Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Jonesin' 6:30 (Derek) 


LAT 3:28 (Derek) 


NYT 4:08 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


WSJ 4:12 (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 479), “Non-Teachable Moments”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 479: “Non-Teachable Moments”

Good day, everybody! Hope you all are doing well in this first week of August and enjoying as much of the summer as you can!

This month marks where a majority of public school students will head back to school, though that’s still mind-boggling to me since I grew up in New York and, like a good number of school districts in the Northeast, did not start the school year until right after Labor Day. No matter when your districts start school, I’m sure a good number of students would rather keep their vacations going, as this grid subtly suggests. Circles that are spaced out are featured in the four longest entries, with the letters all spelling out a type of school and/or a school teaching method. The last across entry, SKIPS, acts as the reveal (64A: [__ school (plays hooky)…and a hint at the theme in the circled letters]).

  • GEORGIA ON MY MIND (17A: [State song of “The Peach State”]) – Grad
  • THE KING’S ENGLISH (25A: [Proper speech, to some Brits]) – High
  • PARALLEL PARKING (43A: [Thorny challenge during a driver’s test]) – Prep
  • HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE (56A: [Charlemagne’s domain]) – Home

As always, a reference to Africa in a puzzle will make me like any puzzle even more, including the country of my heritage and of my parents’ birth, NIGERIA (5D: [Seventh most-populous country in the world]), and crossing it with a person who resides in sports journalism, like ERIN, makes me swoon over this puzzle even more (23A: [___ Andrews, former co-host of “Dancing with the Stars”]). Furthermore, love some of the descriptors in the grid, though I am someone who has never be described as ARM CANDY (9D: [Good-looking companion]) but definitely could be described as an OLD DOG with some of the missteps in learning about new things (49A: [One who’s hard to teach, per an adage]). The timeliness of BY MAIL could not have been more on point, given the drivel being uttered from Washington about how an election that hasn’t happened yet is going to feature massive fraud by that voting method, though extensive research has yielded scant evidence of fraud over the years (10D: [One way to vote]). I’ll try to leave on a more positive note, so if anyone wants to describe their best BALL GOWN that they have ever worn, hopefully you can share with us what the design was and the occasion in breaking it out (36D: [Dress for a fancy occasion]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SAVE (59A: [Fill the piggy bank)]) – When I was young and starting to understand all of the statistics in baseball, I was dumbfounded by a baseball box score that had listed a pitcher earning a save even though his team won the game by a wide margin. At first, I had thought that a save situation in baseball occurred when a relief pitcher came in to the game with his team up by three runs or fewer, and then earned the save by finishing the game on the mound without blowing that lead. (That is true, by the way.) There are two other ways that a relief pitcher can earn a save in Major League Baseball: If the pitcher does not blow the lead after entering the game with the potential tying run standing in the on-deck circle (e.g. if Team A is up 6-1 in the ninth inning and a new pitcher comes in as Team B has the bases loaded) or if a pitcher completes the game by pitching at least three full innings, regardless of the margin of lead his team had at the time he initially came into the game. So as long as that pitcher came in to start the seventh inning and completed the game, it would not matter if that pitcher came in when his team was up 21-0 and finished the game with his team winning 34-0; That relief pitcher would earn a save in that scenario. Go figure!

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

Take care!


Debbie Ellerin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Behaving Badly”—Jim P’s review

65a is ACT UP [Make mischief, and a hint to what’s found in 3-, 5-, 7-, 34- and 38-Down]. Each of those entries has the trigram TCA in it, or “ACT” going in the UP direction.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Behaving Badly” · Debbie Ellerin · Tue., 8.4.20

  • 3d. [Hopeless endeavor] LOST CAUSE
  • 5d. [USS John F. Kennedy, for one] AIRCRAFT CARRIER. Got this off the AI–, thank you very much.
  • 7d. [Precedent setter] TEST CASE
  • 34d. [The High Priestess, e.g.] TAROT CARD
  • 38d. [Rigorous workout regimen] BOOT CAMP

A lively set of entries, don’t you think? Even though I had no clue as to the theme until I got to the end of my solve and the revealer, I noticed what a lovely set of Down answers this grid featured. Other good Down entries: WEIRDO and PAELLA.

