware of before today, I’m pretty sure this screed was inspired by one anti-sports-in-crosswords tweet too many that I read when surfing Crossword Twitter a couple of days back. Those almost always just roll off, so I’m not so sure why this one stuck. Honestly, I absolutely appreciate all of your opinions on sports in crosswords and your perspectives, so this is just me throwing in my two cents…which is not more valuable than anyone else’s two cents on the same topic.  Anyways, here’s a picture of the 1956 USF Dons championship team…

K.C. Jones is second from the left on the top row, Russell is in the center holding the basketball and Perry (23) is seated far left on the bottom row. Warren Baxter (11) is seated far to the right.

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

Take care!


Samuel Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up

Every time I think I’m getting a sweet deal, there’s always that pesky “Conditions Apply” language. Let’s see what that means for today’s puzzle:

7.30.19 WSJ Solution

7.30.19 WSJ Solution

17A: MARIONETTE [Howdy Doody, for one]
19A: YOYO [Toy used to walk the dog]
26A: TEABAG [One in hot water?]
49A: VIOLIN [Hilary Hahn’s instrument]
57A: KITE [Accessory for a Ben Franklin costume]
59A: BABY BONNET [Newborn’s headwear]
35A: STRINGS ATTACHED [What the answers to the starred clues come with]

This theme set is a nice list of things that literally come with STRINGS ATTACHED. I’m not sure I could think of many others off the top of my head. Tampons, for sure. (Also, in a meta side note: check out this week’s Monday LAT puzzle that I also just reviewed. Another iteration on a string theme!) And, even though a lot of the themers in this puzzle are shorter pieces of fill, the full theme takes up 54 squares, so right on par for a 15×15 grid.

Other random thoughts:
– 15A: [Like some discrimination] = RACIAL. Yes indeed, like some (a lot) coming from the highest office in the United States.
– I enjoyed the –ESE / –ITE double in the same row of the grid. Also the ANKARAN / NEAR EAST (is that a thing?) double for Turkey.
– The women represented in the puzzle today? ERINS, INEZ Fabbri, Hilary Hahn, and I, TINA. For the VIOLIN player, I especially appreciated that the constructor (or editor) could have chosen any player and decided to go with a woman. More of this, please! But, what was my ironic thought when I saw that even more women could have been included in this grid? MAN!

Christina Iverson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 30 19, no. 0730

I really enjoyed this theme from newbie constructor Christina Iverson! The revealer is 38a. [With 40-Across, money required to open a business … or a hint to 18-, 24-, 47- and 57-Across], START-UP / CAPITAL, and those other four themers begin with European capital cities:

  • 18a. [Petty set of procedures], RIGAMAROLE. Riga, Latvia. I’ll bet at least a couple of you have been to Riga.
  • 24a. [Local officials in dioceses], PARISH PRIESTS. Paris, France.
  • 47a. [Longest-serving Independent member of Congress in U.S. history], BERNIE SANDERS. Bern, Switzerland.
  • 57a. [Part of a Juliet soliloquy], O “ROMEO, ROMEO …”. Rome, Italy.

The START-UP CAPITAL angle elevates this above a puzzle that merely has themers that begin with capitals. You could be persnickety and ding the theme for including one entry that’s a single word, but that would be churlish. Each capital forms part of the first (or only) word, so fair enough.

The rest of the grid’s got some zippy fill, like BABY BUMPS, SNOWSUITS, PRO TIP, GIN UP, P. DIDDY, and IT GIRLS. It’s unfortunate that crosswordese OSIER makes an appearance, and in the 1-Across corner, as that’s not a word that beginning solvers attempting a Tuesday puzzle are at all likely to  know. I’d poke around on graph paper and see if I can improve on the corner, but it’s late and the Netflix won’t watch itself.

Four stars from me. Keep making puzzles, Christina!

David Alfred Bywaters’s Universal Crossword, “I Fold”—Judge Vic’s write-up

David Alfred Bywaters’s Universal Crossword, “I Fold,” July 30, 2019, solution

Recognized phrases are given punny clues suggestive of clothing:

  • 17a Employee who prepares clothes for air-drying? LINE WORKER
  • 24a Employee who uses an iron? PRESS AGENT
  • 38a Motto for this puzzle’s labor union? HANGING TOGETHER. This is kind of a reveal, isn’t it?
  • 48a Employee who fixes a washer? SPIN DOCTOR
  • 60a Employee who transports a load to the laundromat? PILE DRIVER

I dunno. This doesn’t do much for me. Clothing can be in a pile. It famously spins in a washer. Many hang it on a line. Some of its gets pressed with an iron. The theme feels loose, wrinkly. YMMV. If so, convince me otherwise.

