Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Jonesin' 4:24 (Derek) 


LAT 3:27 (Derek) 


NYT 3:57 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


WSJ 5:26 (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 494), “Progressive Agenda”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 494: “Progressive Agenda”

Good day everybody! Here is hoping you’re all doing well as we inch ever so closer to the holiday season! Already?!?! 

Today’s puzzle is fun with ordinal numbers, as the five theme entries, starting from the uppermost one and proceeding downward, starts with an ordinal and counts upward as we proceed further down the grid. I’m sure once 23A became more than just a possibility after Election Day/Week/Eons, the grid officially a go! (Though I guess “second in command,” a 15-letter entry, could have been in the bullpen warming up in case those election results went another way.) 

  • FIRST NOVEL (17A: [Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” or Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club”]) – Talk about starting off with a bang!
  • SECOND GENTLEMAN (23A: [Future title for the spouse of Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris])
  • THIRD GENERATION (37A: [Like grandchildren])
  • FOURTH AMENDMENT (48A: [It protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures])
  • FIFTH OF MAY (60A: [Cinco de Mayo, in other words])

I’m sure some might nitpick about the first theme entry being just a fact and not necessarily being an actual phrase or distinct title/thing, especially compared to the other four. But I have no issues with that. Not only do we have the Second Gentleman reference, but, if reimagined, we see the abbreviation of the state long represented by the President-Elect in DEL (8D: [Singer Lana ___ Rey]). Only clue I really struggled with and needed the crossings was NANKI (57A: [___-Poo (“The Mikado” character)]). Lots of women in entertainment, real and fictional, in the grid, with ANITA and one of her hits from her landmark album being my personal favorite (50D: [“Sweet Love” singer ___ Baker]). Speaking of that album, Rapture, having “Sweet Love,” “Same Ole Love,” and “Caught Up in the Rapture” all on the same LP makes it one of my top few albums of the 1980s! Definitely a living legend with an unmistakable voice!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SAM GASH (41A: [“Skyfall” director Mendes]) & (39D: [Wound that may need stitches]) – Former NFL fullback Sam Gash was a two-time Pro Bowl selection, in 1998 and 1999 while a member of the Buffalo Bills, who was selected to the All-Pro Team (best player at his position) in both of those seasons. The honors he won in 1999 is particularly memorable because, in that year, he became the first back to ever make the Pro Bowl without a rushing attempt in that season. Gash, who was drafted by the New England Patriots in 1992 and spent his first six seasons in Foxboro, won a Super Bowl as a member of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2000 season.

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

Take care!


Kyle Dolan’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 17 2020, no. 1117

We’ve got a progression theme, adding a letter at each step to form a 5-letter word. How do you GROW A SPINE (61a. [“Show some courage!” … as this puzzle’s theme can do?])? You start with an I, add a P for PI, then an N to make PIN, an S for SPIN, and finally an E for SPINE.

  • 16a. [Cousin of Simon Says], MOTHER, MAY I. An entirely familiar outdoor game from my childhood.
  • 24a. [2012 Ang Lee film set largely at sea], LIFE OF PI.
  • 38a. [Support for an updo], HAIRPIN.
  • 49a. [What a chop shot imparts], BACKSPIN. Is this specifically in tennis, or…? I misread the clue as being about a chop shop.

Neat theme.

What else?

  • I went down a very different path for 33a. [Turnkey]. I thought of properties that are ready to go, and not the much older usage, JAILER.
  • 13a. [Ferry or wherry], BOAT. Ferry, I know. What the heck is wherry, and why is it in my easy Tuesday puzzle?
  • 37a. [Obama ___ (2009-17)], ERA. The Atlantic just published a long interview with Obama; haven’t had a chance to read it yet.
  • 68a. [Children’s medicine, in doctor-speak], PEDS. Pronounced with a long E sound, like pediatrics without the iatric.
  • 3d. [Photo posted days or weeks after it was taken, on social media], LATERGRAM. Not Insta(ntly), just later on. I am rarely on Insta but I know the term and I like seeing it in the puzzle.
  • Not digging HAS A SIP as an entry, but I do really like “OH, GREAT,” LAUGH LINE, CAKEPOP, FAJITAS, B.B. KING, and AT HEART.
  • 28d. [Race that requires a swimsuit, helmet and running shoes, for short], TRI(athlon). If you’re sort of interested in trying this but the full Ironman distance is too daunting, look into the “sprint” distance. (Absolutely not for me!)
  • 62d. [“Life beats down and crushes the soul, and ___ reminds you that you have one”: Stella Adler], ART. Another good quote FITB clue. The NYT has had a lot of good ones this last year or so.

