Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Jonesin' 4:04 (Derek) 


LAT 3:24 (Derek) 


NYT 3:18 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


WSJ 6:24 (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 450), “ESS-teemed Guests”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 450: “ESS-teemed Guests”

Good day, everybody! Hope you’re all doing well to start your Tuesday!

Today’s grid is a bit of rhyme time with a little bit of a twist. Each of the themes are puns that involve the first names of celebrities, as adjectives that start with an “s” appear right before them. To boot, when removing the “s” from the first word, the remaining letters, when pronounced out, also sound very similar to that of the celebrity’s first name.

  • SMARTY MARTY  (15A: [Know-it-all Feldman?])
  • SCARY KERRY (22A: [Terrifying Washington?)])
  • STONY TONI (33A: [Poker-faced Collette?])
  • SAUCY OSSIE (46A: [Audacious Davis?])
  • SMILEY MILEY (54A: [Grinning Cyrus?])

There were a couple of real tricky spots in the grid, especially if one was not familiar with LAUTREC (37D: [“At the Moulin Rouge” painter Toulouse-___]). Add to that entry a couple of the crossings, AEC (59A: [HST-era nuclear agency]) and SHR, and that area becomes a possible bear trap (53A: [Wall St. trading unit]).  Then there’s the plural word of GENII, which is pretty weird to look at (20D: [Mythical wish granters]). But I’M COOL with some of those entries as long as many others make up for those tricky spots (12D: [Snowman’s “It’s all good”]). (Unless there’s slang for “snowman” that I don’t know about, I’m guessing we’re talking about the winter weather creation.) Like seeing a couple of noteworthy women in the grid as entries, including VALERIE (10D: [“Hot in Cleveland” actress Bertinelli]). And, in case one did not know, SATCH, as it pertains to its clue, is short for Satchel, a baseball legend whose quotes are just as noteworthy as those who believe Yogi Berra as being the king of funny quips in baseball (33D: [Pitcher Paige, for short]). Paige, who played professional baseball well into his 50s, was quoted as saying, “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” There are other real funny lines credited to him, and you should look them up if you have a chance.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: EMERY (38A [___ board (manicurist’s tool]) – A melancholy entry here, as we remember the life of former National Hockey League goaltender Ray Emery, best known for his time with the Ottawa Senators and Chicago Blackhawks. In the 2012-13 season, Emery won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks as he started that season with 12 consecutive wins in goal, an NHL record to begin a season. Emery also was the starting goaltender for the Ottawa Senators during their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007. On July 15, 2018, Emery drowned after jumping off of a boat on an outing while swimming with friends. Emery was 35.

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

Take care!


Jim Peredo’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 14 20, no. 0114

Hey, hey! It’s Team Fiend’s own Jim P with a theme that speaks to me since this evening has been migraine-annoying:

  • 18a. [Video game franchise in which the enemies are pigs], ANGRY BIRDS.
  • 23a/51a. [With 51-Across, Eric Carle kid-lit book, after “The”], GROUCHY / LADYBUG. Not too keen on the stranding of the The.
  • 34a. [Feline in an internet meme], GRUMPY CAT. Grumpy Cat is dead, long live Grumpy Cat.
  • 57a. [1980 boxing biopic], RAGING BULL.

Really tight theme: each themer is a synonym for mad/disgruntled + a kind of animal. Mad dogs and wet hens are here in spirit.

Fave fill: ENTOURAGE, OVULATE, EARTH DAY, MASHABLE (not that I understand what the site’s unifying identity is), CARAMEL.

I talked with a Time reporter today about representation and inclusion in crosswords, so I’m in the mood to tally up today’s Bechdel score. In the “everyone but straight white men” zone, we have actress ANNE Hathaway, astronaut MAE Jemison, writer/comedian/actress TINA Fey, singer Vicki CARR, Liza Minnelli in the CABARET clue, and Susan Dey in the L.A. LAW clue, up against fictional HAN Solo, artist MAN RAY, fictional AHAB, fictional TED’S (You know there’s another Bill & Ted movie coming out this year, right? Starring the same two guys, now in their 50s. Also reprising his role as the Grim Reaper: William Sadler. Really psyched to see what Death is doing in the new story), and designer HUGO Boss. 6 – 5 = 1, a positive score. Yay!

Two more things:

  • 38a. [A wartime communication might be sent in it], CODE. TWITTER didn’t fit.
  • 21a. [Rotten little twerp], SNOT. Most of us use the word to refer to the stuff that comes out of our noses, no? But that’s been deemed too unsavory for crosswords.

