Wednesday, June 20, 2018

AV Club untimed (Ben) 


LAT 4:47 (Gareth) 


NYT 3:04 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Jeffrey Wechsler’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

SO close to a sub-three-minute Wednesday! And yes, this puzzle was easier than average (at least for me). Despite that, I enjoyed the theme.

We have five theme answer which are all missing something.

NYT 6/20, solution grid

  • 17a [Well-behaved sister?] is a PROPER NUN. I got the theme right away – take an O out of a word and clue the resulting wacky phrase. This comes from proper noun.
  • 23a [Evidence of a cat fight?] is FUR ON THE FLOOR (four on the floor). I have never driven a four on the floor – all the stick shifts we’ve had were five-speeds.
  • 37a [TV bleep?] is a CURSE CORRECTIO(course correction). This was my favorite.
  • 45a [Impolite press conference attendees?] are CURT REPORTERS (court reporters).
  • 59a [Part of the queen’s tea service?] is a PALACE CUP (palace coup).

All the base phrases are solid and the themers are amusing. Not difficult, but lots of fun.

A few other things:

  • 6d [Extended sentence?] is not about jail but rather grammar. It’s RUN ON. My apologies to my daughter’s college professors. I tried. I really did.
  • 16a [Lump in one’s throat] is the UVULA. I guess so…it’s not really a lump, but OK.
  • LAMES is not the verb but an unrelated noun: [Lustrous fabrics].
  • 29a [Spring sound] is not the song of the BULLFINCH but rather BOING. Unless the BULLFINCH says BOING, which I doubt.
  • 49d [U.S. president with the most southerly birthplace] is OBAMA. I always forget how far south Hawaii is. It sits on the Tropic of Cancer, level with the middle of Mexico. I think I should make a field trip to assess this clue.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that DUMBO was Disney’s fourth animated feature film.

David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Ill-Advised Activities” — Jim’s review

Theme: Certain phrases are given literal re-imaginings, resulting in odd or even dangerous behavior. Don’t try this at home, kids.

WSJ – Wed, 6.20.18 – “Ill-Advised Activities” by David Alfred Bywaters

  • 17a [Do a bunny imitation midflight?] HOP ON AN AIRPLANE. I have trouble with this one. You “hop on a bus” and “hop on a train,” but do you really “hop on an airplane”? I’ve heard of a plane ride being called a “hop,” but that’s the plane doing the hopping, not the passenger. If anything, I guess you can “hop on a plane,” but “HOP ON AN AIRPLANE” sounds awkward to my ear.
  • 34a [Skim pancakes across a pond?] SKIP BREAKFAST. This one works as a clue/answer pair, although I doubt the actual act would meet with much success.
  • 54a [Do aerobic exercises in an efficient but dangerous manner?] JUMP IN THE SHOWER. This one would work, but the clue feels off to me. There’s nothing in there that necessitates “shower” in the answer (e.g. getting wet, cleaning, etc.). I guess it’s efficient because once you’re done exercising, you don’t need to “go” take a shower, you’re already there. And I guess it’s dangerous because, you know, slippage. But “efficient” and “dangerous” is not enough of a hint toward “shower.” Also, jumping as aerobic exercise? No one jumps for exercise. Sure, there are jumping jacks and…some other jumping-based activities I guess, but just jumping? No. I think I might’ve gone with [Practice Double Dutch while shampooing?].

So I had problems with two of the three entries, but when I saw they all started with a HOP, SKIP, and a JUMP, the puzzle redeemed itself somewhat. I thought that was a cute touch that tightened up the theme just enough to make it work.

Having only three themers leaves room for niceties like ILLOGICAL, PINEAPPLE, HANGOVER, SEASIDES, and KEEPS MUM. Other goodies are ROMANCE, SPROUTS, RIO LOBO, CHOPIN, TIPTOE, and GEIGER.

