Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Jonesin' 3:55 (Derek) 


LAT 2;53 (Derek) 


NYT 3:23 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 524), “Opening Nights”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 524: “Opening Nights”

Hello everyone! Hope you all are doing well as the official start to summer is right around the corner.   

Some hot and sticky nights are ahead, but the nights mentioned in this grid are a whole lot of fun. Each of the first words in the five theme entries is a word that can come before the word “night.” 

  • SILENT TREATMENT (17A: [Unspeakable behavior from an angry spouse?]) – Lovely clue!
  • STARRY-EYED (24A: [Super-idealistic])
  • LADIES IN WAITING (39A: [Queen’s assistants])
  • DATE STAMPS (50A: [Time-related security video info])
  • GOOD WILL HUNTING (60A: [Film in which Robin Williams plays Dr. Sean Maguire])

The intersecting non-themed long entries in the northwest and southeast were beyond delightful, from the history-making SALLY RIDE (3D: [First American woman in space]) to GRAVY BOAT making me think of Thanksgiving a few months early (14A: [“Saucy” Thanksgiving Day serving dish]) to SITS STILL making me a little dizzy when typing it in given its palindromic nature to the first seven letters (36D: [Doesn’t fidget]). Initially put in “Etna” for ENNA, which would definitely make for a, um, interesting (and hot) time at that particular resort (59D: [Sicilian resort]). Some sports crosswordese to clarify if you’re not aware, but NLE would stand for “National League East,” the division in which the Mets currently sit atop of at the moment (63D: [Mets and Marlins div.]). Of course, I’m typing up this blog entry inside of the press box of Citi Field, home of the Mets…and the team they are facing is from Amy’s neck of the woods, the Chicago Cubs. Can’t make this up…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MOOCH (65A: [Be a parasite]) – About a quarter of a century ago, former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci was considered a young hot-shot of a head coach prospect. When Brett Favre started his Hall-of-Fame career in Green Bay in 1992, “Mooch” was Favre’s quarterbacks coach there. Mariucci became a head coach at the University of California for one season before being hired as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 1997. In six seasons in the Bay, Mooch compiled a 60-43 record, including an NFC Championship Game appearance in his first season in 1997. After being fired after the 2002 season, Mariucci became the head coach of the Detroit Lions, where he was less than successful in three season (15-28). Over the last number of years, Mooch has been a television analyst at the NFL Network.

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

Take care!


Owen Travis’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 6 15 21, no. 0615

I’ve seen the Harry Potter movies (I think all of them? there’s a chance I missed one or two in the series) but I’m not at all an obsessive, so this theme didn’t magically assemble itself in my grid. Theme revealer DEATHLY HALLOWS is a 51a. [Set of legendary objects from the Harry Potter series found at the ends of 20-, 34- and 41-Across]. Those three entries end with a STONE, CLOAK, and WAND:

  • 20a. [Unchangeable], WRITTEN IN STONE. Actually, there are techniques that can facilitate fixing typos that have been carved in stone, I think? Imperfectly, though. As when the sculptor etched “LETS PLAY TWO” on the base of the Ernie Banks statue by Wrigley Field—they added an apostrophe, but it wasn’t a curvy apostrophe to match the serif font, and the kerning was all off.
  • 34a. [Dressy floor-length garment], OPERA CLOAK. Raise your hand if you’ve ever worn an opera cloak.
  • 41a. [Something a kid might blow right through], BUBBLE WAND. Bubbles! Yes. Don’t blow your respiratory secretions in my direction, though.

Theme’s all right, but going the Potter route doesn’t feel particularly new or fresh, an OPERA CLOAK is sort of an oddball item to include, and one of the three themers is an adjectival phrase rather than a noun.

Five more things:

  • 18a. [“Citizen ___”], KANE. My cousin’s brother-in-law, Matt KANE, is a digital artist who recently sold his Monet haystacks riff as an NFT at Sotheby’s. Wild, ain’t it?
  • 28a. [Its card numbers all begin with 4], VISA. Yep, MasterCard numbers start with 5, and there are rules for the other sorts of credit cards. I’m always a tad annoyed when a website asks which kind of credit card I’m using—just draw your own conclusions from the first digit, people!
  • 30a. [Rotational speed meas.], RPS. I Googled to find out what’s measured in revolutions/rotations per second. Ping-pong balls, cricket balls, ballet dancers—lots of stuff.
  • 58a. [Airline whose name is a Greek letter], DELTA. Have you been following this new Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus? It’s one to watch—more contagious, makes people sicker, spreading worldwide. If you haven’t gotten fully vaccinated yet, please get on that this week!
  • 36d. [What not to do over something out of your control], LOSE SLEEP. Accepting advice on how to prevent this!


3.4 stars from me.

Alex Eaton-Salners’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Keep a Wide Berth”—Jim P’s review

Ah, that’s better after yesterday’s distasteful grid. AES is here to put us back on track.

