Wednesday, December 19, 2018

AV Club 8:54 (Ben) 


LAT 4:50 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:05 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P.) 


Alex Eaton-Salners’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Ladies First” — Jim P’s review

We have a re-parsing theme today in which words starting with the letter string MISS- have those letters separated from the remaining portion of the words in order to form an unusual nickname.

WSJ – Wed, 12.19.18 – “Ladies First” by Alex Eaton-Salners

  • 16a [She might deliver a jab] MISS POKE. Good nickname for a phlebotomist…or someone who likes to annoy other people on Facebook.
  • 25a [She has her pluses and minuses] MISS IONS. This is the only entry whose base word is not formed with the prefix MIS-. Clever clue that took some thinking to put it all together.
  • 37a [She’s just waiting around] MISS PENDING. I was going to ding this one for resorting to the gerund form, but it actually makes more sense that way than if it was just MISS PEND.
  • 49a [She loves pastries] MISS TART. I’m not keen on this one because I can’t think of anyone ever using the word MISSTART.
  • 60a [She likes hides] MISS PELT. She must be British, because otherwise she would be MISS PELLED.

Cute theme that’s not hard to suss out and mostly works, minus the couple little nits I mentioned above. I generally like re-parsing themes, and this one works well.

There are loads of long Downs today, some more interesting than others: SNO-CONES, MASSACRE (thankfully getting a game-related clue [Beat 72-3, say]), GRIMACE, OIL SPOT, FISHNET, DWELLS ON, SUPPORT, SOCIETY, RADIOING. Plus fun shorter stuff: LYNXES, TATTOO, CORFU, CABALA, SLEUTH, PEE-WEE, AX HEAD, SCRIMP.

Some of the shorter stuff is stale (OSS, INS, ONO, TET, etc.) but that’s to be expected. I needed all the crossings for LILA [Kedrova of “Zorba the Greek”], but as that is one of my all-time favorite books, I don’t begrudge the puzzle.

Clues of note:

  • 7a [Pool cry]. MARCO. The corresponding cry being “Polo!” of course.
  • 18a [Page turner]. READER. A literal interpretation of the phrase. Shouldn’t it have a question mark?
  • 6d [Shaved treats]. SNO-CONES. For some reason, I went with SLURPEES first, and it fit.
  • 27d [Retiring]. SHY. I’m still not sure I see how these two are synonymous.

Solid puzzle with a cute theme and strong fill. 3.7 stars.

Seth Abel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 19 18, no 1219

The name of the game is ANAGRAM, like 38a. [Each asterisked clue vis-à-vis its answer].

  • 20a. [*Acts phony] anagrams to SYCOPHANT, and a sycophant may act phony. (This violates the standard crossword rule whereby the clue and answer are the same part of speech.)
  • 52a. [*Hint: hotel], THE HILTON.
  • 11d. [*A trails nut], NATURALIST.
  • 28d. [*Bag manager], GARBAGEMAN.

Cute. I like anagrams. Those tend to be the easier parts of cryptic crosswords for me.

Fave fill here: PODCAST (even though podcasts are of little use to me—”pivot to video” without captioning, podcasts without transcripts … these piss me off), SCOOB as Scooby-Doo’s nickname. I would like “SPREAD ‘EM” if we had equitable policing in this country, but we don’t.

Not loving crosswordese OENO-, unfamiliar-at-least-in-this-country ALETAP.

Just one more thing:

  • 38d. [One of seven for New York City], AREA CODE. Dang! That’s a lot of area codes. Chicago has three, one of which is the overlay area code 872 that I don’t think I’ve ever encountered. I wish the nearby TEN hadn’t been clued 63a. [Start of many CB radio codes], because the 8-letter AREA CODE made me acutely aware that “code” was already in the puzzle. I know Will and his team don’t care about such overlaps. Many of us do.

