Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Jonesin' 5:20 (Derek) 


LAT 3:35 (Derek) 


NYT  6:04, no errors (Matt) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


WSJ 5:03 (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 436), “Crazy for Hue”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 436: “Crazy for Hue”

Hello once again, crossword-solving brethren! Hope all is well to begin the new week!

If in the event that you wanted some colorfulness in your solving experience, today’s grid really does take care of that. There are six different parts of the grid where interconnecting circles are joined together and the resulting fill creates, when spelled from the top rung of circles to the bottom rung, a name of a color. The middle across entry in the grid, COLOR BLOCKING, acts as the reveal (35A: [Artistic style popularized by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (and reinterpreted as the puzzle theme)]).

  • CHARTED (17A: [Made a graph of]) + REUSES (19A: [Puts into service again])
  • ICE RAIN (16A: [Frozen precipitation]) + RISES TO (18A: [Successfully meets, as a challenge])
  • AGR (24A: [Farming sci.]) + IT MAY (30A: [“Be that as ___…”])
  • PURINA (39A: [Big name in pet chow]) + PLEBE (41A: [West Point freshman])
  • A BLOW (49A: [Strike ____ against (help defeat)]) + TONGUE (52A: [___-twister])
  • AURORAE (59A: [Brilliant celestial lights]) + IN ANGER (61A: [How an irate person might react])

ORESTEIA is not only great fill, but also a reminder that I have yet to read this series of Greek tragedies and hope to be able to do that before the not too distant future (36D: [Aeschylus trilogy]). Definitely know/remember seeing (Grade) AA LARGE for the size of eggs, but it’s been a while since coming across it during my recent months when I’ve gone shopping for them (7A: [Egg size, on a carton]). Had my curiosity peaked at SLING because I had never heard that beverage before until solving today (22A: [Singapore _____ (gin-based cocktail)]). Biggest slowdown of my solve came toward the end, when I put in “roasted” instead of TOASTED and was tangled in that lower left corner for a little bit (62A: [Cooked marshmallows]). Any people on here from Abilene, Tex. who were/are hoping that ACU will reference Abilene Christian University one day in a crossword (34D: [Prefix for “puncture” or “pressure”])? Maybe one day! Maybe it has already happened and I don’t know of it yet.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GEORGE (45D: [“Cuban Overture” composer Gershwin]) – There are a number of women who are thriving in on-camera roles in sports television, and it is more than fair to say that one of the trail blazers of women in sports television is Phyllis George, the 1971 Miss America Pageant winner and former CBS Sports reporter. In 1975, George joined the cast of The NFL Today, a forerunner for the popular Sunday football pre-game show productions of today, where she mainly performed and conducted 1-on-1 interviews with some of football’s stars of that time. Later on, George became a co-anchor on the CBS Morning News program.  

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

Take care!


Ross Trudeau’s New York Times crossword — Matt’s review

Ross Trudeau has burst onto the scene in the past year or two, writing what feels like a lot of puzzles in a lot of places. I can’t sneak over to XWordInfo.com to check his NYT number since I don’t like to see other reviewers’ reviews before I write mine, but I think it’s more than a few.

We’ll start with the reveal: 36a. [Items guided by brooms in the Winter Olympics … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme], CURLING STONES is the centerpiece of the grid, and there are four gemstones curling through its corners. Clockwise from the upper-left we have a SAPPHIRE, an EMERALD, an AMETHYST, and a DIAMOND. Points for consistency, since each of the four moves as rightward and downward as possible through the grid given its placement.

So that’s a reasonably amusing theme, and just about right for a Tuesday — probably not going to fool anyone with those circles telling you what to do, but still a little trickier than a proper Monday. I guess Will couldn’t have held it until 2022 for the next Winter Olympics, but saving it for the dead of this winter was probably worth doing. I know I don’t get into curling mode until mid-December at the earliest, and you’re probably in the same boat.

Accommodating diagonal letters in anything but very small quantities is usually a hellish task, so let’s see how he did here — and note that there are 14 diagonally placed letters, which is a lot, and that they’re scattered all over, and that there are 16 other theme entry squares making up the gemstones, and that there’s a 13-letter central reveal to boot. So this is a tough challenge he’s set himself; keeping with the Winter Olympics theme, I think this is like landing a triple-axel. Or maybe a salchow. Not sure.

