Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Jonesin' 6:06 (Derek) 


LAT 2:47 (Derek) 


NYT 3:33 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


USA Today 8:36 (Emily) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 544), “Seating Arrangements”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 544: “Seating Arrangements”

Good day, everyone! Before anything else, I have to say one thing: VOTE!!

Here is hoping that you are all doing well on this Election Day. Many people are running for seats in government, though today’s grid does some funny things with seats! The first five letters of the answers to the starred clues are anagrams of the word “chair,” with the fifth and final theme entry, FOUR CHAIR TURNS, acting as the revealer (63A: [Top honors on NBC’s “The Voice”…and an alternate title suggested by the starts of the starred answers])

  • CHARIOTS OF FIRE (16A: [*Oscar-winning historical sports drama film])  – Jones’ role in the movie was patterned after one of the greats in the history of boxing, former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson.
  • ARCHIPELAGO (29A: [*Key chain])
  • RICHARD II (37A: [*At age 10, he became the King of England]) – I feel so unaccomplished
  • CHIAROSCURO (50A: [*Contrast of light and dark, as in Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch”]) – …or like the cinematic effect in The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Absolutely got off to the worst start, putting in “chow” for ALPO and getting stuck from the very beginning (1A: [Rover’s bowlful]). Chow, Alpo, Iams, oh my! In that area, and in the southeast, are those stacks of seven-letter entries doing down, and 12 seven-letter entries overall definitely made for some fun fill. Of that dodecad of entries, probably my favorite was the clue/entry combination of DEFRAUD (54A: [Take for a ride?]). Definitely felt a Eurocentric vibe to the grid when solving as well, from Richard II to chiaroscuro to PIET (69A: [Dutch artist Mondrian]) to AUSTRIA (46D: [Mozart’s birthplace]) to even CELT, despite its cluing referencing the struggling NBA team (13A:[Boston NBAer, briefly]). To boot, anyone here get down to the FRUG during their ’60s or ’70s heyday (18D: [“Groovy” 1960s dance])? I mean, if I was living (and dancing) during that time, I would have been more of a twist or funky chicken person. But hey, I can dig this, too! 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: EMERSON (12D: [“Nature” essayist]) – The 2022 tennis season will start with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic tied atop the leaderboard for most men’s singles Grand Slam titles with (21), but, not too long, ago, the man perched atop that list used to be Australian Roy Emerson, who won 12 singles Grand Slam titles in his Hall-of-Fame career. Emerson won his first GS singles title at the 1961 Australian Open, and he also won the US Open that same year. Emerson won the Australian Open six times, and won each of the other three majors twice, winning his final major in singles at Roland Garros (French Open) in 1967. His record of 12 singles Grand Slams stood for over 33 years, until Pete Sampras won his 13th GS title at Wimbledon in 2000. Oh, and to go along with his staggering 16 doubles titles in Grand Slams, Emerson, to this day, has more Grand Slam titles than any male player at 28. A living legend, for sure!

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

Take care!


Vaibhav Srikaran & Matthew Stock’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 2 21, no, 1102

Roy G. Biv gets his moment in the sun … while it’s still raining. A DOUBLE RAINBOW (52a. [Rare sighting after a storm … or a hint to this puzzle’s circled letters]) is made by arching the stacked letters RR OO YY GG BB II VV, representing the initials of the colors of the rainbow. This rainbow is rather pointier than the ones in the sky, mind you.

The rest of the puzzle basically plays like a themeless—you can use the double-letter pattern to fill in the circled squares, but that’s it. We do get some colorful longer fill: KOOKABURRA, ERECTOR SET, adorable BABY YODA (aka Grogu), and MEDIA-SAVVY.

