Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Jonesin' 4:39 (Derek) 


LAT 3:27 (Derek) 


NYT 4:15 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


WSJ 5:36 (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Note to commenters: Comments that are basically just complaining about the Universal crossword’s Pride Month series on sociopolitical grounds are subject to deletion. This site chooses to show love, not hostility, towards our LGBTQIA+ friends and family.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 523), “Oscar-Winning Directors’ Cuts”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 523: “Oscar-Winning Director’s Cuts”

Hello everybody! First and foremost, hope you all are staying cool! It is hawt almost anywhere you turn in the US right now!   

The 2021 Academy Awards are in our rearview mirror, but that does not mean you can’t create a grid that talks about Oscar winners of the past. In this grid, five separate FILMS are mentioned when filling in the circles, though each of its titles are “cut” by at least one black square and continue into the next entry to its right (51D: [Cinephile’s interests…and a hint to this puzzle’s theme]). Initially, I did think that each of the movies had its director win the Oscar because of the presence of “director’s” in the title. As a matter-of-fact, four of the five movies in the grid did have its director win the Academy Award for Best Director, as Crash is the odd man out…though it did win the award for Best Picture (2005).

  • ARE NO (17A: [“There __ accidents”]) + MAD (18A: [Seeing red]) + LANDS (19A: [Touches down]) = Nomadland
  • FIREBIRD (24A: [Stravinsky balled that debuted in 1910, with “The”]) + MANETS (25D: [Paintings by a Degas contemporary]) = Birdman
  • BEST I (34A: [‘This is the ___ can do”]) + TAN (37A: [Sandy color]) + I CAME (38A: [“Veni,” translated]) = Titanic
  • FULCRA (51D: [Seesaw supports]) + SHOOTERS (52A: [Small bar drinks that are downed quickly]) = Crash
  • L-DOPA (57D: [Drug for Parkinson’s patients]) + RAS (58A: [Dorm VIPs]) + ITEMS (61A: [Shopping cart fillers]) = Parasite

Really liked those long columns in the southeast, featuring both ALTER EGO (39D: [Diana Prince, to Wonder Woman]) and MERRY MEN (40D: [Robin Hood’s band members]). Speaking of Robin Hood, which version do you think of when you see that name? Errol Flynn’s? Kevin Costner’s? Cary Elwes’? Frank Sinatra, possibly? Well, here’s my Robin Hood…

RACE HORSE seems pretty timely given the running of the Belmont Stakes this past Saturday, a race that the legend mentioned in the clue won by a staggering 31 lengths in 1973 (20A: [Secretariat, e.g.]). So wishing “utli” was a thing, then we could have had “tubular” instead of TABULAR and I can mention the couple of times I actually heard someone say “tubular” while out in California, confirming to me that that wasn’t just slang that I had heard in movies (31A: [Arranged in columns, as spreadsheet info]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LANCER (4D: [Mitsubishi sedan]) – Definitely dug deep to get this edition out to you, but if you wanted to clue this in the most impossible way, just do this: [Any athlete at California Baptist University]. The CBU Lancers made the move to the Division I level in 2018, and currently are a member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The stupid transition period rule the NCAA has in its books will cause the school to not be eligible for postseason tournaments until 2022-23, but back in their Division II days, the CBU men’s basketball team did make the Elite Eight (the showcase of Division II’s NCAA Tournament, a la the Final Four in Division I) in the spring of 2018, their last season in Division II. The school is located in Riverside, California. (Now that I’ve written this, I went back to the grid and noticed that I could have easily written about current US Women’s National Soccer Team member and World Cup winner Crystal DUNN! Next time, for sure!)

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

Take care!


Christopher Adams’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 6 8 21, no. 0608

Our theme today adds an H to the end of -IS words to create new words that change the meaning of the familiar base phrases:

  • 20a. [Checkout devices at Dublin supermarkets?], IRISH SCANNERS.
  • 34a. [Urban area around a church district?], PARISH METRO. Are you hearing Sean Connery’s voice, too?
  • 40a. [Claim that a language in “The Lord of the Rings” is not extinct?], ELVISH LIVES. Ha! I appreciate the linguistic dorkery of Elvish and the riff on “Elvis lives” (which is, of course, an anagram pair).
  • 52a. [Suggestion to friends on when to meet for lunch?], “TENNISH, ANYONE?” Beg pardon? Who put “lunch” in this clue? Brunch works, but who on earth is making lunch plans for 10 a.m.?

Solid, easy enough theme for a Tuesday.

Fave fill: SELTZERS, DITHERED, the weirdness of ZOYSIA grass.

