Wednesday, October 19, 2016

AV Club 9:21 (Ben) 


CS 7:43 (Ade) 


LAT 4:02 (Gareth) 


NYT 8:33 (Ade) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Tom Pepper’s New York Times crossword—Ade’s write-up

New York Times crossword solution, 10.19.16

New York Times crossword solution, 10.19.16

Hello again, everybody! Ade here filling in to blog the Wednesday puzzle, which was brought to us by Mr. Tom Pepper. I guess you can call this puzzle a “PRO-lific” grid, with each of the theme entries, normally just one word, considered as two words, all consisting with the word “pro” as the first word and the second part of the word describing the job of the person referred to in each clue. Smack dab in the middle of the grid is the reveal entry, PROVOCATION, or, “pro vocation.” (36A: [Apt title for this puzzle])

  • PRO TESTER (16A: [SAT administrator, by trade?]) – Protester.
  • PRO CURER (25A: [Doctor, by trade?]) – Procurer.
  • PRO POSER (48A: [Model, by trade?]) – Proposer.
  • PRO FILERS (57A: [Manicurists and tax preparers, by trade?]) – Profilers.

I had a pretty good time with this puzzle and didn’t have too many complaints about it even though I did not move through the grid at a TORRID pace (2D: [Hot and then some]). That was probably because I was solving it on a crowded New York City subway train and barely had any elbow room to work with! I usually only like to see, at most, just one clue that calls upon having to rely on another clue in the grid to get the answer. In this case, we had two, with POTATO (22D: [Something to make a hash of?]) and EYE (17D: [Feature of a 22-Down]) as well as IAN ANDERSON (10D & 41A: [With 10-Down, lead vocalist and flutist for rock’s Jethro Tull]). Speaking of a rock musician/band, would have loved for the clue to YES to be “Owner of a Lonely Heart” band (20A: [“I did it!”]). Every time I hear that song, I have to hear it until the very end. No questions asked. Not sure of the last time I came across, or heard IMPUTE in conversation before (1D: [Attribute to]). In closing, I guess it might be just me, but I’m AVERSE (32D: [Disinclined to]) to seeing “KO” spelled out as KAYO (9A: [Put down for the count]). I’d rather see “KOED” in a grid to be honest, though I’m sure many others would disagree with me. Alright, I’m done. By the way, if you’re a Cubs fan, you’ll appreciate the next graph…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TINKER (23A: [Fiddle (with)]) – With the Chicago Cubs currently playing in the National League Championship Series, this is the perfect time to talk about one of the great Cubs players of all time. Joe TINKER was a shortstop who played professionally at the turn of the 20th century, playing mostly for the Chicago Cubs. He’s best known as being immortalized in a baseball poem by New York newspaper columnist Franklin Pierce Adams, “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon,” which lauded the double play combination of Tinker to (Johnny) Evers to (Frank) Chance and/or rued the double play combination turning a double play against the New York Giants. Tinker was a part of back-to-back World Series-winning Cubs teams in 1907 and 1908. (Yes, he was on the Cubs team that last won the World Series 108 years ago.) Tinker was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946, the same year as both second baseman Evers and first baseman Chance.

See you all a little later for the CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle blog.

Take care!


Anthony J. Caruso & Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Part Time” — Jim’s review

Today we get a revealer that isn’t all that revealing. Did you figure it out?

WSJ - Wed, 10.19.16 - "Part Time" by Anthony J. Caruso & Zhouqin Burnikel

WSJ – Wed, 10.19.16 – “Part Time” by Anthony J. Caruso & Zhouqin Burnikel

  • 18a [*Port authority?] WINE TASTER
  • 24a [*Decision in the court] SUMMARY ORDER. Maybe I’ve heard this phrase, but not very often.
  • 40a [*Liner’s counterpart] FLY BALL
  • 51a [*Quick alternative to a day at the beach] SPRAY TANNING
  • 62a [Legal hunting period, or what each starred answer does] OPEN SEASON

Holy crow! This theme took me much too long to understand. I nearly gave up, and was about to ask the Fiend braintrust for a little help. Fortunately, a few more minutes of pounding my head got the answer.

