Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Jonesin' 4:52 (Derek) 


LAT 3:28 (Derek) 


NYT 3:53 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (web app) (Jim Q) 


WSJ 5:49 (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 486), “Brainy Forecast”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 486: “Brainy Forecast”

Good day, everyone! We have already arrived at autumn, and I hope the next few months of 2020 go much better than the first nine months have given us so far!

Today’s puzzle was a “B” to do! No, it wasn’t hard, but the letter “b” is added to phrases/proper nouns to create puns with each of the four 15-letter theme entries. An element of the b-less original phrase is part of the cluing.

  • ISN’T IT BROMANTIC (17A: [Rodgers and Hart standard dedicated to male bonding?])
  • A BROOM WITH A VIEW (28A: [E.M. Forster novel about a high-flying witch?])
  • THE AMAZING BRACE (47A: [Reality series about a phenomenal orthopedic device?])
  • BRUSH TO JUDGMENT (62A: [Court decision about dental hygiene?])

Loving this puzzle today, and I’m in that mood because of one reason: FROGMAN (46D: [Military underwater worker]). Seeing that clue immediately made me think of, and gives me the chance to acknowledge, R&B legend Clarence “Frogman” Henry for one of the iconic songs that’s getting more and more plays in commercials and movies over the past couple of years after being featured in a number of films in the 1980s, “(I Don’t Know Why) But I Do.” Hit it!

Another thing that stood out was having both aggressors in the Cold War present, USA (64D: [Springsteen’s “Born in the ___”]) and the USSR (26A: [Cold War initials]). Speaking of a Big Red Machine of a different variety…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BENCH (29D: [Dugout seating]) – It is almost without any doubt that former Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench was the greatest catcher in the history of Major League Baseball. A 14-time All-Star, Bench was the centerpiece of the “Big Red Machine” Reds teams of the 1970s that appeared in four World Series in the decade and winning two (1975 and 1976). Along with being a feared hitter who, to this day, remains the only catcher to lead his league in home runs in a season (45 in 1970, 40 in 1972), Bench also was one of the best defensive catchers the game has ever seen, throwing out 43 percent of would-be base stealers for his career on his way to winning 10 Gold Gloves (The caught stealing league average during his career was 35 percent, according to ESPN.)  Bench was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989. Give him a hand…well, with his hand, he could hold seven baseballs in it. You know what they say about guys with big hands, right?

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

Take care!


Jeremy Newton’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 22 20, no. 0922

This puzzle’s a tribute to the late 7d CHADWICK BOSEMAN, who played 24d T’CHALLA, aka 40a THE BLACK PANTHER (really not sure about that “THE” here), king of 25d WAKANDA, who had a vague and nonspecific 63d SUPERHUMAN POWER (the comic book character has a whole list of specific superpowers) from consuming a 17a HEART-SHAPED HERB. If you’re going to put together a Boseman tribute puzzle, why not be more selective in the themers rather than elevating HEART-SHAPED HERB to being the point of entry into the theme?

Another option would have been to spotlight Boseman’s body of work rather than the minutiae of Marvel’s Black Panther movie. I’ll grant you that his other key films and portrayals are tough to get a symmetrical theme set from—Jackie Robinson in 42, two additional films with numerals in the titles, 16-letter Thurgood Marshall, the James Brown biopic Get on Up … it takes some wrangling. But certainly cobbling together more of Boseman’s oeuvre would make a more apt tribute than the HEART-SHAPED HERB plot point that will likely be unknown to plenty of solvers.

What else? Three things:

  • 36d. [Calgary’s province: Abbr.], ALB. Ugh, no, just … no. It’s abbreviated AB or Alta., unless you speak French, in which case you might go with Alb., but this clue’s all in English. And no, the old “priestly vestment” crosswordese angle isn’t any better. Maybe don’t wrangle six interlocking theme entries so the grid’s got more breathing room?
  • 15a. [“Sex-x-xy!”], “SO HOT.” Awkward. “AS DO I” is another entry I’m not keen on. (In the category of weird-looking clues, we’ve also got 56d. [Fancy-y-y], LUXE.)
  • There are more than 10 abbreviations in this grid. Too many? What’s a reasonable limit?

2.75 stars for me. Chadwick Boseman, rest in power. Look for his final film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, on Netflix in late November.

