Wednesday, March 20, 2019

AV Club 6:52 (Ben) 


LAT 3:55 (GRAB) 


NYT untimed (pannonica) 


WSJ 6:09 (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (Vic) 


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

NYT • Thu • Agard, Chung, Ni • 3/20/19 • 032019 • solution

Sequential theme, explained via the revealer at 56-across: [Liquid evidenced by the answers to this puzzle’s starred clues?] DISAPPEARING INK. Those are:

  • 16a [*Insomniac’s complaint] I CAN’T SLEEP A WINK.
  • 23a. [*Leaving dirty dishes on the counter, say] KITCHEN SIN.
  • 36a. [*Sexy detective] HOT PI.
  • 46a. [*Works like an anti-aging serum] MAKES YOUTH.

So. The letters I-N-K vanish from original phrases one at a time, beginning at the last. That is, presuming the words were written left-to-right, the NEWER (41a) letters wink out first: 16a is unchanged, 23a lacks a K, 36a sheds NK, and in 46a INK disappears completely. (kitchen sink, hot pink, makes you think)

Two immediate observations: First, despite being explicitly part of the theme, it seems that by convention the wackified clues should bear question marks. Second, the final affected entry requires a respacing of the letters—the orphaned TH- appended to the preceding YOU—which is more than a simple ‘disappearance’. However! Since the PI—private investigator—of the preceding themer is actually an abbreviation (P.I.) that can similarly be seen as an aberration from the original even though it’s ‘one word’, it now looks like a kind of sequence: full word, initials, appended bigram.

Despite these points of arguable weirdness, I certainly like the clever conceit of the theme.


  • 1d [Group making a reservation?] TRIBE>sucks teeth<
  • 27a [ __ cava] VENA, 62a [Part of N.B.] (nota) BENE.
  • 38a [Bay __ ] AREA, 49a [West Coaster’s summer hrs.] PDT, 63a [First word of many California city names] SAN.
  • 5d [Contents of jewel cases, for short] CDS, 53a [Certain library loan] DVD.
  • Long downs are: 8d [1931 boxing movie for which Wallace Beery won a Best Actor Oscar] THE CHAMP, 10d [“Yeah, whatever”] AS IF I CARE, 32d [Alliterative ice cream flavor] RUM RAISIN, 37d [“As you wish,” to a spouse] OKAY, DEAR.
  • 31a [Part of a Swiss roll?] FRANC. No euros there.
  • 11d & 12d [… actress Joan whose last name consists of two different conveyances] VAN | ARK. Nifty observation.
  • 31d [Grounds for discussion?] FORUM. No kaffeeklatsch here.

Fun crossword,

Gary Cee’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Unmentionables” — Jim P’s review

SO AND SO is the central revealer clued as [Name better left unsaid, or a literal hint to what the starred answers contain]. Each starred answer is a two-word name or phrase where each part contains the bigram SO.

WSJ – Wed., 3.20.19 – “Unmentionables” by Gary Cee

  • 16a [*Friday friend] ROBINSON CRUSOE
  • 27a [*Time for balls and banquets] SOCIAL SEASON
  • 44a [*Setting for a 1968 Johnny Cash show] FOLSOM PRISON
  • 57a [*First Hispanic Supreme Court justice] SONIA SOTOMAYOR

Cute. And it works. It would have been slightly more elegant if each theme answer was a person’s name, but that may not have been possible, and I still think this works fine.

My favorite non-theme entry has gotta be “BE COOL!” [“Take it down a notch!”]. Reminds me of the current iteration of the Scooby-Doo gang Be Cool, Scooby-Doo which I watch occasionally with my 10-year-old. The characters are quirky, especially Daphne, and the show is genuinely funny, even for adults (at least this one, anyway).

ECO-RESORT feels a bit made-up, but who doesn’t like LOLLIPOPS? ESTONIA gets some of the limelight as well.

Toughest clue has to go to [All purpose?] for LAUNDRY. I kept returning to it again and again during the solve, but I needed most of the crossings before the light bulb turned on. Well done.

Not much else to say; everything else proceeded in a smooth, standard fashion. I’ll give it 3.5 stars.

Peter Gordon’s Universal Crossword, “Major Thoroughfares”—Judge Vic’s write-up

Peter Gordon’s Universal Crossword, 3/20/19 solution

A seasoned veteran of constructing, editing and publishing crosswords presents an unusually fun theme with sparkling fill. As expected, of course:

