Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Jonesin' 4:07 (Derek) 


LAT 3:23 (Derek) 


NYT 3:17 (Amy) 


Universal 5:55 (on web app) (Jim Q) 


WSJ tk (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 451), “Fresh Starts”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 451: “Fresh Starts”

Good day, everyone! Hope all is well with you as we head towards hump day!

Today’s grid is fun with homophones at the beginning of theme entries, with the first words in the first three theme entries pronounced like “new,” but not spelled in that fashion. The fourth theme entry, NEW BEGINNINGS, acts as the reveal (62A: [Today’s theme (and alternate puzzle title)]).

  • NOO YAWK ACCENT  (15A: [Mike Myers cultivated one for SNL’s “Coffee Talk” sketches (or shall we say “Kawfee Tawk”)])
  • NU METAL BANDS (28A: [Rock groups such as Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park)])
  • KNEW THE ROPES (47A: [Was street-smart about how things are done])

I usually pride myself in recognizing lesser-known cities and towns, but Pahrump, in the clue for NEVADAN, is a new one for me (53A: [Resident of Reno or Pahrump]). I’m almost always at a lost when I have to get the correct letter combinations down for different types of cars mentioned in grids, like XTS here (43D: [Cadillac luxury sedans]). Can’t say that I’m waiting with bated breath for the next time I come across a clue like that. Favorite fill of the day was IRON-RICH, even if I don’t consume much of either food mentioned in the clue (39D: [Like lentils and spinach]). NAKED EYE was also pleasing to the eye (6D: [Unassisted vision, with “the”]). Have to head out right now to go down to the locker rooms in Boston (at the Lakers-Celtics basketball game), so I’M DONE with this section of the blog (21D: [“All finished!”]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TATAR (29D [Volga region resident]) – Current National Hockey League forward Tomas TATAR is a Slovak-born left winger who currently plays for the Montréal Canadiens. Drafted 60th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2009 NHL Draft, Tatar spent his first six seasons with the Wings and record three 20-goal seasons, with his high watermark coming in 2014-15 when he scored 29 goals and had a career-high 56 points.

Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Actually, DANKE (54D: [German “thank you”]). Have a wonderful rest of your day and, as always, keep solving! 

Take care!


Carl Larson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 21 20, no. 0121

The theme is 34a. [Party purchase … or a hint to each circled letter set], SIX-PACK OF BEER, and the theme answers are the 6-letter beer brand names that appear in the circled/shaded squares in clockwise order: STELLA Artois, AMSTEL, CORONA, and MILLER. I solved without paying the slightest attention to those circled squares, which made for a rather dull solve. My experience was colored by hitting ISMS right at 1-Across and then expecting to find more blah fill. Looking back at the fill now, it’s solid, but it felt blah while I was working the puzzle. I do like FOOFARAW and SELF-CARE, but COME LATE feels weird.

Three more things:

  • 47a. [“Nothing in life is fun for the whole ___”: Jerry Seinfeld], FAMILY. Surely there are exceptions? Discuss.
  • 22d. [E-file recipient, in brief], IRS. Wait, this clue would have you think that e-file is a noun rather than a verb. Are you seeing it used as a noun these days? That would be new to me.
  • 30d. [Twistable joint], ANKLE. Raise your hand if you saw the word twistable in a clue and your cruciverbal instinct was to fill in OREO.

3.5 stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Decade in Review, Part 2″ – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 01/21/2020

This week, we move on to 2012 and 2013 events and notable occurrences. Funny how time flies! There are a TON of thematic entries in this one; I tried to find everything that had 2012 or 2013 in the clue:

  • 17A [Type of music video with a world record set in 2012 by 9,300 participants in Lindsay, Ontario] LIP DUB
  • 18A [Book-based movie series that ended in 2012 with “Breaking Dawn – Part 2”] TWILIGHT 
  • 30A [2012 song that was YouTube’s most-viewed video until “See You Again” surpassed it in 2017] GANGNAM STYLE 
  • 40A [What China became the third country to achieve with the Chang’e 3 mission in 2013] LUNAR LANDING 
  • 57A [Swedish duo with a breakup song that hit #1 on the UK Singles Chart in 2013] ICONA POP
  • 59A [Game that “The Price Is Right” devoted all six pricing game segments to in a 2013 episode] PLINKO 
  • 61A [Gillian Flynn thriller published in 2012] GONE GIRL
  • 4D [Talking bear film of 2012] TED
  • 53D [2012 AFTRA merger partner] SAG

There is even this clue:

  • 33D [2012 or 2013, e.g.] YEAR

Any way you slice it, that is a lot of thematic entries! I count ten of them, including the last one. Not all of them are symmetrical, but for this type of puzzle that didn’t trigger my OCD. Perhaps some of you might disagree! 4.3 stars for this one; I wonder what will be highlighted form 2014 and 2015?