The revealer is BED / SPREAD (65a, [With 66-Across, cover of sorts, and a description of this puzzle’s theme]). In addition, there’s a pseudo-revealer at 62a SIZE [One of four in this grid]. The other theme answers are familiar phrases that include bed sizes in circled letters and spread out from first letter to last.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Keep a Wide Berth” · Alex Eaton-Salners · Tue., 6.15.21

  • 17a. [Produced with a Remington, say] TYPEWRITTEN. Twin. I especially like how the highlighted letters are spread out evenly across the entry. I wonder if that’s just coincidence or if it was specifically chosen for this.
  • 28a. [Royal happening of 2012] DIAMOND JUBILEE. Double. Nice find.
  • 44a. [Time for a network news commercial break, perhaps] QUARTER TO SEVEN. Queen. This one feels a little bit random.
  • 57a. [“Bridesmaids” star] KRISTEN WIIG. King.

All in all, very nice, and just right for a Tuesday outing.

Top entries in the fill have to be CATAPULT and “ENERGIZE” clued geekily as [“Beam me up!”] with SALES REP and EMACIATE rounding out the long entries. PICANTE adds a little spice, and JAFAR and QUAKER make for nice Scrabbly entries. Starting off the grid with a fun CICADA is a nice touch as well.

I’m not so sure about cluing LEFTS as a verb [Turns across traffic]. I’d stick with something like [Southpaw punches].

I have to mention GUAM [“Where America’s Day Begins” island] which is where Alex was born and which is my ancestral home (I lived there for a year when I was a kid but both my parents are born and raised Chamorros). In the notes to his recent AVCX puzzle from last week, Alex gave me a shout-out and linked to the series of puzzles we collaborated on with GUAM themes for the island’s daily newspapers. This seems like a good place for me to do the same. There are four of them in total. Knowing a little bit of Chamorro is helpful, but not required. We titled them Island Time, Travel Advisory, Seal of Approval, and Home Base.

Clues of note:

  • 9d. [Something that vanishes in a wink?]. EYE. Clever.
  • 40d. [Ink or oink source]. PEN. I first put in PIG based on the “oink” and I was thinking how gross it is that they make ink from pigs. I’m glad I figured out the correct answer.

Good puzzle. 3.8 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Just Ir-ish” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 06/15/2021

It actually took me a minute to figure out the title, not the theme. But it all makes sense once you think a second. Here are the themers:

  • 17A [Compliant “Transformers” director?] MICHAEL OBEY (Michael Bay)
  • 54A [Pop soloist familiar with the Egyptian underworld?] MILEY OSIRIS (Miley Cyrus)
  • 11D [Unfortunate tractor inventor?] JOHN “OH DEAR!” (John Deere)
  • 27D [Disappointing “Save Me” singer-songwriter?] AIMEE “OH MAN!” (Aimee Mann)

As you can see, Matt has taken some famous people’s names and add an “O” sound before the surname, as in O’Leary or O’Connor, popular Irish names. But it is only in a phonetic way, as the ensuing names leave plenty of room for Jonesin’ puns. A smooth Jonesin’ solve this week, and I didn’t find too much obscure trivia either. Maybe other solvers might disagree! 4.4 stars from me.

Only a few notes:

  • 21A [Coast-to-coast vacation, maybe] RV TRIP – This sounds like very little fun.
  • 38A [Mixed vegetables ingredient, maybe] SWEET CORN – I love sweet corn, but as I get older, it doesn’t love me back.
  • 43A [___ pastry (eclair basis)] CHOUX – I learned this term from Food Channel!
  • 61A [Printer refill] PAPER – It wasn’t TONER??
  • 43D [Vegas game with rolls] CRAPS – They are talking about bringing actual gambling games (as opposed to slot machines) right here to northern Indiana to the local casino. It will not affect Derek AT ALL, since I don’t gamble! But it is a significant step for a highly conservative area of the country.
  • 46D [George Peppard TV series, with “The”] A-TEAM – Matt is showing his age with this one! (Of course, I get the reference, so I am showing my age as well!

Another Jonesin’ next week!

Darryl Gonzalez’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 06/15/2021

Is this a debut? This byline was not in the constructor list on this site. If so, congrats and kudos for a clever puzzle. We have a clever theme today! Here are the theme answers:

  • 16A [One who locks up] LAST TO LEAVE
  • 23A [Phrase used at a remembrance service] LEST WE FORGET 
  • 36A [Resort website section that includes a pool and fitness center] LIST OF AMENITIES 
  • 48A [Area to reclaim misplaced stuff] LOST AND FOUND 
  • 58A [Existential passion] LUST FOR LIFE 

So we have all of the vowel iterations of L?ST that have the vowel in position two. As a side benefit, all of the theme answers are three words, which is also a nice touch. So simple it’s genius! Very well done, and looking forward to more puzzles from you, Darryl! 4.5 stars from me.

Just a few more notes:

  • 30A [Legal degs.] L.L.B.’S – I don’t know all of the degree abbreviations. I also don’t know very many lawyers, which is probably a good thing!
  • 41A [N. or S. state] DAK. – Bill Maher is right: why ARE there two Dakotas? I think it has something to do with sweetening their deal of statehood with FOUR senators. But it is a valid question!
  • 14D [“That’s painful!”] “YEOW!” – I got this immediately, since I am always stubbing my toe!
  • 45D [Needed to reorder] RAN LOW – I put in RAN OUT. I guess I am not as good a planner as the clue writer!
  • 51D [Dieter’s concern] FATS – And the calories, and the carbs, and the fiber …

Have a safe and healthy week!

