Wednesday, July 4, 2018

AV Club untimed (Ben) 


LAT 4:23 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:37 (Jenni) 


No WSJ puzzle due to the holiday. Happy 4th to all those who celebrate!

Freddie Cheng’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

This is not a particularly difficult puzzle; it seems well-pitched for a Wednesday. The theme didn’t mean anything to me until I’d completed the puzzle and went back to sort it out. It’s a timely one. Each theme answer has a word in brackets that seems unrelated.

NYT 7/4, solution grid

  • 17a [Identifications on left-hand pages, traditionally [the Bible] ] are EVEN NUMBERS. Did the Bible originate the practice of putting even numbers on the left? Unlikely, since the Bible started out as a scroll. Hmm.
  • 26a [Setting for a popular show [dimensions] ] is PRIME TIME. At that, I gave up trying to figure out the theme and waited for the revealer.
  • 39a [Dense megalopolis that includes Hong Kong, Macau, and Guangzhou [Greek alphabet] ] is PEARL RIVER DELTA.
  • 48a [Singer with the 2017 Album of the Year “24K Magic” [planets] ] is BRUNO MARS.
  • And the revealer I knew had to be there: 60a [Annual greeting … or a hint to the ends of 17-, 26-, 39- and 48-Across] is HAPPY FOURTH. The last word of each theme entry is the fourth of something, and the something is the word in brackets. NUMBERS is the fourth book of the Bible. TIME is the fourth dimension. DELTA is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet. MARS is the fourth planet. I don’t know that any of them are particularly happy. We’re almost done with the book of NUMBERS in the annual cycle of Torah study and it’s not all that cheery. It is, however, indisputably fourth.

A few other things:

  • 1d [Motrin alternative] can’t be filled in from the A alone because it could be either Advil or ALEVE.
  • 10d [Food item ordered at a bar] is not beer nuts. It’s a SUSHI ROLL.
  • 34d [Tremendous piece of work] is a BANG-UP JOB. My favorite entry in the puzzle.
  • 41d [“Stop! You’ll be sorry!”] is DON’T DO IT.
  • 62d [Subject of early genetic study] was the PEA of Gregor Mendel.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: the PEARL RIVER DELTA. Anyone who has played me in Learned League is well aware that geography is not my best thing.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

Today features an unusually cryptic theme presentation for the LA Times. Normally, when a set of variable strings are hidden in words, circles or similar are used. I guess the hidden strings were long enough that circles looked ugly. I prefer this subtler approach, though I understand why the LA Times usually opts to hit you over the head with the theme. Anyway, today’s theme phrases contain 3/4 of an EGOT, lacking the non-acting GRAMMY (which is a challenge to hide as well). The phrasing was creative in order to accomodate those large strings of letters I alluded to earlier. Nevertheless, they just stayed within the bounds of naturalness making for a pleasing set: IWASS(OSCAR)ED, GIVETH(EMMY)BEST and GOOU(TONY)OUROWN.

I admire the design of the grid: 12/14/14/12 is not easy to design around, as the 12s have to go in the fourth row, which cramps the grid. The design is more segmented than usual, but this allowed the constructor to deal with the more difficult stacks, especially the top-left and bottom-right which have overlapping themers. There are even grace notes like CURACAO, CATACOMB and AFTERYOU included.


  • [“Gray’s Anatomy,” for one], TOME. The book. The quotes had me thinking about the TV series at first.
  • [Safety org. with “Travel Tips” blog posts], TSA. Safety org…
  • [First name in American poetry], EMILY. Not a fan of this clue for such a common first name. Wouldn’t like any more if it were clued for ROBERT either.

3.5 Stars

Paolo Pasco’s AVCX, “Turning Green” — Ben’s Review

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!  I celebrated by solving this one on paper and promptly forgetting to write it up until July 5th!  Sorry about that.  We’re here, and it’s now, so let’s look at the latest from Paolo Pasco, “Turning Green”:

We’ve got four circled/shaded squares in the grid, and they’re weird squares, if their highlighted nature wasn’t a clue to that sort of thing, with each of them containing a slang term for weed and acting as a JOINT (as hinted at by 27D) that twists the clues running through it 90 degrees:

