Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Jonesin' 4:03 (Derek) 


LAT 2:47 (Derek) 


NYT 3:27 (Amy) 


Universal 3:52 (Jim Q) 


WSJ 9:06 (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 453), “No Fighting!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 453: “No Fighting!”

Good day, everybody! Groundhog Day has come and gone, but we don’t need to spot any marmot to know that we all will be doing crosswords on a daily basis for the next six weeks, no matter the weather “prediction!”

Since this is also the month Valentine’s Day falls in, today’s grid is an appropriate one. Two separate entries that occupy the same line feature circles and, when put together, form a word that also can be used to describe a fight. However, there’s a BREAK in those words, so no dukes will need to be put up after all (53D: [___ up a fight…and what this puzzle will do in five places]).

  • APERITIF (17A: [Pre-dinner drink)]) + FEED ME (18A: [“I’m hungry!”]) = Tiff.
  • DAY SPA (28A: [Masseur’s employer)]) + TENET (30A: [Palindromic doctrine]) = Spat.
  • STAFFER (39A: [White House employee]) + OWLLIKE (42A: [Resembling Hedwig]) = Row.
  • INFRA (48A: [Red lead-in]) + YAPPED (50A: [Talked on and on]) = Fray.
  • ECOLAB (65A: [Big name in water and food safety]) + RAWLINGS (50A: [Author of “The Yearling”]) = Brawl.

I know that artists like Cher and T-Pain are well known for the use of AUTO-TUNE, but I always identify the technique mostly with the innovators of Autotune, Zapp & Roger (14A: [Pitch corrector for a “pitchy” singer]). Almost certain most of you know the song that they’re most famous for, More Bounce to the Ounce.” Also, Roger Troutman (the “Roger” in Zapp & Roger) does not get enough love for being such a pioneer in what the future of music would sound like! Period!

If you’re in a different mood with your music, there are a couple of LOUS to choose from who had a major impact in the industry (23A: [Reed and Rawls]). Grid was a fun solve, and extra points for the African acknowledgement with KENYA (44A: [Nairobi’s land]). Definitely wouldn’t mind yelling FEED ME if anyone around me had some OREOS to spare (15D: [“Double Stuf” cookies]). Anytime I hear the word superintendent, or see SUPT., I always think of Superintendent Chalmers from The Simpsons (2D: [School district VIP]). Alright, time to skedaddle, but first…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BAMBI (12D: [Thumper’s “deer” friend]) – One of the greatest football players of all time also had one of the most memorable nicknames as well! Hall of Fame wide receiver Lance Alworth played 11 pro seasons — his first nine with the San Diego Chargers in the American Football League (1962-70) — and became, arguably, the league’s biggest star who did not play quarterback. Alworth’s slender build, leaping ability and running style earned him the now-famous nickname of “Bambi.” A seven-time AFL All-Star and the 1963 AFL MVP, Alworth became the first player to be in inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (inducted in 1978) whose career was mainly played in the AFL. As an aside, I’m surprised that Alworth’s quarterback during his time in San Diego, John Hadl, has not had his name appear in too many crossword puzzles because of the unusual spelling of his last name.

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

Take care!


Queena Mewers & Alex Eaton-Salners’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 4 20, no. 0204

The theme entries could have gone without a revealer, if you ask me, but the inclusion of a revealer definitely keeps this at “no later than Tuesday.” MUSIC is 65a. [What the ends of 17-, 23-, 36-, 47- and 57-Across make], and there are words that double as musical instruments in those themers.

  • 17a. [Crams (in)], SHOEHORNS.
  • 23a. [Some romantic entanglements], LOVE TRIANGLES.
  • 36a. [Things clinked on New Year’s Eve], CHAMPAGNE FLUTES.
  • 47a. [Interviewing aids], TAPE RECORDERS. I suspect they’re all tape-free digital recorders now.
  • 57a. [Subjects of health class diagrams], SEX ORGANS.

Cute. I appreciate that all the instruments are in the plural—that sort of consistency across theme entries is important.

Five more things:

  • 35d. [Expert solver of a Rubik’s toy], CUBER. Probably I knew that was the term? Not positive.
  • 32d. [Deceitful doings], CHICANERY. This is such a great word.
  • 46d. [Fig. on a driver’s license or passport], ID NO. This is one of those terrible double abbrevs, like AT. NO.
  • 54d. [Letters on a crucifix], INRI. If you didn’t grow up as a churchgoer, this is hardcore crosswordese that’s too hard for Monday/Tuesday puzzles.
  • 56a. [Confine, as on a farm], PEN IN / 44d. [Picklers’ solutions], BRINES. Not a fan of many of the ___ IN verb phrases as crossword entries. Hey! There’s a quick fix to get rid of PENIN. Make that last letter an S and you’ve got PENIS crossing plural BRISES (that’s the English plural, not the Hebrew one).

