Wednesday, May 20, 2020

LAT 4:38 (Gareth) 


NYT 3:30 (Amy) 


WSJ 8:03 (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


AVCX 10:38 (Ben) 


The Wednesday NYT puzzle is by the JASA’s crossword constructing class (and their instructors). A timely announcement: If you’ve been thinking about learning to make Minis, you’re in luck, as Joel Fagliano will teach a class benefiting Ronald McDonald House New York on June 1. No need to worry about coronavirus exposure—the class will be an online one via Webex. Registration is $20, and all proceeds go to Ronald McDonald House, an excellent cause.

Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Meet the Faculty”—Jim P’s review

Theme: School teachers are re-imagined based on a play on words in the teachers’ titles.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Meet the Faculty” · Samuel A. Donaldson · Wed., 5.20.20

  • 20a [Drama teacher?] TROUBLEMAKER
  • 23a [Bookkeeping teacher?] LIBRARIAN. This is the first entry I solved, and it’s also the weakest since bookkeeping is not a class at most schools, unlike all the other theme clues.
  • 32a [Shop teacher?] BARGAIN HUNTER
  • 50a [English teacher?] POOLSHARK
  • 52a [Chemistry teacher?] SEX THERAPIST

A fun theme—one of those “wish I’d thought of it” themes. It’s only slightly marred by the little inconsistency, but I wish something else could’ve been found. Art teacher? Gym teacher? Math teacher? Hmm. I can’t come up with anything better.

Good long fill with “IT’S A GIFT,” WELL NIGH, and RED STATE. I APPROVE. I MEAN IT! I also like SHTICK, BO-PEEP, and DEWDROP.

BE A STAR is less exciting, and EAGAN [Tony winner Daisy] and AGE OF [___ Empires (video game series)] are tough ones in that crowded center. But given that all the theme entries are smushed into the middle of the grid and the central entry is 13-letters long, it could’ve been much worse.

Clues of note:

  • 31a. [___ Empires (video game series)]. AGE OF. I spent many (many) hours playing these games, but this was years ago. Apparently there’s talk of AOE 4 coming out in the next year or two, though there’s no definite date set.
  • 6d. [Manhattan purchaser]. MINUIT. New to me. It’s referring to Peter MINUIT, Dutch settler who purchased the island in 1626.
  • 7d. [Uzo of “Orange Is the New Black”]. ADUBA. You should know her name by now. She played “Crazy Eyes” on that show and won multiple Emmys for her portrayal. How’s this for crossword serendipity: She’s one of only two actors to win an Emmy for the same role in both the comedy and drama categories; the other being crossword staple Ed Asner.
  • 34d. [Wayne’s sidekick]. GARTH. I really thought this was going for Bruce Wayne, so I reluctantly put in ROBIN, even though I knew the correct entry should be GRAYSON (Dick Grayson being Robin’s secret identity). Instead, it’s a Wayne’s World reference. Party on!

Good puzzle. 3.75 stars.

Natan Last, Andy Kravis & J.A.S.A. Crossword Class’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 20 20, no. 0520

Andy, Natan, and the crew managed to squeeze 64 theme squares into this 16×15 puzzle. Each themer is made of an 8-letter word followed by a pair of 4s that are the two halves of the 8, with the resulting goofball phrase clued accordingly:

  • 18a. [French cheese tasting that lasts only a minute?], BRIEFEST BRIE FEST.
  • 28a. [“That handlebar has gotta hurt!”], MUSTACHE MUST ACHE.
  • 51a. [Headline about a pagan rotisserie shop?], HEATHENS HEAT HENS.
  • 68a. [Screed about Old Glory that goes too far?], FLAGRANT FLAG RANT.

Fun theme. It makes my brain tired to ponder brainstorming words that work this way.

Favorite bits:

  • 22a. [Symbol of nakedness], JAYBIRD. I briefly considered FIG LEAF, though that’s a wee covering of nakedness.
  • 39a. [___ Chu, Nobel Prize-winning member of Obama’s cabinet], STEVEN. Always cool to give a shout-out to smart scientists.
  • 3d. [It might be painted in the bathroom], NAIL. I mostly paint my nails at my desk. I also don’t think I’ve ever polished just one single, solitary nail.
  • 14d. [“The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but ___”: The Economist], DATA. If only we actually got paid for the data that’s collected about us.
  • 33d. [Concert tees and the like], MERCH. Short for merchandise, natch.
  • 46d. [Private employer?], THE ARMY.
  • 53d. [Animal crossing], HYBRID. Tricky clue, given the current popularity of the game Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

I would not be bothered if STOAT never appeared in another crossword.

