Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Jonesin' untimed (Derek) 


LAT 3:27 (Derek) 


NYT 3:30 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


USA Today 16:26 (Emily) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 533), “Conquering the Digital Divide”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 533: “Conquering the Digital Divide”

Good day, everyone! Hope everyone had a good weekend and a good start to this week so far!

Today’s grid theme made me think about people who I know who have had parts of their fingers severed, which is a number that I know for sure is more than three. (One includes NFL Hall of Famer, Ronnie Lott, whom I met a couple of times during football functions. His finger detachment came during a football game. Eek!) Anyways, circled letters in the grid are separated by a black square, and the letters in the circles, when combined, form the word of one of the five fingers.

  • WREATH (16A: [Christmas garland]) + UMBRELLA (17A: [Rainy day need])  = Thumb.
  • RARE COIN (22A: [Brasher Doubloon, for one]) + DEXTER (25A: [Showtime’s serial killer]) = Index.
  • PYRAMID (35A: [Egyptian wonder]) + D-LEAGUE (38: [Former name of the NBA’s farm system]) = Middle. The farm system is now called the G-League, the “G” standing for…Gatorade, as it is the title sponsor.
  • YES SIR (48A: [Boot camp reply]) + INGESTED (50A: [Consumed]) = Ring.
  • LAPEL PIN (56A: [Flag-shaped blazer accessory]) + KIEFER (59A: [“24” star Sutherland]) = Pinkie.

Very nice touch with the adjoining entries of YULE (36D: [Christmas time]) and RIPS OPEN, with the nice visual of kids opening up presents during the holidays (37D: [Eagerly unwraps]). There have been a few puzzles over the years that have referenced/had “à la carte” as fill or in clues, but, at least for me, seeing HÔTE was completely new and welcomed, even if it doesn’t really stand out amongst the rest of the fill (54A: [Table d’___ (restaurant offering)]). Then there’s À DEUX to complete the French dining set in the grid (10D: [For two, in Toulouse]). Initially put DeVito instead of AIELLO, stupidly, even though I’ve seen the movie referenced at least three times before (44D: [Danny of “Moonstruck”]). Grid theme allowed for a lot of medium-to-longer-length fill surrounding a number of the theme entries, which was a lovely sight. The sight(s) in the video embedded at the end of the next graph may not be so lovely…but definitely provocative and, hopefully, somewhat funny.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LOW (56D: [Stovetop setting]) – Here is hoping you don’t mind me cheating and adding an umlaut to an entry, for purposes of talking about one of the best managers ever in international soccer. Former Germany men’s soccer team manager Joachim Löw just ended his 15-year reign in charge of Die Mannschaft at the end of the Euro 2020 tournament that was contested this summer. Löw led Germany to the 2014 FIFA World Cup title in Brazil as well as the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup trophy contested in Russia. In continental competition, he led Germany to the Euro 2008 final when they lost to Spain. As great as he was as a manager, he’ll be remembered by many for his numerous pitch side, uh, tics.

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

Take care!


Ruth Bloomfield Margolin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 17 21, no. 0817

What’s your favorite dip? I’m torn between hummus, French onion dip, and this roasted salsa from a Mexican restaurant that closed down. The theme here is things that are dipped in other things, and the dippers are short Downs that cross the long Acrosses:

  • 17a. [You might dip a 15-Down in this before writing something], INDIA INK / 15d. NIB.
  • 26a. [You might dip a 25-Down in this to test the water], SWIMMING POOL / 25d. TOE.
  • 44a. [You might dip 37-Down in this at a dinner party], CHEESE FONDUE / 37d. BREAD. When’s the last time you attended a dinner party that had fondue?
  • 59a. [You might dip a 55-Down in this to make a candle], PARAFFIN / 55d. WICK.

The theme works alright, I’d say.

There were a few bits that seem out of place in a Tuesday puzzle. Theda BARA. That [Classic Icelandic saga] of crosswordese, EDDA. I guess it’s just those two, but they were both in the opening section near the first themer, and it’s awfully hard to hide the crosswordese in that corner. Kinda primes the solver to be expecting dusty old fill everywhere, whether or not there’s more.

