Thursday, June 20, 2019

BEQ 2:56 (Andy) 


LAT 5:36 (GRAB) 


NYT 9:36 (Ben) 


WSJ 6:29 (Jenni) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


Fireball 5:19 (Jenni) 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Mr. Wrong”—Jenni’s review

I’m filling in for Jim while he travels back to Guam and I sit at home with my slowly healing knee. I was surprised to see the time when I finished; it felt a lot longer than that. I didn’t suss the theme until the very end, and the NE corner was harder than it should have been. It was worth the struggle!

The title finally explained the theme to me. I thought it was word reversal or anagram; nope, it’s swapping M and R in the last word of each theme answer.

Wall Street Journal, June 20, 2019, Mike Shenk, “Mr. Wrong,” solution grid

  • 17a [Othello at the osteria?] is a DINING MOOR. Obviously a word reversal theme riffing on DINING ROOM. I mean, duh.
  • 25a [Making like the meteors that made the Cassini and Copernicus craters?] is BATTERING MARS. Um, wait. That comes from BATTERING RAMS and its not reversed. Well, RAM is reversed…maybe it’s anagrams?
  • 41a [Stroll around the IBM campus?] is a BIG BLUE RAMBLE (marble). OK, definitely anagrams. Big blue marble describes the appearance of Earth from space.
  • 55a [Rallying cry of the plebeians’ tax revolt?] is WHY PAY ROME? Then I looked at the title and finally realized what was going on. It’s more satisfying than a plain anagram theme.

A few other things:

  • 1a and 1d are both [Card table actions]. I dropped BIDS in for 1a before I saw 1d, and it turns out that one is BETS and BIDS is 1d.
  • 10d [Breastbones] are STERNA. Technically correct; in 30 years of medical practice, I’ve never heard the word. We don’t generally have a reason to talk about more than one sternum, since they don’t travel in pairs.
  • 31a [Passage preventers] are NOES. Meh.
  • I put MOI? in for 33d [Ingenuous utterance] but it’s really more of a disingenuous utterance. The correct answer is GEE.
  • 46a [Bev Bevan’s band] didn’t ring any bells, but a three-letter band is either REM or ELO until proven otherwise, and I already had the O.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: Bev Bevan. I also did not know that Ernie PYLE had a Purple Heart, or that MARIO is Luigi’s older brother.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Slanguage Arts”–Jenni’s write-up

This one is not blazingly hard and not particularly tricky, unless I missed something with the theme. Each theme entry is a well-known phrase with the first word morphed into modern slang.

Fireball puzzle, 6/21/2019, “Slanguage Arts,” Peter Gordon, solution grid

  • 16a [Dr. Ruth, when giving testimony?] would be a SEXPERT WITNESS (expert).
  • 27a [Work of fiction about a close male relationship] is a BROMANCE NOVEL (romance).
  • 42a [Pedal pusher of a competitive problem solver?] is a MATHLETE’S FOOT (athlete).
  • 52a [Teen boy who is irritable because he hasn’t eaten in a while?] is a HANGRY YOUNG MAN.

All the base phrases are solid, the slang is familiar to me, and the theme hangs together fine. It’s not particularly challenging or entertaining.

A few other things:

  • The NW corner stumped me briefly because I had difficulty with 2d [Modern art?]. It’s ARE. I also forgot (or perhaps didn’t know) that NOXZEMA made shaving cream and is therefore a Barbasol alternative.
  • 10d [Patriots quarterback before Tom Brady] was DREW BLEDSOE, who never tried to trademark someone else’s nickname (as far as I know).
  • 12d [It requires a good command of English] is MASSE, a pool term. The English in question is the spin you put on a ball.
  • 33d [Jam ingredients?] are AUTOS. Not sure why this clue has a question mark.
  • 61a [Gave a thumbs-up to] is OKD, which looks odd to me. I guess it’s really OK’D, but I’d prefer OKED. Maybe. That looks odd, too.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the cable channel Sleuth changed its name to CLOO in 2011.

Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review

NYT 6/20/2019 — no. 0620

I applaud Trenton Charlson for constructing a grid where every entry, per 53A, begins with a CONSONANT, but the grid feels a little like a constructing exercise that’s not as much fun to solve.  Since other than that, the grid is basically themeless, let’s talk about it like a themeless.

  • 1A being SMTWTFS (as in “Series seen on many a planner or pill container”) feels like it should have been disqualifying for this as a theme.  That is fourth-rate fill, and slightly incorrect at that – a lot of pill containers swap out an R (as in thuRsday) for that second T to cut down on confusion. No me gusta.
  • I did like the longer fill in this grid – PROTOZOAN, LITMUS TESTS, TEXAS BBQ (mmmm…”Seasoned smoked beef brisket or pork ribs, e.g.”?  Yes, please.), STOP-LOSS, and ST PAULI GIRL are all nice finds that gave this some character.
  • I didn’t love CHICA as a “Friend for un muchacho”.  Why not a CHICO?  There’s nothing specific to that particular clue.

Duran Duran, ft. Simon LEBON

This was just okay for me!  And that’s fine.  What did you think?

Peter A. Collins’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA TImes

Simple enough concept with the winter solstice (summer for most of you) coming up – CHANGEOFSEASONS. The four seasons (opting for autumn rather than that dull American-ese Fall) are scrambled across two or more words in four theme answers. They’re quite chunky, which explains the infelicities of plural PORTWINES and HUMATUNE.

[Groovier part of a 45?], SIDEA. I don’t quite get this. I get that records have grooves, and that groovy is 60’s slang for “cool” but what makes side a groovier?
[Decide that one will], ELECTTO; [Preoccupies a lot], EATSAT; [Reaches after getting away, as a safe haven], ESCAPESTO – quite a lot of real estate given to those blah trailing preposition phrases.
[Quarterly Nielsen ratings periods], SWEEPS. This isn’t in my ken.

