Friday, July 26, 2019

LAT 4:17 (Jenni) 


NYT 5:52 (Amy) 


The New Yorker tk (Vic) 


Universal 6:06 (Vic) 


Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 26 19, no. 0726

First up, let’s look at 38a. [Your heart may go out to it], ORGAN BANK. First off, “organ bank” is not a common term in the U.S. Most of the nation’s regional organ procurement orgs don’t have “bank” in their names. And why would they? While a blood bank can stock many units of blood, and while various tissues from deceased donors may be banked, vital organs that are to be transplanted only have a matter of hours before their viability is lost. Be sure to sign up to be an organ donor when you renew your driver’s license! And if you’re in excellent health, you might consider donating one of your kidneys while you are still alive—that is exactly how I received a new kidney four years ago next week. There were four living donors in our transplant chain, and I’m grateful to all of them. ♥♥♥ Also happy to have the crossword allude to organ transplantation.

Overall, this puzzle reminded me of the ones from 10 or 15 years ago that were packed with Scrabbly letters. Here, we’ve got ZEBRA FINCH, AQUAMARINE, FUZZY NAVEL, and TAZO crossing ZAFTIG, EQUAL, BUZZ, and RAZORBACK. There’s also a TWIX candy bar crossing EXES (anyone else try EYES for [Participants in some awkward meetings]? “Their eyes met, and they quickly looked away.”) and ALL THAT JAZZ, which crosses ZEKE and ZEAL.

Fave fill: CRABAPPLE, because crabapple tree blossoms are my favorite fragrance of all. The cold winter and spring delayed the blooms a good month this year! Worth the wait.

Fave clue: 26d. [“The fierce urgency of now” speaker, familiarly], MLK.

Least fave fill: ATILT, SAGO, SAL soda.

Least fave clue: 23d. [Pismire], ANT. What is this, a 1987 crossword?

Rating: Let’s call it 3.4 stars.

John Guzzetta’s Universal Crossword, “Pieces of Music”—Judge Vic’s write-up

John Guzzetta’s Universal Crossword, “Pieces of Music,” July 26, 2019, solution

THEME: See title, circled letters, and the reveal:

33a Things that repeat, or a hint to this puzzle’s theme BROKEN RECORDS

For good measure, see also the theme entries:

17a First New Testament book (Pink Floyd: Last 4 letters + …) MATTHEW
21 Compatriot (… first 3 letters) ALLY
equals THE WALL

22a Long John Silver feature (Bob Marley: Last 3 letters + …) PEG LEG
27a The Apocalypse (… first 3 letters) END OF DAYS
equals LEGEND

42a Holds together, MacGyver-style (Carole King: Last 5 letters + …) DUCT TAPES
48a Lovers’ get-togethers (… first 3 letters) TRYSTS

50a Blacken (Neil Young: Last 3 letters + …) CHAR
55a Virgins of ancient Rome (… first 4 letters) VESTALS
equals HARVEST

Cool, clever, excellent!


No excess of clunkers.

4.0 stars.

Joe Schewe’s LA Times crossword – Jenni’s write-up

I liked this theme – it’s amusing and solidly done. I could have done without the revealer.

It’s a letter-drop theme with a revealer that I think was added for entertainment value, not because the explanation was necessary.

Los Angeles Times, Joe Schewe, July 26, 2019, solution grid

  • 17a [Airline category for hombres?] is SENOR CLASS (senior class).
  • 25a [Run in prison?] is CON OPERATED (coin-operated).
  • 37a [Sculptor, at times?] is a NOSE MAKER (noise maker).
  • 53a [VIP at royal banquets?] is the CHEF OF STATE (chief of state).

And the revealer: 63a [Minimal red-removing amount … and a phonetic hint to four long answers] is ONE EYE DROP. I would be happier if this were more in the language. Who says “one eye drop?” I do not.

A few other things:

  • 6a [Hard-to-sell wheels] is HEAP, which also appeared in the NYT today. {cue Twilight zone noise}
  • 14a [Illusory pictures] are OP ART. I stuck an “s” on the end. Not helpful.
  • 36a [Gregg user] is STENO. I think editors should be obliged to include (obs) in any clues referencing stenography.
  • 32d [24-Across greedily]. 24a is EAT, so this could be either SNARF or SCARF. Turns out it’s SNARF this time.
  • 60d [Fall locale] is EDEN, as in “the Fall of man.”

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that AMY Acker appeared in “The Gifted.” This was apparently a TV show on Fox for two seasons.

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15 Responses to Friday, July 26, 2019

  1. Greg says:

    I thought the Times was pretty decent, with better fill than most pangrams.

  2. Lise says:

    NYT: “Pismire” would be an excellent cartoon ant name.

