Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Jonesin' 5:08 (Derek) 


LAT 3:08 (Derek) 


NYT 3:39 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


USA Today 15:03 (Emily) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 540), “Playing the Long Game”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 540: “Playing the Long Game”

Good day everybody! Hope everybody is doing well and came off having a good weekend.

It is possible that your weekend involved playing a few games, and today’s grid creatively presents some well-known playing games. In each of the five theme entries, the circled letters at the beginning and end of the entry, when combined, form a type of game.

  • CHANGE OF ADDRESS (17A: [Frequent “Wheel of Fortune” prize]) – Chess
  • POSTAL WORKER (23A: [Household deity in an Amy Tan title]) – Poker
  • CHECK-IN COUNTERS (38A: [Say something like: “You were born on your birthday”]) – Checkers
  • BRECKINRIDGE (47A: [Co-worker who has your back]) – Bridge
  • CREDIBILITY GAPS (59A: [Ken Follett sequel to “The Pillars of the Earth”]) – Craps

Give the grid and the reference to poker in one of the entries, it was nice to also see a common poker term, ALL IN, feature in the grid as well (65A: [2021 autobiography by Billie Jean King]). That crossing of HEARYE (31A: [Quaint attention getter]) and OREN was a little tricky for me, as I initially put in “hear ya” for the former to start (25A: [___ Ishii (“Kill Bill” character)]). The more I read about Grandma MOSES not starting her art career until she was almost 80 — and now learning that “Sugaring Off” sold for over a million dollars in 2006 — gives me hope that there is a lot more to come in my life than what has already happened (64A: [“Grandma” who painted “Sugaring Off”])! I wonder what activity I would pick up during my golden years. Probably leaning toward making pizzas/opening a pizzeria. That would be cool to do to keep active and be involved in something you love. (In my case, I love food!)

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HOFFA (7D: [Teamsters head convicted of jury tampering]) – How did I, and many others, first learn about Jimmy Hoffa? Well, if you’re from the New York/New Jersey area and a football fan during the 1990s, you probably heard about the long-standing rumor that Hoffa was buried underneath the playing field of Giants Stadium, inside of the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. In 1975, the year Hoffa went missing in Michigan, Giants Stadium was being built, and 14 years later, a self-described mafia hit man stated in an interview with Playboy Magazine that Hoffa was entombed in the stadium. Of course, the story was rumor (and confirmed to be just that after an actual FBI investigation), but that did not stop many comedians and broadcasters from jokingly wondering about it aloud many times over, which is how I first heard of Hoffa way back when. Giants Stadium was demolished in 2010, officially ending all conjecture about Hoffa’s final resting place……………or has it?!?

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

Take care!


Hoang-Kim Vu & Jessica Zetzman’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 5 21, no. 1005

Not quite sure I get the rationale for the theme here. The revealer is 60a. [Despondent … as progressively suggested by 17-, 24-, 38- and 48-Across?], HEARTBROKEN. HEART begins intact but split across words in THE ART OF WAR, and then the letters in HEART move further apart in the next three themers, IN THE AIR TONIGHT, SWITCHES PARTIES, and HEAD FOR THE HILLS. Is this a gradual worsening of the heartbreak? Because the revealer clue just says “progressively suggested,” with no mention of increasing intensity. Please explain why the HE/ART or HEA/RT pieces move further apart.

Five more things:

  • 69a. [“Really?,” in textspeak], SRSLY. I don’t know about you, but when I see it spelled SRSLY, that is exactly how I pronounce it. Like Cersei with an L.
  • 24a. [Signature Phil Collins hit ranked among VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of the 80s”], IN THE AIR TONIGHT. If you know this song at all, with that drum kick, please watch this 18-second video that has been on YouTube for precisely three years and still amuses me.
  • 5d. [Top Italian soccer league], SERIE A. I appreciate my husband being a general fan of European football because this was a gimme for me.
  • 12d. [Where a slice might go], ROUGH. Ah, it’s golf. I couldn’t get past thinking of pizza and cake.
  • 35d. [Fashion dictates that its width be the same as that of one’s lapels], TIE. What?! Really? Tell me this is news to most of you, too. I mean, I know that 1960s skinny lapels and ties went together, and ditto for 1970s wide ones. Just wasn’t aware this was a stated guideline!

