Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Jonesin' 4:02 (Derek) 


LAT 3:22 (Derek) 


NYT 4:08 (after typo search) (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 507), “Blooming Business”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 507: “Blooming Business”

Good day, everybody! Hope all is well with you, and hope that you’re doing your best to withstand what has been a tough winter weatherwise for a number of people across the country.

Soon enough, spring will be upon us and we will be able to see the flowers bloom and think about the pleasant times that have been had in springtimes past and, hopefully, in the future. With that in mind, we have a puzzle that features the names of five flowers in the five rows featuring circles. However, they span two different answers. No worries, though! The sixth entry involving the theme, CUT, acts as the reveal (60D: [___ flowers (bouquet arrangement…and a hint to the puzzle theme!).

Oh, and a nod to SHALAMAR? Bonus!!

    • T-MINUS ZERO (17A: [“Out of time” in NASA lingo]) + SELA (19A: [“Gone Girl” actress Ward]) = ROSE
    • VELCRO (24A: [Shoelace alternative]) + CUSTARDS (26A: [Creamy pie fillings]) = CROCUS
    • KONMARI (37A:[Decluttering method featured in “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”]) + GOLD ORE (39A: [Mined material from which jewelry is made]) = MARIGOLD
    • SHALAMAR (48A: [L.A.-based group with the ’70s hit, “The Second Time Around”]) + ANTHRO (51A: [College major, for short]) = AMARANTH
    • FAIR (56A: [Ferris wheel locale]) + ISOMETRICS (58A: [Exercise genre that includes the “plank”]) = IRIS

Though there’s lots of lovely fill in the grid, but the two paralleling long down entries caught my attention the most. First off, I had a wonderful time on the SOUTH SIDE in the summer of 2019 as I helped out a friend, ESPN college basketball reporter and Coastal Carolina University basketball legend Brooke Weisbrod (weiss-BROD [as in road]), in being a small part of her sports/writing skills/broadcasting summer camp she founded to give back to Chicago public school children, Skills and Score (34D: [Chicago area where you’ll find the Victory Monument]). Unfortunately, this is the area of Chi-town that usually is hinted at — mostly by right-wing media and those unwilling to completely understand complexities/avoid reckonings with their own biases and ignorance involving race relations — when the racist dog whistle of “But look what’s happening in Chicago?” is blown over and over again. It was such an honor going to Percy L. Julian High School and meet some amazing kids, as they were exposed to professional basketball teaching, video editing, on-camera training and more! Definitely encourage you to take a look at the great work Brooke and her staff have done the past few years there.

The other entry, BRILLIANT, for some reason, made me think of the old Guinness commercials that were briefly yet wildly popular about 20 years ago (3D: [Brit’s “Excellent!”). Brilliant!!!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SONICS (49A: [Former Seattle team, familiarly]) – No exquisite explanations. No descriptions about rules or teams or players. Just a nod to one of the most-beloved teams in the NBA, currently now playing as the Oklahoma City Thunder after moving from the Emerald City in 2008. Though born and raised in New York, I (and many, many, many others) miss the Seattle SuperSonics…and their amazing logo!  

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

Take care!


Johanna Fenimore’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 16 21, no. 0216

Fun theme for a decadent day, Fat Tuesday. Have you made plans to acquire pączki? Those are the Polish variety of filled donuts traditionally eaten on Pączki Day. We picked up some from a bakery on Saturday, before the bottom dropped out of the thermometer and the snowstorm socked us in. Apricot, raspberry, and an assortment of custard/cream cheese fillings.

