Wednesday, April 11, 2018

AV Club 11:00 (Ben) 


LAT 4:21 (Gareth) 


NYT 3:20 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Keiran King’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

I solved this without paying any attention to the theme and then went back and sorted it out. I can’t decide if I like it or not. It’s clever, and kind of amusing, but requires a lot of searching around the grid – like cross-referencing on steroids. This is a debut puzzle, so welcome, Keiran!

The theme clues all require building blocks from other parts of the grid. It’s similar to a game played on “Says You,” and I think I like it better on the radio.

NYT 4/11, solution grid

  • 15a [Classic work by 16-, 31- and 51-Down, so to speak?] 16d is ROWE; 31d is SCENE; 51d is KNEEROWE SCENE KNEE —> Rossini —-> BARBER OF SEVILLE.
  • 24a [Classic work by 11-, 9- and 8-Down, so to speak?] PACK ELLE BELL —-> Pachelbel —-> CANON IN D. That was our processional at our wedding.
  • 39a [Classic work by 50- and 23-Down, so to speak?] SHOW PAN —-> Chopin —-> NOCTURNE.
  • 52a [Classic work by 45-, 35- and 28-Down, so to speak?] BATE HOE VENN —-> Beethoven —-> MOONLIGHT SONATA.

The more I look at it, the less I like it. It just feels forced to me.

A few other things:

  • Amusing clues: 7a [Not up] for ABED and 7d [Up] for ARISEN; 1d [Lead vessel?] for AORTA; 37d [Tool for telling?] for QUILL.
  • 34d [Spy on] is SURVEIL, which sounds like something that they’d say in a police report but not in civilian life.
  • Speaking of spies, we have 32a [Grp. that once plotted against Fidel Castro] for CIA.
  • We have IAGO from “Aladdin” instead of “Othello.”
  • 53d [Sound of exasperation] is GAH. I guess; seems like it could also be a lot of other things.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I got nothing.

Gary Cee’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Please Leave a Message” — Jim’s review

IN AND OUT at 39d serves as our revealer today. Sadly, it’s not referring to the famed California burger joint (because that is technically IN-N-OUT) but instead to someone who comes and goes quickly. The clue [Difficult to reach, and what 17-, 25-, 50- and 59-Across literally share] points to the fact that each theme entry contains both an IN and an OUT.

WSJ – Wed, 4.11.18 – “Please Leave a Message” by Gary Cee



  • 17a [Sought-after spring] FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH. A perfect grid-spanning theme answer.
  • 25a [Weather channel?] DRAIN SPOUT. Great clue, but I always thought it was a RAIN SPOUT…and Google backs me up. I get negligible hits for DRAIN SPOUT, some for RAIN SPOUT, but most for DOWNSPOUT. Perhaps it’s a regional phrase?
  • 50a [Mull] THINK ABOUT. This works well enough, though it’s lacking in excitement.
  • 59a [Power company’s precautionary measure] ROLLING BLACKOUT. Another lovely grid-spanner, but a minor demerit for the more literal use of the word OUT.

The theme works well enough. And those 15s are real charmers.

Good fill accompanies the theme with the likes of ABUNDANT, MATADOR, DEITIES, BOO-BOOANDIRON, and BERETTA. I did not know the definition of an ANDIRON [Log supporter] (in a fireplace), so I’m glad to learn it.

And I can never remember how to spell BERETTA (34d, [Italian gunmaker]). Is the first vowel an A or an E? Is it one R and two Ts or two Rs and one T? Thank goodness for crossings. Okay, the TV show was BARETTA with an A. Both words then have one R and two Ts. Unless you’re talking about a BARRETTE which is what you put in your hair. Or is that writer Rona? No, Rona is BARRETT. And you do not put her in your hair.

Clues of note:

  • 10a [Leave gobsmacked]. STUN. “Gobsmack” has gotta be on everyone’s short list of favorite words. Amirite?
  • 48a [Microwave emission]. BEEP. A little trickeration there since you were probably thinking ODOR at first.
  • 64a [Cause the ruin of]. UNDO. Usually you would see this in noun form as “undoing,” but I like this use of the less common definition.
  • 66a [Plane’s emergency exit]. CHUTE. Yesterday my son and I flew back from Colorado after touring the University of Denver. Thankfully, we didn’t have to use the emergency exit, but the ride felt bumpier than normal.
  • 1d [E-book format, often]. PDF. Hmm. I’m skeptical. Books on Kindles and other e-readers are not usually PDFs, are they?
  • 2d [Fire sign]. LEO. I’m not getting this one. Is this zodiacal? If so, what is the relationship between the lion and fire?
  • 7d [Building with wings?] HANGAR. More good trickeration, but at least this one is telegraphed with the ?.

One final nicety, if you have a dark sense of humor like me, the pairing of E.COLI and NO FUN at the top center.

Good, solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.

John Guzzetta’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

It’s a “words that follow theme” today, but one with a few wrinkles that keep it feeling a bit fresh. SPAGHETTI itself is a more interesting word that many we see – SPAGHETTI goes with WESTERN, SQUASH, SAUCE and STRAP. There aren’t too many more options: JUNCTION perhaps, and the somewhat jargony CODE. Also instead of a cutesy revealer, we have the word itself spelt out in a wavy set of circles. Don’t stare too long, or the back to front ‘S’ for SPAGHETTI may start to mess with your brain.

