Wednesday, July 3, 2019

LAT 3:56 (GRAB) 


NYT 3:20 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (Vic) 


AVCX 8:21 (Ben) 


Hal Moore’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “First Flag”—Jim P’s review

Anneyeonghaseyo, from Seoul! I’m coming at ya from Incheon Airport and I’m pretty wiped after my red-eye from Guam, so this will be brief.

Our Independence Day-themed puzzle has the THIRTEE(N C)OLONIES hidden around the grid represented by their two-letter postal code in rebus form.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · Hal Moore · “First Flag” · Wed., 7.3.19

In addition to North Carolina hidden above, we have:

  • Rhode Island in ON RICE/STRIVE
  • New York in CANYON/PONY UP
  • New Jersey in BON JOVI/UNION JOBS
  • Delaware in SUNDECK/RAIN DELAY
  • South Carolina in SCABS/BOSC
  • Virginia in LARVA/KAVA
  • Georgia in GALUMPH/UGANDAN
  • Connecticut in DIALECT/ACTRESS
  • New Hampshire in DON HO/BURNHAM
  • Maryland in I’M DUE/SLUMDOG
  • Massachusetts and Pennsylvania in MA AND PA / MUHAMMAD & UNDER PAR

I’ll admit to having a tough time with this. Maybe it’s partially to do with my current condition, and partly because I’m not used to using Across Lite and I could remember how to enter rebus entries, but my sense is that this was pretty tough. Entries like KAVA, ORAN, and multiple obscure (to me) proper names got me. And I bet the crossing of proper names BURNHAM and DON HO was tough for some as well.

But, I did like the theme and the challenging aspect of it. I just wish it was a little smoother.

I wish I could do this puzzle better justice, but I’m about to lose my wi-fi and I have to cut it short. Challenging puzzle but some thorny bits made it fairly difficult 3.4 stars.

Evan Mahnken’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 3 19, no, 0703

The theme in this 14×15 puzzle is 54a. [“Here’s hoping” … or a hint to 16-Across/10-Down and 37-Across/14-Down], FINGERS CROSSED, and the parts of those crossing long answers that are names of fingers intersect. “LET FREEDOM RING” makes you think it’s an early Independence Day theme, but no. That RING finger crosses the pinky in A LITTLE BIT. (I have never called the pinky the “little finger.” Littlefinger is the nickname of Petyr Baelish on Game of Thrones.) PRICE INDEX crosses MIDDLEMAN for your index and middle fingers.

I like the concept, but the LITTLE and MIDDLE phrases hinge in the same meanings of the words that are used in those finger names, while RING is distinctly different and INDEX is probably different.

I finished the whole puzzle without paying the slightest attention to what the theme was, as understanding the theme was entirely unnecessary to filling in the grid. This makes for an unsatisfying solve unless the rest of the clues and fill make up for it. And from RETD in the top left corner to plural abbrev ESQS (please tell me the pronunciation for that one), crosswordese abbrev LEM, awkward IT’S SO and AS DO I, terrible GOT AN A, and arbitrary AT SIX, I was distracted from noticing the nicer long fill, like PARENTHOOD and UV EXPOSURE.

Barely have any recollection of learning from crosswords, or from anything else: 29a. [Old-time actress Le Gallienne], EVA. Just looked at her Wikipedia bio to see how “old-time” she was (heyday in the 1920s, cover of Time magazine in 1929, got an Oscar nomination in 1980), and was fascinated by the “life and career” section. Lots of lesbian relationship intrigue, and she helped launch Peter Falk’s career. All right, I forgive the obscure clue angle for prompting me to learn about a neat person.

3 stars from me.

Ben Pall’s Universal Crossword, “Legal Arrangements”—Judge Vic’s write-up

Ben Pall’s Universal Crossword, “Legal Arrangements”–7/3/19, solution

THEME: Scrambled courtroom phrases.

A decade ago, Ben became the youngest person ever to have a crossword in the New York Times. Biographically, I have lost track of him since then–i.e., don’t know if he is in law school or what. But he’s created a puzzle after my own heart.

  • 17a [Rises after hearing a cry for help?] STANDS TO THE CALL–Compare calls to the stand.
  • 26a [Juiced up portable juicers?] CHARGED PRESSES–Pressed charges.
  • 42a [Encounter local wildlife while camping?] WITNESS A BADGER–You’ve got this one, right? Badger a witness. And now, the judge, on hearing all this nonsense, reacts and/or shouts …
  • 56a [Shout from a bench, or a reaction to 17-, 26- and 42-Across?] ORDER IN THE COURT

Clever! A disordered phrase that I have heard twice in my 22 years on the bench is “I just want to throw my mercy on the court.” I was caught off-guard the first time, in the late ’90s. But when it came again, in the early ’00s, I was ready and replied so as to complete a couplet: “Well, throw a lot, we’re a little bit short.” (Yup, it went right over the defendant’s head.)

Other good stuff from the puzzle at bar:

  • NO MSG
  • AP BIO

To say nothing of just a super-clean fill from NW to SE! Great job!

4.3 stars!

Debbie Ellerin’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Yet another scrambled hidden word theme, though the execution was certainly above average. STIRCRAZY is a colourful idiom, and we simply rearrange STIR crazily four times in two-part phrases. The revealer would have been equally as apt if we had “stirred” crazy (or a synonym thereof, since crazy’s letterbank is not amenable to such themes). The phrases are varied and interesting too: HAIRSTYLE, BARTSIMPSON, BUMPERSTICKER and the notorious SCOPESTRIAL.

