Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Jonesin' 4:05 (Derek) 


LAT 3:03 (Derek) 


NYT 3:19 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


WSJ 5:10 (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 441), “The Short Answer Is…”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 441: “The Short Answer Is…”

Hello there, everybody! Hope all is well with you and, given the temperature projections the next couple of days, bundle up!!

Today’s grid features a theme reveal that I’m sure a number of you might have uttered when reading one of my blogs here on Fiend!  The first four theme entries are phrases or nouns in which the first words of each can be combined to explain the recently popular shorthand TL;DR, or “too long, didn’t read” (68A: [Texter’s response to an overly-worded message (it’s spelled out at the starts of 16-, 23-, 49- and 57-Across)]).

  • TOO HOT TO HANDLE (16A: [Like a really touchy discussion topic])
  • LONG ISLAND SOUND (23A: [Body of water between New York and Connecticut])
  • DIDN’T DISAPPOINT (49A: [Was enjoyable])
  • READ ALL ABOUT IT (57A: [Phrase that follows a couple of extras?])

Did not expect to be inspired after solving a clue in today’s grid, but that was before I read the clue for ELEANOR (11D: [Roosevelt who said “You must do the thing you think you cannot do]). And extra points given for the Africa reference with ERITREA (40D: [Red Sea country]). There might have been one other time in which I remember seeing the avian-related clue for ANI, so, despite its short entry, took the crossings for me to get that (58D: [Blackbird]). At least the clue to MATISSES let me in on a couple of works in which I did not associate the artwork with its title until today (42A: [“Bathers with a Turtle” and “Blue Nude,” e.g.]). I’m sure there are a number of times solvers end up having an earworm when coming across a musical clue, and solving OF US should leave a number of people with the pleasant voice of Bill Withers in your head for a few minutes (53D: [“Just the Two ___ (Bill Withers song)]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LANE (10D: [Swim meet assignment)]) – It is not a stretch to say that NFL great Dick “Night Train” Lane was the greatest defensive back to ever play pro football. Playing 14 seasons from 1952 to 1965, Lane finished his career with 68 interceptions, with 14 of those coming in his rookie season for the Los Angeles Rams. (Those 14 interceptions in 1952 remain a record for INTs in a single season.) Lane, who also played for the Chicago Cardinals and Detroit Lions, made the Pro Bowl and was named a first-team All-Pro seven times, and he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.

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

Take care!


Evan Kalish’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Do Some Pull-Ups”—Jim P’s review

Jim P. here sitting in for Nate who’s out on assignment.

RAISE THE BAR [Set a new standard, and a hint to the circled letters] at 26d tells us that the circled letters in the long Down answers have to do with the word “bar.” And indeed, each of the hidden words (going upwards) can precede “bar.”

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Do Some Pull-Ups” · Evan Kalish · Tue., 11.12.19

  • 3d [Dessert with a meringue covering] BAKED ALASKA. Salad bar.
  • 23d [“Waiting for Godot,” for one] TRAGICOMEDY. Cigar bar. I’m not familiar with a cigar bar since I don’t partake.
  • 7d [Breakfast option containing ham and green pepper] WESTERN OMELETTE. Lemon bar. I prefer this spelling of the eggy dish.
  • 10d [“To be opened in 50 years” cache] TIME CAPSULE. Space bar.

Works for me. Not overly thrilling, but not bad either. Strong theme answers.

Where the puzzle really shines is in the long fill: “WELL I’LL BE!”, ESKIMO PIE, RED STATER, GENOMES, SLIDESHOW, WHOLE NOTE, and IMMEDIATE as well as UTENSIL and POSTAGE. There’s a little bit of clunkiness in ELIM and TERR, but as abbreviations go, it could be worse.

Since I’m sitting in for Nate, let’s look at the female-to-male ratio in the grid. For the guys there’s IKE, Rob LOWE, fictitious MOE, ORRIN Hatch, a generic FELLA, and clue references to J. Edgar Hoover and no-show Godot. For the women there’s…*sound of crickets*. Not a one. Not even a reference in a single clue. Wow. That’s not good. It could be a whole lot better with a few changes to the grid, I’d bet.

That issue aside, the puzzle works quite nicely. 3.5 stars after I take off a couple decimal points for lack of female representation.

