Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Jonesin' 4:24 (Derek) 


LAT 3:23 (Derek) 


NYT 3:40 (Amy) 


Universal 4:43 (Jim Q) 


WSJ 6:01 (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 454), “All’s Well That Blends Well”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 454: “All’s Well That Blends Well”

Hello, hello! Hope all is well with you today as Valentine’s Day fast approaches! 

Today’s grid is fun with anagrams, and it’s really a well-executed theme. Multisyllabic and/or two-word nouns are turned into puns when one of the words in each entry has its letters shuffled to create a new word…and a new meaning. There also is a reveal entry in the grid, MIXING BOWLS (60A: [Kitchen containers that inspired the puzzle theme]).

  • PURSE HEROES (17A: [Marvel Comics crime fighters who recover stolen pocketbooks?]) – Super heroes.
  • RED EROS (38A: [Valentine flower named for an embarrassed love god?]) – Red rose.
  • COSMIC STUD (11D: [Hunky guy of the universe?]) – Cosmic dust.
  • CHEAP MELBA (29D: [Low-priced dessert named for “Purlie” actress Moore?]) – Peach Melba.

This was one of those grids where one can definitely imagine laughing a little once discovering the theme, as I definitely did that after the first one (purse heroes) fell into place. Before that happened, it took a little extra to figure out what was actually going on as I first tried to put in “Mr. Olympia” for 11D before realizing that wasn’t going to work and figuring out where to go from there. There’s enough attractive non-themed fill to enjoy as well, with HOGTIE being my personal favorite (18D: [Render helpless]). DIDION did not come to me at all and had to use all of its crossings to nail it down (25A: [“The Year of Magical Thinking” author Joan]). I was very intrigued by SLUE because of two reasons: 1) That spelling is one you don’t see often and, 2) the word’s wide usage in hockey over the past couple of years, as slew-footing has been cracked down upon in the league big time (58D: [Pivot]). A little Los Angeles sports theme was present as well, with both IN LA (32A: [Where some Lakers live]) and RAMS in the grid (27D: [Farm fathers]). Speaking of sports…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: RMN (21A: [LBJ’s successor]) – This past 2019 college football season was the sports sesquicentennial and, 50 years prior, the city of Fayetteville, Ark. hosted the contest that became known as the “Game of the Century” during college football’s 100th season, top-ranked Texas against No. 2 Arkansas on Dec. 6, 1969. The game captured so much of the nation’s attention (more than half the TV sets in the country were tuned in to the game at some point) that Richard Nixon attended the game in person and would hand out a plaque to the winning team in the locker room afterward and declare it to be the national champion —  even though the game took place almost a whole month before the New Year’s Day bowl games that bring an end to the season. Texas scored 15 fourth-quarter points to defeat the Razorbacks 15-14 and, on New Year’s Day, the Longhorns defeated Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl to officially win the national title. Here’s the postgame scene in the Texas locker room after its win over Arkansas, RMN included.

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

Take care!


Neil Padrick Wilson & Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 11 20, no. 0211

The theme revealer is 33a. [With 35-Across, complete success … or a hint to 18-, 23-, 46- and 51-Across], FLYING / COLORS. Those other four entries are:

  • 18a. [Lighting display at many a rock concert], LASER SHOW.
  • 23a. [Symbol of pride], RAINBOW FLAG. 
  • 46a. [Comeuppance for a package thief], GLITTER BOMB. Though if you buy a package of silver glitter, you don’t really get any flying colors.
  • 51a. [Sport that can leave you with welts], PAINTBALL. Ouch.

Okay theme.

The grid’s a 74-worder, with those open corners that you don’t expect to see in a Tuesday puzzle. The plus side is fill like JOHN MUIR, FRESH AIR, and LINGUINE. In the DEBIT column, we have PIA Zadora, OATEN, and the iffy “IT’S A BIG IF.”

Four more things:

  • 22a. [Strike callers], UNIONS. Interesting that both UNIONS and an UMPIRE might call strikes.
  • 54a. [Country or heavy metal], GENRE. I was trying to think of a country that shares its name with a heavy metal. Oops.
  • 11d. [Who said “In every walk with Nature, one receives far more than he seeks”], JOHN MUIR. I went to Muir Woods once. It was absolutely lovely.
  • 33d. [One may open a window for it], FRESH AIR. Yes, if your radio and internet are both broken, and your neighbor listens to Terry Gross’s radio show loud.