However, I’m none to keen on GIGOLOS (clued flippantly as [Money-making company?]). Would you put PROSTITUTE or CALL GIRL in a grid with that clue (or at all)? I don’t think so. Apparently there is, or was, a Showtime reality show simply titled GIGOLOS that lasted for six seasons. If you need to have this in your grid, clue it straight with a reference to the show, perhaps.

As you can see, there was a fair amount of hit-or-miss for me. I feel like this just needed a little more tweaking to make everything hunky-dory. As it is, I’ll rate it at 3.4 stars.

Roger & Kathy Wienberg’s LA Times crossword Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

LATESHIFT is a classic anagram type revealer. However, although LATE can anagram to TALE and TEAL, and, less promisingly, TAEL and ET AL, the tetragram is instead buried between two answers, which is the less elegant path, in my opinion. The entries are fair to middling, with WASTELAND lacking a THE (without it, it’s normally spelt as one word) and the AT of MARVELAT being a bit gratuitous…


  • [Like every U.S. president], MALE. Factually correct, but not exactly something to wave in front of people’s eyes.
  • [Gymnast Simone who won four golds in Rio], BILES. A vast improvement on [Some pathology samples].
  • [Carefree], GAY. I’m not sure that meaning is still in use…
  • [T.S. Eliot poem, with “The”], WASTELAND. Musical interlude…
  • [Pluto’s largest moon], CHARON. With the centre of rotation between the two bodies, they’re sometimes considered a binary dwarf planet.
  • [Tidied, as a lawn], EDGED. Went through MOWED and RAKED first…
  • [Gift box direction], OPENME. Wanted “it” first, although the box part indicates “me”.
  • [Liquid poured in honor of a deity], LIBATION. Oh sure… Usually Bibulous, God of Wine and Things on Sticks.

2.75 Stars

Aimee Lucido’s AVCX, “Draft Dodging” — Ben’s Review

This week’s AVCX had some special stuff going on in the grid that meant there was only a .jpz option for a digital puzzle.  I took this as a chance to go off the digital grid and onto the analog one for a leisurely untimed solve, using my best penmanship for the screenshot at right.  Let’s break down what’s going on inside of “Draft Dodging”:

  • 20A: Snap, crackle, or pop — ONOMATOPOEIA
  • 33A: “Roger” partner — OVER AND OUT
  • 78A: Definitive evidence — SMOKING GUN
  • 94A: Complicated relationship, e.g. — ENTANGLEMENT
  • 53A: [The theme revealer will go here, once I’m motivated to create it] — WRITERS BLOCK

What initially looks like some interesting grid entries are revealed to be areas of black squares blocking out an author’s name in each of the theme entries: Edgar Allen POE (no stranger to crosswords) in ONOMATOPOEIA, Ayn RAND in OVER AND OUT, Stephen KING in SMOKING GUN, and Amy TAN in ENTANGLEMENT.  I thought this might be a secret Rock Bottom Remainders themed set of authors, but both Poe and Rand are, as I write this, still very, very dead and not part of the band, so that’s not the case after all.

The larger grid here made for a nice puzzle to tackle at a slower pace and savor some of the fill.

  • ERNIE, of Sesame Street fame, hit the Billboard Hot 100 at number 16 with “Rubber Ducky”
  • I see you, LAUREL clued as “Yanny alternative”.  I don’t like you, but I see you.
  • CLEOPATRA: also a snake queen.

3.75/5 stars.

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39 Responses to Wednesday, June 20, 2018

  1. Brian says:

    What kind of firecrackers go in an ARC? You light them on the ground, they make a loud bang, and you’re done. That plus having UNI and CURSE CONNECTION/CONFECTION wrecked me in the middle.

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: I did this while semi-asleep thanks to traveling and having a messed up circadian clock…

    I finished and Mr. Pencil did not show up. Because, apparently, it’s HIRING A CAR not A CAB. And there may not be a new game that teenagers love to play called G-BOW! Apparently, all they’re doing is GROWing, instead of G-BOWing.

