Wednesday, September 4, 2019

LAT 4:01 (GRAB) 


NYT 3:51 (Amy) 


WSJ 6:30 (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (Rebecca) 


AVCX untimed (Ben) 


Peter A. Collins’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Loading Bays”—Jim P’s review

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Loading Bays” · Peter A. Collins · Wed., 9.4.19

There isn’t a revealer with this theme, but the title is sufficient in serving that role. Using circled letters to define bite-mark shaped arcs, the puzzle spells out well-known American bays: HUDSON, MONTEREY, DELAWARE, and MOBILE.

Being a West-Coaster, I’m not as familiar with DELAWARE Bay; I think Chesapeake Bay gets more name recognition. As does, I suspect, San Francisco Bay over its neighbor to the south, MONTEREY Bay. But no doubt those longer names would have made the grid much harder to fill, and the shorter ones are certainly crossword-worthy, and they maintain the puzzle’s symmetry to boot.

With the theme answers as they are, the puzzle solves like a themeless and there are a number of goodies in the long positions: MED STUDENT, NOTA BENE, NILLA WAFERS, BEE STINGS, YES VOTES, JOHN TYLER, and LOVE TO BITS. I did not LOVE TO BITS DISINTEREST or STEADIED, but they are solid enough.

THE TAIL [Challenging thing to have a tiger by] feels like a long partial, and DYE LOT [Yarn label specification] though gettable, doesn’t seem like something most people would know about. Not being too involved with journalism, I tried COPY ROOM for [Where local stories are edited] before correcting it to CITY ROOM which I guess is a thing.

As always, SST is a lousy piece of fill, and the bottom right corner feels uncomfortable with PBA, AS DO, and LIE TO. And there are old crossword staples AGRI, OGEES, ABO, AD REP, and O SOLE.

Despite these negatives, I really liked the long fill and the theme felt strong enough to overcome them. 3.5 stars.

Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 4 19, no. 0904

Aaaah! This theme is adorable. We’ve got three ice cream flavors (VANILLA is OK with cake or pie, CHOCOLATE is always the right choice, PISTACHIO I could skip). We’ve got the SINGLE, DOUBLE, and TRIPLE / SCOOP. And those three cones are represented visually as:

  • The rule-breaking 2-letter 14d OV, which looks like one round scoop of ice cream atop a sugar cone, [Yum! This won’t last long, though!].
  • 31d. [I bet these flavors taste great together!], OOV, your double scoop.
  • 56d. [Wow! Look at the size of this thing!], OOV, a triple scoop. Make mine a single, please.

The theme is fresh and playful, and I found it delightful. It dispenses with full theme symmetry, as OPIATE isn’t paired with the TRIPLE scoop, AORTA isn’t paired with SCOOP, and that 2-letter OV desymmetricizes the diagram. I don’t mind.

What else? The fill’s pretty smooth, though it might feel a tad heavy on 3s and abbrevs (extinct MOA crossing Roman numeral MCI, blurgh). Those are offset somewhat by the assorted 7s in the grid, like COLUMBO, NIBLETS, and ALFREDO.

Three more things:

  • 16a. [Org. whose members go on hikes?], NFL. That “go on” is questionable, but hey, the season’s starting up so let’s go with it. Enjoy the Brett Favre/Superfans video below.
  • 27a. [Tesla competitor], EDISON. As in Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, not Tesla Motors.
  • 36d. [Name seen more than 20 times on Iran’s flag], ALLAH. That seems just a tad theocratic. And indeed, the flag dates back to not long after the Iranian Revolution put the ayatollah in charge. There are 22 Allahs on the flag to honor the date the Islamic republic started. #flagtrivia

Four stars from me.

Larry Nargi’s Universal crossword, “You Don’t Say!”—Rebecca’s review

Rebecca Falcon here for my first time on Team Fiend!

THEME: Animals named after other animals

Universal crossword solution · Larry Nargi · “You Don’t Say!” · Wed., 9.04.19


  • 18A [Sea creature that can’t talk] PARROTFISH
  • 24A [Mollusk that can’t bray] ZEBRA MUSSEL
  • 38A [Sea predator that can’t snort] BULL SHARK
  • 55A [Amphibian that can’t roar] LEOPARD FROG
  • 62A [Arachnid that can’t howl] WOLF SPIDER

Fun idea for a theme – for me the clues really shined here with the answer choices less clear. Starting with three sea-animals made me think we were going all aquatic so was a bit thrown by the shift to amphibian and arachnid, but didn’t lessen my enjoyment too much, just left wondering why these 5 animals? Also, I believe PARROTFISH is usually a one-word animal, whereas the others are two-words – so some inconsistency – but not too bothersome.

I had a little laugh thinking about if we named these animals in different orders – I may have to start calling wolves “Spider Canines” or zebras “Mussel Horses”.

From a construction standpoint, some really solid work here, my fav area being the Southwest corner. That CS LEWIS / ON A ROLL/ VIDALIA stack is lovely. Personally, there is nothing I love more than fancy beautiful names for things that are not and VIDALIAs are a great example of that – then crossing it with COVEN? Loved it.

With how often ELLE shows up in grids, it would be great to see it clued more often as one of the impressive & famous women with that name, over the infinite magazine clues we tend to get. Model Macpherson – Actress Fanning – Singer King – all great options!

I’m giving this one 3.5 stars – for an overall fun solve.

Julie Berube’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Hmm. Odd to have such a specific theme without a revealer. All six permutations of ABC are found circled in the theme answers. I guess six answers and a revealer is quite crowded, though. FCBARCELONA was my favourite of the theme answers, with the initial FC throwing me for a second. MANU is an underutilised four that made for a kind of soccer mini-theme. WEBACCESS was the least whelming, just a bit grey and technical. MACBOOKPROS is a forced plural, and the clue was cutesy rather than cute. There is nothing specific about MACBOOKPROS that means they are more likely to be on a teacher’s desk than other Apple products.

