Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Jonesin' untimed (Derek) 


LAT 2:48 (Derek) 


NYT 3:42 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


WSJ 4:09 (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 501), “Well, La-DI-Dah!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 501: “Well, La-DI-Dah!”

Good day, everybody! Wishing you all the best at the beginning of the new year, and I hope you all had a safe time in ushering in 2021 and/or kicking 2020 to the curb!  

Though I mentioned it in last week’s write-up, Liz’s 500th puzzle made sure to focus on the holiday season and get solvers in the Yuletide spirit, as she so often does with her holiday-themed puzzles. Today’s puzzle marks Crossword Nation puzzle No. 501, or DI in Roman numerals, and each of the theme entries are well-known phrases and/or nouns that are turned into puns when adding the letters “DI” in them.

  • DIEGO BOOSTS (17A: [Morale enhancers by painter Rivera?]) – Ego boosts.
  • SLOPPY JODIES (27A: [Saucy sandwiches inspired by actress Foster?]) – Sloppy Joes
  • DIJON BON JOVI (44A: [French condiment endorsed by a New Jersey-born rocker?]) – Jon Bon Jovi
  • TEFLON DONDI (58A: [John Gotti’s favorite title boy of old comics?]) – Teflon Don

Initially got my nitwits mixed up, putting in “dolt” for DODO at the beginning which slowed me up from the start (1D: [Nitwit]). Other than that, a smooth sail, and I liked the girl power all over the grid, from real-life trail blazers such as DIAN (24A: [Primatologist Fossey]) to fictional icons like WILMA (47D: [“The Flintstones” character]) and more. Will leave you with DOBIE and his legendary song, and seeing the video (embedded below) definitely makes you think that they don’t make music videos like these anymore (41A: [“Drift Away” singer Gray])! I dream to pull off that look with the shirt and afro, let alone aspire to have a voice like he did!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: JUMBO (29D: [Shrimp variety (ironically)]) – One of the greatest comebacks in NFL history, dubbed the “Monday Night Miracle,” was punctuated by one of the most unlikely of touchdown catches in league history. On Oct. 23, 2000, the New York Jets came back from being down 30-7 to start the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins, tying the game at 37 with 42 seconds remaining in regulation on a 3-yard touchdown catch by 308-pound offensive lineman John “Jumbo” Elliott, who juggled the ball a couple of times before securing it on the way to the ground. New York would then win the game on a field goal in overtime, 40-37. Elliott, who played his entire 14-year career in the New York Metropolitan Area with either the Jets or New York Giants after a standout college career at the University of Michigan, won a Super Bowl (XXV) and made a Pro Bowl (1993) during his time with Big Blue. Elliott was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

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

Take care!


Michael Lieberman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “All the Right Angles”—Jim P’s review

You’d be forgiven for thinking that a revealer of FOUR CORNERS means that something is going on in the corners of the grid. But that’s not the case here. The clue [Landmark in the Southwest, and collective description of the beginnings of 18-, 24-, 39- and 51-Across] tells us to look to those long theme answers where we find that the beginning words can each follow the word “corner.”

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “All the Right Angles” · Michael Lieberman · Tue., 1.5.21

  • 18a. [Site whose mission is “to help bring creative projects to life”] KICKSTARTER. Corner kick.
  • 24a. [Place to buy staples that isn’t Staples] OFFICE MAX. Corner office.
  • 39a. [Stereotypically nerdy accessory] POCKET PROTECTOR. Corner pocket.
  • 51a. [Utterly] STONE COLD. Cornerstone.

A really nice set. I especially like the something old in POCKET PROTECTOR and something new in KICKSTARTER.

The X in OFFICE MAX is handled nicely by kicking of the name XEROX. Elsewhere, TATER TOTS and SCRIPTURE anchor those NE and SW corners, and I enjoyed seeing CRICKET (the game). My elderly neighbor used to try to explain the game to me on our daily walks, but I could never wrap my head around it.

I did not know the name LAI [“Love Story” composer Francis]. If I had to clue this name I would definitely include that he won the Oscar for that score. Usually this name gets the clue [China’s Chou En-___] or [Medieval French poem] or [Vietnam’s My ___] (site of a massacre). None of them is good for crosswords, in my opinion, meaning I’d avoid that word if at all possible.

Clues of note:

  • 29a. [It keeps boxers from falling down]. ELASTIC. I was thinking underwear right from the start, but I can see how this might refer to pugilists. Funny.
  • 65a. [Jerry’s nemesis]. TOM. I could only think of Seinfeld for this one and was trying to come up with Newman’s other name (first or last). Duh!

A fine example of a word-following-another-word theme. 3.7 stars.

