Friday, February 5, 2016

CS untimed (Amy) 


LAT 10:59 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:24 (Amy) 


CHE untimed (pannonica) 


BuzzFeed 7:48 (Derek) 


Mary Lou Guizzo’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 5 16, no 0205

NY Times crossword solution, 2 5 16, no 0205

Yesterday, I wrote about Jeff Chen’s welcome inclusion of more people of color in his grid. So today, I took a look at Mary Lou’s grid vs. last Friday’s puzzle. Last Friday’s had, if I counted right, 6 men and 3 women (one a mythological figure) in the grid. Mary Lou’s puzzle has two marquee names among the six 15s: SHAILENE WOODLEY and JESSICA CHASTAIN. Plus NAOMI, ANN, and a few entries that could have been clued as women: ANI Skywalker could have been Ani DiFranco; the MARSH wetland, Ngaio Marsh; [Mad] GAGA, Lady Gaga; DANO from Hawaii Five-O, old soap actress Linda Dano. Guy entries were UNGER, ANI, DANO, PHIL, and DEXTER (all short answers). 38 squares of women in the grid (and clued as such), 22 of men. I’ll take it. And I’m delighted to see Mary Lou regularly publishing themeless puzzles in a variety of venues (she had themelesses in the LA Times and BuzzFeed last month). I hope to see more themelesses by women moving forward. (Do you think this paragraph has too many parentheticals? I think yes.)

Favorite fill, in addition to the 15-letter actresses: Swift’s delicious satire A MODEST PROPOSAL; “WHAT MORE CAN I SAY?”; GO AT A SNAIL’S PACE; CANNERY ROW; TAKEN ABACK. Oh! And “I’LL BITE,” which I almost forgot but is delightful.

Among the short filler material, we had the blah ODIC, ENOLA, PREV, ABAFT (I’ve been reading Moby Dick, and so far I’ve encountered only aft), NEBO, SFC, OHS, ELEC, IRAE, NAE, and T-NUT. JESSICA CHASTAIN is a good bit more memorable than these.

Other notes:

  • I like the layout of four Across 15s intersecting with two Down 15s. The Down 10s each cross three of the four Across 15s. Tight matrix of long fill here.
  • 1a. [Stare in astonishment], GAWP. Sometimes these “could be this, could be that” pairs are annoying. Is it AVOW or the duller AVER? SEETHE or SEE RED? Here, you need to crossings to distinguish between GAPE, GAWK, and the less common GAWP. This is a 1-Across that says “you’re not ripping through this puzzle so fast, buckaroo.”
  • 37d. [Number on a grandfather clock], VIII / 54d. [37-Down, to Diego], OCHO. Cute. Hey, you don’t often get asked to translate Roman to Spanish if you’re an English speaker.
  • 27d. [Grp. behind the Oscars], AMPAS. I figure February is the ideal time to drop an AMPAS into the grid—when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is reaching a fever peak of familiarity. Does anyone call them AMPAS, or is it just “the Academy”? “I’d like to thank AMPAS” never seems to come up in acceptance speeches.
  • 44d. [They join teams], YOKES. Teams of oxen, not teams of athletes or coworkers. I like the clue. Are teams of oxen always just two? Is this like Olympic beach volleyball?

4.2 stars from me.

Jacob Zantinge’s BuzzFeed crossword, “Themeless”—Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 6.39.20 PMThis is a somewhat difficult themeless puzzle, but it does have the characteristic longer BuzzFeed puzzle clues, in the also characteristically irreverent manner to boot! I had one tiny error, which I would have caught without checking if I had scanned the down answers first. I had SPICE instead of SPICY at 5A. I should have known EEP was not a correct entry! It’s usually mistakes like this that doom me at Stamford; I am certain I have never finished all 7 puzzles clean, even while solving at home.

