Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Jonesin' 3:44 (Derek) 


LAT 3:41 (Derek) 


NYT 4:16 (Amy) 


Universal 4:36 (Jim Q) 


USA Today 13:32 (Emily) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 528), “Fete Tuesday”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 528: “Fete Tuesday”

Hello everyone! Hope you are all doing well lately and continuing to be safe — and hydrated.   

We have some rhyme time with the theme entries, in which puns are made when words for different types of celebrations are paired with celebrities whose names rhyme with the types of wingdings.

  • BARTY PARTY (17A: [Fete for 2021 Wimbledon champion Ashleigh?]) – The timeliness of this clue, with her winning the ladies’ singles title on Saturday, makes this an even bigger winner. Did you know that Barty, after winning the Wimbledon junior title and becoming one of the better players in doubles at the start of her tennis career, quit the sport for a year and a half in part due to homesickness and depression and then became a professional cricketer? She came back to tennis in 2016, became a Grand Slam champion (Roland Garros) and a World No. 1 in 2019, and won Wimbledon just last weekend. What a story.
  • WEST FEST (25A: [Fete for “All Mine” rapper Kanye?])
  • GOODALL BALL (34A: [Fete for primatologist Jane?])
  • CASH BASH (48A: [Fete for “A Boy Named Sue” singer Johnny?])
  • CHAST BLAST (58A: [Fete for “New Yorker” cartoonist Roz?])

One of the entries in today’s grid made me think back one of my ODD (29D: [Peculiar]) quirks that I could never understand, which is YOO-HOO (18D: [Attention-getting yell]). I used to love chocolate milk, whether it be the in the cartons the school cafeteria would provide or creating my own using milk and chocolate syrup. For whether reason, I always turned down/never requested “Yoo-hoo” chocolate milk on every pass. Maybe the yellow label/packaging made me think the liquid inside of it was inferior? (The boxes of chocolate milk from the cafeteria were brown.) Don’t know. That said, thanks for bearing with me and my musings about why I was so quirky as a kid.

Is there anyone who’s in the category of “I’ve read multiple Steinbeck books but not THE PEARL” that I currently reside in (11D: [1947 John Steinbeck novella])? A reference to African geography/culture always makes me bump up my enjoyment level of a grid, and that’s the case here with ABABA (40A: [Addis ___, Ethiopia]). Loved the fill of GODSENDS as well (34D: [Blessings]). But the best fill of the day I’m saving for the very, very end of the blog…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PIRATE (3D: [Pittsburgh player]) – I saw an interesting statistic as I was covering a New York Mets game in person yesterday. A member of the Pittsburgh Pirates has won the National League batting title on 25 occasions, more than any other team in the league. (Along with eight-time batting champion Honus Wagner and four-time winner Roberto Clemente, Matty Alou, one of the famed Alou brothers that all crossword fiends know by now, won a batting title while with the Pirates in 1966.) And going into last weekend, the player who was leading the National League in batting average so far in 2021 was a Pirate, second baseman Adam Frazier. Going into the All-Star Break, which started after Sunday’s games, Frazier is now second in batting with a .330 average, a thousandth of a point behind the Cincinnati Reds’ Nick Castellanos. 

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

Take care!

ADE (52A: [Citric beverage])/AOK (Just don’t pronounce it as “aid” and we won’t have any problems! Capeesh?)

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Go Get ‘Em” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 07/13/2021

We have circles!

  • 17A [Place to make a vinyl purchase] RECORD SHOP
  • 67A [Protester’s forum] OPEN LETTER 
  • 11D [Scent after the first rain in a while] PETRICHOR – A new word to me!
  • 36D [Component of some church instruments] ORGAN PIPE 

It looks like we have some sort of a crossword rodeo going on here, with the letters in ROPE literally “roping” the ends of the theme answers. Nicely done, but I am still reeling from last week’s puzzle! (See below!) In honor of this week’s Jonesin’, I will try to watch some bull riding next time it’s on TV! 4.3 stars today.

