Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Jonesin' 5:41 (Derek) 


LAT 3:11 (Derek) 


NYT 3:31 (Amy) 


Universal 7:20 (on web app) (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 483), “Ha-ha de Vivre”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 483: “Ha-ha de Vivre!”

Hello everyone! Time to break out Earth, Wind and Fire because we have officially reached September! Doesn’t it feel as if MAY just like a couple of weeks back (60A: [Fifth month])?!

We hope that you pardon Liz’s French in today’s grid, as five theme answers are punny — and funny — takes on phrases/nouns that have French origins, all containing “de” (of) in the middle.

  • COOP DE VILLE (17A: [Car that’s popular with the chicks?]) – Coupe de Ville.
  • PAW DE DEUX (24A: [Couple’s ballet dance that went to the dogs?]) – Pas de deux.
  • MALL DE MER (36A: [Shopping center that’s in the Red?]) – Mal de mer.
  • ADA DE CAMP (52A: [Nabokov heroine known for her theatrics?]) – Aide-de-camp.
  • VINOS DE MILO (61A: [Italian quaffs produced by “This Is Us” actor Ventimiglia?]) – Venus de Milo. Greek statue, French name.

If in the event the theme did not fill you up with some French pastries crossword-style, we also have MASSEUR lurking in the grid as well (11D: [Rubdown expert]). Them there’s a neighbor of France also included in IBERIA (64A: [Portugal’s place]). Seeing ANDRE, the two-time US Open champion, made me super sad because I should have been typing this review while at the USTA National Tennis Center and covering the US Open in person, but the coronavirus — and how that was handled from the off — put a kibosh on those plans (23A: [Tennis great Agassi, author of “Open”]). Lots of long fill in the corners, and I probably enjoyed EGOSURF the most out of all of them (12D: [Search your name on Google]). I don’t do that, but I look up my website’s name on Google enough times, so I guess I’m guilty in doing that in a way!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CARLOS (15A: [Grammy-winning guitarist Santana]) – Physics/science wonks will have a wonderful time picking apart and explaining the video below, which is one of soccer’s all-time great goals that was scored by Brazilian soccer legend Roberto Carlos during a 1997 game against France. He made 125 appearances for the Brazilian national team and won the World Cup in 2002, as well as garnered many championships while playing for his club team, Real Madrid, but Roberto Carlos is best known for this mind-bending free kick goal from over 30 yards out against “Les Bleus.” Make sure you look at the replay of the goal to capture the true majesty/witchcraft of this strike…as well as the thick Scottish accent of Andy Gray in explaining the goal. 

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, “Letterheads”—Jim P’s review

Today’s theme answers are well-known names or phrases that start with two-letter (consecutive) initialisms.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Letterheads” · Debbie Ellerin · Tue., 9.1.20

  • 16a. [Peripherals for burning playlists] CD DRIVES. I’m not sure how many people do this anymore.
  • 24a. [Broker to whom “people listen,” according to old ads] EF HUTTON. That’s a deep cut. I vaguely remember those commercials.
  • 35a. [Potter’s creator] JK ROWLING
  • 49a. [Photographer’s accessory] UV FILTER
  • 58a. [Bug on a road] VW BEETLE

Part of me wanted these to be in consecutive order collectively. That is, since the first two start out with CD and EF, I wanted that sequence to continue with GH and IJ. Obviously, that’s not possible (or at least highly unlikely), so I’ll accept the next best outcome where all the phrases are in alphabetical order as we go down the grid.

There aren’t any sparkly long fill answers, but there are plenty of 7s I like: “ODDS ARE…”, BAD OMEN, TIBETAN, PIONEER, LAFITTE, GROTTOS, NIKOLAI, TREETOP, VALIANT, SIAMESE, and EGO TRIP.

I didn’t know TRITONE [Musical term sometimes called the devil’s interval]. Nor did I know that many star names are ARABIC.