Seth A. Abel Wall Street Journal crossword, “Out on a Limb”—Jim P’s review

The revealer is BREAK A LEG (38a, [Superstitious words of encouragement, and a clue to 17-, 25-, 54- and 64-Across]). To be more precise, the theme answers break a part of a leg. Each theme answer has a hidden leg-part spanning two words.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Out on a Limb” · Seth A. Abel · Tue., 9.22.20

  • 17a. [“Help wanted” counterpart, in ads] WORK NEEDED. Knee. Is this a real phrase? I don’t think I’ve encountered it before.
  • 25a. [Hostile message sent anonymously] CRANK LETTER. Ankle. Nice one.
  • 54a. [Ring road, stateside] BELT HIGHWAY. Thigh. I’ve never heard this full phrase, only “beltway.”
  • 64a. [Gives subtle suggestions] DROPS HINTS. Shin.

I like the premise here, but I had to look askance at a couple of the entries. Maybe it’s just me though.

Similar to a grid last week, the nine-letter central entry bisects the grid and pretty much eliminates any chance for some long sparkly fill. We end up with a bunch of 7s in the corners which do the job with a minimum of fuss. The best of the lot are “I REPENT“, L.A. LAKERS, ARSENIO, and SYNERGY, one of those meaningless corporate buzzwords execs like to use (and which gives me a good excuse to embed Weird Al’s “Mission Statement” video.)

On the eyebrow-raising side, SWEAT IT [Worry, so to speak] looks weird without the “DON’T.”

Clues of note:

  • 10a. [Trident-shaped consonants]. PSIS. I’ve seen this clue so many times, but I have some sort of mental block preventing me from storing it in my long-term memory. Anyone have a good way to remember this one?
  • 41a. [Home that may be threatened by global warming]. IGLOO. I think there are a lot more homes than igloos that are threatened by global warming.
  • 40d. [General in the rebel resistance]. LEIA. I’ll admit I was going to fault this clue since I expected it to say “rebel alliance.” But the Alliance was from the original trilogy of films. In the most recent trilogy, the rebels are called the Resistance.

Interesting theme, but it felt hit-and-miss with me. 3.3 stars.

Zachary David Levy’s Universal crossword — “Five-Spot” – Jim Q’s Write-up

This puzzle is best served with a spot of tea.

THEME: Different types of “spots”

Universal crossword solution · “Five-Spot” · Zachary David Levy · Tue., 9.22.20


  • 17A [Spot for a comedian] STAND UP ACT.
  • 24A [Spot for a product]  TV COMMERCIAL. 
  • 39A [Spot for someone in a jam] STICKY SITUATION. 
  • 50A [Spot for a vehicle] PARKING SPACE. 
  • 62A [Spot for a dermatologist] BEAUTY MARK.

This puzzle is very straightforward. It feels like it wants to be funny and playful, but doesn’t know how. Nothing is wrong with it at all. In fact, the dryness of it is kind of its appeal for me, like the straight man of a comedy duo. In other words, this grid is more of a Bud Abbott than a Lou Costello.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a STAND UP ACT referred to as a spot (I’ve heard “slot” though), and that being the first themer threw me a bit as I tried to figure out the theme.

I also find it somewhat strange to clue OCCAM with ___’s. Fill-in-the-blanks that have truncation in the clue feel off to me.

Lastly, the question mark clues, in my opinion, didn’t really need question marks. A CAR certainly could be a [Gift that helps a teen go places?] and NETHER does seem rather [Deep down?] to me, but both kind of fit the vibe of the straight man trying his best a humor I suppose.

Overall, not bad. Just… different!

3 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Adjusted to Fit Your Screen” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 09/22/2020

This week’s retrospective Jonesin’ puzzle is from September of 2012, and I think I actually remember this one! Let’s list the themers and  then I will explain:

  • 1A [What your answers must be written in to understand the theme] CAPS – This is KEY!
  • 17A [Aligned correctly] RIGHT-SIDE UP
  • 59A [What Neil Armstrong partook in, e.g.] NOISSIWNOOW 
  • 10D [“Land sakes alive that’s awesome!”] EOEHMNOEHM
  • 29D [Do the “I am not a crook” thing with the V-signs, for example?] ZOXHZUHEHE

So if you solve in all caps, as you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD, then you can turn these seemingly nonsense entries to make sense. 17A is normal; 59A is upside-down and should read MOON MISSION. 10D is WOWIE ZOWIE if you turn the puzzle 90 degrees counter-clockwise, and 29D is MIMIC ZIXON is you turn it 90 degrees clockwise. Brilliant. Probably not the type of thing you could ever see in a NYT, but this is what makes indie crosswords great. 4.8 stars for this terrific puzzle from yesteryear!