A few more things:

  • 1A [It’s produced in a Van de Graaff generator] STATIC – I believe you!
  • 15A [“As much as you want”] “NO LIMITS” – Sounds like what you hear at an all-you-can-eat restaurant!
  • 28A [Actress Claire of “The Crown”] FOY – I have not seen this Netflix show, but I hear it is good. I also recently heard Netflix is bigger than Disney now. Not sure if that is true, but Netflix is now a beast, and you see this in the Golden Globes, Emmys and the recent Oscar nominations. Wow. TV viewing has definitely changed A LOT.
  • 35A [“___ Nub” (common name of the 1983 song called “Ewok Celebration”)] YUB – This is the clear winner for the obscure-pop-culture-reference of the week. Narrowly edging out 45D below!
  • 10D [“Who ___?” (“Les Miz” song)] AM I – Who is he? 24601, of course!
  • 24D [Sea ___ (Popeye villain)] HAG – Why don’t I remember this Popeye character?
  • 45D [“Queer Eye” food and wine expert Porowski] ANTONI – No idea who this is! I do know cousin Ted from Chopped! I think he started on this show!

That is all! On to 2014 and 2015 next week, I presume!

Chase Dittrich’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 01/21/2020

Have I mentioned I have a son named Chase? So right away, this constructor is OK with me! This puzzle is timely, what with the 2020 Australian Open just now underway!

  • 20A [Be noisy, or equip for tennis?] MAKE A RACKET 
  • 34A [Enjoy oneself, or be ready for tennis?] HAVE A BALL 
  • 46A [Sue, or leave for tennis?] GO TO COURT 
  • 60A [Be helpful, or enjoy playing tennis?] LIVE TO SERVE 

Yes! Game, set and match! I love tennis, so this puzzle hits all the boxes for me. It is not easy staying up all night watching tennis, which is why I won’t be doing it! Maybe I will set an alarm for the finals matches at 3am in a couple of weeks! Nice puzzle, Chase! 4.4 stars.

Some more fun parts:

  • 17A [Wander aimlessly (about)] MILL – I’d bet Erik Agard would clue this as [“All Eyes on You” rapper Meek __]!
  • 51A [“Les Misérables” escape route] SEWER – Still a great play/movie, albeit a tad long.
  • 71A [Online magazine with a “Dear Prudence” advice column] SLATE – This e-mag has been around quite a while. I never read it.
  • 7D [Apple desktop] IMAC – I might get a Mac Mini for my next desktop. The iMacs are fine, but I am addicted to two monitors!
  • 11D [Convenience for diners on the go] DRIVE-THRU – I remember as a kid when they had to renovate all of the fast food restaurants to add a drive-thru lane. Maybe I am getting old! Which is why …
  • 45D [Long-established] OLD LINE – … it feels like this clue is talking about me?!
  • 59D [Two-time NBA MVP Malone known as “The Mailman”] KARL – With Karl Rove and even Karl Marx swirling in the news, this is a much safer clue!

Have a great week!

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

The title of this puzzle, “Finish What You Start,” seems like quite the January / New Year’s resolution phrase! Let’s see how it manifests:

WSJ 1.21.20 Solution

WSJ 1.21.20 Solution

18A: WORD FOR WORD [Verbatim]
24A: BOND JAMES BOND [007 introduction]
35A: YOU DO YOU [Encouragement of individuality]
44A: ALL IN ALL [On the whole]
56A: SORRY NOT SORRY [Sarcastic apology]
63A: WHAT THE WHAT [Exclamation of disbelief]

I really liked this puzzle! The theme was simple, straightforward, and well-executed. Plus, many of the theme entries felt incredibly modern and fresh, including YOU DO YOU, SORRY NOT SORRY, and WHAT THE WHAT. Lots of theme-related fill in a tight grid with not much junky fill – what a fun solve! I really like that each themer, like the title says, finishes the same way it starts.

Other thoughts:
– [High heart] for ACE was really clever cluing.
– I don’t know much about fantasy literature, so I’m going to need to keep studying up on entries like ORC and ELOI (though I know that’s my fault for not knowing those!).
– There was a nice group of women featured in this puzzle, which made the puzzle that much more enjoyable to solve! The women included ETTA Jones, Kristen WIIG, Susan ISAACS, Sen. Warren, TERI Polo, Emma Watson playing MEG in “Little Women,” and Brenda STARR.

Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Beat It”—Jim Q’s review

Another day, another Paul Coulter puzzle! Does he ever take a break??