Amy Schecter & Christina Iverson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 5 21, no. 0105

The theme takes people whose first names double as verbs, puts those verbs in verb phrases with prepositions, adverbs, or (the outlier) a pronoun/noun. Each phrase is then clued as if it’s a two-word sentence starting with [name]’S:

  • 16a. [Singer Benatar feels blue], PAT’S DOWN.
  • 20a. [Author Grafton has arrived for dinner], SUES OVER.
  • 26a. [Actress Wells has just entered the scene], DAWN’S ON. Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on the old Gilligan’s Island sitcom just died of COVID last week. She was 82. Only Tina Louise (Ginger) survives from that cast.
  • 37a. [Actor Nicholson will bat next], JACK’S UP.
  • 48a. [Baseball’s Boggs has agreed to join us], WADE’S IN.
  • 53a. [Actor Norris got tagged], CHUCK’S IT. One of these things is not like the other.
  • 59a. [TV father Cleaver has just left the starting line], WARD’S OFF. To ward off COVID, please wear a mask and keep your distance.

If the theme is just “[name]’s [small word],” I wish there had been more small-word variety so CHUCK’S IT didn’t feel like an outlier.

Fave fill: “TEACH ME,” MATCH WITS, inflected JETSKIED, old-school DADDY-O.

I hope there are people who get CNBC and CBGB mixed up.

I don’t think many newbies have heard of the TERN ([Relative of a sea gull]), so that’s an entry I prefer not to see in Monday/Tuesday puzzles.

Five more things:

  • 8a. [Plot twists may elicit them], GASPS. I just watched season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. In one episode, the challenge was for teams of queens to act out a scene. When Joslyn’s dialogue included a gasp, she said the word, “Gasp!” Oops.
  • 44a. [One of a fairy tale threesome], BEAR. In a “threesome.” And BEAR is also gay slang. This clue/answer combo amused me.
  • 52a. [Online magazine covering politics and culture], SLATE. Slate is one of those magazines that I think never bothered with a print version. Are there any magazines out there now that are strictly print, with no online version? If so, I suspect they are quite narrowly focused and somehow not interested in putting their content where people might actually find it.
  • 2d. [Country whose name can be an exclamation], OMAN. The primary pronunciation has an “ah” sound in the second syllable, so not quite fitting with an American “oh, man.” But it’s a playful clue and I liked it.
  • 11d. [Things some sorters make], PILES. For laundry, yes. For jigsaw puzzles, no. I sort out puzzle pieces in Ravensburger’s sorting trays. Highly recommended for the jigsaw junkies among you! I actually bought two six-packs because I often want to sort pieces into eight or nine types. /servicejournalism

3.5 stars from me. Good night, and good luck!

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Must Be ’21 to Enter” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin' 01/05/2021A very timely theme this week? Is your 2021 ruined yet? Let’s hope not! Speaking of 2021:

  • 1A [“21 ___” (2003 Sean Penn film)] GRAMS
  • 20A [Band whose album “No Need to Argue” features the track “Twenty One” (followed by their biggest hit, “Zombie”)] THE CRANBERRIES
  • 39A [1950s news involving Charles Van Doren and “Twenty-One”] QUIZ SHOW SCANDAL
  • 55A [Place to play Twenty-One] BLACKJACKTABLE
  • 71A [Singer with the Grammy-winning album “21”] ADELE

Did I miss any? I hope not. Curious to see how Matt treats 2022! This was nicely done. There is also the group Twenty-One Pilots, right? Maybe with more digging this could have been a Sunday-size puzzle! Just kidding. Fine job again, Matt! 4.4 stars.

A few things:

  • 17A [“Raging Bull” boxer Jake La ___] MOTTA – I have never seen this movie. I think it won an Oscar or two, so it cannot be terrible, right?
  • 31A [“Great British Bake Off” fixtures] OVENS – I thought this might be TENTS! Doesn’t the show take place in a huge event-style tent?

    Ola Rapace

  • 53A [“Skyfall” actor Rapace] OLA – He is Swedish. I only know him from the Bond movie. And barely from that; I should watch it again!
  • 67A [“Rondo ___ Turca” (Mozart piece)] ALLA – I played this on piano when I was younger taking piano lessons. I think I have mentioned this before. We have my sister’s piano at the house now, and we are going to repair the mechanics in it so it is playable. The piano is over 30 years old, but it is a baby grand and sounds nice when working.
  • 11D [“Mr. Robot” actor Malek] RAMI – He was great in Bohemian Rhapsody. I might watch that again!
  • 32D [Murphy of 2021’s “Coming 2 America”] EDDIE – Can’t wait for this movie! I wonder if it will be released on a streaming service? I wonder if the movie industry will recover after this horrid year?!

That is all! More Jonesin’ next week!