But enough about the upcoming tournament! This was a fun themeless to solve, and has lots of the rarer letters and great entries. A few observations:

  • 1A [Creator of Barney and Moe] MATT – I guessed this was referring to Simpsons characters, and for once I guessed right! Matt Groening is the creator of the long-running cartoon show.
  • 40A [Gallic character of comix who takes a performance enhancing substance to fight against the Romans] ASTERIX – Never heard of this cartoon character. Perhaps that is because he is French!
  • 60A [They’re spotted at parlors] PEPPERONI PIZZAS – Nice clue!
  • 63A [Light precipitation that ices over the ground] FREEZING DRIZZLE – Lots of Zs in these two long entries. Here in north central Indiana, there were actually two deaths on Thursday morning due to this very hazardous weather phenomenon
  • 11D [It sees over seas] PERISCOPE – Another nice clue. And isn’t this the name of a new social media app that I don’t know how to use?
  • 31D [Brits put them on their cars … ’cause that’s just how they roll] TYRES – I like the Chelsea football (soccer!) club unis with the distinct British spelling from their Japanese team sponsor!chelsea
  • 34D [“Wouldn’t miss it for the world”, in modern lingo] I’M SO THERE – Favorite of the puzzle. Very nicely done.
  • 48D [Whence to take rips of 43-Down] BONGS – This should be 43-Across; I assumed it’s fixed by now.
  • 51D [Calvino who is an author of many crosswords?] ITALO – The only crossword-y entry, at least to me, in the grid. I have never seen this fellow in anything BUT puzzles!

Again, a fun puzzle, and isn’t that the goal? 4.3 stars!

Winston Emmons’ Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Levitation Trick Part 2” — pannonica’s write-UP

CHE • 2/5/16 • "Levitation Trick Part 2" • Emmons • solution

CHE • 2/5/16 • “Levitation Trick Part 2” • Emmons • solution

Whellp, as promised this theme is not only similar to last week’s, but exactly the same. Merely more of it. As this seems to be a début, I can see why editor Brad Wilber would be reluctant to nix a perfectly decent theme from a new (?) constructor just because there’s already one in the pipeline. Why not simply yoke the two? So here we are, phrases with the bigram U-P inserted.

  • 17a. [Industrial espionage involving Teflon or Kevlar?] DUPONT WORRY (don’t worry).
  • 28a. [Recipients of divine intervention?] MIRACLE GROUP (Miracle-Gro).
  • 44a. [List of donors in a theater program?] SUPPORTS PAGE (sports page). Had trouble completing this one, as it was tough to shake the idea that it ended in STAGE.
  • 59a. [Celebration with many self-important guests?] UPPITY PARTY (pity party). See also 8d SORRY LOT.

Last week’s had themers of 12-11-11-12 letters, today’s quartet is 11-12-12-11—with the bonus of a pair of eight-letter entries stacked along the central pair. Last week’s featured ‘long’ verticals of 8 and 6 letters, this week’s has four sevens as well as eights and sixes, so it’s definitely a denser grid. I should probably do a relative word count, but I’m running on empty as it is.

Biggest complaint with the fill is 26a [It’s tested to determine paternal lineage] Y DNA (or yDNA). The DNA is tested and the Y-chromosome is the focus, but this just isn’t good fill in my opinion. Yes, Wikipedia obligingly redirects ‘Y DNA’ to its Y chromosome page, and a Google search seems to return a respectable amount of sites for “y dna” (even if some of them seem to be Hindi fragments), but I’m basically not too thrilled with it as crossword fill. … Oh, this is interesting: if Wikipedia is searched with ‘ydna’ rather than ‘y dna’ it redirects to the Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup page. I guess that makes the clue more stringently correct. Still looks weird in-grid.

