Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Jonesin' 3:55 (Derek) 


LAT 3:20 (Derek) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


Universal 4:59 (Jim Q) 


WSJ 4:22 (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 481), “Musical Side Shows”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 481: “Musical Side Shows”

Good day, everybody! I hope all of you are doing well and, for those who participated in the Lollapuzzoola online tournament, I hope that you had lots of fun solving amazing puzzles! And if it was your first time ever competing in a crossword puzzle tournament, welcome to the club!!

Not too long ago, we had a puzzle in which all of the answers creating the perimeter of the grid were dance moves. This time, the answers making up the perimeter are musicals, with BOX being the reveal…and the shape of the grid, of course (33D: [Broadway __ office hits (they’re hidden at the puzzle’s perimeter!)]).

  • OKLAHOMA (1A: [Neighbor of Texas]) – Without the exclamation point, of course
  • EVITA (9A: [Monotypic moth genus])
  • ALADDIN (13D: [“___ Sane” (David Bowie’s sixth studio album)])
  • FROZEN (49D: [Margarita choice on a hot day]) – Man, a frozen strawberry margarita sounds real good right about now!
  • HAMILTON (67A: [Margaret who played the Wicked Witch of the West in film])
  • ANNIE (66A: [Lennox of the Eurythmics])
  • DRACULA (39D: [Creepy-looking orchid variety])
  • OLIVER (1D: [“Platoon” director Stone])

After finishing the puzzle, the first thing that immediately caught my attention the Golden State stack of SANTA YNEZ (59A: [California valley known for its wineries and apple farms]) and OCEANSIDE, with those entries only making me sadder that I, probably, won’t make it out to California anytime soon (65A: [California city with views of the Pacific]). Then there’s the entire stage name of INDIA.ARIE as well that looks great (17A: [Grammy-winning “Chocolate High” singer]). With all of the music in this grid, seeing SHEWOLF is making me think of Shakira at the moment (46A: [Howling female canine]). I DARE NOT try to sing along and attempt to hit some of the octaves that she can bring while on the stage, so I’ll just listen and enjoy (11D: [“That’s out of my comfort zone…”]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ROBESON (40D: [Activist/singer/athlete Paul __]) – A small part of what made Paul Robeson one of the most exemplary, influential, dynamic people to have ever graced the earth was his athletic prowess, which he showed off while a student at Rutgers. Despite the rampant racism, including subject to extreme roughhousing by his own teammates in practice and opponents refusing to play Rutgers due to Robeson being a member of the team, Robeson earned All-America status for his play at end in both 1917 and 1918. Along with those honors, he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was the school valedictorian in his graduation class. 

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

Take care!


Olivia Mitra Framke’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

What a great anniversary theme! Olivia honors the 19th Amendment’s centennial with this trivia pack:

  • 17a. [Rights advocate who campaigned for 53-Across], ALICE PAUL. One of many.
  • 19a. [What 53-Across changed], CONSTITUTION.
  • 34a. [Subject of 53-Across], WOMEN’S SUFFRAGESuffrage is such a weird word for this.
  • 53a. [Measure fully ratified on 8/18/1920], AMENDMENT XIX. It’s a good thing I had the puzzle timer off, because I eyeballed the spaces for 34a and 54a, guessed at the letter counts I needed for the answers, and somehow determined that these entries were too short for them. It has been one of those days, my friends.
  • 56a. [36th state to ratify 53-Across, resulting in its passage], TENNESSEE.

It bears noting that Black women didn’t get a confirmed right to vote till the Voting Rights Act over four decades later.

Highlights outside the theme were these representational sparks:

  • 24d. [“We’re all born naked and the rest is ___”: RuPaul], DRAG. I love RuPaul’s Drag Race. My son’s girlfriend got me hooked on it a couple seasons back, and she can advise me on the best old seasons to catch up with while we wait for in-person reality shows to be safe to produce again.
  • 31d. [Some partners in lesbian couples], FEMS. Not every couple will have a fem or a butch, but many will have one or both.
  • 44a. [“If ___ doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for?”: Alice Walker], ART. Great quote from a great American writer.
  • 52d. [Bra part], STRAP. Indeed.
  • We also have Leontyne Price, SON clued via mythological mother Rhea, “Kenan & KEL,” VASSAR, ANNE of Green Gables, RAMONA Quimby, Alanis Morissette, Lucy LIU, RuPaul, PELE, goddess LUNA, O-LAN … and I think no white men are included in the clues or grid. *applause* And if you’re going to chide me for dissing white men, don’t. I bet you can find lots of puzzles from the NYT archives that don’t include any non-white, non-male people.