Gabrielle Friedman & Jakob Weisblat’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 12 19, no. 1112

You start a theme out with BI-CURIOUS and I’m sold! The revealer is [2000 ‘N Sync hit … or a hint to 17-, 26- and 45-Across], “BYE BYE BYE,” and those three themers start with homophones of bye:

  • 17a. [Interested in experimenting sexually, maybe], BI-CURIOUS. 
  • 26a. [Stick with U.S.-made products], BUY AMERICAN.
  • 45a. [Easily], BY A LONG SHOT.

Simple, and with fresh fill. Good Tuesday theme.

The constructing duo are making their joint debut with this puzzle (Jakob has published before), so it’s cool that they wrangled OVEN MITTS, VIDEOCHAT, GO BANANAS, and the heartbreaking PHILOMENA into their grid.

Did not know: 23a. [Experimental setting, as for a new initiative] is a TEST BED, apparently.

Seven more things:

  • 43d. [Item with a dollar sign on it, in cartoons], LOOT BAG. Is that a thing, LOOT BAG? Not ringing a bell for me.
  • 5d. [Elevate, redundantly], RAISE UP. I feel like this phrase has picked up more idiomatic uses, maybe more in African American speech or (per rapper Petey Pablo) North Carolina lingo? And it’s being used in the movement towards a $15 minimum wage.
  • 21a. [What the thunk of a watermelon indicates], RIPENESS. Who’d’a thunk it? Great clue!
  • 24d. [Like pink or purple hair], DYED. I’m getting fresh purple streaks tomorrow!
  • 7d. [Shtalk like thish], SLUR. What? No. Who would add an SH sound to the beginning of talk?
  • 54d. [Save for later viewing, in a way], TIVO. Quick survey: If you still use TiVo, please comment! If you are under age 30, have you ever even seen a TiVo?
  • Not wild about fill like ROBING, LINE A, NOT PASS, GRAB AT, Spanish ARTE on a Tuesday, and the needlessly gendered IT GUY.

3.75 stars from me. You’re off to a good start, Gabrielle and Jakob!

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Two Can Play” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 11/12/2019

A little bit of a delay for me today; we got 8 inches of snow last night, and it is still snowing! This puzzle brings back to mind board games that I used to play! Not surprising, though, since Matt is around my age. Here are the theme answers so you know what I am talking about:

  • 17A [What Chubby Checker tried to pull off with his hit?] TWISTER MONOPOLY 
  • 34A [Bad excuse for a vermin catcher?] SORRY MOUSETRAP 
  • 42A [What I can only hope for when writing this puzzle?] CLUE PERFECTION 
  • 60A [Difficulty identifying people?] GUESS WHO TROUBLE 

Very nicely done! All of these are common games from when I was a kid! Maybe I should play these with my 7 year old son, but I am still knee-deep in Puzzle Boat 6! I am sure something like this theme may have been done before, but this was a fresh take on it in Matt’s inimitable punny style. A solid 4.7 stars for this one.

A few more notes:

  • 16A [6-Down’s opposite] “I’M HOT” – 6D is [Cold reaction] BRR, so this is a nice constrast. It is snowing like crazy here in northern Indiana today, so I will gladly take an opportunity to say this!
  • 40A [“A Whole New World” singer Bryson] PEABO – Wasn’t this a duet??
  • 45A [“Arrested Development” actress Portia de ___] ROSSI
  • 53A [Rave genre, for short] EDM – As in Electronic Dance Music, of which I know nothing about!
  • 56A [“___ Flux” (1990s MTV series)] AEON – This and the next one in my list are the obscure-pop-culture-refs-of-the-week, but I know them both!
  • 9D [1996 Pauly Shore/Stephen Baldwin comedy] BIODOME – This movie was pretty awful. But most Pauly Shore movies were!
  • 11D [“My ___” (“Hamilton” song early in Act I)] SHOT – I still haven’t seen this! It is still playing in Chicago, so maybe we will make a day of it soon!
  • 13D [“Come Sail Away” band] STYX – Google the Eric Cartman version!
  • 25D [Microsoft purchase of 2011] SKYPE – It is hard to forget that Microsoft bought this company years ago; it is plastered all over Windows. It was nice back in the day, but FaceTime is easier and there are many more options. But you still see videos on YouTube with people dialing in “via Skype,” so maybe it is just ME that doesn’t use it!

That is all for this week!

