Wednesday, January 18, 2017

AV Club 10:07 (Ben) 


CS 9:34 (Ade) 


LAT 6:15 (Gareth) 


NYT 3:02 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Matthew Sewell’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

As my time would suggest, this is a pretty easy puzzle. I figured out that we were playing basketball when I filled in the second theme answer, and the revealer still surprised me (probably because I don’t know that much about basketball).

Our theme answers:

NYT 1/18 puzzle, solution grid

  • 17a [Platform sandal feature] = BLOCK HEEL. I raise my eyebrow at this. To me, a platform sandal is something like this, which doesn’t really have a distinct heel at all. I suppose there are sandals with a platform under the forefoot and a separate block heel, but there are also many other shoes with block heels that are not platform sandals. Anyway, my eyebrow is raised.
  • 23a [Boyfriend after a breakup, perhaps] = REBOUND GUY. You’re not supposed to marry the rebound guy. Just sayin’.
  • 30a [Render a verdict] = PASS JUDGMENT. I prefer “judgement,” and I know I’m in the minority. Eyebrows stay down.
  • 40a [Novelty shop buy] = DRIBBLE GLASS.
  • 49a [Space Invaders and Asteroids, for two] = SHOOT ’EM UPS. Do gamers really use this term? Do gamers still play Space Invaders and Asteroids?
  • 57a [Dynamic basketball sequence represented by the starts of 17-, 23-, 30, 40- and 49-Across] = FAST BREAK. Block, rebound, pass, dribble, shoot. That’s a fast break. Nice.

It’s a lot of theme material, which requires a grid that has a lot of three-letter words, and the fill suffers somewhat as a result. I think the tradeoff is worth it.

A few other things:

  • 2d [Inept boxers, in slang] are PALOOKAS. I love this word. I just do.
  • 4a [Roundup targets] are WEEDS, not DOGIES. Fooled by the uppercase letter at the beginning of the clue again.
  • 22d [Comic-Con, e.g.] is an EXPO. Yes, I suppose it is, although I don’t think of it that way. I’m not sure why I don’t think of it that way, so it’s my issue. Judgement: legit.
  • Speaking of Comic-Con, we have a Batman sound effect at 41d [“Ka-POW!”]. The answer is BAM, and I’m glad the clue doesn’t reference Emeril.
  • 10d [Not based on fact or research] = ANECDOTAL. Indeed.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: to be honest, I didn’t know what a fast break was. There’s also OSSIAN at 35a; apparently he’s a [Bard of Gaelic legend]. If you say so.

Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Swell Intentioned” — Jim’s review

Straight-shooting add-a-letter theme as indicated by the title. It’s tightened up a bit by the fact that each base phrase starts with a W. On the whole, they all have a bit of genuine humor, so I like it.

WSJ – Wed, 1.18.17 – “Swell Intentioned” by Dan Fisher (Mike Shenk)

  • 20a [React to miswriting a check?] SWEAR AND TEAR. In my book, this is the best of the lot. It’s funny because it’s true.
  • 28a [Bifocals for boars?] SWINE GLASSES. Reminds me of the episode of Peppa Pig where Daddy Pig loses his glasses only to find he’s been sitting on them the whole time. Silly Daddy!
  • 44a [Knives wielded by muggers?] SWIPER BLADES. This one could’ve done with a different clue. Referring

    Couldn’t find a picture of SWIPER skating, so this’ll have to do.

    to a knife-wielding mugger as a “swiper” is awfully rose-colored. I don’t know why you wouldn’t go with [Ice skates for a kids’ TV villain].

  • 53a [Teddy bears for a honeybee colony?] SWARM FUZZIES. I guess this works.

The rest of the grid is fine but rather unremarkable. CAR PARTS is good of course, and QUIRES is unusual (10d, [There are twenty in a ream]), but beyond that, I’m not finding a whole lot to comment on — which is probably a good thing.

So I’ll just end it with this:

Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Altered States” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.18.17: “Altered States”

Good morning, everyone! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Jeff Chen, takes the abbreviation of states and uses them as substitutes for words in common phrases. The resulting puns are pronounced the same as the regular phrase when reading the letters of the state abbreviation individually.

  • PRIMETIME ME (16A: [Augusta, when the joint is jumping?]) – Primetime Emmy. I heard Orono is much more of the happening town than Augusta is. OK, I just made that up.
  • NE TAKERS (23A: [Kleptomaniacs, in Lincoln?]) – Any takers?
  • MT NESTER (50A: [Bird, in Helena?]) – Empty nester.
  • GREEN WITH NV (61A: [Slogan for Reno’s ego-conscious?]) – Green with envy.

