Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Jonesin' 5:31 (Derek) 


LAT 3:26 (Derek) 


NYT 3:32 (Amy) 


Universal 3:31 (Jim Q) 


WSJ tk (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 455), “Beloved Author”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 455: “Beloved Author”

Hello everybody! Hope all is well with you to start the relatively new week!

We are in the middle of Black History Month, and today’s grid is a tribute to one of the great writers our world have ever been blessed with, TONI MORRISON (52A: [Nobel Laureate and author of quote who was born 2/18/1931]). As part of the tribute on what would have been her 89th birthday, there is a quote of hers that features as the first three theme entries to this grid.

  • I WROTE MY FIRST NOVEL BECAUSE I WANTED TO READ IT (15A: [Part I of quote]), (22A: [Part II of quote]), (38A: [End of quote]).

Despite all of the commercials I’ve seen and the multiple times I have made it to both Orlando and San Diego, I have yet to find my way to SEA WORLD (12A: [Theme park with flamingo-shaped paddle boats]). There’s a chance that I like the phrase as a crossword puzzle entry as much as I would like being there in person, if and when I ever make it there. I did not read Garfield in the comic strips as much as I saw the animated series Garfield and Friends in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I cannot recall if that specific show ever featured ARLENE in them (31A: [Garfield’s girlfriend]). I don’t think so, but my memory fails me enough times to know that I could be wrong. Definitely felt some serious good vibes when filling in FAT TUESDAY, since 1) I was just in New Orleans this past December and, 2) being in New Orleans in 2002 for the Super Bowl and Fat Tuesday was one of the most memorable times of my entire life (11D: [Mardi Gras, in other words]). In terms of breathtaking places, can someone make a trip to BALI happen for me (4A: [Island near Java])? OK, time to leave before I start daydreaming and I totally lose focus on here.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TARA (3A: [“American Pie” actress Reid]) – On the list of the all-time great college basketball coaches ever, it sometimes boggles the mind that Stanford basketball coach TARA VanDerveer does not get as much love as some others on the list. (The whole being on the West Coast doesn’t help things.) VanDerveer, who has led the Stanford women’s basketball team since 1985, has currently racked up an astounding 1,090 career victories, which means that she has a real good chance of overtaking Pat Summitt for the most D-1 wins in women’s basketball by the end of this college basketball season! (Summitt ended her career with 1,098 wins). Along with winning national championships with the Cardinal in 1990 and 1992, VanDerveer led the U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball team to the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal in Atlanta. Tara was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.

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

Take care!


John Guzzetta’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 18 20, no. 0218

It’s a neat theme, with the PARALLEL PARKS revealer (36a. [Does a driving test task – or an apt description of the five circled diagonals in this puzzle]) obliquely explaining the shaded diagonal words. Those five diagonals are ARCHES, ACADIA, REDWOOD, GLACIER, and DENALI, which are all national parks.

Now, most parallel parking doesn’t at all involve any diagonal action, just cars parking parallel to the curb rather than to each other. So the revealer is a little off-kilter. It might have been nice to run the park names as Across entries, still parallel, using parks whose names can be clued as other things. ARCHES and GLACIER are two that lend themselves to that approach.

The down side of a theme with 33 squares’ worth of diagonal entries is that you’re forcing three-way checking of a good chunk of the grid, and you end up with too many compromises for my taste. While I do like DOTARD, UNDEAD, CERBERUS, PEYOTE, and KEISTERS, there’s also junk like ARDENCY (the noun we use for that is ardor), TEARLESS, and an excess of names (I think I counted 15!) and abbreviations. I wasn’t paying any attention to what was in the unclued diagonals while I was solving, so the effect was of working on a crossword with no theme other than “compromised fill.”

Five more things:

  • 26d. [Shadows that have grown long?], BEARDS. Good clue.
  • 48a. [“Your majesty”], SIRE. Now, in the English-speaking world where “your majesty” might be spoken, this should be MA’AM or something along those lines, because in the past 182 years, there have been British queens for 131 of them.
  • 58a. [Single things], MONADS. Tough vocab for a Tuesday puzzle.
  • 4d. [Singer of “Smooth Operator”], SADE. I’m still mad that British people explaining how to pronounce her name had so many Americans marveling that it was “shar-day.” The Brits needed to not use a syllable with an R that they don’t pronounce. Why couldn’t they just go with “shah-day”? The other day I did a Sporcle pictograph quiz that represented Kabul with a picture of a car and a bull. People! No.
  • 37d. [Father of Rachel and Leah in Genesis], LABAN. Oh, that Genesis.