Giving it the Five-Worst-Entries test we have ALD, H-BAR, I AM / AM SO / I’M BAD dupe-a-palooza, EMEND that wishes it were AMEND, and SAPOR. Considering the task at hand, that’s a reasonable worst list. Now let’s go the other way and see if he could work any nice fill in with all those constraints: YO-YO MA, OPERETTA, VARIABLE, POIROT, and CREEP OUT. That’s not a killer Top 5 list for a regular 15×15, but considering what he was up against themewise it’s fine, and bonus points for sneaking that Z in there amid heavy traffic.

Overall, a competently constructed and on-point Tuesday. 3.85 stars.

Zachary David Levy’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up

Our constructor is “Getting the Last Laugh” in today’s Tuesday WSJ:

WSJ 10.8.19 Solution

WSJ 10.8.19 Solution

19A: PRIMAL SCREAM [Release of intense anger in a therapy session]
28A: MEADOWLARK [Yellow-breasted songbird]
35A: RUNNING RIOT [Unconstrained]
45A: HIT THE GAS [Floors it]
52A: NOT GIVE A HOOT [Be completely apathetic]

Each of our themers today ends with a synonym for laugh: scream, lark, riot, gas, hoot. Not bad at all for a consistent theme with a lot of theme real estate used in the grid! I also appreciate that each of the laugh-related words is used in a different way in the theme entries themselves.

Other random thoughts:
– Not many women in today’s grid, so yay to AMY Poehler, REY from “Star Wars,” and Venus de Milo for making it in. GIA Scala feels like an outdated reference, so I’m hesitant to include her, but I have to take what I can get, I reckon. Also, many other bits of fill could have been clued via women, but HARPO being clued via Oprah seems to me to be the most obvious.
– Not much else to say about the fill, except that it’s clean, straightforward, and not stodgy. It made for a quick, enjoyable solve!

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “This or That?” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 10/08/2019

I was wondering what the theme was for the first half of this puzzle, but the revealer in the middle of the grid helped a lot!

  •  17A [“Let’s change the subject”] “DON’T GO THERE!”
  • 55A [Expression when someone suddenly needs help] TO THE RESCUE
  • 11D [Healing through nature, e.g.] ECOTHERAPY
  • 29D [Type of power in Iceland] GEOTHERMAL
  • 37A [Survey choice found in the four theme answers] OTHER

So we have the word “other”hidden in several phrases. Not too complicated, but still clever enough that I had to think a bit. It did make the last two themers toward the end a lot easier, though! 4.3 stars this week

Just a few things I found interesting:

  • 1A [“___ Can” (2008 campaign slogan)] YES WE – This was the Obama slogan. Man, time flies …
  • 6A [Shoes in the 2015 “What are those?!” meme] CROCS – I have never owned a pair of these, and I don’t think my wife would allow it.
  • 42A [State capital where Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock was born] HELENA – Really? Who or what is anything in this clue??
  • 47A [“___ n’est pas une pipe”: Magritte] CECI – The caption on this painting translates to “This is not a pipe,” which is part of the art that is going on.
  • 54A [Magician Shin ___, “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” winner] LIM – This is timely, although I don’t believe I saw even one nano-second of this summer NBC staple!
  • 4D [Heartfelt sign-off] WITH LOVE – This makes me think of the Sidney Poitier movie, To Sir, With Love.
  • 6D [Settlers of ___ (board game)] CATAN – I have never played this game!! I think I may change that this weekend!!
  • 35D [Squishy Easter candy] PEEP – Nope. I hate these things. I like candy corn, which others find disgusting, but Peeps are the worst!
  • 37D [Reason to put up a “Danger” sign on a drilling site] OPEN HOLE – Makes sense!
  • 49D [It may be spiced with cardamom] CHAI – I like chai a lot; this is one of my go to beverages in the winter months. Sadly, my wife hates this stuff, so I have to make my own or Starbucks it whenever I want some!
  • 53D [Julia Roberts’s “Ocean’s Eleven” role] TESS – I say this a lot, but I haven’t seen ANY of these movies, whether you’re referring to the original or the rebooted series. I should fix that!

So there was a lot I liked! Another Jonesin’ next week!

Debra Hamel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 10/08/2019

A new constructor name! At least to this database. If this is a debut puzzle, congratulations!

