Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Jonesin' untimed (Derek) 


LAT 3:24 (Derek) 


NYT 3:07 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


WSJ 5:08 (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 452), “Hive Talkin’!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 452: “Hive Talkin’!”

Good day, everybody! Hope all is well on this last Tuesday of January!

We know that our constructor is busy as a bee, and, for this puzzle, we have a little tribute to the industrious insect via puns. Each of the four theme entries is a retake of a phrase or a noun, in which one of the words is altered to resemble something that’s related to a bee.

  • SHOW ME THE HONEY  (16A: [Beekeeper’s favorite “Jerry Maguire” catchphrase?)]) – Show me the money!
  • ROSETTA DRONE (30A: [“Key” Egyptian discovery that created a huge buzz?)]) – Rosetta Stone.
  • THE APIARY MAN (45A: [Nickname for beekeeper Tarzan?]) – The Ape Man.
  • SINGAPORE STING (60A: [Beekeeper’s favorite gin cocktail?]) – Singapore Sling. This is somewhat like a Tom Collins without the lemon juice, right?

In case seeing the final theme entry did not make you think about having a hard drink, there is KAHLUA that might tickle your fancy more (8D: [Coffee-flavored liqueur]). Seeing ALERO reminded me of the first car that I can remember that our family owned, an Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser (15A: [Bygone Olds]). I really thought we were living in the lap of luxury having a car, then I saw the cars that my friends’ parents were driving when picking them up and realized we had a real jalopy on our hands. But it was our jalopy, so we loved it! Liked the clever cluing for AREA CODES (11D: [Telephone numbers?]). Anytime OTTO can be placed in grid, which then allows me to think of my alma mater’s mascot, Otto the Orange, then I’m real happy (13A: [Director Preminger]). Very much loved BOY GENIUS in the grid as well (12D: [The young Mozart, for example]). The gift of GAB is leaving me at the moment, so time to wind down here and get ready to skedaddle (51A: [Talk and talk]). But first…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DOWD (4D: [Columnist Maureen]) – The document that sealed the fate in Pete Rose’s eventual banishment from the game of baseball was the Dowd Report, which described the actions of Rose betting on baseball by listing bank records, telephone records, betting records (including records of Rose, then manager of the Cincinnati Reds, betting on his own team’s games) and transcripts from witnesses, including Rose. The report, conducted by John M. Dowd, a special prosecutor the commissioner of baseball, was submitted to then-commissioner Bart Giamatti’s office in May of 1989 and published one month later. Giamatti subsequently banned Rose from baseball from the game for life in a press conference that was held on Aug. 25, 1989.

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

Take care!


Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 28 20, no. 0128

I’m surprised this puzzle wasn’t held until spring, when the FINAL FOUR happens, even though it lacks a basketball tie-in. It would have been neat to run the puzzle in late March, right before the Final Four portion of the NCAA tournament.

Anyway, that theme revealer is clued 62a. [March Madness quartet … or, collectively, the second parts of 17-, 25-, 37- and 51-Across?]. Those other four themers end with free-standing W, X, Y, and Z, the final four letters of the alphabet.

  • 17a. [“The wart stops here” sloganeer], COMPOUND W. Literally never saw the clue while I was solving, or the entry. Filled in all the Downs up there, and boom.
  • 25a. [Civil rights activist with a Harlem thoroughfare named after him], MALCOLM X. Wordplay fans will appreciate hearing that a controversial guy on Twitter gets called Talcum X, as he offers a very watered-down form of activism.
  • 37a. [So-called “millennials”], GENERATION Y.
  • 51a. [Keyboard shortcut for “undo,” on a PC], CONTROL-Z.

Nice theme, fresh approach, great set of themers.

