Wednesday, April 26, 2017

AV Club 9:01 (Ben) 


LAT 4:19 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:03 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

Trenton Charlson’s name wasn’t familiar, so I checked Wordplay and sure enough, this is his debut puzzle. Welcome! Trenton is a junior at The Ohio State University.

I liked this puzzle a lot. The theme was evident early on and the revealer still made me smile.

NYT 4/26 puzzle, solution grid

  • 17a [“Sanford and Son” star of 1970s TV] is REDD FOXX.
  • 19a [High-end shampoo brand] is NEXXUS. I’m pretty sure high-end shampoo is just shampoo that costs more.
  • 38a [Shot blocker?] is a kind way of defining ANTI VAXXER. I’m sure Erin could tell us stories. I would say something like “Parent who prefers risking death to using evidence-based immunizations.”
  • 43a [BP rival] is EXXON MOBIL, at least until they all merge into one big vat of oily goo.
  • 61a [Sister chain of Marshalls] is TJ MAXX.

And our revealer: 64a [Beer brand whose logo hints at the answers to 17-, 19-, 38-, 43- and 61-Across] is DOS EQUIS. Trenton already used their ad line in his constructor’s notes, so I’ll skip it. Here’s the logo:

Nice, consistent theme with all the answers solidly in the language. Fun to solve!

There’s a smattering of overly familiar answers (do we all just fill in ORR whenever the clue has anything to do with hockey?) but not too many, and lots of lively non-theme fill to make up for it.

  • 8a [Candy often used in science fair volcanoes] took me a minute, because these didn’t exist when I was building volcanoes and Emma never built one. It’s MENTOS, famous for their eruptive qualities. Also, of course, The Freshmaker.
  • 47a [“The Times They Are a-Changin'” songwriter] is recent Nobelist Bob DYLAN.
  • 48a [Big name in vacuum cleaners] is DYSON, who for years I thought was related to Freeman Dyson the physicist. Apparently not.
  • 51a [Hostility, in British slang] is AGGRO. I like this word. I think I will start using it.
  • 29d is [City 20 miles NW of 27-Down]. 27-down is FRESNO, so we’re in CA, and the answer is MADERA. I filled this in with crossings and at first thought it was misspelled. Nope.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: That FRESNO is Spanish for “ash tree” and that NIXON becomes the President of Future Earth on Futurama.

Alex Eaton-Salners’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Special Delivery” — Jim’s review

The theme today is deceptively simple, but required some extra pondering post-solve, as it were.

Each of the theme clues is a real phrase relating to mail delivery and starting with the word “post,” such as 23a‘s [Post man?]. My initial thought was we would be looking for words or phrases that could follow, in this example, the word “man.” I was way off.

Turns out “post” has a different meaning in each clue. Observe.

WSJ – Wed, 4.26.17 – “Special Delivery” by Alex Eaton-Salners

  • 16a [Post office?NEWSROOM. That’s the Washington Post, I presume. Or the New York Post. Or the Denver Post.
  • 23a [Post man?] POWER FORWARD. Basketball. The POWER FORWARD is the position just below and to the right of the basket in what is called the “low post.” (I had to look all that up; feel free to set me straight. Ade, where are you when I need you!) We also would have accepted EVAN BIRNHOLZ as an answer to this clue.
  • 38a [Post boxes?] CEREALS. Kellogg’s rival. Post makes Grape-Nuts, Raisin Bran, Fruity Pebbles, etc.
  • 49a [Post codes?] TABLE MANNERS. Etiquette expert Emily Post. This entry is just a little bit of a stretch since I don’t know that you would call manners codes. But I think it’s still close enough that it works. This clue and the preceding one both feel very British to me; stateside we of course say “mailboxes” or “post office boxes” and also “zip codes.” But I, for one, like both of the given clues.
  • 61a [Post masters?] BLOGGERS. What…moi?

I thought this was really quite clever. I had more than one instance of befuddlement, and then, with TABLE MANNERS, I had my a-ha moment.

Even after that, it still took some musing to realize the meaning of each “post” (especially the basketball one; I’m weak in that regard), but I found sussing it all out to be very satisfying.

This is really an impressive theme. Not only are all the “post” phrases legit, not only are they all related to mail delivery (as opposed to, say, “post haste” or “post graduate”), but they each have viable alternative meanings, and all those meanings are legit words and phrases. Consider if Alex had used the clue [Post codes?] for the made-up entry EMILY’S CIPHERS. It’s simply not as elegant the real phrase TABLE MANNERS.

And check out the great long fill: MOSH PIT, MAN O’WAR, “ACT NATURAL,” DISCO BALLS, “CAN’T BE,” “I’LL LIVE,” and the Weird Al classic LASAGNA. There are however some prices to be paid like IN A CAN, ONE-A, EX-CIA, BRAE, and IAMBI.