Five more things:

  • 18a. [Gala, e.g.], BIG DO. Didn’t see this clue while solving and I’m not sure I like the entry. I do like Gala APPLEs, though! Hot tip: If your local fruitmonger has SweeTango apples, get some while they’re in season. They’re my favorite.
  • 27a. [Tension-based cutting tool], BOW SAW. I have never heard of such a thing. Turn’s out I’ve seen it, didn’t know it had that name … which basically uses BOW the same way RAINBOW does, awkwardly enough.
  • 10d. [There’s an official one for every month], GEM. My birthstone is the peridot and I can’t say I’m a fan. Yellow-green has never been a good color for me. Always did envy the February people with their amethyst!
  • 32d. [Where the crispest brownies are found in a brownie pan], EDGE. They do sell brownie pans that are basically a simple maze, so every brownie is an edge piece. I don’t have one but I approve of this concept. Big fan of crispy cookies and crispy brownie edges.
  • 48d. [Words of agreement in Shakespeare], BE IT SO. I wondered to myself, Is this really in Shakespeare? And a Google search shows me that yes, Shakespeare used the phrase in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Titus Andronicus, if not more plays.

3.5 stars from me.

Donna Hoke’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Dining on the Campaign Trail”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Familiar phrases that start with a word that can also be a food are clued with respect to a political candidate visiting an apt restaurant (it being Election Day today).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Dining on the Campaign Trail” · Donna Hoke · Tue., 11.2.21

  • 18a. [What a candidate might do at House of Thai?] CURRY FAVOR. Strong start to the theme.
  • 24a. [What a candidate might do at Peking Palace?] DUCK A SCANDAL. Hmm. Not nearly as strong as the first entry. Is this a common phrase? It doesn’t Google well.
  • 40a. [What a candidate might do at IHOP?] WAFFLE ON AN ISSUE. This is a bit better but still not a standalone in-the-language phrase.
  • 49a. [What a candidate might do at Veggie Galaxy?] SQUASH A RUMOR. Better. Is there really a Veggie Galaxy restaurant?
  • 60a. [What a candidate might do at McDonald’s?] SHAKE HANDS. Good.

Hit and miss with the entries for me, but overall I like the consistency and the imaginative scenarios. Very timely as well.

Similar to yesterday’s grid, I don’t see anything longer than seven letters in the fill, and only AVENUES at that length. I do like NAGANO and TYRONE Power. Not so keen on ON NBC. And LAMS. Does anyone ever use the word lam except in “on the lam”?

No clues that I noted for comment, so I will leave things there. I like the cute theme though the strength of entries varied. 3.5 stars.

Ann Shan & Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Face Front“ — Emily’s write-up

An excellent puzzle today with a fun theme and great clues!

Completed USA Today crossword for Tuesday November 2, 2021

USA Today, 11 02 2021, “Face Front“ by Ann Shan & Brooke Husic

Theme: Each themer is a phrase starting (in “front”) with the name of one of the “face” cards from a card deck.


  • 17a. [Opposite of a specialist], JACKOFALLTRADES
  • 35a. [Nickname for Ella Fitzgerald], QUEENOFJAZZ
  • 54a. [Game played on a hill], KINGOFTHECASTLE

Such a great theme today—the title is just enough of a hint, and paired with the first themer clue, I got the pattern right away. My favorite cluing today is for JACKOFALLTRADES, for which “generalist” came to mind and lead right to the themer with “…master of none” to follow. Sadly, Ella’s nickname took me longer than it should have, as I had to double back later to complete it. The last part of KINGOFTHECASTLE stumped me until I had the “c” crossing, as I know the game as “hill” or “mound” instead. Still a very fun theme and it is in order of jack, queen, king. Nicely done!

Favorite fill: PHO, LIN, CHANT, MANDALA, WISH, and STEED

Stumpers: RECAP (good misdirect for me, I was thinking “total” or “added”), MAZEL (needed crossings, just didn’t click sooner for me), and PEONY (I could only think of dandelions)

Love the clue for WISH, especially with featuring 11:11, which is the most delightful of the wish times (e.g. time with the same number repeated). Also, I filled in STEED and immediately heard Donkey’s voice from Shrek “I hope you heard that. She called me a ‘noble steed’. She thinks I’m a steed!” Lastly, I enjoyed OREOS which was a new clue (at least for me) but since it was a cookie clue, my instinct of the entry turned out correct. Fun fact, having started following many in the crossword community, I now have an overabundance of Oreos ads in my Twitter feed, after never seeing any there before. Ha!

