Wednesday, August 9, 2017

AV Club 7:20 (Ben) 


LAT 3:27 (Gareth) 


NYT 6:24 (Ben) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Adam Perl’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s write-up

Ben here, subbing for Jenni.  Today’s NYT seems like it’s all in the cards…until it isn’t:

  • 17A: Where a queen can beat a king — CHESS MATCH
  • 39A: Where an ace can beat a pair — DOUBLES TENNIS
  • 61A: Where two pair beats three of a kind — SOCK DRAWER

This was cute and totally should have taken me AT LEAST a minute less than it did, timewise, if not for the pairing of BEHAN (as in the author of “Borstal Boy”) at 45A and BINET (as in “Alfred of I.Q. testing”) at 40D.  My, but that Natick was nasty.

The three long downs in the puzzle felt kind of weird.  GO TO THE DOGS and LAME-BRAINED are fine, but the long solid DO THE BEST YOU CAN just stuck out to me.  Other fill I liked: MOOLA, REDBOX, TRIBUTES, OMELET, ASIMOV, DELUXE, and BO PEEP.  Less fond of composer LEHAR, PLAN A, TABU, and Henry James PYE.

3.8/5 stars

Gabriel Stone’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Grrr!” — Jim’s review

In which the letters GR are prepended to various words.

WSJ – Wed, 8.9.17 – “Grrr!” by Gabriel Stone (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [National Endowment for the Woodworking Arts offerings?] CARPENTER GRANTS
  • 30a [One spitefully refusing to share his apple?] GRINCH WORM
  • 39a [Watchdog’s warning to a burglar?] NIGHT GROWL
  • 55a [Elegant movement of runners around the bases?] GRACE OF DIAMONDS

These seemed fine, but none of them got me laughing. It also seemed pretty loose for a theme. There are a great(!) many words to which you can prepend GR to get another word. It would be nice if there was another aspect to the theme to tie the entries together—perhaps if they were all things related to dogs or things that made people mad (given the title).

Speaking of mad, we have the theme-adjacent entries SEES RED and GOES MAD crossing in the SE corner. And we also have the irritated, but fun, entries “I DON’T CARE!” and “NAME ONE!” in the SW.

Other fun entries are SHELLAC, STEELIE, and the crossers LEG ROOM and FOOTRUBS.

And did you catch the Beatles songs in the grid? [“SOS” or “Help!”] is the clue for SONG at 10a (nice clue that, and yes, I know “SOS” is an ABBA song) while we get a fill-in-the-blank partial at 60a: [“Eight Days ___”] A WEEK.

I have long suspected Gabriel Stone is a pseudonym but I could never come up with the “A-ha!” anagram. The best I could get was “Easter Goblin.”

But today, with a suggestion by the theme, I anagrammed “Gabriel Stone” without the GR. This got me things like “lost beanie,” “lesbian toe,” and “bestial one”—basically nothing really. But somewhere in there, with Beatles on my mind from those two entries, I saw that “Beatles” could be made from “Gabriel Stone” with five letters left over. Those five letters? R-I-N-G-O.


So it would seem Mike Shenk is a Beatles fan in general and a Ringo fan in particular. The only thing left to do is go back and look at Gabriel Stone puzzles and find the Beatles references.

Typically, John or Paul would give Ringo one song to sing on an album. For the album “Help!” that song was their cover of “Act Naturally.” So here ya go.

Solid puzzle with a fair theme and good fill. But I mostly enjoyed deconstructing “Gabriel Stone.”

Francis Heaney’s AVCX crossword, “Birthday Bash” — Ben’s Review

This might be the fastest I’ve every solved a Francis Heaney AVCX puzzle.  This one went down smooth, and had a fun theme to boot:

This one’s easier to explain out first rather than using my usual bullet-point approach.  58A reveals that there are three broken PINATAS in the grid, which, according to 59A, CANDY has fallen out of.  Here’s the three locations in the grid:

  • 20A‘s TAP IN (“Putt even I could sink”) and 22A‘s AT AN END (“Over”) are spilling out ALTOIDS at 27D (“Mmm, minty!”)
  • The pinata at 34A‘s PAPI (as in “Big ____”, David Ortiz) and 35A‘s NATASHA (as in “Boris’ partner in espionage”) is full of PEZ (38D, “Mmm…chalky!”)
  • Finally, the pinata at 44A‘s DESPINA (the “Saucy maid in Cosi Fan Tutte”) and 47A‘s TAUT (“Sans slack”) is full of M AND MS (52D, “Mmm…chocolatey!”)

(Today’s puzzle made me think of the Beatles’ birthday song from the White Album, which I couldn’t find on Youtube, but could find this mashup of a bunch of their songs.)