Just a few notes:

  • 1A [11th graders’ exam (abbr.)] PSAT – I actually remember taking this test. None of the questions, just the test!
  • 52A [Camera that gets strapped on] GO-PRO – I actually have one of these. One of these days I will get a mount for my bike and take some crazy footage!
  • 54A [Name, in Latin] NOMEN – How’s your latin? Yes, the word nomenclature is based on this. At least I think so!
  • 71A [Spanish footballer Sergio] RAMOS – He is actually getting up in years. Not a household name to me, but if you know Real Madrid at all, he played there for quite a while. Know your soccer!
  • 10D [Guac ingredient, casually] AVO – I have never used this slang term, but I also don’t care for guacamole. Or avocados, for that matter. Didn’t grow up eating them, and I rarely seek it out.
  • 30D [“Thatcherites” singer Billy] BRAGG – Hands down the OPCRotW! No idea what any part of this clue means!
  • 34D [“SNL” cast member Chris] REDD – Finally, we have an alternative to REDD Foxx!

Notice the diagonal message!

That is not all! Let’s update last week’s puzzle! As you can see in the grid to the left, there was an actual WEDDING PROPOSAL hidden in the grid! Did you notice it? Were you wondering why the letters WED were added to each theme answer? Well, now you know! Words of wisdom: find a mate with a three-letter name so you can make a neat puzzle with an entry like ZOE WILL YOU MARRY ME in it!

They can tell you what happened better than I can. Here is what they told Matt:

“She said yes!
We biked over to Radio Room [a restaurant in NE Portland] on Friday to do the puzzle over breakfast, and she had no clue it was coming.
I actually had to point out her name before she saw it! ?
Thank you so much, it was such an amazing and special experience made possible by you.
She’s agreed to never curse you again for a difficult clue.
The completed puzzle will be framed soon.
Thanks again!”

Wonderful! Many congratulations to the happy couple, and here’s hoping they will solve many more crosswords together in the years to come!

Keegan and Zoë, the happy couple!

Matt Skoczen’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 07/13/2021

This is a byline I am not familiar with, but Matt is going to take us on a little trip down memory lane by way of music:

  • 16A [1994 Collin Raye song (AR)] LITTLE ROCK
  • 65A [1959 Wilbert Harrison song (MO)] KANSAS CITY
  • 10D [1969 Glen Campbell song (TX)] GALVESTON
  • 32D [1982 Billy Joel song (PA)] ALLENTOWN – Best town in the country!

OK, maybe my memory isn’t as good as yours; I only know a couple of these. I may recognize them all once I hear them, but I don’t recognize them by the title. But another nice, simple theme for a Tuesday that isn’t trying to hard but still makes an enjoyable puzzle to solve. Now I want to go on a road trip! Nice puzzle, Matt! 4.4 stars today.

A couple of things:

  • 19A [Pianist Gilels] EMIL – This seems hard for a Tuesday, but how many famous EMIL’s are there?
  • 47A [Key of Vivaldi’s “Spring Concerto”: Abbr.] E MAJ. – The constructor in me wants to make sure I have all of these key abbreviations in my word list!
  • 2D [Jungian concept] ANIMA – This also seems hard for a Tuesday. Feels like I’m back in psych class!
  • 6D [“Don’t mess with me, bro!”] “C’MON, MAN!” – If you watch Monday Night Football, you may recognize this as a bit that they at least used to do during the pre-game. Will see if it is still on this fall, which is not that far away!
  • 41D [Family nickname] GRAMPA – You can spell this a ton of ways. I don’t remember seeing THIS way in a puzzle before!
  • 49D [Prepare for changing a flat tire] JACK UP – Yes, you have to do this to change a tire. You young kids probably don’t know anything about this …
  • 51D [Keys on a piano?] ALICIA – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love her music. One of these days I will see her live in concert. But we ARE supposed to see Billy Joel live at Notre Dame next summer after two COVID postponements!