These are good:

  • 2d Baseball bummer RAIN DELAY
  • 10d Multilingual person POLYGLOT
  • 35d “How come?” WHAT GIVES
  • 39d Walk GO ON FOOT

This one not so much:

  • 36d Legal exclusion DEBARMENT–I’ve never seen or heard it used.

2.5 stars.

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

Jonesin’ 07/30/2019

The circles bode something different, and that is certainly what is going on here. Our theme answers are phrases in the mode A & B. Here they are:

  • 17A [Classic role-playing game designed by Gary Gygax] DDURNAGGEOONNSS (Dungeons & Dragons)
  • 30A [Team behind “The Mikado”] SGUILLLBIEVRATN (Gilbert & Sullivan)
  • 41A [2000s series with Sally Field and Calista Flockhart] BSRIOSTTHEERRSS (Brothers & Sisters)
  • 58A [Subject of some educational museums] ISNCDIUESNTCREY (Science & Industry)

These answers certainly appear like a convoluted mess, but the solve actually wasn’t that much different than normal. Once you knew what was going on, it wasn’t too hard to place the answer letters in the right space. I am sure some people may not like this, but I didn’t mind it. Eager to see some of the comments on this one. 4.3 stars from me.

Some notes:

  • 15A [Words after bump or ants] ON A LOG – My dad called me a “bump on a log” a lot. I wonder why …
  • 46A [“The Lorax” voice actor] DEVITO – With some crossings in, I thought for a minute this was Demi LOVATO!!
  • 51A [BB___ (English pop group behind “Back Here”)] MAK – Definitely the obscure-pop-culture-reference-of-the-week here. Who??
  • 63A [“Just a Friend” rapper Biz ___] MARKIE – This song I DEFINITELY know. Great memories from growing up tied to this tune.
  • 1D [“In-A-___-Da-Vida”] GADDA – I know this Iron Butterfly song, mostly from it’s weird lyrics. Perhaps this has some crazy backward masking in it!
  • 4D [Muppet who turned 50 in 2019] BERT – I turn 50 in 2019!
  • 43D [First Top 40 hit for “Weird” Al] EAT IT – This also brings back great memories. I have seen a Weird Al concert once, and they are terrific.
  • 53D [Alan who lost to Obama in 2004] KEYES – I had just saw this reference recently, so that helped, but I don’t follow Illinois politics (or politics in general) as closely as others. I am paying attention if there is a chance for national health care or student loan debt forgiveness, though!

We will stop here! Another Jonesin’ next week!

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

LAT 07/30/2019

Susan’s name is not in the database on this blog, which likely means this is a debut puzzle! If so, congratulations are in order! C.C. has made several puzzles, and her name is certainly recognizable as probably the most prolific constructor (or “setter”, as the Brits say!) we have in the US right now. So a collaboration with C.C. is a wise move! The revealer at 65A lets the solver in on what is happening, and it was a tad different than I thought it would be!

  • 19A [Frequent Fred Astaire partner] GINGER ROGERS 
  • 25A [Army doctor for whom a D.C. medical center is named] WALTER REED
  • 42A [Movies Superman portrayer] CHRISTOPHER REEVE 
  • 55A [“Glee” star who won “Dancing With the Stars” in 2017] AMBER RILEY 
  • 65A [Start of a Pope line about fallibility … as shown by 19-, 25-, 42- and 55-Across?] TO ERR IS HUMAN

 So I caught on that all of the names had a first name ending in R and a last name starting in R, giving you a double R in the middle, but all of these names hide the word ERR in them, making a little pun on the common adage at 65A. If this is in fact a debut, this is a smashing way to start! Here’s hoping for more from this duo, either as another collaboration or individually. 4.4 stars.

