Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Jonesin' 5:21 (Derek) 


LAT 3:24 (Derek) 


NYT 3:15 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


USA Today 16:25 (Emily) 


WSJ 5:55 (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 530), “Ascending Order Fun”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 530: “Ascending Order Fun”

Good day, everyone! Here is hoping things are well with you today as you all stay up and watch some live action of the Olympics! (At least that’s been part of my routine over the past couple of days.)  

There’s a little backwards thinking that needs to be done to understand the theme of today’s grid, with long down answers featuring a series of circles that have to be read from bottom to top. When doing so, a word that describes a type of “order” is revealed.

  • STROH’S BEER (3D: [Brew with a “bohemian-style” variety]) – Short (order).
  • COUCH SURFER (5D: [Bingewatching-TV-from-the-sofa type]) – Rush (order)
  • WILLIAMS SISTERS (7D: [Famed duo with a total of 30 Grand Slam singles titles]) – Mail (order). Oh, by the way, Venus and Serena have teamed together to win 14 Grand Slam doubles titles! Bonkers!!
  • DO THE DISHES (27D: [Clean one’s plate?]) – Side (order).
  • CALL A TRUCE (31D: [Stop feuding]) – Tall (order).

Can’t say that I’ve ever had a PLUM PIE during the summer, or at any point in my life, so I trust you to tell me what I’m missing, if anything (16D: [Fruit-filled summer dessert]). Loved seeing the clue for HERMES, as it now makes it pretty clear as to the idea of naming the Futurama character who runs the Planet Express delivery company Hermes (46A: [God of commerce]). Of course, the animated version is Jamaican and does not have winged shoes. Only downside to the puzzle is that the title song to BORN FREE is now firmly embedded as an earworm at the moment (60A: [Story of Elsa the lioness]). Great song, but not the one I need in my mind as I’m getting ready to ride a train for about 45 minutes!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LOB (34A: [Arced tennis shot]) – We’re talking baseball and not tennis, and one of the more eccentric yet exciting moments in the history of the old Yankee Stadium. On Sept. 9, 1981, New York Yankees pitcher Dave LaRoche uncorked an “eephus” pitch that soon came to be known as “La Lob” or “La La Lob,” a high-arcing, super slow pitch that baffled some of the game’s best hitters. As the story goes, LaRoche was approached by new Yankees manager Bob Lemon, who asked if he wanted to pitch to or walk one of the feared power hitters of the time, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Gorman Thomas. During that pitching mound visit, LaRoche asked Lemon if he could throw his curveball. Lemon, who had not seen LaRoche pitch before that night, ended up green-lighting the idea. What ensued was sheer hilarity…and a strikeout!

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

Take care!


Jennifer Lee & Victor Galson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 27 21, no, 0727

The name of the game is FACE RECOGNITION, or 36a. [Technology used by smartphones nowadays … or a hint to the ends of 16-, 24-, 44- and 57-Across]. And facial features are hiding in those themers, with altered spellings:

  • 16a. [Inject new life into], REVITALIZE. Sounds like eyes.
  • 24a. [Bridge and highway designers], ENGINEERS. Ears.
  • 44a. [Hawaii ___ National Park], VOLCANOES. Nose.
  • 57a. [End of the world], APOCALYPSE. Lips.

I like that there’s one NOSE and a pair of the EYES, EARS, and LIPS. Not a singular/plural odd-one-out, just a reflection of the standard set of facial features.

Three more things:

  • Did you ever notice that VOLCANOES ends with CANOES? And of course CANOE anagrams into OCEAN, which crosses 44a.
  • I appreciated the musical vibe in the puzzle, with LOVE SHACK, Stevie Wonder’s “ISN’T She Lovely,” Erykah BADU, NE-YO, MOS Def, “The WIZ,” and a CORNET crossing an OBOE. (SEAL, HOLE, ALOE Blacc, WIZ Khalifa, and Perry COMO were not invited to the party.)
  • 14d. [Chinese steamed bun], BAO. I hope you’ve all seen the Pixar short called Bao. It’s clever and touching.

Four stars from me.

Tao Platt’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Marine Core”—Jim P’s review

We have a very nice debut today with a punny title and revealer. 41a is MIDDLE C clued [First note learned on the piano, and a homophonic hint to the starred answers]. The other theme answers are familiar names and phrases whose central letters spell out the name of one of the world’s seas.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Marine Core” · Tao Platt · Tue., 7.27.21

  • 17a. [*”Homeland” star] CLAIRE DANES. Red Sea.
  • 26a. [*At the same time] IN PARALLEL. Aral Sea.
  • 52a. [*Having a greasy breakfast, according to some] SOBERING UP. Bering Sea.
  • 62a. [*Babe Ruth or Michael Phelps, by birth] BALTIMOREAN. Timor Sea. I’ll admit to not knowing this was a sea, but it was easily inferred.

