Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Jonesin' 3:32 (Derek) 


LAT 3:30 (Derek) 


NYT 2:57 (Amy) 


Universal 4:16 (Jim Q) 


WSJ 7:22 (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 510), “Succession at 10 Downing Street”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 510: “Succession at 10 Downing Street”

Good day, everyone! Just like that, spring is right around the corner! Here is hoping the weather is better by you and that you all are continuing to stay safe.

The royal family has been making a lot of headlines today with the Prince Harry/Meghan Markle interview making the rounds, so seeing this grid definitely felt a little more than timely. Though no monarchs, the first words in the six long across entries, from top to bottom, are the names of the six most recent occupiers of 10 Downing Street, with PMS, short for prime ministers, acting as the reveal (68A: [Brit. leaders whose names are hidden in the starred answers]).

    • MAJOR SCALE (16A: {*Basic piano practice [1990-1997]}) – John Major
    • BLAIR HOUSE (20A: {*The President’s official guest residence on Pennsylvania Avenue [1997-2007]}) – Tony Blair
    • BROWN BREADS (32A:{*Whole-grain baked goods [2007-2010]}) – Gordon Brown
    • CAMERON DIAZ (43A: {*Star of “There’s Something About Mary”[2010-2016]}) – David Cameron
    • MAY I COME IN (56A: {*Polite question from a visitor at the door [2016-2019]}) – Theresa May
    • JOHNSON WAX (63A: {*Onetime name of a cleaning products company whose Wisconsin headquarters was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright [2019-present]}) – Boris Johnson

Solving this grid left me wanting to look up all those Greek islands, as a five-letter Greek island had me thinking Corfu, which would have surely made a mess of things instead of figuring out NAXOS (55D: [Greek vacation island]). I guess not hearing of that island’s name could have made that intersection with Johnson Wax at the “x” tricky, but, I’ve heard the latter be referred to as “SC Johnson Wax” so many times in commercials that it was no sweat. Given my interests, it was fitting to see the word “rhyming” in the clue to DOOM, since it reminded me of the unconventional yet legendary hip-hop artist MF Doom who passed away late last year (37D: [Rhyming partner of gloom]). So I either can play some music from the man with the Metal Face (what the MF stands for in that stage name, an homage to the Marvel Comics super villain Doctor Doom) or can play some hits from Marvin GAYE after finishing this blog (10D: [“Sexual Healing” singer Marvin]). Before leaving, there was a chance to talk about a Boston sports legend, former Boston Red Sox infielder and current Red Sox television analyst Jerry REMY (18A: [___ Martin (cognac brand)]). But I decided to talk a Boston legend on the hardwood instead…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: JO JO (49D: [Hall of Famer and Celtics great ___ White]) – When one ranks up there as one of the greatest guards in Boston Celtics history, then that person in one of the great all-time guards in league history, and that is definitely the case with Jo Jo White, a two-time NBA champion with the C’s in 1975 and 1976. In the 1976 NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns, White was named the Finals’ Most Valuable Player. In Game 5 of that series, White played 60 out of a possible 63 minutes and scored 33 points in one of the league’s most memorable contests, a triple-overtime win by the Celtics. White once played in 488 consecutive games for the Celtics, a team record that stands to this day. White, an All-America at the Univ. of Kansas, was a seven-time All-Star who won a gold medal for Team USA in the 1968 Olympics. 

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

Take care!


Brad Wiegmann’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Rest Easy”—Jim P’s review

Brad Wiegmann has had two previous very nice published puzzles (use the Select Tags dropdown menu to the right to view his others), and this one is cute as well.

I didn’t catch on to the theme until the end of the solve when I got to the revealer at 69a: NAP [What’s described by the ends of 17-, 24-, 38-, 50- and 62-Across]. This presumes an unplanned sleeping session on the couch, say, as opposed to one where you actually hop into bed and set the alarm for an hour or so.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Rest Easy” · Brad Wiegmann · Tue., 3.9.21

  • 17a. [Traffic backups?] SPARE TIRES. Good clue.
  • 24a. [Prestige pictures often get them] OSCAR NODS
  • 38a. [Technical knockouts?] COMPUTER CRASHES. Also a good clue. Plus, I just love the inclusion of “crashing” in this theme. The theme would get by without it, but it adds a good dose of humor.
  • 50a. [Levels] BULLDOZES
  • 62a. [Certain going-away parties?] IRISH WAKES. What makes the Irish wake more of a colloquial phrase than an English wake or a Scottish wake? Must be their penchant for partying.

Super-cute theme, huh? Great choices for theme answers and everything seems to fit symmetrically so easily. Nicely done.

As I get older, I become more and more prone to these post-dinner naps, especially when wine is involved. It used to be we would laugh at my dad or oldest brother for doing this. Now it’s my kids’ turn to shake their heads at me. Sigh.