    So, I was sitting there, thinking I should invent G-BOW… I googled it just to make sure I had not been scooped.. and what do you know… it’s in the works!

  3. VB says:

    The NYT theme is a little more than just dropping an O. It’s dropping an O that is next to a U. The other O’s in the theme entries do not disappear.

    • lemonade714 says:

      Good catch VB, you beat me to the OU comment. I thought PROPER NUN was really funny. I also like the look of the grid with the middle a grid-spanner.

  4. Tim in NYC says:

    Since the p in coup isn’t pronounced, the last NYT themer doesn’t really work.

    • Lemonade714 says:

      What does that mean? The “O” is separated from the “U” resulting in a new and silly phrase. Three of the themers have ô as the sound for the “OU” with coup- oo and noun ou(ow), but all five resultant phrases have the ə sound. They are the theme ans they all work.

      • Tim in NYC says:

        OK, I get it. I was focused on the symmetry of having the middle three one way and the first and fifth another way (with the changed word at the end). The difference between cup and coup seemed jarring compared to the others.

  5. Ethan Friedman says:

    Nice smooth NYT with cute themers. That’s a good Wednesday

  6. Gareth says:

    The idea of a Cuba LIBRE makes me laugh… It’s a rum and coke dressed up as a real cocktail!

    Had to look up what a COURTREPORTER was.

  7. Penguins says:

    Hardest Wednesday in memory for me. Some nice themers.

  8. David Glasser says:

    Huh, I never knew FOUR ON THE FLOOR was a car thing — I just thought it was an oddly niche reference to house music!

  9. David Roll says:

    WSJ, 31-D. Am I the only one who would not consider “pine” to be a fruit?

    • PJ Ward says:

      I paused at that, also. Maybe it’s some scientific meaning but a quick google search didn’t turn it up.

    • Martin says:

      Technically, you’re correct. But the reference is not the “pine” (the tree), but the pine cone. “Pineapple” was originally the common term for pine cone, and was applied to the bromeliad fruit when European explorers encountered them in the New World and thought they looked like giant pine cones.

      Technically speaking, a pine cone is not a fruit; but since it’s the organ that contains and protects the seeds it’s not the worst usage. So the pineapple is named for a fruit analog named for a fruit.

  10. Lise says:

    LAT: I think the tetragram wasn’t anagrammed because the letters in LATE were being shifted (actually, rotated) around so it was LATE ATEL TELA ELAT and one more shift (rotate) would have brought it back to LATE.

    The clue for MALE should have been “Like every U. S. president so far”

    NYT: Loved PROPER NUN. I wouldn’t mind having a PALACE CUP.

    Good puzzle day!

  11. Burak says:

    I really tried to like today’s NYT, but I can’t. For everything that I can say “well, that was fun” there was a counter element that made me go “meh”. I might just be having a bad day, but this one was a drag for me, and I had to push myself hard to try to finish it. 2.75 stars.

  12. Leonard Levine says:

    Seems people are grumpy and nitpicky today. Last day of Spring getting everyone down? Just look on the bright side – every day’s puzzle you do marks one day closer to the end of the current administration.

  13. michael Hodson says:

    NYT. Is 11d DUMBO a stealth revealer, or just a coincidence?

  14. RSP64 says:

    Can someone explain the title of the AVCX? I don’t see how it relates to the hidden author names.

    • Karen says:

      “Draft” in the sense of an early version of a writer’s work, I think. And I assumed “dodging” had the sense of evading or hiding until I read this meaning in MW 11 Online: “to reduce the intensity of (a portion of a photograph) by selectively shading or selectively masking by chemical means during printing.” Interesting alternative, if you stop short of the reference to chemical means.

  15. Emma says:

    In the AVCX, can someone explain the KAREEM answer? (below the hidden KING). Is this still part of 38d, as in, ‘RUNWAY KAREEM’?

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