3 stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “I’m No Saint” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 02/18/2020

The theme idea was readily evident here after getting the first thematic answer, and then it was time to sit back and be entertained by how the others played out. Here are the theme answers:

  • 17A [Liquid extracted from beer brewed by quarterback Elway?] JOHN’S WORT
  • 28A [British actor Garfield is angry?] ANDREW’S CROSS 
  • 45A [Sandwich grill belonging to comedian Short?] MARTIN’S PRESS 
  • 60A [Result of an arson investigation on Sesame Street?] ELMO’S FIRE 

So we have famous “St. [blank]” phrases with the St. part removed. 45A should be quite familiar to the crossword crowd! As is usually the case in Jonesin’ crosswords, I find myself trying to think of other answers that would fit this theme. I trust Matt has found the best ones! As we return to regular thematic fun after the 2010s decade review, we start back off with a bang! 4.4 stars today.

Some more fun stuff:

    • 55A [___-Kettering Institute] SLOAN – This is a well known hospital. According to their website, they seem to specialize in cancer.
    • 1D [Action figure with kung-fu grip] G. I. JOE – Do they still sell these? This toy has to be decades old. (I checked Wikipedia: it came out in 1964, making it older than I am!
    • 5D [Chicago transit trains] ELS – Just went to Chicago this past weekend for the Chicago Auto Show and saw a few of these. The Chicago train system has some at ground level and some underground downtown, but many are elevated.
    • 34D [Winter house protection] STORM DOOR – Thank you for reminding me I need a new one of these!
    • 50D [Resort island near Majorca] IBIZA – Now I have a song stuck in my head. Here is a live version of said song!

Back next week with another Jonesin!

Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 02/18/2020

Definitely couldn’t figure out the theme here without the revealer!

  • 20A [Billy Crystal comedy featuring a cattle drive] CITY SLICKERS
  • 30A [Exact look-alike] DEAD RINGER
  • 38A [Daily filming schedule on the set] CALL SHEET
  • 50A [One in la-la land] SPACE CADET
  • 59A [Somewhat liberal, or where you might find the first words in the answers to starred clues] LEFT OF CENTER

So we are dealing with city center, dead center, call center, and space center. I guess that is as in the NASA Space Center Houston? I think that is what it is called. I am not that familiar with the name, but I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw a space launch. The only launches I know now are Elon Musk’s SpaceX exploits! Having said that, this was a decent puzzle. As stated, there is a nice “a-ha!” moment when you have no idea what ties the long answers together, and then everything in the end ties together like a nice neat bow. 4.2 stars.

A few more things:

  • 17A [Kagan of the Supreme Court] ELENA – This Supreme Court justice is famous and definitely crossword-famous. There is also ELENA Della Donne of the WNBA, and Elena Ferrante is the author of My Brilliant Friend, which is now an HBO series. Are there any other ELENAs that can be used in puzzle?
  • 36A [Under, in French] SOUS – So sous chef is “undercook”?
  • 1D [“My Best Friend’s Girl” rock band] THE CARS – Usually you see “with the” in the clues for bands with names like this, but this is OK. Especially since it is not too long.
  • 4D [Tiger mascot with a red scarf] TONY – Yup, he does wear one! I haven’t seen a Frosted Flakes commercial in years, but I don’t watch kids programming nearly as much, and my 7-year-old is on Netflix and YouTube!
  • 39D [Tone-__: “Wild Thing” rapper] LOC – This clue is feeling dated, as this song is over 30 years old. But it’s such a catchy song, I am sure it isn’t going to lose too much popularity any time soon!

Have a great week!

Jules P. Markey’s Universal crossword, “Duck Out of Sight”—Jim Q’s review

That odd moment when the title actually made it more difficult for me to determine the theme.

THEME: The first words of the theme answers are synonyms for “down” (in three different senses of the word).


  • 20A [*Having noble heritage] BLUE BLOODED. Blue as in “sad,” Down as in

    Universal crossword solution · Jules P. Markey · “Duck Out of Sight” · Tue., 02.18.20


  • 27A [*Boastful words to a rival] EAT YOUR HEART OUT. When you eat something, you “down” it. 
  • 48A [*Gets rich in an unethical way] FEATHERS THE NEST. Feathers = Down.
  • 56A [“You’re blocking my view!,” or a hint to the starred answers’ starts] DOWN IN FRONT.

Took me 3:30 seconds to solve the puzzle, but I stared at it for much longer trying to figure out the theme. I was sure it was duck/bird related. I mean, I saw the feathers/down connection and looked at the title, so I spent the rest of my thinking time trying to figure out if there was a BLUE duck or an EAT duck. How absurd! Side Note: “Blue Down” googles quite well in the context of bedding!