Four more things:

  • 18a. [Small part in a superhero film?], ANT-MAN. The charming Paul Rudd.
  • 10d. [Swiss tourist destination], INTERLAKEN. This might be tough material for a Tuesday, too. (How many Americans have ever been tourists in Switzerland?) I sort of wanted INNISKILLEN here, though that’s entirely the wrong country.
  • 30d. [Blades that don’t cut … but that are themselves cut], GRASS. Were you thinking this was a terrible ad for razor blades?
  • 40d. [Wife of Theseus], PHAEDRA. Definitely underused as a baby name. See also: Medusa.

3.4 stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Spuh Day” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 08/17/2021

Who knew this sound was so popular?

  • 17A [Billy Idol song about Italian ice cream?] “SPUMONI MONY” 
  • 33A [Commercial photo source that’s only for pasta pics?] SPAGHETTI IMAGES 
  • 52A [Boxing match with a Dutch philosopher and ethicist?] SPINOZA BOUT 

We are adding the schwa sound “spa” to the phrases “Mony Mony” (song by Billy Idol, among others), Getty Images and knows about. Very clever. I still wonder how Matt comes up with these themes. Speaking of Matt, check out his new website, and order those No Holds Barred puzzles if you don’t own them already! Another great puzzle, Matt! 4.3 stars from me.

A few notes:

  • 6A [“___ Paradise” (“Weird Al” Yankovic song)] AMISH – Always good to see a Weird Al reference!
  • 32A [Succeeded at an escape room] GOT OUT – Something I have never accomplished! So far, I am 0-2 on Escape Rooms. One day soon!
  • 49A [Anti-allergy brand] ZYRTEC – I take this often, since I am old and nothing works anymore, including my allergy defenses!
  • 57A [Italy’s largest lake] GARDA – My mistake is at this G square. I don’t know this river! My choice for the Obscure Pop Culture Reference of the Week, although this is technically obscure geography1
  • 18D [On or earlier (than)] NO LATER – Another entry I need to make sure is in my wordlist …
  • 22D [James Cameron movie that outgrossed “Titanic”] AVATAR – Isn’t he due to make a new movie? Or have I just not been paying attention?
  • 32D [Cocktail with lemon juice and soda] GIN FIZZ – I only know SLOE GIN FIZZ, and that only from puzzles. Anyone else thirsty now?
  • 50D [Baba ___ (witch of folklore)] YAGA – That rogue G here caused problems also because I couldn’t remember the name of this boogeyman!

That is all! Another Jonesin’ next week!

Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 08/17/2021

We have a puzzle with down theme entries, and the reason is made clear by the revealer at 28-Down:

  • 3D [Conscience] INNER VOICE 
  • 8D [Come and go, e.g., grammatically] IRREGULAR VERBS 
  • 14D [Essential worth] INTRINSIC VALUE 
  • 28D [Greenery in suspended baskets … or, phonetically, what 3-, 8- or 14-Down is?] HANGING IVY 

I had the I.V. part figured out early, but there was still an “a-ha!” moment when the revealer was solved. Yes, we literally have “hanging” I.V. answers at the first three long themers. Very nicely done, Ed! 4.3 stars from me.

A few more notes:

  • 5A [Hindu divinity whose name is a homophone for a herding dog] KALI – This was also a game hosting site from back in the ’90s. Not sure if it still works; it was for MS-DOS!
  • 25A [Copenhagen’s __ Gardens] TIVOLI – I have been here!
  • 47A [Actress MacRae who played Alice Kramden on “The Jackie Gleason Show”] SHEILA – I don’t think I knew this name!
  • 51A [Role in “Son of Frankenstein”] YGOR – I had IGOR in here. I think this gets spelled either way. I may have to check imdb.com to see if this is correct for this movie. (I am sure it is!)
  • 9D [Major condition] BIG IF – Great entry! Checking my word list …
  • 25D [Sporty sunroofs] T-TOPS – I prefer this to a convertible, especially since it snows a bunch where I live.
  • 47D [Three-handed game] SKAT – Never played this game. Only know if from puzzles!

