Wednesday, July 12, 2017

AV Club 6:48 (Ben) 


LAT 3:54 (Gareth) 


NYT  5:21 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Elayne Boosler and Patrick Merrell’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

This is the latest in the series of celebrity collaboration celebrating the 75th anniversary of the NYT Crossword Puzzle. Elayne Boosler, the standup comic, was matched with Patrick Merrell, and the results are just as I’d expect: smooth, smart, and funny.

NYT 7/12, solution grid

Elayne and Patrick tackle the outdated movie industry for the theme.

  • 18a [Modern-day remake of a Robert De Niro film?] is UBER DRIVER (Taxi Driver). You textin’ to me?
  • 28a [Modern-day remake of a W. C. Fields film?] is THE PAYPAL DICK (The Bank Dick). 
  • 46a [Modern-day remake of a Bing Crosby film?] is HOLIDAY AIR BNB (Holiday Inn). “White Christmas” was written for this movie.
  • 60a [… and something to eat while watching the remakes] is GMO POPCORN. Yum. With artificial butter-flavored grease, I hope. And lots of salt.

The theme entries are entertaining and consistent, and the final addition of GMO POPCORN is perfect: different but thematic. This was fun.

A few other things:

  • 1d [Give it up, so to speak] is CLAP, as in “Give it up for Elayne Boosler!”
  • 5d [French vineyard] is CRU, and I think this is a coded shout-out from Patrick and Elayne to us. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
  • 8d [What may have a dog leg to the left or right?] confounded me. I thought it had something to do with golf, despite the question mark; I then belatedly realized that the “dogleg” in golf is one word. Turns out it’s FIREPLUG. Snort.
  • 45d [Kind of boid that catches the woim?] is, of course, the OILY bird. Say it out loud if you don’t get it.
  • I liked the juxtaposition of 51a [Canine command] with 51d [Barracks barkers: Abbr.]. SIC EM and SGTS, respectively.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that UNIVAC accurately predicted Ike’s election in 1952.

Harold Jones’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Ain’t Vee Got Fun?” — Jim’s review

You could guess where this puzzle was going just from the title. And you’d be right. W sounds are changed to V sounds with corresponding wacky clues. Here’s a chance to practice your over-the-top Dracula accent.

WSJ – Wed, 7.12.17 – “Ain’t Vee Got Fun?” by Harold Jones (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [Part of a homicidal bridal ensemble?] KILLER VEIL. Killer whale. I’m all for dark humor, but that seems a bit much. I’d’ve gone with KILLER as in “wicked cool.”
  • 23a [Knives wielded by deadly snakes?] VIPER BLADES. Wiper blades. I’m having a tough time envisioning snakes holding knives, but I can picture them on skates.
  • 37a [Retiree’s military uniform?] VET SUIT. Wet suit. I like this one. My wife retired from the Air Force last year. I think she got rid of most of her uniforms, though. Gareth might have clued this one as [What I wear to work every day?].
  • 45a [Ingredient in saltimbocca a la Gryffindor?] POTTER’S VEAL. Potter’s wheel. Fun fact: Saltimbocca means “jumps in the mouth.” Bonus crossing: BLACK OLIVE.
  • 55a [Prosecution presented through poetry?] VERSED CASE. Worst case. That would make for an interesting trial. I’m picturing something Seussian. Maybe something like this! Bonus crossing: ATTORNEYS.

Nothing terribly exciting in the theme, but it works. This description also applies to the grid as a whole.

Best bit of fill: HORSESHOES. Worst bits of fill: plural NEINS and odd partial A BEER clued as [“Buy you ___?” (bar offer)].

I’m having trouble finding much else to say, so I vill end it there. I’m off to verk on my Dracula impression. Mwah-hah-hah!