Re: 45d. [What juice cleanses are supposed to get rid of], TOXINS—that “supposed to” is doing the heavy lifting. Your kidneys cleanse your bloodstream of toxins. Juice “cleanses,” colonics, and sticky things affixed to the soles of your feet are not gonna do what the kidneys do for you every day.

Didn’t care for crosswordese RIAS (too tough for Tuesday) or weird noun AVIANS, but I liked the rest of this venture. 4.2 stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “For the Birds” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 08/18/2020

We are still in reprints from Matt’s early Jonesin’ years. This theme is hinting at the Flintstones! These themers all evoke vivid mental imagery for me, as I watched this cartoon a lot when I was younger. (Matt and I are close to the same age, so I get where he is coming from!)

  • 17A [Gigantic bird with a stone passenger cabin] AIRPLANE 
  • 19A [Item with an image-chiseling bird] CAMERA
  • 23A [Musical item using a pointy-beaked bird] RECORD PLAYER
  • 37A [Signaling item, when the bird’s tail is pulled] WHISTLE 
  • 39A [Motorist’s signal, when the bird is squeezed] CAR HORN
  • 49A [Garden tool, when the bird’s legs are squeezed] HEDGE TRIMMER 
  • 57A [Writing implement using a bird’s beak] INK PEN 
  • 59A [Talking bird flying back and forth between stone boxes] INTERCOM

This puzzle is from way back in February 2002, a few years after the motion picture version with John Goodman came out in 1994.

Just a few things this week!

  • 5A [R&B singer Cantrell] BLU – Slightly obscure pop culture trivia even for 2002!
  • 21A [With a tilde, “year”; without, something nastier] ANO – Nice save for those that don’t like this clue since an N with a tilde is NOT an N!
  • 45A [“Biography” network] A AND E – How old is this channel??
  • 5D [Uses an iron, maybe] BRANDS – Good clue!
  • 52D [Harold of “Ghostbusters”] RAMIS – May he rest in peace.

That is all! Another retro Jonesin’ next week!

Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 08/18/2020

I can’t believe I didn’t see what this was before I got to the revealer at the end!

  • 17A [*Bring dinner to diners, say] SERVE A MEAL
  • 24A [*Discover incriminating information] DIG UP DIRT 
  • 39A [*Band’s cheat sheet] SET LIST 
  • 50A [*Stiletto on a shoe] SPIKE HEEL
  • 62A [Sport that involves the moves that start the answers to starred clues] VOLLEYBALL 

I thought I knew volleyball pretty well, and I love watching it on TV (it might be a while for new matches this year!), but I am fresh off learning what a libero is from another crossword a few weeks ago. Fun puzzle, as is usually the case from Mark! 4.3 stars.

Just a couple of things:

  • 21A [Jamaican export] RUM – I may need some rum to get through this pandemic …
  • 34A [Buffalo hockey pro] SABRE – I don’t think Buffalo is playing, but the NHL playoffs are in full swing. The Blackhawks have dug a huge hole to dig out of, and I don’t know if it will happen. We shall see!
  • 10D [“Listen to me next time!”] “I TOLD YA” – Great casual slangy phrase!
  • 35D [Sight-unseen encounter] BLIND DATE – I have never gone on one of these. I consider myself fortunate to have a partner and not have to cope with the dating scene!
  • 45D [Pay-for-what-you-use hotel feature] MINI-BAR – I am not staying in a hotel anytime soon, even if this feature was free!
  • 52D [Cara of “Fame”] IRENE – This actress is 60 years old! And is she clued more for the IRENE or the CARA?

Have a safe and healthy week!

Jules P Markey’s Universal crossword — “Look Out Below” – Jim Q’s Write-up

The theme of this puzzle is very transparent.

THEME: Types of glass are at the bottom of vertically placed common phrases.

Universal crossword solution · “Look Out Below” · Jules P. Markey · Tues., 8.18.20


  • 3D [*Like some fried chicken] EXTRA CRISPYIs there a better way to order wings? I think not.
  • 25D [*Puts off retiring?] STAYS UP LATE
  • 14D [*Able to continue independently] SELF SUSTAINED
  • 7D [*Bundle for bundling] BALL OF TWINE
  • 27D [Feature of some tour boats, or what the end of each starred answer can have?] GLASS BOTTOM. 