Five more things:

  • 48d. [Colored part of the iris], AREOLA. LOL. The crossword is terribly afraid of the nipple. Even though everyone has nipples, male and female and nonbinary alike! (Or had them prior to, say, a cancer surgery.)
  • 33a. [Cutting-edge technology?], LASER. Good clue.
  • 43a. [New Deal inits.], NRA. Not usually a fan of antiquated government initialisms, but given the alternative here, I’ll take the New Deal inits. anyday.
  • 11d. [Branch of mathematics concerned with Möbius strips and Klein bottles], TOPOLOGY. Not sure I would have known this answer without the help of crossings.
  • 26d. [State animal of South Dakota], COYOTE. Chicago had a coyote that bit a kid near the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum this month. It took a couple days to locate the coyote, but it was captured, tested, confirmed to have been the one that bit the kid—and treated for its BB gun injury. Some asshole had shot this coyote (against the law in Illinois) and it was limping around in pain and upset. Coyote will be OK, I think, as will the kid.

Four stars from me.

Evan Kalish’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up

WSJ 1.27.0 Solution

WSJ 1.27.0 Solution

17A: CRUMPLE ZONE [Car feature for absorbing the energy of a crash]
23A: BABE ZAHARIAS [AP’s “Woman Athlete of the 20th Century”]
38A: WHITE ZINFANDELS [Wines whose color is atypical for their grapes]
50A: ABSOLUTE ZERO [Temperature at which you can’t get any more chill?]
62A: THAT WAS EASY [Confident post-exam assertion, and a hint to a letter pair in each starred answer]

Each of the fun, vibrant themers has EZ spanning its two words. I really liked this puzzle and even got to say the revealer in response to completing the grid! “Smooth Sailing” indeed. : )

The fill was clean and I even got to learn about BABE ZAHARIAS, who I’d never heard of before. “Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias (/zəˈhɑːriəs/; June 26, 1911 – September 27, 1956) was an American athlete who excelled in golf, basketball, baseball and track and field. She won two gold medals in track and field at the 1932 Summer Olympics, before turning to professional golf and winning 10 LPGA major championships. She is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time.” Wow!

Other random thoughts:
– I appreciated that the puzzle today featured other great women, too: LARA Croft, REESE Witherspoon, Joyce Carol OATES, Yoko ONO, and Samantha Bee.
– I really appreciated that FAT wasn’t clue with respect to a person’s body.
– I wasn’t super keen on seeing NRA or the clue implying that it’s an organization for animal hunters, but I’m guessing that wasn’t the constructor’s doing.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Decade in Review, Part 3″ – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 01/28/2020

We are now into 2014 and 2015 in our decade review:

  • 17A [Country that Conchita Wurst represented in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest] AUSTRIA
  • 21A [Her self-titled album was named the best of 2014 by The Guardian and Entertainment Weekly] ST. VINCENT
  • 29A [TV show whose climactic episode “Ozymandias” was turned into a mini-opera premiering in 2014] BREAKING BAD – Still haven’t watched this show, and I did not know this fun fact at all!
  • 40A [Late night host who filmed in Cuba in 2015, the first to do so since Jack Paar in 1959] CONAN O’BRIEN
  • 53A [Hit indie RPG of 2015 with notable music, jokes about puzzles, and multiple endings] UNDERTALE
  • 58A [Award-winning 2015 movie whose title is Spanish for “hitman”] SICARIO

Some fun facts here. I remember most of this stuff; others not so much (53A!). But that is the hallmark of the Jonesin’ puzzle: you are going to learn some pop culture! These decade-in-review puzzles are fun. Looking forward to the final two. 4.4 stars for this one.

Some more fun stuff:

  • 23A [John of 2020’s “The Grudge”] CHO – I like his movies. I really enjoyed Searching, a movie that takes place entirely on a computer screen!
  • 36A [Teddy ___ (1980s bear that played cassettes)] RUXPIN – Admit it: you all had one of these back in the day!
  • 55A [Miller who played the younger daughter in “The Descendants”] AMARA – I don’t know who this is, but with a name like this, she will soon be crossword-famous!
  • 4D [___-1 (“Ghostbusters” car)] ECTO – They remade this movie recently. I have not seen it. Nor do I want to!
  • 10D [National park in Tanzania] SERENGETI – I DO however want to go here on a safari! Let’s go!
  • 41D [Yoga studio greeting] NAMASTE – Why am I placing my hands together at the palms?
  • 45D [Lou of the Velvet Underground] REED – This seems like a dated reference as well. Aren’t there other famous Reeds other than him and Donna?

I’ll stop there. 2016 and 2017 next week!