3.25 stars from me, to be reconsidered if a new light dawns on the theme’s workings. I’ll leave you with 36d H.E.R.’s Grammy-winning song.

Evan Kalish’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pair Bonds”—Jim P’s review

This puzzle has two revealers, in addition to the title, which is somehow appropriate. The first one is TWO-PARTER (57a, [Story with a cliffhanger, perhaps, and a hint to the starred answers]. I was a little slow on the uptake, so this one didn’t result in the aha moment I wanted. The second one is BREAK EVEN (66a, [Neither gain nor lose money, and what the starred answers do]) and gave me the clue I needed. Each theme answer has the word (number?) TWO broken across its pair of words.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Pair Bonds” · Evan Kalish · Tue., 10.5.21

  • 17a. [*Artist honored on Iowa’s state quarter] GRANT WOOD.
  • 21a. [*”There’s a solution!”] “THAT WORKS.” Something I might say in these pages when a puzzle theme does the job.
  • 35a. [*Site of the American Airlines headquarters] FORT WORTH.
  • 46a. [*”It’ll all be fine”] “DON’T WORRY.” Be happy.

Strangely, it was the second revealer that did it for me, even though the first one makes more sense. Each theme answer is a “TWO” parter since each one parts the number TWO. BREAK EVEN would be more suited to a theme that hid numbers TWO, FOUR, SIX, EIGHT, etc. I do really like the title as a perfectly apt added hint.

Top notch long fill and a clean grid are what I tend to expect from Evan, and this one delivers. We get WEATHER MAP, SHORT-LIVED, “NO SWEAT,” and TINA FEY holding down the marquee spots. I’ve also been known to exclaim “GAH!” so that one brought a smile to my face.

Clue of note: 3d. [Shower of showers?]. WEATHER MAP. FYI, the clue rhymes with “blower of flowers.” Fun clue.

A simple theme, but well-executed and with lovely fill. 3.8 stars.

Don Gagliardo’s Universal crossword, “Double Cross”— Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: Phrases that are homophones of two words, which can be found crossing the phrase.

Universal crossword solution · “Double Cross” · Don Gagliardo · Tue., 10.05.21


  • NOT ALLOWEDKNOT and ALLOWED are crossing.
  • PEACE CORPS. PIECE and CORE are crossing.
  • ROYAL SUITE. ROIL and SWEET are crossing.
  • AIRBALL. ERR and BAWL are crossing.
  • Revealer: HOMOPHONES. 

I can appreciate this from a constructing perspective. It’s actually quite thematically packed. Lots of constraints, and great finds. I can’t imagine it was easy to find phrases that could be “double crossed” like that and get it to fit symmetrically. Very impressive.

From a solver’s perspective it seemed a tad on the dull side. The longer answers are no-brainers that are revealed in (somewhat bland) bits of fill. So there’s not much figuring going on. Just filling in the blank without appreciating the longer colorful theme phrases.

The HOMOPHONES revealer seemed rather unnecessary as well. For a second, I thought it would be double crossed with two homophones, but clearly that doesn’t make sense as there are no homophones in HOMOPHONES. And it really doesn’t do much to reveal anything. The theme is crystal clear without that. I would’ve preferred another doubly crossed homophone there, I suppose.

Not sure I’m ready to accept PLS as crossword fill, coulda done without ARFS, and no desire to try FROSE :) Still, with the amount of theme, it’s rather clean. LONI Love is new for me.

While I appreciate it, I can’t say it was my fave.

2.5 stars

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Uncommon Bonds” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 10/05/2021

Yes, there is a new James Bond movie coming out this Friday, so this puzzle is quite timely!

  • 17A [Opinion that the ordinal suffix from 4 onward is the worst of the group?] TH” UNDER ALL 
  • 27A [Personal notification that nothing but dense, flavorful bread is available?] FOR YOU, RYES ONLY 
  • 44A [The physics of a Spanish bear tying its shoes?] QUANTUM OSO LACE 
  • 55A [Request for Garfield’s canine pal to hurry up?] NO TIME, ODIE 

So we have Bond film titles with one letter taken out, and then everything else re-spaced and clued in a punny way. Yes, I have three error marks in the grid. All fat-fingering mistakes! I may even go see the new Bond movie this week. We shall see! 4.7 stars for this one.

