Wednesday, September 5, 2018

AV Club 13:09 (Ben) 


LAT 4:16 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:24, 1 error (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P.) 


Amanda Chung, Karl Ni & Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 5 18, no 0905

The theme is TEAM BUILDING, and six theme answers are the names of NFL teams, all clued as the combination of two unrelated words:

  • 9a. [“Whatever You Like” rapper + Gets some color at the beach], T.I. TANS. The Tennessee Titans.
  • 24a. [Frat dude + Cpls. and sgts.], BRO N.C.O.’S.
  • 26a. [Actor Lundgren + Elected officials], DOLPH INS.
  • 50a. [Butter square + Hilarious people], PAT RIOTS. Listen, if you’ve got some good butter comedy, I’m here for it.
  • 52a. [London’s Big ___ + Ladies], BEN GALS.
  • 66a. [U.S. soldier + Little scurriers], G.I. ANTS.

Half contain an abbreviation-ish word, half don’t (ergo, it’s balanced).

Hardest vocab in the grid: 61a. [Concerning both the moon and sun’s motions], LUNISOLAR / 58a. [Sentimentality], BATHOS. Dang it, I’d filled in PATHOS and didn’t bother to check the 58d crossing. PUG is just as much a word as BUG is. (You’ve got to check your crossings in a crossword tournament setting!)


Three more things:

  • 48d. [Operating system in the Linux family], UBUNTU. Gareth, can you believe this clue? I wonder if Amanda, Karl, and Erik had originally clued it via Desmond Tutu’s ubuntu theology.
  • 59d. [“Exodus” hero], ARI. Wow, I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve seen ARI clued via the Leon Uris character.
  • 1d. [“Twilight” werewolf], JACOB. Listen, I saw several minutes of one of the Twilight movies, and there was a meeting among a bunch of wolves, and they spoke English. That’s when I changed the channel.

Four stars from me.

Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Puzzle, Schmuzzle!” — Jim’s review

The title hints that the grid will be employing the linguistic construction known as “shm-reduplication.” But that’s not quite right. When it comes down to it, this is just an add-a-sound theme; it’s just that the sound that’s added forms the creation of words that come to us from the Yiddish language.

WSJ – Wed, 9.5.18 – “Puzzle, Schmuzzle!” by Jeff Chen

  • 17a [Buck’s comedy routine?DEER SCHTICK. Tick.
  • 27a [Sucker who appreciates good books?READING SCHNOOK. Nook.
  • 44a [Mushiness over not being married?SINGLE SCHMALTZ. Malt or possibly malts.  This one’s a bit of an outlier because of that Z tacked on at the end.
  • 60a [Junk in crosswords?GRID SCHLOCK. Lock. Possibly the best definition for junk fill that we’ll come across, so I hope it catches on. I’d bet this was the seed entry for the whole puzzle.

Fun and playful theme. It’s probably a good thing that Jeff didn’t use MUCKETY MUCK or ALL NIGHT LONG as base phrases.

I’m really digging ARCHIMEDES [Man with a screwy invention] in the fill, though it was hard for me to see since I had SIX at 59a [High roller’s roll] for quite a while. The clue of course refers to the Archimedes’ screw which is a large inclined screw for transferring water (or other material) from a lower level to a higher level.

ANTISOCIAL is the corresponding long Down which, weirdly, is clued as a noun [Not a company man?].  SUCH THAT, MEL TORME (who rarely makes an appearance with both names), MYRIADS, and CASTLES round out the most sparkly stuff.

Not keen on AGLARE, but that’s about it for GRID SCHLOCK.

Oooh, hey look, if you move the initial E from 38a EMANATE to the end, you get MANATEE. Fun!

Good puzzle, but I’ve got to go catch a plane. 3.6 stars from me.

Francis Heaney’s AVCX, “Jazz Fusion” — Ben’s Review

Today’s AVCX feels like a marvel of construction, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from a Francis Heaney puzzle for this venue.  It definitely earns its 4.5/5 on the difficulty scale, if only on the merits of utilizing a subject matter that I’m pretty sure isn’t in everyone’s wheelhouse.

Each of today’s theme answers is composed from the last names of multiple jazz musicians:

  • 25A: “After I play, everyone I’m talkin’ to should hightail it to the stage!” — ME THEN Y’ALL IS ON (METHENY/ALLISON)
  • 43A: “The captain in charge of our company is really ripping everyone a new one!” — CO REAMING US (COREA/MINGUS)
  • 61A: “If you invite the red planet’s biggest celebrities, I’m not coming!” — MARS A-LIST OR ME (MARSALIS/TORME)
  • 81A: “Greetings, ‘untouchable’ Eliot; hopefully my use of MDMA doesn’t bother you” — HI NESS, I’M ON E (HINES/SIMONE)
  • 96A: “Reverend, forgive me for riding around in cargo vehicles that are smaller than trucks but can still fit a couch” — PASTOR I USE VANS (PASTORIUS/EVANS)

What makes this more impressive, to me at least, is that the grid also includes the first names of all musicians used elsewhere in the grid.  This added an extra level of difficulty, since I could use the clues to determine what was going on in each theme entry, but didn’t know the full names of all of these jazz artists.  It’s all very impressive, and it’s a cherry on top that the rest of the cluing/fill mostly avoids staleness.