As I said, very nice. And in an elegant touch, each sea is in the exact middle of each entry. A suitably impressive debut!

I love the long fill today with PEARLY WHITE (though it’s probably better in the plural) and BANANA BREAD (clued [Much-baked item during the 2020 lockdown]).

I got hung up on AND ME [“Aren’t you forgetting somebody?”], because I didn’t slow down to pay attention to the crossing AD MEN for which I had AD MAN. This turned 48a into ANDMA which was obviously nonsensical. Finding my error didn’t make me feel much better.

PARSI [Zoroastrianism follower] was a new one to me. Per Wikipedia, the word means “Persian” and refers to those who left ancient Persia following the Muslim conquest of 7th century CE and migrated to India. I also didn’t know actress KALEY Cuoco.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [“That’s just too bad!”]. TOUGH. I like the unsympathetic tone here. Don’t like the puzzle? TOUGH.
  • 59a. [Tennis star Naomi]. OSAKA. Nice to see this clued as the tennis star, but it would have been even better if it was [Naomi who lit the Olympic cauldron in Tokyo].

Pleasant puzzle. Four stars.

Gary Larson’s Universal crossword, “Preoccupation”— Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: Common phrases parsed as if they are occupations, clued wackily.

Universal crossword solution · “Preoccupation” · Gary Larson​ · Tue, 7.27.21


  • [Actor who plays a clergy member in commercials?] AD MINISTER. Administer. 
  • [Census Bureau office manager?] COUNTER SUIT. Countersuit.
  • [Spot on a major team?] PRO POSITION. Proposition. 
  • [Forklift operator at a pillow factory?] DOWN LOADER. Downloader. 

The theme didn’t arouse much excitement in me. I think it’s because I feel like I’ve seen this theme more than a few times (or some variation on it, but always with a play on a wacky career). They don’t all land as solidly as I would prefer, and with PRO POSITION being pronounced completely different from its base phrase (and AD MINISTER to some extent as well), there’s a touch of inelegance there I suppose.

Also, I should note I’m at my workplace and can’t access the AcrossLite file (forgot to download it ahead of time) so I had to solve on the webapp, which is sorely in need of an update (I feel like I used that same app to solve crosswords online back when crosswords first started offering an online experience). That almost always negatively affects the solve experience for me.

Grid itself was just fine in the hands of the prolific Gary Larson!


  • [One definitely won’t share weed with you] NARC. Fun clue, but c’mon! There has to be a NARC or two out there who has puff-puff-passed.
  • [What’s about a foot?] SHOE. I’ve seen this clue a few times before, but it’s a goodie. A SHOE surrounds a foot, so therefore it is “about” a foot.
  • MR. DEEDS… Was that an Adam Sandler flick? Also, was it a remake? I’m thinking yes to both…  (googles) Yes! It’s a remake of the 1936 film Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. The original has a waaaay better Rotten Tomatoes score.
  • [Org. with a list of popular baby names] SSA. Fun fact to learn!
  • [New York team with a bridge in its logo] METS. Just looked up the bridge. Always assumed it was the George Washington. Nope! According to Google, it’s the Whitestone.

Fun stuff to learn, even if the theme wasn’t my fave.

3 stars.

Claire Rimkus and Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Right This Second“ — Emily’s write-up

Another great puzzle today! For me, it was a bit tricker than most so it took longer to solve.

Completed USA Today crossword for Tuesday July 27, 2021

USA Today, 07 27 2021, “Right This Second” by Claire Rimkus and Brooke Husic

Theme: different types of seconds


  • 16a. [Fruit-and-ice-cream dessert], BANANASPLIT
  • 34a. [How fajitas are often served], SIZZLINGHOT
  • 53a. [Big, sudden improvement], QUANTUMLEAP

Today’s title pairs the right-most word in the clue with the word “second”, making the different types. So from BANANASPLIT is “split second”, SIZZLINGHOT is “hot second”, and QUANTUMLEAP is “leap second”. The last one for me isn’t as quick on the tip-of-my-tounge but is a crucial adjustment necessary for keeping time coordinated. I’ve heard of it only because I geek out on Leap Years since I find them oddly fascinating and have a relative who was born on a leap day (yes, she’s heard all of the age jokes especially from her brother over the years). Also, another layer could be that they all occur very quickly, being brief. Leap seconds, by the way, happen about every 21 months—unfortunate that it’s not every 29.


Stumpers: COAT (only “soft” and thoughts of my cat licking her fur came to mind), NARY (not a common phrase for me personally), and IMUP (maybe adding “already” to the quote would have gotten me there).

Having done a month’s worth of write-ups now, themes are much more at the forefront of my mind when solving. Sometimes it’s tough to try to hold onto figuring out the theme while filling the grid, especially when also being mindful of time and wanting to solve as quickly as possible. However, days like today, everything flows (even if slower than my usual) and the themers are a lovely set that exemplify the theme. There’s nothing better than a great puzzle, theme, clues, and fill!