This is executed so well, y’all.  So.  Well.  Clean concept, clean execution.

Other things I liked in the puzzle: ANKARA, LGBT FLAG, MR WIZARD, Madeline L’ENGLE, DUCT TAPE, AT PRESENT, MOPEDS, CARRY-ALL.

So good, y’all.  So good.

5/5 stars.

Richard Monsaythe & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s Review

LA Times 170809

Today’s puzzle features a spiffy little theme, summed up in the entry CATCHPHRASE, found in the bottom-right of the grid. The last word of four other phrases is something one can catch in a variety of imaginative ways… BRIDALTRAIN (catch a train), BESTINSHOW (catch a show), BITTERCOLD (catch a cold, oh dear!), and NEWWAVE (catch a wave. Gnarly!)

Our duo also worked, piecemeal, poet PABLO/NERUDA into the grid, EASYNOW and OBAMAERA into the grid. The clue for EARLE seems to imply “Guitar Town” is rocky… Hmm.

4.5 Stars

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19 Responses to Wednesday, August 9, 2017

  1. Brian says:

    Someone keeps giving the LAT 1 star – I think this is the third day in a row I’ve seen it at 1 star with 1 review.

    • janie says:

      the truth is, i think there’s a low-rating troll (or two…) out there who takes upon him-/herself the role of the great equalizer. we see those low ratings on all of the puzzles. *sometimes* low ratings are warranted. but when they consistently appear sans some kind of “here’s why the puzzle didn’t work for me” posting, i can’t take them very seriously.

      comes w/ the public forum territory.


      • Norm says:

        I feel the same way about some of the high ratings. I’ll look at a set of 5s or whatever and think, really? For that? It’s all subjective.

        • janie says:

          >It’s all subjective.

          no argument. friends and family do as much to skew the ratings as the haters and trolls do. subjectively, though, i’m more forgiving towards the the former group than the latter.

          to each his/her own, eh?


  2. Ethan Friedman says:

    I quite liked the NYT. I think Brendan BEHAN, Alfred BIZET and Franz LEHAR are all major enough figures to be fair game, so while not great entries — fair enough.

    I also liked the mini extra-theme with ANTES at 1A and CARDS as the last across entry, furthering the “cards but not really cards” theme.

    • janie says:

      (i think you mean BINET, but) gotta say i’m in complete agreement. thought this was a particularly strong puzzle with a great, original “aha” and excellent themer-crossing long fill. that central 15 especially!


  3. Ethan says:

    You know, bloggers like to bash the use of ONE or ONES in long crossword entries (e.g. PULL ONES PUNCHES) but the weirdness of 7-Down shows why ONE has its place. DO THE BEST YOU CAN would work if the clue was “Words of encouragement” or “Advice from a Little League coach” or if the clue (Give 100%) were in quotation marks with an exclamation point. But as it’s actually clued in today’s puzzle, the solver is left wondering, “where is the second person coming from? The clue seems like it’s asking for a dictionary definition, so why is the puzzle addressing me personally all of a sudden?” I can’t be the only who wrote DO THE BEST ONE CAN.

  4. e.a. says:

    can’t spell LAMEBRAINS without ABLEISM ?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Yes, sir. “Lame” as an insult needs to leave our vocabulary. I can’t find the essay I read about that this summer, but it was good.

    • Ethan says:

      How do we feel about HARE BRAINED? A very easy substitution to make if you don’t mind ARIL.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I’m OK with insulting rabbits. ARIL is blah but if forced to choose between crosswordese and insulting people, I’ll take the dreaded crosswordese.

  5. Margaret says:

    I feel like I’ve seen BRIDALTRAIN several times recently. It’s in today’s LAT but was it also in there a few weeks ago, does anyone remember? And I think it was also in a Rows Garden I just did. An odd coincidence.

  6. Rick Narad says:

    I wasn’t the one who down-rated the LAT but I there were a couple of clues that bothered me. First was (Benedict) Arnold’s crime really treason? Since the US wasn’t a country yet, could he be a traitor to the sovereign or was he really the only one not committing treason? Second–tactics aren’t strategy. Tactics implement the broader strategy.

    I should note that I first clicked on the previous week’s LAT and thought that it looked really familiar. Is it already the second week of August?

  7. anon says:

    AVX: Vehicles seen in Quadrophenia = MOPEDS? Absolutely not.

    • Francis says:

      See definition 2 of MOPED:
      1. A lightweight motorized bicycle that can be pedaled as well as driven by a low-powered gasoline engine.
      2. A motor scooter

  8. Francis says:

    Well, I’m just not sure what your objection is. If you mean that the characters would not refer to their scooters as mopeds, I can’t help that they’re prescriptivists about the usage of “moped”.

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