Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Jonesin' 4:00 (Derek) 


LAT 3-ish minutes (Derek) 


NYT 4:01 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


WSJ 4:49 (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 502), “Busybodies”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 502: “Busybodies”

Good day, everybody! Hope all is well with you and that you’re continuing to stay safe.  

Today’s grid is an interesting take on altering the names of celebrities, as, in this instance, the last names of celebrities are replaced with similar-sounding words that allude to those A-listers being eavesdroppers.

  • OSCAR DE LA YENTA (16A: [Gossipy couturier who had designs on Jackie Kennedy?]) – Oscar de la Renta
  • BETTE MEDDLER (23A: [Prying singer who starred in “The Rose”?]) – Bette Middler
  • WOLF KIBITZER (53A: [CNN political anchor who’s in everybody’s business?]) – Wolf Blitzer
  • BRADLEY SNOOPER (61A: [Nosy actor who appeared in “The Hangover”?]) – Bradley Cooper

Definitely had to fight at the end to complete this puzzle, as it took way longer than it should have to recognize D-NH (25D: [Pol. designation for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of the Granite State]). Wanted to make “DNC” fit over and over and, for some reason, just ignored the “Granite State” mention. No excuses since I pride myself in putting all the senators of each state to memory. Also, Shaheen just spoke on the Senate floor soon after the coup attempt in Washington, DC…and had her phone blow up at the end of her time speaking. Fitting to see a reference to a Democratic legislator and LEFTISTS in the same grid (37D: [Liberal-leaning group, perhaps]). Liked seeing the two 10-letter non- themed entries in the grid, with VITAL SIGNS being the standout of the two (11D: [Your pulse and your body temperature, e.g.]). This blog is far from a DONE DEAL for today, but getting ready to skedaddle now (10D: [Completed transaction]). But before heading off…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CHEEVER (26A: [“Falconer” author John]) – Time to head to the race track and talked about one of the more well-traveled Americans in racing. Former Formula One and Indy Car/CART driver Eddie Cheever has the record for the most starts in Formula One Grand Prix by an American, with 132 starts between 1978 and 1989. Though he never won a Formula One race, he did end up winning “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” as he won the Indianapolis 500 in 1998 for Team Cheever, making him the winning driver and owner.

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

Take care!


Ross Trudeau’s New York Times crossword solution—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 12 21, no. 0112

A long revealer this time: 37a. [Adage on the impermanence of suffering … or a hint to 18-, 29-, 46- and 61-Across], “THIS TOO SHALL PASS.” (Yes, please let the QAnon uprising become a thing of the past.) Things that can “pass” are the other four themers:

  • 18a. [Hard deposit in a bladder], KIDNEY STONE. The bladder is just one of several places a kidney stone may reside! We would also have accepted “in a ureter” or “in a urethra.”
  • 29a. [Legislation often resulting from compromise], BIPARTISAN BILL. Oh, man. Don’t get me started.
  • 46a. [N.F.L. signal caller], PRO QUARTERBACK. It’s questionable to jam PRO in there just to get a workable letter count.
  • 61a. [Jiffy], BRIEF MOMENT.

Theme is solid, except for that PRO bit.

I spotted a few things that felt wildly out of place in a Tuesday puzzle that’s supposed to be suitable for beginning NYT solvers: ECCE, STD., RIME, EDY’S (not sold in the Western U.S.), ERSE. And “OK, NOW” is just plain weird, isn’t it? EPA LAB feels maybe contrived, and LSD TAB doesn’t feel markedly better. The grid would have more breathing room if the NYT used titles for daily puzzles and “This Too Shall Pass” were extricated from the grid. 66 theme squares in a Tuesday just isn’t a great idea.

Five more things:

  • 1a. [Fungus-filled, maybe], MILDEWY. Breakfast test! This is a gross start to the puzzle.
  • 36a. [Word in an alumnae directory, maybe], NEE. I’ll bet we have plenty of Fiend readers who went to schools like Smith or Wellesley and can tell us if their alumnae directory uses née at all. It seems unlikely to me. Maybe 50 years ago, but now??
  • 71a. [Jane Pauley and Rachel Maddow], TV HOSTS. This is adorable, Ross. Did the editors sneak this in there, or was it your doing?
  • 12d. [Area between Virginia and Georgia], CAROLINA. Do people think of North and South Carolina as a single area called “Carolina”? This is the first time I’m seeing it. It’s also the first time today I’ve had a hankering for barbecue. I’m a little partial to Carolina BBQ sauce.
  • 39d. [“Should have listened to me!”], “I TOLD YOU.” You really should’ve! Would I steer you wrong?