Just a couple of things:

  • 26A [1980s hairstyle that may have involved a kit] PERM – I don’t know anything about this! I don’t have hair to work with!
  • 42A [Audrey Tautou’s quirky title role of 2001] AMÉLIE – Something else to watch!
  • 53A [Rapper ___ Def] MOS – Yeah, he is 46 years old now. Man, time flies!
  • 35D [Troy’s friend on “Community”] ABED – An only slightly dated reference. I’ll bet this whole show is on Peacock!
  • 57D [Actor McGregor] EWAN – Nice guy! And crossword-famous on TOP of being regular famous!

That’s all for now! Another retro puzzle next week!

George Jasper’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 09/22/2020

This is another byline that I am not familiar with. But we have a nice puzzle, and one that definitely NEEDS the circles!

  • 20A [Top line of a lawyer’s solicitation ad] NEED LEGAL HELP
  • 31A [Gamer’s coin] ARCADE TOKEN
  • 39A [Pesky V-formation fliers] CANADA GEESE
  • 51A [Iconic video game since 1978, and a hint to the circled letters] SPACE INVADERS

See why the circles are needed?

  • 23A [Seafood platter accessory] BIB – We just ordered some seafood delivered. I did not wear a bib.
  • 48A [Rhythmic Ravel classic] BOLERO – Rhythmic? Isn’t all music rhythmic??
  • 5D [Provincetown’s peninsula] CAPE COD – Sounds like a great place to visit. in 2021.
  • 42D [Colonel’s aspiration, perhaps] GENERAL – The perhaps is good here. Maybe the colonel doesn’t WANT to be a general! Maybe he’s happy being a colonel!
  • 58D [__ of Good Feelings] ERA – No one is going to call 2020 this. Or maybe the entire 2010s decade. Or this entire new millennium!

Have a safe and healthy week!

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8 Responses to Tuesday, September 22, 2020

  1. Bryan says:

    NYT: All the stars from me! Such amazing symmetry of all the theme answers. A wonderful tribute to a great actor, a great hero and a great movie!

  2. Eric K says:

    Wonderful crossword puzzle. It was a great tribute to an incredible actor and role model. Thank you.

  3. JohnH says:

    Well, obviously you know and care about the subject of the NYT puzzle or you don’t, reflected in the polarized star ratings, so it’d be foolish of me to comment on it. Consider it a sop to fans and not worry one way or other about it. I do wish, though, that 3(!) of the themers didn’t intersect a 5-letter proper name, a soccer player. I couldn’t get that, on a Tuesday, in a million years.

    • JohnH says:

      In due humility, apart from my general dislike of proper-name trivia and lack of interest in sports, which I’ll defend to the death, I assumed that Americans just don’t follow soccer, so that couldn’t be even remotely fair. But have to admit, looks from a quick online hunt that the woman’s championship had a TV audience similar to that of the World’s Series and way ahead of the NBA finals, although all dwarfed by the Super Bowl. Trump better hope that his ads there count for a lot.

    • Dr Fancypants says:

      I like both CHADWICK BOSEMAN and BLACK PANTHER. Nevertheless, I did not enjoy this puzzle, and think it was a weak tribute. So I think the polarization is a bit more complex than that.

  4. Billy Boy says:

    Two are joints, two are weight-bearing long bones. Technically not 100%, but colloquially I guess it’s OK, but not to the orthopedist that is still somewhere inside me. That each answer spans words is great, fill is pretty good on the whole.

    ANKLE fracture – sure, I’ll accept that.
    KNEE fracture – no no no. You can’t break a KNEE, but you can fracture the bones that are part of it, I’ll leave it at that as many of those comprise the most challenging Orthopedic fractures.

    If that’s supposed to be a tribute, it’s not very good, plus it’s not really Tuesday, it’s super-easy or very challenging and it’s not IMHO fair to call out people for being culturally insensitive about one super-hero movie (not that anyone will do that here as they are at Chez Rex).

    His body of work included some real HEROs (Not a subject of a ‘Graphic Novel’) and he himself was one to Cancer patients (Was that a missed theme clue 4D)? As a puzzle it was decent.

    I hope that was a Movie Tribute not a Chadwick Tribute, a super actor deserving of better. Then again, Will Shortz …

  5. lkeigwin says:

    “29D is MIMIC ZIXON is you turn it 90 degrees clockwise”. MIMIC NIXON, of course.

    I got the idea quickly but still had to work to see some letters.

    I know we’ve seen this device before but I loved it anyway.

Comments are closed.