Going to keep the rest very brief, as it’s alread 5pm Eastern. Just a few notes:

  • 57a, Romeo and Juliet quote crossed by not explicitly linked TRYST (51d).
  • Nice to see NAN clued as photographer Goldin. (5d)
  • 30a [“That gently, ___ a perfumed sea …”: Poe] O’ER A. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Ouch.
  • PTA and PSAS. Hmph. (61d, 32d)
  • 22a [Where “A Room With a View” opens] ITALY. But I ventured INDIA at first, because I am an ignoramus. See also 3d [Country on the south side of Everest] NEPAL. I did mention Hindi before, yes?

Solid crossword. Oh look, that’s the same thing I said last week.

Alex S. Vratsanos’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LAT • 2/5/16 • Fri • Vratsanos • solution

LAT • 2/5/16 • Fri • Vratsanos • solution

OUTSKIRTSOFTOWN is a punchy 15. As a revealer for “add TOWN to all peripheral answers in the grid to make their clues make sense”, it’s a little stretchy, but I’ll take it.

The biggest and most frequent, sin in this theme trope is where the clue makes sense both with and without the missing part. Here [Tourism hub] is a RESORT(TOWN), but the clue works just as well for RESORT. This isn’t the same for the other the clues. CHINA(TOWN) in Frisco (as none of the locals call it), HOME(TOWN), BOOM(TOWN), MILL(TOWN), TINSEL(TOWN), OUR(TOWN), WATER(TOWN), YORK(TOWN), SKIP(TOWN). I’d have tried to lose SKIP(TOWN) as the only verb phrase in the set. If you keep BOYS(TOWN) then the classic Killers album SAMS(TOWN) is about your only option (the Live song is spelt towne…)

The MARVY (Eh?), VCRS, TEXACO (vague clue), BASSSAX (wanted BASSOON/BASSSON), RAGU area gave me fits.

I didn’t know [Tennessee team, briefly] was VOLS. Only Tennessee team I could name was the TITANS, but was fairly sure the answer wasn’t TITS. Apparently this is U. of Tennessee and is short for Volunteers.

ILLTELL is my favourite answer in this puzzle.

[Cultural opening?], AGRI. Cliched veterinary quip – “The only culture we have is agri-culture”. Hur-hur.

[Search casually, as for a bar pickup], TROLL. Anyone else want to dissect this clue including its implications to the greater sphere of crossword culture? We await your comment-essays!

[Scott of “NCIS: New Orleans”], BAKULA. This NCIS is new to me… Also, how many TV Series has this guy been in???

3 Stars

Leaving you with a classic rock song about the OUTSKIRTSOFTOWN

Jeffrey Harris’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Foreign Exchange”—Amy’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 2 5 16 "Foreign Exchange"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 2 5 16 “Foreign Exchange”

Jeffrey, among the CrosSynergy team’s newest members, transposes two letters in various phrases borrowed from foreign languages. The resulting loco phrases are clued accordingly:

  • 17a. [Having skipped ahead in school? (French)], AVANT GRADE. Avant garde.
  • 26a. [Club fees obtained from an ATM? (Latin)], DUES EX MACHINA. Deus ex machina.
  • 42a. [Defining traits of an emo guitarist? (German)], STRUM UND DRANG. Sturm und Drang.
  • 56a. [Good podium? (Spanish)], BUENOS DAIS. Buenos dias.

Neat theme, smart bit of wordplay.

The fill is excellent and so smooth overall, with ZSA ZSA (in the hospital this month, at age 99), TAMPA BAY, and CARFAX bringing sparkle.

Jeffrey’s a talented addition to the CS squad. Those of you who also do Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest likely know of Jeffrey as “Jangler,” the solver who perennially gets the toughest metas faster than just about anyone else.

4.5 stars from me.

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70 Responses to Friday, February 5, 2016

  1. PhilR says:

    “Are teams of oxen always just two” – No . Six cows in front, one bull behind got you to your homestead in about twice the time as did a team of horses, but when you got there you had a cattle operation. Sorry, there was supposed to be a picture there. I failed.