The Across answers aren’t so bad themselves, either: FIREPLACE, LOLCAT, DOODADS, and BEDTIME are all pretty fun. It felt a little awkward starting the puzzle off with a cross-reference to the very next clue, but I can see why it was done. You have those PAL and GAL that close together, people would wonder why you didn’t clue them together.

Not much of a watchdog. Penny couldn’t protect this stuffed pheasant.

Clues of note:

  • 15a. [Face with tears of joy, for one]. EMOJI. That first word in the clue sounds like a verb, yeah? If you replaced “for one” with “say,” that would make for a good later-in-the-week clue.
  • 16a. [Museum workers]. RESTORERS. Anyone else around here read Daniel Silva’s spy novels? They feature Gabriel Allon, Israeli assassin and art restorer.
  • 52d. [Watchdog for watchdogs: Abbr.] SPCA. For some reason, this felt like the hardest clue in the puzzle for me. I thought it was going to be some little-known government agency, but the actual answer is nicer than that. We got our dog Penny from a shelter, and while she isn’t a trained watchdog, she’s got that low basset growl and howl. They were on full display this morning when she sensed a coyote roaming around the house!

Clean puzzle with lively entries and fill. 3.8 stars.

Jacob Stulberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 4 20, no. 0804

Cute theme concept; I like the irreverence of it. The revealer is FORSAKE, 37a. [Abandon … or two words often seen next to the starts of 17-, 27-, 47- and 60-Across], and the four themers start with possessives that frequently appear in “for ___ sake” phrases, but the phrases chosen are mostly not great for a Tuesday puzzle:

  • 17a. [2016 live-action Disney film with an animated title character], PETE’S DRAGON.
  • 27a. [Where John Milton and John Oliver studied at Cambridge], CHRIST’S COLLEGE. Rather tough ask for a Tuesday puzzle, though.
  • 47a. [1933 Erskine Caldwell novel about a wealth-obsessed farm family], GOD’S LITTLE ACRE. Also something that a lot of solvers probably don’t know. Lol, Wikipedia: “His writings about poverty, racism and social problems in his native Southern United States, in novels such as Tobacco Road (1932) and God’s Little Acre (1933) won him critical acclaim, but his advocacy of eugenics and the sterilization of Georgia’s poor whites became less popular following World War II.”
  • 60a. [Notorious cinematic flop of 1980], HEAVEN’S GATEIshtar is the more famous film flop of the 1980s, but it did better box office than the Cimino western. Solvers who weren’t paying attention to film criticism and showbiz news in 1980 may be excused from ever having heard of this movie.

Moving past the theme, oof. There is a lot of terrible fill here, particularly for a Tuesday puzzle supposedly pitched at less experienced solvers. The JOIST/JAPE crossing at 1a/1d, ONO and ENO, the WIE/RIIS crossing (possibly WOE crossing French plural ROIS would be easier?), godforsaken THEDA Bara of 1917 cinema, suffix –CYTE, awkward TASTES OF, Popeye’s SEA HAG, maybe ELAN, COSET, LORN as an “old-style” stand-alone word, and EPEEISTS (!!)? The Scowl-o-Meter was going crazy tonight, and I found myself grimacing while solving. This puzzle would have worked so much better at a venue with puzzle titles, with that revealer removed from the center of the grid. Junk like COSET intersects three theme entries! The grid is far too constrained with the five thematic answers.

On the plus side, 29d. [Heavyweight at a zoo] clues RHINOCEROS, and thus I have a reason to direct you to this Twitter video of an adorable baby rhino scampering about as if it were as nimble as a baby goat.

Two stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Getting Free K” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 08/04/2020

We are finally at 1,000! And the flavortext says “I say 28-Across!”, which is WE MADE IT, surely an appropriate sentiment. Just so you understand, 1,000 divided by 52 is over nineteen years of puzzles. I am amazed at the level of creativity that is required to accomplish this, not to mention the word skills needed to boot. We have a themeless this week, which I didn’t see coming, but in true Jonesin’ fashion, it is chock full of pop culture references I am totally unfamiliar with! I will discuss some of these below, but a stellar grid this week, even if a little challenging. Congratulations on 1,000 puzzles, Matt! 5 stars for this one!

That promised commentary!

