Wednesday, June 24, 2020

LAT 3:30 (Gareth) 


NYT 3:57 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 8:11 (Rachel) 


WSJ 7:22 (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


AVCX 5:02 (Ben) 


Jim Holland’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Addressing the Ball”—Jim P’s review

I’ve never heard the title phrase. Apparently, it’s a golf term. That explains it. Everything I ever needed to know about golf, I learned from George Carlin.

The revealer is another sports term—this time from basketball—which I have heard (though I admit I had to look up its meaning). Clued [Superior court feats suggested by 20-, 32- and 41-Across], 54a’s answer is TRIPLE-DOUBLES. In the grid, it’s referring to the fact that the other theme answers all have three sets of double letters. (Out of interest, I looked up the etymologies of each word on Wikipedia.)

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Addressing the Ball” · Jim Holland · Wed., 6.24.20

  • 20a [Atlanta’s riverCHATTAHOOCHEE. Thought to be derived from Muskogean words chato (“rock”) and huchi (“painted”). (BTW, Chattanooga means “rock rising to a point.”)
  • 32a [Natchez National Historical Park settingMISSISSIPPI. Derived from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi (“Great River”).
  • 41a [Site of Governor DeSantis’s officeTALLAHASSEE. Another Muskogean derivation meaning “old fields” or “old town.”

I find it interesting that all these are Native American words, or rather, English approximations of Native American words. I’m also surprised the old classic, “bookkeeping,” doesn’t appear here, especially since its doubles are in succession.

Elsewhere, ANTELOPES and STATE TREE are the marquee Downs today, plus there’s FACADES, HONOREE, AIRPLAY, and HEN COOP which doesn’t sit well in my ear as opposed to “chicken coop.” And hang on, isn’t the plural of antelope “antelope”? (I guess either is acceptable.)

But now on to the elephant in the room: the crossing of ASON [Chacun ___ goût (to each his own)] and HONI [___ soit qui mal y pense (Order of the Garter motto)] at the N. Not only are these both lousy bits of fill, but in what country is it fair to cross entries with little-known French sayings? (I’m guessing…France.) The first translates to “to each his own” as the clue states, the second to “shame be to him who thinks evil of it.” Well, shame on me, but I think this is a terrible crossing. But to each their own, I guess. Somehow I guessed the N correctly on the first try, but was shocked when I did. An easy remedy is to clue ASON as the partial [“Unto us ___ is given”]. But with a little bit of work, that central section can be cleaned up by changing HONI to HOPI, ASON to PLOP, etc., etc.

Clues of note:

  • 50a. [“So I take it that’s ___”]. A NO. I get that the clue is trying to do something other than the standard [“I’ll take that as ___”], but it just sounds awkward.
  • 51a. [One-time go-between]. AT A. This, on the other hand, is a brilliant little bit of deception.
  • 1d. [“Insufficient facts always invite danger, Captain” speaker]. SPOCK. I bet no one in this current administration is a Trekkie.

Despite the one crossing in the middle, I found the theme interesting and the rest of the grid solid. 3.5 stars.

Joe Deeney’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 6 24 20, no. 0624

Theme revealer: 59a. [Start of each “S.N.L.” episode … or a hint to the initials of the words in 17-, 24-, 35- and 47-Across], COLD OPEN. Those four themers are two-word phrases with I.C. initials, and “I.C.” sounds sort of like “icy” (albeit with different syllabic stresses and vowel sounds, at least the way I say them).

  • 17a. [It served as its state’s capital before Des Moines], IOWA CITY.
  • 24a. [Joe and Jack, say?], IRISH COFFEE. Good clue. Joe = coffee, Jack = Jack Daniels whiskey. Technically, you should probably use an Irish whiskey rather than an American one.
  • 35a. [Medical ethics topic], INFORMED CONSENT.
  • 47a. [“Barrier” dismantled in 1991], IRON CURTAIN. Did people get mad when the Berlin Wall was knocked down? On account of stone monuments representing history, and it being a darn shame to “forget” history by destroying monuments to bad things?

I’ll bet the northeast corner of this puzzle snagged some solvers. That stack of LAMAZE ALOMAR KATANA crossing AMALFI and a nonspecific ALAMO clue, oof. See also: the crossing of 42d. [Hungarian sporting dog], VIZSLA and 53a. [Country’s ___ Brown Band], ZAC. I could see someone trying MAC and VIMSLA there, despite MAC USERS being in the grid.