  2. David Phillips says:

    @Amy: I’d prefer that you not associate my puzzles with racism (yesterday’s write-up) or misogyny (yesterday’s and today’s; two different puzzles!)–even by comparison. These ideologies have absolutely no bearing in how I construct my puzzles, and any implication of such greatly offends and hurts me. Please find another scapegoat.

    • GET DUNKED says:

      HEY look, your SJW shit is finally getting called? See how you just try to drive away people when you kowtow to quotas? Try using some logic for one for God’s sake amy. Don’t wanna end up like rex now do you?

      • Deb Amlen says:

        Single Jewish Woman? Shonen Jump Warrior? Saint John’s Wort?

        Be specific.

        • GET DUNKED says:

          I’m sure you know what I mean.
          But just in case, let me hold your hand:

        • GET DUNKED says:

          Since you don’t want to click: Social Justice Warrior. See Rex Parker for a good example.

          • Deb Amlen says:

            No, I just didn’t want to hold your hand.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Wow, a troll doesn’t recognize when he’s been trolled.

          • GET DUNKED says:

            I’m giving you the opportunity to educate yourself, and you slap it away? For shame? Nice to see the white knights are already here though. Can’t be having Amy’s ego hurt now, can we?

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            So, wait. You still think we didn’t already know what SJW was short for? It’s short for “people who fight for social justice are bad people.” How anyone embraces that concept mystifies me.

            Rest assured, you’ve not hurt my ego in the slightest. In fact, the rash of grammatical, spelling, punctuation, spacing, and capitalization errors in your barrage of comments (really, there are quite a lot) should be hurting your ego.


          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Also, note that if we block your IP address here, you won’t be able to comment on the meta puzzles, either, Mr. P.

          • Deb Amlen says:

            I’m way too far gone to believe in white knights. I do believe in friends, though.

            And you don’t have to worry your pretty little head (see? I can be condescending too! This is a fun game!) about Amy’s feelings. She can handle way more than you clearly can any day. You wouldn’t be so riled up otherwise.

          • Mr. P. says:

            Well my cover’s blown. Imma go piss off for a month or so; that went on for way longer than it should of.

            I don’t know if sorry would do much good at this point. Still, sorry for shitting up your comment section today; having someone who unironically believes that stuff around is enough of a hassle, much less a guy trolling. And I can’t stress this enough, the views of get dunked are not representative of the views of Mr. P., and in fact are quite contrary to his own views.

            Amy, you do a good job of raising up underrepresented voices in crosswords where you can, and it’s nice to have an ally like you, as well as people like Rex and Ben Tausig. The overall culture may still be slanted against, but I think the steps you all take put things back in balance a bit.

            I also owe a sorry to EA and Deb Amlen as well, you guys aren’t white knights and are fine people. Same to the crossword fiend commenters; I’m glad you guys and gals could have a nice calm discussion about this topic. We do need more voices in crosswords, and maybe a shift in the type of fill used is one way to move towards that; just don’t sacrifice good fill or clues for its sake.

            My personal stuff leaked into the public, and I should take this as a sign I need to get things in order. I’m unfortunately terrible at anger/stress management, and I need to pick up working on that. A little disconnect may help me accomplish that goal. I’ll see y’all in March, unless I comment before then, which is a possibility :P.

            Enjoy the crosswords.

            -Mr. P.

    • e.a. says:

      hi david –

      big fan of your work (i think i’ve told you that before).

      just wanted to say that i read both of amy’s reviews and i had no idea those were your puzzles until you mentioned it. i won’t speak for her but i doubt it was in any way amy’s intention to scapegoat you, nor did i think she was accusing anyone of intentionally being racist or misogynist in their grid cultivation.

      gotta ask – how much consideration do you give to diverse representation when you’re building your puzzles? is there a conscious effort to include women, POC, etc., or do you go with whatever fill seems best regardless of those factors?