Everyone have a safe and healthy week!

Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 13 21, no. 0713

The theme in this 16×15 grid features familiar idioms that use baseball lingo:

  • 18a. [Address every aspect of something], COVER ALL THE BASES.
  • 28a. [Immediately], RIGHT OFF THE BAT.
  • 44a. [Oddly and unexpectedly], OUT OF LEFT FIELD.
  • 57a. [Situation that starts things completely over], WHOLE NEW BALLGAME.

Nice! Should be easy enough even for those who don’t care for baseball.

Last weekend, a commenter complained about a crossword that contained the word LESBIAN, saying “More “representation” for LGBTQIA+ today. At what point does representation become pandering and virtue signalling[?]” Elsewhere on the internet, somebody solved the Monday USA Today puzzle and went to co-constructor Amanda Rafkin’s puzzle blog to complain about the gay content, saying “please consider a balance between presenting gay and straight clues.” Looking at this Tuesday NYT puzzle, I didn’t see a single LGBTQ reference. At what point does a lack of any LGBTQ references connote pandering to heterosexuals? Does a fair “balance” consist of one puzzle with zero gay references offsetting a puzzle with, say, 5 gay clues and 73 non-gay clues? If the Tuesday NYT puzzle doesn’t have any overtly heterosexual content, either, does it cease to exist? My advice: Don’t get your knickers in a twist just because crossword editors and constructors are no longer keen on excluding LGBTQ references, which most solvers either appreciate or don’t mind seeing.

Five more things:

  • 22a. [Pseudonym of the essayist Charles Lamb], ELIA. Definitely a toughie for newer solvers. Note to editors: This really doesn’t feel Tuesday-easy. Nor does EWERS, [Pitchers].
  • I could’ve done without the peppering of baseball/sport references throughout the ballast fill. 27a CRY, 6d RELIEF pitcher, 29d IDLE team on a day off, 39d SAFE, and 48d stadium USHER. I liked the elegance of four long theme phrases, and they didn’t need the other baseball bits to work.
  • 40d. [Happened to, poetically], BEFALLEN. Usually a “poetically” clue connotes some dusty old word nobody uses, but people do use this one! What ill has befallen the word BEFALLEN, such that it gets a “poetically” clue?
  • 24d. [Snide question to one issuing a challenge], “WHO, YOU?” This one doesn’t feel in-the-language to me.
  • 34a. [Supervillain in Marvel comics], ARES. Seems like an odd choice to go with Marvel comics (what percentage of crossword solvers have actually read much in the way of Marvel comic books?) rather than the DC Comics version—DC’s Ares character has been on the silver screen in Wonder Woman and Justice League. (And he’s a basic member of your Greek mythology pantheon.)

3.5 stars from me.

Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Hidden Talent”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Familiar phrases where the second word can be a synonym of “talent” are re-imagined.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Hidden Talent” · Gary Larson · Tue., 7.13.21

  • 17a. [Aptitude for being an usher?] SEATING CAPACITY. I like this one.
  • 32a. [Aptitude for a rainmaker?] SHOWER GIFT. I can’t tell if this clue is trying to be literal.
  • 48a. [Aptitude for a New York hoopster?] KNICK KNACK. Another good one.
  • 63a. [Aptitude for a new mom?] NURSING FACILITY. Not sure many people use the word “facility” in this way, but it comes from the Latin facilis meaning “easy.”

Solid, tight theme. I like that this isn’t just a synonym theme, but that each final word also changes meaning.

SPITFIRE and SEAPLANE top my fave fill list followed by KARACHI, EXPLOIT, KRAKEN, AS NEEDED, and “IS IT ME?’ Nothing much to grumble at beyond the usual amount of crosswordese. I needed most of the crossings for HEXANE, but it’s fair.

