Wednesday, August 15, 2018

AV Club 7:37 (Ben) 


LAT 3:22 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:13 (Amy) 


WSJ 7:00 (Laura) 


Kathy Wienberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 15 18, no 0815

Love the theme! The all-caps theme clues are what would result if you read the theme answers as parts of the clues in a cryptic crossword:

  • 17a. [DAM], MAD SCRAMBLE. Anagram DAM and you get MAD. Scramble is one of those words that signals anagramming in cryptics.
  • 24a. [FIRED], STIR-FRIED.
  • 36a. [PARBOIL], BIPOLAR DISORDER. Hadn’t known of this anagram pair before.
  • 50a. [STREAM], MIXMASTER. I think that’s a brand of blender?
  • 62a. [LYDIA], DAILY JUMBLE. Particularly apt, given that the Daily Jumble puzzle requires unscrambling of letters to form words. Slightly less elegant that Lydia is a proper name rather than a common word.

In the fill, I’m partial to SMIDGE, MINION, “NO, WAIT,” and DOGGY BAG. Less thrilled with ORU LESSEE RRR FOTO.

the fabulous Janelle Monáe

Three more things:

  • 7d. [___ Brickowski, protagonist of “The Lego Movie”], EMMET. The Lego Movie 2 is coming out in February, people.
  • 47a. [Device for spraying paint], AIR GUN. Not a usage I knew.
  • 13d. [Dressy rental], TUXEDO. I appreciate the lack of gender in the clue.

4.25 stars for the theme, 3.5-ish for the fill. Here are Tegan & Sara to play us out.


Alex Bajcz’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Queueing Up”—Laura’s review

WSJ - 8.15.18 - Solution

WSJ – 8.15.18 – Solution

Phrases with a K or a hard C get Qs, resulting in theme entries that are HUMOROUS.

  • [17a: Contents of city park sandboxes?]: MUNICIPAL QUARTZ municipal courts
  • [28a: Exchange of feathers?]: QUILL SWITCH kill switch
  • [46a: Henhouse jitters?]: LAYER QUAKES layer cakes
  • [56a: Parts of a skit show about fussbudgets?]: QUIBBLES AND BITS Kibbles and Bits (it’s a brand of dog food)

A classic theme-type, substituting one consonant sound for another, well executed without UNDUE STRESS. The Qs in the down entries are common enough — QUICHE, EQUIPS, AQUA, and QUINOA (for a moment I tried to entire QUORN) and don’t LUMBER through the grid.

I’M LIKE, how soon can we talk about the fill? How soon until we can talk about The [5d: Band fronted by Morrissey {and let’s not forget Johnny Marr}]: SMITHS? How soon is now? It’s difficult to overestimate how important they were to a midwestern nerdgirl weirdo way back in the 1980s, with their unthreatening tortured yet gentle poetic masculinity. There’s an amazing Tumblr called This Charming Charlie, which substitutes Smiths lyrics for the word balloons in old Peanuts cartoons. The Tumblrista was sent several cease-and-desist letters by Universal (which holds the copyright to the Smiths’ lyrics), but her lawyer made an excellent fair use argument and Universal dropped the suit.

Laura Braunstein’s AVCX, “Eminent Domains” — Ben’s Review

It’s our own Laura Braunstein’s first AVCX puzzle as a regular contributor over there, and “Eminent Domains” is possibly the most I’ve smiled at a puzzle theme in a while.  This one’s charming as heck, y’all – go solve it.