Aimee Lucido’s AVCX crossword, “Something Buggy” — Ben’s Review

Happy mid-week, y’all.  I’m back from hosting last week’s National Puzzlers’ League convention here in Boston and ready to tear through this week’s AVCX.  Luckily, Aimee Lucido’s “Something Buggy” was pretty easy to tear through if you spotted what was going on:

  • 18A:European luxury car stored in the bathroom? [Wait! That’s not what I meant to type!] — JOHN BUGATTI
  • 27A:One saying “Step right up! Buy a Swedish family car, folks!” [Hmmm … something must be wrong with my phone] — SAAB BARKER
  • 36A:Buy-one-get-one-free event at the German sports car dealership? [Okay, seriously, this phone is screwed up] — PORSCHE DOUBLE DAY
  • 52A:Pricey Italian car marketed to men? [Oh come on, this is just ridiculous] — GUY FERRARI
  • 60A: Technology that appears to have caused the typos in this puzzle? — AUTOCORRECT

That final revealer is such a deep groaner of a pun that it made me love the puzzle even more.  The names of 4 celebrities of varying levels of fame have been transformed here – JOHN GOTTI, BOB BARKER, PORTIA DOUBLEDAY, and GUY FIERI are “auto” corrected into the versions seen above.

Other things I liked in the puzzle: BOBA, AOL, realizing that EVEY is the heroine from V for Vendetta and not a typo, pronouncing TARGET the fancy way, MC HAMMER, SCONES (a cafe near me makes raspberry rhubarb scones once a week and I’m trying to figure out the recipe), RAPTORs, and SHERPA.

An easy puzzle that was a nice start to my day.

4/5 stars.

Gary D. Schlapfer & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Four things a school CLASS might do as a group are listed in this puzzle: SPELLINGBEE, FIELDTRIP, FIREDRILL, and FINALEXAM. This is tied together with CLASSACTION – a phrase from the legal sphere.


  • [Animated internet pics], GIFS. Not always, despite what Facebook might thing!
  • [Safari find], URL. Safari is an internet browser associated with, though not exclusive to, macs.
  • [Balkan first-timer in the 2016 Olympics], KOSOVO. A simple, though effective cluing strategy, is used here.
  • [“There’s nothing to do”], IMBORED – it’s winter school holidays here, I don’t if that means it’s summer holidays in the US?
  • [Sexy dance moves], TWERKS. YMMV…
  • [Maker of chips], INTEL. Main rival AMD gets very little crossword exposure, yes?
  • [Puppy bite], NIP. Main personal news this week is fiancee and I adopted a puppy from the shelter we work at… No nipping, though occasional excited peeing has been experienced.

3.5 Stars

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31 Responses to Wednesday, July 12, 2017

  1. PJ Ward says:

    UNIVAC didn’t predict the election. Max Woodbury used a UNIVAC to predict the election.

    • Martin says:

      We still say that computers do things, when it’s really their programmers.

      I actually met Woodbury, many times. I was no more than six or seven but my dad was getting his doctorate in probability and statistics at Columbia and Woodbury was a professor. We even had him over for dinner. Thanks for reminding me.

    • Shawn Pichette says:

      UNIVAC reminded me of the Alan Sherman song “Automation” from his albums that my mom converted from vinyl to cassette for family road trips. Disclaimer: I was born about 10 years after Alan Sherman died and did not get a lot of the references, but did remember the term.

  2. Joe Pancake says:

    NYT: Enjoyed it.

    But GMO-FREE POPCORN would have been a much funnier kicker, in my opinion (even though I realize it doesn’t fit symmetrically). Isn’t that the “modern” thing, products being marketed as free of GMOs and toxins and chemicals? Is there anything marketed as specifically containing GMOs?

    • Matthew G. says:

      Agreed! That would have gotten a much bigger laugh out of me.

      I’ve never heard of “The Bank Dick” and I’m not sure if I know “Holiday Inn,” but the first theme entry of UBER DRIVER was funny enough to win me over.

  3. pannonica says:

    NYT: My wrongfills: 41a [Carson not known for his monologues] BEN before KIT, 52d [Grumbly “Are you still sleeping?” response] I WAS ere I’M UP.

    • Matthew G. says:

      Ben Carson is probably known for some monologues. Just not (intentionally) funny ones.

  4. David L says:

    I had RUBON, which gave me FOREPLUG, and it took me forever to see the problem. FIREPLUG is not in my vocabulary, although I’ve heard of it. Is it a New York thing or more widely used than that?

    Good puzzle!

    • Matthew G. says:

      I live in NYC and I did not know that object was called a FIREPLUG. When I do a google images search for “fireplug” all I see are fire hydrants. Is there a difference?