What else? Five things:

  • 41a. [Bluesman Willie], DIXON. I don’t know his music. Let’s see what YouTube has for us. (Video below.)
  • 40a. [In a drab way], GRAYLY. Aaugh. This reminds me of too many dorky adverbs that are on the word list in the NYT’s Spelling Bee game. The sort of words that you ask yourself, How would anyone actually use this in a sentence and not sound like a weirdo? And then other, more plausible adverbs aren’t accepted. The Beehive people, we get heated!
  • 44d. [“Back of the line!”], “NO CUTS!” Unless there are extenuating circumstances, in which case it would be churlish to deny cuts. (Dupe with NO TAKERS.)
  • 28d. [Geometric figure with equal angles], ISOGON. This is not a word I use or encounter much.
  • 21d. [Department store founder], R.H. MACY. Who the heck knows his initials? It seems particularly unwise to drop a question-marked clue on that initialism crossing, 21a. [Where dreams are made?], R.E.M.

The theme’s all right, and there’s some cool fill but also some clunkers. And way too many proper nouns in the grid (over 20!) to not irk a lot of solvers. Foreign-ish vocab represented by KATANA LIS AMO VINO ETTU MOT, also a lot for a 15×15 grid. 3.5 stars from me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup


Happy Wednesday New Yorker!  This is actually pretty close to the face I made a couple of times during this solve, which was mostly smooth and fun, but punctuated with a few grumpy moments. The central entry of JONATHAN FRANZEN is a perfect (15) that I can’t believe I’ve never seen in a grid before, but this appears to be the JONATHAN FRANZEN debut! Too bad I haven’t read his books (uncultured brute that I am), so the clues were no help to me.

The long entries in this puzzle are all pretty solid: BOTTICELLI / BROOM-HILDA / BANANARAMA / EVEN STEVEN / BEACH READS / DILETTANTE. Of these, I think my favorites are DILETTANTE [Dabbler] and BEACH READS [Novel suggestions for sunbathers?]. I’ve never read the BROOM-HILDA comics, but the clue makes me think I’d probably enjoy them. *However,* upon googling BROOM-HILDA, I found that the clue [Cigar-smoking, beer-guzzling witch of comics] is taken almost verbatim from the first paragraph of the BROOM-HILDA Wikipedia page, which is a little disappointing. Interestingly, upon further Wikipedia-page perusing, I learned that she is Attila the HUN‘s ex-wife! Missed opportunity for a cross-reference or wisely-avoided deep cut?

The New Yorker crossword solution • Elizabeth C. Gorski • Wednesday, June 24, 2020

A few other things:

  • GAEL/ELD is a pretty rough crossing. I had GAIL/ILD, which seems reasonable if you are unfamiliar with restaurant critics and “Ragtime,” as I clearly am. I suppose these are both New Yorkerish entries, but crossing them was not so great.
  • Fill I Could Live Without: ELEC / ELD / OONA (although tbh OONA is also one of my most favorite pieces of crosswordese— she shows up *all the time* and so is a nice gimme/toehold if you memorize her (delightful) name).
  • I had no idea what was going on wit the clue for ONE-L, more typically clued in reference to law students, so I googled the Ogden Nash line and found the complete poem: “The one-L lama, he’s a priest. The two-L llama, he’s a beast. And I will bet a silk pajama: there isn’t any three-L lllama!” – DELIGHTFUL
  • Names I didn’t know: GAEL Greene, Steve AOKI, George Moore/Evelyn INNES, Bill EVANS

Overall, this moderately challenging puzzle was a lovely way to start the day, despite my few gripes— several stars from me. I’m so glad we get New Yorker puzzles three days per week now!!!



