Sunday, November 3, 2019

LAT 8:27 (Jenni) 


NYT 9:06 (Amy) 


WaPo 14:01 (Jim Q) 


Universal untimed (Rebecca)  


Universal (Sunday) tk (Jim Q) 


Kristian House’s New York Times crossword, “All the Right Movies”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 3 19, “All the Right Movies”

Quick recap, as I’m hungry and have dinner plans shortly. The theme is kinda fun: add a long-E sound to the end of a word in a movie title, adjusting spelling as needed to make a real word, and the clue the resulting phrase accordingly. So, 23a. [Your apartment-mate, if you don’t close the door before showering?] clues A ROOMIE WITH A VIEW, riffing on A Room With a View, which I still have never seen.

The other reworked movie titles are ESCAPE FROM NEW YORKIE, RAGING BULLY, IRONY MAN with a literary clue, JOHN WIKI (playing on John Wick, and I do want to watch the whole trilogy), GOODY FELLAS, STRANGERS ON A TRAINEE, and A HARD DAY’S NIGHTIE. Cute. Actually have seen very few of the theme’s movies, but the titles are all entirely familiar to me.

Nice fill: SLUSH PILE, MONEYBALL, and a good WORK ETHIC.

Surprising spelling: 96d. [Slimeball], SCUZZ. I’m much more accustomed to seeing scuzzy, but yes, the noun form is indeed scuzz.

The rest of the puzzle didn’t strike much of a chord. It was there. The fill was mostly fine, the clues workable. 3.5 stars from me.

David Alfred Bywaters’s LA Times crossword, “Don’t Miss the Finale?” – Jenni’s write-up

I’m writing this at Gate 27 of the San Diego Airport, so let’s be brief. The “finale” of the title is really “final e.” Each theme answer adds a final e to a base phrase for amusing results.

  • 23a [Coiffure created using a mirror?] is a SELFMADE MANE.
  • 25a [Catholic leader appealing to a younger demographic?] would be a TEEN POPE. I guess “teen pop” is music for teens? Meh.
  • 41a [Aggressive tie feature?] is a POWER STRIPE.
  • 46a [Becoming a full-grown dog?] is PUPPY FATE.
  • 66a [Topper for a tiny barn?] is a MINIVANE.
  • 70a [Result of a hotel sprinkler malfunction?] would be a WET SUITE.
  • 89a [Abundant greens?] would be a BUNNY HOPE.
  • 92a [Sleazy bar offering?] is INSTANT WINE.
  • 112a [Sad Rogaine result?] is DOWN PATE.
  • 114a [Superhero beachwear?] is a SWIMMING CAPE.

Variably amusing theme answers with one clunker of a base phrase. Interesting construction with all the theme answers following each other in rows.

Time to board the flight!

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “More or Less” – Jim Q’s writeup

I liked this puzzle! More or less, that is.

THEME: “ISH” is either added to a common phrase (more) or subtracted from a common phrase (less) and wackiness ensues.


  • 23A [Plymouth colony leader Myles, when he hooked up with somebody

    Washington Post, November 3, 2019, Evan Birnholz, “More or Less” solution grid

    for an evening? (more)] ONE NIGHT STANDISHOh behave, Myles!

  • 33A [Turnovers created by quarterback Marino, say? (less)] DAN (ish) PASTRIES. 
  • 49A [Headline about how singer Morrison digs high-altitude environments? (less)] VAN (ish) INTO THIN AIR.
  • 63A [Present the idea of an ABC sitcom about the Johnson family to TV producers? (more)] PITCH BLACKISH
  • 73A [Cleveland NFL players, when they’re high on a cannabis drug? (more)] HASHISH BROWNS. 
  • 89A [Silver medal-winning flipper? (less)] SECOND PLACE FIN (ish). 
  • 104A [The Tampico Bridge connecting Veracruz and Tamaulipas, e.g.? (less)] MEXICAN SPAN (ish).
  • 120A [What a local church community strives for? (more)] PARISH EXCELLENCE. 