Four stars from me.

Michael Lieberman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Rhubarbs”—Jim P’s review

In classic crossword fashion, our theme today consists of two-word phrases whose second word can mean something else. In this case, each one can mean “dispute” in other contexts, and thus our theme entries are clued wackily.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Rhubarbs” · Michael Lieberman · Tue., 11.17.20

  • 17a. [Territorial dispute?] GROUND BEEF
  • 24a. [Circus dispute?] TENT FLAP
  • 36a. [Brotherly dispute?] FRAT ROW. This one has a change in pronunciation (at least the way I say it) that the others do not.
  • 46a. [Bedroom dispute?] SEX SCENE
  • 56a. [Casino dispute?] TABLE SCRAP

This works really well and each theme answer is well-chosen. Even knowing what the theme was, the entries were still fun to uncover as I progressed down the grid. The whole thing feels consistent and entertaining throughout. Nice job.

Great fill, too, such as BOOTLEGGER, RISOTTO, ARUGULA, GYM RAT, SIR MIX-A-LOT, PREGAME clued as a before-party drink, and the LONG CON. That’s a lot of strong fill considering there are five theme entries to constrain things. Also nice to see man-of-the -hour Dr. FAUCI in the grid.

Clues of note:

  • 20a. [Places for Pipers]. HANGARS. I was misled the whole way. It probably doesn’t help that my daughter’s best friend is named Piper.
  • 24d. [Raw deal from a restaurant?]. TARTARE. Clever.
  • 45d. [Quite a bit of razzle-dazzle?]. ZEES. I needed every crossing before the light bulb came on. I liked this one.

Fun grid all around. 3.9 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “UR Here” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 11/17/2020

There is usually a “You Are Here” marker on a map in, say, a mall or at a theme park. With that in mind, I have no idea how Matt got the idea for this puzzle, since I am sure he has rarely been to either in 2020! I could be wrong, but this is still a clever puzzle, full of puns in typical Jonesin’ style:

  • 16A [Greetings from trained bears?] URSINE WAVES 
  • 34A [Deployed with alacrity?] URGENTLY USED 
  • 42A [Way to keep your spiky sea creatures fastened?] URCHIN STRAPS 
  • 63A [Tool to help build a city?] URBAN HAMMER 

So we have UR added to the front of some common phrases. Nice. Look up what a ban hammer is if you don’t know! Not too many obscure pop culture refs this week, so that I think lowered my time! 4:24 is just about as fast as I solve these puzzles. Not too hard of a theme either, so there’s that. A solid 4.3 stars today.

Just a few things:

  • 37A [“The Princess and the Frog” princess] TIANA – Know your Disney princesses. Like I do not!
  • 45A [City that shares Seattle’s airport] TACOMA – This refers to SeaTac airport, which I have never been to.
  • 58A [Burj Khalifa’s loc.] U.A.E. – This is the world’s tallest building, so you should know this!
  • 9D [Golf ball brand] TITLEIST – Golf is a great sport to do during the pandemic. I still haven’t gone, though.
  • 13D [“Hamilton” creator ___-Manuel Miranda] LIN – Have you seen Hamilton on Disney+ yet? If not, why not???
  • 14D [Asking for a tiny bit of fish, maybe?] MEWING – Aww. Cute!
  • 21D [Siberia’s neighbor on a Risk board] IRKUTSK – I think this is the OPCRotW, unless you play Risk a lot. I don’t think I have played this in 40 years.

That is all!

Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 11/17/2020

Not too difficult today, but it is Tuesday. This puzzle, probably a tad prematurely, puts cold weather in your thoughts. BRR!

  • 17A [Words from a vacillator] I CAN’T DECIDE
  • 25A [Bedtime wish] SLEEP TIGHT
  • 39A [Crusade] HOLY WAR
  • 51A [Fastest-ever performance, as in a race] RECORD TIME
  • 63A [Spiky, bleached hairstyle … or what the puzzle circles represent] FROSTED TIPS

I realize it is November, but I am not ready for cold weather!! Circles definitely needed this week so we can clearly see ice, sleet, hoar and rime hidden in the theme answers. And I would do frosted tips in my hair … if I had enough hair to work with! Solid puzzle, even if slightly depressing. 4.3 stars.