Brooke Husic’s AVCX, “Initial Expression” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 6/24 – “Initial Expression”

This week’s AVCX is an AVCX debut from Brooke Husic, who’s already had some puzzles published over in USA Today.  Congrats, Brooke!  This was a speedy solve for me, but it was a fun one nevertheless:

  • 1A: Neither great nor terrible — NOT BAD
  • 21A: Shoe brand that’s neither Nike nor Adidas — NEW BALANCE
  • 40A: Lines that are neither in one country nor another — NATIONAL BORDERS
  • 54A: Tense games that are in neither one team’s clear favor nor the other’s — NAIL BITERS
  • 71A: People who identify as neither male nor female, in a phonetic pronunciation, and this puzzle’s theme — ENBIES

People who identify as neither male nor female are non-binary.  Non-binary often gets abbreviated as NB, so they’re also referred to as ENBIES.  This was a nice riff on that, with plenty of N.B. fill in the grid, and if you enjoyed it, I encourage you to take Brooke and Ben Tausig’s suggestion and donate to a group like The Okra Project that supports trans and non-binary people of color.

68A – “Paris Museum in a Lorde song”

Elsewhere in the fill:

  • I loved seeing CELESTE Ng’s name pop up in the grid.  I have yet to watch the miniseries adaptation, but I loved her book Little Fires Everywhere when I read it last year.
  • Multiple music references are hanging out in the grid – in addition to cluing XANADU as the “Titular nightclub in an Olivia Newton-John movie” (and ELO song from said movie), we’ve got Red LOBSTER (“Beyoncé’s treat, if you’re fortunate”, per her song “Formation”), Lorde singing about the LOUVRE, and a reminder that TLC wants “No SCRUBs” at 53D (“One who’ll get no love from TLC”)

Be well!

Tom Pepper’s Universal crossword, “Changing Positions” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 6/24/20 • “Changing Positions” • Wed • Pepper • solution • 20200624

Whoops! Forgot that I was responsible for a write-up today. Have to make it quick as a result.

Theme is paired hirings and firings with a—how to put it?—terminal name pun?

  • 20a. [H.R manager’s note to pull poet Cummings from the staff …] YANK EE (yankee).
  • 22a. [… and bring on singer Diddley instead?] PLACE BO (placebo). I’d have thought he’s more famous as a guitarist.
  • 26a. [… lay off actress Fey …] CAN TINA (cantina). Even more accomplished as a writer?
  • 29a. [… and hire parodist Yankovic instead?] SIGN AL (signal).
  • 47a. [… fire actress Gasteyer permanently …] BAN ANA (banana).
  • 49a. [… and select guitarist Paul instead?] PICK LES (pickles).
  • 54a. [… ax actor Asner …] SCRAP ED (scraped).
  • 57a. [… and pursue sportscaster Berman instead?] WOO LEN (woolen).


Just a few bits:

  • 30d [Country with an 85-letter Maori place name] NEW ZEALAND. Here it is:
  • 40d [“SNL” network] NBC. Both TINA Fey and ANA Gasteyer are alums of the show.
  • 4d [Became understood] SANK IN, 11d [“Now it makes sense”] I SEE.
  • 36a [Microscopic] TEENY.

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

LA Times

It’s a “word that follows” Wednesday. Today’s theme is explained at JAMSESSION. Each of four answers start with a word – PAPER, LOG, ICE, and TRAFFIC – that can end in JAM. In JAMSESSION, the sense is musical, while in the themers, it’s as in being stuck. In neither is it the fruity jam.

Things I was a bit iffy on:

  • [Winter carnival attraction], ICEPALACE. Not common around here. Neither are ICE jams…
  • [Tiresome person], PILL. Do people still say this? Was that what P!nk was referring to?
  • [Replacement of computer parts without a reboot], HOTSWAP. Nope. Never remotely seemed like a good idea, especially if said parts were plugged into the motherboard directly.
  • [Dating site for singles 50 and older], OURTIME. News to me, but I’m not really the target audience. I’m guessing crossword solvers are heavily represented?


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44 Responses to Wednesday, June 24, 2020

  1. jj says:

    The Irish coffee clue is just wrong. Irish whiskey is the essential spirit in that drink. If you use Tennessee whiskey or bourbon, you’re simply not drinking an Irish coffee. [Joe and Jameson] would have retained the name misdirection while also being an accurate clue.

    • JohnH says:

      That one truly puzzled me. I kept wondering if there could be a brand of Irish whiskey I’d forgotten, but it seemed unlikely.

  2. RSP64 says:

    NYT – if you’re a big fan of the original Miracle on 34th Street, you’ll know the R.H. of RHMACY. That’s the name of the character in the credits and he is referred to as R.H. in the movie.