Gail Grabowski & Bruce Venzke’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 01/28/2020

Gail & Bruce are back at it this Tuesday for a theme that I actually had figured out before I got to the end, and then the revealer still created a nice “a-ha!” moment. Here are the theme answers:

  • 17A [Corporate acquisition offer] TAKEOVER BI
  • 24A [Unfair hiring practice] GENDERBIAS 
  • 34A [Marquee actor’s honor] STAR BILLING 
  • 48A [Life-changing incident for Peter Parker] SPIDER BITE – My favorite!
  • 57A [One batting cleanup who gets a lot of the stat hidden in 17-, 24-, 34- and 48-Across] POWER HITTER 

Nicely done! As mentioned above, the similarities are evident when you take a look: each theme answer has the letters RBI hidden in there. It was then just a matter of how to tie it all together, and this was done well. Great puzzle, you two! Hope to see you both in Stamford in a couple of months! 4.5 stars.

A few more things:

  • 14A [2019 Australian Open winner Naomi] OSAKA – She recently lost in this year’s Aussie Open to young American phenom Coco Gauff, who then subsequently lost to yet another young phenom, Sofia Kenin. There are tons of US female tennis players; 16 Americans are in the top 100 WTA rankings, while only 8 US men are in the ATP top 100, and only one in the top 30. Yikes.
  • 65A [Fork-tailed seabirds] TERNS – Well whaddyaknow? That tail IS forked!
  • 5D [Art community NNE of Santa Fe] TAOS – I think this is a hippie commune in some sense, but I’ll bet it is still beautiful out there.
  • 11D [Collie of old TV] LASSIE – see 44D below.
  • 38D [Casino regular] GAMESTER – This isn’t a word!
  • 44D [1959 Sandra Dee title role] GIDGET – Along with Lassie, these TV refs are now getting verrrry dated. Aren’t there other ways to clue these two?

I’ll stop there! Everyone have a great week!

Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Scale Up”—Jim Q’s review

It’s getting to the point that I’m surprised when Paul Coulter’s name isn’t in the byline!

But hey… keep em coming, Paul. The name is also synonymous with “quality.”

THEME: Notes in the Solfege scale are replaced in common phrases/names with the note a step up from it.


  • 17A [Off-key rapper who loves to send paper copies of his songs?] SIR FAX-

    Universal crossword solution · Paul Coulter · “Scale Up” · Tue., 01.28.20

    A-LOT. Instead of SIR MIX-A-LOT… the MI is changed to FA (it’s been “scaled up” and the rapper is therefore off-key!). He likes big modems and he cannot lie…

  • 29A [Off-key singer’s amplified command] MIC ORDER. Not RECORDER.
  • 42A [Off-key singer whose clothes are always neat] TIDY GAGA.  Instead of LADY GAGA. I don’t understand the “clothes” part of the clue.
  • 54A [Schifrin, when playing off-key rock music] GUITAR LALO. Instead of GUITAR SOLO. I wish SOL were replaced in SOLO instead of just SO. SOL is the widely accepted pronunciation/spelling of the fifth step of the scale, not SO.

Loved this one in general (despite my nit with the last entry and having no clue who LALO Schifrin is). Very clever all around, and fun fill to boot. The ridiculousness of an entry like MIC ORDER earns a fun eye-roll from me, but SIR FAX-A-LOT is the clear winner.

Thanks as usual, Paul!

4.1 Stars.


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14 Responses to Tuesday, January 28, 2020

  1. Martin says:

    It’s coyote mating season here and the males impress the females by bringing them dogs and cats. They’re even jumping fences to get pets in yards. I get multiple emails daily with pictures of what’s left of Fluffy.

    My house is on the boundary of the turfs of two packs, so all February we have coyote rumbles at 2:00 AM.

    I know they were here first, but it’s hard to find much love for coyotes in these parts. We love our foxes, bobcats and mountain lions, but coyotes — not so much.