The rest of the puzzle felt very Monday in design. Very safely and cleanly constructed, with little outlandish fill except for the dubious ITPROS and the excellent WINWIN.

3,5 Stars

Ben Tausig’s AVCX, “Flex Time” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 6/26 – “Flex Time”

I got slightly distracted while solving Ben Tausig’s puzzle for the AVCX, but only because I was interpreting the theme clues as cryptic indicators rather than what else was going on.  Each of its clues “flex”es and makes an L-shape:

  • 3D/28A: Kinky sex? — THE BIRDS AND THE BEES
  • 5D/21A: Joint account? — NARRATION
  • 9D/19A: Turned tail? — FOLLOW
  • 44A/49D: Corner store? — HOLD FOR SAFEKEEPING
  • 56A/58D: Twisted mind? — GIVE A DAMN
  • 60A/61D: Crooked cop? — SNATCH

The symmetry of the theme entries in the grid is the cherry on top of this grid – it feels elegant and adds to a well-executed theme.


Other fill of note: NIPS, MOM-TO-BE, BRIBEE, TONGA, HOW ODD, PEPTIDE, UGLINESS, MEL BLANC, TL;DR (which stands for “too long, didn’t read”)

Solange (above) is Beyonce’s sister, which makes Blue Ivy her NIECE

Have a happy Fourth, all!

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26 Responses to Wednesday, July 3, 2019

  1. Ethan says:

    I wasn’t looking too hard at the clue for 1D and so I had OVE(REX)POSURE at 13A. I thought maybe the theme was a rebus tribute to crossword bloggers, but I couldn’t find any others.

  2. Michael says:

    While technically not incorrect, ICUs are “Places for post-op patients” (49D) in only a small fraction of cases. The vast majority of post-operative patients go straight to a PACU (post-anesthesia care unit) and later transferred to a non-intensive surgical unit a.k.a. “the floor”. Only the very sick patients or those requiring specific monitoring not available in the PACU would be destined to the ICU post-operatively. The clue should have either read “Places for some post-op patients” or “Places for post-op patients, maybe”.

  3. jj says:

    I watched “Resurrection” maybe a year ago and was stunned – *stunned* – in my post-watch research to find that Eva La Gailliene was nominated for that performance. Nothing about it stands out, and it’s a pretty old-timey, “blow it to the back wall” kind of emoting performance. To learn she was a hugely respected Shakespearean stage actor helped to make more sense of the nomination, as it must have been one of those “lifetime achievement” type nominations. Still, ’80 was a strong movie year and this was a baffling nomination, though I’m glad I watched the movie – it made for a gimme clue in this puzzle!

    • Lise says:

      I was glad to learn about Eva Le Galliene, too. On the NYT Wordplay site, Deb Amlen has a lovely paragraph about her. She was quite accomplished, and had significant contributions in a lot of areas (first Peter Pan to fly!).

      Thank you, Evan Mahnken, for bringing her to the forefront. Maybe we’ll see her again.

    • pannonica says:

      jj – It was probably one of those ‘career honor’ nominations that the academy does to recognize someone they’ve neglected.

  4. pannonica says:

    WSJ: The arrangement of the rebus squares has significance.

    • Doug C says:

      Nice catch.

    • e.a. says:

      isn’t this what’s on that shoe that ted cruz and mitch mcconnell are obsessed with

      • Steve Tice says:

        I thought it was some Nike influencer who killed the shoe.

        • DW says:

          That flag has been embraced by white nationalists and the American Nazi party — that’s why many people object to its appearing on a mass-market product like Nike shoes.

          • pannonica says:

            Ooh. Didn’t know that. Knew about the Gadsden flag but not the ‘Betsy Ross’ flag.

            • e.a. says:

              and if you come to my home state of maryland, watch out for flipped flags that have the red-and-white part (the confederate part) in the upper left – these people love them some alt colorways

      • PJ Ward says:

        Unfortunately McConnell and Cruz aren’t obsessed with it. I honestly don’t think they obsess over anything beyond benefitting plutocrats. They’re simply capitalizing politically on what appears to me to be a publicity grab by Nike.

        If they say they didn’t anticipate the backlash I think they’re being disingenuous. The timing, the week of July 4, heightened the response.

    • DW says:

      Thanks for posting the image. I didn’t enjoy the solve at all, but now that I understand the constructor’s intent, I admire the feat a lot.

      I almost never want a tip-off that the puzzle contains rebus squares (I’m an experienced solver), but in this case, circles would have helped a lot — would have made me enjoy the solve and also feel the admiration while solving, not just after. I’m wondering whether others agree or disagree. Thanks.

      • M483 says:

        Put me down for a big agree! I bombed in the SW mainly because of “Galumph.” No way could I figure that out.

  5. Phil says:

    I liked the WSJ a lot, but you would think that they could have an Across Lite version that didn’t consider all the rebus squares to be errors.

    • GlennG says:

      I usually come in and fix up the WSJ grids after they put out a rebus grid. Stay tuned when I have this one ready (hopefully in an hour or two).

  6. DW says:

    Univ: Fun anecdote, Vic — thanks!

  7. Animal Chin says:

    Liked the WSJ, but have to ding it for 67-across being a dupe.

  8. Bret says:

    Mistake in AVXW. The PGA Championship has been moved to May, starting this year (that is, it was two months ago and isn’t being played this August, or any August moving forward). The clue on Cobo is technically correct at this moment, but the arena is imminently changing its name.

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