Wednesday, February 14, 2018

AV Club 6:53 (Ben) 


LAT 3:48 (Gareth) 


NYT  5:03 (Jenni) 


WSJ 6:02 (Laura) 


Ed Sessa’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Passion Play” — Laura’s write-up

Jim and I switched days this week, because reasons.

WSJ - 2.14.18 - Sessa - Solution

WSJ – 2.14.18 – Sessa – Solution

  • [38a: “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” theme, or a hint to the start needed to complete 12 answers in this puzzle]: LOVE IS ALL AROUND. You’re gonna solve it after all! {tosses beret in the air, freeze-frame}
  • Have you heard? The word is LOVE. It’s so fine, it’s sunshine. Say the word and you’ll be free. Say the word and be like me while solving this puzzle. Say it before these entries: SICK STORY SONG GOD BIRD HANDLE {just one? most of us have a matching set} NOTE NESTS SEAT LIFE SCENES, which are all around the outside of the grid.
  • What about love? Don’t you want someone to care about you? Don’t let it slip away. I only want to share it with you; that is, to share a brief Latin lesson that may help with future crosswords: amo, I love; amas, You love; [55d: Last of a Latin trio]: AMAT, He, she, or it loves.
  • Not about love: [7d: Check out]: OGLE. No. Please feel free to admire attractive people from a respectful distance. But disdain to OGLE. Don’t stare rudely in a way that objectifies the person whom you regard.
  • Sometimes about love: [45a: Revealing selfie]: SEXT. Please feel free to send SEXTs (which can be verbal expressions of desire/attraction/flirtation, not just pics revealing one’s … uh … self) to those — and only those — recipients who have given you clear consent to do so. [42a: “To clarify…”]: I MEANT please do not send anyone non-consensual “revealing selfies.”
  • It may have helped people find love, a long time ago on the Internet, which they have on computers now: [47a: Early newsgroup system]: USENET. For those too young to remember, this was a discussion board system that predated the World Wide Web. Some boards have been archived in Google Groups; it can be a real trip to search for your name and find stuff you posted in 1995 to a Beverly Hills 90210 fan group.

Mary Lou Guizzo’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

Guess what the theme is? I bet you can figure it out without entering a single answer. Are they still running Times puzzles six weeks later in syndication? If so, this one will show up at the end of March and seem out of place. It’s Valentine’s Day, in case you didn’t know, and since we don’t have enough trouble with commercially-driven expectations for a “perfect” day, here’s a puzzle to reinforce it. My husband is spending Valentine’s Day at my mother’s house, helping get things settled so we can put it on the market, which is the most loving thing he could be doing. That last sentence is completely serious.

So, the puzzle. The grid is asymmetric so we can see a heart in the pattern. There are three theme answers, all going down.

2/14 NYT, solution grid

  • 1d [Deepest feelings] are HEARTSTRINGS.
  • 8d [They lead to love at first sight] are CUPID’S ARROWS.
  • 19d [February honoree] is SAINT VALENTINE.

Two others seemed connected to me:

  • 42a [Game of “love”] is, of course, TENNIS. A variety of sources suggest that the word “love” came to mean “zero” in tennis scoring because those who don’t score any points are playing for the love of the game. Those same sources discredit the theory that the usages is a corruption from “l’ouef,” French for egg. An ouef is shaped like a zero. That, of course, makes me think of this.
  • 55a [“Fate would prove otherwise”] is IT WAS NOT TO BE. I’m including this because it seems to reference star-crossed lovers.

Color me underwhelmed. I’m not a big fan of stunt puzzles, and this is a grid stunt puzzle with an obvious theme and no wordplay to amuse me.

A few other things:

  • 16d [Bastards] gives us the lively SO-AND-SOS.
  • 11d [Game] is PREY, which should have alerted me that 35d [Game’s turning point?] was not about sports. The answer is ROTISSERIE.
  • 15d [Bad place for a bowling ball or the mind] is the GUTTER. I don’t know about that last one. The gutter can be a very entertaining place for one’s mind to wander.
  • 25a [Furniture mover?] is CASTER and 32d [Furniture mover, maybe] is VAN. Why the question mark?
  • 52a [Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, at the starts of their political careers] were STATE SENATORS.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that SANTIAGO was founded by a conquistador. Wikipedia tells me that the conquistador in question was Pedro de Valdivia.

Loren Muse Smith and Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword – Gareth

LA Times

A direct, yet very clever little theme. The first words of four entries spell out WILL YOU BE MY and VALENTINE crosses all four. That might explain why, despite quite a wide variety of possible themers, we got those.

However, the coolest thing about the puzzle is definitely the Orwellian mini-theme, although there is no lampshading of it… EASTASIA and OCEANIA in the same puzzle? Can’t be a coincidence!


Francis Heaney’s AVCX, “Emotion Picture” — Ben’s Review

Happy Valentine’s Day! This week’s AVCX is from Francis Heaney and is perfectly tied in with all the emotion that goes along with today.  This is definitely one to do on paper – the .PUZ version (as seen in my screenshot) is missing all sorts of lovely color bits that make this week’s theme stick out:

  • 22A: “OMG, Sadness, Riley likes a boy in her eighth-grade class! Exciting, right?” “Read between the lines, Joy … there’s going to be crying involved.” — TEENAGE CRUSH
  • 29A: “Fear, just relax! We’re going to the circus tonight, and it’s gonna be AMAZING!” “But Joy, everything they do is dangerous! And the safety nets never seem secure.” — TIGHTROPE ACT
  • 37A: “Anger, how can you be mad when Riley’s playing this awesome Bob Marley album?” “I don’t know, Joy, it just rubs me the wrong way.” — CATCH A FIRE
  • 50A:  “Can’t I cheer even one of you up? How about you, Disgust? It’s so lovely out today! Can’t you appreciate this beauty?” “Ew.” — GORGEOUSNESS
  • 59A: “Ugh, you four are all such frustrating pains in the neck! And yet … I’m still in a good mood!” — AGGRAVATIONS

If you’re at all familiar with Inside Out (or the 2018 MIT Mystery Hunt), you probably had a hunch from the colors of the shaded squares in the grid that this probably had something to do with Pixar’s INSIDE OUT (1A/49A).  Each of the emotional clues describes an outer situation and an inner feeling, and all of this is done with Francis’ usual smoothness in the grid.

Keeping this week short and sweet – I liked this one and hopefully you did too!

4/5 stars.

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5 Responses to Wednesday, February 14, 2018

  1. Philippe says:

    French for egg is œuf, not œuf. And this is one of the rare words where both o and e are ’glued’ together, e in the o as said in French.

    • huda says:

      Where does this “e dans l’o” come from? It seems like just a handful of words that use it in modern French.
      Cœur would have been apt today. I like that (at least in an older meaning) it indicated courage not only heart.

      • Martin says:

        Lots of loanwords from Greek or Latin use the ligature:
        Œdipe, cœlacanthe, fœtus, œcuménique, œdème, œnologie, œsophage, Phœnix, œstrogène, œstrus.

        Not sure what unites the “native” words, including:
        bœuf, chœur, cœur, manœuvre, mœurs, œil, œuf, œuvre, sœur, œillet, nœud, vœu.

  2. Ethan Friedman says:

    OK, I enjoyed the Times. Stunt puzzle, sure, but fairly wide-open for a Wednesday. Fun little diversion.

  3. Lise says:

    I lœv grid art!

Comments are closed.