Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Jonesin' 4:56 (Derek) 


LAT 4:41 (Derek) 


NYT 3:21 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 516), “Poetry in Motion”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 516t: “Poetry in Motion”

Hello there, everyone! Hope all of you are doing very well to begin the new week!

I am sure many people will have fond memories of the most recent INAUGURATION (20A: [2021 presidential event at which 56-Across recited a poem whose title is hidden in the ascending arrangements of circles]), and, somehow, even with the installation of the nation’s 46th president and the first woman to serve as vice president, poet AMANDA GORMAN was able to stand out as much as President Biden and Vice President Harris with her rousing poem (56A: [First-ever National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States…and the puzzle honoree]). Just one month later, she recited another amazing poem of hers before the start of the SUPER BOWL (36A: [February 2021 event at which 56-Across recited “Chorus of the Captains,” a tribute to pandemic heroes]). All this, and she did not turn 23 until last month!! 

      • THEREFORE (60A: [Ergo])
      • ANTHILL (48A: [Home for tiny colonists])
      • WEARIER (30A: [More tired])
      • FREE-CLIMB (18A: [Scale a rock formation without certain types of gear])

Also, to have MAYA in the puzzle to go along with the puzzle’s honoree and the visual of the words contained in the puzzle’s circles “climbing” is just another perfect touch to this particular grid (10A: [“On the Pulse of Morning” poet Angelou]). We have a whole lot of seven-letter chunkiness in the corners, but it turned out to be a couple of 1980s music stars, WAITE (63A: [“Missing You” singer John]) and LEBON, that stole the show for me and, also, had me thinking which Duran Duran song is my favorite (17A: [Duran Duran lead singer Simon]). I know Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf are what the band is best known for, but Is There Something I Should Know is a dark horse for me in terms of a favorite song from those Wild Boys. Currently losing track of all the movies that IDRIS has appeared in, so seeing the clue made me go, “He was in that film, too?” (53D: [“Thor” actor Elba]). Either way, he’s a wonderful talent, whether it be acting or DJing under his music name, Big Driis. 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HEP (26D: [Cool, back in the day]) – Before last month, former high school basketball coach Hep Cronin was mostly known as a local icon, winning more than 400 games as a high school coach in the Cincinnati area. Hep was thrown into the national spotlight during this March’s NCAA Tournament when his son, Mick Cronin, led the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team to the Final Four, as it was chronicled that the son had not seen his 79-year-old father in over a year because of COVID. (Hep contracted the virus around Thanksgiving last year.) Because of the national attention, more people became aware of Hep’s eye on the baseball diamond as well, as he was a scout for the Atlanta baseball team for over 40 years and was instrumental in the team drafting future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones with the first pick of the 1990 Major League Baseball Draft. Here is father and son after UCLA’s First Four (play-in game) win during this year’s tournament against Michigan State.

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

Take care!


Adam Wagner’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 20 21, no. 0420

I filled in the lower right corner of the puzzle via all the clues except the 3-letter revealer, so my description of the theme was going to be “phrases that end with noisy things.” Not precisely! 63d. [Animal you might describe by the ends of 21-, 28-, 48- and 54-Across], DOG? Alrighty then. Dog sounds plus -ER appear at the ends of each themer:

  • 21a. [Brewery jug], BEER GROWLER. Apparently the two-quart size is the most popular. When you want 64 oz of draft beer in a resealable (so you don’t have to finish in one sitting) container, I guess this is the way to go.
  • 28a. [Largest speaker in a sound system, usually], SUBWOOFER. As crossworder Daryl Sng tweeted the other day, “I only just realized the linguistic parallel between ‘subtweet’ and ‘subwoofer’.” (Subtweets are a thing on Twitter, basically saying something negative about a specific person without giving their name.)
  • 48a. [Longtime host of “The Price Is Right”], BOB BARKER. Bob says: spay and neuter your 63-Downs!
  • 54a. [Power user of a popular review site, colloquially], ELITE YELPER. That’s a thing? It’s news to me. Also, I feel like yelping is more a people sound, with dogs laying claim to yapping and yipping.

Three out of four ain’t bad, but four out of four is better.

Fave fill: JUICE BAR, ELIXIR, HASBRO, ZINGER, OY VEY in its entirety (vs. just VEY), and TAKE-HOME.

