Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Jonesin' 6:01 (Derek) 


LAT 3:06 (Derek) 


NYT 3:25 (Amy) 


Universal 6:50 (Jim Q) 


WSJ 5-something (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 480), “Cruciverbal “Line of” Work”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 480: “Cruciverbal “Line of” Work”

Hello everyone! There’s another heatwave taking a grip in parts of the country, including the Northeast, so I hope you all stay cool, stay safe and have AGUA at the ready (35A: [Water, in Mexico])!

Today’s puzzle has a couple of nice interesting twists in the theme. First, the theme entries all are well-known phrases in which the first word can also come after the words “line of.” Second, the entries are clued in a way that makes the answers seem as it is a work-related activity…or an occupational no-no!

  • THINKING OUT LOUD (17A: [No-no for a brainstorming mime?])
  • ATTACK ADS (23A: [TV spots featuring Shaq’s dunking highlights?]) – Many basketball commentators would call any of Shaquille O’Neal’s monstrous dunks a “Shaq Attack.”
  • DEFENSE SPENDING (36A: [Expense account activity of a trial lawyer?])
  • DUTY CALLS (47A: [Phone requests for jury service?])
  • FIRE IN ONE’S BELLY (57A: [Fervent desire of a gastroenterologist?])

Love the Middle Eastern/Asian diversity with a number of the names mentioned in the grid. Let’s count the ways: METHA (2D: [Maestro Zubin ___]), NATALIE (31A: [“The other Boleyn Girl” actress Portman]) crossing NEHRU (31D: [India’s first prime minister]), MALEK (10D: [Rami ___ (Oscar-winning “Bohemian Rhapsody” actor)]), RAIMI (55A: [“Spider-Man 3” director Sam]) and LIU (12D: [Lucy of Elementary]). Pretty sure this was the first time coming across AWACS in a grid (5A: [Aircraft surveillance acronym]), and in that area also was the lively fill of COOPTS (8D: [Appropriates]). Then there’s the eye-popping, tongue-twisting fill of YREKA, which I learned about years ago when I applied for a TV reporting job in nearby Klamath Falls, Ore. (48D: [Northern California city]). The random, obscure cities one gets to know when starting a news reporting career!!!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LSD (13A: [Psychedelic drug)]) – Ever heard about the story of a baseball pitcher who threw a no-hitter while high as a kite? On June 12, 1970, Pittsburgh Pirates hurler Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter in San Diego against the Padres one day after, according to Ellis, he got high on LSD and other drugs in Los Angeles while visiting a friend. In telling the story, Ellis woke up the next day and said that he thought that his scheduled start was one day later, but then had to book a flight to San Diego from Los Angeles upon realizing that his start was in mere hours after waking up from his hangover. Ellis arrived at the ballpark 90 minutes before the schedule start time, and proceeded to make history by holding the Padres hitless while walking eight batters and hitting another batter. Here’s a hilarious quote attributed to Ellis in describing that day, a day in which he said he could not feel the ball or see his catcher clearly throughout the contest.

I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate.

Sounds like the 1960s/early ’70s to me!!

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

Take care!


Amanda Rafkin & Ross Trudeau’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 11 20, no. 0811

Ade took note of a heat spell so I’ll mention the Midwestern derecho (storm with particularly high winds) that walloped Iowa midday and then moved through Chicago in late afternoon. My block was scantly roughed up, but neighboring blocks and other neighborhoods saw plenty of uprooted or broken trees. (And now it’s much cooler out!) Hope you’re safe in your part of Solverland.

I had no idea what the theme was after finishing this puzzle, having not bothered with the clue for 37a since *IEIO’s first letter was obvious. Turns out that’s the revealer: [Refrain in a children’s song … or a literal feature of 17-, 25-, 42- and 55-Across]. EIEIO are the vowels present, in that order, in DERRINGER PISTOL (I think my dad had one and I may have shot it at the range?), REWRITES HISTORY, PRESIDENT WILSON (known racist!), and VERMICELLI BOWLS ([Vietnamese noodle salads]?? I’ll take your word for it, as I’m a rice fan more than noodles).

Grid’s pretty smooth considering the generous 65 theme squares. NIHIL and plural AYS are not great, especially for a Tuesday puzzle … and 31d. [Viking who was the first ruler of Normandy], ROLLO?! Yeah, no. This is not a name we learn in school. Maybe in Scandinavia, or in Normandy, but not here.

Five more things:

  • 21a. [Bounds … or partner of bounds], LEAPS. Neat clue.
  • 59a. [Pocketbook portmanteau], MURSE. Man + purse. Men, have you ever wondered why so many people, particularly women, carry a purse? It’s not just the need to carry things like tampons, pepper spray, and the lipstick the patriarchy rewards us for wearing. It’s because our clothes generally don’t have functional pockets! I have one pair of jeggings whose front pocket literally can hold a single quarter—but the top of the quarter sticks out of the top. We can’t stow a wallet, keys, and a phone on our selves the way many men do.
  • 4d. [Large part of an elephant], EAR. We would also have accepted LEG, JAW, or HIP (their eyes are not that huge).
  • 12d. [Fifth-most-common Korean surname, after Kim, Lee, Park and Jung], CHOI. Actor Kenneth Choi of 9-1-1 is among our more famous CHOIs in the U.S.
  • 56d. [Real mouthful?], CUD. Yum?