3 Stars

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword, “You Suck'”—Andy’s review

BEQ #1168, “You Suck”

Late review this week, my apologies! We’ve got a hyper-current theme this week, playing on the 15-letter dangerous VACUUM CHALLENGE trend [Viral video trend that involves people wearing trash bags, and an alternate title for this puzzle]. Here, that’s interpreted as four phrases with the AIR removed (see 69a, [Thing sucked out during a 38-Across (and from the theme answers]):

  • 18a, WINE PINGS [Sonar sounds made while drunken?]. Wine pairings.
  • 23a, IN NEED OF REPS [Has to lift weights at the gym?]. In need of repairs.
  • 49a, FLY CERTAIN OF [Insect knows for sure?]. Fairly certain of.
  • 60a, KICK UP STS [Promote canonized folk with a boot in the rear?]. Kick upstairs.

A couple of those theme entries are pretty dang stretchy. Favorite non-theme entries were LES ASPIN, SWINE FLU, IL PAPA, and NCIS: LA.

Until next week!

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26 Responses to Thursday, June 20, 2019

  1. arthur118 says:

    Too many ratings in too short a time. An apparent carry over from a previous day, not 6/20/19 ratings for most puzzles.

    • huda says:

      Yes, I think this might be last Thursday’s

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Correct—I just fixed it. Unfortunately, it was an hour and 20 minutes after the NYT came out, so there may have been a number of new ratings that have now vanished.

  2. Lise says:

    NYT: Also, each clue began with a consonant.

    I liked seeing PROTOZOAN and LITMUS TEST in there, too. I’m not a NUTELLA fan, but it’s a smooth entry. And CONSONANT itself is an entry I don’t recall having seen before. This must have been a challenge to construct.

    • Mark Abe says:

      Although I personally like Texas BBQ more than Nutella, I loved how you called it a “smooth” entry.

  3. Jenni Levy says:

    I agree with Ben about the NYT. The theme created a challenge for the constructor but didn’t make it any more fun to solve, or figure out.

    • JohnH says:

      Me. too. Looking forward to Thursday as the only challenging themed puzzle, I felt really let down by one that’s for all intents and purposes unthemed. I also couldn’t decide between NFL and NFC crossing Duran Duran, and SSN in the plural felt unconvincing.

  4. pannonica says:

    Notable in NYT:


  5. Robert White says:

    Universal: Is this now the USA TODAY puzzle?

    • GlennG says:

      No, they are two different puzzles. However with David Steinberg becoming editor of Universal, they both became very alike in nature. Fred Piscop has edited the USA Today since Timothy Parker had his scandal, and privately solicits puzzles. Today’s puzzles for each

      Universal: “Support Group” by MaryEllen Uthlaut
      USA Today: “Crossing Words” by Martin Ashwood-Smith

      • Robert White says:

        Hmmmm….situation still seems to be unresolved….I managed to print out a copy of today’s USA TODAY puzzle, but the drop-down menu seems to be all Universal….

        • GlennG says:

          I do think it’s the same company that handles both properties though (Andrews McMeel Universal). It wouldn’t surprise me that similar software might be used.

      • M483 says:

        My USA Today puzzle is titled “Support Group” and is exactly the same as Todays Universal puzzle. What is going on?

  6. GlennG says:

    Agreed on the NYT: Constructor feats are very rarely good for the solver. Agreed as well with the Fireball: I found it quite the softball, as opposed to the WSJ (for some reason).

  7. Robert Kurzmann says:

    I have a problem with 43D in the WSJ crossword. You do not “reopen” a cold case. The definition of a cold case is: An unsolved criminal investigation which remains OPEN pending the discovery of new evidence.

  8. Michael says:

    I had a difference experience compared to a lot of the folks here. As a constructor, I appreciated the novel theme concept and the challenge Trenton faced putting the puzzle together. I also thought most of the fill was actually quite good save for a few unsightly abbreviations.

  9. Sanfranman59 says:

    LAT: It’s been awhile since I’ve concerned myself with such things, but is there such a thing as a “brief CV”? I thought the definition of curriculum vitae (CV) implied a more comprehensive document than a résumé. To my thinking, a “brief CV” *is* a résumé, not a SHORT FORM RESUME (17A). I don’t recall ever seeing that phrase. If I have, I probably just thought it means a “brief résumé”. Is this a newfangled term? Has the definition of CV (d)evolved? Please enlighten me.

    • DD says:

      I googled but just a little, so I can’t guarantee that this is accurate.

      An STR seems to be 1 page, vs the typical 2 pages for experienced job-seekers, and some seem to be formatted to highlight one’s skills rather than one’s list of jobs; it can be used “to minimize age discrimination” (because a young person might have had only one job, and an older person might have several) and “to successfully navigate the resume-filtering software (applicant tracking systems) that can keep your resume out of the hands of recruiters.”

      I don’t think it’s a well-known term — 86K hits.

    • Gareth says:

      In South Africa, we don’t use the word resumé at all (or very rarely). CV is the standard for any job application.

  10. Ellen Nichols says:

    Gareth, back when artists issued 2 songs (one on each side) on a 45 rpm disc, the label put the most likely hit on Side A, with the “lesser” release on Side B. Very rarely, they were wrong and Side B was considered “groovier” by the public.

  11. Carl says:

    Given the theme and it being a construction exercise, it could also have easily been a pangram. J K and Y were missing. 49-Across could have been JAL. 36-Across could have been KATT. And 19- Across could have been DEY.

    Go big or go home I say!

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