Three more things:

  • 46a. [Stew, steam or boil], SEETHE. Fuming would also fit in here, but it lacks the cookery vibe of the three clue verbs.
  • 9a. [Transparent hospital container, informally], IV BAG. My regularly scheduled infusion involves a light-sensitive substance, so an opaque brown wrapper covers the IV BAG. I just wish it were a brown paper bag instead, so it’d feel more festive.
  • 63a. [Quechua speaker of old], INCA. Millions of people are Quechua speakers today.

Four stars from me.

Pawel Fludzinski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Alchemy”—Jim P’s review

I didn’t pay attention to the theme during the solve, but this turned out to be a word ladder going from LEAD (the metal) to GOLD (hence the title). But unlike the typical word ladder found in crosswords in which the changed words are standalone entries, here they’re part of existing familiar phrases.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Alchemy” · Pawel Fludzinski · Tue., 6.8.21

  • 17a. [Total failure, figuratively] LEAD BALLOON
  • 23a. [First graders learn how to do it] READ AND WRITE
  • 38a. [Motorist’s guide] ROAD MAP
  • 49a. [Light a fire under] GOAD TO ACTION. “Goad into action” sounds more natural to me.
  • 59a. [Fort Knox stockpile] GOLD RESERVE

I for one don’t mind word ladders, especially when something interesting is done with them, and to me, this qualifies as interesting. Turning a LEAD BALLOON into the GOLD RESERVE is a fun idea.

Fill highlights: CODE RED, LEGAL ADULT, “I SUPPOSE SO,” PAID THE TAB (I wanted PAID IN FULL), and KOKOMO (watch the video here if you’re so inclined). A number of crosswordesey entries (DIISTAC, NEU, ISL, ATMO, etc.) threatened to scuttle the grid, but I think there were enough positives to outweigh the negatives.

Clues of note:

  • 26d. [Congressional figure]. WHIP. For some reason, I wanted WHIG. I guess I’m stuck in the 19th century.
  • 47a. [Zooms past]. RACES BY. Another writeover for me; I wanted FLIES BY.

A nicely themed grid. I wish the fill was a touch smoother, but there’s some good stuff to be found throughout. 3.75 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “BAD Company” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 06/08/2021

As is usually the case with Jonesin’ puzzles, I’ll bet the brainstorming session here was a hoot! All of the themers are pairs of people that have the initials B and D, hence the theme. How many more, if any, can YOU think of?

  • 17A [Nicknames of two legendary bebop musicians (and the title of their 1952 album)] BIRD AND DIZ 
  • 29A [Country duo behind “Ain’t Nothing ’bout You” and “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”] BROOKS AND DUNN
  • 46A [Caillou’s Daddy and Mommy, according to the official website (sorry, parents, I feel your pain)] BORIS AND DORIS 
  • 63A [The McKenzie brothers of SCTV’s “Great White North” sketches] BOB AND DOUG 

Perhaps a better question is: how many did you KNOW? I knew two. Turns out the most obscure trivia in this week’s puzzle is in the theme answers! Even though challenging, all gettable and fair. Perhaps your knowledge wheelhouse is different than mine; that is one thing I learned from appearing on Jeopardy! We are all different, and all of us are still learning! 4.5 stars from me today.

A few more comments:

  • 14A [Neckwear for Fred in “Scooby-Doo”] ASCOT – I think Freddie Prinze, Jr. was even rocking one of these in the live action movie!
  • 45A [“Everybody Loves Raymond” surname] BARONE – This is also slightly obscure, but this show was in syndication forever. Surely we have all seen this show at least once!
  • 62A [“What You’re Made Of, We’re Made For” insurance co.] USAA – We have all also seen THESE commercials. They are ubiquitous, even though they only target military personnel. Seems like that wouldn’t be necessary; they’re all on a list somewhere!
  • 67A [Character before Borat] ALI G – Sacha Baron Cohen was also funny on This is America, the satirical comedy skit show on Showtime. Some parts can only be described as “cringe-worthy!”

    Fred Jones from “Scooby Doo”

  • 3D [More illegible, like some signatures] SCRIBBLIER – Love this word, even if it’s made up! My handwriting has also gotten “scribblier” as I get older!
  • 10D [2013 Eminem song that has a Guinness World Record] “RAP GOD” – Seems like I should know this song! I don’t.
  • 32D [SW1P, for Westminster Abbey, e.g.] UK POST CODE – What an entry! The things you can get away with in indie puzzles! I wonder if this is in my word list? I wonder if I want it IN there!
  • 42D [Indy 500 winner Luyendyk] ARIE – I think there is an ARIE Jr, as well. Wasn’t he on The Bachelor? (Turns out he was; just got back from a Google rabbit hole!)
  • 45D [Current “SNL” cast member Yang] BOWEN – Tune in to Deb Amlen and Sam Ezersky this Thursday as they solve the NYT puzzle with the aforementioned Bowen Yang!
  • 47D [Return remark] “I’M BACK!” – Great casual phrase!

That is all! Another Jonesin’ review coming next week!