4 stars


Winston Emmon’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 07/27/2021

As David Bowie might say, “let’s dance!”

  • 21A [*Site of an annual ball drop] TIMES SQUARE
  • 38A [*Comedic climax] GAG LINE 
  • 53A [*Ray Kinsella in “Field of Dreams,” e.g.] BASEBALL FAN – You’d have to be to build a field in your front yard!
  • 3D [*Keg buy in a pub] BEER ON TAP 
  • 34D [Wedding reception finale, and a feature of the answers to starred clues] LAST DANCE – Also a famous documentary about the Chicago Bulls!

I have been square dancing, and I think I have done the electric slide a time or a thousand, but that is about it for me! I am quite sure NO ONE wants to see me doing a fan dance! Nice puzzle, Winston! Maybe I am now inspired to go take ballroom dancing lessons! 4.4 stars today.

A few highlights:

  • 27A [Was understood, finally] SANK IN – Easier once I realized this was two words!
  • 59A [Como una mujer con mucho dinero] RICA – I think this clue means “you have a lot of money” in Spanish. I’ll let you cut and paste it into Google Translate!
  • 9D [Knights or rooks] CHESSMEN – I haven’t played this game in forever. Perhaps when I retire!
  • 32D [Oxfam and CARE, for two] N.G.O.’S – This stands for Non-Governmental Organization. I was today years old when I learned this! I have seen this in puzzles for a while now; just never looked it up.
  • 54D [121-episode TV drama set on a mysterious island] LOST – Haven’t watched this show either. I am afraid I will hate it!

Everyone have a safe and healthy week!

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Yes, Lieutenant” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 07/27/2021

Let’s add “lieutenant” to some words and phrases and let hilarity ensue! OK, it might be easier just to add the letters “LT” instead!

  • 16A [Lazy attempt at a scare?] SLOPPY JOLT 
  • 26A [Santana hit based on a bank?]
  • 45A [News anchor Lester on location in California?] WESTWARD HOLT 
  • 53A [With 61-Across, cheap price on some granular seasoning?] TWO FOR 
  • 60A [See 54-Across] THE SEA SALT 

In reality the LT “sound” is more of how I would describe this, since the original phrases spellings are slightly altered, but you get the drift. I suppose you could add the letters LT to the middle of some phrases without changing any spellings, but I’ll bet that’s hard. And it wouldn’t be nearly as funny! Matt does a great job as usual of providing some humorous entertainment. I don’t see much obscure trivia, so perhaps an accessible Jonesin’! I did notice the off-numbering in the last theme answer though. Maybe I am missing a gimmick? 4.2 stars from me.

Just a few notes:

  • 13A [“Amadeus” director Forman] MILOS – Another movie I have never seen. One of these days!
  • 35A [Detach, as a trailer] UNHOOK – You unhitch a trailer; you unhook a bra!
  • 58A [Almond ___ (toffee candy)] ROCA – Never heard of it. And since I don’t like almonds much OR toffee much, not in a hurry to find it!
  • 3D [Strong drink also called double espresso] DOPPIO – I believe you. Never heard this term, but Matt is in the coffee crazy corner of the country!
  • 25D [Squish down] SMOOSH – This cannot really be a word! Every time I say
  • 32D [Make kombucha] BREW – I thought this was a fermented drink?
  • 42D [Brother of Ophelia, in “Hamlet”] LAERTES – Know your Shakespeare!

That is all! Another Jonesin’ coming next week!

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11 Responses to Tuesday, July 27, 2021

  1. ktd says:

    Great theme in the NYT today!

  2. Anne says:

    NYT: I thought this was a great theme and puzzle.

  3. JohnH says:

    Help with the WSJ: why are OWLS head-turners? Thanks.

    • John Daviso says:

      Further, owls cannot rotate their eyeballs, hence that constant habit of staring straight ahead.

      pannonica (or anyone else): Do you know why this is an advantage for owls, if, indeed, it is an advantage?

      Speaking of owls; I have two squirrel feeders hanging predominantly in front of the picture windows in our living room. We used to be treated to the sight of squirrels and chipmunks, especially the night visits from a couple of flying squirrels, until a great gray owl wiped out all of them. I have seen a Douglas squirrel romp in the cascara tree behind the feeders but it never visited the feeders and has since disappeared, too. Bummer.

      • pannonica says:

        Their inability to move their eyeballs is the tradeoff for having such large eyes with such immense focusing power. The apparatus for achieving that occupies a lot of cranial space.

        Another anatomical curiosity: some owls (e.g., barn owls) have asymmetrically located ears, which apparently helps them to better triangulate sound sources.

  4. Eric S says:

    NYT: The homophones were a nice twist on a theme type that we’ve seen many times.

  5. Nadine Beaumont says:

    I enjoyed WSJ but even after reviewing the puzzle for the life of me I could not see how the revealer fit the starred clues.

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