Kurt Krauss’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 11/12/2019

This is a new name to me, but Kurt Krauss’ byline was in the database, so this is not his first rodeo. The trademark LAT revealer is at the end of the themers:

  • 17A [*Big top] CIRCUS TENT
  • 26A [*School keepsake] CLASS RING
  • 37A [*”The Daily Show” network] COMEDY CENTRAL
  • 50A [*2012 Channing Tatum film] MAGIC MIKE -I’ve never seen it!
  • 60A [Show starter … and a hint to the answers to starred clues] OPENING ACT 

Nice! I like how this, like many of these types of puzzles, leaves you hanging a bit until the payoff at the end of what the theme is.

  • 19A [“The Handmaid’s __”: Atwood novel] TALE – I need to read this/watch the Hulu series. One of these days …
  • 24A [Injured-arm support] SLING – Speaking of Sling, I use Sling TV for mobile viewing. It is the cheapest way to get the Tennis Channel on the go!
  • 33A [Restaurant Arlo Guthrie sang about] ALICE’S – This is a tad before my time, so I don’t know this song that well, but it is certainly famous.
  • 42A [Cosa __] NOSTRA – This is a mafia reference. This seems a little depressing, but there is no other way to clue this, is there?
  • 3D [“The Merchant of Venice” heiress] PORTIA – I am much more familiar with Ellen’s spouse. (See the Jonesin’ write-up above!) I need to brush up on my Shakespeare!
  • 47D [The “T” in NATO] TREATY – This is North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But you all knew that already!
  • 48D [Toyota Prius, e.g.] ECO-CAR – I have a new Toyota, but it is not as eco-friendly as the Prius! It does have tons of room, though!

That is all! Everyone have a great week!

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Tuesday, November 12, 2019

  1. Hup hup says:

    NYT Tues. “By a long shot” doesn’t seem the right answer for “easily”. I would think just the opposite. Making a hole-in-one is not done easily. It is a l-o-n-g shot, Goggling it seems to agree. What am I missing?

    • Ethan says:

      My initial thought was that “by a long shot” was a negative polarity item, that is, it only works in negative contexts, e.g. “not over by a long shot.”

      But then I Googled “won by a long shot” and it appears to be a common way of saying “won easily.” Live and learn.

    • JohnH says:

      They may come a little closer in the negative, “not by a long shot,” although that still feels a bit off.

  2. David L says:

    LINEA seems completely wrong to me. All the tax forms I know of have numbered lines. I even checked my returns from last year to be sure.

    • JohnH says:

      I don’t have the puzzle so don’t know the clue, but some lines are lettered for info before you come to the dollar amounts, such as business name on schedule C or filing status on NY State returns. Come to think of it, if distant memories serve, those up-front lines used to have an identifier on more forms than at present.

      • David L says:

        Schedule C has a box marked A where you put a description of your business, but I wouldn’t call it a line, for the possibly pedantic reason that box B, where you put the 6-number code for your business, is on the same line. But maybe the instructions refer to these areas as line A and line B. I’m too lazy to check, especially as I might turn out to be wrong.

  3. JohnH says:

    I was puzzled by the clue for TEE in the WSJ, but after putting the puzzle aside for a while, the likelihood of its being a brand name for what goes on a tee hit me.

  4. Shawn P says:

    Since Tuesday is usually pretty light on commenting and it is that time of year, I was wondering if anyone had a recommendation on a crossword puzzle book for a 9-year-old as a gift. She sometimes does the Monday Newsweek puzzle on my iPad which is probably one of the easiest puzzles each week. I would say that we are looking for something that is not too name driven but can include some crosswordese since it would be a gateway book into doing more advanced puzzles in the future. Thanks!

    • P Merrell says:

      Trip Payne has written some crossword books for kids that age. When I saw one years ago, I remember thinking it was well done. “Crossword Puzzles for Clever Kids” is one title.

      • Shawn P says:

        Thank you, P. I like Trip’s work. It looks like he published a few, so I have something with which to work.

  5. Ethan says:

    NYT: Just read that the co-constructor is a UChicago student, and that she edits puzzles for the Maroon! When I was there, I once sent the Maroon a puzzle of mine that the NYT had rejected. I’m pretty sure that was the only puzzle that ever ran during my time. Glad to hear that the puzzle is now a feature.

  6. Jerome Gunderson says:

    The constant bringing up of female-to-male ratio of names in a puzzle is getting quite silly. Is it possible that because of some quirk in our language a mans name can usually fit better when filling a grid? The same with female-to-male constructors. It seems pretty damn obvious there are more male constructors. You don’t really believe that crossword editors reject puzzles because of the gender of the author. I think it’s quite clear that in American culture women have a hell of a lot more daily responsibilities and less free time than men, especially if you are married and have children.