I’m not sure I could define AFROPOP, although the mention of Ladysmith lets me link to one of my favourite albums (Naledi ya Tsela). Ladysmith Black Mambazo are specifically isiCathamiya, which is an a capella singing style, though their many collaborations often feature instruments.

3,25 Stars

Chris Adams’s AVCX, “Disc Connection” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 9/4 – “Disc Connection”

An unexpectedly long workday made the promise of a 2/5 difficulty crossword seem pretttty nice.  I think the difficulty rating on this guest grid from Chris Adams is spot on, and the theme’s pretty clean, too:

  • 18A: Ivory source (White Stripes / Fleetwood Mac) — ELEPHANT TUSK
  • 12D: Lions and tigers and bears, e.g. (Britney Spears / Pink Floyd) — CIRCUS ANIMALS
  • 23D: Insincerity, as in an argument (Michael Jackson / George Michael) — BAD FAITH
  • 26D: Summertime sidewalk sales site (Beyoncé / Sly and the Family Stone) — LEMONADE STAND
  • 28D: Decorated soldiers (U2 / David Bowie) — WAR HEROES
  • 36D: Titular Canadian comedy character fond of saying “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy” (Taylor Swift / R.E.M.) — RED GREEN
  • 75A: Two-disc releases … and a hint to this puzzle’s theme answers — DOUBLE ALBUMS

Crisply executed, each of these otherwise straightforward answers is comprised of the names of two albums, indicated by the parenthetical after the clue.

If you reference “We Will All Go Together When We Go” in your clueing, I will post it. It’s just the rules.

Keeping this one brief – I also liked HIBACHI and UNBOX

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18 Responses to Wednesday, September 4, 2019

  1. mt says:

    NYT: I think the “go on” works. It’s like the players in the game start moving when a hike happens (so they go on hike)

  2. Lise says:

    NYT: I gave this puzzle 5 yum!s. When I was little, I loved vanilla, would have nothing to do with chocolate (I thought it smelled like coffee, yuck), and pistachio was my absolute favorite.

    Tastes change, fortunately ? Loved the puzzle.

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    WSJ – A lovely added feature is that the bays are arranged geographically if, as I’m sure Peter intended, the grid represents North America with Canada’s Hudson Bay at the top

  4. Paul Coulter says:

    WSJ – A lovely added feature is that the bays are arranged geographically if, as I’m sure Peter intended, the grid represents North America with Canada’s Hudson Bay at the top.

  5. Trent Evans says:

    Watching that Superfans video made me glad I woke up today. Thank you.

  6. huda says:

    NYT: That was yummy, indeed. And I’m writing a grant on OPIATEs/opioids and what their chronic use does to the brain in the long term that leads to relapse, and how social stress/social support can play a role. Wish me luck!
    Best ice cream ever is one they make in my hometown of Damascus, which is very creamy but also stretchy because they add gum arabic to it and beat it up. Then they cover it pistachio pieces. Take a look:

  7. Scott says:

    One scoop missing in the writeup. Fun puzzle!

  8. Dave S says:

    I must be missing something obvious, but I would appreciate if someone helps me understand how “tie” is the answer for the clue “Make fast” (LAT, 61 down). Also, don’t think I’ve ever seen a crossword abbreviation answer more awkward than “instr” for “Orch. piece” (LAT, 32 down). Thanks.

    • Noam D. Elkies says:

      fast adj. firmly fixed; tightly shut; adhering firmly; etc.

      (as in “fasten”; also the original sense in “fast and loose”).

  9. Gareth says:

    One of the most clever rebus/gimmick puzzles in a while, especially finding a clever way to mess with symmetry and word-length restrictions. Personally, I hate ice-cream cones, however. Just too much mess. I will always order a tub, thank you. Elachi is a pretty cool flavour that you don’t see all that often. The only local company I know that makes it also makes another amazing flavour, faloodah (Rose Essence, basically), but only for Eid.

    Small nit: I don’t understand why you’d clue MCI as a RRN when it’s a company. I feel like RRNs are pretty close to the bottom of the barrel.

    • Pauer says:

      Xing MOA, I thought I should make the MCI clue as easy as possible. Roman numerals have a bad rap, I think, since I actually find them sorta fun as a solver (esp if they involve math). I’m sick, I know.

    • Martin says:

      Is elachi like elaichi, the Hindi word for cardamom? Kulfi is Indian ice cream, flavored with elaichi, so you should look for that too. Falooda (Persian faloodeh) is thin noodles and milk, flavored with rose essence, over ice cream. I can see mixing it up and freezing as ice cream resulting in a pretty tasty dessert.

  10. GlennG says:

    On today’s LAT, a lot of the problem with the grid is the lack of revealer. One can figure out the theme pretty easy but the question becomes “Why?”. But simply, there’s no entertainment value in it. The whole theme is a complete mystery.

    At least the last time I remember seeing this gimmick, there was a revealer “Now I Know My ABCs”, along with a title: “If At First You Don’t Succeed…” It might have been too close to plagiarism to ape either of those as a revealer (or Berube didn’t realize this existed), but another one should have been possible.

  11. ahimsa says:

    I don’t know what the NYT puzzle looked like on their website but the version shown by Puzzazz was very cute! It even had different colors to represent the different ice cream flavors.

  12. Sarah says:

    Having the cone be made of vanilla ice cream is weird.

    Removing the vanilla ice cream from the cone, putting chocolate ice cream in, and then putting the vanilla ice cream back on top is nonsensical.

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