3.25 stars from me.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Today we have a synonym puzzle, with five words in longer phrases meaning, broadly, lowland. The answers are often used in that sense in the puzzle, which is not ideal, though there aren’t too many other angles for DELL (the computer?) and VALLEY. The puzzle theme felt like it started off ok, but there weren’t enough valid answers, so it became whatever fitted. DOTHEHULLYGULLY seems to be a song from a minor dance craze circa 1960; I’ve dimly heard of the dance, but the song didn’t even make the billboard charts that I can see. Um. GORGEONESELF is also something that one might do, but especially with ONESELF, sounds rather forced.

[“That’s precious!”, ITSAGEM] – also just seems a made-up thing someone might theoretically say. Also looked skeef at USNACADET and REDLIPS, which left the same, “not really a phrase” flavour in my mouth.


Rebecca Falcon’s AVCX, “Color Me Surprised” — Ben’s Review

Bear with me on my grid for this one – the revealer promised circled letters, but my .PUZ file had none to be found.  Let’s take a look at what Rebecca Falcon’s cooked up in her guest AVCX:

  • 18A:Gemstone with asterism that gives its name to many a DC villain — STAR SAPPHIRE
  • 42A:Top-10 Village People single of 1979 — IN THE NAVY
  • 48A:Spirits, from the Latin — AQUA VITAE
  • 76A:How this puzzle’s circled surprises come — OUT OF THE BLUE

In the PDF grid, 19D, 44D, and 48D are shaded — these are (SURPRISE) PARTY, (SURPRISE) NEWS, and (SURPRISE) ATTACK, all of which cross various shades of BLUE going accross – SAPPHIRE, NAVY, and AQUA.  Nicely done!

Have you seen the movie Can’t Stop The Music? It’s the story of how the Village People happened, while the Village People were in their prime, and it is terrible. It does not feature “IN THE NAVY“, but it does feature this.

4.25/5 stars.

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11 Responses to Wednesday, December 19, 2018

  1. NMG says:

    From online dictionary
    shy and fond of being on one’s own.

    • Lemonade714 says:

      Jim must be too young to remember when young ladies were often called “retiring.”

      Again I am amazed at the negativity from the audience with 2 “1” classifications already for the NYT and WSJ. If it is that bad, why not come and explain why that is your opinion. Of course, you may not believe your score is nothing more than opinion as there is nothing absolute in the crossword world. While there may be some implied ‘rules’ as Amy often points out, none of the major editors seem caught up in them, even if that disappoints her.

      • Noam D. Elkies says:

        At least it’s been a while since I’ve seen mention of the ‘rule’ against 6+ letter partials.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I don’t think I’ve said “none of the major editors”—just Will and his assistants at the NYT. That’s one venue.

  2. Noam D. Elkies says:

    So the NYT has gone from “scumbag” to “shtup” to “WTF” (in the 29A:PODCAST clue, where countless other alternative cluing routes were available). According to Wikipedia, at least, that “WTF” has its usual NSFW meaning (and not, say, Wed/Thurs/Fri [h/t BEQ]). What the . . . . ?


  3. David L says:

    ALE TAP is unfamiliar in any country, if Google is to be believed

  4. Huda says:

    A propos of nothing, it’s sad when really apt words are not acceptable by the Spelling Bee, and ridiculous ones (in my view) are included that prevent you from achieving a perfect score.

    Today, the two words that were rejected are THIOL and OTOLITH… I don’t understand why they’re not OK?

    • Karen says:

      I share your reaction, Huda. In the last week or so, I tried PRIAPIC and IRIDIC. Both words listed in Merriam Webster, both rejected by Spelling Bee. I’m wondering what source they use.

  5. David Roll says:

    WSJ–I was disappointed that there were so many clues that referred to females and so few to males!

  6. BarbaraK says:

    In WSJ, my favorite clue was “Counter examples?” for ABACI.

  7. Zulema says:

    One day late, as usual, but this is the second time in I believe a week or so that a clue for PARR referred to a “Catherine who married Henry VIII.” Poor Catherine Howard who also married Henry VIII before PARR and lost her head for doing so, doesn’t rate, I guess. She has been completely forgotten by the puzzle constructors and editors. She was his fifth wife.

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