  3. Bryan says:

    NYT: Totally agree with jj on the clue for Irish coffee being flat-out wrong. There’s a reason it’s called *Irish* coffee! It’s made with Irish whiskey, not Tennessee whiskey. The official International Bartenders Association recipe is here: . There would have been no way to clue “Irish coffee” that I can think of without too obviously saying Jameson, which isn’t a common name like Joe, so “Irish coffee” should have been scrapped and some other I-C answer found.

    • R says:

      “Joe and Jameson, say?” would have been a fine clue. You don’t really need to worry about being too obvious for an NYT Wednesday.

  4. pannonica says:

    NYT: Can’t help but think of this chestnut:

  5. PJ says:

    NYT – Willie Dixon was very important to the development of Chicago Blues. He played bass for many of the greats (Muddy, Wolf, Sonny Boy II, etc.) and recorded his own albums. I really enjoy “I Am the Blues.”
    He is probably most important as a songwriter. Among his compositions are “Little Red Rooster” and “Spoonful”. “You Need Love” was famously ripped off by Led Zeppelin as “Whole Lotta Love.”
    I was fortunate enough to see Dixon at the Chicago Blues Festival in 1989. I think.

  6. Huda says:

    NYT: I avoided the Natick at the VIZSLA /Zac intersection because by then I had gotten to the point of thinking: If in doubt, try a Z… It’s really the driving force of this puZZle.

    • JohnH says:

      That was a DNF for me. Not good. (Here, here on the importance of Willie Dixon.) R. H. Macy was easy for me, but then I’m a New Yorker. Then, too, maybe it’s not the end of the world, thank you, if every so often a New York newspaper has a New York clue.

  7. pannonica says:

    TNY: Anyone else take the last across [Checking out] as DYING rather than EYING?

  8. marciem says:

    Hi! I left a note on yesterday’s comments but was probably too late for anyone to see it.

    RE: Jonesin’… I was hoping for some help with 52 Across: one of 30, for short = Nov.

    If this is a reference to “30 days hath November …etc”, I’m not seeing how it works.

  9. AVXW: I really wanted to put in 3.6 ROENTGEN for 1A [Neither great nor terrible], but it didn’t fit.

  10. Billy Boy says:

    WSJ so far no comments, I liked it as a former cager (Old-timey enough to be a diverting answer some day?) I sometimes try to get Shortz themers cold and did today making this fairly easy for me -TRIPLE DOUBLE, a fine basketball feat.

    NYT? Hoooo boy, the quality of the clue/answer pairs is all over the map, I even got the dog right somehow, but that was not consistent enough to be really fun. Plus the homophone IC is meh in this SLOVAK’s seat.

    The only way I at all accepted or justified the Irish Coffee clue was Jack is a common nickname for Irish guys named John, like the 35th President. (That was probably too clever for this puzzle) Sorry, few stars

    • Lise says:

      WSJ: I don’t get why the title refers to golf – I kept wondering what those lovely names had to do with golf – but the puzzle is about basketball. Does one address the ball in basketball? “Addressing” is itself a double double – is that relevant?

      That said, I liked the puzzle, and I had no problem with the French but I could see where it might have been better not to cross those two words.

      I loved the theme entries themselves. I also thought that the fill in the WSJ was very good: SPOCK, IDAHO, AVIAN, FACADES (I want to put the cedilla in there), STATE TREE. Good stuff.

      Now that I think about it, ANTELOPES could be referring to different species of antelope, the way that “fishes” refers to different species of fish.

      • Billy Boy says:

        I assumed that the Addressing the Ball, while indeed a golf term is referring to three ADDRESSES with the Triple Double sets of letters. Not the best WordPlay, but that’s all I got, being a golfer as well as a former cager.

        Loose, yes, I agree, in this case I did not initially review the puzzle title..

  11. Cynthia says:

    Very entertaining theme in today’s Universal. It put a much-needed smile on my face. The quantity of amusing themers Tom came up with is impressive.

  12. marciem says:

    As the former owner of a beautiful Vizsla… I still had to wait for the crosses to know which came first, the z or the s LOL. I never heard of Zac whoever but figured the name wasn’t Sac so that fixed the problem for me.

