Wednesday, November 13, 2019

LAT 4:03 (GRAB) 


NYT 4:21 (Amy) 


WSJ 7:59 (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (Rebecca) 


AVCX 8:46 (Ben) 


Joe DiPietro’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Only One Rite Answer”—Jim P’s review

I didn’t suss out the theme during the solve, but it’s cute. BROKEN PROMISE (34a, [Certain moral lapse, and a hint to what’s hidden in this puzzle’s theme answers]) suggests we need to look for a hidden word spanning across the pairs of words in each theme answer. Except it’s not just one word we’re looking for, it’s the hidden phrase “I DO.”

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Only One Rite Answer” · Joe DiPietro · Wed., 11.13.19

  • 18a [Capital of New Zealand?] KIWI DOLLAR. With the question mark in the clue, I wasn’t sure if this was a real thing or some wackified phrase. It turns out the question mark is to indicate the play on words with “Capital,” ergo a KIWI DOLLAR is a real thing.
  • 24a [Site of the French ministry of foreign affairs] QUAI D’ORSAY. Tough one if French spelling is not your forte. Even tougher if you don’t know world football and Lionel MESSI. Fortunately, the theme helps resolve that crossing. I especially like how I DO is technically broken up between three different words.
  • 48a [Tournament won five times by countryman Rafael Nadal] MADRID OPEN. Hadn’t heard of this tournament, but it was inferable with a few crosses.
  • 53a [Two tablespoons] FLUID OUNCE

So I was unfamiliar with three of the four phrases, but they’re all crossword-worthy, and I liked that challenge and the theme as a whole.

On to the fill. Who among you also put down A VILLAGE for 11d [What it takes, so they say]? I was ready to ding the puzzle for that long partial, but ALL SORTS makes for somewhat better fill. STARGAZE, BRUCE LEE, and ROPE BURN are all great bits of fill, needless to say.

In the minus column we have SRI and SRO, questionable HDS [Most current TVs], weird past-tense verbs KOD and ODED, and proper name crossing of GERTZ [Jami of “The Neighbors”] and GOTTI. That last one probably isn’t too much of an issue since most people (at least, among American solvers) know [“The Teflon Don”], but I could be wrong.

Cluing was mostly of the straightforward variety except for the likes of [Company whose products appear in many stories]. This turned out to be OTIS, the elevator company.

Good puzzle which put up a little bit of a fight in a good way. 3.7 stars.

Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 13 19, no. 111

Gonna go out on a limb here and surmise that Will et al. have decided the answer to a surfeit of submitted/accepted rebus puzzles is to circle the rebus squares and run some puzzles on Wednesdays rather than Thursdays.

The theme revealer is 56a. [Carnival projectiles that might be directed at parts of this puzzle?], BALLOON DARTS. I’m not sure the themer is an actual thing. There are balloon dart games at carnivals, yes, but they are dart games in which regular darts are thrown at balloons, rather than games in which balloon darts are thrown. The rebus squares are all circled to resemble balloons (not just circled to make the puzzle Wednesday-easy), and each contains the letters POP. The entries that include the rebuses are: POPULAR / APOPLEXY, HIPPOPOTAMUSES / RED POPPY, IS THE POPE CATHOLIC / TOOTSIE POP, SOAP OPERA / POP BANDS, and IGGY POP / SNAP OPEN. That’s a lively batch of phrases, all right.

I do not at all know IGGY POP’s music, but I adore him after reading this recent New Yorker profile. Smart and interesting guy.

