Sunday, February 23, 2020

LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 8:02 (Amy) 


WaPo 12:30 (Jim Q) 


Universal 4:22 (Jim Q) 


Universal (Sunday) untimed (Rebecca) 


Sophia & David Maymudes’s New York Times crossword, “Resolved”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 23 20, “Resolved”

The theme’s a basic “add RE- to the start of a familiar phrase to create a made-up phrase” one:

  • 27a. [“Stop rolling sevens!”?], REPRESS YOUR LUCK.
  • 45a. [Build rapport like a presidential candidate?], RELATE TO THE PARTY.
  • 70a. [Hate getting ready to move?], RESENT PACKING.
  • 97a. [Makes friends while working retail?], RESTOCKS AND BONDS. Clever.
  • 115a. [Event planner’s post-banquet task?], RETURNS THE TABLES.
  • 16d. [Young woman to call when your data gets deleted?], RECOVER GIRL.
  • 69d. [Places to swim during school?], RECESS POOLS. I’d like this better if RECESS were used as a verb, since all the other themers have RE- verbs.

I’m short on time this evening, so I’ll be quick. Fave fill: RAP SHEETS, THE LORAX, SECOND BEST, STRUCK OUT, JOYRIDE. Least favorite: –ONYM (that’s not a word ending—just the -nym part is), crosswordese ORIEL, singular ARREAR, 6-letter abbreviation ORNITH.

Three things:

  • 47d. [Brexit exiter], THE UK. I wasn’t expecting the THE here, so I was stuck for far too long.
  • 59d. [What many Latin plurals end in], AN “I.” Not -ani. Ugh.
  • 49d. [“Ooh, that’s bad!”], YEESH. I need to use that word more.

3.25 stars from me.

John-Clark Levin’s LA Times crossword, “Herd Mentality” – Jenni’s write-up

I enjoyed this puzzle. Each of the theme entries is a two-word name or phrase that contains a collective noun. The fun is in the clues.

Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2020, John-Clark Levin, “Herd Mentality,” solution grid

  • 23a [Ants in the British colonies?] is the CONTINENTAL ARMY. Alternate clue: [Red(coated) ants].
  • 37a [Fish attending Mass?] would be a CATHOLIC SCHOOL.
  • 45a [Lions marching event?] is a PRIDE PARADE.
  • 63a [Whales’ sorely lacking veggie supply?] is TWO PEAS IN A POD. This one doesn’t quite work; wouldn’t that be TWO PEAS FOR A POD?
  • 80a [Wolves from Lower Manhattan?] are a BATTERY PACK.
  • 89a [Bats living in an old Chrysler?] are the PLYMOUTH COLONY.
  • 106a [Crows sailing from Ethiopia to Egypt?] are a MURDER ON THE NILE.

A solid theme and a fun Sunday puzzle.

A few other things:

  • 1a [Small Mercedes sedan] is A CLASS. I’m not a gearhead and I don’t drive a Mercedes, so every time I see one of these, I fill in CLASS and look at the crossing for the first letter. It’s a longer version of the Wheel of Fortune clues for AN E, or something. Not my favorite.
  • 21a [Cheerio relative] is not a cereal. It’s AU REVOIR.
  • 28d [Baja bar tender?] is PESOS.
  • 36d [1970s Plumber] is LIDDY. That would be G. Gordon Liddy, a former FBI agent who orchestrated the Watergate break-in with E. Howard Hunt. I guess using one’s first initial was a requirement for the job.
  • 39d [Madrid-based airline] is IBERIA. Raise your hand if the tune from the ad is now playing in your head. I know it’s not just me.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that a CHARRO was a Mexican horseman.

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Autotunes” – Jim Q’s writeup

I had a hunch from the title that we were gonna be getting some punny song titles today.

THEME: Song titles are manipulated to include automobiles or things having to do with automobiles.


  • 23A [Smokey Robinson & the Miracles classic involving

    Washington Post, February 23, 2020, Evan Birnholz, “Autotunes” solution grid

    the wheels on some circus performer’s car?] THE TIRES OF A CLOWN. The Tears of a Clown

  • 40A [Dire Straits hit involving a free British compact car?] MINI FOR NOTHING. Money for Nothing
  • 49A [Sia hit involving exciting rides with one’s Wrangler?] JEEP THRILLS. Cheap Thrills
  • 66A [Pink Floyd classic involving someone constructing a barrier made of car pedals?] ANOTHER BRAKE IN THE WALL. Another Brick in the Wall
  • 88A [Cinderella power ballad involving a brand of gas that everyone avoids?] NOBODY’S FUEL. Nobody’s Fool
  • 98A [Argent hit involving someone keeping an engine cover raised?] HOLD YOUR HOOD UP. Hold Your Head Up
  • 116A [T.I. rap single involving a woman who composes a letter saying what you need to lubricate an engine?] THAT’S OIL SHE WROTE. That’s All She Wrote. 

TIRES, MINI, JEEP, (singular) BRAKE, FUEL, HOOD, OIL. This one plays a little loose, combining liquids, car parts, and makes of automobiles in a delightfully eclectic mix of song titles. While I do like the songs, the variety of “things having to do with cars” was a bit much for me. Like his predecessor, Evan does not always follow overly-strict rules when it comes to consistency in theme answers (how can you when you’re making a 21x grid every week?), and I typically appreciate that. But I was thrown after uncovering JEEP THRILLS as my first theme answer followed by ANOTHER BRAKE IN THE WALL. I figured we’d be seeing goofy rhyming with car brands: HELP ME, HONDA! MAMMA KIA! Nope. With this one, I would’ve preferred more consistency. Still, it was fun enough!


