Wednesday, November 1, 2017

AV Club 6:45 (Ben) 


LAT 4:01 (Gareth) 


NYT 3:36 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Herre Schouwerwou’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 1 17, no 1101

ANIMAL / CRACKERS is the revealer, clued as 54a. [With 56-Across, lunchbox snacks … or a hint to the black squares before 18-, 29-, 35- and 45-Across?]. Those four spots are squares that “crack” an animal name into two. 17a MCGREGOR and 18a I’LL ASK hide a broken GORILLA. 27a PERSIMMON + 29a KEYED = MONKEY. 33a IN A DAZE + 35a BRANAGH = ZEBRA. Crosswordese 42a STELE + 45a PHANTASMS = ELEPHANT (I’d have liked this better if 42a were filmmaker Jordan PEELE or singer ADELE, as STELE is hardcore vocabulary for a Wednesday puzzle).

Favorite entry: “OH, COME ON.” I say that one a lot.

Five more things:

  • 48d. [___-walsy], PALSY. Interestingly, PALSY has just four appearances in the Cruciverb database, none clued neurologically via, say, cerebral palsy. Odd. Why erase this relatively common condition?
  • 40d. [One of about 400,000 in the United States], CHURCH. Imagine if “about 400,000” were the number of civilian firearms in this country, instead of the actual count of roughly 300 million.
  • 6d. [Melted marshmallows, e.g.], GOO. Yum. Yes, I had a s’more for dessert yesterday. Graham cracker, milk chocolate, and a marshmallow. Microwave for up to 15 seconds, turning off the microwave when the marshmallow gets suitably puffed up. Smoosh other graham cracker on top. Eat marshmallow and molten chocolate goo.
  • 24a. [Cabbage with crinkly leaves], SAVOY. I … have no recipes for savoy cabbage. Maybe stomping on the savoy?
  • 53d. [D-Day vessels: Abbr.], LSTS. Also rather crosswordese-TLA-ish.

3.7 stars from me.

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

Things that FALL as described by 48d: [What the starred answers do (or did)].

WSJ – Tue, 11.1.17 – “Drop Everything!” by Gabriel Stone (Mike Shenk)

  • 18a [*The Nikkei or the S&P 500, e.g.] STOCK INDEX. An appropriate entry for the WSJ, but such indices rise as much as, if not more than, they FALL.
  • 26a [*The sole piano instrumental to be a #1 Billboard hit] AUTUMN LEAVES. That was in 1955. I would not know this song by its title, but I’ve certainly heard it before. If you are ever responsible for the construction of an elevator, the law stipulates you must pipe this song in from time to time.
  • 41a [*He discusses semantics with Alice in “Through the Looking-Glass”] HUMPTY DUMPTY. He, of course, had a great one! I did not know he had an appearance in Wonderland.
  • 52a [*Concrete barrier erected in the 1960s] BERLIN WALL. And it fell quite dramatically while the world watched.

When I got the revealer, I had only uncovered one entry up to that point. At first, I thought the theme was rather blah, but the theme entries are all so well chosen that they won me over.

Tons of long fill in the grid, some better than others, but nothing bad. I like the stacked ONE NATION and TANTRUMS crossing WENT AT IT as well as HOME LOAN and BUMPS INTO crossing FACELIFT.

I had to give SHIPMEN the side-eye. I’ve heard of midshipmen of course and seamen, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of sailors referred to as SHIPMEN.

And I must decry DECLAW. It’s been lambasted on this site before as cruel and inhumane, and I have to agree. The clue [Make harmless] doesn’t directly refer to animals, so that’s an improvement, but it would be better if that section of the grid could have been reworked. (I realize that’s difficult since it crosses two themers.)

One other technical foul: a duplication between NOPE (61a, [“Huh-uh”]) and NOES (19d, [Negative replies]).

Clues of note:

  • 36a [“There is no there there” writer]. STEIN. I didn’t know the source of this, so I looked it up. Gertrude STEIN wrote it in her 1937 autobiography referring to her childhood home in Oakland, CA, which no longer existed. The full quote is, “…anyway what was the use of my having come from Oakland it was not natural to have come from there yes write about it if I like or anything if I like but not there, there is no there there.” I think this quote must pre-date the common use of punctuation.
  • 39a [Wizards’ workplace]. COURT. That’s the Washington Wizards of the NBA, although many tales tell of wizards in the employ of kings.
  • 37d [Dollars for quarters]. HOME LOAN. Nice.

A clean and tidy little puzzle, despite a couple of infractions.

