Sunday, June 23, 2019

LAT tk (Jenni) 


NYT 10:34 (Amy) 


WaPo 11:45 (Jim Q) 


Universal 7:37 (Vic) 


Universal (Sunday) untimed (Jim Q) 


Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Model Citizens” – Jim Q’s writeup

Car models and crosswords. A match made in heaven.

THEME: Common phrases that contain a car model reimagined as if the car belongs to a celebrity.


  • 23A [Honda driven by Jackie Chan?] STUNT PILOT.

    WaPo crossword solution * 6 23 19 * “Model Citizens” * Birnholz

  • 25A [Kia driven by Marilyn Horne?] MEZZO FORTE.
  • 35A [Dodge driven by Alexander Graham Bell?] PHONE CHARGER.
  • 58A [Volkswagen driven by Jacques Cousteau?] WATER BEETLE.
  • 66A [Hyundai driven by Vladimir Horowitz?] PIANO SONATA. 
  • 76A [Nissan driven by Edwin Hubble?] GALAXY QUEST. 
  • 97A [Mitsubishi driven by Neil Armstrong?] LUNAR ECLIPSE. 
  • 112A [Acura driven by Joan Baez?] FOLK LEGEND.
  • 114A [Ford driven by Ella Fitzgerald?] JAZZ FUSION.

After last week’s (very) impressive meta, I was expecting something light and over-the-plate in the cycle. And that’s what this is: a fun, mostly easy puzzle with wordplay on car models.

Clued for his mullet, not his car. Click here for more mullet fun.

The theme works best if you don’t overthink it. If you do, the connection between the person in the clue and the answer might leave you somewhat confused as they aren’t entirely consistent throughout. For instance, Joan Baez is a FOLK LEGEND. But Graham Bell isn’t a PHONE CHARGER. He is associated with the phone, of course. But LUNAR, being an adjective, throws off that line of thinking for Armstrong. Hubble feels associated with the whole answer as he was on a GALAXY QUEST of sorts, and Horowitz has certainly played PIANO SONATAs, but I doubt Cousteau had much interaction with WATER BEETLEs, though he was certainly interested in WATER.

And there ya’ go. I just overthought it. Tsk tsk. It’s not the kind of puzzle that deserves those kinds of analytics. Evan’s predecessor, Merl Reagle, never cared about that level of cohesion either.

Mostly standard fill- lighter on the puns than usual imo- but still some good stuff like:

  • 56A [What you’ll see when you look in the mirror] GLASS. It might be a week after Father’s Day, but it’s never too late to enjoy a good dad joke.
  • 8D [Something dropped during a prank] TROU. Student at my school recently pulled a good ol’ fashioned mooning prank in grand fashion. I didn’t know people did that anymore. I sort of admired the retro audacity.
  • 17D [One drawing lots?] ARTIST. As in the ARTIST draws “a lot.”
  • 24D [“I must be off!”] TIME TO GO. I like that entry. It has a sing-song quality to it.
  • 60D [“Obama, Clinton, ___ Join Forces to Form Nightmare Ticket” (May 2008 headline in the Onion)] MCCAIN. I think every crossword should have a fill-in-the-blank headline from the Onion.
  • 61D [___ ball (toy made of rubber filaments)] KOOSH. Remember those?!

I must be off in my Jeep Patriot… hmmm… [Jeep driven by Samuel Adams?] NEW ENGLAND PATRIOT. That works, right?


  • 40D [Large enemy in “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion”] OGRE. 

Samuel A. Donaldson & Doug Peterson’s Universal Crossword, “Doing the Splits”—Judge Vic’s write-up

Samuel A. Donaldson and Doug Peterson’s Universal Crossword, “Doing the Splits”–6/23/19, solution

Hmm. We have here a couple of consummate pros, who happen also to be friends of mine, whom I met through ACPT 10 or more years ago. And, with this puzzle they do not disappoint. Starting with the clever title, which portends a repeating word in the theme clues, one of my favorite gimmicks:

  • 17a [Split ends?] BOWLING PINS
  • 24a [Split level?] HOT FUDGE SAUCE
  • 38a [Split personality?] DIVORCE ATTORNEY
  • 49a [Split decision?] STOCK DIVIDEND
  • 59a [Split rail?] BALANCE BEAM

Other good ILSAs include MAGIC WAND and EVIL TWINS, but the fill is excellent throughout and the clues entertaining.

4 stars.

David Liben-Nowell & Victor Barocas’s New York Times crossword, “Take Two”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 6 23 19, “Take Two”

Hey, it’s my Minnesota homeboys, the professors, with a nifty theme I don’t think we’ve seen before. There are eight sets of identical twin entries in the grid, with the first one being clued normally and the second one’s clue leading to a phrase in which second precedes the word in the grid, and the answer doesn’t match the clue unless you mentally insert second.

  • 17a. [Bridge component], HAND (as in the card game bridge) / 19a. [Previously owned], secondHAND.
  • 25a. [One of three properties in Monopoly], PLACE / 26a. [Silver], second PLACE.
  • 31a. [E, B, G, D, A or E], STRING on a guitar / 32a. [B-team], second STRING.
  • 53a. [Being], PERSON/ 55a. [What you will always be (but he or she isn’t)?], second PERSON, grammatically.
  • 76a. [Fruit that, surprisingly, is slightly radioactive], BANANA (wait, what??) / 79a. [Supporting role], second BANANA.
  • 98a. [“All ___ is but art, unknown to thee”: Alexander Pope], NATURE / 101a. [Deeply ingrained habit], second NATURE.
  • 109a. [Impressive stylishness], CLASS / 110a. [Not having full rights, as a citizen], second-CLASS. The U.S. Constitution doesn’t allow for second-class citizens, and yet we have had such for a long time.
  • 115a. [Politician’s core support], BASE / 116a. [It’s halfway around a diamond], second BASE.