3.4 stars from me.

Seth A. Abel’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up

Let’s see what the “Private Sector” has in store for us:

WSJ 2.11.20 Solution

WSJ 2.11.20 Solution

11D: BAT MITZVAH [Rite of passage for a Jewish girl]
17A: CEMENT MIXER [Machine with a revolving drum]
28D: LAST MINUTE [Just under the wire]
36A: GOT MILK [Ad question since 1993]
55A: FILET MIGNON [Expensive cut]
63A: TMI [Response to oversharing found in this puzzle’s starred answers]

A nice theme, in which the letters TMI span the two words of the theme entries, and in the same ___T MI___ manner. I appreciate the consistency and set of vibrant themers – not a dud among them. I also very much appreciated that BAT MITZVAH got attention in a way usually reserved for the male version. I was bummed, though, that Ray EAMES – co-designer and equal partner with her clued husband [Chair designer Charles] – was left out of the puzzle.

Other thoughts:
– Wow at CBD being given the go-ahead in this puzzle!
– The 3 / 7 / 3 sections at the top and bottom of the grid made for some interesting fill and a bit tougher of a solve, which I didn’t mind one bit.
– Nice OPAL / OPEL and OTRO / OTHER pairings. Why is it not considered a dupe when the same word is in the grid twice, just in different languages?

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Decade in Review, Part 5″ – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 02/11/2020

We have the final installment of Matt’s review of the 2010s, and this one also has a pile of theme entries, many of which are quite informative and I had no idea of before solving this puzzle!

  • 17A [Company that launched Falcon Heavy in 2018] SPACEX 
  • 18A [Game that generated more digital revenue in 2018 than any game in history, per the Hollywood Reporter] FORTNITE 
  • 34A [Host who retired from “Inside the Actors Studio” in 2018] JAMES LIPTON 
  • 44A [Song that topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a record 19 weeks in 2019] OLD TOWN ROAD
  • 59A [It held up a banana in Maurizio Cattelan’s 2019 artwork “Comedian”] DUCT TAPE – This is the banana that was duct taped to the wall in the art gallery!
  • 62A [ESPN personality who retired in 2019 after being with the network since its inception in 1979] BOB LEY 
  • (a bonus one!) 69A [2001 Will Smith role (or a princely 2019 role opposite Will Smith)] ALI 
  • (another bonus one!) 27D [___ Schwarz (toy store that reopened in 2018)] FAO 

James Lipton

As promised, lots of themers. Not quite all symmetrical, but some of these entries would be fill regardless of the theme, and if you can mention your theme years in extra spots, it’s all good in this case. Let me know if you disagree and this bothers your sense of puzzle symmetry! 4.3 stars for this one, and we now return to our regularly scheduled Jonesin’ next week!

Some more fun stuff:

  • 13A [Blue ___ (butterfly species)] MORPHO – This is a word you don’t see everyday. They area quite striking.
  • 41A [Aquiline bird] EAGLE – This clue is slightly redundant. But it generally has to do with the hooked beak.
  • 55A [“___ y Ahora” (Univision newsmagazine)] AQUI – This means “Here and Now” in Spanish. Also, a weird repeat of a letter string in 41A’s clue!
  • 3D [Pop singer and “The Masked Singer” (U.K.) panelist Rita] ORA – I still haven’t watched one nano-second of this show. And I have no plans to!
  • 9D [“Paw Patrol” watcher] TOT – I have a tot, although at 7 he isn’t quite a “tot” anymore!
  • 24D [Jason Bateman Netflix drama] OZARK – Haven’t seen this show either. THERE ARE TOO MANY SHOWS TO WATCH THEM ALL!!
  • 37D [Type of M&Ms renamed “Milk Chocolate”] PLAIN – I never paid much attention, but this clue is spot on. There are also zillions of varieties of M&Ms now, as opposed to the plain and peanut they had 45 years ago!
  • 56D [Org. for Madelene Sagström and Park Hee-Young] LPGA – Take a look at a leaderboard for an LPGA event. Very few Americans; TONS of Asian players. It is amazing how quickly this sport has taken hold in some countries.