Jeff Stillman’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 06/08/2021

We have circles! What do they mean? It took me a minute, but the revealer is stellar!

  • 20A [Prime time for vacationers] TOURIST SEASON 
  • 29A [Work out of the office?] BUSINESS TRI
  • 46A [Pacific spot named for the day it was discovered] EASTER ISLAND 
  • 56A [’80s hard rock quintet, and what’s literally found in each set of circles] TWISTED SISTER 

I like it! Now I have “We’re Not Gonna Take It” echoing in my head! Guess what I now HAVE to post at the end of this video? Yes, I saw the jumbled letters, but I couldn’t figure out what was happening, so the revealer was nice to encounter. Not too hard of a puzzle, but it IS Tuesday! Nice puzzle, Jeff! 4.3 stars from me.

Just a few notes:

  • 37A [Chevy subcompact] AVEO – Do they still make these? I never see any. I think my brother had one of these for a hot minute.
  • 63A [Wavy pattern] MOIRE – I don’t know this word! Nice to learn something new on a Tuesday!
  • 6D [Carnivore’s regimen] MEAT DIET – Good if you’re describing a lion; otherwise, eat your veggies!
  • 11D [Time to celebrate] BANNER DAY – My appearance on Jeopardy! would certainly qualify as a BANNER DAY!
  • 48D [Emulate the Gregorians] INTONE – INTONE as in chant. Learned about Gregorian chants in like 5th grade. It was in music class; these chants are barely music!
  • 49D [Upscale retailer __ Marcus] NEIMAN – Don’t you mean Neiman MARK UP?

Everyone have a safe and healthy week!

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28 Responses to Tuesday, June 8, 2021

  1. Rob says:

    NYT: Good puzzle, but should have been a Wednesday (or maybe even a Thursday!)

  2. pannonica says:

    NYT: In addition to the INCA and brunch gaffes that Amy mentioned, I wanted to point out the superfluous and misleading quotes around bear in the clue for PANDA (64a); it is indeed an ursid.

    • R says:

      I’m not sure how INCA is a gaffe. In my reading, the clue doesn’t imply that there aren’t Quechua speakers now, but that there aren’t INCAs now. Cluing YUGOSLAV as “Serbo-Croatian speaker of old” similarly feels fine to me (though it’s obviously far less old). A better example would be clueing something like CLEVELAND SPIDER as “Baseball player of old,” which would be fine and not imply that baseball is no longer played. Also, here’s hoping that the current Cleveland baseball team revives that mascot.
      I get that you and Amy and the Fiend crew have a long history of pointing out bad INCA clues, but I don’t think this is one of them.

      • Matt says:

        It’s not a gaffe because it’s incorrect, but because it perpetuates a worldview that sees indigenous people/groups as existing in the past and not the present. It’s a choice to reinforce, rather than challenge, this existing assumption in many people’s minds.

        • R says:

          Again, I don’t see a reading of this that states or even implies that there are no longer Quechua speaking people, but that there are no longer INCA people, which, as far as I can tell, is true. The good cause of recognizing and supporting indigenous people in the world is not helped by sloppy reading and lazy performative grandstanding.

  3. Lise says:

    I am wondering if the Derek Allen who was on Jeopardy! last night is Fiend’s own? I enjoyed watching him and putting a face to the name, if it was indeed him.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Indeed he is!

      • Lise says:

        Well, that’s wonderful. Derek, I admired your performance very much. The Final answer was a tough one – neither my husband nor I knew the answer either, and we’re both way older than you.

        Congratulations on your appearance!

  4. huda says:

    NYT: Anyone else having difficulty accessing the puzzle page of the NY Times today?

  5. Mr. Grumpy says:

    NYT: “Brunch works, but who on earth is making lunch plans for 10 a.m.?” And someone seems to have hit the sauce a bit early ….

    • huda says:

      I agree, brunch would have been a much better clue. It doesn’t help when the clue to a theme entry is off, especially when the whole point is to be literal for the whole gag to work.

  6. Nene says:

    Filled with odd trivia. Not fun. With all due respect this one laid an egg.

  7. huda says:

    NYT: I’m always interested when Amy’s opinion is really different from how I feel about a puzzle, and today was an example. I think my limited knowledge of proper names is often at fault, and I accept that greater knowledge of pop culture would help me. But there’s also the issue of density and how the names and other trivia intersect. Proper names are binary- if you know them they’re very helpful and if you don’t, it’s typically hard to deduce them. So, they beget a sense of frustration, which I think gets reflected in the ratings.

    • Billy Boy says:

      Names are often a weakness of mine, but these, although creating more work, were gettable.

      For once …

      Liked this puzzle, I did, but expected complaints about lisp shaming.

  8. MattF says:

    I found the NYT somewhat hard for a Tuesday— a less-than-obvious theme and a couple of obscure words. But quite solvable, and a good puzzle.