Other clues of note:

  • 14a. [Priestess beloved by Leander]. HERO. We just saw this clue last week. That’s the only reason I filled it in easily.
  • 35d. [First name of the last performer at Woodstock]. JIMI. Who else went with JOAN first?

Decent theme with good fill. 3.6 stars.

David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 1 20, no. 0901

The theme is PERSONAL / PRONOUNS (18a. [Like the 52-Across featured in this puzzle], 52a. [Gender identifiers often separated by slashes]), and the circled letters spell out three pairs of third-person pronouns, in the nominative and objective cases: SHE/HER, THEY/THEM (often used by nonbinary people), and HE/HIM. The slashes, cleverly enough, are provided by that diagonal slash of black squares traversing the center of the grid.

I wasn’t actually bothered by the 8/8 themers being stacked with other 8-letter fill. I will always forgive a peaceful BROUHAHA.

Other fave fill: THE WHO, CHAI LATTE, FB POSTS (looks weird as a crossword entry, but I’m pretty sure I’ve typed that exact term a number of times), ARTHUR ASHE (’tis the season for the US Open—Naomi Osaka came to her march today wearing a mask with Breonna Taylor’s name on it), “BUT HEY” (odd entry, but I think I like it), and the fruity cocktail combo of MAI TAI and MIMOSAS.

It’s late and I haven’t got more to say here. 4.25 stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Join Up!” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 09/01/2020

This week’s retrospective Jonesin’ puzzle is one that I am sure elicited belly laughs in 2005, because I sure chuckled when solving these theme answers!

  • 17A [Yell directed at a much-hated portal?] “DOOR, DIE!
  • 32A [“What’ll break if I break up with you” response, for a thuggish couple?] “MY HEART WILL, GOON!”
  • 40A [Vegetarian’s “Duh!” response to why they hate their formerly vegan pal?] “YOU HAD MEAT, HELLO!”
  • 60A [Library’s attempt at copying milk ads?] “GOT TOME?”

Hilarious! Instead of do or die, you have to read this as “Door, die!” We also have plays on My Heart Will Go On, “You had me at hello” and got to me as the other theme answers. Excellent! Funny, but just corny enough to still elicit a partial groan. All contributing to a great solving experience. 4.6 stars for this walk down memory lane.

A few more things:

  • 1A [Starts the golf game] TEES OFF – Or [Enrages]!
  • 25A [“Charlotte’s Web” author White and namesakes] E.B.’S – This is not great. But how else can you clue it? xwordinfo.com has it clued directed towards the Emergency Broadcast System; that would be far better!
  • 31A [One-named comedian and host of “Celebrity Fit Club”] ANT – Yeah, I don’t know this reference at all …
  • 38A [Futuristic van Damme flick of 1994] TIMECOP – Another movie to watch! I haven’t seen this in years. 26, to be exact!
  • 63A [Ripken’s team] ORIOLES – A only-very-slightly dated reference, but since he played his entire career with one team (which is rare these days!), this may just never go out of style.
  • 4D [Sarkisian, for Cher, once] SURNAME – Interesting piece of trivia! I don’t think I knew this.
  • 8D [Lincoln or Grant, e.g.] REPUBLICAN – Republicans in the news recently after their online convention last week. I’ll leave it at that!
  • 12D [Forest floor growth] TOADSTOOLS – I thought this was some sort of moss! Maybe that is why this puzzle took me a few moments longer to finish!

That is all! Another oldie Jonesin’ next week!

Catherine Cetta’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 09/01/2020

This is a new name in the database! Is this perhaps a debut puzzle? If so, congratulations! A very fine puzzle indeed! I tried to figure out the theme as I was solving, but I needed the revealer:

  • 17A [Topper for a toreador] MATADOR HAT
  • 30A [How sale items are priced] AT A DISCOUNT 
  • 47A [“I’m so disappointed!”] “WHAT A DOWNER!”
  • 63A [System administrator’s task … and a hint to what can be found in 17-, 30- and 47-Across] DATA BACKUP 

Very nice! Couldn’t figure it out while solving, but it isn’t very complicated at all. If this is in fact a debut, full congratulations from me! And keep them coming! 4.4 stars.

