Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Jonesin' 3:41 (Derek) 


LAT 2:53 (Derek) 


NYT 3:06 (Amy) 


Universal 4:44 (Jim Q) 


WSJ 6:10 (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 508), “Drinking Circles”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 508: “Drinking Circles”

Good day, everybody! Hope all is well with you! At this time next week, it will be March! Yikes! (Well, if we keep getting all this snow and rain, it won’t feel like spring is coming any time soon!)

Whether in the middle of winter or getting ready for spring, its always nice to think about all the different TEAS one can choose from and drink to pass the time and keep warm. In today’s grid, we have the circles in the five of the entries representing bubbles, with the words formed in the circles spelling out a type of tea (66A: [Bubble ___ (drinks with tapioca pearls…and visual hint at the puzzle theme)]). Just recently, I got exposed to Thai iced tea (with sugar and milk) for the first time, and it was soooooo good! Now I’m thirsty.

    • NOT TOO LONG AGO (15A: [Fairly recently])
    • GREENHOUSE (23A: [Site of a growing business?])
    • WEATHER BALLOONS (35A:[High-flying temperature readers])
    • PRICE DROPS (49A: [Black Friday counter offers?])
    • MUSICAL CHAIRS (58A: [Juilliard faculty’s favorite party game?])

Today’s grid is a 72-worder, allowing for some longer non-themed fill. Some of the highlights from those entries include the seldom-used (at least in my opinion) AVIATRIX (12A: [Amelia Earhart, per some news stories]). Crossing that was YVONNE, and that brought back memories of watching reruns of The Munsters, one of my favorite shows, growing up (2D: [Actress DeCarlo]). Then we have another wonderful actress, LENYA, who was on the original Broadway cast of Cabaret, though I remember her most as playing a Bond villain in the movie referenced in the clue (27A: [“From Russia with Love” actress Lotte]). When I started following horse racing casually, I totally was caught up in when there would be a next Triple Crown winner, as it felt to me like ages since AFFIRMED pulled off the feat now 43 years ago (37D: 1978 Triple Crown horse]). If I had been born about 10 years earlier, I don’t think I would have had that same feeling since, remarkably, Affirmed was the third horse to win all of the races making up the Triple Crown in the 1970s alone, joining Secretariat (1973) and Seattle Slew (1977). Missing those by a few years made the chase for the Triple Crown almost mythical before American Pharoah broke the slump in 2015.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KAT (19A: [Kit ___ bar (chocolate treat]) – A story of success and sheer heartbreak all rolled into one. Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, nicknamed KAT (obviously from his initials), was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft out of the University of Kentucky and has since gone on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award (2016) and make the NBA All-Star Game twice (2018, 2019). Last year, in one of the most trying years in our country, Towns saw his mother, Jacqueline, and six other family members pass away from complications of COVID-19. Towns has been one of the more active athletes in expressing thoughts of the importance of mask-wearing and taking COVID-19 seriously throughout these past 12 months, and I certainly hope that he has been able to find some inner peace as he resumes his basketball career after such a painful year.

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

Take care!


Kate Hawkins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 23 21, no. 0223

What a fun puzzle! The theme is pulled together by 57a. [One using crude language … or one saying the last parts of the answers to the starred clues?], POTTY MOUTH, and each of the themers ends with a synonym for “toilet”:

  • 18a. [*Seat for the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros], IRON THRONE. I hope somebody somewhere has a toilet decorated GoT style with a zillion swords.
  • 24a. [*Devotee of Jerry Garcia’s band], DEADHEAD. I don’t think I’ve ever sincerely referred to the toilet or bathroom as the “head.”
  • 36a. [*”Can You Feel the Love Tonight” singer/composer], ELTON JOHN.
  • 52a. [*Decisive defeat], WATERLOO. I love the loo! We would also have accepted something like EMPTY CAN, but somehow “can” feels more crass than the other synonyms to me.

A breezy solve, which was a treat after getting my butt kicked by a challenging preseason (non-competitive) themeless from Boswords. (You can still sign up for the Spring Themeless Challenge, which launches next Monday.)

Five more things:

  • 42a. [Submit], SEND IN. And now I’m thinking, “Submit the Clowns.”
  • 47a. [Canadian city whose name consists of two consecutive boys’ names], CALGARY. Love the clue!
  • 61a. [Life is a long one], TERM. An 83-year-old man named Joe Ligon just got out of prison/juvie after 68 years. Unconscionable sentencing, that—a life sentence for a 15-year-old who didn’t murder anyone.
  • 67a. [To be, in Spanish], SER. I wonder if Kate clued this as the title for various Game of Thrones characters, such as Ser Jorah Mormont. Why did George R.R Martin spell it that way instead of sir? I have no idea.
  • 11d. [Subject that teaches the varying “ch” sounds of “cheap,” “chaos” and “charade”], PHONICS. I really liked phonics when I was in elementary school. Just me?