3.5 stars from me.

Timothy Schenck’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Harvest Time”—Jim P’s review

Our theme is CROPS UP (44d, [Arises, and what’s seen four times in this puzzle]). Each of the other vertical themers is a common word or phrase with a food crop in the circled letters going upwards.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Harvest Time” · Timothy Schenck · Tue., 8.11.20

  • 9d. [Taken aback] DISMAYED. Yams.
  • 11d. [Thoroughfare that lent its name to a 1969 album] ABBEY ROAD. Rye.
  • 35d. [Some are displayed in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum] MOON ROCKS. Corn.
  • 39d. [Go around again] RECIRCLE. Rice.

Standard yet solid hidden word theme. It’s usually better when the hidden word can span more than one word as in ABBEY ROAD and MOON ROCKS. It would have been nice if the other two entries got similar treatment. (I found STONE CIRCLE and CHARLES MAYO (of the Mayo Clinic) as a symmetrical pair that could’ve worked.)

The fill is a mixed bag. It was fun trying to sort out TBILISI since the first I is silent every time I’ve heard it pronounced. TIC TAC TOE, RED ALERT, “I’M SO GLAD,” CONDUCTS, GUESSABLE, and SKY BLUE—all good. BI-YEARLY is ho-hum, but it provides the B in TBILISI and crosses two themers, so what are you gonna do? But I found myself sighing at crusty fill such as ILO, STOA, ELOPER, ATTAR, and ROUE. And then there’s still plenty of the less-objectionable but common crosswordese: ETUDE, ENE, OEDAMI, ATA, ESS, ASA, ETAL, and RANI. It’s a trade-off, but in my book, I’d rather see less of this clunky stuff even if it meant sacrificing some of the flashy stuff.

NODDY from the BBC

I got NODDY off the crosses, so I didn’t even see the clue [Simpleton]. That’s new to me. The only NODDY I know comes from the telly in Britain. (Oh! Turns out NODDY is a creation of author ENID Blyton; that would’ve been a good tie-in.)

Other clues of note:

  • 8d. [Bear Dance participant]. UTE. Did not know this, but it’s worth learning about. Wikipedia says it’s a ten-day springtime event to celebrate the end of winter and to shake oneself awake after hibernation and encourage courtship. As you might have expected, this year’s Bear Dance was cancelled.
  • 11d. [Thoroughfare that lent its name to a 1969 album]. ABBEY ROAD. I wanted to embed the live webcam here, but the best I could do is link to it. Have a look!

Not a bad theme, but there were some missed opportunities and the gluey fill bogged it down somewhat. 3.25 stars.

Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword — “In Pique Condition” – Jim Q’s Write-up

Paul Coulter is back!

THEME: Phrases that are “angry” are aptly attributed to different careers.

Universal crossword solution · “In Pique Condition” · Paul Coulter · Tue., 8.11.20


  • 17A [The irritated tugboat captain ___] HARBORED ILL WILL. 
  • 27A [The irritated snake handler ___] THREW A HISSY FIT. 
  • 49A [The irritated lumberjack ___] HAD AN AX TO GRIND. 
  • 62A [The irritated actor ___] MADE AN UGLY SCENE. 

Familiar theme type with the “apt phrase for a person with such–and-such a job” approach, but I like this theme type, and in Paul Coulter’s hands it’s executed well and fun to solve.

I really had trouble with this one in two spots:

Up north, I REALLY wanted HARBORED A GRUDGE, and I wasn’t confident with NEW LEFT or ERIK, so it was difficult to change.

More south, I had INSURE for ASSURE (both work for the clue [Guarantee]) and was so confident with my mistake that it took forever to see HAD AN AX TO GRIND (though if I entered that first I probably would’ve avoided the problem altogether).

Still, everything is fair, it just took me much longer than usual! Nothing wrong with that. Thanks, Paul!

4 Stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Food for Thought” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 08/11/2020

We have a treat this week! The first reprint is actually the first ever Jonesin’ puzzle, from May of 2001! What is the theme of Matt’s first puzzle? You guessed it: slightly obscure pop culture!

  • 1A [Band that’s the theme of this puzzle] PHISH 
  • 20A [1-Across guitarist and vocalist] TREY ANASTASIO
  • 34A [1-Across and The Dude of Life album released in 1994] CRIMES OF THE MIND
  • 41A [1-Across predecessors and mentors] THE GRATEFUL DEAD 
  • 54A [1-Across keyboardist who started as a fan] PAGE MCCONNELL 

PHISH is still around all these years later, I believe. I actually saw them in concert years ago, opening for The Beastie Boys in Kalamazoo, MI! I couldn’t name a single song they sing. Maybe I will find them on my Spotify later! In the ensuing hundreds of puzzles, Matt has often showcased his love of indie/alternative/rock/folk/whatever music, so this first puzzle is not a surprise! If you are a fan of Phish, I apologize for my ignorance. Maybe they are bigger on the west coast! 4.4 stars for this only slightly dust gem!

