Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Jonesin' 4:24 (Derek) 


LAT 4:13 (Derek) 


NYT 2:58 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


WSJ 7:01 (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 467), “It’s a “G” Thing!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 467: It’s a “G” Thing!

Hello there, everyone. Here is hoping you are doing well to begin the week!  

Today’s crossword puzzle features five theme entries, all of which end with a word that has a soft “g” syllable at the end. However, all of those syllables are spelled differently in each of those theme entries.

  • TOMMIE AGEE (17A: [Center fielder of the 1969 Miracle Mets])
  • PEANUT ALLERGY (24A: [Reason for avoiding Mr. Goodbar?])
  • JUMANJI (40A: [1995 fantasy adventure film with Robin Williams])
  • GEORGIE PORGIE (51A: [Nursery rhyme figure who “kissed the girls and made them cry”])
  • GIA CARANGI (64A: [’80s supermodel played by Angelina Jolie in a TV film])

It actually took me until about a minute or two after finishing the grid until fully understanding the theme of the grid. (Well, it didn’t help things that I started solving immediately and, in turn, did not look at the title.) One can only hope that, after reading the title, that you had this playing in your head as you solved!!

But all in all, far from a TALL ORDER to finish the grid pretty quickly (31D: [“Sizable” task for a Starbucks barista?]). The intersection of Gia Carangi and LILA could have possible played a little tough, as seeing L_LA could make many want to put in “Lola” or “la la” (61D: [Philanthropist/publisher Wallace]). I used to get annoyed at people who did not follow ARMREST etiquette on airplanes, but I just don’t bother myself with it anymore and just make sure I get an aisle seat so I can lean on the one that I know is all mine to lean on and abuse to by heart’s desire (4D: [Comfy chair feature]). In a way, we have food crossings in the Southeast, with SPAM (46A: [Bombard with cyberjunk) and SPINACH (46D: [Leaves in a green smoothie]). Time to break out of here for some grub, but before doing so…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SPURS (20A: [San Antonio hoopsters]) – The American Basketball Association, the professional basketball league that existed from 1967-1976, might have had the biggest influence on the current popularity of the National Basketball Association, as the latter adopted a number of the things that made the former popular: a faster pace of play, the three-point shot, and the Slam Dunk contest/All-Star Weekend to name a few. In 1976, the ABA folded and four of its teams merged with the NBA. Of those four teams, the San Antonio Spurs remain the only former ABA team to win an NBA championship, winning titles in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014. (The other three ABA teams to merge were the Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets and the New York Nets.) Though now in San Antonio, the Spurs franchise began in the ABA in Dallas, and were known as the Dallas Chaparrals. 

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

Take care!


Tom Pepper & Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 12 20, no, 0512

A breezy and quick Tuesday puzzle from a Twin Cities constructor duo. The theme revealer is 36a. [Product warning label appropriate for the answers to the four starred clues], “THIS IS NOT A TOY. The four themers begin with words that are familiar toys, but as expanded into longer words/phrases, definitely not toys.

  • 17a. [*Dessert with light and dark streaks], MARBLE CAKE. If it’s a poundcake recipe, I say yes, please, bring it on. As for the toy, some hungry sports fans looking for content have enjoyed watching marble racing this spring.
  • 24a. [*First thing to do on a to-do list], TOP PRIORITY. Spinning top.
  • 47a. [*Sidewinder, for one], RATTLESNAKE. No, baby, don’t shake a rattlesnake.
  • 57a. [*One having trouble keeping weight off], YO-YO DIETER. Really, the majority of dieting efforts are followed by lost weight being regained.

Fair enough. Four nouns, none of them suitable for child’s play.

