Wednesday, February 12, 2020

LAT 5:02 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:24 (Amy) 


WSJ 7:11 (Jim P) 


Universal tk (Rebecca) 


AVCX untimed (Ben) 


Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Love Interests”—Jim P’s review

Valentine’s Day is nigh and love must be on the minds of the WSJ editorial staff and constructor Sam Donaldson. He brings us a listing of terms of endearment but re-casts them as love interests for an appropriate person. At first I was thinking the person involved was meant to be in love with the thing involved (yachter loving a boat, for example). Now I’m of the opinion that the theme entries are pet names used by the people involved but for another person. That makes more sense to me.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Love Interests” · Samuel A. Donaldson · Wed., 2.12.20

  • 17a [Yachter’s love interest?] DREAMBOAT
  • 21a [Kia driver’s love interest?] SOUL MATE
  • 36a [Accordion player’s love interest?] MAIN SQUEEZE
  • 53a [Butcher’s love interest?] LAMB CHOP
  • 58a [Baker’s love interest?] BABYCAKES

So yeah. Maybe I’m just being dense, but I was confused by what the theme was intending. This is unfortunate since it looks to be pleasantly light. Once I got past my confusion, I liked it fine.

Fill in the grid feels like a mixed bag. I like CITYSCAPE, MALAMUTE, SUDANESE, BOLEYN, and TOQUE. I like TEA LEAVES as well, but it was tough to parse where it crossed AUDIS [R8 Spyder and e-tron Sportback, e.g.] and VOSS [Bottled water from Norway]. AFC EAST feels like kind of a clunker, as does SODA ASH [Compound used in water softeners] and stale crosswordese like OPE, ESTOP, and ARTOO were also distracting.

Clues of note:

  • 28a. [Strikeout letters]. KAYS. Maybe I knew that the letter K was used to indicate a strikeout at one point, but I must have forgotten. I must have been thinking of boxing here because I put KAYO and never went back to check so I ended up with an error.
  • 33a. [Chocoholic’s bane]. CAROB. Ha! Ain’t it the truth. Pro tip: Don’t give your chocolate-loving significant other CAROB this Friday.
  • 39a. [DJ Spinderella collaborator]. SALT. Needed every crossing and still didn’t understand what this was until…44d. [DJ Spinderella collaborator] turned out to be PEPA. Nice. I like it.
  • 12d. [They have issues to deal with]. EDITORS. Nice clue.
  • 34d. [U Thant’s homeland]. BURMA. I’ve seen the name but couldn’t remember who or what it was. He was the third Secretary-General of the U.N. from ’61 to ’71.

Cute theme that was a little confusing for me. Fill and clues are fair. 3.5 stars.

Rich Proulx’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 12 20, no. 0212

Happy Lincoln’s Birthday to you all! That’s a state holiday here in Illinois.

The theme revealer is GOD, 62a. [What each set of circled letters is, relative to the first word in its answer], and we’ve got two Greek gods, one Roman goddess, and one Norse god. I wonder if an Egyptian god could have been part of an apt phrase to replace one of the Greeks here.

  • 17a. [Optimistic maxim from Virgil], LOVE CONQUERS ALL, Venus, goddess of love. At first, paying no mind to the circled letters, I thought the theme would connect to Valentine’s day and romance, but the next themer killed that theory.
  • 27a. [Reliable things, to Ben Franklin], DEATH AND TAXES, Hades, god of the dead and/or death.
  • 43a. [They make loud noises during showers], THUNDERSTORMS, Thor, god of thunder. This one feels less elegant because (a) it’s a single word rather than a phrase, like the other themers, and (b) Thor and thunder are actually connected via etymology.
  • 54a. [Overly optimistic 1910s appellation], WAR TO END ALL WARS, Ares, god of war. Phrase feels naked without the at the beginning.

The theme idea’s really clever.

Snow Cone!

I had mixed feelings about the fill. I liked NOODGE, SIDELONG, THE OLDS, and possibly even BAT GUANO. Less keen on SNO-CONES (the weird variant spelling of snow cone that lives mainly in crosswords), TENT SHOW clued as [Circus] (is that a regionalism or something? sounds alien to me), singular ALTOID, EPI-, GTOS, UTA, AMO, REO, MERCS, OSSA, and SSNS. Some definite Scowl-o-Meter action tonight. I don’t know how I feel about DO IT UP. Do you like the entry?

Three more things:

  • 11d. [“Me” in the Oscar-winning song “You Must Love Me”], EVA. Whaaaa…? I Googled this after the solve. Madonna, from the Evita soundtrack. I leaned on the crossings here.
  • 41d. [Alternative to canned], BOTTLED. I was thinking of various canned foods rather than beverages and was confused by the answer as it emerged. Consider, if you will, bottled tuna. Bottled creamed corn. Bottled SpaghettiOs! Now my husband is envisioning a squeeze bottle of SpaghettiOs, so you can dispense just the amount you want. A dollop of SpaghettiOs on your morning bagel, perhaps.
  • 51a. [Car rental add-on], GPS. Anyone else try GAS first and wonder what 52a could possibly be? I feel like the rental car either has built-in GPS or it doesn’t, and that buying gas so you can bring the car back on empty is a more familiar add-on option.