I found this one to be… what’s the word? Funky. That’s it. Not necessarily bad… just funky! Some new things for me were LESTOIL (though now that I Google it, I certainly recognize the product), the freshly clued ABEL, ASCETICS, and MAFIA as a game.

As far as the theme goes, it’s fine, though not entirely consistent in presentation. I prefer when the “hidden word” bridges parts of the phrase as PLATE does in STAYS UP LATE. Also I like when you can’t hear the word as in SPY in EXTRA CRISPY. I don’t feel like SELF SUSTAINED and BALL OF TWINE fully meet either or those criteria. No real harm done though.

And yes, there is the persistent issue that eats at me which is Universal’s willingness to run two different versions of the puzzle: one with circles on this site, and one without for the masses (who would, imo, find more benefit in the visual aid than constant solvers who are likely to download the puzzle from this site). Fortunately, I don’t feel that this puzzle suffers from this pitfall as badly as many others because the word can be found consistently at the end of each themer. Still, they say they’re fixing the problem. I just hope they do it soon. It’s so weird that the only major publication that can’t employ circles in its grid seems to run circle-dependent grids very frequently.

3 Stars with circles. 3 Stars without circles.

Amanda Rafkin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “When All Else Fails…”—Jim P’s review

Hey! Two women’s bylines in as many days. That’s nice to see.

Amanda Rafkin is here with a BACKUP PLAN (63a, [Safety net, of a sort, and a literal feature of 17-, 23-, 39- and 52-Across]). Each of the other themers has the letter string NAL/P, or PLAN backwards, spanning two words.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “When All Else Fails…” · Amanda Rafkin · Tue., 8.18.20

  • 17a. [Windup of a project] FINAL PHASE
  • 23a. [North or south, e.g.] CARDINAL POINT
  • 39a. [Me or you, e.g.] PERSONAL PRONOUN
  • 52a. [Acadia and Zion, for two] NATIONAL PARKS. Apparently, business at these parks is booming as people are trying to salvage what they can out of summer. This makes me nervous since we’ll be doing the same thing in a couple weeks, stopping by Yellowstone on our way to drop our son off at the U. of Denver.

Consistency is the name of the game here and we have all solidly in-the-language phrases with the letter string in question split the same way each time. Works for me.

And what’s even better is the long fill in this grid: KING COBRA, PAX ROMANA, and “AS IF I CARE.” What else can you say but “ROCK SOLID!” And that’s with each of those crossing two themers. Beautifully done. And PUEBLO and ANUBIS add some color in the shorter fill as well.

Clues of note:

  • 51a. [Boy toy for Barbie]. KEN. Ha!
  • 1d. [Letter before Bravo]. ALFA. There is some leeway here. I believe the NATO preferred spelling is ALFA while the U.S. military uses “Alpha.”

Effective theme with fun fill. 3.75 stars.

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14 Responses to Tuesday, August 18, 2020

  1. Lester says:

    NYT: In the paper version, the clue for FEMS (31d) was “Ladies, slangily.”

  2. Sam Trabucco says:

    Amy, some good news: RPDR season 13 is currently filming! Though, a warning re: googling it, I believe there are some known spoilers.

  3. Huda says:

    NYT: That RuPaul quote “We’re all born naked…” cracked me up.
    It also reminded me of the quote earlier this week: “We are all born mad, some remain so”.
    Blending them could be a motto for a nudist colony– ” We’re all born naked, some remain so”

  4. WhiskyBill says:

    Thanks to whomever is responsible for putting up the LAT .puz files (maybe Martin)?

    A much appreciated part of my day!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Kevin McCann of Cruciverb.com is the one who wrangles the LAT files.

    • Martin says:

      Yes, Kevin does this and a hat tip also goes to Rich Norris, who provides him with the .puz files. Other than David Steinberg, who provides us special Across Lite files that, for example, add circles that the Universal syndicate won’t support, I don’t know of any other editors who take such an active role.

  5. Ethan Friedman says:

    not usually a huge fan of anniversary puzzles — but so glad to find the exception that proves the rule!

    as a straight white guy — this puzzle was a pleasure to solve and a nice commemoration of an key event in our history

  6. Lisa S Magoun says:

    Will Shortz often uses “bra” as an answer to a clue or things bra-related. Why is this a thing?

    • Olivia Mitra says:

      I’m not sure I understand why this is a problem. What’s wrong with bras? Especially when the constructor is female (yes, for the record, this was my clue) ^__^

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