Four more things:

  • 36d. [What a whopper!], TOTAL LIE. This entry feels weird to me, like it’s not quite suitable as a crossword entry. Sure feels topical, though.
  • 31a. [Microsoft virtual assistant introduced in 2014], CORTANA. Am I the only one who considered CLIPPIE here? (That bit of silliness was spelled Clippy, though.)
  • 39a. [Like Brown University since 1971]. COED. It’s astonishing to me that so many schools were all male within my lifetime. Like most colleges, Brown is now majority female.
  • 46d. [Crow with nine Grammys], HECKLE. No, wait. JECKLE. No, wait. It’s SHERYL.

Didn’t love all the fill, but it’s mostly solid. 3.75 stars from me.

Caitlin Reid’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up

5.12.20 WSJ Solution

5.12.20 WSJ Solution

10D: POSTSEASON [Playoff period]
20A: CORNERSTONE [Fundamental basis]
29D: HOME REMEDY [Traditional cure]
40A: BOX TOPS [Cardboard clippings for schools]
57A: FRONT OFFICE [Management department of a company, and a hint to the starred answers]

The first word (FRONT) in each of the starred answers in this puzzle is a type of OFFICE: post office, corner office, home office, and box office. Nice! I appreciate how all of these offices are different types / understandings of the word, and they’re all very much of the language. FRONT OFFICE is “A Head for Business,” indeed!

I love that this puzzle highlights the US Post Office, an incredibly important and vital institution in our country (and one of the few institutions referenced by name in the US Constitution!) since it is sadly under attack right now by the currently-presiding government. If you love the Post Office and think its services are vital, make your voice heard (and buy some stamps at the very least)! Also, I implore each person to [Do one’s civic duty] and VOTE, especially if you don’t

But back to the puzzle. I thought it was fun and vibrant. Clues like [Criminal coverups?] for SKI MASKS, [Game of love?] for TENNIS, and [:’-(] for SAD FACE were fun and showed a bit of the constructor’s personality. Also really liked fill like WHERE AM I and the incomparable Julianne MOORE. That’s all for now – hope you’re all doing well and keeping safe/sane. SEE YA!

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Off The Rack” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 05/12/2020

We have a Scrabble related theme for this week’s Jonesin’. Could this also be quarantine-related? Are you playing more board games, too?

  • 16A [Gets a bluegrass instrumentalist (off the J)?] OBTAINS BANJOIST
  • 29A [Relics for mom’s sister (off the Q)?] AUNTIE’S ANTIQUES
  • 44A [Warning at an all-bird nude beach (off the X)?] PIGEONS EXPOSING
  • 55A [Wine cocktail for someone who puts lines on the road (off the Z)?] STRIPER SPRITZER

You can file these anagram hooks away for your next game of Scrabble! And I am going to assume that this word savvy crowd knows what I am talking about! Can you really enjoy crosswords and not be at least vaguely familiar, if not outright enjoy, playing Scrabble? I don’t think so; the skills are quite similar, although Scrabble doesn’t require knowing many definitions! I think I will challenge someone in my house to a game soon! 4.4 stars today.

Just a few more things:

  • 19A [Joined up on Zoom, e.g.] MET – We are all pros at Zoom now!
  • 25A [Mrs. Garrett on “The Facts of Life”] EDNA – She just recently passed away. This means I, too, am getting old!
  • 64A [Jacques Cousteau’s realm] OCEAN – A clue like this makes me think this should be a French word!
  • 4D [Chinese sculptor and activist Ai ___] WEI WEI – What a name!
  • 25D [Bumper sticker symbol depicted in yellow on a blue background] EQUALS – You’ve seen this:
  • 31D [“black-” or “mixed-” follower, on TV] ISH – If you like these shows, you might like #blackAF on Netflix. Same creator(s), I believe.
  • 43D [Subject at the beginning of Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”] DNA TEST – As Stella Zawistowski says on her Tough as Nails site, you need to know who Lizzo is!
  • 52D [“___ for takeout” (sign in some restaurants)] OPEN – We can actually go to restaurants now in Indiana! I think I’ll wait a bit …
  • 60D [You, to Caesar (found in GRATUITY)] TUI – This is tough, but the gimme clue helps!