  9. Mutman says:

    NYT: Took me time to get started, but I thoroughly enjoyed the punnish theme.

    Got Naticked at 1D/17A SAKI/KERI

  10. Kameron says:

    Today’s disclaimer notwithstanding, I would welcome some explanation for the wounded, angry reactions to yesterday’s ACT UP theme; I can’t be the only person who saw the comments first and scrolled up expecting, I dunno, some violent extremist group with real blood on its hands, only to find that the target of such fury was … ACT UP.

    The original comment yesterday, now deleted, advised people to read the Wikipedia page about ACT UP. I would advise the same — because, contrary to the OP’s intention in recommending it, the page proves her objections to be a grave mischaracterization. It is never more accurate than when referring to and validating ACT UP’s methods of direct action as “civil disobedience” — which is to say, claiming it as part of a tried and true tradition of effective political protest. ACT UP’s methods were aggressive, blasphemous, brash, unforgiving, flawed, and the like. But please consider their targets: the Reagan White House, the NIH under Fauci, Big Pharma, the Catholic Church, lawmakers encouraging policies of anti-LGBT discrimination, media institutions actively lying about and misrepresenting the reality of AIDS (including in their perpetuation of the falsehood that it was a “gay disease”) — powerful forces which, in sum, pushed the queer community to take drastic measures to prevent this fight from being swept under the rug. The slogan of the era sums it up: Silence = Death.

    It cannot be overstated just how desperate this situation was for the people involved in ACT UP — people who felt not only abandoned by the public and political infrastructure, but actively antagonized by it. The original poster yesterday flippantly (at best), or snidely (at worst), wanted to write this complexity off as “Good Intentions,” before refusing to discuss said intentions. But ACT UP was populated by people whose lives were directly affected — a great many of those activists were living with or losing loved ones to AIDS; entire communities and social circles were disappearing, an absence felt within the queer community to this day; and the community at large was being confronted with broad cultural denialism. So, it wasn’t “good intentions.” It was grief, anger, and despair. It isn’t “politically correct” to acknowledge as much. (Retire this phrase, btw; you’re misusing it). This is all a matter of historical record.

    There was plenty else said yesterday that’s worth picking apart, but clearing up this mess regarding ACT UP is most urgent because, this being Pride month, acknowledging the history is urgent. Also: it’s Pride month. It’s on the calendar, celebrated worldwide. Treating the acknowledgment of that fact by publications like it’s some lefty conspiracy is, frankly, embarrassing.

    • marciem says:

      Thank you for posting this Kameron. I was at a loss after doing as told and looking ACT UP on Wikipedia, as to the point the OP was trying to make with that as a reference. From her post, I would have thought part of the protests included stomping on kittens and other “vomit inducing” actions, but I’m not seeing it anywhere.

      I’d almost wish Amy would repost the deleted post so that we could remind ourselves, and if not interact with the poster at least discuss what was said.

      • marciem says:

        Of course, without specifics as to how she herself was treated (as referenced in her post) that brought on such a gut-reaction in her, discussion of her post is probably pointless.

  11. Nothing to add, other than “do read Amy’s blurb, and Kam’s comment”, but my thanks to Amy and Team Fiend for their leadership when hate flares up here.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I think the people who post these “anti-PC,” “anti-woke” screeds honestly don’t understand that their words are attacking actual human beings. They’re not just statements of political stances. To say that ACT UP makes you “vomit” is such an attack on people, mostly gay men, who were fighting for their lives. This whole “why can’t the puzzles just be fun” thing—why can’t these people grasp that bitching and moaning about inclusivity as if it’s a bad thing is an *attack* on all the people who’ve been excluded too much? Why can’t they see that my appreciation of puzzles that convey a woman’s perspective, an embrace of all sorts of cultures and peoples, means *these puzzles are an even more fun thing for me*, and for many others. If it makes them unhappy to read that some of us miss these aspects when they’re absent from a puzzle, and enjoy them when they’re here, well, they don’t have to read the blog.

      And I would hate for somebody who’s encountered homophobia, sexism, racism, ableism, xenophobia, etc., in their lives to face *more* of that abuse in the comments here. Those commenters probably decry the concept of “safe spaces,” but that’s exactly what they want—a safe space for them to not be challenged. Sorry, folks, but this particular bit of the world is moving forward and embracing diversity.

  12. Brenda DeClario says:

    In some of the above posts about delays in NYT etc. today I noticed many are posted before 7 am. Is this the reason for posts complaining about some clues/answers not passing a *breakfast test?* Feels a little judgey to me. Surely some of you have changed a diaper before coffee & surely if one has a gag reflex they would deter solving before brunch to avert discomfort. Personally I like to spit my coffee when I read a slangy clue. I’m an adult. I can handle it.

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