Anyway! Johanna’s theme revealer is 62a. [BEER ME,” [“I’ll have a cold one, please” … or a hint to 17-, 26-, 43- and 57-Across], and those four themers start or end with beer (nick)names:

  • 17a. [Stop before it can grow bigger], NIP IT IN THE BUD. Budweiser.
  • 26a. [British fashion designer who’s the daughter of Linda and Sir Paul], STELLA McCARTNEY. Stella Artois.
  • 43a. [Very rarely], ONCE IN A BLUE MOON. Blue Moon, best with a slice of orange squeezed into it.
  • 57a. [Long, straight-sided smoke], CORONA CIGAR. Corona, the beer and not the virus. I sorta wonder if the constructor originally proposed CORONAVIRUS here, because CORONA CIGAR is not, I don’t think, a household name.

Fill I liked: BADASS, SLUSHIE, THE PX (I still have some kitchenware my in-laws bought at the PX!), AGE OUT, and “AW, C’MON!”

Fill that might be on the tricky side for newbies: SOLI; 49a. [___ Storm and the Hurricanes (Ringo’s band before the Beatles)], RORY (heck, I’d never seen that one before); AMIE; T.S.E. for T.S. Eliot’s initials; RKO.

Five more things:

  • 50a. [Skirt down to the ankles], MAXI. That’s legit, but I wouldn’t mind occasionally seeing something like [Prefix with “pad”]. It’s just life.
  • 5d. [Sloth or envy, it’s said], SIN. Gosh, SIN clues would have a lot more potential if more than one deadly sin was also the name of an animal.
  • 9d. [It makes an “A” even better], PLUS. I had a Zoom get-together with a couple friends on Saturday (highly recommended!) and one friend told us how much her 11-year-old niece looooves remote learning. She is thriving and getting an A+ (meaning she’s getting 100 on every assignment) in most subjects. Proud of Rowan!
  • 22d. [Atelier], ART ROOM. The phrase doesn’t ring a bell. How have you seen it used?
  • 24d. [Some crew team members], OARMEN. Gonna call foul on this one. Merriam-Webster has oarSman, plural oarSmen.

3.75 stars from me. How’d it treat you?

Samuel A. Donaldson’s Universal crossword, “Say Again?” — Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: Homophones with words ending in X

Universal crossword solution · “Say Again?” · Samuel A. Donaldson · Tue., 2.16.2


  • 17A [Slaps a honeycomb, perhaps?] WHACKS WAX. 
  • 11D [Inspects a square cereal at a factory?] CHECKS CHEX. 
  • 30D [Bad-mouths a Kentucky fort?] KNOCKS KNOX. 
  • 64A [Ruins the dinosaur in “Toy Story”?] WRECKS REX.

Nice, tight theme. I like the added consistency of the X’s as the base word. Homophone themes like this are typically very easy and can be big gimmes since you really only need to determine part of the answer. This was no exception.

I was thoroughly enjoying the grid too… right until I hit that SW corner. Then LONG O, AMOUR (which I initially entered as AMORE) and FAX ME (?!?!) got me all sorts of screwed up. And for some reason I couldn’t stop trying to think of body parts that could be stuck under a desk rather than the correct GUM. Me: LEG?  EAR? TOE? Ah… it’s GAM. That’s definitely it. 

3.9 Stars. Good start to the icy day!

Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Gone Fishing”—Jim P’s review

Today’s theme consists of fishing-based idioms clued without references to fishing.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Gone Fishing” · Samuel A. Donaldson · Tue., 2.16.21

  • 18a. [Captivate the crowd] REEL THEM IN
  • 27a. [Consider many possibilities] CAST A WIDE NET
  • 38a. [Do something that’s bound to result in trouble later] OPEN A CAN OF WORMS
  • 46a. [Falls for something] TAKES THE BAIT
  • 61a. [No longer a suspect] OFF THE HOOK

I really wanted these to be in procedural order, in which case OPEN A CAN OF WORMS would come first (do worms actually come in cans?!). Also, CAST A WIDE NET is definitely fishing-related, but it feels different because it’s a different style of fishing than the more common rod and reel (which is implied in all the other entries). But I’m over-thinking it. The theme is fishing-related idioms, and all of these fit that theme regardless of order or fishing method.