Five more things:

  • 45a. [Expel, as waste], EGEST. This is one of those words that get used more in crosswords than in day-to-day vocab.
  • 51a. [Chicago mayor Lightfoot], LORI. She was in charge of using $280 million of federal pandemic money to pay police overtime. Over a quarter of a billion! Sigh. She defends cops far more than she holds them to account for things like “killing a 13-year-old boy after he dropped the gun and put his hands up.”
  • 53a. [Like “manspreading” on public transportation], RUDE. Indeed! I miss being able to ride the bus. When will the latest COVID surge abate? Summer? Fall? Next winter? 2022?
  • 1d. [A.D.A.-compliant entrance feature], RAMP. Do you know the garlicky wild onions called ramps? They are in season now, briefly. Had ’em once at a restaurant and the garlic heartburn besieged me for the next two days, so now I’m afraid of ramps.
  • 9d. [___ 3000, one half of rap’s Outkast], ANDRE. The video of his boffo hit “Hey Ya!” is below. You’ll note that this song is more funk/pop and not rap at all (though there are other Outkast songs that are rap).

3.75 stars from me.

Carl Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Piecemeal”—Jim P’s review

Happy 420! In the event you have a case of the munchies, this puzzle is here for you. Well, sort of. It’s about food, anyway.

Remember those cereal commercials we used to see when we were kids? They always had the phrase, “Part of this nutritious breakfast,” and they’d have a shot of the bowl of cereal, a glass of milk, a glass of juice, some toast, and maybe some fruit? I always wondered if anyone ever ate all that at one breakfast. I sure didn’t. I mean, what kid has a glass of milk and a glass of juice at the same meal?

This puzzle does, though. It’s all part of this nutritious BREAKFAST SPREAD (39a, [Morning display, and a hint to the circled letters]). Each of the other theme answers is a common-ish phrase with a breakfast item spread out in circled letters.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Piecemeal” · Carl Larson · Tue., 4.20.21

  • 18a. [Double] TWO-BASE HIT. Toast. Is this phrase idiomatic? I’m not much of a baseball watcher, so it sounded awkward to my ear.
  • 23a. [Unproven theories presented as fact] JUNK SCIENCE. Juice. Not sure I’ve ever heard this one either, but maybe.
  • 56a. [Lakeside dock offering] CANOE RENTAL. Cereal. I’m okay with this entry.
  • 62a. [1997 Tommy Lee Jones/Will Smith movie] MEN IN BLACK. Milk. Solid.

Going back to the revealer, when does one ever encounter a BREAKFAST SPREAD? It doesn’t quite sound idiomatic to my ear, but then, what do I know? The term got plenty of hits.

In the long fill, ONE MONTH feels arbitrary, but I do like the other entries: BROWN-EYED, PINT SIZE, NEAT TRICK, as well as MAN BAG and TRANCE.

A Judey Flores BATIK of a bridge on Guam

Clues of note:

  • 22a. [Really small]. PINT SIZE. Why is the pint the epitome of smallness? It’s really not all that small. After all, a pint (a beer) is larger than the typical bottle of American beer. No, we really should use the ounce, shouldn’t we? But “ounce size” is harder to say with the change in vowel sound and the sibilance in the middle. Oh well.
  • 45a. [Cray-cray]. LOCO. The clue feels pretty dated, almost cringe-worthy so. Or am I just out of touch?
  • 3d. [Like the girl in a Van Morrison song]. BROWN-EYED. Ugh, that song. Back in college, every time I was in the student union, that song would come on the juke box. I never found out if someone was trolling us or if it was part of some auto-playing set when no one had picked a song for a while. I got pretty sick of it.
  • 4d. [Dyeing art]. BATIK. There’s an artist on Guam by the name of Judy Flores who does batiks. I find her work colorful and fun, and she represents the island well.
  • 9d. [Electronic music genre]. TRANCE. I have an album of trance music, but if it starts playing in the car, my kids give me grief for listening to boring music. Better than “Brown-Eyed Girl,” I say.
  • 36d. [Bit of cleverness]. NEAT TRICK. As clued, the phrase doesn’t seem idiomatic, but I’ve definitely heard people say it before, so I wish it was clued as a colloquialism.

So what do you say, does this puzzle pass the breakfast test? I say yes. 3.75 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Knowing the Angles” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 04/21/2021

I had to go back and try to figure out what was going on here, but it makes sense now that I re-examine it. What are the circles for in the corners? A very interesting theme!