I couldn’t get past the idea that the revealer was telling me that the theme answers should precede SEASON, i.e. OPEN for SEASON (a la rabbit season, duck season, flu season, etc.). But FLY BALL SEASON didn’t work. Neither did FLY SEASON nor BALL SEASON.

Finally I realized that OPEN didn’t mean precede, it meant spread apart. Each of our four main theme answers has a different SEASON spelled out at the two ends of the phrase.


Too bad they couldn’t be in chronological order. SPRAY TANNING feels a bit roll-your-ownish, and I would’ve awarded more points for AUTUMN, but that’s a tall order.

On the whole though, nice theme! I think the revealer’s clue could be a bit clearer, but once I got it, I appreciated the thought behind it. Tricky and sneaky and clever. I like it!

This looks like a debut for Mr. Caruso, but the grid certainly has Zhouqin’s fingerprints all over it with plenty of fun, clean fill such as: WE’RE HIRING, ROSE RED, and EASY NOW, TO NAME A FEW. I also like PANERA, GARMIN,GET ‘EM!” and “NO, WAIT.” Not much to SCOWL at, either.

Clues of note:

  • 19a [Small fry] is plural TADS. I’m assuming this means tadpoles. I’ve never heard them called TADS.
  • 1a [Facile] is PAT. I confess to not remembering the needed definition. Here it means ignoring complexities or superficial, as in a PAT answer.
  • 66a [Shakespearean spendthrift] is TIMON from Timon of Athens. Completely new to me. TIMON is a generous aristocrat who gives his money away to losers who refuse to come to his aid when he is bankrupt. In return, TIMON goes to live in a cave and plots their demise. Fun stuff.

In sum, really nice puzzle today from a newcomer and a veteran. Great fill, crunchy clues, and a tricky theme.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s AVCX crossword, “Am I Late?” — Ben’s Review


Am I Late?

In some sort of weird cosmic unity this morning, I’m running a little late this morning, so let’s keep this brief.  Today’s AVCX is by BEQ and is a 3.5/5 in difficulty.  “Am I Late?” should be a good clue for what’s going on with the themers here:

  • 17A: Enclosed dog park for a wrinkly Chinese breed? — SHARPEI PEN 
  • 23A: What you get if you feed your winter underwear through a paper shredder? — LONG JOHN SLIVERS
  • 31A: Quarer on which George Washington sports a bald fade, Rag & Bone fedora ($195), and Eddie Bauer blazer ($120) — STYLE COIN
  • 40A: Colors on a surrealistic pallette? — DALI TONES
  • 47A: Casual French restaurant in a psychiatric hospital? — PADDED BRASSERIE
  • 60A: Detente in San Fran’s locker room? — NINER PEACE 

Yes, every I in the themers is a little late, changing SHARPIE PEN, LONG JOHN SILVER’S, STYLE ICON, DIAL TONES, PADDED BRASSIERE, and INNER PEACE into the wackier fill above.

Other things I liked: MCFLY (which I initially tried to make MARTY), I’M DYING, ENNUI clued as a “relative of Weltschmerz”, EIEIO

Things I wasn’t that fond of: being reminded of #MAGA, the cluing for ASTRO (It’s great that they’re also a “big name in gaming headsets”, but I’m not sure they’re that big a name)

3.5/5 stars for me.

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Working for Peanuts” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.19.16: "Working for Peanuts"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.19.16: “Working for Peanuts”

Good morning, everyone! Back here once again, but this time with today’s CrosSynergy/WaPo grid, which was brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach. In the grid, the four theme entries all start with words that also, when standing alone, can follow the word “peanut.”

