Wednesday, April 4, 2018

AV Club untimed (Ben) 


LAT 3:27 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:10 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Weird Al Yankovic and Eric Berlin’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

The series of celebrity co-authored puzzles continues! Weird Al is no stranger to wordplay (well, he’s strange, but that’s not the point); his parody songs have been making us laugh for decades. Eric Berlin makes great puzzles for kids when he’s not making great puzzles for grownups. You can check out Puzzle Your Kids for a free puzzle every week. Those are mostly variety puzzles; check out the PYK store for a pack of “regular” puzzles. Let’s get that next generation hooked!

NYT 4/4, solution grid

I enjoyed this puzzle. The theme is consistent, solidly constructed, funny, and does not involve circled letters. Let’s take a look at our theme answers:

  • 20a [Cheesy 1992 military drama?] is A FEW GOUDA MEN. Ah. So we’re supposed to take “cheesy” literally.
  • 28a [Cheesy 1987 thriller?] is FETA ATTRACTION. Isn’t it funny how when women don’t take “no” for an answer they’re lunatic bunny-killers, but when men don’t take “no” for an answer, they’re the romantic leads in a sweet little rom-com.
  • 46a [Cheesy 1993 legal drama?] is THE PELICAN BRIE. Mmm. Brie.
  • 53a [Cheesy 2001 animated film?] is MUENSTERS INC.

I figured out the theme promptly at 20a and that didn’t curdle my enjoyment at all. It gave me a good whey to figure out the rest of the long answers.

A few other things:

  • Fittingly for a puzzle with a musician co-author, music shows up all over the puzzle – CLEF, musicians the EVERLY brothers, SARA Bareilles, and Tom LEHRERA TEMPOASCAP, the HYENAS from “Lion King,” and the need to TUNE a piano.
  • I prefer [Supply for Wile E. Coyote] to mentions of Nobel as clues for TNT.
  • I could do without ever seeing ONAGER in a puzzle again.
  • I can’t see BIC PEN without thinking of these reviews for the “Bic For Her” line of pens. 
  • 44d [Follower of John] isn’t a person, it’s the book of ACTS.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Orlando Bloom played LEGOLAS in the “Lord of the Ring” movies.

I leave you with Weird Al’s “Party in the CIA”

and one more. Sara Bareilles played Mary Magdalene in “Jesus Christ, Superstar” on Sunday evening’s live broadcast. She was fine, but as far as I’m concerned, Brandon Victor Dixon stole the show as Judas.

David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Payment Terms” — Jim’s review

Theme: Words that begin with the letter string PER— are re-parsed as two words to describe how certain professionals get paid. EDO.

I’ll say from the start that I found this theme to be great fun. Each entry was unexpected, even after I caught on to the theme. And the answers seemed to get funnier as I worked my way down the grid. EDO.

WSJ – Wed, 4.4.18 – “Payment Terms” by David Alfred Bywaters

  • 17a [How astronauts are paid?] PER MISSION. Not so funny, but it makes sense. EDO.
  • 25a [How church architects are paid?] PER SPIRE. Ha! Although it kinda makes sense. The spire is the tallest and most visible part of the church. In England, the village church was usually placed at the highest point around so that the people would always be able to see it from wherever they were in the surrounding area. EDO.
  • 39a [How tax accountants are paid?] PER FORM. Ha! This makes sense, too, considering all the paperwork accountants generate. EDO.
  • 42a [How e-cigarette vendors are paid?] PER FUME. This answer is the most tenuous of the lot. If you suspend your disbelief for a moment, this one’s still humorous. EDO.
  • 53a [How poets are paid?] PER VERSE. Ha! This is essentially true, but it’s still funny. EDO.
  • 66a [How mattress salespeople are paid?] PER SIMMONS. Ha! And the best for last. Sorry, Serta and Sealy. You’ll have to come up with some creative incentives to top this one. EDO.

Other entries we might have accepted:  [How lube salespeople get paid?] PER KY. [How sailors get paid?] PER CUSS. [How trial attorneys get paid?] PER JURY. [How child tax credits are applied in sexist patriarchal societies?] PER SON. EDO.

What else is good in the grid? Plenty. SLEEP OFF sounds really good about now, not because I have a hangover, but because I think I’m coming down with something. Perhaps some FLAVORED tea will do me good. I also like WHISPER (despite the extraneous PER), ICE SKATE, ANTELOPE, TAMALE, KISMET, and CORGI [Willow in Buckingham Palace, e.g.]. EDO.

I didn’t know or didn’t remember PIERROT [Pantomime character], the stock sad clown character. Crossing PIE_ROT with the uncommon prefix ACRO [Height, in combinations] caused me a little grief. What, you never heard of PIE TROT? EDO.

And I’m not keen on the male-centric clue for SENORA [Spanish spouse]. The correct answer to that clue should be ESPOSA. EDO.

Overall, despite those little hiccups and the usual crosswordese (GOER, ESSO, ESTA, ERTE, etc.), this was a most enjoyable puzzle. Four stars from me. Until next time, this is Jim Peredo signing off. Time to go re-negotiate the terms of my contract and insist that I get paid PER EDO). EDO.

Paolo Pasco’s AVCX, “Trade Secrets” — Ben’s Review

Another week, another tricky puzzle from AVCX.  This week’s is from Paolo Pasco, and totally could have been a 4.5/5 on the difficulty scale instead of a 4/5 – it took me far too long to spot what was going on with the theme.  You’re going to want to view the big version of the grid at right to catch my annotations.