Four stars from me.

Michael Schlossberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up

WSJ 1.14.20 Solution

WSJ 1.14.20 Solution

18A: BUTTERFLY [Caterpillar, after metamorphosis]
28A: JAM SESSION [Musicians’ improvisational get-together]
46A: MAYO CLINIC [Noted Minnesota hospital]
61A: JELLYFISH [Tentacled sea creature]
4D: HONEY PIE [Sweetie]
41D: SPREAD EM [Cop’s order before frisking, and what to do with the starts of the starred answers]

Today’s “Smear Campaign” is focused on smearing some tasty bread spreadables: butter, jam, mayo, jelly, and honey. Just don’t put them all on the same sandwich, please! A nice little theme, though I did wince a tiny bit at how the revealer evoked, for me, NYC’s famous failed (and racially targeting) stop and frisk program.

Other thoughts:
– We have a nice, more modern array of women in the grid today: [Polynesian Disney princess] MOANA, Hermione, [“Bleeding Love” singer ___ Lewis] LEONA, Nikita (a great example of how to include women in an otherwise general clue!), Edie FALCO, and Nancy ODELL.
– I had no clue that there is now a show called FBI. I can’t just default to plunking in CSI anytime I see CBS show with three letters anymore!
– I appreciated the clue [Ain’t correct] for ISNT as well as the DELHI clue [Indian city to visit for a nosh?].

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Decade in Review, Part 1″ – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 01/14/2020

It looks like we have a series of puzzles in store for us. Not a bad idea when you have to crank out puzzles every week. With Matt’s grasp of trivia, something along these lines will surely be entertaining. The flavortext for the puzzle says “fun stuff from 2010 & 2011”, so I would think we have possibly five puzzles like this. Here are the theme entries from the first two years of the past decade:

  • 17A [Game show legend who, in his late 80s, returned to host “Let’s Make a Deal” for a week in 2010] MONTY HALL
  • 22A [Billboard’s Hot 100 #1 song of 2010 (originally a limited-time free download on Kesha’s MySpace page in 2009)] TIK TOK 
  • 34A [Veteran actress who got to host “Saturday Night Live” in 2010 after a grassroots campaign] BETTY WHITE 
  • 41A [A cappella group formed in 2011 that won NBC’s “The Sing-Off”] PENTATONIX 
  • 54A [IBM computer that beat two humans on “Jeopardy!” in 2011] WATSON – Timely, as this has come up once or twice during the prime time Jeopardy! GOAT tournament!
  • 60A [Only one of 2011’s top 10 highest-grossing films that wasn’t a sequel] THE SMURFS

Lots of trivia here, including some facts I didn’t know. 60A especially is a great piece of trivia. This list on Wikipedia shows the entire list, and sure enough they are almost all sequels! Some would argue most of what Hollywood produces anymore are retreads, but I guess if it ain’t broke … you get the idea. Nice to have six theme answers stuffed into this grid! Looking forward to the rest of these puzzles. 4.6 for this one.

More fun facts from this puzzle:

  • 23A [Black Widow portrayer, in tabloids] SCARJO – Scarlett Johansson was just on SNL recently, and I think the trailer for her new movie premiered during the college football championship game on Monday night.
  • 40A [___ Boogie (“The Nightmare Before Christmas” character)] OOGIE – This is the obscure-pop-culture-reference of the week. At least to me!
  • 4D [Crate contents in “Angry Birds”] TNT – I haven’t played this game in ages …
  • 11D [Symbol that’s a lowercase letter split by a vertical line] CENTS SIGN – Does anyone still use this sign? How do you even produce one on a computer??
  • 13D [1,024 bytes, briefly] ONE K – Remember when computer memory was measured in Ks? Yes, I am that old.
  • 35D [Magazine first published in 1945] EBONY – I read John Johnson’s biography years ago. It was quite fascinating. He passed away in 2005, and I think his magazines are not as popular as they used to be, like most magazines these days.
  • 38D [North America’s oldest sport] LACROSSE – Yes, I believe the native Indians played this sport. Maybe the Aztecs, too? I don’t feel like researching it right this moment; just don’t quote me!
  • 50D [Award for Alfonso Cuarón] OSCAR – Speaking of Jeopardy!, this fact figured prominently in a Final Jeopardy question during that tournament. Only a partial spoiler, but if you haven’t seen these episodes yet, what are you waiting for?? Round 4 Tuesday night!
  • 61D [Mauna ___ (former Hawaiian erupter that’s neither one you’re probably thinking of)] ULU – You would be correct!

Certainly looking forward to next week’s Jonesin’!