  • 17a [24 ___ Plaza (Giants’ stadium address)] WILLIE MAYS–Mays, the “Say Hey Kid,” spent most of his MLB career with the Giants, first in New York. then in San Francisco. He lost a couple seasons to military service in the early ’50s and spent his last season with the Mets. Anyway, I’m guessing the theme is famous athletes who played at arenas located at the addresses in the clues. Maybe even just baseball players.
  • 36a [19 ___ Drive (Padres’ stadium address)] TONY GWYNN–Gwynn, “Mr. Padre,” spent all 20 seasons of his career in San Diego. So, my theme guess is holding up.
  • 61a [100 ___ Way (Reds’ stadium address)] JOE NUXHALL–Joe is not as well-known as the first two. But a street in Cincinnati is named for this pitcher, who played in an MLB game when he was only 15–late in the 1944 season, before going to the minors. In a 1952-1966 MLB career, he was with the Reds for all but two seasons, then was a Cincy-based broadcaster for 37 years. So, my theme theory stays solid … but it won’t hold.
  • 13d [2000 ___ Way (Angels’ stadium address)] GENE AUTRY–No baseball player, singing cowboy Gene Autry owned the Angels for some 37 years. So, we modify our guess to baseball dignitaries associated with the addresses in question. Knowing Peter, I’d say if one of his theme answers differs from three others, then the fifth will differ also, to balance things out. And sure enough …
  • 31d [1000 ___ Avenue (Dodgers’ stadium address)] VIN SCULLY–Another non-player, broadcaster Scully called games for the Dodgers for 67 years! He retired at age 88 in 2016.

As for the rest of the fill, we have lots of good stuff. Including ILSA’s SKIN CARE, A.L. WEST, FLAT CAR, GOT A JOB, CASE OUT, and AREA MAP. And non-ILSA good fill PYRAMUS, RAIMENT, ONCE-LER, DAYTONA, and ABALONE. No crud at all. Great clues!

4.2 stars.

Paolo Pasco’s AVCX, “Bodies of Work” — Ben’s Review

Paolo Pasco has this week’s supersized AVCX, with a 17×17 grid that hit its 2.5 difficulty rating right on the nose for me

The theme here brought me back to when I DJED in college, for reasons I’ll explain after I cover the theme answers:

  • 17A: 1934 song covered by Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, and the Supremes, among others — BLUE MOON
  • 28A/48A: [F]olk rock song with an iconic 1964 version by the Animals — HOUSE OF THE / RISING SUN
  • 60A: 1971 David Bowie song that Pitchfork named “the best song of the 1970s” — LIFE ON MARS
  • 11D/54D: 2001 Train song that won the band their first Grammy — DROPS OF / JUPITER
  • 75A: 1996 family movie with an upcoming sequel … or a description of any of the songs featured in this puzzle? — SPACE JAM

So, in college I had a radio show with my roommate, and one episode, we tried to represent the solar system in songs, and though it took some work finding songs or artists with each of the planets in their names, we did it.  This was a speedy but pleasureable solve for me


Since this was a pretty simple theme, the rest of the construction here was super clean – I liked the one-two pairing of clues at 6D and 7D a lot — “This homemade puppet show SUCKS” for BOO followed by “Throw out, like homemade puppets after someone mocks your show :'(” for JUNK told a nice little story.  Take that, Hemingway!

Other fill I liked: GONERIL, SEXTON, GEODE (as “Glam rock?”), PD JAMES (whose “Death Comes to Pemberley” is still sitting in my to-read pile…), OUTFOXES, MEET CUTE, OBAMA ERA, and PISS OFF

4.5/5 stars.

Mark McClain’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Today’s LA Times theme features three answers with a homophonic set: PEAK, PIQUE, and PEEK plus another iteration embedded in the word PEKINGESE. Somewhat inelegant when one theme answer is unlike the others, but there are no phrases with the short form, PEKE, that seem usable, and racer CHARLESPIC’s career never really reached the required for heights for crossword-dom.

The compact grid design and the type of theme fit more with an early week puzzle – Wednesday in the LA Times can sometimes seem awfully like Monday! One clue did puzzle me, but I think that was idiosyncratic: [Pass along, with dubious etiquette], REGIFT – I assumed it was referring to table manners on first reading.

[“A tradition __ any other”: trademarked catchphrase for The Masters, UNLIKE] – your yearly reminder that said tradition includes layers of sexism, racism, and sundry bigotry.

3,25 Stars

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9 Responses to Wednesday, March 20, 2019

  1. Marty D says:


  2. Ethan says:

    I’m assuming that the NYT editing team went with asterisks instead of question marks because 16A is a straight non-wordplay phrase.

  3. Scott says:

    I liked the NYT. It felt like a new idea to me.

  4. Norm says:

    I was prepared to like the AC Club puzzle, but the clue for 28D is reprehensible. Contrast that with 37D and I’m shaking my head at what I can only chalk up to Paolo’s youth and immaturity, and I think Ben Tausig should be ashamed of himself. Good God, it’s not as though 28D could not be clued in a different way.

  5. Gareth says:

    It always looks / sounds weird when Americans talk about RUMRAISIN without an “and” in the middle…

  6. jj says:

    NYT was a mess. Either go wacky with all or go straightforward. 3/1 is inelegant and confusing. Rough fill as well.

  7. Robert Joseph Foley says:

    Why not publish the actual puzzles (without the answers). Reading answers is
    a waste of time, like having someone do the puzzle for you.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      (a) Publishing the puzzles here would be a flagrant violation of copyright, and (b) most people come here AFTER they’ve done the puzzle. Some like to check their answers against the correct solution. Some like to get clarification about a particular clue. Some want an explanation of a perplexing theme. Some want to complain about the puzzle. Pretty sure nobody is coming here with a blank puzzle in hand and copying all our answers.

Comments are closed.