A few things:

Actor Milo O’Shea

  • 6A [African capital near ancient Carthage] TUNIS – This is slightly tough for a Tuesday, but know your world capitals!
  • 14A [Milo of “Romeo and Juliet” (1968)] O’SHEA – Talk about crossword famous! I have added a picture of him more for my benefit than anything!
  • 29A [Detroit NFLer] LION – The Lions are terrible. They miraculously won this past Sunday on a 59-yard field goal as time expired, but they are one of only four teams to never have been to the Super Bowl, which has now been around over 50 years. The Jags and Texans are expansion teams, but the woeful Lions and Browns are the other two. I am rambling a bit, but there are several Lions fans in my immediate vicinity since Detroit is about a 3 hour drive away. I am still just not sure why!
  • 43A [Marvel superhero] X-MAN – This doesn’t seem right. One is spoken of as being a member of the X-Men, not this. Which explains why I wrote XMAS immediately in error!
  • 32D [Primaries, say] ELECTIONS – Timely. Or too soon?
  • 35D [At risk] ON THE LINE – Also timely, as everyone’s health is at risk here in the Midwest, where the coronavirus is rampaging. I do to work and I go back home. And that is it until there is a vaccine.
  • 53D [Fall beverage] CIDER – Tis the season! I am on the lookout for some fresh apple cider. And perhaps some Crown Apple to go with it!

Everyone have a safe and healthy week!

Lee Taylor’s Universal crossword, “Internal Contradictions” — Jim Q’s write-up

I really want the title to be “Internal Conflicts”!

THEME: Phrases that seem to contradict themselves.

Universal crossword solution · “Internal Contradictions” · Lee Taylor ·  Tue., 11.17.20


  • DEFINITELY MAYBE. I’ve DEFINITELY MAYBE said this a few times.
  • SAME DIFFERENCE. One of those phrases that’s always bothered me.
  • ELEVATED SUBWAY. Vaguely familiar with this. Is that like Chicago’s El?

An odd looking grid to accommodate a set of four themers, all 14-letters in length. I enjoyed it, but don’t have much to say other than that! I have a wisp of a memory that is telling me I’ve seen this theme before, but that happens and will continue to happen

ECHIDNA is totally new for me. Sounds adorable. Currently teaching my dog LEAVE IT! He’s not doing too bad with it, depending on the value of the thing I’m asking him to leave.

I’m not willing to accept GO DEAD as a phrase. That seems silly.

3 stars from me.



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11 Responses to Tuesday, November 17, 2020

  1. Jenni Levy says:

    I had to come here to figure out the theme and I’m not thrilled with it. It’s different, and I admire the construction. It didn’t make the puzzle any more fun to solve.

  2. Billy Boy says:

    NYT today was emblematic of what’s wrong with what the Short Era has become.

    poorly clued, uninteresting and joyless

    • John says:

      I think they consistently accept puzzles that are somehow “new” — e.g. I haven’t seen today’s theme before — but not necessarily fun to solve. The WSJ today is a great comparison point — it’s nothing new but it’s fun.

    • R says:

      And your comment is emblematic of what’s wrong with the internet:

      Pointlessly negative, contributing nothing, an opinion that nobody asked for

      • M483 says:

        Someone’s opinion is just their opinion. Neither the opinion nor the person needs to be criticized for having it. It is enough to simply say, “I disagree” and to explain why, if you wish.

      • dhj says:

        What about your pointlessly negative opinion that contributed nothing which nobody asked for? Is that also emblematic of what’s wrong with the internet? The lack of self-awareness is stunning.

        • R says:

          The stunning thing is how pleased people can be with themselves by calling very superficial similarities between two very different statements a stunning lack of self-awareness. The commenters here seem really enamored of themselves when they can pull out this old chestnut.

  3. Crotchety Doug says:

    Jonesin’ – Loved learning what a ban hammer is. I have seen it used but didn’t know it had a name.

  4. Mutman says:

    NYT: I liked the theme, though it did take some time to figure it out.

    Was also confused when GROW A PAIR didn’t fit for the revealer (which I felt was a better answer).

  5. Steve Manion says:

    Great series of summaries today.

    Anita Baker’s Rapture album is my favorite ever. You Bring Me Joy is another great song from that album. The album replaced Gladys Knight’s Imagination album, which I listened to almost every day from 1973-75.

    Let’s add Ray Charles and Gladys to B.B. and Anita:


  6. rock says:

    Loved the WSJ! And Jim’s post hit on all my faves. You made me look up row and indeed it sounds like cow! Wow lol

    Thanks all

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