Wednesday, October 16, 2019

LAT 4:32 (GRAB) 


NYT 3:58 (Amy) 


WSJ 6:05 (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (Rebecca) 


AVCX 9:23 (Ben) 


Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “How’s Business?”—Jim P’s review

Our theme answers today seek to answer the titular question with gerund phrases that project a rosy outlook. Furthermore, each phrase has a literal connection to the business in question.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “How’s Business?” · Samuel A Donaldson · Wed., 10.16.19

  • 17a [Airline pilot: “Business is ___”] TAKING OFF
  • 28a [Shoe designer: “Business is ___”] MAKING STRIDES
  • 48a [Real estate mogul: “Business is ___”] GAINING GROUND
  • 60a [Reference librarian: “Business is ___”] LOOKING UP

I love the consistency here. Each theme phrase is a plausible answer to the question in general terms, but when applied to the specific business in question, takes on a different, more literal interpretation of how the business is conducted. I especially like the last one.

Lots of long fill to admire here with stacked 10s in the corner. I’ve never heard of FIRE ISLAND [Summer resort for many New Yorkers], but it makes for lively fill. It’s paired with OPEN SEASON which reminds me of the old Bugs Bunny / Daffy Duck cartoon. Speaking of cartoons, we get ANIMANIACS in the bottom left, paired with MS. MAGAZINE.

LOSES IT is also good as is PRUSSIA, CANTINA and RAMP UP, which feels theme-adjacent.

In the negative column, the worst offenders are roll-you-ownish UNFELT and REPIN.

I had trouble spelling TORCHERE [Tall floor lamp], which I wanted to spell “torchier.” I see why, because I think I’ve normally seen the word spelled “torchiere.” Apparently, these are all acceptable spellings of the word along with “torcher.”

Clues of note:

  • 1a [Edwards and Vandenberg, e.g.: Abbr.]. AFBS. Easy for me as we were stationed at Vandenberg on California’s central coast for a couple of years. Edwards was down the road apiece in the Mojave.
  • 58a [Bachelorette party prop]. TIARA. I had other, more adult-oriented, answers in mind before the crosses helped me with this one.
  • 44d [Eye, to the ear?]. LONG I. Whoa. I’m glad I didn’t dwell on this clue for very long, because I don’t think I would have sussed it out.
  • 61d [Mined-over matter?]. ORE. I don’t recall seeing this clue before. That’s a good’un.

Solid, nicely-themed grid for your Wednesday. 3.8 stars.

Peter Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 16 19, no. 1016

I’m rarely a fan of quip or quote themes, and this one didn’t sway my opinion. WE HEARD THE / ORIGAMI CLUB HAD / FOLDED, BUT IN FACT / INTEREST IN IT IS / INCREASING. Get it? Origami, folding and creasing papers. I didn’t laugh.

Time for the crossword Bechdel test.
Caesar in IDES clue, ORRIN, LEA & Perrins (it ain’t easy to find a male LEA clue!), fictional ASHER Lev, RON Wood, Henri in ICI clue, male Paris in the ILIAD clue, male NBA, Sun Yat-SEN, –9 / CATE Blanchett, Nazi propagandist LENI Riefenstahl, male but non-white CRAZY Horse, +3. That’s a –6, with Morticia and Gomez splitting the ADDAMS clue.

Speaking of LENI Riefenstahl, I was surprised to learn she’d had a relationship with a Jewish man before the war. That man went on to marry a Jewish woman and have two children; their daughter’s amazing personal essay in the New Yorker is titled “My Terezín Diary.” I encourage you to read Zuzana Justman’s story about her family’s life in Prague and in the Terezín camp during the Holocaust. Justman reread the diary she kept at the camp, and recounts the things she left out of it.

I’m tired and I can’t find anything else in the puzzle to talk about. Didn’t love the fill (STN CLE NODTO LITRES ARS RIAL CFO, meh). Didn’t enjoy the theme. 2.6 stars from me.

David Alfred Bywaters’s Universal crossword, “A Mighty Wind”—Rebecca’s review

THEME: The word LEAF has been blown to the end of each word

Universal crossword solution · David Alfred Bywaters · “A Mighty Wind” · Wed., 10.16.19


  • 16A [Judges at a Scottish food contest? (hint: the last letter was originally letter 5)] TRIPE PANEL
  • 22A [Retiring hairstylist’s final job? (… letter 1)] VERY LAST MANE
  • 38A [Adequate coat? (… letter 2)] OK PARKA
  • 49A [Unload a slippery fish from a truck? (… letter 7)] GET THE EEL OFF
  • 49A [Lawn machine used on 16-, 22-, 38- and 49-Across] LEAF BLOWER

Great theme for autumn with some entertaining answers stemming from a letter in the word LEAF moving to the end of each phrase. Some of the base answers worked better than others – but all of the changed ones are all great. The one that worked best for me was the change from GET THE FEEL OF to GET THE EEL OFF.