I hope there are more collabs between Ann and Brooke in the future!

4.5 stars


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Cat-astrophe” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 11/02/2021

My wife is a cat-lover, so she enjoyed this theme! I, too, prefer cats to dogs, but I also prefer no pets overall! Did you know all of the cats paired together in the theme answers?

  • 17A [Role in an Oregon capital production of “The Odd Couple”?] SALEM FELIX 
  • 25A [Brady in charge of every round piece of sporting equipment?] ALL BALL TOM 
  • 36A [Footwear merch for “Wuthering Heights” fans?] HEATHCLIFF SOCKS
  • 50A [Find lead singer Day at the right Time?] SPOT MORRIS
  • 61A [20th U.S. president picking a side in the “war of the currents”?] D.C. GARFIELD

I believe Salem is from Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Felix, Tom, Heathcliff and Garfield are all from the comics or cartoons. All Ball is the “pet” of Koko the Gorilla! Morris is from the 9 Lives commercials. D.C is from That Darn Cat! Spot the Cat is a children’s book, and finally Socks roamed the White House when the Clintons were there. Did I miss any? Lots of opportunity for punny clues in this theme. 4.4 stars from me!

A few comments, including several obscure trivia notes:

  • 15A [Moses Malone’s league, once] A.B.A. – There are a lot of players that could have been used in this clue, but all are getting dated! This league hasn’t been around in nearly 50 years!
  • 21A [Kunis who voices Meg Griffin] MILA – How did I not know this??
  • 64A [“___ Blue Moon” (Marie Osmond song)] “A TOO …” – I don’t know this song.
  • 11D [Without a middle, geometrically] ACENTRIC – Doesn’t everything have a center?
  • 24D [Rapper Travis who had a signature McDonald’s meal] SCOTT – Know your rappers!
  • 27D [“___ Place to Land” (Janae Marks book)] “A SOFT …” – Never heard of it!
  • 37D [Cartilaginous layer between vertebrae and disks] END PLATE – Don’t know this term either. All I know is my back always hurts.
  • 38D [Place to see cars indoors] AUTO SHOW – We go to the Chicago Auto Show every so often. It’s a nice day trip!
  • 40D [“Grease” band ___ Na Na] SHA – Used to watch their show all the time. It came on before The Muppet Show!
  • 49D [Old Radio Shack home computers] TANDYS –  We called the TRS-80 computers “trash-80s” when I was in high school. They seem so primitive compared to what we have today!
  • 63D [Barinholtz announced to work on the Mel Brooks series “History of the World, Part II”] IKE – I heard about this! Finally a sequel after literally decades! (At least I think it’s a sequel!!)

That is all! Another Jonesin’ next week! Enjoy some Marie Osmond!

Daniel Bodily’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 11/02/2021

Another new database name! I think the pandemic influx of new constructors is still rolling! Nice theme idea, too:

  • 3D [*1956 Burt Lancaster film, with “The”] RAINMAKER
  • 6D [*Desperation gridiron pass] HAIL MARY
  • 8D [*Big name in film festivals] SUNDANCE
  • 11D [*Seven Dwarfs’ housekeeper] SNOW WHITE
  • 62A [Out of sorts … or where four answer-ending words (see starred clues) can be found?] UNDERTHEWEATHER

So the latter part of the down-facing theme answers are literally under a word that is a form of weather. Nice! Although this is reminding me that snow is on the way! I am gonna have to move somewhere warmer ASAP! If this is a debut, congratulations! 4.6 stars from me!

A few more notes:

  • 14A [Pacific island ceded by Spain to the U.S. in 1899] GUAM – Didn’t know this either. But it sounds like a great place to visit. Do you even need a passport to go to Guam?
  • 18A [Detroit NFL team] LIONS – I am waiting for them to change the name of this team because their sad record may actually offend actual lions!
  • 41A [Fozzie Bear’s frog pal] KERMIT – I love the Muppets! But I hate that Disney owns them now. What don’t they own??
  • 51A [“You’ve got mail” ISP] AOL – People still use this??
  • 68A [Lahr of “The Wizard of Oz”] BERT – Was there an opportunity to tie-in to 41A missed here? BERT is a Muppet, too!