It’s funny to me seeing MIND ERASER in the grid because a friend of mine usually brings up the term any time we have a a night when we have a tad too much to drink on a given night, but, until now, didn’t realize that that’s the name of an actual drink (10D: [Mixed drink hinting at its potency]). I guess a good number of drinks, without being nixed with something else, can be considered mind erasers. Fun full in the grid, and especially liked ARMCHAIR (4D: [________ quarterback (home critic)]). I love how that idiom, partially derived from sports, is used many times in a non-sporting context. Also liked THE MASSES fill as well (9D: [Hoi polloi]). There was a time when NILLA wafers were my favorite cookie, and I think it was because one of my favorite elementary school teachers brought it to class one day and I fell in love with once I bit into it (64A: [Nabisco cookie named for its flavor]). My parents ended up buying boxes of it for me immediately afterward when they went out grocery shopping, but, now that I think about it, it’s probably been about two decades since I’ve had a single Nilla wafer. Should I change that soon?!?

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SELF (67A: [Freudian interest]) – One of the best coaches in college basketball, Bill SELF is currently the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Kansas. In 13 full seasons at Kansas (not counting the current one), Self and the Jayhawks has won at least a share of the Big 12 Conference titles 12 times, with only his first season at Kansas, in 2003-04, being the exception. Self’s crowning achievement as a head coach also cost me over $500; In 2008, Kansas defeated Memphis in the national championship game in overtime to deliver the Jayhawks their most recent national championship and deny yours truly from finishing second place in my NCAA Tournament pool that year. Darn you, Bill Self!!!!!

Thank you so much once again for your time and attention, and I’ll see you all tomorrow.

Take care!


C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s bit

LA Times

The theme appears to be a phobia etymology theme. That’s fairly esoteric, but it also seems a tad muddled. Each of four long answers refers to something that is [Not a fearful…] for x-phobes. The answers all feature what x literally means, in English. Acrophobes shouldn’t fear brooklynHEIGHTS, although it was presumably named for some high feature. Agora means market, and agoraphobes shouldn’t fear a moneyMARKET, as it’s not a physical market – that works! Xeno- (strange) phobes should apparently not fear theSTRANGER. The problem is, from what I know, xenophobia is the main theme of the book? Yes? I haven’t read it. If that’s the case this really falls flat. An alfaromeoSPIDER is not an arachnid, so arachnophobes are safe. This works and is an evocative car entry too!

As usual, C.C. Burnikel delivers an excellent grid, filled with care. TARGETEDAD was a particularly good choice of down answer.


Kameron AustinCollins’ AVCX crossword, “AVCX Themeless #12” — Ben’s Review

Oh, boy, it’s themeless week at the AV Club!  It’s another lovely grid from Kameron, with plenty of tasty fill inside.

Across standouts for me:

  • The mirrored pairing of MRAZ and RISD, two groupings of letters that free from the context of their clues (“Jason with the 2008 hit ‘I’m Your’s'” and “Seth MacFarlane’s alma mater, for short”, respectively) look off
  • the MAHARAJAHS-ONE MAN ARMY-PANOPTICON stack in the upper left corner
  • a shoutout to QR CODEs (which I don’t recall showing up in last weekends Mystery Hunt, oddly enough)

    It’s a QR CODE!

  • COTTAGE PIE (which is what a shepherd’s pie becomes if you only have ground beef rather than lamb)
  • BREATHLESS (which I haven’t seen, but totally know of as a film junkie).


  • RAP FREESTYLE seems backwards (freestyle rap, anyone?), but the rest of the long answers going down (MOCHACCINOS, Q AND A PERIOD, and OPEN MIC NIGHT) were just fine.
  • Somehow PRINTER isn’t what I expected to fill in the blank after “3-D ____”, but it’s nice to see something other than GLASSES show up there.

As always with Kameron, a lovely grid with equally excellent fill.

4.25/5 stars

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Wednesday, January 18, 2017

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Fun!

  2. Amy Reynaldo says:

    You married the rebound guy too, didn’t you, Jenni? Any one of these decades, I reckon I’ll be healed up enough to move on from that breakup. In the meantime, the rebound guy remains handy.

    • Martin says:

      Elaine and I have always disagreed on whether she qualifies. I moved from NY to California to escape a relationship that was seemingly not endable. We met shortly after I arrived.

      Was I on the rebound? Is relief for a recently ended relationship a rebound situation? I don’t think it is. I think the essence of rebound is the desire to feel better, one way or another, after being dumped. Or is merely the discomfort of being alone after being used to being half of a couple enough to lead to rebound-like behaviors?