That is all!

Seth Geltman & Jeff Chen’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 05/12/2020

I don’t think I know Seth Geltman, but I do know Jeff Chen! I have worked with him myself, and it looks like Seth had the pleasure of working with him on this 16×15 grid. It is definitely animal related:

  • 18A [Animal kingdom predator] FOX IN THE HENHOUSE
  • 29A [Animal kingdom traitor] SNAKE IN THE GRASS
  • 49A [Animal kingdom eccentricity] BATS IN THE BELFRY
  • 62A [Animal kingdom complication] FLY IN THE OINTMENT

Can you think of any more? CAT’S IN THE CRADLE is the only one I can come up with. But I’m tired! Great simple theme, and always fun to have a slightly larger puzzle to wrestle with. 4.3 stars today.

A few fun things:

  • 1A [HIV-treating drug] AZT – I can never remember the name of this drug. It must be effective, as you don’t hear of people dying of AIDS like you did years ago.
  • 17A [Big blood vessels] AORTAE – You don’t know if this ends in E or S!
  • 35A [Speeder’s undoing] RADAR – See 69A …
  • 69A [Zooms] SPEEDS – This seems like it is a bit redundant? Not a killer for me, but some might find this repetition of SPEED bothersome. A change in the clue for 35A is quite doable.
  • 40A [Like Redbox films] ON DVD – Does anybody still use a DVD player??
  • 8D [Go over again] REHASH – It seems like the news does this with the pandemic. It is getting old!
  • 9D [Guys’ attaché alternatives] MANBAGS – Are these really a thing?
  • 29D [35mm camera type] SLR – I am looking into a better camera for Zoom meetings. I don’t know much about photography, but I am willing to learn!
  • 38D [Work a crowd] SCHMOOZE – Perhaps another Zoom skill alluded to here?!

Have a safe and healthy week!

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6 Responses to Tuesday, May 12, 2020

  1. Bryan says:

    NYT: Thank God that Clippy is not still a thing, but yeah, that was my first thought for 31a. Also, I’ve never been sure why Zhouqin Burnikel’s nickname is C.C., but I wondered if 10a was a self-reference. As fate would have it, a few days ago, I woke up with the R.E.M. song “Find The River” randomly floating through my mind for no obvious reason. The more I reflected on it and listened to the song, I realized that it encapsulated the somber, sober COVID mood I was in on that morning. That led me to re-listen to and re-appreciate the whole “Automatic for the People” album, including the song “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite.” All these years I’ve been alive, and I’ve never actually known what a sidewinder is. So I Googled it a couple of days ago. Lo and behold… 47a. So plunking in that answer right away gave me the southwest corner pretty easily.

    • Mark Abe says:

      Any reference to clippy reminds me of the time, back when we were both working, of a lunch-time call from my wife: “The IT people upgraded my computer this morning. Now whenever I write anything there’s a paper clip on my screen….and he’s winking at me!”

      I was very glad I had seen clippy before and knew when she was talking about.

  2. Seahedges says:

    In Kathy Weinberg’s UC Tuesday, 12 May, 64-Across, PENNE is clued “It’s tubular.” As PENNE is, like the names of all pastas, a plural noun, the clue should properly read “They’re tubular”.

    • Martin says:

      Hi SEA,

      In English, foreign plurals aren’t always used with respect. Like it or not, “Penne alla vodka are Italian food” doesn’t sound right to most ears.

  3. Billy Boy says:

    Structure of the Universal today was a good balance of longer downs as well as acrosses. I know folks do down only solves on early week NYT and such, but those are often little more than helper clues in my book. Today was a really nice puzzle.

    That NYT site was hopping around again, the most notable aspect of the puzzle, pretty bland and very standard.

    RE: CORTANA, CLIPPY, SIRI, BIXBY, G-ASSIST – personalizing and vocalizing search and help is just so dumb, I’m sorry, they all blow.

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