Everyone have a safe and healthy week!

Hal Moore’s Universal crossword, “Schmossword”— Jim Q’s write-up

Best title for a crossword ever. I don’t even care what the theme is.

Universal crossword solution · “Schmossword” · Hal Moore · Tue., 11.02.21

THEME: Ridiculous rhyming phrases with SCHM- words.


  • 20A [Ballroom dance’s sentimentality?] WALTZ SCHMALTZ.
  • 35A [Beloved bagel topping?] DEAR SCHMEAR. 
  • 52A [Chitchat over drinks?] BOOZE SCHMOOZE. 

Love that this puzzle didn’t try to cram one (or even two) more themers in, giving it plenty of room to breathe with those very enjoyable, tight phrases.

Also, very peculiar to see non-theme-related grid-spanners. Here they’re ANSWERED TO NO ONE, and CATLIKE REFLEXES. Both excellent, and neither of which draws attention away from the theme at all. That’s remarkable. They are literally pillars of excellence.

Really enjoyed this one.

4.75 stars.

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15 Responses to Tuesday, November 2, 2021

  1. golfballman says:

    Where is the sunday LAT write up, if Gareth isn’t up to it someone else do it please.

    • Jenni says:

      Sure! We’ll just look to someone else on our large and well-paid professional staff to meet your politely worded request.

      (looks around. sees a few volunteers working hard after they’re done with their day jobs and family obligations. does not see any paid professional staff)

      This is a volunteer gig. We do it because we love crosswords and we love (most of) our community. Amy and Dave put in a lot of time (and in Amy’s case a fair amount of money) to maintain this blog and the bloggers work hard to keep up with an increasing number of puzzles as the market expands. Don’t get me wrong – the expanding market is a good thing. It’s also a lot more work. If we miss a puzzle now and again – or more often than that – it might be an opportunity to reflect on how remarkable it is that we cover as many as we do, and to put an appreciative tip in the virtual jar at the top of the sidebar. Or it might be an opportunity to post a rude, ungrateful, and abrasive comment. Guess we know which one you chose.

    • Jim Quinlan says:

      I apologize. I sometimes have difficulty getting the Universal up in a timely fashion. It’s way late today. Here was my schedule:

      1:15 AM went to bed. Finished typing up notes for my cast for the school play that I am directing, which goes up this Friday.

      3:48 AM. Wake up to let two giant dogs outside.

      3:56 AM. Wake up to let two giant dogs inside.

      5:55 AM. Wake up to let two giant dogs outside.

      6:06 AM. Wake up to let two giant dogs inside.

      6:18 AM. Wake up to get ready for conference day at school.

      7:20 AM. Try to figure out why I can’t join Zoom meeting from classroom.

      7:28 AM. Respond to emails from exactly 27 students regarding research papers, college applications, college essays, clarifications about assignments, and emotional struggles. All while trying to figure out the Zoom issue.

      8:15 AM. Finally rectify the Zoom issue. Wasn’t my fault at all! Turns out, superintendent didn’t check a box that would allow outside devices to join… or something like that!

      8:15AM – 9:00AM: Pretend I’m listening to Zoom meeting. Instead, I’m consoling students as they are waking up. They have off from school today, but need to communicate about many things. Most of which is regarding the school play.

      Also, during that time, I solved the Universal crossword.

      9:03 AM: Leave meeting to get a student started on set painting. I am being monitored to make sure I’m in meeting, so it’s a risk. Meeting is stupid. Set painting is important. But that’s beside the point. Get student started. Leave student unsupervised. Risk disciplinary action twice.

      9:15 AM: Return to meeting. Two colleagues text me and ask for a cup of coffee, because I have a great coffee maker in my room.

      9:18 AM: Surreptitiously leave meeting to go make three cups of coffee.

      9:30 AM: Return to meeting. Coffee in hand. Check the opening of the stock market on phone.