  • 17A [Ocular arch-shaping cosmetic] EYEBROW WAX 
  • 26A [Robby the Robot, e.g.] MECHANICAL MAN 
  • 48A [Backyard cooker] CHARCOAL GRILL
  • 65A [Tentative “It’s a date” … or a hint to the starts of 17-, 26-, and 48-Across] “PENCIL ME IN”

Is it eye pencil or eyebrow pencil? I don’t do makeup that often! I DO have tons of mechanical pencils, and I have used charcoal pencils once or twice for some sketching. I think the crossword crowd, whether artistically minded or not, is quite attuned to the different types of writing implements, probably more so than some other groups of people. At least that is my perception. But as mentioned, congrats on a fine debut if that is the case, and please make many more!

More good stuff from this puzzle:

  • 20A [Forbidden regions] NO-GO AREAS – Is this a thing??
  • 56A [UPS driver’s assignment] ROUTE – I cannot get away from UPS; there are ads everywhere, especially during some of the sporting events I like to watch!
  • 3D [10 C-notes] ONE G – Different clue than referencing gravity units, so there’s that.
  • 8D [Outmoded TV type] PLASMA – Never had one of these. I cannot spend more than a few hundred on a TV. The TV in my living room cost $415, and it is 4k HD and everything. What more do people need??
  • 28D [Naval officer on a cereal box] CAP’N CRUNCH – There aren’t as many naval officers in cereal as there are in rum brands!
  • 31D [“We __ Farmers”: insurance slogan] ARE – I thought this was a local midwest brand until the commercials with J.K. Simmons started rolling.
  • 51D [Self-moving vacuum] ROOMBA – We have hardwood floors and no cat, and thus no need for one of these! (Although I’ll bet you can still use it on hardwood floors, can’t you?)

Have a great week!

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14 Responses to Tuesday, October 8, 2019

  1. GlennP says:

    NYT: I’m also enjoying Ross Trudeau’s bi-weekly puzzles available at rosswordpuzzles.com.

  2. J says:

    NYT: I will say, “I am” and “I’m bad” aren’t my favorites, but they were at least clued semi-interestingly. I’m more okay with the little piddly phrases like that when they’re at least clued with a little bit of fun.

  3. Seahedges says:

    31-A Letter-shaped girder : HBAR ? Never heard of it. Unique justification among online dictionaries is dictionary.com’s alternate usage for H-beam. Elsewhere h-bar is defined as the Dirac constant in quantum mechanics.

    • MattF says:

      Planck constant.

      • Alan Wachtel says:

        To enlarge on what MattF said, h symbolizes the Planck constant. Often it’s more convenient to use the reduced Planck constant, h/2*pi, which is denoted by an h with a short horizontal or diagonal stroke through the ascender, pronounced h-bar. Would’ve loved to see that clue. Tough for a Tuesday, sure, but probably no more esoteric for the average solver than all those rappers and Internet memes are for me.

  4. David L says:

    What a Mobius strip has: NOEND. Well, that’s technically true, but it’s equally true of a non-Mobius strip. What makes a Mobius strip different is that it has only one edge.

    Also: IAM, IMBAD, and AMSO in the same puzzle?

  5. Doug says:

    WSJ: LARK as a synonym for “laugh”? I’ve never encountered that usage, and can’t find any support for it in the usual references. It seems an unfortunate outlier amongst the other themers.

  6. Zack says:

    lark, riot, gas, hoot, scream — they’re all “a laugh”, i.e. a good time. the primary definition would have been a bit harder to construct. SNICKER DOODLE? ah, but then i wouldn’t be having the “last” laugh.

  7. errhode says:

    When I got to the revealer of today’s NYT, it felt oddly familiar… I bet Ross didn’t construct his at an actual curling club like I did.


  8. Jan O says:

    LAT: Yes, it’s EYEBROW pencil, not EYE pencil. I was 39D AGAPE at 62D E-INK. Good Grief.

    • Alan Wachtel says:

      E Ink is a perfectly good technical term (and trademark) that predates e-readers like the Kindle and Nook where it’s used. It may be unfamiliar, but it wasn’t made up for puzzle purposes. The technology consists of tiny black and white particles that can be moved to the top or bottom of fluid-filled microcapsules by electric fields, simulating the appearance of a printed page.

      • Jan O says:

        Ok, thanks for the explanation! As a fan of étui (I own one and I know how to use it), I guess I shouldn’t complain. Always like to learn something from the puzzles, and glad to have so many new ones every day!

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