Slightly more over the plate than our last two offerings, though still a bit of a curveball due to the merging of the classic “addition” and “subtraction” themes. Overall, clever- especially the helpful cluing- and a nice AHA moment when the solver realizes that ISH means “more or less” in and of itself.

My only nit here is that ISH doesn’t really strike me as a stand alone word outside of crossword puzzles. I feel like I need it to be a suffix in some kind of context. So it came across as a bit odd to build an entire theme around it.

There were some great entries (especially HASHISH BROWNS and PITCH BLACKISH), though inconsistency in whether or not the pronunciation of the base phrase changed with the addition/subtraction of ISH. HASH/HASHISH, DAN/DANISH, PAR/PARISH. I’m in the camp that doesn’t care about that stuff, but I’ve had a couple puzzles rejected in the past citing that as the reason. As an occasional constructor who has to get work approved by an editor, I feel like I have to worry about that stuff.


  • 21A [City that Anne Rice called “a universe whole and entire unto herself, hollowed and fashioned by history”] PARIS. Tmw NEW ORLEANS fails to fit… it’s the only city I associate Anne Rice with. Fun clue!
  • 78A [Take a cab?] SIP. The red wine, that is.
  • 6D [Complaint during a bad Herr day?] ACH. Yuk, yuk yuk!
  • 9D [SNL actor Davidson] PETE. I just had the opportunity to go see SNL live two weeks ago because a former student of mine works there and scored some tix for me. Side note: Yes, I’m jealous of my student. Cool experience. Highly recommend. It’s absolute controlled chaos in the studio for an entire hour and a half.
  • 15D [Drexel Hill, to Philadelphia] SUBURB. Not entirely sure, but I think this is a shoutout to Evan’s place of residence.

Coulda done without TOETAG (barf!).

Apologies for the late post! And enjoy your extra hour of sleep so that we can all plunge ourselves into darkness a bit earlier. Happy Sunday!

Debbie Ellerin’s Universal crossword, “Little Details”—Rebecca’s review

THEME: The words IN and OUT are found in each theme answer

Universal crossword solution · Debbie Ellerin · “Little Details” · Sun., 11.03.19


  • 17A [*Taking a turn for the worse] GOING SOUTH
  • 24A [*Searching far and wide] CASTING ABOUT
  • 38A [*Elusive spring] FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
  • 51A [*Colorful fish] RAINBOW TROUT
  • 63A [Tricks of the trade, or what the starred answers contain?] INS AND OUTS

This theme is fantastic – really had my favorite moment of clarity when I got to INS AND OUTS and realized what had been going on. Loved it.

Great grid design here as well – lots of individual sections, but still nicely interconnected making for a very smooth solve. Some fun fill here – TRUTHINESS and I’D SAY SO the highlights for me today.

Clue of the day goes to NYE [Bill promoting science?]. Here’s a great Inside Amy Schumer clip featuring the Science Guy himself:

3.5 Stars

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7 Responses to Sunday, November 3, 2019

  1. Dr Fancypants says:

    As a longtime NEKO Case fan, I was pleased to see her deemed cross-worthy enough to appear in today’s NYT puzzle.

  2. David Steere says:

    WaPo: Once again I lost my nerve and didn’t wait to save until Sunday Evan’s delightful creation. Among his many talents is the ability to give new, multi-layered life to an old crossword chestnut…sorta ;-). Here’s hoping that even Judith K from yesterday’s blog comments found this crossword charming.

  3. placematfan says:

    WaPo: I think “ish” is pretty close, if not in, Stand-Alone Word territory, at least much more than other suffixes I can think of. The most immediate context that comes to mine is a response to, say, “We’re supposed to meet at seven, right?”: “Ish.”

  4. marciem says:

    I’m not understanding the theme for Sunday Universal… any help???

    Evan… I do not much care for the Friday meta puzzles (translation… I can never get the metas and feel woefully inadequate LOL ) Maybe that’s Judith K’s problem. ?? Novel concept… if you don’t like them, don’t do them, there’s lots of others.

    I appreciate your switching up of the ease/difficulty on the Sunday ones!

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