3.25 stars from me.

Julie Bérubé’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Few Brief Words”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Undies.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “A Few Brief Words” · Julie Bérubé · Tue., 1.12.21

  • 20a. [Secret compartments in some desks] HIDDEN DRAWERS
  • 33a. [Some Pixar works] ANIMATED SHORTS.
  • 40a. [Long proboscises] ELEPHANT TRUNKS
  • 57a. [Golden Gloves competitors] AMATEUR BOXERS

I think I smiled when I finished the solve and realized what the theme was. I like the thought of the serious and sober Wall Street Journal having a puzzle about underwear.

There’s a huge range of different terms for underwear but there probably aren’t any phrases that incorporate alternate meanings of “panties,” “thongs,” or “bikinis.” Hipster is a style of underwear and “hipster doofus” (popularized by Seinfeld, I believe) could potentially work, but it puts the underwear word at the beginning, unlike the other phrases.

Fill highlights include SMIDGEN, ANTIGUA, PERGOLAS, SERRANO peppers, a surfer’s LEG ROPE, and a super TROUPER. I’m still looking askance at STILLING [Calming down] which looks unusual in that form. And count me as not a fan of OD ON.

A lighthearted and fun theme coupled with strong fill. 3.75 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Goodbye, Mr. Trebek” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 01/12/2021

Talk about a timely puzzle! Alex Trebek’s last episode of Jeopardy! which was originally scheduled for Christmas day was pushed back to this past week, and the final tearful episode was just this past Friday. Yes, I shed a tear. I hope to make it on the show one day, and it will be bittersweet since the host will be someone different. The theme entries reference some of Alex’s earlier, more obscure work, and thus HE is the Obscure Pop Culture Reference of the Week!

  • 17A [Canadian equivalent of “American Bandstand” hosted by Alex Trebek in 1963-64] MUSIC HOP 
  • 21A [1976 trivia show (not the Nickelodeon kids’ show) hosted by Trebek] DOUBLE DARE 
  • 39A [1981 game show (not the classic Atari game) hosted by Trebek] PITFALL
  • 59A [Canadian series hosted by Trebek from 1976-1980, featuring professional skaters alongside B-list celebs] STARS ON ICE 
  • 65A [Emmy-winning game show hosted by Trebek starting in 1984] JEOPARDY! 

What, no High Rollers? That is the show I remember watching when I was 8 or 9. Man, he will be missed. He was so great at that show! But Ken Jennings did an amazing job on Monday, and I think the show will be fine. Curious as to what you guys thought of Ken’s debut. And who should be the new host? A truly nice tribute to Alex for this week’s Jonesin’. A solid 5 stars!

A few more points:

  • 4A [Talk like Cindy Brady] LISP – Speaking of Ken Jennings, I think he used to have some sort of mild lisp. Or maybe that is just me. But I personally think he did GREAT on Monday, and if he did in fact overcome some sort of speech impediment, that makes it all the more impressive.
  • 26A [Kilmer of “MacGruber”] VAL – Google him. He isn’t aging well …
  • 55A [Honey Graham ___ (cereal brand)] OH’S – Sometimes a good bowl of cereal hits the spot! I will try to find these at the store!
  • 68A [Tennis player Kournikova] ANNA – Is she still a thing? Ready to be depressed? She will turn 40 this year!
  • 6D [2020 CGI movie that featured the origin story of a cartoon canine] SCOOB – I have seen this movie! It actually was pretty good. But I grew up on Scooby Doo, so I am biased.
  • 31D [“Cherry Wine” rapper] NAS – Why don’t I know this tune?
  • 51D [“Feed a cold, ___ a fever”] STARVE – We say this ALL THE TIME here in Indiana, where the cold and flu season kicks everyone’s butt at one point or another.