    Amy, your review made me want to find a crabapple tree in bloom one of these days. It sounds like a wonderful fragrance.

    And happy Kidney-versary. That’s wonderful.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Thank you, Lise!

      Watch for the blossoms—trees profuse with pink or white—in the springtime, generally a few weeks after the daffodils start and before the lilacs really pounce.

      • huda says:

        Yes, I have two crabapple trees in my front yard. They have survived all the temperature variations that wound up killing other flowering trees. And they are the harbingers of spring.
        I have a photo of one of my trees in bloom and another in winter, and I use the commonality and contrast between them in talks to illustrate what chronic, untreated depression does to the human brain-

        And thanks for the personal reminder, Amy, about the importance of organ donation and generosity more broadly…

  3. David L says:

    I liked the NYT — it packed in a lot of scrabbly letters, as you say, but with very little fill that struck me as forced or unreasonable.

    Crab apples also make an excellent base for seedless jams, aka jelly in the UK. I remember “helping” my mother make crab apple jelly one summer, with the addition of elderberries, plums and other soft fruit. Beautiful colors and delicate flavors.

  4. Billy Boy says:

    NYT, lots of ZZZZZ’s, but not at all a snooze. Very enjoyable.

    • JohnH says:

      Agreed. Hard for a Friday for me, but very satisfying to complete. At some point the reliance on unusual letters actually become a help, as I was then on the alert for them. I don’t believe I had seen “pismire” before, but I thought it was interesting rather than annoying. I can’t say I know whether it’s dated usage as opposed to rare, as Amy thinks.

  5. Pseudonym says:

    Some clever clues amidst a decent helping of trivia made the NYT a tougher Friday than usual for me. Good puzzle.

    The Friday New Yorker is always too easy but today’s was very smooth.

  6. PhilR says:

    Amy – I agree with your love of the aroma of Crab Apple trees when in blossom. You skipped over the fact that they are magnificent bloomers, better than any other tree I’ve seen. They are also abundant fruit bearers, feeding all sorts of critters: birds, deer, rabbits, my dogs as they pick up dropped fruit walking by, from Nov – February, or until a swarm of starlings strips the trees bare.

    My only problem with them is that mine is at the corner of my street and my driveway, and in the early winter evenings the herd of deer there will reach into the double digits, making it impossible for me to leave without scaring them into the road, where they will be squished by the arrogant SOBs in their Escalades or G-Boxes racing up the road assuming everyone will get out of their way.

    If you’re going for a tree lined driveway, go with crab apples. Just start 30 yards from the road.

  7. JohnH says:

    In TNY, which was a bit hard for me, PARKOUR was an interesting new thing to learn. And while I can’t say I ever learn from Harry Potter names in puzzles, the cross-ref was terrific.

    “Kirkus reviewers” felt a bit odd, though, as “Reviewers” alone would do, no? And I’m not convinced that’s a malapromism.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I’d have liked the PARKOUR clue to include “city” rather than “urban,” as URBAN is nearby in the grid.

      Aimee’s first novel comes out in September. Emmy in the Key of Code has a Kirkus starred review, so this is an instance of a clue having personal significance for the constructor.

      • pannonica says:

        The URBAN dupe today, the POKER dupe in yesterday’s Universal …

        (9-across / 36-across)

    • billy boy says:

      Cultural Ref. – I learned about PARKOUR in the first Daniel Craig Bond Movie Casino Royale, all the running and hopping over the cranes and buildings and such. Fascinating sport, similar to dreams I had as a kid. (I had PARCOUR first, mais c’est en Francais!)

      Help! What am I missing in New Yorker puzzles? They are basically fill-in-the-blank for me, and I’m not exactly a puzzle whiz, I mean I can do all 7 days of a NYT but the NYM are just ZOOOOOM. Timer on the NYT today was 33 mins, but TNYM was like 8:00.

      Not that I’m complaning, just an O.

      Oh yeah, I guess PERIOD is a bit edgy for some folks in a puzzle, I’m guessing?

      Good Weekend all. Cheers!

  8. bonekrusher says:

    Wow, completely surprised by the mediocre ratings for what I considered to be a 5-star NYT puzzle.
    The “was charming” clue for CAST A SPELL
    The “reason to drop out” clue for NARCOLEPSY
    The “cooler” clue that misled me to CAN and made me wonder what the heck a ZEBRACINCH was
    I thought this puzzle was great!

  9. Jenni Levy says:

    I liked the theme in the Universal but it had two of the worst fill entries I’ve seen in a long time. CHANG is a perfectly fine entry but the clue (P.F. ___’s) is AWFUL. And COACT? no no no no no

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