The rest of the puzzle was largely just… there. Clean, but not much I can really say about it.

Actually, I put down “B is for Burglar” by [Alphabet Series novelist Grafton], SUE to start blogging this as it happens. Have enjoyed the ones I’ve read so far, though they take a while to get going (I may just have developed a Millennial short attention span(TM), though).

3.5 Stars

Kameron Austin Collins’ AVCX, “AVCX Themeless #25” — Ben’s Review

Another AVCX Themeless, another one of Kameron’s gorgeous grids.  This one had some good bite to it – my first pass through the grid it took me until TIS (sequel to Angela’s Ashes) to have something I felt confident about filling in right away.  There’s lots of clever cluing in here, and plenty of AHA moments to unfold:

  • It took me far too long to realize that the “Garden pair” clued at 17A wasn’t tools or plants, but ADAM AND EVE.
  • OMAN: one of five remaining absolute monarchies
  • WHAT’S NOT TO GET?” is super unhelpful as a response.
  • Nestlé might rename ESKIMO PIES soon – ‘Eskimo’ doesn’t have a great history and it can actually be a slur!
  • Louis XIV compared himself to the state (or, you know, L’ETAT), but I spent waaaaay too much time to figure out how you crammed some variant of the Sun in there (what with him being The Sun King and all)
  • I don’t love TIN HAT at 6D – for it to truly reflect appropriate headgear for an X-Files fan, I think it needs to be a TINfoil chapeau (the kind you’d make from some kitchen wrap, yo)
  • All of my knowledge of regional sodas failed me at 10D – “sugary quaff down south” was looking for SWEET TEA

Go back and read my parenthetical for 6D again. I promise it will make more sense.

4/5 stars.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Wednesday, April 11, 2018

  1. Matt M. says:

    I see some low ratings for the NYT, but I felt more positively toward the puzzle … an unusual theme that I like more as I reflect on it further. And an impressive feat of construction, as well.

    • Brian says:

      Agreed with you, it took a while for the theme to click, but it’s pretty nifty. Plus 80 theme squares and hardly any crap in the grid is really impressive!

    • Penguins says:

      I’m with ya. Creative design. Not knowing the composers can be a problem though and may be putting people off.

    • Alan D. says:

      I thought it was awesome! Both in enjoyment and as a construction feat. 4.5 stars from me.

      • Paul Coulter says:

        Great puzzle. Wonderfully inventive. Don’t think I’ve seen anything like this before. 5 stars from me.

  2. David and Heather says:

    NYT was fun, and on the app, it was very easy to follow the theme answers since they ‘light up’ in a way. Great cluing and a fun puzzle. It was my fastest Wednesday by far and actually faster than Monday’s tricky puzzle and about the same as yesterday’s time. Fun and breezy.

  3. Stephen Edward Anderson says:

    Regarding NYT 17D : Spanish, Argentine, Chilean, or Mexican wines are VINOS ; Italian wines are VINI.

    • Zulema says:

      Thank you, SEA. Saved me from being the complainer this time. Otherwise, I enjoyed the puzzle very much but spent a lot of time hunting for the numbers indicated in the clues after filling in most answers. Cute and very imaginative.

  4. Jenni Levy says:

    LOVED the AVCX. Great puzzle

  5. Martin says:


    Here’s an an article on triplicity, which explains the relationship between Leo and fire. Most of us haven’t had nearly enough astrology in our educations.

    • Lois says:

      A wonderful website on the subject is (Astrodienst), a European website. You can set up a free, savable interactive horoscope on the site that can teach a lot. I can’t do much astrology any more because of doing crosswords, alas, and those only very slowly.

  6. anonymousv says:

    Two nits with NYT: Nocturne is a genre within which Chopin wrote, not a specific work like the other three; and Pachelbel isn’t pronounced PACK-ELLE-BELL, but POCK-ELLE-BELL. BATE is also, well, not great.

    I think other possibilities of composers with famous works would have been better- MOATS-ART, DAY-BUSEY (or DEBUT-SEA), CHAI-COUGHS-KEY, HAWN-DULL, etc.

    • David L says:

      PACK-ELLE-BELL works fine for me, because of residual Britishness, but not ROWE-SCENE-KNEE. I pronounce the first syllable of Rossini like (a) boss.

      I liked the puzzle. Themes that depend on pronunciation are always going to work for some people and not others. This was close enough for me.

    • cyberdiva says:


      I love your “other possibilities,” except for HAWN-DULL. HAWN? I can’t imagine pronouncing Handel’s name that way. HEN, perhaps, especially because of the ä in the original German spelling, but I’m mystified about HAWN.

      • David says:

        In his own day, Handel’s name was spelled Hendel as often as Handel, it was definitely pronounced Hendel as would be appropriate for the German name (Händel) of a German-born composer.

  7. Beach bum says:

    NYT. 7a [Not up] (ABED) is horizontal, and 7d [Up] (ARISEN) is vertical.

Comments are closed.