Lately in crossword circles, we’ve been having discussions of what’s crossword-worthy and what isn’t, especially with respect to foreign (i.e. non-American) names and terms. I don’t know golfer K. J. CHOI, but Wikipedia labels him Asia’s most successful golfer, and he spent 40 weeks in the top-10 of world rankings. Clearly crossword-worthy. AYAH [Indian maid], on the other hand, I would argue isn’t—at least not on a Tuesday.

VIP PASSES, BEDLAM, and “MISS YOU” top my list of fill, though I would gladly give up the latter to get an alternative to AYAH.

Clues of note:

  • 10a. [Try for a fly]. SWAT. Not sure why I was thinking baseball here. Maybe because I saw [Pop up] at 20a before I got to this clue. Of course, the answer still works for baseball, in a way.
  • 25a. [Final exam giver?]. CORONER. Fairly grim, but I’m okay with it.

I liked the idiomatic theme entries. I wanted more from them, but they’re solid enough as is. 3.5 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Gimme a Reason” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 02/16/2021

Got the puzzle a little later than usual, since Matt is stuck in that bad weather in the Pacific Northwest that normally doesn’t get snow. Matt said his power was out, so he was doing a lot from his phone. But the Jonesin’ puzzle continues! The weather affected my blogging time a bit as well, as we had to dig out from a foot of snow that fell Monday night/Tuesday morning. But on we go! The title hints at what is going on:

  • 17A [Copper-colored coin last minted in 1958] WHEAT PENN
  • 25A [Alfred E. Neuman line] WHAT, ME WORRY?”
  • 39A [Sport featured in the 2005 documentary “Murderball”] WHEELCHAIR RUGBY
  • 47A [“Never in a million years!”] WHEN PIGS FLY!”
  • 58A [Discover (or how to determine what the four circled answers have in common)] FIND OUT WHY 

Matt always finds fun them entries, and this puzzle is no different. 25A especially hits home, since I read Mad magazine a LOT when I was younger. I think it is still being made, but I am not sure since I go to stores rarely. And I am curious to watch the doc Murderball that is mentioned as well. How is that sport even possible?? Another great entertaining Jonesin’ puzzle. 4.7 stars today.

A few more things:

  • 19A [Karmann ___ (classic VW model)] GHIA – Alfa Romeo makes a Giulia model, and I would rather have one of those!

    This is Eion Bailey! I still don’t recognize him.

  • 43A [Actor Bailey of “Band of Brothers” and “Almost Famous”] EION – Definitely the OPCRotW here. I DO know the movies, just not the actor.
  • 64A [Swedish store to get lost in] IKEA – I like IKEA stuff. I love putting those things together. I want a standing desk for my office, and many of those parts may be Ikea related; the closest one to us now is outside Indy.
  • 7D [Actor Whishaw] BEN – I DO know this actor! He was Q in Skyfall.
  • 23D [Singer Bebe] REXHA – Singer of “Meant to Be,” one of my son’s favorite songs!
  • 27D [80 years into the future, in movie credits (will we even have movies?)] MMCI
  • 50D [Chocolate candy cut into cubes] FUDGE – Now I am hungry …

Hopefully our lives are somewhat back to normal next week. At least without weather disruptions; everything else is still FAR from normal.

Pawel Fludzinski & John Witzke’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 02/16/2021

I had to add John Witzke to the constructor database, so is this a debut? If so, we have a clever puzzle from this pair. Here are the theme entries:

  • 17A [If Nicholson sang, danced and acted, he might be called __] JACK OF ALL TRADES
  • 40A [If Robinson left En Vogue to sing in Jerry Garcia’s group, she might be called __] DAWN OF THE DEAD 
  • 59A [If Tomlin came from San Fernando, she might be called __] LILY OF THE VALLEY 

Nicely done! We have phrases that are “__ of the __” that have first words that can double as first names, which makes for some intriguing clues. This was an entertaining solve, and this is another one of those puzzles you could use to introduce someone to the crossword world. If this is a debut, congratulations! 4.6 stars from me.