  • 1D [Many have their own Instagram accounts] PETS. I watched a documentary called #CATS_the_mewvie on Netflix recently. It’s all about Insta-pets. I was more fascinated by the people, none of whom I could tolerate being around for more than five minutes, I’m pretty sure.
  • 52A/54A [Put away some dishes?/Put away some dishes?] DIET/ATE. “Put” is one of those tricky words because you never know if it’s past or present. I like the repetitive cluing here, especially in back-to-back clues. DIET is a bit tricky to justify as the answer to the clue though. Are we saying that by putting away dishes, you’re not going to eat? And therefore you’re DIETing?
  • 35D [Musician Mitchell who created “Hadestown”] ANAIS. So excited to see someone other than [Diarist Nin] is crossword-worthy enough to make it in a grid! I LOVED Hadestown, and as soon as I saw the composer’s name, I knew she’d be coming soon to a crossword near you. This is the first time I’m seeing her clued. Welcome ANAIS Mitchell!
  • 41D [Love of soccer?] NIL. Love as in zero.

Had trouble with a couple names, particularly in the south (looking at you KAWHI!), but nothing that wasn’t fairly crossed.

Okay, that’s all. Enjoy your Sunday!


Val Melius’s Universal crossword, “Guiding Principles”—Jim Q’s review

I always cringe when I open a Universal that I download as an Across Lite version and I see circled letters. It means that there are uncircled letters that should be circled in the print version. In those versions, where novice and casual solvers are more likely to be solving, solvers are asked to count letters. I’ve seen many new solvers try to interpret the clues in which they are asked to count boxes and it turns into frustration and confusion. get it, and readers of this blog are likely to get it, but I think it’s a rather absurd burden to be putting on a new solver when all you’d have to do is update some software so that circles could be included. And of course, the visual element is lost as well.


THEME: “Beliefs” are hidden in theme entries.


  • 18A [A8 car sellers] AUDI DEALERS.

    Universal crossword solution · Val Melius · “Guiding Principles” · Sun., 02.23.20

  • 28A [Archaeological finds] SACRED OBJECTS. 
  • 45A [Regional American broadcasters] STATE NETWORKS. 
  • 59A [Foundational personal views, or a theme hint] CORE BELIEFS.

I don’t think I’ve ever used the word IDEAL in the same way I’ve used CREDO or TENET, but maybe I’m not clear on its definition in that sense. We do see a lot of these “hidden word” type themes in Universal with a punny revealer, and while this one doesn’t land as solidly as they usually do, it works just fine.

Liked THE HUSTLER and its symmetrical partner CARD SHARKS (although I wasn’t sure if it were SHARKS or SHARPS until I got the cross!). I’ve never had BACON on a doughnut, but I’m sure it’s amazing. EHLE was new to me [Jennifer of “The King’s Speech”]. Looks like she’s been in plenty of crosswords, so I’m not sure how I keep missing her.

Overall, 2.9 stars with circle. 1.5 without.

Brian Gubin’s Universal crossword, “Mix-Ups”—Rebecca’s review

THEME: Anagram puzzle today – anagrams described by common phrases

Universal crossword solution · Brian Gubin · “Mix-Ups” · Sun., 02.23.20



A bit short on time but this was a fun Sunday puzzle – took quite a few downs before I caught onto what was happening, but once I got ALTERED STATES the rest was smooth sailing. The theme answers were great and worked on every level – they’re all real phrases and all describe a change in the anagrammed word.

Some fun clues throughout the puzzle as well with CAST [Play group?] and PENS [Low-tech clickers?] my favorites today.

3.5 stars

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11 Responses to Sunday, February 23, 2020

  1. dh says:

    “I’d like this better if RECESS were used as a verb, since all the other themers have RE- verbs.”
    I will echo that

  2. Norm says:

    Darn you, Jim! Now I have “Help Me, Honda!” as an ear worm. The lyrics include “Help me get her out of my Dart” — and it goes downhill from there.

  3. Silverskiesdean says:

    beginning last week I could not download the Sunday Evan Birnholz puzzle using the Washington Post page that I’ve always used. The page opened, and said the puzzle would open after the ads, as usual, but then the page has been blank. It’s been this way all week including today. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to access his Sunday puzzles?

    • Jim Quinlan says:

      Did you try downloading the .puz file from this site? Click on “Today’s Puzzles” at top of page and give it a shot! It requires Across Lite to open.

  4. Lise says:

    WaPo: I liked that THAT’S OIL SHE WROTE was the last themer.

    Also, the names that I hadn’t known were fairly crossed, and I’m happy to learn them. That is, assuming I have ? Will keep my eyes open for KAWHI in future.

  5. Stephen B. Manion says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle, but I can’t make any sense of the clue for REPRESS YOUR LUCK. In a lifetime of gambling, I have never seen someone who had just made multiple passes walk away from the table before taking his next roll. That would make sense of the verb REPRESS. To suggest that the player somehow had luck going for him and decided to REPRESS it by deciding not to roll another 7 is either impossible or idiotic. The clue could be reworded to make sense if the player was on a magical string of doubling up or progressively larger bets to suddenly reduce the size of his next bet.


  6. Ethan says:

    I realize I’m coming in late with this, but I don’t think the NYT reviewer is right about ONYM. “onoma” is Greek for ‘name.’ An example of an English word that features this stem at the beginning is “onomastic.” So a word like “pseudonym” is really “pseudo” and “onym” sharing the o.

  7. Kevin West says:

    I am really disappointed and angry with the NYT Sunday’s 113A.
    In an age where suicide is a huge social issue, to have NOOSE in a puzzle is insensitive to begin with.
    But then to clue it with a potentially triggering “(This may be at the) END OF ONE’S ROPE”?
    Insensitive doesn’t scratch the surface!
    It may be decent wordplay.
    But the words are not appropriate.
    At all.

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