And now. A-one and a-two…

Francis Heaney’s AVCX, “Let’s Roll” — Ben’s Review

Hope y’all had a very spoopy Halloween.

Okay, let’s get down to this week’s AVCX puzzle.  They appear to have gotten the ghosts out of their machine, since I got my puzzle in the middle of Tuesday afternoon, shortly after they mentioned it going out on Twitter.  If you’re still having issue, be sure to use the form on their website, as you’ll want to do this week’s 3.5/5 difficulty puzzle from Francis Heaney.  Let’s roll with this theme:

  • 17A: Start conducting — X UP THE BAND
  • 37A: Comfortable way of reaching the finish — WITH TIME TO /
  • 43A: Grammatical situation caused by adverb placement — O INFINITIVE
  • 63A: Being completely frank — TALKING XXX

If this puzzle were a series that appeared on Comedy Central in the early 2000s, it’d be “Let’s Bowl!”, but since that would completely give away the game here, it’s probably for the best they went with “Let’s Roll”.  Each theme answer contains some bowling scoring notation to help things fit in the squares provided – we’ve got STRIKE UP THE BAND, WITH TIME TO SPARE, SPLIT INFINITIVE, and TALKING TURKEY.  This was a nicely executed theme, and the “AHA” moment I had on figuring out 17A was a nice one indeed.

(This was an actual program that aired on television — NATIONAL CABLE TELEVISION — and not a fever dream I had growing up in the Minneapolis suburbs.)

Other notes:

  • I agree with Francis that your average fruit salad contains FAR too much MELON.  And it’s never good melon.
  • Today’s gender-inclusive pronoun is S/HE
  • MAXIE is some real crosswordese (in that it’s a 32-year-old movie whose only recent mentions appear to be in crossword clues), but I’ll allow it since the rest of the puzzle is pretty bulletproof, fillwise.

4.5/5 stars.

Matt Scoczen’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

The big pay off in this puzzle is the revealer. Scrambled letters across words is not the most exciting of theme tropes, and this one uses 4/5 possible SIR rearrangements, leaving out TENNISRACKET or something similar. Like I said, the revealer; yes, he’s a goofy, moderately objectifying early 90’s one-hit wonder, but it is an unexpected answer to close out your puzzle with, and a colourful entry to boot. It has recently been revived with a reworked “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj. Oh, and “SIR” is “mixed” “a lot” if you’re struggling to parse it. You should be able to locate the themers by finding the circles in the accompanying grid.


  • [365 dias], ANO. The anus has 365 days. I learnt that from crosswords!
  • [British Columbia’s capital is on it], VANCOUVERISLAND. Home of the quadstack…
  • [Olympic skater Oksana], BAIUL. Fun name to say!
  • [Singer whose fans..], AIKEN. He still has those?
  • We have two [Statement amt.]’s BAL and INT. Not a fan of being cute with the cruddiest answers in the puzzle…

3.25 Stars

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13 Responses to Wednesday, November 1, 2017

  1. David L says:

    Interesting ambiguity at 4A. I realized that it had to be RAG, but thought, hold on, rag paper is high quality stuff. But a moment later it struck me that a RAG is a low-quality newspaper.

    The hint was no help to me. I stared at the black squares before the indicated answers and completely failed to see the animals. Oh well. I have sometimes been accused of being too literal-minded.

  2. pannonica says:

    NYT: I thought these two duplications were pretty bad:

    • 21a [You might give him the business] SON (nice clue, incidentally), 46d [“That’s __, son” (Foghorn Leghorn catchphrase)] A JOKE.
    • 7d [Friendly relations] AMITY, 25d [Lady friend, in Lille] AMIE.
  3. Brian says:

    Interesting that the WSJ wasn’t flipped, so the themers were literally “falling” down in the puzzle. IMO that would have been pretty cute.

    LAT: Not knowing JALOUSIE wrecked me – I had DAE (a guess at “day” in French), and still don’t really get INS for [Officeholders]. Is calling election winners “ins” common?

  4. Francis says:

    I was tempted to clue MAXIE as [___ Ford (tap dance step named for its creator)], which would be a gimme for me and at least a few people I know, but maybe even less fair for everyone else.

  5. e.a. says:

    doesn’t S/HE exclude like a bunch of genders tho

  6. Joan Macon says:

    Amy, I guess I have to throw away my copy of last Sunday’s LAT puzzle as it never came up. I know how busy you are, so I guess it will just go down as one of my un-solved puzzles, of which there are many!

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