Just a couple of things:

  • 1A [Tripoli’s country] LIBYA – Why do I always think this is in Tunisia? It is in ‘The Marines Hymn!”
  • 46A [Soul, to Sartre] AME – This is more often clued referring to the AME Church. This one is slightly tough, so maybe a beginner would NOT appreciate this entry!
  • 19D [Capitol feature] ROTUNDA – Timely.
  • 23D [Plato’s school, with “the”] ACADEMY – This word has come to mean a school in general, but I think it was a proper name in Plato’s day. At least I think that is what the dictionary is trying to say under this word’s history.
  • 37D [Province on four Great Lakes] ONTARIO – Ontario is humongous. Know your geography!

Everyone have a safe and healthy week!

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18 Responses to Tuesday, February 16, 2021

  1. cyberdiva says:

    Just thought I’d mention that I couldn’t get to see the Tuesday puzzles on this site in the normal way–clicking on the individual puzzle (e.g., NYT) under Tuesday, February 16. Instead, I clicked on the name of the person apparently responsible for putting up the page (Adesina Koiki), which led to a place where I could “see comments,” which led me here. From here, I can scroll up to see the indiviual puzzle discussions (only one is up so far). Apparently something isn’t working as it should.

    • cyberdiva says:

      I see it’s now OK.

      • FWIW, I always make sure to click on the web link created after making the post public to ensure the link works just fine. Though it checked out OK on my end tonight, there surely could have been something off still that Amy (or anyone else on Team Fiend) caught and rectified…and would be thankful.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          I saw nothing amiss, but certainly I’ve been bailed out plenty of times when I accidentally put the incorrect date into the coding and another Fiendster fixes my error. It takes a village to keep this site going!

  2. Pete Collins says:

    NYT: I found an Easter egg — PINT hiding in NIP IN THE BUD.

    [Amy: in your write-up you have it incorrectly listed as NIP IT IN THE BUD]

  3. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: Officially, it’s no longer THE PX for the Army nor the BX for the Air Force (hasn’t been for five years or so). Both have been combined into “The Exchange” and are run by the Army/Air Force Exchange Service or AAFES (which would make a decent addition to a word list). Of course, unofficially, people still use PX and BX in everyday conversation. We do in our household.

    The Navy has the NEX and the Marines have the MCX.

  4. Steve Manion says:

    I have many great memories of PXs and BXs. My father was a POW in WWII, so he was retired as if were a career officer, granting him PX, BX, and Officers’ Club privileges. When I was 14 I got an official U.S. ID card, which mistakenly listed my birth year as 1948 instead of 1949, ironclad proof of age.

    Very apt theme for me!

  5. Joe Pancake says:

    Love the pic, Ade!

    Growing up a bit south of Seattle, the Sonics were a beloved team from my childhood. Gutting when they moved (which is why, among many other reasons, I’m not a Howard Schultz fan). Kemp and Payton were a joy to watch, but Dale Ellis was my first love.

    Coincidentally wearing my Sonics hoodie today.

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT: I’m calling a foul on AMBERS {48D: Orange-yellow gemstones}. I’ve looked up AMBER in a variety of sources and none of them refer to it as a “gemstone”. It’s a fossilized tree resin that can be hardened and polished to be used in jewelry. But that doesn’t make it a “gemstone”. Boo, hiss.

  7. Cynthia says:

    Question for anyone on here, inspired by today’s Universal: How do you, personally, pronounce the word “solo”? The puzzle says that “solo” has two long O sounds. Most people I know, including myself, pronounce it “soul-o,” not “so-lo.” Are we in the minority?

  8. KarenS says:

    NYT: Amy, thanks for the paczki reference. Here’s an enjoyable piece on how to pronounce “paczki.”


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