      9:31 AM – 11:15 AM: Be in pointless meeting. Have difficulty paying attention because the guy across from you is hilarious. Practice “trying not to laugh” for a completely wasted hour and a half. Spill coffee. Apologize.

      11:20 AM: Excuse self from meeting to go check on student, who is, oddly enough, listening to “Rockin’ Robin” on full blast whilst painting sets. Sit there for the entirety of the song just to enjoy that.

      11:25 AM: Go back to meeting. Get asked for notes I took during breakout session. Bullshit my way out of it (brilliantly, I might add) on the fly.

      11:30 AM: Place lunch order for me, a colleague, and the student who came in on her own time to paint sets voluntarily for me at Panera Bread.

      11:45-12:15 PM: Drive to Panera Bread, wondering why three 1/2 sandwiches and some lettuce on the side costs $40.65.

      12:17 PM: Eat lunch with student, who is my Jeopardy! buddy. We watch a bootleg version of the first round of Jeopardy! together while eating lunch. It’s a great 15 minutes.

      12:34 PM: Leave students (there are three now) because I have to go do team building activities with my staff. I am now being even more risky as there are more unsupervised students, but I have been placed on a team of seven, and my absence will be noticed if I were to dodge the planned activities. Beg students not to leave auditorium or draw attention to themselves. Train them on how to say “Mr. Quinlan is in the bathroom” should they be questioned about my lack of presence.

      12:45 PM: Play Tug-of-War (not exaggerating in the slightest. This is not a metaphor.) The National Guard has come to my school, and is now in charge of team building. The first activity is Tug-of-War.

      12:46 PM: Win Tug-of-War

      12:50 PM: Play Tug-of-War

      12:51 PM: Win Tug-of-War

      12:55 PM: Play Tug-of-War

      12:56 PM: Win Tug-of-War

      1:00 PM: Play Tug-of-War

      1:01 PM: Lose Tug-of-War

      1:03 PM: Go check on kids. Tell them how stupid Tug-of-War is.

      1:10 PM: Go back to cohort. We have moved on to “minute-to-win-it” type games. Wonder where I went wrong in life.

      1:32 PM: Go check on kids. They have to let me in after I knock loudly because I have lost my keys at some point during the stupid events.

      1:45 PM: Respond to several “Where are you?!” messages as I am not with my cohort.

      1:47 PM: See that the “minute-to-win-it” arena is abandoned. Wander aimlessly around school looking for the rest of the faculty.

      1:51 PM: Find rest of faculty. They are outside. All 75 of them see me at the same time and start chanting my name. I have no choice. I have to climb the stupid fucking rock wall they rented for the day.

      1:55 PM: Get strapped in and start climbing a stupid fucking rock wall. Wonder once again where I went wrong in life.

      2:00-2:25 PM: Record others climbing stupid fucking rock wall after bullying them into doing it because the National Guard was getting frustrated that no one wanted to participate in climbing a stupid fucking rock wall.

      2:30 PM: Go check on students. They’re doing great. Most productive people in the whole building were three students on a day off. Help students paint. Laugh. Enjoy my life for a 1/2 hour. Stop wondering where I went wrong.

      3:00 PM: Leave students to go take care of two giant dogs. Tell them to behave.

      3:03 PM: Get message from principal saying “Are you in building? Everyone is leaving and we are setting the alarm. I know you were planning on being here late.”

      3:04 PM: Drive back to school like bat out of hell. Text principal back. “Yes, I’m in the building. I’ll lock up later.”

      3:05-3:15 PM: Figure out arrangements for giant dogs. Friends will help.

      3:15-4:00 PM: Help paint.

      4:01 PM: Leave school to go get prizes for a contest that you came up with spur-of-the-moment, but forgot to get prizes for. 5 $5 gift cards to Dunkin’ Donuts. There are now five students in the building. There is absolutely zero staff,

      4:25 PM: Return to school. Cast is there. They seem to be blissfully unaware that there was not a single adult at the school. Aim some stray lights that aren’t hitting the stage at the right spot. Change batteries for microphone packs.

      4:25-5:00 PM: Answer a shit-ton of questions while doing a shit-ton of other things at the same time. Rehearsal will start at 5:30 sharp.