A few notes:

  • 15A [It comes before a fall?] PRAT – I am not sure about these types of clues that break up a word that shouldn’t be broken up. Gettable, but still, …
  • 21A [Songs to Wear ___ To (early 2000s website with humorous music)] PANTS – I believe you! This is obscure enough for me!
  • 59A [Self-referential] META – I am used to this referring to puzzles!
  • 7D [23 so far for Jay-Z, e.g.] GRAMMYS – I almost though this was pluralized with an -IES!
  • 21D [Qualifying clause] PROVISO – Great word. Rarely seen in puzzles, at least from my perception.
  • 41D [Egyptian considered to be history’s first architect] IMHOTEP – Another great factoid. Is he the pyramid designer? Probably!
  • 43D [“___ Road” (Lil Nas X song)] OLD TOWN – This song is practically an “oldie” now! But at least we have all heard it!
  • 45D [Still awake] UP LATE – I don’t do this anymore.
  • 52D [Walt Kelly comic strip] POGO – This entry is getting dated; it might be even more obscure than 21-Across!

That is all! Another Jonesin’ next week! Perhaps with a review of the new Bond movie, No Time to Die!

Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 10/05/2021

I almost figured out the theme while solving this time! We have anagrams!

  • 16A [*Ground-beef-and-gravy dish] SALISBURY STEAK 
  • 25A [*Penny-pincher] CHEAP SKATE
  • 36A [*”Ode to a Nightingale” poet] JOHN KEATS 
  • 50A [*Hung in the balance] WAS AT STAKE 
  • 59A [Different points of view … and a hint to the ends of the answers to starred clues] ALTERNATE TAKES 

So the ends of all of the theme entries are, literally, “alternates” of the letters in TAKES. Nicely done. Rather smoothly done, although 50A is a little forced. But easily solvable, so all is good. Nice puzzle, Craig! 4.5 stars from me.

Just a few mentions:

  • 21A [Actor Eckhart of “Sully”] AARON – He has been in a lot of movies. Liked him best in Paycheck, a Ben Affleck movie from around 20 years ago.
  • 42A [Where about one-third of Istanbul residents live] ASIA – Clever clue! Asia cuts right through Turkey, and Istanbul while it does so.
  • 1D [Basketball stats] ASSISTS – The NBA is starting in a couple of weeks! Tuesday the 19th, to be exact. Time flies as you get old!
  • 44D [One shirking work] SLACKER – Also an old name of a music streaming service, which I think now is Live X Live now. Or something like that.
  • 45D [“Angels dancing” site, in a theological question] PINHEAD – Very weird clue here. But based on a fairly well known saying. I think!
  • 53D [“My Life on the D-List” comic Griffin] KATHY – She certainly IS on the D-List! Has she been in anything recently?

Everyone have a safe and healthy week!

Rasa Guarnaccia & Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Aye, Aye, Captain“ — Emily’s write-up

A fun puzzle today! The grid is particularly intriguing, with many segments that remind me of sun rays or a starburst.

Completed USA Today crossword for Tuesday October 05, 2021

USA Today, 10 05 2021, “Aye, Aye, Captain“ by Rasa Guarnaccia & Brooke Husic

Theme: Two letter “i”s are next to each other in the themers, hence “ii” or what sounds like “aye, aye”.


  • 19a. [“Moana” star], AULIICRAVALHO
  • 35a. [Cold beverage also know as cha yen], THAIICEDTEA
  • 54a. [Engineer who invented tactile paving], SAIICHIMIYAKE

Two of the themers were names of people that I wasn’t familiar with but were great to learn about. Around the time of “Moana”’s release, there were many articles about the reaction AULIICRAVALHO had to hearing about being chosen for the role. THAIICEDTEA is delicious, a creamy black tea with sweetened condensed milk—certainly a decadent and delightful drink. The impact of the invention by SAIICHIMIYAKE of tactile paving, also called “braille blocks”, allow for more accessibility to create textured safety zones on the street for the blind or visual impaired. While they all three aren’t names, it is nice symmetry that they are the first and third themer.