THEME: Phrases that mean “Beat it!” are aptly clued with professions.


  • 16A [“Scram, truck driver!”] HIT THE ROAD!

    Universal Sunday crossword solution · Paul Coulter · “Beat It!” · Tues., 01.21.20

  • 37A [“Scram, scoutmaster!”] TAKE A HIKE!
  • 62A [“Scram, meteorologist!”] GO FLY A KITE!
  • 42D [“Scram, maze creator!”] GET LOST!
  • 9D [“Scram, beekeeper!”] BUZZ OFF!

 I read that last one as “Scram, barkeeper!] and was thoroughly confused until now.

Fun theme, and the set feels very tight, though I do wonder how often meteorologists fly kites. I only associate kite flying with Benjamin Franklin, and I think that turned out to be a myth anyway.

The one thing that bothers me about the grid is that the the fill is often longer or the same length as the theme answers. For instance, both CARTWHEELED and MOTHER-IN-LAW are 11 letters long, which is longer than any of the themers. GET LOST and BUZZ OFF are also competing for attention with a slew of 7 letter entries.

Minor nits. Overall, solid.

3.9 stars.

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12 Responses to Tuesday, January 21, 2020

  1. RSP64 says:

    NYT – can a CAMP be pitched (5 Across)? I think of tents being pitched, not camps. I’ve certainly heard the phrase break CAMP. I mostly liked this puzzle other than that.

    • JohnH says:

      Pitch a tent comes more readily to my mind, too, but there is a heck of lot of support for pitching camp online, including the reputable Collins English Dictionary.

      I really enjoyed the phrases in the WSJ long entries.

  2. scrivener says:

    NYT: FOOFARAW crossing RIGA seemed a little mean for Tuesday. I’ve never even heard that first term. Had to check puzzle and ABCDE it. *sigh*

  3. davey says:

    has the six-pack thing been done somewhat recently in the NYT or am i imagining things?

  4. maggie says:

    I never figured out RIGA. I had FOOFAREW (which looks totally right) and BAS (short for basement). So the Baltic port was … AIGE. Since my knowledge of Baltic ports is slim, I had no reason to think it was wrong!

    • PJ says:

      Hello Maggie, Crosswordese tip – If you see a clue that needs a four letter Baltic city, drop in RIGA. I’m sure it isn’t 100% but I can’t remember a case where it didn’t work.

  5. Billy Boy says:

    {Advocate for : URGE } might have toughened RIGA (Latvia) for those who didn’t know it, not a terribly clean Tuesday pair.

    I believe FOOFORAW has been in puzzles before. It certainly is an #OKBOOMER target.
    I also think of SPEW as a much messier thing than {pour forth}

    I quite enjoyed WSJ more than NYT as a solve today although each benefitted from the absence of OREO although ORC was in WSJ. All those 3-letter critters slow me …

  6. huda says:

    NYT: In our FAMILY, everyone loves eating and thinks it’s fun to plan it… But preferences are wildly divergent… We’ve done some Christmas Eve dinners based on people voting for various options, and have wound up with truly odd meals–I think Moroccan Couscous AND Peking Duck on the same menu may still get the diversity prize. But everyone dives in and cooks and it all gets scarfed up. So, yeah, food is number 1, games are a close second.

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ: Medium-Challenging … I didn’t care much for this one at all. Too many winces, the most annoying of which were WHAT THE WHAT {63A: Exclamation of disbelief} (someone somewhere actually says this to mean disbelief?) and SAW INTO {10D: Investigated} (WHAT THE WHAT??? … it’s “looked into”, right?). I also really dislike the expression SORRY NOT SORRY {56A: Sarcastic apology}. It just smacks of what I see as an increasing intolerance in our world and an unwillingness of people to take responsibility for how their words and actions affect others. I know, I know. Lighten up, Sanfranman. It’s just a crossword puzzle, but I’ve only recently become aware that this phrase exists (thanks a lot, Reese’s ads). The snarkiness just rubs me the wrong way.

    Good for SAD coming up with so many themers, but I could have done without a couple of them.

    • PJ says:

      I agree with your sentiments about sorry not sorry.

      As for the puzzle, it’s a good example of too many themers spoil the fill. The central spanning across entries are the prime examples. I like the theme. Four examples would have allowed for a better overall solving experience.

      • Me says:

        WHAT THE WHAT? is pretty common. I think it’s a sanitized version of “What the h—?” or “What the f—?” as an expression of disbelief.

        I agree that SAW INTO doesn’t seem right. You can say, “We are seeing into that,” but “We saw into that” doesn’t seem right. I think it needs to be, “We’ve seen into that” if you’re talking about an investigation, or “We looked into that.”

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