    • Brian Thomas says:

      What’s actually quite silly is that crosswords are so male skewed, both in fill and constructors, that it’s necessary to call out the imbalance.

      Maybe this could be changed if more people were made aware of this fact, perhaps on a crossword blog or other similar medium, and consciously chose to do something about it.

      I don’t even know what your last point is trying to make, but if the women in your life have a lot more daily responsibilities and less free time then you should rectify that imbalance.

    • Jesse Lansner says:

      “Is it possible that because of some quirk in our language a mans name can usually fit better when filling a grid?”

      No. In fact, my guess would be that there are more short vowel-heavy women’s names than men’s names. But that doesn’t really matter, because the standard is not “what can be easily fit in here”, but rather “what makes for good fill”. The easiest way to fill a grid is to load it up with roman numerals, foreign words, and obscure acronyms, but nobody would want to solve that.

    • Billie says:

      Jerome, I agree. I have no idea whether it’s easier to get a good fill using men’s names – probably not – but counting up the male and female names in a puzzle seems to take the fun out of solving.

      There was a time, in the middle of the last century, when the majority of constructors were women. It was an era when most middle-class and upper-class women did not have jobs, and many had some free time while the kids were at school. I think you’re quite right that men have more free time than women in today’s world.

      (I’m female, by the way. People don’t always know that when they see my name.)

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Jerome, maybe if women actually saw their lives and interests and role models reflected better in crosswords, they’d be more motivated to try their hand at constructing. Representation matters, and it is not “silly.” Many of us also appreciate seeing more diverse cultures and talents represented in crosswords, both in bylines and in content. Constructors like Erik Agard have been terrific at consciously including more people of color and non-white cultural references in their puzzles, and I am here for it.

      Y’all can bitch and moan all you want about not liking this blog’s intersectional focus, but it ain’t changing to suit you.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      It’s not silly at all. In fact, it could even be considered pragmatic.

      A good crossword in a publication meant for general audiences, such as the ones we review here, should have a broad base. It can have opera as well as pop music. It can have technical medical terms as well as cartoon characters. It can have Fellini as well as Star Wars. This makes the puzzle appeal to a large number of solvers.

      Similarly, an ideal puzzle should have something that appeals to a wide array of cultures such as hip hop, Hispanic, Jewish, LGBTQ, etc. The more a constructor can incorporate into a puzzle, the more solvers a puzzle will touch, strengthening the community as a whole. If you want to put a pragmatic (albeit crass) spin on it, the more solvers a puzzle touches, the more puzzles that constructor and editor will sell in the future. But frankly, it’s just the right thing to do.

      No, we’re not going to point out every single cultural reference, but getting a female/male balance is a pretty basic starting point and should be achievable. It’s just a matter of getting constructors to be cognizant of the issue so they can make construction decisions with it in mind.

    • Ethan Friedman says:

      So read a different blog? It’s not like the NYT is publishing a gender breakdown of proper names next to the puzzle, so you’re free to solve to your heart’s content without ever tracking it.

      I think BTW you’re 100% wrong on short names: if anything (this is just off top of my head) we have EVA, EVE, AVA, ADA, ANNA, ANNE, AMY, MAE, MAY, IDA,JOY, NIA, ….

      I don’t think crossword puzzle editors reject people because of their gender, and I don’t think anyone’s argued that — that’s a straw man argument. Will Shortz, for example, has explicitly said he wants more female constructors. What I think happens is people are encouraged to take up an activity they can see themselves doing. If crossword constructing is seen as a white, middle-aged, male activity, then that’s who will write puzzles — to our detriment, because we’ll miss out on puzzles like today’s NYT which is, I think, a fresh, well-done early week puzzle.

      As a white 40-something male who’s made a couple crossword puzzles (a long time ago), I am so grateful for Amy and all the constructors out there who are working hard to encourage and mentor more people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ constructors into the field — we’re all going to see BETTER crosswords because of it. And hell, maybe a learn some interesting things we wouldn’t otherwise because we’re exposed to ideas from people with different backgrounds.

      Anyway, terrific puzzle and I hope this duo (together and separately) stay in the field!

  7. Bachman Turner says:

    Any reason for why the Universal crosswords are consistently not reviewed?

  8. David Roll says:

    WSJ–to add to the silliness of this discussion, I’ll point out the Sabre and Roma are female names. And if it makes anyone feel better Eskimo could be female.

Comments are closed.