So when it finally became clear, I was left wondering about the title. I still don’t really get it. It doesn’t seem to envelop all of the themers equally, or perhaps I’m just reading it wrong.

Still fun to solve, and I love me a good forehead slap moment!

3 stars.

Amy Goldstein & Joanne Sullivan’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up

Let’s go “Behind the Scenes” with today’s fantastic constructors:

WSJ 2.18.20 Solution

WSJ 2.18.20 Solution

18A: MONEYMAKER [Cash cow, for example]
24A: DATEBOOK [Portable appointment calendar]
39A: TIME OFF [Vacation and sick days]
51A: ROOMMATE [Fellow freshman you meet on Day 1 at college]
58A: BACKGROUND [Inconspicuous location]
69A: PLAY [Word that can precede each half of the starred answers]

Each word of each theme entry can begin with the word play: play money, playmaker, play date, play book, etc. I’m always really impressed with themes like this, when constructors are able to find phrases where both words work toward their theme goal, and Amy and Joanne do a fantastic job of finding a nice theme set of everyday words that work quite well. I’m not sure how the title relates – is is that you can go “Behind the Scenes” at a play? Let me know what I’m missing in the comments below!

Other random thoughts:
– I really enjoyed the lively central down entries of PHOTOBOMBS and POOH CORNER.
– We had some nice pairings in the grid, with birds TERN and AVOCET, modifiers EPIC and AMAZING, and DHARMA and ASHRAMS.
– Aside from our AMAZING constructors, which other women do we have in today’s grid? Teri GARR, Edith PIAF, and LEA DeLaria. A small mix, but having two women constructors definitely represents more than any number of women in the grid. Enjoyed the smooth solve of this puzzle and am excited to see more from Amy and Joanne!

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14 Responses to Tuesday, February 18, 2020

  1. Ethan says:

    NYT: Good twist on this Gorski classic:


    Interesting that that puzzle ran on a Thursday. If a puzzle like that ran on Thursday nowadays people would complain it wasn’t experimental enough.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: I liked being reminded of the National Parks. I’m so glad they exist and protected federal land in general.
    Amy, your Kabul story cracked me up.
    And a belated thank you from a couple of days ago on Sunday to Steve Manion for the explanation of swallow up versus swallow down. Very cool.

  3. JohnH says:

    In the WSJ, I got stumped on LE_ / B_HA. LEO is a more common first name, of course, although I realize the show is about a woman’s prison, and BOHA sounded like it might be short for, say, “Bohemian,” whereas BAHA sounds meaningless, although at least it rhymes. Oh, well.

  4. marciem says:

    I’m finding it amusing that Jonesin’ 20 across “margarine substitute” = Oleo and
    wsj 66 across “butter substitute” = oleo . (two different takes on ‘substitute’ obviously)

    Am I way too easily amused? LOL! just sayin… same day and all.

  5. Cynthia says:

    Jim Q – I’m so thankful for your review today. I too was distracted by the apparent “Duck” theme and struggled to make the connection with all the theme answers.

  6. Tony says:

    Can anyone explain why the Jonesin puzzles aren’t available on apps lole Stand Alone until Thursday?

  7. golfballman says:

    I said way back when elena kagan was named to the scoutus that elena verdugo was dead to crossworld. I haven’t seen her since.

  8. sanfranman59 says:

    Universal: I couldn’t agree more about the title, Jim. I often neglect to look at puzzle titles and am trying to get myself into the habit of doing so. I did with this puzzle and, if anything, it made the solve more confusing. How do the top two themers relate to ducks or hidden ducks or … ? Ducks have BLOOD and HEARTs as well as FEATHERs??? That can’t possibly be it, right? This is a fine puzzle, but the title doesn’t seem very descriptive of what’s going on with its theme.

    • Jim Q says:

      I’m thinking that “Duck Out of Sight” might actually be a synonym for “Down” in a sense! Like “DUCK OUT OF SIGHT, SOLDIER!” = “DOWN!!” Could that be it?

      • sanfranman59 says:

        This is probably why neither the NYT or LAT uses titles. It just adds another layer of challenge to publishing crosswords. Some puzzles lend themselves to titles and some don’t.

  9. Amy Goldstein says:

    WSJ: Thanks, Nate! Really glad you enjoyed the puzzle. Yes, it’s behind the scenes at a play, specifically that each word goes behind PLAY. The title is a nod to Joanne’s and my work behind the scenes at the WSJ, Joanne on submissions and me on testing/checking.

  10. DB says:

    Derek, yes the sous chef is “under” the head chef.

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