  • 28A [Cry of accomplishment] “WE MADE IT!” – I am thinking this was a seed entry? Or just providence that it was added?
  • 51A [Rod Stewart’s “Lost ___”] IN YOU – Yes, the most obscure Rod Stewart song out there. But is this arguably the easiest way to clue this?
  • 60A [Vacation purchase with a possibly aggressive sales pitch] TIMESHARE – I had one of these sales pitches once. They are brutal.
  • 2D [Nation where kreyòl ayisyen is spoken] HAITI – This is Creole something. Nicely done!
  • 12D [Category for Styx and (arguably) the Stones] ARENA ROCK – Best clue in the puzzle!
  • 14D [Cereal on “The Simpsons” where Bart ingested some jagged metal] KRUSTY O’S – The Simpsons refs are always tough for me, but I vaguely have heard of this.
  • 22D [Small-screen movie, quaintly] TELE-PICTURE – Is this a word??

    Eve’s Bayou movie poster

  • 26D [___ Bachika (“Gurren Lagann” anime character who I just found out is a human and not a cat)] KITTAN – Definitely the OPCRotW for puzzle 1,000. No clue about any of this!
  • 29D [___ De Spell (“DuckTales” character voiced by Catherine Tate in the 2017 reboot)] MAGICA – I used to watch this! Still no idea who this is!
  • 32D [Samuel L. Jackson movie that Roger Ebert called the best film of 1997] EVE’S BAYOU – I had BLUE BAYOU in here, which caused problems. Don’t remember seeing this movie. Something else to watch during lockdown!

I think there will be Jonesin’ puzzles re-ran for the next few weeks, but if they go back to 19 years ago, they will be fresh to all of us! Looking forward to that retrospective look at nearly twenty years of puzzles, and if that gives Matt a well-deserved break, so be it!

Gary Larson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 08/04/2020

Our theme answers travel downward, and for good reason! See the revealer at 61D:

  • 3D [*Verify using multiple sources] CROSS CHECK 
  • 7D [*Gadget function typical of most similar gadgets] STANDARD FEATURE 
  • 21D [*Many a Match.com get-together] BLIND DATE 
  • 23D [*Four-dimensional mathematical system] SPACE-TIME 
  • 30D [Blackjack bet … and a hint to the answers to starred clues] DOUBLE DOWN 

Clever! I have seen this theme quite often, but it still amazes me that you can have this many instances of words that all precede or follow something but can be paired into common phrases. Or maybe I am just seeing the same theme over and over again! Isn’t there a theme database somewhere? The theme is well executed, and even if it is duplicated, this puzzle has clean fill and was a fun solve. 4.4 stars from me.

Just a few more things:

  • 22A [Measure of a celeb’s popularity] Q-SCORE – I have no desire to be popular, so I have no idea what my score is. Probably zero!
  • 36A [New York governor Andrew] CUOMO – Timely, for sure. He has been a prominent member of governance during this crisis, especially since his press conferences were show nationwide, nipple-ring and all!
  • 61A [Rhine city] BONN – This was a world capital when I was in school.
  • 31D [Website with film info] IMDB – Did you know Amazon owns this site? Yes, they will soon own EVERYTHING.
  • 33D [Siena sweetheart] CARA – My old boss’s name is Cara! I haven’t seen this in a puzzle in a while, because I would have noticed her name. It is usually clued as [Irene from “Fame”], but even that reference is getting dated.

Have a safe and healthy week!

Evan Kalish’s Universal crossword — “Limitless” – Jim Q’s Write-up

Another Evan Kalish puzzle so soon? Fine by me!

THEME: The word “End” is deleted from common phrases to create new wacky ones.

Universal crossword solution · “Limitless” · Evan Kalish · Tue., 8.04.20


  • 20A [Look up how to play a game via a Microsoft search engine?] BING THE RULES. Instead of B{END}ING THE RULES.
  • 28A [Furious taxonomic group?] ANGERED SPECIES. Not, {END}ANGERED SPECIES.
  • 43A [Tibias, quadriceps and so on?] THE STUFF OF LEGS. THE STUFF OF LEG{END}S.
  • 49A [What a slog may appear to have, or a hint to the word deleted from 20-, 28- and 43-Across] NO END IN SIGHT. 