3.25 stars from me.

Kurt Krauss’ LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I like the surprise variation in today’s theme. Hidden letter strings are rather common in the LA Times, but today’s does something slightly different. I have no idea what the clue for INSIDEPITCH meant beyond [Blah-blah baseball…] but each circled letter string is a different meaning of PITCH – SLANT as in angle; TOUT as in advertisements; TAR as the goopy stuff; TONE as in the colour. Very creative!

The entries themselves were a tad on the lacklustre side, which goes with the territory of squeezing in five: plural GASLANTERNS, sort of contrived GETOUTOFIT, and undifferentiated CLINTONERA.

Unexpectedly, we have a pair of funny-to-say geography names in the longer fill: TITICACA and MACKINAW


Patrick Blindauer’s AVCX, “T Time” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 2/12 – “T Time”

Patrick Blindauer has today’s AVCX, and “T Time” is an apt descriptor of what’s going on in the grid.  7 clues fit in T-shaped pairs of entries, with a T at the fulcrum of each T-shape:

  • 1A/3D: Parade member in rhinestones, often — BATON/TWIRLER
  • 6A/7D: “I swear!” — IT’S TRUE
  • 9A/11D: Able to control oneself, in a way — POTTY/TRAINED
  • 34A/35D: Spinoff video channel that played Prince’s “1999” for 24 hours on January 1, 1999 — MTV/TWO
  • 38A/40D: Campaigning concern — VOTER/TURNOUT
  • 44A/46D: Hydroelectric power generator — WATER/TURBINE
  • 56A/58D: St. Louis setting — CENTRAL/TIME

I have a little bit of a quibble with MTV TWO as an entry, since the channel’s name started out as M2 and has always been stylized as MTV2 since a rebrand in 1999.  Otherwise, this is well-executed

Elsewhere the fill:

  • ALABAMA is a tempting seven-letter”Neighbor of Georgia” starting with an A, but this grid was thinking the Republic of Georgia, so you want ARMENIA.
  • As far as ONLINE publications go, I miss “Choire Sicha’s former website” The AWL, but I’m really loving his work as the Editor of the NYTimes’ Style Section, particularly its Work Friend column
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8 Responses to Wednesday, February 12, 2020

  1. RSP64 says:

    The rental car company I use for work still offers a GPS add-on along with satellite radios, car seats, etc. The GPS is a separate unit added to the car. I’m not sure why anyone would pay for it with the proliferation of various maps apps available on phones these days.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Had the same thought when I saw the posters advertising GPS units for rent – and then thought of the woman I was traveling with who had come to a US conference from Europe and didn’t have cellular service. So that’s one reason people might still rent a GPS. When we were in Iceland, we rented a gadget that provided wifi in the car and used our phones.

      • Martin says:

        Yeah, we use pocket wifi in Japan too. AirBnB’s often have them for your use during you stay. You’re using Japanese cell service converted to wifi to feed your US cell phone. Odd sounding, but it works wonderfully. When we come home we hate our third-world infrastructure for a while.

        Another reason, though, to rent the car’s GPS is that it works in places with weak cell reception. We took a six-week road trip and rented a car to save wear-and-tear on ours. At that time (in 2000) Hertz’s cost for GPS maxed out at one week, so it was a great deal. Of course cell networks are a lot better today, but it was great to have the GPS (and database of hotels, restaurants, etc.) available anywhere, any time. Even today, on road trips in my own car I wind up switching from Android Auto to the car’s built-in GPS in many rural areas where we lose cell coverage.

  2. Anne says:

    I lived in the US for some years, and at first I was confused when people talked about “canning“ fruit, vegetables, sauce and so on. I mean, they were putting food in glass jars! Not cans. And here in Australia, that process is called “bottling”. So I guess one language etc.

    • Martin says:

      “Jarring” would be the logical term, but no one wants to be accused of jarring food. I’m making menudo (Mexican tripe stew) as we speak, and many would find the contents of the pot plenty jarring.

  3. David Eisner says:

    Regarding the NYT’s 1D (“Where Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” is displayed):

    From the WSJ archive:
    “Feb. 12, 1994
    Thieves Steal Munch’s ‘The Scream’

    A version of Edvard Munch’s masterpiece was stolen by thieves from Norway’s National Gallery in Oslo on the day of the opening of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. Police caught the thieves in an undercover sting operation months later and the painting was returned to the gallery virtually undamaged.”

  4. Billy Boy says:

    I’m out of SYNC again, it seems, I found Sam’s puzzle in WSJ fun and a good Weds level challenge while the fill on NYT is awkward and inconsistent, the quotes if you just write them in edifies the opinion I too often have

    “Fund of knowledge sync does not excuse crummy fill nor make a good puzzle.”

    I stuck in a spot or two in WSJ and sussing it all out I say, hey that’s decent.
    NYT? Stuck on junk several times, trying not to fill-in-the-blank for the quotes, bah.

    My WSJ rating was notably higher than my NYT (As opposed to the consensus at the time I voted).

    GOD? That’s the big reveal? Meant to be ironic? God IS in the details to us Scientists.

  5. D B says:

    RE: LAT
    Tone as in sound, not color.

Comments are closed.