Here’s a video from 2 Dope Queens featuring triple-Grammy winner Lizzo with the instrument in 36a and mentions of the 57a themer.

3.75 stars from me.


Paul Coulter’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up

Let’s turn this sucker on and check out our “Instrument Panel” for a quick Monday night review of the WSJ:

WSJ 2.4.20 Solution

WSJ 2.4.20 Solution

17A: CELLO SHOTS [Pics of Yo-Yo Ma’s instrument?] – Okay, this cracked me up!
24A: SAX APPEAL [Pledge drive featuring Clarence Clemons wailing on his instrument?]
34A: BABY SITAR [Tiny instrument from India?] – I’m not quite sure I get this one. What’s the base phrase? I’m being dense tonight.
48A: GIMME FIFE [Military band director’s order to hand over an instrument?]
57A: ORGAN TRAIL [Aisle a church musician follows to her instrument?]

This was a tale of two puzzles for me. On the one hand, I really enjoyed many of the themers and the approach to the overall theme – both named musicians were people of color, which was nice to see, and the “church musician” was clued as a woman. On the other hand, some of the fill was tough for me to figure out, resulting in a much larger solve time than normal. MIFF/MAC, FALSE RIB, ESTHETE, and LULUS immediately jump out as tough spots for me, but it could also be me solving the puzzle at the end of a long day! Note: Aside from SHE and the “church musician,” were there any other women in this puzzle? I wish there’d been plenty more!

Mike Buckley’s Universal crossword, “The Critters”—Jim Q’s review

THEME: Fictional animals that follow the formula NAME + THE + ANIMAL.


  • 17A [Dairy mascot with an honorary Doctor of Bovinity] E

    Universal crossword solution · Mike Buckley · “The Critters” · Tue., 02.04.20

    LSIE THE COW. Fun fact in the clue!

  • 28A [“Gr-r-reat!” cereal icon] TONY THE TIGER.
  • 44A [Tabby in 9 Lives commercials] MORRIS THE CAT. 
  • 58A [Piano-playing muppet] ROWLF THE DOG. 

One of these things is not like the other! I guess the inclusion of ROWLF THE DOG is why the title carefully sidesteps associations with brands or commercialism, as the first three are clearly commercial “mascots.” Still it was fun! There’s something satisfying about filling in long answers without crosses, which I was able to do for the first three. Forgot the zany spelling for ROWLF (actually, forgot his name altogether… couldn’t get the drummer, Animal, out of my head).

Everything here was just fine, though KITTEN feels like it’s trying desperately hard to be included in the theme!

Hang in there!

3 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Decade in Review, Part 4″ – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 02/04/2020

We are up to 2016 and 2017! And we have tons of theme answers once again:

  • 11A [Media device manufactured for the last time by Funai Electric in 2016] VCR
  • 17A [Margaret Atwood’s 2016 retelling of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”] HAG-SEED 
  • 24A [’16 and ’17, e.g.] YRS – This isn’t really a theme entry!
  • 36A [2016 event featuring a shirtless Tongan, green pool water, and Ryan Lochte shenanigans] RIO OLYMPICS 
  • 43A [TV host who misannounced the winner of Miss Universe in 2017] STEVE HARVEY 
  • 63A [Hit 2017 indie video game in the style of 1930s animation] CUPHEAD 
  • 69A [Network that aired a “Candy Crush” game show in 2017] CBS – I remember this! It was not great!

Matt is still the King of pop culture references! Some of these I am totally unfamiliar with. And we are only talking stuff from a few years ago, so I don’t think I forgot all of this! Nice to have 6 themers packed in here as well. 4.4 stars for this one.

  • 15A [Exclamation from Poirot] “MON DIEU!” – I enjoy watching Agatha Christie adaptations, and anything Poirot is my favorite!
  • 41A [Jones who ran from a big boulder] INDIANA – I couldn’t think of this right at first, and I LIVE in Indiana! Has it been that long … ?
  • 62A [Biblical king] SOLOMON – This is a vague clue, but still easy. There are tons of kings in the Bible, but not so many with 7 letters!
  • 2D [“Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice” org.] ABA – I wonder how the ABA is viewing the recent Senate trial …
  • 6D [The “E” in “EGBDF”] EVERY – This is a mnemonic for the notes on the staff of the treble clef. The spaces are FACE. Both are reading upwards. I’m not the only one who took piano lessons here!
  • 25D [Ronan of “Little Women”] SAOIRSE – According to Wikipedia, this is pronounced SUR-sha, with the final syllable a schwa sound. Very Irish!
  • 30D [Montenegrin, e.g.] SLAV – I tried SERB here, but that wouldn’t work, would it?