Clues of note:

  • 7a. [Flier with floats]. SEAPLANE. I was fortunate enough to take a ride in one of these recently from Seattle to the San Juan Islands. We were even luckier to spot some orcas in Puget Sound.
  • 29a. [Tool building]. SHED. Good clue, I was thinking about how one constructs tools in four letters.

Nice puzzle with good wordplay. 3.8 stars.

Elly Chen and Jeff Chen’s Universal crossword, “Postseason”— Jim Q’s write-up

Looks like a debut for Elly Chen today! And a great one at that :) Am I correct in my inference that Elly is a relation of Jeff’s?

THEME: One of each of the four seasons can precede both words of a common phrase.

Universal crossword solution · “Postseason” · Elly Chen · Jeff Chen​ · Sat, 7.13.21


  • 20A [Somersault’s kin (Theme hint: Think “spring”)] FORWARD ROLL. Spring forward. Spring roll. 
  • 33A [Some tennis routs (… “summer”)] LOVE GAMES. Summer love. Summer games. 
  • 41A [Omits (… “fall”)] LEAVES OUT, Fall leaves. Fall out. 
  • 53A [Smart casual jackets (… “winter”)] SPORTS COATS. Winter sports. Winter coats. 

While I don’t much get excited by the “words-that-can-follow…” theme, this one is definitely an exception to the rule. I really like that the seasonal word keeps changing (and in order!) Gives it an edge of cleverness that is often missing from a theme type that has “stale” potential. Well done!

It took me a little while to fully appreciate the title. At first, I thought the season was supposed to be the “post” word. Then I thought “post” was referring to only the second word in the theme entries. Duh. Both words in the entries can go “post” season. It’s a great title. I’m a little groggy I think.

Other things:

  • I heard someone from Florida use the word LANAI to describe her porch. Who else uses this word regularly other than Hawaiians? I would like to start incorporating more into my vernacular. It’s very pleasant to say.
  • Not a big fan of TWO ACT. Feels like a partial without the word “PLAY” attached.
  • 6D [Warm, or something that makes you warm inside] CORDIAL. Great clue!
  • 44D [___ Roll (chewy candy)] TOOTSIE. Does anyone else use this word to describe baby toes? Or am I oversharing? Because it would’ve been fun to have another [“Little piggy”] clue to callback to the one at 67A if so. If not, please forget I said anything.

New for me:


Enjoy your Tuesday!

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today Crossword, “Tru North” — Emily’s write-up

A slightly faster time for me today, as this excellent puzzle practically filled itself in, until I got to the southeast quadrant in particular. Great clues too, even for the ones that stumped me. Tricky theme for me, as the themers were vertical (h/t to Sally Hoelscher’s blog post for today).

completed USA Today crossword for Tuesday July 13, 2021

USA Today, 07 13 2021, “Tru North” by Enrique Henestroza Anguiano

Theme: “TRU-” starts the vertical fill, thus is in the north position of each


  • 3d. [Umami topping for fries], TRUFFLEOIL
  • 17d. [Clora Bryant improvisation], TRUMPETSOLO
  • 30d. [Breathable cap], TRUCKERHAT

Part of what helped me with today’s puzzle was reoccurring fill that I’ve seen recently in other puzzles, including ELM, ATE, DAM, WEE, DRNO, and PER. Nothing wrong with them but clearly some words are common since they fit so nicely in crosswords, especially the limited three-letter words. “Aria” didn’t make an appearance though, which seems to be a very popular fill.

Favorite fill: FRETS, CGI, NOLUCK, PHO (oh so tasty!–as well as UDON), and THREAT

Stumpers: TRUCKERHAT (at a loss until crosses helped fill it in), MID (the paired words through me for a loop), CUP (“medals” came to mind), and RUE (wanted to put “sad”)

This puzzle also had lots of great clues and fill that were unique and fresh to me. Plus I always enjoy learning about people whom I didn’t know before solving. Now I want to go watch some classic Mexican cinema with MARIA Felix and listen to some jazz for a TRUMPETSOLO by Clora Bryant!