      5:02 PM: See an email on your phone from one of the most wonderful students I’ve ever met, asking if you’ve completed her letter of recommendation for her college application yet, because it’s due in an hour. She is a student who was homeless, who came from nothing, and pulled herself up by her own bootstraps. A student I’d do anything for. And I forgot to write her letter of recommendation.

      5:03 PM: Write a college letter of recommendation.

      5:30 PM: Start rehearsal. Direct the shit out of Agatha Christie’s “Witness for the Prosecution.”

      8:30 PM: End rehearsal. Set stage up for tomorrow’s orchestra practice for school. They can’t use classroom space because… COVID. So they have to use stage. 60 chairs. 60 music stands. My set off Tetrised into backstage space.

      9:30 PM: Lock up school.

      9:31 PM: Unlock school. I forgot my iPad.

      9:32 PM: Lock up school.

      9:33 PM: Unlock school. I forgot to set the alarm

      9:35 PM: Unlock school. Disarm alarm. I forgot to turn off the lighting board.

      9:37 PM: Leave school.

      9:45 PM: Go back to school, which is neither armed nor locked. Wonder why I am A) in possession of alarm codes B) given a key to the school

      9:54 PM: Lock and arm school.

      9:55 PM: Leave school for home.

      10:15 PM: Play with dogs. Enjoy life for 15 minutes. Multitask and talk with girlfriend.

      10:30 PM: Write Universal Crossword review.

      10:50 PM: Type up notes for cast to post to google classroom.

      10:55 PM: Check crosswordfiend to make sure post was posted. See “golfballman”‘s stupid comment. And appreciate that of all the stupidest things that happened in one day, reading “golfballman”‘s post is the absolute stupidest.

      11:39 PM: Finish typing response to “golfballman”

      Wonder why the school has trusted me with keys and alarm codes.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        Very well and amusingly written, Jim. Thanks for the smiles (I need them today, believe me) and for giving us a glimpse at a day in the life of Jim Quinlan.

  2. Lise says:

    NYT: I like the double rainbow, and that the revealer supports it from beneath. This theme seems Tuesday-friendly, and the fill as well (although TV DAD did not jump out at me, nor did ON NBC). I don’t think I have encountered a KOOKABURRA in a puzzle before, so yay for that.

    In my family, my husband loves the crispy edge brownie pieces and our son, the gooier middle. In fact, if a pan of brownies lurks in the kitchen uncut, I will later find a piece mysteriously missing from the very middle.

    • Billy Boy says:

      Anyone who puts chocolate chips in brownies, well just imagine the punishment –

      To do this puzzle over and over again

      • Matthew S. says:

        why do come here so often just to drag puzzles in the comments for no reason? really disappointing.

  3. Billposter says:

    I may have missed prior discussion of this, but my subscription to the NYT crossword is up for renewal and I am uncomfortable with the abandonment of Across Lite to the point that I’ll probably not renew. Does ANYBODY have an insight into what went on at NYT, what the issue was/is, and if ever we’ll get AL back?

    • PJ says:

      There is an extension for web browsers called Crossword Scraper. It will convert an online puzzle into .puz, .jpz, or .pdf format. I click on the NYT puzzle and get it to the point i would be solving and then I use the extension. After I got familiar with extensions, which took just afew minutes, it worked very easily.

      The only puzzle I haven’t gotten it to work on is USA Today.

    • marciem says:

      Ditto what pj says above me, about Crossword Scraper. It’s great!

      There are extensions at the app stores for Chrome and Firefox (Mozilla) browsers. I think there is one for Macs also, but not sure on that.

      And like pj, I’ve not been able to get it to work for the USA Today puzzles.

      • Billposter says:

        After posting this, I monkeyed around with the sugested sites but I’m happy to report that using the “left hand” option and the ink saver from NYT, the result is palatable and as far as I’m concerned, Okay.

  4. marciem says:

    LAT: I wanted DDE for 36a, since the clue used JFK. I know the prez part of the clue hinted at familiarity, but I think “Pres (or Prez) before Jack” would have been a better clue for IKE.

Comments are closed.