Gerry Wildenberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 01/05/2021

I tried to race through this one. Under 3 minutes! Some of you have finished an easier puzzle under 2 minutes; I don’t know how they do it. I just cannot type that fast! Our theme revealer is at 63A:

  • 17A [*Football score] TOUCHDOWN
  • 11D [*Musical song generating extended applause] SHOWSTOPPER 
  • 25D [*Confinement that might involve an ankle monitor] HOUSE ARREST
  • 26D [*Right-angled flying toy] BOX KITE 
  • 63A [Night driving need, and what can go with the starts of the answers to starred clues] HEADLIGHT

So we are playing on the phrases light touch, light show, light house and light box. It all works. I have learned more about lighting in the Zoom era than I have ever had to know, so in that sense this theme is quite timely! 4.2 stars.

Just a few notes:

  • 14A [Capital NW of Napoli] ROMA – Also a movie on Netflix that I still have not seen.
  • 31A [Sausage on a grill] BRAT – Now I am hungry. These are big time here in the midwest. I just found a butcher that makes them with custom flavors, like ham and pineapple. Nice!
  • 44A [Yarn coil] SKEIN – I know some of you solvers knit or crochet as well. Something else to occupy your time when there is nowhere to go! My grandmother taught me how to crochet decades ago; I think I have forgotten how at this point!
  • 9D [Apple pie prep tools] PEELERS – I am still hungry. Apple pie sounds good!
  • 39D [Bagless vacuum pioneer] DYSON – One of these days I am gonna spend the $500 on one of these vacuums. Are they really that good?

Have a safe and healthy week!

Rob and Mary Lou Guizzo’s Universal crossword, “Flower Arrangement” — Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: Hidden flowers in common phrases

Universal crossword solution · “Flower Arrangemeny” · Rob Guizzo · Mary Lou Guizzo · Sun., 1.03.20


  • NASCAR NATIONCarnation
  • Revealer: SECRET GARDEN. 

Excellent finds all around. Solid, colorful base phrases and all of the flowers bridge parts of the answer. This is a rather perfectly executed hidden word theme, imo. I don’t think it suffers much from a lack of circles (I’m assuming Universal is still running circle-less grids in its mass publications- haven’t checked as of the new year). In fact, I’d probably have more fun finding them on my own without the circles.

New for me was “The POKY Little Puppy.” Say what? That’s a thing?! Oh yeah… look at that. Billed as the best selling picture book of all time. I musta missed it in my misspent youth.

One nit in the fill- the clue for 53A [36-Down with “Danielle”] for ANI is one of the (perhaps is the) most awkward and strange cross reference. Ironically, I found it so weird that I enjoyed it.

Solid puzzle today! 4 stars.

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9 Responses to Tuesday, January 5, 2021

  1. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Thanks for the DOBIE Gray video, Ade! I never pass up a chance to enjoy that song again.

  2. placematfan says:

    NYT: Aren’t the “prepositions” adjectives, though? In the sentence “Pat is down”, “down” can’t be a preposition because there’s no prepositional object; if I said, “Pat is conscientious” or “Pat is mad”, “conscientious” and “mad” are obviously adjectives, so why would “down” be a non-adjective? I don’t understand. Is this one of those weird linking-verb things?

    • R says:

      “Down” meaning “feeling sad” could be an adjective, but it’s more often an adverb like most of the others. You can’t really call them adjectives because adjectives can go with nouns (“a fast runner,” “our current batter,” not “an off runner,” “our up batter”). Prepositions don’t necessarily need objects, and some of these have implied ones (“DAWN’S ON the scene,”). In these cases where a word that is more often a preposition just conveys a certain state or direction, they’re usually classified as adverbs or particles.

  3. Ethan says:

    NYT: The constructors could have changed TERN to TENN, how do we feel about state abbrs.?

  4. Zulema says:

    TERN is fine.

  5. Billy Boy says:

    Although I did enjoy this iteration, the Four Corners alternative universe that comes to a Rocky Mountain Resident’s mind is:

    Four two word phrases
    C … O …
    N… M …
    A … Z …
    U… T …

    NYT was major meh today from this seat

  6. RM Camp says:

    The NYT theme is fine to me, just a handful of little phrase fragments.

    The TSA agent PATS DOWN an incoming passenger. [Subject] WADES IN to the pool at the party. [Other subject] gets junk mail and CHUCKS IT. Dominion SUES OVER tinfoil haberdashers’ bs charges of electoral fraud. For some inexplicable reason JACKS UP in this (no, for real, I don’t get this one). However, it DAWNS ON me that you did explain all of this and I’m totally missing it because I’ve been in a terrible headspace for months now, soz.

    Edit: I think I might get JACKS UP but rarely do I ever hear it in any tense other than past (JACKED UP).

    • cyberdiva says:

      I like the examples you’ve provided. As for JACKS UP, I’ve heard it a lot this past year, almost always in the phrase JACKS UP THE PRICE, mostly having to do with real or imagined shortages caused by the pandemic. And though I’ve heard it most often in the past tense, I’ve heard it in the present and the future tense as well.

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