  13. M.Gritz says:

    I thought there was a lot of fun stuff in the NYT, and I enjoyed the theme set, but I might be biased because my 4-month old puppy met a VIZSLA a few doors down just this week.

    That said, it’s pretty aggressively male: 10 men to 2 women in the grid, discounting the clue for Irish Coffee and the adjacent-but-not-enough LAMAZE

  14. David L says:

    I had trouble in the NE of the NYT: KITANA for KATANA and BED instead of REM. That took a while to untangle. I don’t like the clue for REM — ‘Where dreams are made?’ — Where?? And I didn’t understand the clue for IRISHCOFFEE at all, which I don’t feel bad about since the clue is wrong, as others have said.

    OTOH, I remembered VIZSLA and knew how to spell it.

    • Lise says:

      Assuming that the constructor was referring to REM sleep being the time in which a person dreams, it’s not really a “where”, I agree.

      • Norm says:

        One of my coworkers is a stickler as far as “when” versus “where” is concerned, and REM sleep is definitely a when.

  15. Lise says:

    Re Amy’s comment “The Beehive people, we get heated!”: Right there with you. I’d love to know more about what is considered acceptable, and what is not. I’ve had several opportunities to make LOBLOLLY but that is not acceptable for some reason.

  16. NonnieL says:

    WSJ: Somehow, Jim forgot to embed this video in his review. I rectify the error here:

  17. Jenni Levy says:

    Rachel, you haven’t missed anything by not reading Franzen. His public persona is egotistical, misogynistic, and condescending and that comes across in his books. He doesn’t like his characters, especially the women. I’m sure you have better things to do with your time.

    I got ONE-L from crossings and missed the Nash reference. One of my favorites!

    • Rachel Fabi says:

      That’s what I had heard! Thanks for confirming– I feel pretty ok about my decision not to travel down that particular cultural path!

  18. David Roll says:

    WSJ–I agree with Jim that the crossing of two French terms is beyond the pale. Can I rate any lower than 1?

  19. Gale G Davis says:

    NYT – Comments on Berlin Wall. It was not a monument, rather a barrier to free speech and travel. Thousands of pieces of it are still in existence all over the world, including a full sized slab at The Reagan Library, recognizing another stand-up president who was largely responsible for opening the Iron Curtain. Having visited the DDR, Hungary, and Estonia during the Russian occupation of those countries before and after the Curtain fell, I can speak for not destroying history.

    • pannonica says:

      I believe Amy was making a double-entendre, monument also meaning evidence of something notable (not necessarily positive). As in ‘a monument to folly’ or ‘a monument to oppression’.

  20. Luther says:

    WSJ Agree that the Natick @22D/29A was uncalled for, but could there have been a better clue for 40A?
    Who???? I checked out “Paper Planes”, a song with exactly THREE notes ( D F# and A)
    sung by an “artist” who can’t sing two notes in a row in tune. Sang FLAT throughout the whole thing.
    “It might make you bats”… LATHE. I’m really tired of constructors who try SO hard to be cute. What a slog.

  21. Mary P says:

    Re an old puzzle in the nyt, what does Go piece mean. The answer is stone, but I don’t get it. Thanks.

  22. Zulema says:

    Absolutely loved the Gorski New Yorker and I am still completely stuck on the NYT, a Wednesday to boot, except for my first fills, RH MACY, and VIZSLA. I’ll keep at it.

  23. RM Camp says:

    I wanted to put in Clemente instead of ALOMAR. Roberto Clemente, for whom Pittsburgh’s Sixth Street Bridge is named, was a real mensch (er, hombre), who died trying to help people in his earthquake-stricken home of Puerto Rico.

  24. Adam says:

    NYT: Even knowing ZAC, I had problems in the southwest. I had EQUATE instead of SQUARE for “Even” (thought it was meant as a verb) leaving me with VIZELA and CETES, neither of which I flagged as being wrong. Eventually after scanning the grid a few times over I realized that it was CERES, and my streak survived. But it was touch and go there for a minute.

  25. Norm says:

    To answer Amy’s question: No they did not get mad when the Berlin Wall was knocked down. In fact they kept a large portion as a memorial. Stick to the Crosswords that you are so expert in and forget the politics.

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