4.25 stars


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12 Responses to Tuesday, July 13, 2021

  1. Gary R says:

    I enjoyed the NYT. I’m assuming this is a “tribute” puzzle, since the MLB All Star game is this evening – so the baseball terms sort of gratuitously sprinkled in the fill were okay with me. But in a baseball-themed puzzle, using “Pitchers” as a clue for a non-baseball answer on a Tuesday seems a bit devious (especially when the answer is crosswordese).

    • Mutman says:

      If they wanted to do a modern tribute to baseball today, the constructor could have done analytics and determined the best clues and answers to put in the grid. Then we as solvers could have all been bored to death and hoped the solve was over in 3 and a half hours!

      • David L says:

        I find it very annoying when you’ve finished 2/3 of the puzzle and you’re abruptly yanked for a relief solver.

  2. Corey Frazier says:

    NYT felt like an odd mash-up of days. The grid is clearly a Monday/Tuesday but some of the clues were fairly arcane or just clued pretty clumsily. Not my favorite, but always nice when puzzles tie a theme to a contemporary event.

  3. haari says:

    Re: LA Crossword

    Just wondering when the crossword constructors will adopt the correct usage of Inuit.
    It is the plural of Inuk, a native of Nunavut

    Inuit and Inuk in English
    Singular noun
    Inuk is the singular noun. It is always capitalized:

    the first Inuk to play in the NHL
    Plural noun
    Inuit is the plural noun. It is always capitalized:

    Inuit enjoy the arrival of spring. (not Inuits enjoy)

  4. Billy Boy says:

    I thought today was fairly typical Tuesday, the slightly larger grid takes a bit more time. I enjoy when others comment as to Mondayish or Tuesdayish or Wednesdayish. These are the fairly interchangeable as are Sat and Fri which seem to vary week to week which is more resistant. Thursday is anything.

    The thematic nature was very consistent and I found it interesting that Amy thought there was too much baseball other fill. I’ve heard others opine that the inclusion of additional thematic material being a bonus.

    I do agree that a number of clues were clunky, but after I voted I was !!!! to see three 5* loves for a puzzle with those borderline awful last thee to four rows and NW had OWOW – OW OW indeed! I guess O WOW wouldn’t sit without the H.

    I didn’t give a 1* or anything like that but 5 ? To each

    O WOW WEE EWE OWOW – I suppose 16 spanners will give you a bit of that


  5. marciem says:

    Jonesin’…. new to me and I love it: 11d: Petrichor … can’t wait to use it in a sentence .

    Congrats, Zoe and Keegan!! Wishing you much future happiness! And more fun puzzles! :)

  6. AmyL says:

    NYT: First time I have enjoyed a crossword with a baseball theme. All common enough phrases with no need to know anything about the game.

    People really use “befallen”? It has never befallen to me.

  7. JohnH says:

    Gotta agree with Amy in objecting to the attacks on gay content. I mean I want to sympathize. After all, to me crossword fill is a lot less important than puzzle addicts here want to think. So what could inclusion literally be but “virtue signalling”?

    I also have my fears that judging inclusions can become mechanical. Surely Ono appears so often along with EMO, ELO, and ENO not because of her neglected achievements, but because of the spelling. And it infuriated me when Rachel scored each TNY puzzle by number of male and female references, meaning that she downgraded a puzzle for citing Silas Marner, as if he weren’t the title character in a novel by George Eliot, who we should be celebrating and remembering as a woman and indeed the greatest 19th c. novelist (maybe in fact the greatest novelist of all time).

    Still, to me the problem with the complaint is that crossword fill is bound to reflect our values. And one who writes off a more inclusive fill (including as well women and people of color) with a slogan sure doesn’t share my values.

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