Favorite fill: THAIICEDTEA, URCHIN, and DADS

Stumpers: SCRAPE (“skate”), TIEDYE (just wasn’t in at the front of my mind so took a couple of letters), and SODA (needed crosses for this one)

Though solving took me a bit longer than usual, the clues and entries were fun and fair. I enjoyed the puzzle and looked forward to continued collabs!

4.25 stars


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19 Responses to Tuesday, October 5, 2021

  1. Zulema says:

    I found the NYT crossword weird, to say the least!!!

  2. Anne says:

    NYT: in the three themers, the number of letters between the pieces of HEART increase – first one, then two, then three. So that’s a progression of sorts.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Right. But what does that have to do with heartbreak?

      • David L says:

        It’s funny that both you and Mr P found the theme unsatisfying for a reason that didn’t trouble me in the least. The breaks in the heart get bigger and bigger — so the heartbreak get worse and worse — so you get increasingly despondent.

        It makes sense to me.

  3. Cyberdiva says:

    NYT – Amy, in 17A, no letters come between HEART. In 24A, one letter (I) comes between the A and the R. In 38A, 2 letters come between the E and the A. And in 48A, 3 letters come between the A and the R. Hence, the break is progressively worse.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      But the HEARTBROKEN clue doesn’t suggest that the heartbreak gets progressively worse … and does it, necessarily, in real life? Perplexing.

      • Jenni says:

        I took it literally – that the word was progressively broken. I admit it’s a stretch, so to speak.

        This was way harder for me than Tuesdays typically are because I don’t know European soccer and apparently don’t know much about recent music! My husband was Naticked at the Spice Girls/Beastie Boys crossing (and now that I write that out, I’m amused). I do think crossing two names is dicey, especially for an early-week puzzle. Otherwise all the names were perfectly fair game and I will learn!

        • Jenni says:

          My husband is a newer solver – he’s been doing the daily puzzles for maybe 18 months and has recently graduated to finishing Saturday without help!

        • PJ says:

          Spice Girls/Beastie Boys crossing – Yes for me on both counts. Naticked and amused to see it typed out.

        • Eric S says:

          The MCA/MEL B crossing tripped me up, too, thought I know most of the Spice Girls’ names from doing crossword puzzles.

        • Nina says:

          Yeah, I was MELB? Who’s Melb Spice? I know Sporty Spice and Posh Spice . . .
          Oh, duh.

      • Kim says:

        Our original clue did suggest the heartbreak was getting progressively worse over time (as has been our experience sometimes!) but it was sufficiently long enough, we didn’t mind the editing down.

        • Mr. [not so] Grumpy says:

          I thought the progression made the grid a bit more interesting than if they had all been one letter apart.

      • Gary R says:

        I thought the theme might have worked better if the HEART got split into progressively smaller pieces. For me, that would have been more evocative of something “breaking.” I see the concept of the two pieces moving further apart in successive answers, but somehow, the fact that the “A” jumps back and forth between the two pieces detracted from it, for me.

        But the theme entries themselves were good, familiar titles/phrases. And the five-letter fill all seemed solid to me. I enjoyed it.

  4. marciem says:

    CN: I love Liz’s puzzles, but was naticked at what I consider the unfair crossing of GOTxKillBill character names. My bad that I have not paid attention to either one, I suppose. What I know about both of them I’ve learned from Xwords :)

    Otherwise I enjoyed the puzzle a lot.

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni: Point of order … There’s an error in the explanation of the theme in Jim Q’s review. The description of the top themer should read “NOT ALLOWED is crossed by KNOT and ALOUD.”

    This puzzle is a perfect example of why I often find homophone themes objectionable. Not everyone pronounces words the same way. For example, I don’t pronounce ERR {34D: Miss the mark} at all like I do AIR (though that’s somewhat close to the way I pronounce ‘error’). I pronounce it so it rhymes with ‘her’. I think I’ve always used this pronunciation specifically because my brain wants it to be distinct from ‘air’.

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