If you’re going to repeat a noticeable word in the grid, it had better be in the service of a theme. Smoothly executed theme here.

Ten more things:

  • 114a. [Carpenter of note], KAREN. How many of you sprang for JESUS here?
  • 10d. [Confederate general with a fort named after him], BRAGG. Whoa. Indeed, there are 10 Army bases named after Confederates.
  • 2d. [“That happened?”], “HAS IT?” This doesn’t make sense to me. How does one of these phrases substitute for the other?
  • 11d. [Item carried in an academic procession], MACE. See? Professors Barocas and Liben-Nowell know these things.
  • 50d. [The two sides in chess, essentially], ARMIES. What army is complete without a bishop, after all?
  • 65d. [What cibophobia is the fear of], EATING. Needed the crossings to piece this one together. Wow, that must be the worst phobia to have.
  • 107a. [Geniuses, informally], SMARTIES. Raise your hand if you love American Smarties candy, the rolls of compressed sugar/calcium stearate candies, and not the foreign Smarties that are off-brand M&Ms.
  • 78d. [New brother or sister], NOVITIATE. Catholic orders sort of thing, not a newborn sibling.
  • 44d. [Drug treatment for Muhammad Ali], L-DOPA. You’re thinking about Ali’s rope-a-dope maneuver now, aren’t you? Rope-L-DOPA.
  • 38d. [Objects spinning in an orrery], PLANETSOrrery is a word I learned from a themeless NYT puzzle. Here’s a video of a guy building an orrery in his shop.

The fill was decent, with SLIDE GUITAR, Don GIOVANNI, HEDGEHOG, and SAY HELLO bringing some zip to the venture. A few clunkers like STEN were in the mix, but overall it wasn’t a grievous slog to work through the 21x grid so I’ll call it a win. Four stars from me.

Mary Lou Guizzo’s Universal Crossword, “Fitting Alterations”—Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: Apt anagrams



    Universal crossword solution * 6/23/19 *Fitting Alterations* Guizzo


If you like these, here’s a list of some more.

I found that after googling “a stew sir” in quotes, which of course no waitress has ever said before. Also, am I the only one who hears a distinct Cockney accent when reading “A stew, sir?” I’ve worked in restaurants for well over 20 years now. I think I’m going to make it my goal to say that phrase at some point. With the Cockney.

This was tough to enjoy at times, mainly because of the cross referencing and trying to figure out what letters I hadn’t used. LIES! LET’S RECOUNT! is fun after it’s parsed, but when you’re reading it as LIE?LETS and trying to figure out the question mark… yikes. SHALL YET COME was another that was baffling for me.

Pretty cool to see JIM ACOSTA in there (though I’ve been calling him Lacosta I think. Whoops). Especially symmetrical to LOCAL NEWS. Too bad those aren’t anagrams of one another.

2.5 stars


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10 Responses to Sunday, June 23, 2019

  1. Norm says:

    Universal: Maybe I’m just fuzzy this morning, but I do not get STOCK DIVIDEND [a stock split is not usually a dividend but a decision for other purposes] and BALANCE BEAM [don’t even have a guess]. The other three were clever; can’t wrap my mind around the other two.

    • Paul Coulter says:

      I’m pretty sure split decision refers to what you’ve guessed. I’d agree it’s the least apt of the bunch. Split rail refers to the balance beam, because gymnasts often do a split on it. Overall, I liked this theme. It was enjoyably different, and I rated it the best puzzle of the day.

      • DW says:

        Paul: Thank you! I was dense about “split rail,” and understanding it ups my enjoyment of the puzzle. (I also enjoy your puzzles and your sense of humor.)

      • Norm says:

        Thanks from me also, Paul. I found NYT more entertaining today, but this one was very nice.

  2. Michael says:


    Don’t forget the ninth pair in the NYT puzzle: 62a. [Clip], RATE and 64A. [Low-quality], second RATE. Overall, I thought it was pretty straightforward and I liked having a theme without needing to rely on a revealer.

  3. Martin says:


    “The ‘unsinkable’ Titanic sank!”
    “Has it?”/ “That happened?”

    Most solvers know bananas have lots of good potassium. The new factoid is that about a hundredth of one percent of naturally occurring potassium is the radioactive isotope, potassium-40. So any food with lots of potassium is slightly reactive.

  4. Dr Fancypants says:

    Indeed, there are 10 Army bases named after Confederates.

    To reduce how irate I get about this fact, I prefer to think of that as the South’s “participation trophy”.

    • Christopher Smith says:

      Also I’ve done some reading on Gen Bragg & he may have been more responsible for the Union’s victory than a lot of Union generals. In fact, it almost seems like the south was being trolled by naming a fort after him. (This is not actually true, just fun to consider.)

    • DW says:

      Dr F: Laughing at that — very clever and very useful. Thank you.

  5. Joan Macon says:

    So where is the LAT? I spent a lot of time on it and actually finished it!

Comments are closed.