Everyone have a safe and healthy week!

Jim Holland’s Universal crossword, “Three-Part Harmony”— Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: The ends of common phrases sound like pluralized letters, and are represented by such.

Universal crossword solution · “Three-Part Harmony” · Jim Holland · Tue, 8.17.21


  • 17A [*Assurances?] GUARANTTT. Guarantees
  • 26A [*Bicycle parts with grips?] HANDLEBRRR. Handlebars.
  • 49A [*Make uppercase?] CAPITALIII. Capitalize
  • 63A [*Disintegrate? (Bonus: Note what the ends of the starred clues’ answers spell)] DECOMPOOO. Decompose

Most of the time (I think anyway), I try to look at Universal from a novice solver’s perspective. Would someone who doesn’t solve often be able to A) get through it without getting too frustrated due to foreign crosswordese B) easily understand and enjoy the theme. I had fingers crossed opening today’s that it would hit those marks as I had my friend Olivia step in for me to solve. We’re doing a couple little cycle tours in Massachusetts together right now (she’s polite enough to wait for me as I am significantly slower).

She got through it with hardly any hiccups, balking occasionally at things like RICCI (“1991? I wasn’t born yet!”) and… ya’ know… those HISSing audiences… and are LABELs synonymous with “strips”? But nothing that wasn’t fun to uncover at all. Really a testament to how well constructed this is. Fun, clever, accessible theme with barely a drop of crosswordese.

I said I had to write a quick blog post when I was done.

She said “Then can we do another?”

That’s what crosswords are supposed to do.

This was great, Jim. 5 stars.

Brian Thomas’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Cleared for Takeoff”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Getting from the airport and to the open skies.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Cleared for Takeoff” · Brian Thomas · Tue., 8.17.21

  • 18a. [San Francisco Bay entrance] GOLDEN GATE.
  • 28a. [Song that starts “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”] BIG YELLOW TAXI. It’s a nit, I know, but this is a verb where the others are all nouns.
  • 48a. [Show with a “Fashion Startup” spinoff] PROJECT RUNWAY.
  • 61a. [Courtney Vandersloot’s WNBA team] CHICAGO SKY.

Despite my nit noted above, I quite like this. There’s a logical progression, all the words have their meanings changed from the original, and all the entries are well-known, fun phrases. I especially love the symmetrical pairing of BIG YELLOW TAXI and PROJECT RUNWAY. What a lovely find.

And who doesn’t love the classic Joni Mitchell song which has been covered so many times over the years? I’m happy to see it featured here.

Supporting the theme, there’s a raft of strong long fill: HULLABALOO, AMITYVILLE, MANPOWER, DOG TOYS, ALL EARS, PIÑATA, OPEN DATE, and JUICED.

Not so keen on: COS as an abbreviation for “companies” [There are 30 in the Dow: Abbr.]. I realize whoever wrote the clue was looking for a different angle (haha) than the usual cosine clue, but a plural abbreviation is just no fun.

On the whole, clues felt thornier than I expected for an early-in-the-week grid. I noted these:

  • 1a. [Sound that might be off the wall?]. ECHO. Don’t know if this is a new clue, but it’s a good one right at the start of the grid.
  • 36a. [Solution for people with poor vision?]. SALINE. Cute clue, but I’m guessing it’s referring to contact lens solution? I’m not one to use contacts, so I wouldn’t know.
  • 56d. [Robert of “The Sting”]. SHAW. Well, REDFORD didn’t fit.
  • 63d. [Fish that can live more than 200 years]. KOI. Wow! I don’t think I knew that.