“Jazz Fusion” makes me think of Steely Dan, and Steely Dan makes me think of Donnie and Marie singing “Reelin’ in the Years”, so now you have to experience what my brain has cued up too.

5/5 stars.

Gary Schlaper & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I’m not a fan of this theme type. Dry definitions that you have to painfully piece together. In this case it’s five different verbs associated with sports (probably intended as relating to gridiron?) – BLOCK, CATCH, KICK, PASS and RUN.

I did enjoy the terse [Tiny Lab] PUP and [Forest ranger] ELK misdirections a lot. I mis-stepped with [Reason to purchase a new belt] putting WEIGHTloss first; some of us are more optimistic!

Although [Retired tennis pro Kournikova], ANNA is primarily remembered as a brief and overhyped singles player. Her doubles career, although equally brief, was more successful, with 2 doubles grand slam victories playing with Martina Hingis.

2.5 Stars

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19 Responses to Wednesday, September 5, 2018

  1. Ethan says:

    I had the same error as Amy. In fact, having read the entire Wikipedia entry for “bathos” I’m still not really sure how it fits the clue, whereas PATHOS seems like it would fit.

    • GLR says:

      Both Merriam-Webster and American Heritage offer a definition of BATHOS that boils down to “extreme pathos.” So I think BATHOS fits the clue, but pathos certainly would, too.

  2. David Steere says:

    AVCX: A charming and funny puzzle from Francis–although perhaps, once again, with too high a difficulty rating. I don’t much like jazz and don’t know many of the more obscure names but had little trouble filling out the grid with occasional pauses to laugh at the “fused” long answers. Thanks, Francis (and Ben).

    David Steere

    • Will says:

      As someone who is routinely stumped by movie trivia, it was nice to get a jazz theme that was right in my wheelhouse.

      • Francis says:

        I’ve been listening to a lot of Weather Report and George Duke this month, so you can thank them for the inspiration. (^_^)

        • paul coulter says:

          Yeah, right in my musical wheelhouse, too. And the way Francis has formed plausible sentences is brilliant. For me, this was easily the most enjoyable AVCX of the year. I marvel how Francis produces one great puzzle after another.

  3. David L says:

    Nice puzzle but I have a couple of objections: NTH is not the final term in a math series but a designation for the general term — as in, the nth term is n-squared. Second, I don’t think SARIS are worn only by Hindus; other Indians wear them and so do Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, on occasion (according to Wikipedia).

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I agree that the religious clue for SARI was weird. I have a Muslim friend (Bangladeshi) who wears saris for formal occasions, certainly.

  4. JohnH says:

    The inconsistency of the one spelling change among theme entries in the WSJ did throw me.

  5. Lise says:

    Hey, two Naticks today, in the same puzzle! This makes up for yesterday’s lack, which had interrupted my two-day Natick streak.

    I loved the AVCX, and as Ben said, could get the theme entries from the clues; I knew most of the artists but faltered at the crossing of PAT/KATT. Pat seemed the logical choice but I still wasn’t sure. Then I ran into the KAY/GREY crossing. I know Alex and Ani is a toy brand, but Kay? Googling it reveals that it is short for KB or KayBee Toys, of which I have been familiar, but which I had no idea still existed. So now I know. I am unfamiliar with the movie “Grey Gardens”. I will remember it next time!

    This is not meant as a serious complaint; it’s just a small part of a really nice, excellently-crafted puzzle. I like reparsing themes in general (in today’s NYT, too) (which I also liked a lot!), perhaps because I sometimes accidently reparse words or phrases myself, and the result can be funny.

    Kudos to Francis Heaney for a great puzzle. And thanks go to all of today’s constructors.

  6. Papa John says:

    RE: AVCX — I’m at a loss as to why a puzzle that has the inane phrases ME_THEN_Y’ALL_IS ON, CO_REAMING_US and PASTOR_I_USE_VANS rates five stars. Is there some arcane hip meaning behind these words that an old fogy like me doesn’t get? (That often happens in an AV puzzle.) Jumping around the grid is never a pleasure for me, even if it is a “marvel” of construction. Clues like 34D “I have nothing but respect for MINE #95 #abbr” seem like pure gibberish, to me.

    RE: NYT – With the exception of the BATHOS/”Sentimentality” entry, I thought it was an excellent Wednesday offering. The theme was new. The long down answers felt natural. The fill had just the right amount of challenge for a mid-week puzzle.

    • Penguins says:

      u gotta be a hepcat to appreciate the AVCX, maaaaaaaaaan

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Each of those phrases is made from two jazz artists’ surnames, and their first names (remember all those cross-referenced clues?) are in the grid. So METHENY ALLISON references Pat Metheny and Mose Allison, and you’ll find PAT and MOSE in the puzzle.

      • Papa John says:

        Amy, if you’re talking to me, I’m not sure why you wrote that. Of all the musicians mentioned in the themes, METHENY was the only one unfamiliar to me. When I was in high school I used to frequent a coffee shop called the Jazz Temple in Cleveland. I understood that the first names were also in the grid. That I was supposed to go back and forth to match names was one of my nits.

  7. David L says:

    I didn’t do the AVC crossword but that Donny and Marie video is spectacularly horrible!

    • Papa John says:

      Is that “spectacularly horrible” in general or spectacularly horrible for a Donny and Marie video? They seem to set the bar for spectacularly horrible.

    • Lise says:

      Ha ha ha *snort* That was really something. This, right here, is one reason I love these reviews.

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