Look at the long fill today: SWAT TEAMS, PIG LATIN, SHEEPSKIN, and ARKANSAS (where my wife hails from). Really strong stuff on top of the theme. ELS and F-STOP aren’t a great way to start the grid, but the puzzle overcomes them quickly enough. I had trouble with TESSIE [Longtime Red Sox anthem], and I didn’t know Israel’s MOSHE Dayan, but was able to make educated guesses after I got the initial MO—.

Clues of note:

  • 34a. [Critical asset]. TASTE. I’m sensing that a question mark wouldn’t be amiss with this clue. “Critical” here doesn’t mean “crucial,” but “belonging to a critic.”
  • 46d. [Rookie]. NOVICE. I went with NEWBIE and even the made-up NOOBIE before I realized this was a normal word.
  • 63d. []. STE. The early online version was missing the final clue (which inexplicably happens from time to time). Martin assures me he has fixed it in the .puz version on our site.

Fun theme, strong fill, and good cluing. 4.25 stars from me.

Simon Marotte’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 9 21, no. 0309

Smooth puzzle, easy clues—nice work from a new constructor who is just 16 years old. Does he have a driver’s license yet? The theme suggests he’s into both cars and wordplay:

  • 38a. [Certain auto gear … as suggested by the circled letters], REVERSE / 56d. [What every make of auto has], NAME. These are sort of a combination theme revealer. The circled letters spell out car makes in reverse.
  • 17a. [They often come out at night], FALSE TEETH, with a TESLA backing into that parking spot.
  • 28a. [First lady of 2001 to ’09], LAURA BUSH with a SUBARU.
  • 47a. [Was destined to fail], HAD NO HOPE, and HONDA.
  • 62a. [Host of Marco Polo], KUBLAI KHAN, and KIA.

With four themers and two revealer entries, there’s not a ton of space for zippy fill. ASSAYED, SNEERED, and ENACTING are dullish verb inflections, but a SNEAKER, TENTACLE, FLEABAGS, and Simon & Garfunkel’s THE BOXER are nice. Overall, the fill was pretty smooth. TBAR and ENOS are kinda blah, but the clues zipped me through things pretty swiftly.

Three more things:

  • 20a. [Run-down hotels], FLEABAGS. In the singular, you get the title of a TV series, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag. I’m a bit late to the game, but just watched the first four (out of 12 total) episodes this past weekend. Fun show!
  • 44a. [Lucy of “Elementary”], LIU. Constructors, take note: There’s a new LIU coming on the scene, actor Simu Liu. He plays the title role in this summer’s Marvel movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. (This also introduces a fresh way to clue CHI.)
  • 6d. Longtime “All Things Considered” host Robert], SIEGEL. I know the voice well! Better than I know his spelling of SIEGEL, since he’s typically encountered on the radio.

Four stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Hi, Turnover” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 03/09/2021

There are a TON of theme entries in here. There are, firstly, two across answers that give a slight hint as to what is going on:

  • 18A [How to view the alternate answers crossing the circled squares] UPSIDE-DOWN
  • 66A [It helps clean the word in the circled squares (as well as the alternate version)] TOOTHBRUSH

Adding to that, there are several entries that cross the circled letters, and they have some dual-type clues. Here they are, with BOTH answers:

  • 45A [*”Rudolph the Red-___ Reindeer” (or the other way, Japanese audio company)] NOSED, DENON
  • 47A [*”Barber Shop Chronicles” playwright Inua ___ (or the other way, letter used to abbreviate “forte”)] ELLAMS, SMALL F – Who?? Toughie here, but I’ll bet the puzzle wouldn’t work otherwise!
  • 52A [*Athlete running 5,280 feet (or the other way, second run of crew practice)] MILER, REROW
  • 25D [*Aa and pahoehoe, for two (or the other way, like military fleets)] LAVAS, NAVAL
  • 31D [*___-wip topping (or the other way, more unusual)] REDDI, ODDER
  • 37D [*___-toed boots (or the other way, half of those pairs of boots)] STEEL, LEFTS
  • 40D [*DNC member (or the other way, married)] DEM, WED
  • 53D [*Reveals one’s true feelings (or the other way, pater ___)] LETSON, NOSTER

Have you figured out what is going on? If you turn the letters in the circled squares that spell out SMILE upside down, you will spell out FROWN, which has the letters you need to complete the second set of clues. And you have to read them all backwards! Even with the super-obscure entry at 47-Across, this was a lot of fun to solve. I found this puzzle not too hard at all, and I had to take another look at the end to see what exactly was happening. Very nice! 4.7 stars from me.