Four stars from me. What’s your favorite not-already-mentioned “potty” euphemism?

Adam Aaronson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Two Thumbs Down”—Jim P’s review

Well, between yesterday and today, I might finally remember that RAGA (1a) is music from INDIA.

You’re inviting heavy criticism when you title your puzzle “Two Thumbs Down.” But there’s not too much to complain about here. The theme is referring to the two NOs that appear in each of the theme answers. The revealer explains the situation with DOUBLE NEGATIVES [Grammatical taboos exemplified by 17-, 23-, 48- and 60-Across].

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Two Thumbs Down” · Adam Aaronson · Tue., 2.23.21

  • 17a. [Direct, as combat] MANO A MANO. I was well into adulthood when I learned this meant “hand-to-hand” and not “man-to-man.”
  • 23a. [Very small field?] NANO TECHNOLOGY. Nice clue.
  • 48a. [Penultimate line of a popular children’s song] NOW I KNOW MY ABCS.
  • 60a. [Dry red] PINOT NOIR.

That works well. The revealer makes a great basis for a theme and the title gives a good hint without giving it away. Two thumbs up.

Top fill: DISCO DIVA (a phrase I’ve never heard before, but it was inferable), CUSS WORDS (which I have heard before),  ZYGOTE, and the cute, little MARMOSET.

Clues of note:

  • 42a. [Hall’s partner]. OATES. One day, I’d love to see this clued as [Garfunkel’s partner]. (Warning: NSFW.)
  • 26d. [Triangular pieces of material]. GORES. Whoa. New to me, though apparently this has nothing to do with the material Gore-Tex. Tough clue for a Tuesday, though I guess it’s trying to avoid a more gruesome angle.

Nice Tuesday theme and grid. Four stars.


Howard Barkin’s Universal crossword, “Fill in the Blanks” — Jim Q’s write-up

This puzzle has me drawing a blank. Literally. But not really.

THEME: Phrases are clued with a dash, and the dash is interpreted literally.

Universal crossword solution · “Fill in the Blanks” · Howard Barkin · Tue., 2.23.2i


  • Revealer: [Commonly misused adverb, or how to interpret {the themers}] LITERALLY. 

Favorite puzzle of the day! This one is fantastic. Especially after I initially groaned when I saw dashes in place of clues for the themers. Dashes are sometimes used in puzzles to indicate that the themer is part of another clue, or that there’s some sort of trick happening. They can be risky to use since the solver becomes dependent on the crosses.

But as soon as I uncovered the first themer, I loved the idea. The dash is the clue, or lack thereof.

JUST A DASH is adorable. I HAVEN’T GOT A CLUE is hilarious. THERE ARE NO WORDS is a fantastic phrase and so apt. I wasn’t expecting a revealer since it seemed evident what was happening, but LITERALLY (and the way it’s clued) was the icing on the cake. As a high school teacher, I hear that word literally a million times a day, and its misuse drives me literally insane. At least I don’t let it rub off on me.

Solid and delightfully playful puzzle from start to finish.

5 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Re:Re:Re:” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 02/23/2021

Better than a long email thread, the flavortext says! That is certainly true:

  • 20A [Late-night monster movie, maybe] CREATURE FEATURE
  • 38A [Reason for a dashboard warning light] LOW TIRE PRESSURE
  • 55A [Places designated for biking, camping, etc.] RECREATION AREAS

Again, the brainstorming session for this must have been fun! All of the theme answers have three instances of the pair RE, just as you might see in a long email thread of replies going back and forth. Clever! Textbook example of a Jonesin’ puzzle here. 4.6 stars

Some notes, including LOTS of Obscure Trivia!

  • 1A [Harry’s partner in crime in “Home Alone”] MARV – I have only seen this movie once, and it was when it first came out. Macauley Culkin is now 40 years old, if that tells you how long ago it was!
  • 48A [Poopdeck ___ (Popeye’s dad)] PAPPY – I haven’t heard this name in years! We used to watch Popeye cartoons all the time.
  • 61A [Cooking acronym] EVOO – As in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Rachael Ray uses this term a LOT.
  • 66A [Barbecue leftovers?] COBS – This is assuming you’re having corn on the cob at the barbecue! What about those of us that don’t eat this that often? Maybe you’re just grilling some hot dogs!
  • 1D [Soft Cell lead singer Almond] MARC – The OPCRotW for sure.
  • 7D [Michael of “Ugly Betty” or Brendon of Panic! at the Disco] URIE – This is a close second for OPCRotW.
  • 53D [Poet Jones (aka Amiri Baraka)] LEROI – This would be a close third! All of these are new to me, but the solve was still fairly smooth.