Six more things:

  • It seems mean to cross Latin(ate) and Spanish: 23a. [Foot, in medical dictionaries], PES / 21d. [Spanish direction], OESTE. Sandwiched between the hippo, Tootsie Pop, and red poppy of remembrance.
  • 63d. [Iconic Russian department store facing Red Square], GUM. This feels like a capriciously obscure clue from one of Adrian Powell’s crosswords at The 11/12 puzzle has these choice clues: [Vessel that takes you from Victoria, British Columbia to Port Angeles, Washington] crossing [The US Senate’s youngest member]. COHO crossing JOSH HAWLEY? COCO/CAWLEY? Maybe it’s not JOSH. The J’s crossing is [__ Psaki, White House Communications Director, 2015-17], and that doesn’t ring a bell. Then there’s [Facebook celebrity feline “Lil __”] crossing the Twitter cofounder __ Stone—luckily, I knew the Twitter name, but are there not better ways to clue both BUB (the cat) and BIZ (the Twitter guy)? NOMAD is clued [Manhattan neighborhood where the “Museum of Sex” is located], and why why why are there quote marks in this clue? At least these clues are better than other recent ones that cited the 9/11 catastrophe and a mass killing. But I digress.
  • 55a. [City, informally], URB. I don’t know anybody who uses this “informal” term.
  • 36d. [Maker of Colortrak TVs, once], RCA. Ya know, you can still clue RCA as the record label. It is an actual thing! It’s not obsolete!
  • 58d. [The Gaelic “uisge beatha,” meaning “water of life,” for “whiskey”], ROOT. Wonderful clue.
  • 62d. [Role for John Huston in 1966’s “The Bible”], GOD. Not sure I’ve seen this clued as a movie character before. I like the approach.

Eyeballing the tally of straight white men in the puzzle vs everyone else, we find Caesar, Chomsky, Iggy Pop, gendered ADMEN (ugh), Verdi, Richard Nixon, a king with a TASTER, Gay TALESE, One Direction (80% white) and OneRepublic, and John Huston; they’re up against just cartoon DORA and [Nixon daughter] TRICIA. Bzzzzt! Try harder.

3.4 stars from me.

Susan Gelfand’s Universal crossword, “String Quartet”—Rebecca’s review

THEME: A quartet of the stringed objects make up the theme answers in this grid

Universal crossword solution · Susan Gelfand · “String Quartet” · Wed., 11.13.19


  • 17A [What helps a kid make a connection on the playground?] TIN CAN TELEPHONE
  • 31A [Kid’s game with the shape “The Manger”] CAT’S CRADLE
  • 38A [It has its ups and downs] DUNCAN YO-YO
  • 58A [Hot water insert that you fill yourself] LOOSE LEAF TEA BAG

I liked this theme as I solved, but after the fact, noticed that LOOSE LEAF TEA BAG feels a bit out of place. While still a stringed thing, the other theme answers are all childhood games, so it sticks out a bit. I also needed every single cross to get the DUNCAN part of DUNCAN YO-YO, despite being an avid player in my youth.

The C in the ACROPHOBIA/CRO crossing was very much an educated guess and not something that came easily, but so much of the lovely fill outside of that crossing made up for that spot. Finding entries like STARSHIP, I WANT, SCHISM, ZEN MASTERS, and SLATHERS around the grid kept the solve entertaining.

I got stuck on WATTS [Bulb units] for a moment, as before solving this puzzle, I had witnessed the planting of some tulip bulbs and couldn’t get a non-flower thought out of my head initially – perhaps as a way to will warmer weather into coming back. Clue of the day goes to GYMS [Elliptical buildings?].

3.25 stars

Gary Larson’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Today’s puzzle by Gary Larson has an interesting and clever revealer, WHEREWITHAL, which is placed right in the centre. Four WHEREs – place real, fictional, or even metaphorical – have the digram AL between their two parts. It’s an interesting choice to vary the WHEREs so wildly. AL is quite a slight letter pattern to hide, but the consistent positioning strengthens that aspect somewhat.

Strangeest clue: the OBAMALIBRARY is clued in the present tense as [Place for memorabilia…] but seems to be under construction.

For some reason, I wanted [Like some dress shirts] to be IRONON or some kind of ON but it’s NO/IRON. Okay. Also wanted the R of P.R. to be rata as in pro rata not Puerto RICO.

I will likely be turning out for our 8-a-side cricket team on Sunday. I hope I won’t be UPLAST (but odds are good), but I certainly won’t be [Batting ninth].