Four stars from me. How’d you like the group venture?

Kevin Salat’s Universal crossword, “NFL Owners” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 5/20/20 • Wed • “NFL Owners” • Salat • solution • 20200520

It’s the sort of thing we’ve seen many times before, but that’s not a knock.

Original phrases have a crucial S re-parsed so that they are possessives. In all instances the original words happen to be professional football team nicknames. It’s easier to understand with examples than to describe:

  • 20a. [Arizona NFL player’s business connection?] cardinal sin becomes CARDINAL’S IN.
  • 56a. [Minnesota NFL player’s mid-body joints?] VIKING’S HIPS (viking ships). The hip joint is the interface of the hip socket and the femur’s head—I don’t feel you can call hips a joint. But I can see how there’s some semantic flexibility for ‘hips’.
  • 11d. [Cleveland NFL player’s manner of speaking?] BROWN’S TONE (brownstone).
  • 29d. [New York NFL player’s British pound?] GIANT’S QUID (giant squid).

SEE how it works? (63d [“Get it?”])

  • 17a [Majority shareholder?] LION. Cute. My favorite clue in the puzzle. Would that be the Lion’s hare?
  • 30a [Charming characteristic] CHARISMA. Had to check to see if there was etymological overlap, and there is none. Courtesy charm: Middle English charme, from Anglo-French, from Latin carmen song, from canere to sing — more at CHANTcharisma: Greek, favor, gift, from charizesthai to favor, from charis grace; akin to Greek chairein to rejoice — more at YEARN. Also from m-w:

    The Greek word charisma means “favor” or “gift.” In English, it has been used in Christian contexts since about 1640 to refer to a gift or power bestowed upon an individual by the Holy Spirit for the good of the Church. (This sense is now very rare.) The earliest nonreligious use of “charisma” that we know of occurred in a German text, a 1922 publication by sociologist Max Weber. The sense began appearing in English contexts shortly after Weber’s work was published.

  • 53a [State whose east and west borders are rivers] IOWA. Mississippi to the east, Missouri and Big Sioux to the west.
  • 3d [With 5-Down, 2017 superhero film directed by Taika Waititi] THOR | RAGNAROK. Tangential to the VIKING’S HIPS themer.
  • 10d [2019 Levi Strauss & Co. event: Abbr.] IPO. Wow, so late.
  • 54d [Cappuccino’s top] FOAM. Yes! Unlike the misstep in the NYT back on 15 April.
  • 51d [Desert that covers much of Libya] SAHARA.

Jesse Goldberg’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times 100520

I suppose the main reason this puzzle was written was to see if the risque WORKONESBUTTOFF is fit for crosswords. The rest of the entries form a tight quartet of idioms in the form >VERBORGAN(OFF/OUT). The choice was made to use ONES, which is how they appear in dictionaries, but rarely in real life. The other advantage is ONES is easier to fill around than four YOURs.

Like a lot of puzzles with four spanning horizontal entries, the rest of the puzzle is more about accommodation than including lots of other splashy entries. We are treated to some subtle wordplay with [Day care charge] for TOT & [Cats play with them] for PAWS. RICOLA and MUKLUK are tricky letter strings to predict for those who didn’t know them; FONDU would be too, but it gets a cheesy hint.


Kameron Austin Collins’ AVCX, “AVCX Themeless #47” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 5/20/2020 – “AVCX Themeless #47”

It feels like it’s been a while since we got a themeless from the AVCX, and even longer since it was a KAC Themeless, so seeing his byline in my inbox was a pleasant surprise this Wednesday.  In typical Kam fashion, the grid itself is pretty to look at, and the fill inside is pretty crisp, too:

  • The wide open spaces in this grid leave lots of space for long stacked trios.  Across, we’ve got “CUT THE CRAP”, ON A RAMPAGE, and ROTO-ROOTER (“Company that deals with obstructions”) in the upper left, and BONSAI TREE, ISAAC STERN, and TASTE TESTS (“Trials for one’s buds”) in the lower right.
  • We also have stacks going down in the other two corners of the grid – the upper right has ARAB LEAGUE, RESOLUTELY, and PATTY MELTS, and the lower left has SPONGE BATH (“It involves some pleasing squeezing”), LOUIE LOUIE, and UNINSPIRED.
  • I’ve seen lots of native tribes pop up in crossword fill, but somehow not the YAVAPAI, who are the native “people of the sun” in Arizona.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Wednesday, May 20, 2020

  1. Anne says:

    NYT: Cute theme that took me a little longer than my average Wednesday.