That is all! Another Jonesin’ next week!

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

LAT 02/23/2021

Take a load off and let’s discuss this crossword! Here are the theme answers:

  • 17A [Holiday bloom] EASTER LILY
  • 26A [Taft’s University of Cincinnati position] LAW SCHOOL DEAN
  • 43A [UPS vehicle] DELIVERY TRUCK – Having flashbacks … !
  • 58A [Parlor pieces, and a hint to each set of circles] WING CHAIRS

Do you feel like sitting down yet? Yes, all of the circled letters make types of chairs, and the revealer at 58A ties it all together quite nicely. For those of you that don’t know, I am a retired UPS driver, so that clue/answer pair actually gave me a minor panic attack! Not really, but you get what I mean! Another great puzzle, Paul! 4.4 stars from me.

Just a few notes:

  • 36A [1959 folk hit with the line “Charlie couldn’t get off of that train”] MTA – This is slightly before my time! And no, I don’t know this song. See below!
  • 42A [Number that’s part of a nap] FORTY – As in “forty winks.” Which I could use right about now …
  • 3D [Natural gas, coal, etc.] FOSSIL FUEL – Change can be slow, perhaps even difficult, but if you give me a car that has a range of 400 miles that I only have to charge once every week or two, I’ll take it!
  • 28D [Composer Carmichael] HOAGY – This is also before my time, but I at least know who this is!
  • 30D [Online advertising] E-MARKETING – They have e-everything else, but you don’t hear this term as much. At least I don’t. But a terrific entry!

Everyone have a safe and healthy week!

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12 Responses to Tuesday, February 23, 2021

  1. Billy Boy says:

    Phonics set me on a righteous path.

  2. marciem says:

    Xword Nation: In her letter accompanying the puzzle this week, Liz said, regarding the puzzle title, “Horrors! I have nightmares about being a Constructor-Spoiler, aka — A Total Disgrace. So … I settled on a mildly-neutral title and embedded the original one into the puzzle somewhere.”

    I’m wondering if there is an easter egg hiding in plain sight that I missed with an embedded original title, as hinted at, “somewhere”?

  3. Crotchety Doug says:

    WSJ – I learned about RAGAs in the late sixties when George Harrison learned the sitar from sitar master Ravi Shankar, whose daughter is singer Norah Jones. Also, thanks, Jim P for the Garfunkel and Oates clip – very nice.

  4. Paul J Coulter says:

    Thanks for the MTA song, Derek. I went to school in the Boston area during this era, so it brings back great memories. What I always wondered about Charlie is this – if his wife could hand him a sandwich as the train goes whizzing through Scollay Square station each day, why couldn’t she hand him the extra nickel for his fare?

  5. janie says:

    nyt — caught on the smile-making game right after DEADHEAD and was delighted by a solve that gave me cause to lol. terrific theme set and reveal (imho…).

    HEAD is a shipboard term. a jazz-loving colleague of mine used to live on a houseboat in nyc’s 79th st. boat basin; “you go to my HEAD” was a tune that he loved to reference when directing guests to “the facilities”…

    wondering if this puzz has a title. p’raps “going places!”


  6. sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ: As clued, GORES sure stuck out like a sore thumb in this grid. “Triangular pieces of cloth”? Oof! If I’ve ever come across that meaning before, I sure don’t remember it.

    • just stopping by says:

      It’s a sewing term. You add gores to create volume in a dress or skirt. They’re triangular because you want the final product to be fitted at the waist and fuller at the hem. You can look up “gored skirt” to see some examples.

  7. Tim in Queens says:

    Amy your wish will be granted if you google image “Game of Thrones toilet”. The funnier ones have toilet brushes in the place of swords.

    I think GRR Martin uses “ser” in place of “sir” to disconnect from English history. Cf. Scottish “laird” for “lord.” He does that with names also, like “Eddard” instead of “Edward.”

  8. R says:

    Universal: fun puzzle, but LITERALLY is not widely “misused.” It is used hyperbolically and has been for centuries. It’s one of those words where some people have arbitrarily decided that only one of its meanings is valid and the rest are wrong.

  9. Robert Alden says:

    Universal: One of the more clever puzzles I’ve done in a while!

  10. Joan Macon says:

    Re: Hoagy Carmichael. Back in the olden days when I was in junior high and high school, every time there was a disc-jockey quiz on the favorite song of all time, the answer was always “Stardust!”

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