      • Jenni Levy says:

        Well, there was a year gap…but yes, he was the rebound guy, and he was rooming with the guy I was rebounding from…

  3. Bencoe says:

    It’s strange, but every time I try to post the following timeline on the New York Times site, it seems to go ignored regardless of relevance. I post it here because of my faith in this site and its devotion to the Times.
    I’ve been following Russian propaganda for years.
    When Trump started bashing NATO, I sat up and started paying attention. Then he started repeating Kremlin propaganda, such as Obama created ISIS. Then he hired Paul Manafort, Russia’s PR man in the Ukraine. Likewise Michael Flynn, who gave a speech on RT praising Putin’s Russia over the United States. The Trump team’s only real contribution to the Republican Party platform was to change the wording of the American government on the Ukraine/Russia conflict to say that the US should no longer arm the Ukraine. Or consider the Crimean peninsula nonnegotiable.
    It sounds like weird paranoid stuff but I just want a record.

  4. Lise says:

    Loved the NYT, and my gamer son tells me that SHOOTEMUPS is something people still say from time to time. He says to beware of the shortened form SHMUPS in a future crossword. I feel warned.

    I liked PALOOKA too. We used to call our dog that, from time to time, although she wasn’t a boxer.

  5. Paul Coulter says:

    Loved the NYT, too. Five crisp themers in sequence, and a wonderful revealer. Congratulations, Matthew.

  6. Norm says:

    I remember Joe Palooka as a good boxer. How did he become an eponym for the inept?

    • Phil says:

      I believe the term “palooka” came first and that’s where Joe got his name, even though he was not a palooka. Palooka also means a big lumbering oaf.

  7. ArtLvr says:

    My father, who was a lawyer, taught me early on that “There is no ease in judgment”. That is a reminder that the spelling does not allow for you to choose a spelling with two E’s in it. Sorry!

    • pannonica says:

      Judgment can also be spelled “judgement,” and usage experts have long disagreed over which spelling is the preferred one. Henry Fowler asserted, “The OED [Oxford English Dictionary] prefers the older and more reasonable spelling. ‘Judgement’ is therefore here recommended.” William Safire held an opposite opinion, writing, “My judgment is that Fowler is not to be followed.” “Judgement” is in fact the older spelling, but it dropped from favor and for centuries “judgment” was the only spelling to appear in dictionaries. That changed when the OED (Fowler’s source) was published showing “judgement” as an equal variant. Today, “judgment” is more popular in the U.S., whereas both spellings make a good showing in Britain.

      • ArtLvr says:

        Popular often means ignorant… My dad shared an annual honor with Obama: he was Editor of the Harvard Law Review in his day. If you had been on his board, you would certainly not have been allowed your own choice of spelling “judgment”!

        • pannonica says:

          Did you read the brief [exposition]? You seem to be arguing at cross purposes.

        • Lise says:

          After wrapping my head around the “e” in “whiskey” and the bugs in my food, I have little energy to quibble about an additional “e” in “judgement”. Which the spell-checker just flagged. ;) But it makes more sense to me to leave it in; also, I think British spellings are delightful.

          This is a fun forum!

  8. David L says:

    On a less exalted note, I only became aware of Peppa Pig when I was visiting my brother’s family in England a couple of years ago. His granddaughter was transfixed by Peppa, and I found the show pretty charming too. It’s a remarkable thing when adults create a TV show that somehow plugs directly into children’s brains.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      What’s even more remarkable is when that show entertains those kids and their adults simultaneously. Peppa Pig manages to do this with sincerity, charm, and humour. Characters aren’t flat but have some complexity and development.

      A related show, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, made by the same people and aimed at kids slightly older than the Peppa Pig crowd, is even more fun. When we were in England even my teenage son said it was his favorite show.

  9. Ethan Friedman says:

    SHOOT ‘EM UPs absolutely still in the language I think. Or maybe I’m just old.

    Very nice NYT and I can forgive OSSIAN as the only weak spot in the grid.

  10. Michael says:

    Did anyone else raise an eyebrow at ‘Coolness’ for 3-D(Hipster quality) on the NYT puzzle? Maybe I’m showing my age, but I thought hipsters (at least the ’10s version) were routinely scorned with their hipper-than-thou attitudes?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Will Shortz is drinking the hipster Kool-Aid!

    • Martin says:

      It depends on whether you are a hipster, or are suffering in an area that has become infested with hipsters. Since a few hipsters can make life miserable for many others, I suspect “cool” is a minority opinion.

Comments are closed.