Friday, August 23, 2019

LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 4:04 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 4:23 (Amy) 


Universal 6:01 (Vic) 


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

NY Times crossword solution, 8 23 19, no. 0823

Solid 68-worder with staggered 13s in the middle and a couple 15s for good measure.

Favorite fill: “BETTER YOU THAN ME,” Africa’s VICTORIA FALLS, the movie sound artist’s pet WILHELM SCREAM (you’ve probably heard it in any number of horror movies), basketball THREE-POINTERS, DISAPPEARING ACT, COP TO, IVORY TOWER, BATMOBILE, WENCESLAS, VIRTUOSOS, and whole AER LINGUS instead of an AER fill-in-the-blank clue.

Most awkward crossing: 3d. [Fix, as a pool cue], RETIP / 21a. [Taste], SAPOR. [Two rather uncommonly used words, one insider jargon.

Six more things:

  • 11d. [Carol king], WENCESLAS. Cute clue!
  • 22a. [“30 Rock” co-star], FEY. Really the Emmy-winning lead actress on the show … and also its creator, Emmy-winning executive producer, and Emmy-winning writer. “Co-star” minimizes Tina Fey’s achievements here.
  • 55a. [Rod or reel], UNIT. Does this mean unit of measure? The rod is one of those antiquated measures, but I’m not seeing a definition of reel as a specific measurement. A reel containing an undetermined length of tape or line? That can’t be it.
  • 12d. [Provide heat for, in a sense], ARM. So many different meanings of the word, and we gotta go with the gun? I wish we wouldn’t.
  • 44d. [First black Disney princess], TIANA. From The Princess and the Frog. I think this is the first time I’ve seen the word black in a TIANA clue. I’m good with it. Now, that word “first” is misleading, because there hasn’t been a second one yet. *tapping fingers impatiently*
  • 53d. [Comments around cute babies], AWS. Meh, plural interjection, not often seen outside of crossword grids. There’s also the AWS that’s Amazon Web Services, their cloud computing venture. Perhaps little known to those who aren’t in the technical arena?

Four stars from me.

Yoni Glatt’s Universal Crossword, “Study Up”—Judge Vic’s write-up

Yoni Glatt’s Universal Crossword, “Study Up,” Aug. 23, 2019, solution

Nine colleges grace the top three lines of the grid–ELON, BATES, PACE, IONA, EMORY, TROY, DUKE, EMORY, RICE— while the bottom line features schools of a lower order–PREP, GRADE, PRE-K. And … there’s a reveal:

  • 39a Category for this grid’s top three rows, but not its bottom row HIGHER EDUCATION

What a clever, unusual, and wholly unexpected theme! Nice going! Yay, Yoni!


  • 30a Lickety-split IN A SNAP
  • 34a Kind of garage TWO-CAR
  • 45a 2000s TV show set in Baltimore THE WIRE
  • 48a Pronoun used for emphasis ITSELF
  • 10d Letter-shaped sink pipes P-TRAPS
  • 21d Ancient Samaritan ISRAELITE
  • 22d Right in front DEAD AHEAD

Very nice! Is this a debut? (I used to research that kind of thing, didn’t I?)

4.1 stars.

Erik Agard’s New Yorker themeless crossword—Amy’s write-up

The New Yorker weekend crossword solution, 8 23 19, by Erik Agard

Another excellent puzzle from Mr. Agard, whose twin hallmarks are modern and inclusive fill along with frightfully clever clues. Two ordinary English words are rendered more entertaining via clues. For example, 2d ASKING is clued [“__ for a friend”], the thing people used to say when they were trying to hide that they were really asking something embarrassing for themselves, and which people now use on social media to signal winkingly that they’re absolutely referring to themselves. For example, “Does anyone know how to get mustard stains out of silk lingerie? Asking for a friend.” And then there’s boring ol’ FORMATION, livened up with the lyric [“O.K., ladies, now let’s get in __”: Beyoncé].

Favorite fill: BISCOTTI, which means “twice cooked,” just like biscuit and Zwieback. “IN A WORLD …” from far too many movie trailers. BEER GARDEN crossing BAR, with parallel clues. GOING ALL IN, ‘NUFF SAID, Milne’s PIGLET, and Ursula K. LE GUIN.

Clues that stood out:

  • 23a. [“Come at the __, you best not miss”: Omar Little], KING. Omar’s the character on The Wire. Never watched the show and didn’t know that this is where that line came from—but have heard the line plenty.
  • 33d. [Prepare for Shavasana], LIE FLAT. I googled Shavasana after finishing the puzzle. It’s the “corpse pose” in yoga and hey! We did that at the end of every yoga session in high school gym class (I have attended a grand total of one yoga class since high school), and I still use it if I’m having trouble sleeping. LIE FLAT, relax, loosen up any and all muscles that are feeling tense.
  • 36d. [“Wait, here’s a desperate idea …”], UNLESS. “Shoot, I locked myself out of the house, nobody’s home, and I need to get my car keys to go to work. People who have spare keys are all at least a half hour away, and I don’t have time to wait for a locksmith, either. Unless … maybe I can contort myself to squeeze through the dog door.”
  • 46d. [Rumble in the cat café].. PURR. Were you picturing a gangland fight between opposing factions of kitties?

4.25 stars from me.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

For this crossword, we need to mind our P’s and….well, just our P’s. Each theme answer has a P appended to the front of a phrase. Wackiness results.

  • 17a [Gratitude for a well-played role?] is PART APPRECIATION.
  • 27a [Crackin’, peelin’ and fadin’?] is PAINT MISBEHAVIN‘. This is my favorite. The phrase made me laugh, and I like the way the clue signals the dropped “g.”
  • 45a [Couples therapist?] is a PAIR CONDITIONER. The answer is fine. The clue left me scratching my head. How does a therapist “condition” people?
  • 55a [Extreme example of layering for cold weather?] is PANTS IN YOUR PANTS. My second favorite. When we went to Iceland last March, I wore leggings under hiking pants under windproof/waterproof pants.