That is all! 2018 and 2019 next week to close it out!

Robin Stears’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 02/04/2020

It seems very rare that there is a byline that I am unfamiliar with that is in the constructor database on this blog, but that is the case here. The question for this puzzle is: are the circles needed in the fourth theme entry?

  • 17A [Line on a Yankee uniform] PINSTRIPE 
  • 27A [Youngest “American Idol” winner] JORDINS PARKS 
  • 44A [Several characters on TV’s “The Americans”] RUSSIAN SPIES 
  • 60A [Washing machine feature shown graphically in this puzzle’s circles] SPIN CYCLE 

I would say you DON’T need the last set of circles, since it is pretty obvious what is going on, but it’s not a big deal. I appreciate an easy puzzle, which I was able to jam through pretty quickly. Good for my ACPT morale! 4.3 stars for this one.

  • 1A [Madeline of “History of the World, Part I”] KAHN – I remember her quite well. Surprised to see she passed away over twenty years ago! I am getting old …
  • 38A [Like babies’ knees] PUDGY – Everything on a baby is pudgy!
  • 53A [Portable charcoal grill] HIBACHI – I am now getting hungry … !
  • 3D [Name of eight English kings] HENRY – I mainly know the eighth one!
  • 9D [Marcus __, victorious commander at Actium] AGRIPPA – This is a little difficult. There is a Herod Agrippa in the Bible, but this is not the same person.
  • 52D [“Laughing” scavenger] HYENA – Why, when I think of hyenas, do I immediately picture scenes from The Lion King?
  • 61D [Ryder Cup co-administrating org.] PGA – The next on is this September in Wisconsin. I should go!

Everyone have a great week!

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15 Responses to Tuesday, February 4, 2020

  1. Mike says:

    NYT 22D the only Canadian reference in a crossword I have ever seen in the NYT, and I went and spelt it BAMFF. That is how we pronounce it.

  2. Mary Flaminio says:

    Anyone else having trouble getting the NYT puzzle?

    • JohnH says:

      I’m chatting with them about it now. They say they’re aware of the problem, which may or may not produce results, judging by the past.

      BTW, I subscribe to the weekend paper print delivery. This gets me online access to the Times all week. I’d learned some time ago that this no longer got me the puzzle, which cost extra (a separate subscription). I learned from customer support a week ago (which I needed because of consistent delivery problems) that they changed the policy without telling us, owing to complaints. Now subscribers can get print access, although not online solving. But there’s still a bug.

      That is, if I sign in to the Times, then navigate from a menu (drop down or at page bottom) to the crossword, I get a blank screen. I’ve reported this by email and got no response. However, I found that if I instead navigate to the puzzle and only then sign in, I see the proper screen, with an icon for today’s puzzle top center, and the smaller print icon at top left of that, bringing up the pdf. Only not today. A pity the need for the work-around. The chat person just now didn’t actually acknowledge me when I also raised it while waiting for his reply to today’s issue.

  3. Mary Flaminio says:

    Mine just got fixed!

  4. Karen says:

    WSJ: For 34A, how about “baby sister”? Feels like a stretch, but that’s all that comes to mind for me.

    • Paul Coulter says:

      Babysitter. It’s true sitter and sitar have different pronunciations. Mike wanted all of these to be inexact homophones, so the punning would be consistent.

      • Karen says:

        Oh, of course! Thanks, Paul.

      • PJ says:

        I really enjoyed this one, Paul. I laughed out loud at baby sitar and chuckled at the rest.

        • Paul Coulter says:

          Thanks, PJ and Karen. Some that didn’t make the cut were:
          NONVIOLINS – String instruments on which Isaac Stern did not perform?
          FERTILITYCYMBAL – Percussion instrument used in a ritual to promote good harvests?
          TUBATOOTHPASTE – Dental product for an oompahpah band instrument?

  5. Billy Boy says:

    NYT – I have only on-line news access which includes puzzles, 10am it was fine.

    So I got two instrumental puzzles to solve today, maybe the highlight was in the NYT in which the GNU proved it was not extinct.

  6. Mark Abe says:

    I loved Amy’s suggestion of editing the NYT to have “Brises” cross “Penis”.

Comments are closed.