A few odds and ends:

  • 23A [On __: sans contract] SPEC – We would call this a T&M job, or Time & Materials, but there is almost always a contract that is signed.
  • 4D [Houses with Greek letters] FRATS – COVID hotspots these days, yes?
  • 33D [DIY mover] U-HAUL – Why is it when I move I rent one of these and take care of business, but everyone else always asks me to help them move? I would like to buy a truck again, but I don’t necessarily want to be asked to help people move all the time. Is that selfish??
  • 42D [Sister of Venus] SERENA – The US Open has started! We will see if Serena Williams can win another major, but I don’t think she has any left in her. But I will watch just in case. Coco Gauff has already lost in the first round, so that is a little bit of a downer, but she is still a baby and has a lot of tennis left to play. All of the postponed sports are giving us somewhat of a glut of sports here in late summer, since there is also NBA, MLB, MLS, Premier League soccer restarting, NHL, the Kentucky Derby, and lots of golf and auto racing. And football is going to TRY to start, but we shall see how that works!
  • 53D [Thunder god] THOR – These movies are fun to rewatch. Something else to consume during this ongoing quarantine era!

Have a safe and healthy week!

Evan Kalish and Brooke Husic’s Universal crossword — “Holding Company” – Jim Q’s Write-up

Let’s get down to business! Okay, maybe not down, but it’s definitely across in a sense.

THEME: Business abbreviations are hidden in common phrases.

Universal crossword solution · “Unleaded” · Evan Kalish · Brooke Husic · Tue., 9.01.20


  • 16A [Smarthome security features] DOORBELL CAMERAS.
  • 23A [PC key combo of last resort] CTRL ALT DEL. 
  • 44A [Groovy ocean dweller] BRAIN CORAL. 
  • 57A [Financial news site that hints at the starred answers’ indicated letters] BUSINESS INSIDER. 

Gotta get this part out of the way first: For me, this puzzle needs circles in order to be enjoyed to its full extent. I solved on the web app, and I grokked the theme, but did not want to count letters in order to enter INC, or LTD, or LLC before filling in the whole entry, so the synergy that could’ve happened between the theme and the fill never materialized for me. I know I bring this up often, but I feel it’s important to do so because Universal is offering two different solving experiences, one with circles (as it should be presented) and one to the masses without. I am so looking forward to the fix, which I’m told is coming.

The puzzle itself was a lot of fun! When I see Evan’s name in the byline, I am confident that the grid will be lively and the clues will be fresh. This one certainly did not disappoint in that respect. All of the themers were fun to uncover (BRAIN CORAL was new for me, but I like the visual!). I particularly liked the attention to inclusiveness with the clues for AMERICAN and FEMALE. I GOTTA GO, LAP CATS, LIMO RIDE… all nice.

Had no clue that the singer of “Ex’s & Oh’s” was ELLE King. And I entered MUNICH before ZURICH despite spending a decent amount of time in both cities to know the difference (A Swiss friend of mine told me this joke a long time ago: What do you call a collection of the most boring people in the world? Zurich. I don’t necessarily find that to be true, but I’m one of those people who can never remember jokes and for some reason that one stuck).

3.6 Stars with circles

2.9 Stars without.

Thanks, Evan and Brooke! Awesome title too!


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14 Responses to Tuesday, September 1, 2020

  1. JohnH says:

    I know you guys are overwhelmingly online solvers, to the point of downrating puzzles inspired by print that require checking the notepad, so I post this hesitantly. But print fans should be aware that the WSJ interface appears to be in transition.

    Typically the puzzle has appeared around 5 pm. Last night at 8 there was only a request to subscribe, and it wasn’t at all certain that they weren’t moving the puzzle to subscribers only. By 9 only a print option appeared, grayed out. But previous days had been reformatted, too, to allow solving, offering hope to both online and print solvers. For those, the page launched right into the online interface, alas, but with enough patience you’ll find a print option at lower right, which goes to pdf. However, it doesn’t work for the Saturday variety puzzle. There the pdf contains only a line of instruction on the online interface.