Evan Mulvihill’s Universal crossword, “Splitting Image” — Jim Q’s write-up

This puzzle is part of Universal’s Pride Month series. 

Universal crossword solution · “Splitting Image” · Evan Mulvihill ​ · Tue, 6.15.21

THEME: Hearts.


  • The grid shape itself is a “broken heart”
  • (revealer) BROKEN HEARTS.

Always fun to open up a puzzle and balk at its shape. In this case, it’s not entirely symmetrical at all in order to accommodate the heart-like shape with a slash down the middle. Or at least that’s what I see. Kinda has a Rorschach feel to it. If you told me it was a four leaf clover I’d probably say “Oh yeah… I can sorta see that…”

Also I just realized when typing the answers that the HEARTs are broken as long as you can see the separation of it between the words in the theme entries. In the puzzle itself, the revealer didn’t work for me quite as well because 1) I think there’s only one HEART depicted in the grid art and 2) The HEARTs in the theme entries look quite intact (even though they are separated across words in the theme).

In the fill, liked:

MOTHERLODE, BETA TESTER (fun clue!), and ALL TALK. Interesting to see RUDD as we are watching the 1996 version of Romeo + Juliet in my 9th grade class on the last day of school, and RUDD plays Paris. It’s quite remarkable how little he has aged in the past 25 years.

This appear to be a debut puzzle for Evan Mulvihill. Congratulations! Bold concept for a debut :)

Overall enjoyable- the revealer was a nice AHA. Even if the execution felt a little wobbly to me.





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8 Responses to Tuesday, June 15, 2021

  1. PJ says:

    I also enjoyed the LAT puzzle and I’m not a good planner, either. I saw “Going twice,” ignored the quotes and somehow my brain said “Going, going.” I dropped in GONE.

    The vowel progressions are all short vowel sounds.

  2. Me says:

    LAT: FDA (Food and DRUG Administration) was clued as “Org. that issues DRUG recalls.” Not sure how that didn’t get caught in editing.

    I liked the LAST/LEST/LIST/LOST/LUST progression. Not too many consonant combinations you can do that with.

  3. Mary says:

    LAT: The LOW dupe in 45D & 62 D could have been eliminated by making 62D law & 65A roasts.

  4. Evan M here, constructor for today’s Universal puzzle. Thanks for the commentary Joe Q, and yes it is my debut. I struggled a bit with whether the pluralization of the revealer “worked” and ideally I would have found a way to put BROKEN HEART into the puzzle without pluralizing it. The number of letters in each word didn’t allow for that. Of course, we could’ve just put a black square where the S is, but then it wouldn’t have looked as pretty — and even more “Rorschach.”

    I appreciate crossword commentary but I think it needs to be couched in: could this crossword have even been made with the changes the commentator is asking for? If so, totally valid point. But if not, the question then is whether the puzzle needs to be scrapped altogether or is worth the tradeoff.

    I would be remiss without giving credit to Joe Krozel’s 2009 semi-themeless puzzle which featured three (3!) 15-letter length spanners. Without 4 theme entries he had a little more flexibility than me. I adapted the grid from his design but I had to change it around to fit my theme.

    Also would be remiss without giving credit to my mentor Tom Pepper who pretty much came up with HIGH EARTH ORBITS after I tried to make ASHE ARTHUR, SHEAR TEST and THE SPANISH EARTH “work.” And Brad Wilber, who wasn’t involved as intensively as Tom but was always willing to point me in the right direction.

    Oh and lastly I just want to give David Steinberg and Amanda Rafkin some more props for having an awesome editing process in place with a LOT of collaboration on grid, grid design, and cluing. I learned a lot and I think I’m much better prepared to submit publishable puzzles by having worked with them.

    • PJ says:

      Nice job Evan!

      • Thanks PJ. I also want to make clear in this public forum that I felt Jim Q’s write-up was very positive and fair!

        I’ve just been having “the feels” about crossword commentary not always relating to realistic changes in a puzzle for a little bit and had to get it out there.

  5. Crotchety Doug says:

    (WSJ) @Jim P – Thanks so much for posting your and Alex Eaton-Salners four Guam-related puzzles. I did them all. Had a few Naticks, but not too many. They were a gentle, amusing introduction to Guam. I’d heard of it all my life, but couldn’t find it on a globe. It’s as far west (east?) as Japan. My favorite moment was finding out what “LFA” stands for (Travel Advisory, 9D). Little Fire Ant! Who knew!

  6. Crotchety Doug says:

    LAT – I just finished the “Hard Crossword” from Stan Newman (written by Greg Johnson) dated June 10th. Four out of five themers are identical and one is close: LASTTOLEAVE, LESTWEFORGET, LISTOFDEMANDS, LOSTANDFOUND, and LUSTFORLIFE. Different clues, but this is a pretty far out coincidence!

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