Perfectly tight revealer and three fantastic phrases after the deletion of END. Can’t ask for much more in this theme type. I didn’t see the gimmick until the revealer, but in this type of puzzle that only builds suspense and I enjoyed uncovering the wacky phrases without realizing that END was the missing culprit.

Fill and clues, great as always from Evan.

1D[“Cross,” “word” or “puzzle,” at times] VERB. Cute way to start.

Also enjoyed 46D [Unofficial drawings of characters, e.g.] FAN ART. 

I don’t understand the need for a ? at 26D [Conversation starters?] HELLOS. Those are certainly conversation starters! I don’t quite see the wordplay.

Anyway, another great offering. Thanks, Evan!

4 stars.

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17 Responses to Tuesday, August 4, 2020

  1. RSP64 says:

    I’m in my mid-50’s and this puzzle felt like it was made for someone at least 30 years older than me!

    • Todd Dashoff says:

      I’m only 64, but I knew all the theme answers, as well as THEDA, TRON and ARNAZ. I did have a problem with ALEC/ALEX/ALEK until I filled in the middle, so I guess the age gripe runs in both directions.

    • RM Camp says:

      At 39, I might agree, but I was able to get everything on the crossings, except Arnaz. Knew that one right off the dome, I think Lucy and Desi still have a place in the collective cultural mindset of the older millennial cohort.

  2. Huda says:

    WIE crossing RIIS …
    ENO, ONO…
    No No.

  3. philr says:

    NYT 3 blasphemous themers? That’s got to be a record

  4. Jenni Levy says:

    COSET was the breaking point for me. Ugh.

  5. Bryan says:

    NYT: Amy, you said everything I was thinking as I was solving this. And I learned a lesson today about slowing down and actually *reading* a clue and not just glossing over it. I came here to get all up in arms about the clue for 56d being wrong. I went to the Google machine to make sure I was right. Yes, there was Madeleine Albright, Condi Rice and Hillary Clinton. And then I took a closer look at the clue and saw the word “until” instead of “since,” which I was certain that it said when I saw it the first time. Oof!

  6. Reid says:

    Two stars is far too generous. This is the least accessible Tuesday I can remember in a long time. All four theme answers were random items that required most of the crosses for me, and the fill was terrible. The cute theme was not worth everything else being so so bad.

  7. Billy Boy says:

    An absolute mess for a Tuesday NYT and the clue for 37A is technically incorrect, the word is split around the starts, not next to the starts. At least there was minor help for the themers as I needed them for confirmations!

    Sub-par, non-Tuesday crossings combine to make a puzzle to discourage newbs. Hilariously misses the mark. just wow

    • Bryan says:

      The clue for 37a is correct in my assessment. The words “for” and “sake” are directly next to the words at the starts of each of the themers in the common phrases: “for sake.”

    • Bryan says:

      The clue for 37a is correct in my assessment. The words “for” and “sake” are directly next to the words at the starts of each of the themers in the common phrases: “for (blank) sake.”

  8. AV says:

    NYT: Liked the theme, but this was an instance where I would sacrifice RHINOCEROS and PHOTOGENIC, add an extra square where the C of CHESS (and O of CAIRO) resides (yes, that makes the word-count 80, so what?), and make a clean Tuesday-friendly grid.

  9. RM Camp says:

    I honestly didn’t find today’s NYT to be any rougher than usual, and I don’t particularly consider myself experienced (and I find the solve times posted here kinda daunting). Once the revealer became clear, Christ’s College and Heaven’s Gate were a cinch (ditto on Ishtar, even if I *have* heard of HG, somehow). Everything else was no biggie, either got it on first pass or at crossing.

    I finished it faster than my average—though to be fair, that’s pretty significantly skewed to the slower end, from when I started doing the daily puzzle a little over a year ago.

    • Lois says:

      I agree. I’m a big Stulberg fan. In a Stulberg puzzle, I expect religion, check; and music, this time very little, so I needed that cross of ENO and ONO, and those are the main two categories that have resonated with me. Happy to have my old movies and cartoons. I think the only thing I didn’t know was The Fosters, and now that I’ve looked it up I see that I should have known about it. I know that Stulberg will please more people next time, but I had lots of fun this time.

  10. Kelly Clark says:

    Congratulations, Matt Jones! YOU MADE IT!

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