  • 17A [Item of Mario Bros. lore where you can see the angle in the NW corner] WALUIGI’S CAP
  • 60A [Intro to a certain cipher that resembles the angle in the SE corner] PIGPEN CODE A
  • 11D [On a calculator, it looks like the angle in the NE corner] NUMBER SEVEN
  • 25D [Where to find the letter that looks like the angle in the SW corner] KEY BENEATH O

I will add a picture of Waluigi’s cap so you can see what is going on there. I don’t remember this symbol, but I don’t know Mario Bros. if it is past Super Mario 3. (I’m showing my age!) But the other symbols should be familiar to you quite easily, and these clues are clever. I think this is quite a creative idea; it might not fly at a mainstream crossword platform, but those are slowly fading in importance. There are TONS of indie crosswords out there! If you don’t get Matt Gritzmacher’s email list yet, what are you waiting for? But nice puzzle, Matt. 4.3 stars today.

A few notes:

  • 26A [___ folklórico (traditional Mexican dances)] BAILE – If you say so … !
  • 29A [“That was my best effort”] “I TRIED” – Great casual phrase!
  • 44A [Ab ___ (from the beginning)] INITIO – I believe you.
  • 22D [“The Five People You Meet in Heaven” author Mitch] ALBOM – We know him in this area a little better since he worked for the Detroit Free Press for years. I know him from other various sportswriting ventures over the years. Good writer.
  • 31D [Mara of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”] ROONEY – I think this movie is on Netflix! Another movie I haven’t seen and a book I haven’t read. What else is new!
  • 35D [Ted of “Mr. Mayor”] DANSON – I, of course, know who Ted DANSON is; I don’t think I know this show! I am behind on my TV knowledge, but this might be the OPCRotW!
  • 54D [1993 hitmaker with “No Ordinary Love”] SADE – Now THIS I know; this takes me back to my school days!

That is all! Another Jonesin’ next week!


Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 04/20/2021

Food clues make me hungry. This puzzle has me starving!

  • 17A [Routinely approve] RUBBER STAMP
  • 24A [Betty White’s “The Golden Girls” role] ROSE NYLUND
  • 38A [Assures, as an interest rate] LOCKS IN
  • 52A [.eps or .txt, e.g.] FILE FORMAT
  • 63A [Butchers’ stock literally found in this puzzle’s circles] SIDES OF BEEF

See what I mean? The circles contain cuts of meat. I need to lay off meat like I did a few years ago, but around here that is not so easy. Possible, just not easy. Getting old stinks! But this was a fun puzzle to solve. Love the Golden Girls reference as well! 4.2 stars today.

A few more comments:

  • 20A [Recently] AS OF LATE – I struggles with this one a tad; not sure why.
  • 59A [__ God: tornado, e.g.] ACT OF – It isn’t God’s fault all the time!
  • 70A [Worldview view] TENET – GO WATCH THIS MOVIE IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY. I thought it was awesome!
  • 32D [Announcement before landing] LOCAL TIME – Especially helpful when you are changing time zones.
  • 47D [Cause __: megastar] CELEBRE – Great entry. Haven’t seen this in a puzzle in forever.
  • 53D [Former Apple messaging app] I CHAT – I have never used this. How long has it been gone? Alternate clue: [“What do you do in the game forum?”; “__!”]
  • 65D [Sports radio host Patrick] DAN – I met Dan Patrick when I was on Sports Jeopardy! a few years ago. He’s really tall!

Everyone have a safe and healthy week!

Blake Slonecker’s Universal crossword, “Subtraction” — Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: ION is missing from common phrases, resulting in wackiness.

Universal crossword solution · “Subtraction” · Black Slonecker · Tue., 4.20.21


  • 17A [Hero’s journey] GOOD QUEST. Good question.
  • 29A [Military snitch?] ARMY RAT. Army ration. 
  • 36A [Passengers per car, e.g.?] TRAIN STAT. Train station. 
  • 46A [Adore weed?] LOVE POT. Love potion. 
  • 60A [Grouchy splinter group?] CROSS SECT. Cross section. 
  • Revealer FREE OF / CHARGE. 

An impressive amount of theme in this one. And consistent in the sense that -ION is removed from the ends of each. I do like the entries that don’t change their vowel sounds once they are altered over the ones that do change. Those include GOOD QUEST, ARMY RAT, and CROSS SECT. LOVE POT is a great entry, but the O is not the long vowel sound that happens in LOVE POTION. Same goes for TRAIN STAT.