Admittedly, my work as a person who does internet stuff made me well suited to make quick work of this theme, which felt easier than its 3.5/5 difficulty rating:

  • 18A: URL for a group that wishes to outlaw certain choral voices in Amman? — TENORBAN.JO
  • 24A: URL for a slow-cooked noodle soup restaurant in Polynesia’s only constitutional monarchy?– ONEHOURPHO.TO
  • 38A: URL for a brew-your-own fruit drink shop in Tirana? — LETSMAKEADE.AL
  • 51A: URL for a queer sports club in Nairobi? — EXERCISEBI.KE
  • 60A: URL for custom blue hedgehog costumes in Bangkok? — SONICYOU.TH

UGH, this is so good.  The fun part about domain name extensions is that if you’re wordplay-minded (so: me), you can find fun ways to play with their conventions (say, buying the domain if you’re, uh, good at finding shiny pieces of the internet and putting them all in one place, like me).  I can’t guarantee the contents of the actual pages (if any) of the URLs in today’s puzzle, but dang these are some good internet domain extension-based answers.

In other internet news, I recently taught a computer how to write Eurovision song titles.

Let’s chat about some of the other fill:

  • TIL Taylor KITSCH (of Friday Night Lights fame) spells his last name the same way as the word that’s used to describe velvet Elvis paintings.  Learning!
  • MGMT is more than just the band that did “Electric Feel” (even if that still is their biggest hit.  Their second album, Congratulations, was totally underrated, and their new one, Little Dark Age, is pretty banging as well.
  • My brain has somehow stored KUBOTA somewhere and it came in handy today.  They make tractors!
  • “Oversized novelty appendage” made me think of those Groucho Marx glasses initially, but since that doesn’t neatly fit in the grid, FOAM FINGER makes waaaaaay more sense.
  • AKIMBO is such a lovely word.

4.5/5 stars.

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

LA Times

If you solved the NY Times first, you will likely be experiencing deja vu. Ms. Kathy Wienberg’s name appears in both bylines, though in this puzzle she has teamed up with her husband (?) Roger. TIREROTATION – does anybody really do that? I know we should, but isn’t it one of those things like flossing that everyone knows we should do but no-one actually does? Like a couple of other puzzles this year, it involves revolving through different sequences of a tetragram. The other answers are WIRETRANSFER, and the spanning pair of PROPERETIQUETTE and ROMAINDETIRTOFF. I had no idea about that factoid, and indeed my final square was AL_A/RO_AIN. I guessed correctly, but the B seemed at least as plausible. It is definitely a fun name to say!

What made me pause: [In fun] for FACETIOUSLY; the latter feels more snarky than fun… [Rust and lime], OXIDES – a simple clue, but one I enjoyed.

3.5 Stars

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9 Responses to Wednesday, August 15, 2018

  1. JohnH says:

    I got beaten by the bottom of the WSJ, and to me it’s unwelcome knowledge again. I didn’t recognize the dog food, Janet and TITO, the NBA coach, or the Star Wars trivia.

  2. Papa John says:

    Re NYT: Cancer is a no-no entry but BIPOLAR-DISORDER gets center stage.How does that work?

    • Bob says:

      Will accepted CANCER in Fred Piscop’s January 2003 “Auld Lang Signs” bonus puzzle. Clued as [Sign also known as the Crab]. But that’s the only instance of CANCER in an NYT crossword since Will has been at the helm.

  3. Margaret says:

    Natick for me in the LAT at the crossing of Michigan city or college and Erte’s real name. I guessed the M correctly but it could have been any number of letters as far as I knew. I also laughed at the term OIL PAINT, which made me think of green paint of course!

  4. LauraB says:

    I recognize only one MIXMASTER and his name is MIKE

  5. Bob says:

    In Laura’s AV puzzle, at 24A, ONEHOURPHOTO is clued as [URL for a slow-cooked noodle soup restaurant in Polynesia’s only constitutional monarchy?] But besides Tonga, there’s also Tuvalu.

    That’s according to and “List of current constitutional monarchies” at .

  6. Sheik Yerbouti says:

    I was a bit surprised to see both OILER and REOIL in AVCX. Was that intentional? An enjoyable puzzle nevertheless.

  7. Brenda says:

    Municipal Quartz made me laugh out loud. It’s always fun to C the letter Q in a Xword & Alex nailed it on all clues.

Comments are closed.