Four answers seem to have something…missing:

  • 20A:It’s the easiest way — PATH OF LST RESISTANCE
  • 36A:Method that involves half-lives — CARBOATING
  • 47A:”You wanna fight?” in memes — COME ME BRO
  • 63A: Cartoon character with a crayon permanently lodged in his frontal lobe — HOR SIMPSON

Each of these answers is missing a bigram — an EA in PATH OF L(EA)ST RESISTANCE, ND in CARBO(N D)ATING, AT in COME (AT) ME BRO, and ME in HO(ME)R SIMPSON.  It turns out those bigrams could be inserted between the lines a step down in the appropriate down clues – again, see my screenshot for more details there.  It’s all part of some clever MULTILEVEL MARKETING, a nice revealer at 75A for what’s going on here.

What’s something new you picked up from the fill this time?  Before I realized what was going on with the theme, I kept trying to figure out how U MAD BRO fit into the grid at 47A.  Turns out, it doesn’t!

4/5 stars.

David Poole’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

I do believe our editor is a golf fan, and today’s puzzle is announcing tomorrow’s THEMASTERS championship at AUGUSTANATIONAL. Holes 11-13 are the famous AMENCORNER, offering extreme risk/reward play, especially #13! With just three entries, there is no space for things like GREENJACKET or founder BOBBYJONES. It does have four MEAN corners as a bonus.


  • [Civil rights org.], NAACP. THEMASTERS is also associated with white male hegemony; “As long as I’m alive, golfers will be white, and caddies will be black.” is a notorious statement from one club founder. Black members were only allowed as late as 1990 and women in 2012 (no, not 1912).
  • [Montreal Canadien, to hockey fans], HAB. New one on me. David is Canadian, so not surprising to see him throw this at us. Wikipedia says it is short for Les Habitants.
  • [Songwriter Leonard], COHEN. Another Canadian nod.
  • [Whispering party game], TELEPHONE. Never heard it called this, only BROKENTELEPHONE or CHINESEWHISPERS (dated).

Tomorrow’s tournament will be very open, with the #1 ranked golfer not having a top 10 major finish since 2016…

3 Stars

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21 Responses to Wednesday, April 4, 2018

  1. Ethan says:

    I wish I could share your enthusiasm for the NYT puzzle. I enjoy Weird Al, but this was pretty dreary. First, Gouda/Good is a pun I’ve heard in some form at least a hundred times before. I can’t crack a smile at it. More importantly, the punning isn’t very consistent (Muenster is pluralized, the other two involve deleting a consonant from the base phrase rather than relying on homophony), the grid is ugly and heavy in 3-letter words because of the theme entry lengths, and the fill has lots of losers like AFTS, REG, OSO, UPN, and plural OLES despite the theme not being terribly constrictive.

    • Ethan says:

      Well, I just saw it got named Puzzle of the Week on Xword Info. Either I’m just in the minority on this puzzle, or the rest of the week is going to be worse. I hope it’s the former.

      • Burak says:

        You’re not alone. This got a B-, 3 stars from me. OK to good execution on puns and clues (the most important thing in pun puzzles for me is that they are not some obscure stuff -YAWANNAPIZZAME gives me a headache to this day-) but the fill was ugly. I think this is gonna be one of the worst weeks ever considering Mon and Tue were also meh at best.

    • PhilR says:

      I wish I didn’t agree with you.

  2. janie says:

    in the write-up for the nyt (one that i enjoyed a lot): “…and that didn’t curdle my enjoyment at all. It gave me a good whey to figure out the rest of the long answers.”

    just thank you for that!


    • ahimsa says:

      Yep, NYT puzzle was fine but Jenni’s write-up was better. Cheesy humor, but it never grated. :-)

      I also enjoyed the WSJ and Jim’s write-up. Those repeated EDOs kept me guessing right until the end! Hmm, do the X-Men get paid PER MUTATION?

  3. Penguins says:

    East of Edam

  4. placematfan says:

    I remember Weird Al pretty vividly from my teenage years, with “Eat it” and “I lost on Jeopardy”; I think I even had that album. Then I forgot about him for a really long time and passively assumed he’d become a thing of the past at some point. And it wasn’t till maybe 2010 I realized he’s been making music all the while. And by many accounts, good music. I went down a Weird Al rabbit hole a few years back and I remember being pretty impressed, and at the very least, entertained. And the view count numbers on his YouTube videos are crazy impressive.

  5. DRC says:

    I found WSJ to be particularly punny and refreshing after a long run of unexciting themes.

  6. Thanks, Jim Peredo, for the appreciative review. Conscience compels me to point out that your favorite entry, PERSIMMONS, was Mike Shenk’s inspiration: I had originally submitted PERORATION (how orators are paid), which he rightly thought too closely related to just plain “oration.”

  7. Ethan Friedman says:

    Put me in the “enjoyed the cheesy puzzle” camp. That was dairy good fun! Did ewe enjoy it?

  8. Tim in NYC says:

    Jenni, thanks for the link to the Pen for Women on Amazon. Hysterical.

  9. Steve Manion. says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle. Plays on words can make me smile, but rarely make me laugh. I smiled a couple of times. This puzzle was fine for a Tuesday or Wednesday.


  10. MattG. says:

    Loved Paolo’s AVC puzzle today! Theme material just resilient enough to give pause and an aha moment, and tricky enough cluing to keep areas not affected by theme challenging.

  11. hibob says:

    AV puzzle: The four letters in two squares also form a “market”, FLEA, BOND, MEAT and HOME.
    pretty good in my opinion.

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