    There has been a torrent of comments from WSJ subscribers (the only ones permitted to comment, so hence the forum started elsewhere to comment on puzzles) demanding the old ways back. It’s pretty uniform and sharp tongued, so hard to know what will happen next.

    Off topic, but I still wish the TNY puzzle was formatted for pdf. It just prints the Web page. Some, like yesterdays, lap onto a second sheet, which can get in the way of solving. I had the first sheet in my pocket as I left home Monday, so finished the puzzle only at home later.

    • JohnH says:

      I forgot to add that by morning the same brand new interface for today as for previous days had appeared, like it or not.

    • WhiskyBill says:

      Regarding the TNY, before I print it out, I shrink it to 90% (usually) or 80% (rarely) to fit onto one sheet of paper. Not sure if all operating systems allow that as a print option, but perhaps worth looking into?

    • Billy Boy says:

      Random junk (As usually comes from me?), but mostly on topic of WSJ and access

      I just let my WSJ sub expire Saturday; I noticed today I could still access the puzzle this morning, that a new version was inadvertently made available the previous evening and all commenters were hunky-dory. It was also easier than usual to print it out, I solve all sorts of ways, I really like A-Lite, but I have to do my hundred and something day streak fill-in on NYT, even if I paper solve. I missed all the shenanigans at WSJ, might never have known.

    • BarbaraK says:

      WSJ is now back to their regular site. Apparently they accidentally released some test software.

      From editor Mike Miller:
      “Greetings. Our apologies for the technical glitch many of you noticed (a new version of the crossword was published prematurely). The upside for us was that we were reminded how many passionate solvers we have! Thanks for bearing with us!”

  2. Drake says:

    Great Tuesday by NYT! Socially aware, great themers/other long fill, and only one crossing I didn’t love (ROBB/BUT HEY… I didn’t realise that BUT HEY wasn’t BUTHEY for a little too long, even after the solve…). Great puzzle, and I got my best time on a Tuesday to boot!

  3. JohnH says:

    WSJ: “Who else went with JOAN first?” Actually, I went with ARLO first. Not from memories, but from the power of crosswordese, accurate or not.

  4. Huda says:

    NYT: I thought it was a perfectly pitched Tuesday.
    So many people use data in the singular (e.g “our data shows”) even though it’s supposed to be plural, I’m tired of editing it. Maybe we should consider it number-fluid and say- Data: it/they.
    I know… some people would be horrified.

    • R says:

      Data as a non-count singular (like “water” or “love”) is so universal that treating it like a plural is more of a brag than an attempt to communicate effectively. Correcting to “data are” is about as useful as correcting to “thou art.”

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT: Would someone please explain DO NOW clued as “Brief beginning-of-class activity”? I don’t recognize that at all. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in school and since I don’t have children of my own, I have a feeling that it’s just something that’s beyond my experience. I found the rest of this grid to be very smooth and easy, but that answer caused me all kinds of trouble.

    • Jim Q says:

      A “DO NOW” is an activity that students are to complete upon entering the classroom. It’s usually 5 minutes or less and gets students on task while the teacher completes the other beginning of class duties (attendance, returning work, comforting the bawling student whose boyfriend just dumped her for the third time in a week, etc.). It’s a play on “DUE NOW,” since it’s essentially due at the beginning of class. In my class, it’s called a Q Now (my last name) and students love it! It’s fun and really does work to set the tone for the class that day.

  6. Kelly Clark says:

    Universal: Late to the party, here, sorry. Fine puzzle by Evan Kalish and Brooke Husic. Great title.

    Just wondering though, about the clue for RIOT [Certain demonstration]. I mean I get that a RIOT, like a temper tantrum or kiss, or hug, or caress, or SIT-IN, or just about anything can be called a “demonstration”…but RIOT? Again, just wondering. Thanks.

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