I was very mixed about the fill today. Some of it is great – like HALF A DOZEN and UNQUOTABLE – but there were a few too many abbreviations and acronyms scattered about for it to feel really smooth – and I wasn’t familiar at all with enough answers to feel like it was really slow-going.

3 Stars

Roland Huget’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Today features an anagram theme with a somewhat forced revealer. INSTAGRAM needs to be imagined as INSTA(ANA)GRAM as SATIN, SAINT and STAIN anagram to INSTA. I didn’t know SATINDOLL, and all three were pretty plainly clued.

Outside of the theme, the best answers are colloquial PINCHME and FREEWIFI (does anyone ever use it though? It has always seemed like far too much hassle for the minimal data cost saving.)

It is worth noting several common crossword names: ARIE Luyendyk, SELA Ward and Zora NEALE Hurston.


Francis Heaney’s AVCX, “Life Comes At You Fast” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 10/16 – “Life Comes At You Fast”

Francis Heaney has today’s AVCX puzzle, and it’s got a few things going in underneath the hood.  Going across:

  • 17A: Noël Coward play featuring a séance — BL(IT)HE SPIR(IT)
  • 30A: Not going overboard — W(IT)HIN LIM(IT)S
  • 44A: Detachment, say — MIL(IT)ARY UN(IT)

All of this is a pretty straightfoward rebus square puzzle, except that there’s a different rebus affecting the down clues:

  • 3D: Was dutiful — OB(EYE)D
  • 9D: ___ on (was above in the food chain) — PR(EYE)D
  • 25D: Method of manual data input — K(EY E)NTRY
  • 32D: Disappointing answer to “Who’s shown up to the party so far?” — NO ON(E YE)T
  • 33D: CBS has one — (EYE) LOGO
  • 39D: Capital city about two hours’ drive north of Denver, CO — CH(EYE)NNE WY

All of this of course plays into the revealer at 50A, BLINK AND YOU’LL MISS (IT) (With 59-Across, statement about any of several intersections in this puzzle).  I’m not sure this gives me the full AHA moment I usually have with a puzzle like this (plus, I can’t quite grok what the answer to 57D is – SITES? SEYEES?).  Still, it’s a tight piece of construction.


ABBA‘s “Dancing Queen” is the first time I’ve been able to correctly predict a song as getting a 10 by Stereogum’s “Number Ones” column. This week’s edition is pretty great and gets into just what makes the song great.

I’ll leave things there (largely because I need to – I’m in and out of meetings all day today). This wasn’t my favorite Francis puzzle, but it’s nicely constructed, IMO.

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13 Responses to Wednesday, October 16, 2019

  1. Paul Coulter says:

    Universal – Outstanding job from DAB today. Very Fireballesque. The apparent gimmick is impressive enough, but it turns out to have an extra layer that explains the opaque title when you get to the reveal. Again, I’m not sure if solvers across the country appreciate the trickiness, or if it seems like word salad. As for me, I’m digging the new Universal series very much.

  2. JohnH says:

    For the WSJ, I was thrown by the spelling TORCHERE, too, for a while, but Fire Island is easy for someone in the NYC area. Not that I’ve ever visited.

  3. Kelly says:

    Just noticing that among all the puzzles rated by this blog, so far this week the NYT has a solid streak of finishing in last place.

  4. Ethan says:

    Sun Yat-Sen was white?

  5. Brian Thomas says:

    LEXI Alexander, Thompson, and Weeks all seem crossworthy enough for 26D

  6. theodreiser says:

    AVCX – I really liked this one, but similarly confused about 57-D which I think should be S(LID)ES but I’m not sure why besides the EYE/LID connection.

    • Francis says:

      That one is blinking.

      • David Glasser says:

        I got that, but it still seemed a little off — the LID made you miss IT, but so did all the open EYEs? Maybe it would have made more sense if the across “rebus” under the LID was literally no letters, so that square had no IT unlike the others?

        Still an overall fun solve though.

  7. PJ says:

    I enjoyed the AVCX. It took a little work but the payoff was worth it.

  8. Phil says:

    My issue with the AVCX is that the Across Lite wouldn’t accept anything in the rebus squares. I tried EYE, IT, and I. It appeared to want an asterisk, which I couldn’t find on the keyboard. People need to pr9gram their .puz files correctly.

Comments are closed.