A few more notes:

  • 5A [Herb with leaves used in Japanese cooking] SHISO – I believe you! Never heard of this stuff. I will have to ask the next time I am in a Japanese restaurant post-pandemic!
  • 26A [Troubled outburst from Scooby-Doo] “RUH ROH!” – Love me some Scooby-Doo! Grew up watching them.
  • 39A [“___ Up” (Violent Femmes song)] ADD IT –  47A was needed for the theme, so I will call this one the OPCRotW. I don’t know many songs from this group. Maybe it’s just me!
  • 7D [“___ Sin” (HBO Max miniseries)] IT’S A – I have seen this when I log into HBO Max, but I have not seen it. But I have at least heard of it!
  • 32D [“The Last King of Scotland” name] IDI – Some people don’t like this man’s name in puzzles. He was a world leader. And this type of clue is very gentle.
  • 49D [Dr. Seuss title turtle] YERTLE – Did they ban this one, too? I don’t think so!
  • 50D [Early inning statistic] ONE OUT – Spring training has started; the Cubs home opener is April 1, which is just around the corner!
  • 56D [Russian rum cake] BABKA – Now I am hungry …

That is all! Another Jonesin’ next week!

Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 03/09/2021

No revealer this Tuesday! But there isn’t really a need for one; our theme is straightforward:

  • 17A [Wind of 19-24 mph, on the Beaufort scale] FRESH BREEZE 
  • 59A [“The Hunger Games” trilogy, e.g.] NOVEL SERIES 
  • 10D [Genre for a John Lewis quartet] MODERN JAZZ 
  • 29D [Patriots’ home] NEW ENGLAND

It was time for a “new” way of looking at things! Nicely done. By the time we get back to normal, everything will seem new again! I haven’t sat in a restaurant in over a year now. Good puzzle, Mark! 4.5 stars today.

A few more things:

  • 10A [Major Web portal] MSN – Is this still a thing?
  • 22A [Classic Lanvin scent] ARPÈGE – Never heard of it. But I don’t wear perfume.
  • 37A [Scenic road, maybe] BYWAY – I have missed traveling and taking the “byways” of the local area. I am weary of lockdown, can you tell?
  • 28D [Common blood group] O-TYPE – I think I am Type O. I think. I really don’t know!
  • 56D [Big celebration] FÊTE – I haven’t been to a “fête” in many months. Hopefully this pandemic is over soon!
  • 61D [D.C. summer hrs.] EDT – Change your clocks this coming Saturday night!

Have a safe and healthy week! This is almost over! (I hope!)

Michael Lieberman’ Universal crossword, “Mixed Breeds” — Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: Breeds of dogs are “mixed” in common phrases.

Universal crossword solution · “Mixed Breeds” · Michael Lieberman · Tue., 3.9.21


  • SESAME BAGEL. Beagle.
  • ALEX BORSTEIN. Boxer. 
  • GRAND OLE OPRY. Poodle. 
  • ETHNIC GROUP. Corgi. 

Excellent “unscramble-the-hidden-word-in-the-phrase” puzzle. It hits all the marks. The hidden words are all very familiar, and the bridge the words in the in-language themers. I confess, the name Alex Borstein only slightly rings a bell, but it’s not for the show in the clue. Where have I seen her? I really want to say Family Guy. Is that right? [Googles] It is! She voices Lois.

Universal is still unable to employ the use of circles in its widely published versions of this puzzle (my common complaint). That’s a bummer. Seems well overdue for the puzzle that claims to “…(set) the standard for all daily crosswords” (per its website) to bring itself up to date with this very standard feature. I think the visual element is important in a theme like this, especially for more casual solvers.

Smooth grid led to a steady north to south solve. I must say though, I’ve never met a SALAD that I couldn’t find a way to make unhealthy :)

3.5 stars with circles. 2.5 without.

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6 Responses to Tuesday, March 9, 2021

  1. Bungalow Bill says:

    WSJ – fun puzzle but best for folks at least 60, 70 would be better.

  2. Philip says:

    LAT: Derek, there is a revealer at 65A. Short one, so easy to miss.

  3. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: SUBARU is a nice find.

    Funniest moment of the solve for me. Once I grokked the theme I looked at the last blank answer, saw the three circles, and thought “Kia.” Without looking at the clue I filled in TROY AIKMAN which fit perfectly. I laughed when I saw the clue [Host of Marco Polo]. And then I thought, “Well, maybe if he was having a pool party…”

  4. marciem says:

    Enjoyed the X-word nation, and esp. learning about Naxos, which only fell with the crosses…never heard of it. I wanted Crete or Corfu but unless there’s a ski resort called Aspec neither of those was going to work :D . The X in Johnson wax took a minute to bubble up in the brain.

    Fun (and timely, as Ade noted) solve and theme.

  5. Krishna Tateneni says:

    Jonesin: you turn the letters in the circled squares that spell out SMILE upside down, you will spell out FROWN, which has the letters you need to complete the second set of clues.

    I can’t see how E turned upside down is F.

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