Stumbled quite a bit in the fill, and I grumbled a couple of times at things like DNA/RNA in the same puzzle, MAASAI being unfamiliar, ETS (as clued), OYS, BAO, TACHS, and a host of other crossword staples.

I object to the clue for HIHATS. Besides it being an odd plural, you don’t “strike” it with your feet. As I’m familiar with it, the HIHAT (not HATS) is made up of two cymbals controlled with a foot pedal (and it’s controlled with a singular foot… not feet). Typically, the drummer still “strikes” it with a drumstick. “Striking” it with both of your feet is a very odd visual for me. Maybe that’s how Animal from The Muppets plays it?

Good to see NECCO is back up and running after it went AWOL in 2018. Nothing like a bit of flavored chalk to make the day great.

Good puzzle. I probably would’ve opted for less theme and cleaner fill.

Great title! <facepalm> I’m just now understanding it. It totally works as another revealer.

3.3 stars from me.


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14 Responses to Tuesday, April 20, 2021

  1. JohnH says:

    Feels like puzzles, as in today’s WSJ, have been running a lot to circled letters. I don’t mind them when they amount to a block of letters or in effect a hidden word or container in cryptic terms. But when the letters, as is happening so often and as today, are not consecutive, it can feel like such a kludge. Surely if you can circle whatever letters you like here and there, you can hide almost anything. Single circles for print solvers also can easily be covered by ink and hard to track.

  2. marciem says:

    LAT: 47D: [Cause __: megastar] CELEBRE … I’ve never heard of this phrase used to describe a “megastar”. Usually its a controversial issue or cause that’s in the news. I can’t find a definition of it relating to a person/star/megastar.

  3. David L says:

    I would say that a dog might YELP when you accidentally step on its paw, but I agree it’s not as characteristic a dog sound as the others.

    I liked the puzzle anyway — the image of BARKERs, GROWLERs, WOOFERs and YELPERs made me smile.

  4. e.a. says:

    BAO is great fill

  5. Robert Alden says:

    NYT: And for some odd reason, Amy thinks that we care more about her social commentary about Lori Lightfoot than breaking down the crossword puzzle. Kind of like she thought we’d enjoy her commentary on Brexit (while admitting she knew nothing about it) last Tuesday…

    • JohnH says:

      In all fairness, it’s Amy’s blog, and Chicago’s her city, so she’s entitled. Speaking from a similarly progressive point of view but from New York, I’m actually surprised. Lightfoot’s a rare black woman big-city mayor, an ACLU board member (and I’m still bitter that the elder Bush smeared Dukakis as “a card carrying member”), and a rare big-city mayor in declaring affordable housing high on the agenda. And, I gather, as for BLM, she sure sound rare in calling for more police punishment going back to when her job was police oversight and in declaring the wall of silence supported by police unions a big part of the problem. But then what do I know about Chicago? And you didn’t ask for my opinion either!

    • R says:

      Not sure why you thought she thinks we care more about social commentary than the crossword. She doesn’t mention the mayor until 3/4 into her review, well after breaking down the crossword puzzle. Plus, that commentary takes up less than 10% of the post. I don’t know of a definition of “more” that means “much smaller and less significant,” but maybe you can enlighten us. Or maybe the next time you see a brief mention of politics you don’t like, you can keep your tantrum to yourself.

      • Robert Alden says:

        @R: I wouldn’t say making a comment is a tantrum, just as much as I don’t consider your comment (which was longer than mine), a tantrum either. I would assume that I’m allowed to voice an opinion just as much as Amy is? Or do you simply prefer silence as the posture of those who you disagree with?

  6. Billy Boy says:

    Should I MANSPLAIN MANSPREADING and why in some instances it really isn’t all that RUDE?
    Thought not.

    Lori Lightfoot has created some controversy among some Chicago residents I know (I used to live there, I can opine on the city, I spent important years of my life there.). These folks are older and white (red-haired and really white!!!!), but at least they are female. They have found (GASP!!!) her Chicago administration (EEEEEK!!!!!!) crooked! (Chicago has always been crooked and will always be)

    I’m really upset about the European Super League today (No one else will care)

    At least

    Just ignore me, if it isn’t the wine it’s the marihujawanna
    Cheers, from Oregon this day

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