      Until reading your comment I was still unsure what object was being described. I thought maybe a fireplug was this, which happens to fork to the left and right:

      • David L says:

        I did a google image search for ‘fireplug’ and it came back with a lot of pictures of hydrants.

        I don’t know what I would call the outlets in your picture!

        • Matthew G. says:

          The objects in my picture are called “siamese connections,” at least on buildings here in New York, but while solving this puzzle I wondered if perhaps they were called FIREPLUGs somewhere else.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      They’re called fire hydrants in Chicago. I think they called “Dallas” actress Charlene Tilton a fireplug back in the day because of her height (4’11”).

    • pannonica says:

      New York is primarily fire hydrant or hydrant. Fireplug is recognizable but would be used only to sound old-timey. Another name is pump, which I suspect is used most often while frustratedly searching for a parking spot. “Another @#$%^ pump!

      • Papa John says:

        I grew up, outside of Cleveland, calling them fireplugs. In fact, we had one on our tree lawn in front of the house.

        • Matthew G. says:

          And “tree lawn” is a phrase I have only heard from Clevelanders! (Including my grandmother-in-law.)

          • Papa John says:

            While the tees growing in tree lawns presented a visual pleasure, they did create some serious problems. Since shade on the roadway during the winter months was undesirable, only deciduous trees were used, creating a huge autumn clean up of fallen leaves and the wonderful smell of the burning leaf piles along the curb. The same trees also had the bad habit of destroying sewer lines and causing upheavals along the sidewalks. Still, they were mighty pretty.

      • Joanne says:

        We used the old-timey New York term Johnny Pump when I was a kid.

  5. Papa John says:

    Still no LAT for Across Lite. I emailed Kevin but no reply. Any news?

    • Brian says:

      If you are okay solving on your phone, the Shortyz app (might be Android-only) automatically downloads the LAT.

      IMO, today’s a pretty darn good offering too.

  6. Zulema says:

    I laughed out loud at UBER, so the whole thing was worth it even if I got stuck at the crossing of DANNO and PDA. Will the whole language become abbreviations and initialisms in a few more years?

  7. Lise says:

    The AVClub played very hard for me. Haven’t seen The Wire or V for Vendetta, don’t know Pokémon, didn’t know what sort of balls would be in a drink, and although I got AUTOCORRECT (and have been its victim) I didn’t get the references so now I feel very out of touch.

    I’m happy to learn these things and it’s a very well-constructed puzzle with clues that made me laugh, so I would give it a pretty high rating. The failure was entirely mine.

    Could someone please explain EARL for the sweatshirt?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Earl Sweatshirt’s a rapper and producer.

      I thought the Pokémon clue was illegitimate since ABRA is contained right there within Kadabra. (The evolutionary chain goes Abra, Kadabra, Alakazam. It’s cute, right?)

      The Bob Barker/SAAB BARKER bit was a bridge too far for me. There’s no way in hell that non-automotive autocorrect would change Bob to Saab. Plus, Saab cars are no longer sold, and they need to go the way of the REO, EDSEL, and ALERO and get out of my crosswords. (And yes, I’m talking to you, REO, EDSEL, and ALERO. Get out!)

      • Lise says:

        Also I had NIPS for YIPS but fixing that would not have helped me. ;)

        Thanks, Amy. I will definitely remember this one next time. And although I didn’t know the Pokémon, I used to sell Pokémon books in my previous life and I liked the names. So many names!

    • Matthew G. says:

      The top three rows of the grid in the AV Club were agony. Things I’ve never heard of in that section: ROMPHim, RAJ (as clued), the car model BUGATTI, BOBA, and most of all EARL Sweatshirt (?!). Totally naticked by the northwestern square of the grid. I try not to be the guy who hates on pop culture in puzzles, but this pushed my limits. The puzzle got a lot better for the next twelve rows.

  8. Jenni, thanks so much for reviewing and liking our puzzle. So glad people had fun with it. And thanks to everyone who enjoyed solving it. Tons of fun to work on.

  9. David Glasser says:

    AVX: Don’t tell me I’m the only one who tried AUTO CARRECT first?

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