      • GET DUNKED says:

        You sound triggered

        WHY should he build it to some PC standards??? So you can feel better about saving CROSSWORDS from mysogyny and the mean racists?? There are so many real issues in other countries, and you have to be crybabies about this? Grow up and get some real perspective, jesus.

        Block me if you must, you know the truth

      • Joe Pancake says:

        This is a good comment (e.a.’s).

        In reading the reviews, it didn’t occur to me for a moment that Amy was calling anybody out or scapegoating anybody, and I didn’t even remember who wrote the puzzles she was referencing. I just read her comments as a general critique that mainstream crossword puzzles (like mainstream society at large — see Hollywood) overly represent a certain segment of society.

        And, by the way, being critical in this way works! When I make puzzles I now do consciously think about balance and diversity. (And it’s not just male/female or ethnic/racial diversity; it’s also about age, interests, etc. I’ve definitely tried to cut down on proper nouns and pop culture references in my puzzles — unless it’s intended for BZF.)

        Why not try to be inclusive and try to make your puzzles appeal to as broad an audience as possible?

      • David Phillips says:

        Hey Erik,

        I’m also a big fan of your work!

        To be honest, I value cleanliness in my grids above all other factors. If well-known female or POC figures fit in the grid and produce clean crossings, I will gladly include them. I would also do the same for prominent male figures, if the crossings work well. Excluding women/POC is never my goal but neither is their inclusion for “diversity’s” sake.

        One of my recent puzzles (rejected by both the NYT and LAT) just so happened to include a number of prominent female figures: MALALA YOUSAFZAI, GAMORA (from “Guardians of the Galaxy”; also a POC [green to be exact]), LADY GAGA, ANAIS (NIN), and STYLISTA (more a “generic” figure, but still female). I would also like to note that I chose my seed entry (MALALA) not because she was a woman but because she was an interesting person–i.e. not an interesting female.

        If you must relegate me to a “camp,” sign me up for the gender-/color-blind army.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Those are great and lively entries! I’m sorry the editors turned that puzzle down.

          Trivia: Zoe Saldana, who played Gamora, has also played a blue alien.

          • Bruce N. Morton says:

            Sure — in Avatar, and 10 feet tall. I thought she was pretty striking. And your reference to a “blue alien” allowed me to figure out that POC must mean person of color. (I’m not good with abbreviations in crosswords, either.)

        • GET DUNKED says:

          And if anyone tries to shame you, tell them to piss off; this lack of kowtowing to the SJWs is something we need more of.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Hi, David. e.a. is right—I was not at all intending to scapegoat you personally. A better approach would have been to count up the names in, say, a full month of grids by men vs. women, white folks vs. POC. But my post wouldn’t have gone up for days if I’d embarked on that research.

      I have been doing crosswords for upwards of 35 years, most of them by men, most by white constructors. A large majority of the names that have appeared in grids and clues are men. (Given that we’ve all gone through schooling with history textbooks that largely tell the story from a white male vantage point, it can take a concerted effort not to just continue with the same sort of “canonical” material that crosswords have always had.) As the percentage of newspaper puzzles made by women has plummeted over the years (I think it’s down to 15-25% now), it feels like a breath of fresh air to see puzzles by women that also speak to women. A year ago, there was an NYT debut by Erin Rhode that featured MANSPLAIN, and I found that delightful.

      I suspect that women’s and POC’s representation among the ranks of constructors will only grow as these groups begin to see more and more puzzles with fill that speaks to their experiences, their frames of reference. As crosswords expand beyond “those things filled with a lot of stodgy material” to puzzles that speak to the younger generations, to LGB&T people, to women, to people of all colors and backgrounds. e.a. is one who strives to populate his grids with a diverse set of references, and I appreciate that.

      • GET DUNKED says:

        Typical–you love mansplain, but if something like FEMSPLAIN showed up, you’d be throwing a fit about mysogyny or about how your scowl o meter (????) went off or some crap. And Im sure that magically putting lgbt in a grid will fix the problem; It’s totally not about soothing your guilt or anything I’m sure.