Brendan Emmett Quigley’s AVCX, “Moving the Goalposts” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 11/13 – “Moving the Goalposts”

BEQ has this week’s AVCX, and I’m ready to dig into it ASAP:

  • 18A:Southeast Asian currency that also helps wipe up spills? — SPONGE BAHT
  • 26A: What a loud yoga instructor might do? — SHOUT BEND
  • 36A: Imitate Magellan? — CROSS ONE’S EARTH
  • 49A: Sounds of everyone being so over it? — GROUP UGHS
  • 59A: Funky fresh iOS file management software? — PHAT FINDER

And that’s it!  The H in one of the words from each phrase – its “goalposts”, per the title – have been moved.  We’ve got SPONGE (BATH), (SOUTH) Bend, CROSS ONE’S (HEART), GROUP (HUGS), and (PATH) FINDER.  It took me writing that out to pinpoint exactly what was going on here – highly specific anagramming is tricky to identify, it turns out.

If you give me a chance to post a video by 2010 ASCAP Vanguard Award winner Janelle MONÁE, I will take it.

I appreciated the breadth of pop cultural references in this puzzle – everything from BB EYES (from Dick Tracy comics), Willy WONKA, DRAG brunch, ZENER cards, TOSCA, ERATO, the DOOM video game series, Britt EKLAND, and Sanjay GUPTA got shoutouts

Happy Wednesday, all!

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12 Responses to Wednesday, November 13, 2019

  1. mt says:

    balloon darts definitely not a thing, and makes the theme feel so much worse given the nice set of themers. most of the fill felt pretty stale

  2. Martin says:

    Pub darts.

    Balloon darts.

    They’re not built for accuracy, but cheaply with an extra-sharp needle point.

    “I never heard of …” is not the same as “… is definitely not a thing.”

    • Rex says:

      Not a thing

    • PhilR says:

      If you think that Carnivals have “extra-sharp” points on their darts you don’t understand the nature of Carnivals. Carnival darts can’t pop a soap bubble.

      • Martin says:

        The many balloon darts listed for sale on Amazon, for instance, are sharp because they’re generally purchased for backyard birthday parties and the like, where the goal is to pop balloons.

        The ones used by carnies are purposely dulled for obvious reasons.

        • PhilR says:

          Oddly, exactly zero of the entries in the first two pages of your Amazon link specify that the darts had been specially processed to be “extra-sharp”. Well, maybe not oddly, as they are intended to be used by children, and “extra-sharp” and children don’t go too well together.

          They’re just dirt-cheap darts packaged with balloons with to be sold at the dollar store for kids parties or church fairs. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s also nothing special about that.

  3. Ethan Friedman says:

    BALLOON DARTS feels 100% valid to me.

    Amy, you might be right about the rebus circles to let it run on Wednesday — but in this case, I surmise, maybe they’re also intended to represent the balloons we’re popping?

    Those were some lively entries with IS THE POPE CATHOLIC taking the prize for me

  4. Billy Boy says:

    Rex whinged a ton, even more than usual on the NYT today and it seems rather a victim of crit here (even discounting XY heavy) as well.

    I had no problems with NYT nor WSJ today, WSJ was toothy for me, but my nit is IDO is pretty lame (even if once it crosses ‘3 words’) as a theme/reveal/POP/big surprise.

    Actually my wife interrupting me constantly on WSJ is my nit today … haha … made up for the lack of women in the puzzle proper (oh my bad)


  5. J says:

    There was a Sims related video game called the Urbz (I think) so it’s at least been used somewhere once!

  6. R says:

    NYT Bechdel Count missed ERIC Holder on the more diverse side, but it’s still not great, especially since Morgan Freeman and Janeane Garofalo played GOD more memorably and there are a million more diverse POP BANDS out there.

    • anon says:

      “[…] Janeane Garofalo played GOD more memorably […]”

      Er, are you thinking of Dogma? That was Alanis Morissette. Not aware of JG playing that character.

  7. Joel Johnson says:

    I never, ever comment on here but that BEQ AVCX puzzle was junk.

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