Roland Huget’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 01/14/2020

This puzzle is making me hungry … I think most of these references are food related:

  • 17A [City near the Great Salt Lake] OGDEN, UTAH
  • 25A [“Be yourself,” nowadays] KEEP IT REAL
  • 36A [Casino advantage] HOUSE EDGE 
  • 51A [“Be right with you”] “JUST ONE SEC” 
  • 61A [Earth’s most central geologic layer … or what can be found in each set of puzzle circles] INNER CORE 

I guess you could say these are all food related, right? Pits are in cherries, stones are in peaches, and of course seeds and nuts are edible in their own right. Time for a snack! Nice puzzle, Roland! 4.3 stars.

A few highlights:

  • 21A [Hosting a show, briefly] MCING – Is this like DJing?
  • 1D [Tacit rules of male friendship] BRO CODE – This has one NYT hit. In a diagramless!
  • 34D [Vietnamese New Year] TET – Just saw a feature saying some people move to Vietnam for the nice weather and relatively low cost of living. Perhaps a vacation there someday … ?
  • 40D [Produce eggs] OVULATE – It seems like I have seen this puzzle more than once in recent puzzles. Hopefully it isn’t an omen for someone out there! (Or hopefully it is?!)
  • 43D [Pudding choice] TAPIOCA – I don’t care for tapioca pudding. I think it is the green coloring! At least that is how I felt as a kid; maybe I will try some as a grown-up!

Have a great week everyone!

Evan Kalish’s Universal crossword, “Bug Bytes”—Jim Q’s review

Love to see Evan’s name in the byline… it pretty much guarantees a well-crafted puzzle, painstakingly filled.

THEME: The word DATA is jumbled in theme answers.


  • 16A [Summer weather warnings] HEAT ADVISORIES.

    Universal crossword solution · Evan Kalish · “Bug Bytes” · Tue., 01.14.20

  • 24A [Place for a guest of honor] HEAD TABLE. 
  • 36A [Tortilla dish] TOSTADA.
  • 46A [Times when dieters splurge] CHEAT DAYS.
  • 57A [Reason for a broken digital file, and a hint to (the theme)] DATA CORRUPTION. 

Yup, another theme that is much better served with circled letters… which Universal doesn’t do because… because… why? I’ve been complaining about this for a while, but what’s more befuddling is the sheer number of puzzles that Universal runs that would be better served with circled letters.

Not that this is Evan’s fault in any way. The puzzle here is fine and the fill strong (BILL HADER for the win!). Sure the theme type is familiar, but as long as the revealer is strong and snappy (which it is here), it’s perfectly valid fare.

TOSTADA stands apart as an outlier for sure. The other answers are all two-word phrases with the “corrupted” DATA bridging the words. TOSTADA is just like… TADA! Here I am!

Overall, well done.

3.5 Stars with circles.

1.5 Stars without circles.

P.S. Is the term “Ticket scalper” 12D offensive? I avoid the term because I don’t like the imagery that comes with the word “scalper”… but I’m unsure if I’m alone there or if others consider it distasteful for different reasons.

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9 Responses to Tuesday, January 14, 2020

  1. Evad says:

    Congrats, Jim! I definitely wasn’t grumpy solving this one.

  2. Billy R says:

    What are the chances of OVULATE not only appearing in both the NYT and LAT, but also in identical grid positions?

  3. Noam D. Elkies says:

    NYC So literal 21A:SNOT is unsavory but the British 49A:BUM is OK — even though it probably tastes like @R$€ ? But for BUM (like SNOT, and unlike @R$€) there are other cluing routes that aren’t as “unsavory” as either the British backside or the “Spare change seeker” of 16 March 2011 . . . Still, if that’s the only thing to be bummed about in a Tuesday puzzle then it’s not doing too badly.


  4. sanfranman59 says:

    Universal: FWIW, the circles are included in the .puz files I download from here. They show up in the online app I use to solve as well as Across Lite.

    • Martin says:

      David provides us with .puz files with circles because he know we of the lunatic fringe appreciate them. But the “real” consumer of these puzzles, the Universal newspaper (Andrews McMeel) Syndication does not support circles so 99.9% of those solving them have the version with more cumbersome clues.

      Once again, thank you David Steinberg for going this extra distance for us.

    • Jim Q says:

      Yes. I’m well aware. Ironically, hardcore solvers really don’t need them as much as the general audience. My complaint about a lack of circles in the publication comes from direct observations of watching newer solvers hate the solve experience when they are unable to interpret a clue. Those solvers are unlikely to download .puz files.

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