        Hey, at least you actually showed up rather than having one of your white knights do the defending all by himself, eh

      • Jim Peredo says:

        “A large majority of the names that have appeared in grids and clues are men.”

        I once built a puzzle based on Little Women with the four obvious theme answers. But I challenged myself to not have any man’s name in the grid or references to men in the clues. I did it, but believe me, it was not easy. (The puzzle was never published because it was too similar to other puzzles that had been accepted.)

      • David Phillips says:

        Thank you for the thoughtful response, Amy.

        I have perused the xwordinfo database extensively, solved many of the past puzzles, and seen the phenomenon of which you speak firsthand. I agree it’s patently unfair that the groups you’ve mentioned have been excluded for whatever reason; however, I also believe it is unfair to link the puzzles/entry choices of a new generation to the puzzles/injustices of an older generation.

        All I ask is that you consider the implications of praising one group of people at the expense of another–regardless of gender, race, or any other identifying marker.

        • GET DUNKED says:

          Do you seriously think logic and reason is going to work here David? Don’t you get it? As long as you’re putting down men, you’re gold.

        • e.a. says:

          i’m intrigued by your idea of a generational divide.

          are the “injustices of an older generation” so firmly quarantined in the past, or is it possible they could have farther-reaching ramifications? (for example, let’s say women and women’s interests were drastically underrepresented in puzzles of decades ago. what might that mean for the demographic breakdown of constructors in the present day?)

          do all of the constructors of your new generation share your commitment to the “gender-/color-blind” ethos? is it possible that a bias towards entries that uphold the (white, male, etc.) status quo could be unconsciously reproduced?

          which generation holds the power in crossworld today?

          • David Phillips says:

            Are these rhetorical/pondering questions?

            And, let’s be real: “your new generation” = “our generation.” I can’t be more than 5 years older than you. =)

  3. David L says:

    Easy for a Friday. I went from GAPE to GAWK to GAWP but the crosses made it easy. The only sticking point for me was the SW corner. I don’t know what SFC is, and the crossing of A_I/_EBO was mostly a guess. ALI? ARI? ANI? I chose right but more by luck than judgment.

    I second David Phillips’ comment above. The bean-counting route to crossword diversity seems frankly silly to me.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      But do you personally care if crossword puzzles speak to women, if they speak to people of color, and make those people feel like they’re part of the puzzle’s world?

      And numbers matter. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the ridiculous overrepresentation of men in US government and CEO offices … we don’t know where problems are if we refuse to quantify the differences that exist.

      • David L says:

        I’m all in favor of seeing a wider variety of crosswords created by a wider variety of people. And a comparison of the average content of crosswords over a period of time would be an interesting and useful study (not that I’m volunteering to do it…) But when you start counting men vs women in individual puzzles and declaring the results good or bad depending on the ratio, it veers close, IMO, to trying replace one kind of orthodoxy with another.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          So the “mostly men” orthodoxy that still holds sway, and likely has for 102 years—how does it get dislodged, then?

          • David L says:

            I would say by encouraging a diversity of constructors and letting them make the puzzles they want to make.

      • GET DUNKED says:

        If you’re going to bring up how numbers matter, then don’t throw out that 77% crap when it’s been disporven–simple as that. Or does that threaten to go against you narrative?

  4. Sarah says:

    I thought David’s crossword from last week had far less bad answers, and a lot more good answers than this one, despite David’s having a substantially lower word count. I care more for clean, good crosswords than having puzzles contain exactly 50% men/women.

  5. Joe Pancake says:

    Another great BZF themeless. Caleb and the constructors are really knocking these out of the park. They are almost always a joy, even if they are usually a tad too easy (relatively speaking) for my tastes.