A few notes:

  • 4A [Sprinkler liquid] WATER – This clue is … different. I usually chuckle at clues like this, but this one seemed weird to me. I am sure it is just me!
  • 17A [Eagerly unwrapped] TORE AT – In Indiana, they would say TORE INTO, but this still works. A dog or cat would TEAR AT the sofa; that seems more correct to me.
  • 40A [Photographed from a plane] AERIAL – This is one of those adjective/noun confusions. This I like!
  • 71A [Palindrome ending] “…I’M ADAM.” – “Madam, I’m Adam” is likely one of the first palindromes you learn as a youngster. Nice partial.
  • 8D [Witherspoon of “Big Little Lies”] REESE – I made it through one episode of Season 1. Is it that good? I just don’t watch much TV in the summer!
  • 10D [Classic A&W soda] ROOT BEER – Ah, I remember going to the A & W stand in Cassopolis, MI, where I grew up. It isn’t there anymore, but there is an A & W/KFC not too far from where I live now, and they still have the best root beer when it is on tap.
  • 22D [Baseball great Mel] OTT – This crossword-famous player would be unrecognizable to me in a lineup!
  • 43D [“Insecure” Emmy nominee __ Rae] ISSA – I DO know this multi-talented celeb, though. Her show is hilarious.

Have a great week!

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11 Responses to Tuesday, July 30, 2019

  1. Robert White says:

    NYT: Very nice! Too bad about 54D’s LOME, though…

  2. David L says:

    I know some people pronounce the word RIGAMAROLE but I’ve never seen it spelled that way until today. MW calls it a less common spelling.

    Good puzzle, tho.

  3. Karen says:

    Universal: Pairing DEBARMENT with a clue that refers to a legal meaning conflates two words. MW dictionary defines “debar” as “preclude,” with no legal component. “Disbar” is the term that refers to excluding from the legal profession.

  4. Dave S says:

    Ade – Bravo!!

    • mary says:

      Hear, hear!

    • Stephen B Manion says:


      Really appreciate your sports commentary. I got a kick out of seeing your reference to K.C. Jones. Ivy League basketball for many years was Penn or Princeton. In the late ’60s, Harvard hired a new coach (Harrison) to try to upgrade its program. He recruited James Brown, the sports commentator, who was a great basketball player and a couple of others and the team became respectable. Some of my friends got booted from the team to make way for the new players. We petitioned the athletic director to let them play intramurals (normally prohibited for varsity players) and this was granted. Four of them were in Leverett House and to give you a perspective, Leverett House did not win the intramural championship.

      In 1970, Harvard’s program was further upgraded to add K.C. Jones as an assistant coach. I was honored to meet him.


  5. DH says:

    I thought the theme of the “Jonesin'” puzzle was interesting and fun – my issue was in the bottom center of the grid. We all have our weak areas, and mine is definitely pop culture; by clumping so many pop culture clues together it was impossible to get an answer from a more familiar crossing …

    In order to get the “Pet Shop Boy’s Song” (who?) we needed to know the “Westworld Character (I dont’ get HBO) and a Wierd Al song … even the “Thomas the Tank Engine”, though easily guessed, required some pop culture trivia knowledge.

    Below that was a hip-hop artist crossing a rapper.

    No problem with their inclusion – but crossing them like this makes things pretty tough to “solve” without prior knowledge

    • DD says:

      Ditto. Super-clever idea — 4.75 stars for that — but the crossings were problematic for a puzzle whose themers weren’t gimmes or inferable (for example, I didn’t know who starred in Brothers and Sisters and didn’t know who created “Dungeons and Dragons,” and the gimmick made filling in those themers a bit perplexing). So the solve wasn’t as fun as a typical Jones is.

      Would’ve helped if all of the crossings had been inferable, or (to echo DH) if “plain” words like WEST and DIESELS has been clued less obscurely, or if DEVITO had been clued with a better-known movie, etc. (If the themers had been easier to discern, I wouldn’t suggest more transparency in the clues for the other fill.)

      I’m a big fan of Matt’s work and I offer this as one more person’s perspective; other solvers might disagree. Thanks.

      • John says:

        Perhaps its a constructor’s puzzle. I lost interest at some point and, at the end, pressed “reveal all” to fill in 3 or 4 squares I couldn’t get quickly. Generally a fan of Matt, but not here. Agree that many of the crossings were rough/tough.

  6. Ari says:

    I’ve checked a few web sites and can’t find any reference to this mistake in today’s LA Times crossword. I’m training a friend in solving crosswords, and he’s successfully regularly finishing Tuesday puzzles now. I hadn’t done today’s LA Times yet, and he texted me to say that there was a mistake in the puzzle that was objectively verifiable. I said that I doubted it, but that I would do it first, and then he could tell me what it was. When I finished the puzzle, I asked him what the mistake was. Amber Riley was not the winner of DWTS in 2017. She was the winner of SEASON 17 (airing in 2013). This is true. Am I missing something with the puzzle? Then I thought maybe there was a second layer to the theme (To err…) and maybe all of the theme clues had errors in them. But I don’t believe they do. Just poor fact-checking?

Comments are closed.