  2. Stephen B. Manion says:

    A Singapore Sling is much stronger than a Tom Collins. It contains three or four types of alcohol. Recipes vary. It usually but not always contains gin, but also cherry brandy, triple sec, benedictine and perhaps others and any number of juices and fruit, My father was a POW in WWII and as a result was retired as if he was a career army officer. He and his Family had PX, BX and Officers Club privileges. My sister and I and our dates ordered mixed drinks once during happy hour at one of the clubs. Mixed drinks were $.25 each and mine, a Singapore Sling, was $.35.


  3. Billy Boy says:

    Gorski’s Puzzle, which I didn’t solve:
    Singapore Sling implies SLOE gin, not a Gin lover’s gin by any means and like ‘Barrel-aged Gin’ not really Gin. Gin is a clear spirit unless saffron or say iris colours the spirit just a tinge. A stretch to us of the Gin World. (I like to see if I can guess theme answers from clues alone). A true apiary Gin Cocktail is Bee’s Knees, which my wife orders and bartenders never can make properly and often are completely unawares. For anyone getting into Gin try the Malfi’s Citrus ones which have light tints. Go to Spain if you really want to ‘immerse’ in Gin. One hotel bar in Sevilla promises over 120 different Gins and amazingly they change every few days at least some.

    NYT and WSJ today, both led to basically writing in the theme answers, although the WSJ revealer took extra thought. (I do other things on easy puzzles since timing is not my thing, Interesting overlap of words between the two today including the diverse (PC v. non-P.C.) cluing for NRA. I don’t care for gun worship …

    I was a little saddened at Nate needing the puzzle to learn about Babe Zaharias (but pleased you now know), a stellar athlete well-known to any LPGA fan. OK BOOMER me if you wish, but I’m glad you know of her now. There’s a (remembered as decent) movie with Susan Clark and Alex Karras about her, but I know it’s older than my 30-year old kiddo, lol.

    Cheers from the SSA crowd

    • David Steere says:

      Don’t feel bad, Billy Boy. I remember Babe Zaharias best from the many times I’ve viewed the wonderful 1952 Tracy-Hepburn movie, PAT AND MIKE, in which Babe appears.

  4. Ethan says:

    NYT: I like the first two theme entries, but the theme is sort of diminished overall for me by the fact that GENERATION X and GENERATION Z are equally valid entries, as would either CONTROL-X (cut) and CONTROL-Y (paste).

  5. Darkaardvark says:

    NYT: Didn’t love the theme set–opens with a wart medication, as Ethan points out above the Gen-___ entry could’ve been 3 of the 4, and “CONTROL-Z” is not in the language, it’s CTRL-Z.

    At least it was easy!

  6. Matthew says:

    I disagree on the NYT themers. While I wasn’t sure whether it was Gen Y or Z, Wikipedia at least draws a clear line:

    “Millennials, also known as Generation Y (or simply Gen Y), are the demographic cohort following Generation X and preceding Generation Z.”

    I can’t hold my ignorance against the constructor. Moreover, Undo is a common operation, frequently appearing verbatim in drop down menus. The clue says “Undo”, so it must be Z. I agree CTRL-Z is the standard way to render it, though.

    • Ethan says:

      Just to be clear: I wasn’t suggesting the clues were ambiguous. Just that it detracts from the power of the WXYZ theme when your Y and Z entries are quasi-generic contexts that could accommodate multiple of those letters. If Malcolm X had never existed, CONTROL X could go there, as it’s no less valid than CONTROL Z.

  7. Paul Coulter says:

    Universal – Thanks, Jim. I had my laugh-out-loud moment of the day from your “He likes big modems and he cannot lie…” comment about SIRFAXALOT.

    • John says:

      Paul, Nice puzzle; I didn’t appreciate the method of creating the themers until I came here. Many, many years ago I nicknamed my dog “SIRSLEEPALOT” so your puzzle brought back some fond memories.

  8. Brenda Rose says:

    NYT’s Areola clue nipple criticism: Isn’t it nice that Trenton Charlton was looking up to her eyes?

  9. scrivener says:

    The NYT was fun.

    LAT: ABT crossing ULSTER was educational. Darn it.

  10. Daniel Barkalow says:

    I wanted Universal, 30D to be something like “What a company’s online location does if it’s off-key?” for REMAIN NAME. Or, anyway, I was surprised by a long answer not participating in the theme when it actually would have fit.

Comments are closed.