  6. Having crosswords made by people of many different backgrounds, including references from many different backgrounds, not only allows solvers to feel like they are represented in the crossword community, but also provides encouragement for more solvers to try their hand at constructing.

    Recently the AVCX held a competition to find new constructors and specifically asked for women and POC to submit puzzles. The result was much greater diversity in the constructors who submitted, and I can’t wait to see what their new constructors have to offer.

    If crosswords are more inclusive, we reap the benefits of greater numbers of solvers as well as fresh ideas and entries from new constructors. If the downside is seeing less of the status quo, I for one am happy to make that sacrifice.

    • bananarchy says:

      tbh I’m not sure I understand what actual downsides are being presented here (outside of David P’s comment to Amy, which is being/has been handled respectfully by both parties, it would appear). Like, what is the downside of counting numbers of men and women that appear in crosswords? What are we here for if not to dissect these grids and clues? Tallying up things we don’t know or obscurities we don’t like is ok, but tallying up women’s names is not? I am honestly struggling to understand what the issue is here.

      • GET DUNKED says:

        Because it’s diversity ! It doesn’t have to make sense ; there are totally no downsides to knelling tothe PC police, don’t you see? As long as you shut your mouth and march in line, everything’s hunky-dory!

  7. Mike says:

    David L,
    SFC is a Sergeant First Class, a relative big shot in the world of enlisted people.

  8. Noam D. Elkies says:

    The last thing we need is an excuse for putting yet more YAWN entries into the puzzle. (YAWN = Yet Another Wretched Name.) If the problem is gender imbalance then the solution is to dump men’s names, not add women’s (or reclue familiar men’s names as [often even less familiar] women’s). Today’s CHE puzzle has a better clue for ANI than either Skywalker or deFranco. [Apropos of CHE, is WOMAÑANA the womantra of a female procrastinator? :-)]


  9. Pete says:

    One problem with achieving gender equality in crosswords is purely logistic. Since grids typically have many options for three-letter, entries, consider the imbalance in three-letter male names versus female names. The men have (off the top of my head) BOB, TOM, JIM, RON, DON, TED, HAL, KEN, MOE, BEN, CAL, GUY, JOE, LOU, LEW, NED, STU, TIM, VIC, IRA, MEL, and ZAC. PAT and LEE go both ways. The women have ANN, AMY, KAY, LIZ, and … what? For every exotic PIA or ANI you’ve got a RIK or AXL.

    I think the problem is we need to start naming our baby girls with shorter names.

    – Pete Collins

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Ah, but we’ve recently added LEA Michele, Rita ORA, SIA … MIA Hamm is a classic. NIA Long, Peeples, and Vardalos. Director AVA DuVernay. EVA Mendes, Longoria, Green. EVE is a staple. BEA Arthur. ANA Gasteyer. GAL Gadot. IDA Lupino, a classic director and actress. JEN, short for lots of famous Jennifers. J.LO. Samantha BEE. MAE West. NAN with a few options. ROZ Chast. SAM short for Samantha. TIA Carrere hasn’t done much lately. Ruby DEE. Just off the top of my head, most of these women have more current/famous cluing options than LEW or STU. There are also a ton of 4-letter women’s names—ELLA, EMMA, and ETTA take up a lot of grid space.

      People who co-edit pop culture crosswords have an awful lot of contemporary names to draw on! I wonder if Pete and I are more broadly representative, though—can women generally come up with more women’s names than men can?

      • Sarah says:

        Personally, I haven’t heard of about half the people on that list. I’d rather use a well-known male name than a not-so-well-known female one.

        I’m not necessarily defending Pete here. Some of the names on his list I also feel are obscure/outdated.

  10. bananarchy says:


  11. aries says:

    Does OONA go in the plus column because she’s a woman, or the negative because she’s crosswordese? Both?