[NASCAR drivers are entertained during a race]: pits all in good fun.

A few other things:

  • I dropped in HOSE for [Irrigation need] at 1a and CORE for [Heart] at 14a. Um, no. Correct answers would be PIPE and CRUX.
  • 4d [Nonresident doctors] is EXTERNS. Is this true outside the US? It’s not a term widely used in the US for physicians.
  • If there were a breakfast test, NAPALM would flunk. And [Controversial combat material] for the clue reminds me that there are people who are pro-napalm. Ugh.
  • 49a [Like Macbeth in “Macbeth”] is a cute clue for TITULAR.
  • I like 64a [“Holy cow!”] for YIPES.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that PILATE said “Ecce homo.”

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18 Responses to Friday, August 23, 2019

  1. Jon Sanders says:

    Regarding Amy’s comment about TIANA being Disney’s only black princess:

    It frustrates me when I hear tones of impatience or discontent when progress in a certain realm IS being made. Since 1992, five of the newest seven Disney princesses have been non-white, and one of the two white princesses was Scottish (Merida from “Brave,” 2012). I’m not using the 12 Disney princesses as a one-to-one comparison of the progress of racial inequities in the United States, nor am I endorsing Disney as a perfectly, socially aware entertainment corporation; only saying that some progress is being made in this particular cultural realm, and even that gets tsk-tsked.

    I won’t argue that one black Disney princess out of 12 is good enough, or that this ratio matches the African-American demographic of the United States, or that examining this ratio is even a solid metric to validate African-American representation in film, albeit animation or not. But it is a start, especially for young, black girls yearning for a character to which they can relate. Isn’t that the message we should be sending, rather than “tapping fingers impatiently” as if we’re waiting for Disney pump out Disney princesses until the race ratios match the demographics of the United States? It seems there will always be some faction that’s discontent…

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Or, in other words, shut up and wait like a good little girl.


      Disney’s been “churning out princesses” since Snow White (!) in 1937. My kid was born in 2000 and it’s not *all* that much to ask that more than one of the princesses might have looked like her.

    • JohnH says:

      I have no quarrel with Amy’s chiding, but I do disagree with her suggesting that “first” is wrong and so a flaw in the puzzle. A first does not require a second in such usage, and it is in common use as a superlative taking pride in or in praise of a breakthrough. Many of us were thrilled to see Obama become the first African American president, were looking forward to Clinton’s becoming the first woman president, and are hopeful for a woman in 2020.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Please point to where I suggested it was a flaw in the puzzle rather than a shortcoming of Disney, JohnH.

  2. JML says:

    That NYT was one clean puzzle!

  3. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: Disappointed to see WILHELM SCREAM because *I* wanted to debut it. Of course, I never got around to finishing my draft puzzles that included it. You’ve definitely heard the sound effect before, not just in horror films, but in over 400 different movies including sci-fi & action films like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    Fun puzzle. Loved that WENCESLAS clue and entry.

  4. David L says:

    Way too easy for a Friday, even with the (to me) completely mystifying WILHELMSCREAM. The crosses were straightforward, at least.

    Reel as a unit perplexed me too. If it’s real (har har) it’s pretty obscure. I found this list that says a reel is “A cylindrical core on which a flexible material, such as wire or cable, is wound.” Not a specific unit of measure, in other words.

    • Steve Manion says:

      Reel is not a specific unit of measure, which makes it somewhat unsatisfactory. However, there are standard reels (50″ and 30″) for measuring lays and hanks in thread. A film could be said to have two reels.

      Fairly easy puzzle today.


      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Wow, I have no idea what “lays and hanks in thread” could possibly mean. I know all the individual words, but together, I’m lost.

      • Martin says:

        The old standard 35 mm film reel was 1000 feet and ran for a little less than 15 minutes. So a two-reeler was a 25 minute or so short.

        Textile units are wonderfully arcane. They sound like normal words. A “thread” is 54 inches. A “lay” (or lea) is 80 threads (12o yards). A “hank” is 7 lays (840 yards).

        • David L says:

          A hank of cotton of silk is 840 yards. But a hank of linen is a measly 300 yards, and a hank of hog casings is only 100 yards. Thank you, wikipedia.

          Still not convinced by reel as a unit…

        • Martin says:

          And a hank of worsted is 560 yards.

          I’m fine with “reel” being a unit of movie length. One-reeler, two-reeler, etc. clearly use it as a measurement standard. It’s Friday.

        • JohnH says:

          All well and good, and thanks for teaching me something. Still, that argues just fine for thread, lay, and hank as unit, but not the least for reel. If coming in standard sizes made something a unit, an awful lot of things would be units, with hardly even a tenuous connection. For that matter, do feet or meters comes in standard sizes? No, they ARE the units.

          • Martin says:

            2Bclear, I was responding to Amy’s sorta question, not justifying a reel of thread as a unit. But I do continue to be okay with a reel being a unit of 35mm movie. A unit is just a quantum of measurement, not necessarily a formally defined one. I thought it was a fun Friday clue.

  5. Trent H. Evans says:

    Big thumbs up on the theme in the Universal today. Well done Yoni!

  6. JohnH says:

    Reel as a UNIT (which then crosses the Disney character new to me) and WILHELM SCREAM have me mystified, too.

  7. RunawayPancake says:

    TNY – I, for one, got naticked on the “L” of 40A (LANA) and 40D (LEGUIN). Otherwise, pretty average for an Agard.

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