  • OIL BUTTER (17A: [Shortening blend?])
  • BRITTLE SAUCE (29A: [Crunchy dressing?])
  • GALLERY STAND (47A: [Easel at an art show?])
  • FARMER BAR (64A: [Tavern for a sharecropper?])

There was a puzzle just a few days ago in which I commented that I hadn’t come across KNOTTY in a while, and then it shows up again in a matter of days (60A: [Stubborn, as a problem]). You know what that means? I’m probably going to use it over and over again in conversation in the next few weeks. That’s what usually happens in those circumstances in the past. Only hang-up I had during the solve was when I put in “salsa dip” for SNACK MIX when I initially inputted the “s” in the first box (41D: [Party bowlful]). Shameless plug alert: Before heading out, don’t forget to download The “A Lot of Sports Talk” PODCAST on your mobile device (9D: [Digital media file download]). At the moment, we’re working on talking with a football coach who once played soccer for the Colombian national soccer team at the time Pablo Escobar was the organization’s chief benefactor. Should be a fun interview once I get to do it and I hope you’ll be able to tune in and listen to it when it comes out. (The hope is that the show will be completed and released this weekend.)

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SNOW (57A: [Winter coat]) – To some sports fans, J.T. SNOW will remembered as the slick-fielding first baseman who used to play for the California Angels and San Francisco Giants and won six consecutive Gold Gloves between 1995 and 2000. To many other people, especially those in the Bay Area and those who remember great World Series moments, he’s the person who “saved” Darren Baker, the son of then-Giants manager Dusty Baker during Game 5 of the 2002 World Series. Here’s what I’m talking about…

Thank you so much for the time, and I’ll see you all tomorrow!

Take care!


Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 161019

LA Times

I like this whimsical tightness of this puzzle’s theme. The CLOSINGNUMBERs are SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE and TEN, in order. Not an obvious place to start but it works. Some numbers make up more than one word, some less.


  • [Does well at the casino?], BREAK-SEVEN. Why “?”?
  • [Cereal box factoid], NETW-EIGHT
  • [Opera house level], MEZZA-NINE
  • [Bullied], BROWBEA-TEN

I also appreciated the big corners in the top-left and bottom-right and the simple yet elegant misdirection of [Bridge call], AHOY.

4 Stars

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11 Responses to Wednesday, October 19, 2016

  1. By the way, here’s the poem by F.P.A. that I referred to in the “sports…smarter” graph…

    These are the saddest of possible words:
    “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
    Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
    Tinker and Evers and Chance.
    Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
    Making a Giant hit into a double-
    Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
    “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

    Gonfalon, huh?! Don’t hear that word too often! Just imagine if that famous radio call by Russ Hodges in 1951 wasn’t “The Giants win the pennant,” but “The Giants win the gonfalon!”

  2. Evad says:

    Loved today’s NYT. Wondering if [Scrooge, by trade?] could’ve been added to the set somehow?

    • Jim Peredo says:

      PROMISER? Nice. How about [Nana, by trade?]?

      • Gary R says:

        Clever, but I don’t think PROMISER would quite fit with the rest of the themers. In the puzzle, the parts of the answers that follow PRO- all retain the pronunciation suggested by the clue. (PROVOCATION is a bit of an outlier in the puzzle because, like PROMISER, the PRO part doesn’t have a long-O sound.)

  3. John Lampkin says:

    Re WSJ:
    Yes, Jim! The adjective to verb flip on “open” created a wonderful AHA for a Wednesday.

  4. Monica says:

    AV Club 8-down? I don’t get the reference; pls explain?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      AGERS = things that age a person. AGER(S) is not a good crossword entry, as most people rarely use or encounter the word.

  5. Martin says:

    Those are all things that cause premature aging.

  6. JohnV says:

    Late, but. Do not get OUTAGE LAT 11D Anyone?

  7. Ellen Nichols says:

    Nice to see a little love for the Midwest in the WSJ. Panera was founded in St. Louis, and Garmin is headquartered here in Kansas City.

Comments are closed.