    I think the real problem is proper nouns in general. I’d rather have a marquee answer be a lowercase, generic term with a fabulous clue rather than a celeb with a funky-spelling name that a large portion of solvers may not be able to infer its spelling, no matter what race or gender that person is. Today’s example of Ms. Woodley is a good example of that. I’d say the same thing about Domhnall Gleeson (who I’m sure is coming to an indie puzzle near you).

    We’re all forgetting about cluing, too. Your puzzle can be just as inclusive to all groups by using types of clues that speak to all solving demographics. We should strive for a good balance because I think it makes for a better solving experience.

  12. Hap says:

    World shaking issues these gender and diversity gripes but mine is more puerile – It’s five PM eastern and where is the LAT writeup??? Every day it gets later….

  13. PhilR says:

    Ever one to jump headfirst into any available fray, I’d like to express my outrage at JESSICACHASTAIN being included in a puzzle. The one and only Chastain is Brandi Chastain, because sports >>movies.

    So, why count women’s names vs men’s names in a puzzle? Probably because you’ve noticed naturally and you recognize it as an issue. That’s why the whole “I don’t recognize race / gender, I’m evolved” attitude is bullshit. You can say that, but in saying that you have to recognize the flip side of that stance – you’ll never notice that women and non-white folk are missing – because you don’t care to look. You’ll do a puzzle for weeks on end, with a half dozen answers/clues in each puzzle being white male centric, with no or very few women, or non-white people, and never notice. Never notice that most of the world’s population is omitted.

    • Sarah says:

      It is a shame BRANDICHASTAIN hasn’t debuted in any crosswords (as far as I know). I’d love to see it.

      • lemonade714 says:

        First, CHASTAIN appeared in a BEQ in 2014. BRANDI clued by a Chastain reference about 5 times in the last few years.
        New York Times – May 19, 2015
        LA Times – March 31, 2015
        Washington Post – March 15, 2015
        Premier Sunday – June 15, 2014
        Wall Street Journal Friday – Oct. 10, 2008

        As for all the debate about the position that Amy takes concerning issues which she considers important, the simple answer to me is that this is her blog. She has the right to use it for her agenda. If it influences more diversity in cluing/fill constructors etc. then she has achieved something important in her maintaining this blog. If you do not like her comments, do not read them. If you think your point of view deserves dissemination, put together your own blog and have at it. But have respect. This is her blog.

        Finally, the idea that her words will water down the quality of puzzles is insulting to the constructors, the editors and those who solve. You can disagree, but to attack her in her own place is just rude.

      • dave glasser says:

        Unfortunately, 14 letter answers are the hardest to get into 15×15 puzzles (or so the constructors tell me).

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          I knew someone would mention that! I was surprised that frequent commenter “Sarah,” who purports to be a regular constructor, wouldn’t have acknowledged that 14s are uncommon in 15×15 puzzles.

  14. placematfan says:

    LAT: Gareth, that’s great insight on the inferiority of the clue for RESORT (TOWN). Very interesting.

  15. hirschho says:

    How about requiring all reviewers to also post a table about each author (ethnicity, sexual identity, other traits you deem relevant).
    Also require a table of male names, female names, crosswordese, other relevant traits.
    Then the review can contain the other information that I find interesting in the write ups.


  16. Joan Macon says:

    Well, to interrupt this high level discussion, may I ask (parenthetically) where is the LAT grid? Usually I can finish the LAT but this time I am seeing quite a few empty squares and I need to see Gareth’s (or someone’s) to see where I went wrong.

  17. Joan Macon says:

    Well, to interrupt this high level discussion, may I ask (parenthetically) where is the LAT grid? Usually I can finish the LAT but this time I am seeing quite a few empty squares and I need to see Gareth’s (or someone’s) to see where I went wrong.

  18. Joan Macon says:

    Thank you!

  19. Lynne Wilson says:

    I am looking for the answers to February 5, 2016 Jeffrey Harris puzzle. I was surprised you did not do it.

Comments are closed.