Another Jonesin’ next week!

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

LAT 02/11/2020

It took me a little bit to figure out what was happening here, but there is a revealer at the very end:

  • 17A [*Expensive flying option] FIRST CLASS
  • 28A [*Space for home projects, e.g.] WORKROOM
  • 43A [*Collaborative activity] TEAM PLAY
  • 56A [*Payment method being replaced by mobile banking] PAPER CHECK
  • 63A [Aussie pal, or what can follow each word in the answers to starred clues] MATE

We are all familiar with the terms first mate, classmate, workmate, etc. You get the idea. Nicely done, and I almost didn’t see that revealer clue! Nice puzzle, and it doesn’t seem to Tuez! 4.2 stars.

Jean Harlow

A few more points:

  • 31A [Augusta National signature shrub] AZALEA – Believe it or not, The Masters is just around the corner! 7 weeks from now or so?
  • 34A [Of the seventh planet] URANIAN – When I first saw this entry, I was like “this is terrible!” But it has grown on me, and now I am ready to write a sci-fi story about Uranian invaders!
  • 45A [1920s-’30s “Blonde Bombshell” Jean] HARLOW – She was before my time!
  • 3D [August birthstone] PERIDOT – This is not as familiar as other birthstones, but I was born in August, so I am familiar with it.
  • 32D [Swedish singer Larsson with the Top 20 hit “Never Forget You”] ZARA – The young kids know who this is!
  • 35D [Snobby] STUCK UP – I hope no one describes me like this!
  • 40D [Randy Newman song played at Dodger Stadium] I LOVE LA – Great song, and I am a big fan of Randy Newman. He is almost 80! He performed quite spryly at the recent Oscars, as did the only slightly younger and eventual Oscar winner Elton John.

Everyone have a great week!

Andy Kravis and Miriam Estrin’s Universal crossword, “Time to Rhyme”—Jim Q’s review

This appears to be a debut for Miriam Estrin! Congrats! A tight and tidy puzzle to boot.

THEME: Phrases that rhyme and are separated by the word “to”

Universal crossword solution · Andy Kravis · Miriam Estrin · “Time to Rhyme” · Tue., 02.11.20


  • 16A [Like schemes that require money] PAY TO PLAY. 
  • 26A [Ready for shenanigans] DOWN TO CLOWN. 
  • 41A [Amy Winehouse album with the song “Rehab”] BACK TO BLACK. 
  • 56A [Especially eager] HOT TO TROT. 

Sure the theme is relatively basic, but it’s very solid. The theme entries are fun and engaging (especially DOWN TO CLOWN, which is new for me, but I love it) and they follow a strict formula of 3 letter word + to + 4 letter word (even the title!).

The fill too is fresh and shiny. The grid has room to breathe and at 74 words, some longer entries can shine, like OK SHOOT, WARHEADS, DARK HORSE, CRYOSLEEP, IN STEREO, and I TONYA. 

There’s very little not to like about this!

4.1 stars.

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7 Responses to Tuesday, February 11, 2020

  1. haari Meech says:

    never heard of POPO. did a google and the first thing that came up was Spanish for poop!

  2. Billy Boy says:

    Lasers do not fly. ^ 46A already contributing to my ‘point’

    POPO – very Urban, I’m guessing, or Pre-Kindergartenese (Spanish poop is caca, generally)
    … same puzzle as PIA Zadora? ♀️ – count increase I do realize

    What am I missing with ratings of this bomb at 3.7? Who is today’s target?

    I must be a meanie, I wrote straight in “LETTERBOMB” for the porch-poaching comeuppance (Thought – that’s odd for NYT) and had to change the crosses, duh {embarrassed emoji}

  3. RM Camp says:

    Really felt today’s NYT could have been swapped with yesterday’s.

  4. Noam D. Elkies says:

    WSJ: the T/MI “consistency” is not such a great virtue when there’s hardly any choice about it — “ATM I-something” seems to be about the way to avoid that word break . . .


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