An enjoyable theme and strong fill. Four stars.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Tuesday Puzzle“ — Emily’s write-up


Completed USA Today crossword for Tuesday August 17, 2021

USA Today, 08 17 2021, “Tuesday Puzzle” by Zhouqin Burnikel

Theme: The first word of the themers can be combined with “Tuesday” to create famous ones


  • 17a. [Terrific], SUPERDUPER
  • 31a. [Movement that advocates against systemic weight bias], FATACTIVISM
  • 50a. [“Through My Eyes” autobiographer], RUBYBRIDGES
  • 68a. [Dark-colored vineyard fruit], BLACKGRAPE

Being a Tuesday, I was debating whether or not the title was a hint today, or even untitled. On any other day of the week, it’d be more obvious that it must be a hint so it works well since it is subtle. With the themers, there are four famous Tuesdays: SUPER Tuesday, FAT Tuesday, RUBY Tuesday, and BLACK Tuesday. Three are calendar days while RUBY Tuesday is a Rolling Stones song as well as a restaurant named after it. The theme was one that I had to think through today after the solve, as it didn’t click during it, given the seemingly generic looking title.

Favorite fill: RUBYBRIDGES, DOSAS, and AMEND

Stumpers: PAL (tried “bff” then moved on), VANE (thinking more “windsock” or “leaf”), and RICOH (new to me, only know “Xerox”)

A solid Tuesday puzzle for sure! The fill was good though DABS, ABIT, and TADS felt too similar and were clustered fairly close together for me. Overall it was a fun solve with a clever title for today of all days.

4 stars


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9 Responses to Tuesday, August 17, 2021

  1. Adam Rosenfield says:

    NYT: That MOVADO/PHAEDRA crossing at the D was rough; I happened to guess right but it could have very easily been some other letters. I also wasn’t too sure of the P at STRIPERS/PHAEDRA, but that felt a little better than the other alternatives.

  2. Billy Boy says:


    Oh boy, what fun!

    Actually some chores were blah.

    Actually not at all a fan of cross referenced clues/answers paired like that it’s a chore-ish tedium. Took 4 minutes longer than a typical Tuesday on the pad due to having to do the extra taps to change direction.

    Actually, I may not be the best judge.

  3. Trent Evans says:

    NYT and Universal: both very good themes today. Well done Ruth and Jim.

  4. huda says:

    NYT: I liked! I don’t usually love cross-references but this one made sense and was well executed. And one advantage of the NYT online solve over AL is the highlighting of the cross (…she said grudgingly).
    There’s an Interlochen (famous for music) in Michigan and it threw me when it came to spelling INTERLAKEN.
    I’m reading a book set in the 70’s and it’s bringing back memories, including of fondus (another Swiss reference)… I think once this pandemic mess is over, I’m going to throw a retro party with cheese fondu, chocolate fondu, candle light and atmospheric music…

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni … FWIW, there’s another layer to the Universal theme today. The letters repeated at the ends of the themers spell out TRIO. Hence the title, “Three-Part Harmony”.

  6. Mutman says:

    NYT: I enjoyed the theme and am accepting the new format of solving the puzzles, as it can be more helpful to the solver.

    Dips? Not sure if it is popular away from the east coast, but cannoli dips are awesome! You take the broken pieces of cannoli shell and scoop what you want — yum!

    Interlaken is beautiful! Passed through there en route to the Bernese Oberland area!

  7. cyberdiva says:

    I enjoyed the NYT puzzle. I kept wanting the Swiss tourist destination to be something including ALPS, since I already had the A. It took me a ridiculous amount of time to abandon that idea. Still, INTERLAKEN is legit and perhaps more interesting as an answer than something involving the ALPS.

    I disagree with Amy’s aversion to crosswordese in early-week puzzles. Heck, how is a newbie going to learn BARA, EDDA, ALOE, ATRA and so many others that appear fairly often in the NYT and elsewhere unless they’re used in relatively easy puzzles? I agree that there shouldn’t be many of them in any given puzzle, but a couple can be useful. That’s certainly how I learned ALOE and ATRA, and that has helped me any number of times, especially in more challenging puzzles where they provided much-needed entry points.

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