    I was surprised to see STONY for the second day in a row. Initially I plunked in STOIC but that was quickly revealed to be wrong.

  2. pseudonym says:

    Loved the theme. Always enjoy the JASA puzzle.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: Fun, breezy and easy- Once you stumble to the theme, the answers get duplicated, covering a lot of territory.
    I love those Minis. I need to take that class!

  4. Phoebe says:

    Brainstorming the theme answers was fun- my favorite was brisking bris king, though brisking is not really a word…

    • Ethan says:

      But it is!

      “For I will consider my cat Jeoffry…
      For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.”

      -Christopher Smart

      One of my favorite poems.

  5. GlennP says:

    WSJ: I’m a little older than Sam Donaldson but I took bookkeeping in high school. Good old double entry stuff! We had to do some of the activities in ink with a fountain pen (a challenge for a leftie like me). The teacher used to harp on this: if some one asks to borrow your fountain pen, never give them the cap. That will insure that they give the pen back to you.

  6. David L says:

    Hey! What’s wrong with STOATs? They’re very common in southern England, where I grew up, although I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one in N. America. They don’t get such good press as otters and pandas and koalas, but they are perfectly fine little animals.

  7. Seahedges says:

    Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle marred by two minor errors. To wit, 64-A lacks the inverted question mark that precedes Spanish interrogative sentences, & the interrogative form of “como” carries an accent, thus : ¿ Cómo __ ? Spanish 101.

  8. Billy Boy says:

    Universal theme was so well, Universal. The last few I filled in were write-it-in. We’ve probably all done something like that in our head, unlike the to me decidedly unpleasant yet similar NYT theme which I found _____ . (I’m sure whatever word I might use would be deemed offensive) Really a stretch in this seat, just too clever by half.

    I find that Sam Donaldson consistently offers quality puzzles, today no exception, even if tilted a little toward senior. From comments on the WSJ site, the subscriber-posters found it very hard, I found it rather enjoyable. Shenk is a fine editor to me, far more clever than Shortz – who I wouldn’t miss if replaced. Often very predictable occasionally to rote.

    @GlennP – NEVER lend a fountain pen, the nib metal is intentionally soft and becomes uniquely adapted to one’s own writing style, it will likely tear the paper for the other writer. Plus I wouldn’t lend due to cost over $4-500 for a really good one.

    I guess it’s akin to the (now forever over) practice of ladies using each other’s lipstick. (Shape worn in the same unique manner) To me it’s always seemed rather gross.


    addn: sorry for the Op-Ed

  9. Every time I see STOAT in a crossword, it makes me think of that Simpsons scene from “A Tale of Two Springfields”:

    > Lisa: Well, according to… “Badgers subsist primarily on a diet of stoats, voles and marmots.”
    > Bart: Hmm, stoats. Stoats.
    > Lisa: Stoats are weasels, Bart. They don’t come in cans.

  10. sanfranman59 says:

    Universal: INNIT {43A: Brit’s “Right?”} … really?!? Grrr. (Thanks to Amy for providing me a place to vent.)

    • Billy Boy says:

      If you watch British Crime shows streaming with the captions on, you will see this so often; it was write-it-in for me thusly, lol

      • Billy Boy says:

        Me, too, obviously – WSJ today has an article of streams to watch. ‘Line of Duty’ is featured, it also has been on AMC on Sundays, which is how I found it. First 4 seasons on Prime Video (They don’t tell you that) I’m not skipping commercials if I don’t have to, lol

        You will hear/see INNIT (in it !) [ouch!]

        I’m sorry, I cannot help myself.

  11. Brenda Rose says:

    In high school we had desks attached to chairs with book shelves under them. I’ll never forget seeing my first triple letter insert word on the spine of a neighbor’s text: bOOKKEEping.

Comments are closed.