Wednesday, October 2, 2019

LAT 4:20 (GRAB) 


NYT 5:12 (Amy) 


WSJ 5:50 (Jim P) 


Universal Untimed (Rebecca) 


AVCX 15:00 (Ben) 


David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Close the Barn Door!”—Jim P’s review

Our theme today is phrases that start with a farm animal that have been clued to indicate said animal has escaped.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Close the Barn Door!” · David Alfred Bywaters · Wed., 10.2.19

  • 17a [The bovine took off!] BULL HEADED. I didn’t like this one. The statement doesn’t make sense without a destination or a direction.
  • 25a [The pig broke loose!] HOG WILD. I wasn’t sure about this one at first, but I could hear a farmer uttering this in the right circumstance.
  • 36a [The pullet escaped!] CHICKEN’S OUT. This is the only one which includes a contracted “is,” and therefore, while that makes it an outlier, it’s the one that flows the best.
  • 50a [The hound is missing!] DOG GONE. While a dog may not necessarily be a farm animal, I bet it could be argued that most farms have dogs. Also, this one really sounds awkward without an apostrophe-S.
  • 59a [The drake decamped!] DUCK WALKED. This one is solid and second only to the chicken one.

For a time, I thought this theme was going in a whole other direction.

I like this theme; it probably wasn’t easy finding phrases that would work with the general idea of animals escaping. So, even though there are inconsistencies here and there, I enjoyed the fun, imaginative angle of a farm run amok.

Things to like in the grid: “AM I RIGHT?” [“Don’t you agree?”] though I prefer the question in its wink-wink form (AMIRITE?). Also, plural AMOEBAE, OO LA LA, HAWAII, SHALOM, and “I GUESS.” CAN’T say that anything RANKLEd too much, so that’s good!

Overall, this puzzle has an imaginative theme that I found enjoyable. It suffers from a few inconsistencies, but the fun theme won me over. 3.7 stars.

Mangesh Ghogre’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 10 2 19, no. 1002

You know how when you stay up too late, you still wake up early and now you’re sleep-deprived? I have a sleep debt to repay, so I’ll be quick here. The rebus theme centers on 69a. [Icon born 10/2/1869 … with a hint to three squares in this puzzle], GANDHI, on his 150th birthday. There are three rebus squares containing GHI, which you can parse as “G and HI” (though “G, H, and I” would be smoother … but I am so tired of people misspelling the name as Ghandi). “G and HI” is weird, it must be said.

Those rebus squares have ROU{GH I}DEA crossing HI{GH I}NCOME, NOTTIN{G HI}LL crossing WEI{GH-I}N, and the green-paintish LON{G HI}STORY crossing BI{G HI}T.

The grid’s peppered with other Indian fill. The honorific SRI, MATA ([Mother, in Mumbai], I learned something new), ROTI flatbread, SNOW in the Himalayas, populous DELHI, BRAHMA the Creator, and a tech CODER. (What? There are a lot of Indians working in software, both at home and in their adopted countries.)

3.5 stars from me. Good night!

David Alan Van Houten’s Universal crossword, “Running Start”—Rebecca’s review

THEME: The start of each themed phrase is a synonym for run

Universal crossword solution · David Alan Van Houten · “Running Start” · Weds., 10.02.19


  • 16A [Advertiser’s proof?] TEAR SHEET
  • 22A [Recipe add-in] DASH OF PEPPER
  • 36A [Something out of left field] BOLT FROM THE BLUE
  • 44A [Unnoticed observer] FLY ON THE WALL
  • 56A [Old electronic storage devices] ZIP DRIVE

This puzzle was serviceable. The theme is a classic one, and the puzzle is well constructed, but I finished feeling like something was missing. With a word like run, with its seemingly endless list of synonyms, this group feels a bit random – why these five words? I think I would have been more satisfied had there been some other connecting thread as well.

Best clues of the day were for BET [Something to see at a poker table?] and COUNT [Rank of de Monet in a Mel Brooks film].

My favorite thing about this puzzle is seeing Renee ELISE Goldsberry at 61-Across, because it gives me the chance share one of her songs the hilarious Co-op episode of Documentary Now!

3 Stars

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I’m not sure this puzzle holds up under close scrutiny. The left-right grid features one revealing answer: INCLINEDPLANE, and then four diagonal hidden words: JET, GLIDER and TURBOPROP are plane classifications based on propulsion; and then FIGHTER is thrown in which is a classification based on use. You have JETFIGHTERS and (very few) TURBOPROPFIGHTERS. Also PLANE here is exactly the same sense as the name refers to the flat surface of the wing…

With only one direct theme answer though, the puzzle mostly played like an easyish themeless with many solid answers, but little that stood out. COPT/GNOSTIC mini-theme is not likely to be seen again for a while.


Aimee Lucido’s AVCX, “Color Cast” — Ben’s Review

Apologies for how late this week’s AVCX review is going up – it’s been a week at work, and we’re only at Wednesday.

This week’s puzzle is a big grid from Aimee Lucido, and the title “Color Cast” gave me an idea of what was going on that proved to be true.  As theme clues appear in the grid:

  • 26A: Things that allow you to grasp at straws? — OPPOS
  • 53A: One of 60,000,000 in a minute — MICR
  • 93A: Hard journey? — BOOZE
  • 121A: Member of the 30,000-point club — WILTCHA

That’s not much to go on, but each of these clues’ immediate neighbor has a “—” clue that suggests something else is going on.  Using the circled squares in the grid (and, in my case, an assumption of where the circled squares would go for the two theme answers that didn’t render their circles in the .PUZ file), each set can be connected by a color in a way that finishes the initial clue:


The revealer at 73A, “Be subtly insulting … or what parts of four answers in this puzzle do”, spells it out – each of these theme answers could be said to THROW SHADE.




I’ll leave it there since it’s late, but I liked this grid, as well as the two long bits of NO-TELL MOTEL and COCONUT MILK running down the grid.

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13 Responses to Wednesday, October 2, 2019

  1. Robert Kurzmann says:

    I have a nit with 51 D in today’s WSJ puzzle. “Gist” is the substance or essence of something, definitely not just a general idea.

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    LAT – I don’t usually like cheater block clumps, but in Jeff’s terrific grid, they could be Stealth bombers heading up into the wild blue yonder, adding a bit of grid art to the theme. I love the revealer, too.

  3. Joe Pancake says:

    NYT — GHI is a variant spelling of ghee, a staple in Indian cuisine. So, when I figured out the rebus and got the theme, my first thought was, “What?! A puzzle about butter?!” Then I got to the revealer and things made more sense.

    Although, Amy is right: “G AND HI” is weird. It’s not a natural split, and it doesn’t tie back into the rebus very elegantly.

  4. Billy Boy says:

    Real curveball NYT. Weird fill and an odd asymmetric rebus on a non-Thursday (Although W and Sun seem the other ‘typical’ days) I’ll need time to decide if I really liked it, such an outlier.

    I really liked the WSJ and erringly voted it low, wah. (3 instead of 4)

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni puzzle … Can anyone explain 43D: HAND = “Turkey-tracing aid”? Tracing a turkey on paper by HAND??? If so, ugh.

  6. Judith Speer says:

    I think this refers to a Thanksgiving project often done with little kids. They trace their hands and then decorate the outline with turkey “additions” like feathers, feet, etc. I’m sure I have one around here somewhere.

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