I’ll stop there before any more tears are shed!

Paul Coulter’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 01/12/2021

Let’s party!

  • 17A [*Afternoon social that may include a waltz or three] TEA DANCE
  • 38A [*Brewery container] BEER KEG 
  • 11D [*Growing business?] GREENHOUSE
  • 28D [*Monster.com activity] WORK SEARCH
  • 59A [Like the U.S. political system, and a hint to the answers to starred clues] TWO PARTY

Tea party, dance party, you get the idea. Nicely done. Very nicely done; this puzzle makes me want to make more puzzles! I am impressed by the fairly wide-open NE and SW corners, and filled with decent entries too. Good job, Paul! 4.3 stars from me.

Just a few notes:

  • 19A [Stay close to] BE NEAR – This seems a bit forced or contrived. Gettable, but I am gonna carp on this one. Is it just me?
  • 25A [Cry after a golfer’s ace] “IT’S IN!” – I wouldn’t know! I came close once, within about a foot, but that is it.
  • 5D [Does some necking] CANOODLES – No one says this, do they??
  • 9D [Vespers] EVENSONG – I don’t know this word, but that’s on me. This is a great entry.
  • 44D [Singing syllables] TRA-LA – I don’t care for this one either. But if it bails you out of a tough corner, then all is good. Again, gettable, just not my favorite to see.

Everyone have a safe and healthy week. If you’re doing the MIT Mystery Hunt (as I am!), get some sleep now!

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8 Responses to Tuesday, January 12, 2021

  1. Bryan says:

    NYT: Amy, to answer your question about that “area between Virginia and Georgia”… I live on the border between the two Carolinas (Charlotte), and it’s not all the same. Leadership of the northern state still takes Covid seriously, and leadership of the other doesn’t. Don’t get me started on the other differences.

    Anyway… Ross, I loved this puzzle. I know you constructed this a while back and didn’t know it would publish now. After the trauma the U.S. has been through in the past week, this feels all too relevant to me. “This too shall pass” has always been a cornerstone of my life philosophy. I’m an optimist by nature. As worrisome as things seem now, I believe better days are ahead.

    In this year: My oldest son will go to college and has a bright future ahead. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be in the White House — our Insurrectionist-in-Chief will be gone — and I think BIPARTISAN BILLs will be possible (I said I’m an optimist). Most of us will be vaccinated.

    So anyway, this puzzle gave me hope in the midst of doomscrolling since last week. Better days are ahead. But here’s hoping no MILDEWY or KIDNEY STONE things are involved!

    • Billy Boy says:

      King Charles II originally labeled the entire area CAROLINA. It is more colloquially referred to as THE CarolinaS in modern days.

      Legitimate in a meh puzzle.

      WSJ wasn’t quite as dull and annoying as NYT today, but neither earned 3 stars, both felt clunky and awkward.

    • Zulema says:

      Bryan, thank you for your wishful thinking and optimism. They do help, really!

  2. Jenni Levy says:

    I really enjoyed the theme in the CN puzzle, especially WOLF KIBITZER. Nice to start the day with a giggle.

  3. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni: BAWK {5A: “Are you chicken?” taunt syllable}?!? That answer really sticks out like a sore thumb in this otherwise smooth and straight-forward grid.

  4. marciem says:

    WSJ: I’m viewing “stilling” askance also, I know it is a word but one I have never seen/heard used in a sentence. “Quieting”, I’ve heard used in the places “stilling” might be used.

    CN: Loved loved love the Nosey Parkers Liz found and played with :) .

    LAT: I’ve heard “canoodle” enough (tho’ can’t remember where) that it dropped into the puzzle without hesitation. May be an age thing, I’m old.

    Uni: Another side-eye at “bawk” . Then again, we see oinks, baas and maas often, so a chicken sound shouldn’t bother. Maybe just the way it was used.

    • Martin says:

      Stilling is used when describing a sensor or control element in a tank — either a water tank or component of an industrial process involving liquids pumped into a tank. To avoid the sensor or controller being buffeted by turbulence in the tank and making the filling or monitoring unstable, the element is surrounded by a protective pipe called a stilling well. In my volunteer work for our mutual benefit water company, I use this term often.

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