  • 19A: Like Urdu, ancestrally — INDO-PERSIAN
  • 3D: Episode-starting sketches, on “SNL” — COLD OPENS
  • 9D: Like blockbusters but not B-movies, most of the time — BIG BUDGET
  • 48A: Controversial issues, metaphorically — HOT POTATOES
  • 33D: Restaurant chain with a pepper logo — CHIPOTLE
  • 54A: Fast-paced schoolyard sport with a pole — TETHERBALL
  • 37D: Visibly damaged by the elements — WEATHER-BEATEN

This was a really well-executed theme, and it took me a while to figure out why things like TETHERBALL, clearly the only sport fitting the clue for 54A, didn’t fit in the grid as written.  This was full of great AHA moments like that, and the rest of the fill matched it.  Hopefully you had a great Fourth and liked this puzzle, too.

4.5/5 stars.

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23 Responses to Wednesday, July 4, 2018

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: I had a similar solving experience as Jenni’s (ALBEIT in relative slo-mo compared to her time).

    My favorite entry in the puzzle is “DON’T DO IT”, for an idiosyncratic reason. I have a little video clip of my mischievous grandson at 20 months, shaking his head and saying “DON’T DO IT”– about touching the toilet. But he has this little smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye and you know, for sure, that he’s going to do it. Now every time I’m trying to control myself, it plays in my head— “Don’t Do It” and I hope that I can resist a bit better than he can…but chocolate usually does me in.
    HAPPY FOURTH everyone.

  2. Rob says:

    NYT: This was a very clever puzzle. I had no idea what the theme was, even with the revealer. Then I looked at the completed puzzle again this morning and the “aha” moment hit me. Well done! Happy Fourth! Enjoy!

  3. Dook says:

    After finishing the NYT, I understood the theme, but didn’t get the connection to Fourth until reading this review. It made me like the whole thing more. One beef: “not my first time at the rodeo” is the expression. Many other, more accurate ways to clue this word.

    • PJ Ward says:

      “not my first time at the rodeo” is the expression.

      Not where I’ve been. Mommy Dearest may predate Vern Gosdin but “this ain’t my first rodeo” is all I’ve ever heard.

    • pannonica says:

      “Not my first rodeo” is likewise the predominant version in my experience. Ngrams seems to agree (phrase is strategically curtailed due to five-word limit on phrases to be searched:

      addendum: general Google searches for complete phrases returns 13,300 results for “not my first time at the rodeo” and 130, 000 for “not my first rodeo”, a full order of magnitude,

      • Lise says:

        I have heard only “not my first rodeo”. But I haven’t heard the expression very many times.

        • Papa John says:

          I can’t say I’ve heard any version of this phrase.

          Online search reveals that all the versions mentioned here are in use. My favorite is “This ain’t my first rodeo”. I also learned that it became popular in the ’90s, which may account for why I’m not aware of it. I had, by that time, lost all concern for being hip in my speech.

          It has some connection to “Mommy Dearest”, too.

          I give today’s NYT high praise. The theme was well developed and its complexity was demanding.

        • pannonica says:

          As long as I’m doing ’70s rock today…

  4. Sheik Yerbouti says:

    Just finished the AVCX. Now what to do on a holiday, what to do…

    • Lise says:

      The AVCX was amazing, and a real feat of construction. There’s so much to love about it. Thanks, Paolo Pasco!

      • RSP64 says:

        I liked the AVCX as well. I don’t find their difficulty ratings very accurate. I didn’t struggle with this one very much, but I really seem to have a hard time with the 3’s and 3.5’s.

  5. Burak says:

    NYT: As far as tribute puzzles go, this is one of the best theme ideas I have come across. Multilayered and fresh.

    I wish I could say the same for the rest of the puzzle though. It was still above average, but the fill and some of the cluing didn’t do it for me. I especially had trouble in the SW corner. “This is my first rodeo” I had never heard of. That, crossed with ADJ (meh) and COB (why not clue it in a Fourth of July way? Everyone is eating corns on the cob (corn on the cobs?) today) had me go into eyeroll mode for a few minutes. My ignorance is the guilty party here, but I still feel like that corner could have been designed differently.

    Overall, this gets 3.05 stars.

  6. Lise says:

    LAT: The copy in my print newspaper had circles. I could have done without them.

    Still, it was an enjoyable puzzle.

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