Wednesday, July 26, 2017

LAT 3:43 (Gareth) 


NYT  4:53 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


This week’s AV Club puzzle has a contest-y element that requires revealing part of the puzzle to enter, so we’ll have a recap of that up next Monday.

Brian Cox’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

One of my favorite Wednesday puzzles ever! It was not too hard, and I sussed the idea of the theme quickly but had to go back after I finished the puzzle to figure out all the entries. I really enjoyed this one. According to Martin Herbach’s guest blog on Wordplay, this is Brian Cox’s debut. He started strong, and I’m looking forward to his next outing.

We start off at 17a with [Response to “Knock knock”] which is, of course, WHO’S THERE? Then the fun begins.

NYT 7/26, solution grid

  • 21a is [“Esther …”]. If we follow the formula, that would be “Esther who?” and the answer is ANYONE HOME. (Is there anyone home).
  • 36a [“Yvonne …”] TO BE ALONE. My favorite. (I want to be alone, a la Greta Garbo, who never actually said that).
  • 42a [“Sadie …”] MAGIC WORD]. (Say the magic word.)
  • 52a [“Ken …”] I GET AN AMEN. (Can I get an amen?)
  • 62a [“Luke …”] MA NO HANDS (Look Ma! No hands!) This one took me the longest to sort out. Very satisfying.

All the phrases are in the language, all the puns work well enough for my ear, and I just loved this theme. I don’t remember seeing anything like it before.

A few other things:

  • 9a [Hindu on a bed of nails] is a FAKIR. David works for a science center, and they used to have a science show where the educator lay down on a bed of nails. No, thank you.
  • Politicians I could do without: NIGEL Farage and Vice President PENCE.
  • 40d [Like some testimony and enemies] is SWORN. Interesting combination.
  • 34d [Components of some batteries] is TESTS, and they’re not talking about AAA batteries.
  • 55d gives us a musical theatre clue for AMOS, rather than cookies, with [“Chicago” simpleton ___ Hart].

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Gene Simmons was born an ISRAELI.

David C. Duncan Dekker’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Drive-Thru” — Jim’s review

Summer is moving season for many, at least it is in the military. After nine moves in 20 years we are glad to be finally settling down. Is anyone out there dealing with the stress of moving this summer? If so, maybe this puzzle relieves some of that stress (or maybe it makes it worse).

WSJ – Wed, 7.26.17 – “Drive-Thru” by David C. Duncan Dekker

  • 17a [Destructive crimeVANDALISM
  • 23a [Grassy tracts] SAVANNAHS
  • 39a [Walk all over] TAKE ADVANTAGE OF. Not a fan of phrases ending in prepositions (see 57a RAN TO but not 46a BLOTTO), especially as theme answers.
  • 52a [They go with the flow] WIND VANES. We saw this term just the other day, and I have never heard them called anything other than “weather vanes” before.
  • 64a [Relocation aid, and a description of its progress through this puzzle] MOVING VAN

It feels like a little bit of a cheat when the placement of the word in question (VAN) is dependent on where the constructor decides to place the encapsulating word, as in the case of SAVANNAHS and WIND VANES. More impressive is when all the entries are 15 letters long and the word “moves” smoothly through them. I am of course thinking of and Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen’s THE DESCENT OF MAN grid by which I judge, fairly or unfairly, all other “moving” themes.

So the theme didn’t wow me and the middle phrase left me flat (I would’ve greatly preferred to see former Wimbledon champ GORAN IVANISEVIC in that position, but maybe not everyone would). But in truth, it all works satisfactorily as the MOVING VAN makes its way from the NW (Seattle?) to the SE (Miami?).

Fill was mostly good with CUTS A RUG, EATERIES, TRAVAILS, ENDIVE, ENIGMA, and BLOTTO. EATERIES gets a clever clue with [Filling stations?].

One question mark for me was 49d [Senator in space, in 1985]. Of course, I was thinking John Glenn, but that didn’t fit. The real answer, Senator Jake GARN, is one I didn’t recognize. Per Wikipedia, his role on the mission was that of a congressional observer as well as a subject for experiments on space motion sickness. (I can think of a few Senators and congresspeople who ought to be put through some of those same experiments.) Apparently, Garn’s case of motion sickness was so severe that he became the eponym for the scale of sickness. One GARN is apparently the highest level one can achieve.

Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

The pinwheel theme featured today is centred on OSCAR (the grouch), and the theme is synonyms for rubbish. Their thematic usages are not satisfying divorced from those synonyms in all cases. Anyhoo, we have WHATAWASTE, TALKSTRASH, KITTYLITTER (used for tyre traction??? How???), and CHINESEJUNK. NEWSHOES and SOREFEET are not thematic, though you might have thought they were at one point…


    • [Shrill barks], YELPS – lots of those from Tara, our new puppy (right).

    • [Bennie’s band, in an Elton John hit], THEJETS. More of a Budgie fan… He played Peter Gunn in the key of E!
    • [Bicycle maker turned automotive giant], KIA. New Kia trivia!

3 Stars

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25 Responses to Wednesday, July 26, 2017

  1. Nene says:

    I agree with Jenni that AMOS is a great answer for the first name of a secondary character of a defunct Broadway play.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Before it went “defunct,” it had the longest Broadway run of any revival and was turned into a movie that won Best Picture. The “secondary character” has a memorable song of his own (“Mr. Cellophane”). So I guess obscurity is where you find it.

    • janie says:

      the revival of chicago is still up and running and playing to near 90% capacity. not sure that you mean “defunct” here. yes, it was a play from the 1920s, but there’s nothing in today’s puzz to suggest that that was the work in question.


    • Lois says:

      Also, I loved the old movie with the same story, Roxie Hart (not a musical)!

  2. Ethan Friedman says:

    Loved the NYT.

  3. Giovanni Pagano says:

    And thanks for whoever blocked me after yesterday. Cutting negativity out of their life, good choice.

    The AV club had a cute theme; it actually felt like a 3 out of 5 puzzle. Thanks!

  4. Giovanni P. says:

    So yesterday on Facebook, I called out people and insulted several others. This included implications about politics, and the end result was me looking like a fool.

    My comments to those folks yesterday went way too far, and were the result of a bad day and the need to take it out somewhere. You’re good people here and in the puzzle community, and I hope you continue to stand up for what you believe in, in small and large ways.

    Have a nice day.

    -Giovanni Pagano

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      There are only so many times that you can suggest that virulent trolling is merely the result of you having a bad day and have it seem plausible. I bought it the first time, when you behaved horrendously under another name in the comments here. After yesterday, it’s hard not to conclude that the real you is the one who hollers about political correctness and liberals, and that the only actual trolling is when you show up after the fact with an apology that is not consonant with the rest of your posts. I hope you are able to find peace in a way that doesn’t involve riling people up.

      • Giovanni P. says:

        Fair point. I’ll let my actions speak for me then on that.

        But don’t assume my posting tells you the whole story of who I am. It never does for anyone.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          No, but making a habit of attacking people doesn’t really suggest anything good. Also, I wish you’d presented your quasi-apology on Facebook rather than hijacking my site with something irrelevant to the site.

          • Giovanni P. says:

            Done. But I can’t guarantee those I attacked will see it. As a couple of people involved are regular posters here, I thought it wouldn’t be a bad spot. I’ll keep comments like this to social media in the future.

            Anyone here excited for Lollapuzoola? Looks like a stacked lineup of constructors.

          • pannonica says:

            It rained yesterday morning. It may rain tomorrow.

  5. artlvr says:

    Potus pouts when on the outs
    With those he deems disloyal louts:
    His only source of satisfaction?
    Resorting to fast firing action!
    — O’Nasheous

  6. JohnH says:

    Not among the puzzles normally discussed here, but heck, Amy turned me onto it, at least for now. The last two from Club 72 have changed design in pdf, shrinking the grid. Alas, that makes a very difficult puzzle all but impossible, and I am not in need of reading glasses.

  7. Carol Sloane says:

    I am unable to access the LA Times puzzle. What should I do?

  8. Anon says:

    Did not like the NYT at all. Letter salad mostly. A slog with little payoff for me.

  9. Gareth says:

    This isn’t another celeb puzzle by pop musician turned TV physicist Professor Brian Cox?

  10. pannonica says:

    LAT: 22a [Bro kin] SIS symmetrically paired with 54a [Bro or sis] SIB.

    66a [One of Emeril’s New Orleans eateries] NOLA.

    • jagoandlitefoot says:

      that first one added about 15 seconds to my time due to me boggling at how on earth that got past an editor

  11. BarbaraK says:

    Gareth, if your car is stuck on ice, you can put some kitty litter around the tires, and it will give you enough traction to get moving. We always keep a jug in the trunk (or boot if you prefer) in the winter.

  12. m says:

    Gareth: such cute daschund’s!!!!

Comments are closed.