Horbury MEWS, London

And as usual, there were a few things I just didn’t know:

  • 3d [Group of stables]. MEWS. I’ve seen this word used around Britain but never knew what it meant. I’m finally glad to have learned its meaning.
  • 26a [Light of “Transparent”]. JUDITH. Yes, that’s the same JUDITH Light from Who’s the Boss?
  • 15d [It flows through Hera’s veins]. ICHOR. I’ve seen this before but only in crosswords. And it was long enough ago that I’d forgotten it. Maybe I’ll remember it this time.

Overall, despite a little bit of thorny fill, the plusses way outshine the minuses, and this was a most enjoyable puzzle.

Kameron Austin Collins’ AVCX crossword, “AVCX Themeless ” — Ben’s Review

It’s themeless week at the AVCX!  I get so excited by these.  There’s something nice about waking up, checking your inbox, and knowing that the puzzle’s going to have a really clean grid and interesting, modern fill.  Now that I’ve actually gotten around to solving the thing, I can confirm my trust was not in vain here.  There’s a lot to love here, but here’s a sampling of some of my favorite cluing this time around:

  • 1A:Character played by Martin Lawrence’s character in a 2000 comedy — BIG MOMMA (1A tends to set the tone for how I feel about a themeless puzzle, and this one had me feeling really good about how the rest of the grid would be.)
  • 13A:What was your first clue? — ONE ACROSS (Cheeky.)
  • 35A:Deal with directions, perhaps– RIDE SHOTGUN
  • 41A:Caribbean shellfish dish with coconut milk — CURRIED CRAB (between this and the beef bourguignon clue at 28A for EGG NOODLE, this is the first crossword to make me hungry by the end of it)
  • 46A:”Will You Love Me Tomorrow” singers, with “the” — SHIRELLES (dig this song)
  • 66A: Gym chain, briefly — NYSC (that’d be New York Sports Clubs, which also owns Boston Sports Clubs and a bunch of other similarly-acronymed chains)
  • 14D: Bad news for the tires of your getaway vehicle — SPIKE STRIP
  • 47D: Boulangerie purchases — LOAVES

Again, a great grid and challenging contemporary fill made this a solve I not only looked forward to, but fully enjoyed.

5/5 stars.

Bill Zagozewski’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 170426

Unusual to have the same letter string in all theme answers. Here, [Empty], [Naught], [Nothing], and [Space] are given in the clues, but actually belong in the answers, where they are replaced by the rough synonym BLANK in each case. {NOTHING}BUTNET, {OPEN}SPACE, {EMPTY}NEST and ALLFOR{NAUGHT} make up the set.

The grid, in all quadrants, felt drier and clunkier than usual. One can put it down to inexperience, but you really don’t want each section to have one or more RASERs or similar…


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14 Responses to Wednesday, April 26, 2017

  1. pannonica says:

    NYT: 56a [Cuneiform discovery site] AMARNA really sticks out.

  2. Joe Pancake says:

    NYT: Very nice debut puzzle!

  3. David L says:

    Very nice! I took a wrong turn in the SE by putting in DOUBLEXX at 64A (not actually a beer, I know, but I was breezing along). That fit nicely with ROUGH instead of RASPY and TOMB instead of DOME — and having no idea about AMARNA left me struggling until I paused for thought.

    AGGRO, I would say, represents a step or two up in hostility from argy-bargy — the latter can be a matter of words and menacing stares only but the former tends to involve fists and feet.

  4. Zulema says:

    I had a problem with ANTIVAXXER because I didn’t know that someone had coined such an epithet, but Jenni’s suggested clue is a very good one. MADERA, also on Hwy 99, means “wood,” not woods but the wood itself. I didn’t come up with FRESNO immediately, because I was very familiar with the Modesto ash, and Modesto is also a city in Central California, but it didn’t fit. My acquaintance with the Modesto ash was a painful one. It had been chopped down for some reason, and I tried to move the trunk. Lower back pain for months. Very interesting puzzle theme.

  5. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: Jenni, if you like AGGRO, you’ll love ASBO. It started as an acronym meaning Anti-Social Behaviour Order, and was an official order from the government to an individual to stop behaving in a disruptive manner. (Think hooligans or anyone else causing a public disturbance.) But the acronym morphed to become a general term for anyone engaging in such behavior, and later on it became a nickname and even a badge of honor. I have friends who called their new dog Asbo until he got some training.

  6. Ahecht says:

    AVCX: Did anyone else want to put down BETTY for “White with age”?

  7. Matthew G. says:

    Whoops — I had two errors in the AVCX and didn’t even know it till I came here. Had SPIKES TRAP instead of SPIKE STRIP, and having not heard of LFO I had REVERENCE instead of REFERENCE.

    Can someone explain the Tarantino clue to me?

  8. sharkicicles says:

    KAC’s themlesses are my favorite themelesses. Just got around to solving the AVCX and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

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