More stuff (some of which is also obscure!):

  • 6A [“Heroz4hire” rapper ___ the Damaja] JERU – I believe you.
  • 65A [Subject of “Weird” Al Yankovic’s “The White [31-Down]”] OREO – A Weird Al reference is always good!
  • 67A [“___ White Swan” (T. Rex song)] RIDE A – I also believe you.
  • 11D [They adore strange things] XENOPHILES – Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all this, curious about things we don’t know, instead of seeing anything different as a threat to our comfort zone? Love this word!
  • 26D [Sings like Kurt Elling] SCATS – Don’t know who this is either!
  • 37D [“Spy vs. Spy” magazine] MAD – Finally, I still love me some Mad Magazine! I spent a lot of time reading this when I was younger. I don’t see these as often as I used to, but they are still hilarious. And yes, the Spy vs. Spy bits are still in there!

That is all! Another Jonesin’ reprint coming next week!

Paul Coulter’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 08/11/2020

This puzzle reminds me that I have a bill to pay!

  • 17A [One who doesn’t fit in] A FISH OUT OF WATER
  • 26A [Measure of what you can buy] PURCHASING POWER 
  • 46A [Drove faster] STEPPED ON THE GAS
  • 60A [Providers of the necessities that end 17-, 26- and 46-Across] PUBLIC UTILITIES 

Perhaps you are slightly reminded of a game of Monopoly as well? No? Yeah, maybe not. Nice simple theme, yet beautifully executed with all the themers being a full 15-letters long. 3 minutes for me; would be even faster if I knew how to get Xword to skip to the next open entry! 4.2 stars today.

Just a few more things:

  • 15A [Grabbing-the-tab words] “ON ME!” – Haven’t had to treat too many meals recently, because I haven’t had any trips to a restaurant!
  • 34A [Mayo is fifth in it] AÑO – I think this word has a tilde in it, which will irk some of you!
  • 1D [Eaton of the Washington Nats] ADAM – Is this guy really famous enough to be in crosswords? I am a baseball fan and I say he is NOT!
  • 10D [Intermittent] ON AND OFF – Like my solving moods recently. I need a vacation, but there is no where to go!
  • 30D [Architect Jones] INIGO – I only know this name from crosswords. I know I am not alone!
  • 38D [Uppers, drug-wise] PEP PILLS – Perhaps these will help my solving mood!

Have a safe and healthy week!

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11 Responses to Tuesday, August 11, 2020

  1. maxine nerdström says:

    Fun fact for rice lovers, vermicelli noodles are made of rice! They are also called “rice noodles” and they are delicious.

    • Billy Boy says:

      Rice vermicelli are whitish or clear, thin, round noodles – the kind in this particular answer. Gluten Free, I imagine in most cases, although true ‘Glass noodles’ are made from a variety of starches.

      Vermicelli, Capellini and angel’s hair (Capella d’Angela (sp.) – the origin of capellini), not of rice are basically size equivalent in Italian Cuisine. By all those names they are found in Italian Markets. Although vermicelli is not as common in English-speaking North American countries where it is generally called Angel’s Hair I understand them to be equivalents.

      Italians have over 300 kinds of named pasta, some with more than 25 equivalents regionally. I probably only know around 100. In NYC Italian Restaurants sometimes they use obscure regional names (I think just to make you ask)

      -ini means wee, thus turning spaghetti into Spaghettini, both larger diameter than the kind in question. Very entertaining, interesting or annoying, depending on your trivia tolerance.

      Why yes, I DO like pasta, why do you ask. Maybe it’s because my sign is Gemelli?

      But I digress, Baked Ziti is on tonight’s dinner menu


      • Martin says:

        Also, in Italy, vermicelli is not like Angel Hair at all. Angel hair (capelli d’angelo) is the finest capellini. Going thicker, it’s fedelini, spaghettini, spaghetti, spaghettoni, vermicelli, spaghettoni grandi, bucatini, and various zitones. In other words, vermicelli is really thicker than spaghetti, although in the US it’s usually thinner than spaghettini but thicker than capellini. It’s why De Cecco doesn’t market vermicelli in the US. They refuse to mislabel it.


        • Billy Boy says:

          Thanks for that link, very useful , especially all the recipes. We enjoy Cipriani brand the best, but only three flat pastas are marginally available. Cooks more like fresh pasta than deCecco, which does sell nests of Capella d’Angelo No. 209 on that link. Well-made points Martin.

    • Martin says:

      Nobody mentioned that “vermicelli” means “little worms.”

    • pannonica says:

      So anyway, the Vietnamese dish is called bun, comes in many accompaniment variations, is served at room temperature, and as maxine said it is delicious.

  2. One good thing about Woodrow Wilson is that he’s got WWI in the middle of his name. That’s also his J.Lo-style nickname.

  3. Cynthia says:

    Very clever theme entries in today’s Universal. Really enjoyed these. Great job, Paul!

  4. Crotchety Doug says:

    LAT: I thought this was a really smooth solve, and (though I am a poetic illiterate) the four themers together make a kind of poem.

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