Wednesday, July 8, 2020

LAT 4:35 (Gareth) 


NYT 3:23 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 6:27 (Rachel) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


AVCX 18:56 (Ben) 


Chase Dittrich’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 8 20, no. 0708

I liked this puzzle! The clues are styled or punctuated to playfully suggest the theme entries:

  • 20a. [Having a meal!], STRESS EATING. The exclamation point adds emphasis/stress to the phrase, but it’s also in italics in the non-.puz formats. STRESS EATING is also a great phrase to pop in a puzzle.
  • 35a. [M i l i t a r y t r a i n e e s], SPACE CADETS. Military cadets, spaced out.
  • 42a. [Downward dog], STRIKE A POSE. Okay, that’s a yoga pose, but I have no idea how “downward” suggests STRIKE A. The .puz file can’t style text with bold, italics, or strikethrough, but the version on the NYT site or in the paper has strikethrough.
  • 56a. [“Will you marry me?”], BOLD PROPOSAL. The .puz format can’t use bold, but the other formats bolded this clue.

Cute. Even though the clues I saw only offered me one “!” and the spacing to make the theme really add up.

I liked the fill overall. “I’D SAY SO” and CAST DOUBT were my fave non-theme entries, and the rest was generally smooth. (Plural abbrevs like SRAS, I could do without. TARE and ODEON are boring.) On the “modified Bechdel test” front, this puzzle comes out on the positive side.

Five more things:

  • 36d. [Those, to José], ESOS. I am tired of “clue with male name points to male ESOS, clue with female name points to ESAS.” That’s not how Spanish works, is it? ESOS and ESAS take their gender from whatever they’re referring to, rather than from whoever is doing the referring?
  • 38a. [___ Tometi, activist who co-founded Black Lives Matter], OPAL. Great shout-out! Somehow I am more familiar with the names Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Alicia Garza, the other co-founders of BLM. You can read about all three of these leaders here.
  • 19a. [Devil-may-care attitude, in modern parlance], YOLO. This accounts for a good chunk of those new COVID cases among younger adults. People! Stay out of the damn bars, wear your damn masks, and stop making the world a worse place.
  • 67a. [Ending with four or six, but not three or five], TEEN. How many centuries ago did threeteen and fiveteen get turned into thirteen and fifteen? Why do we have fourteen and forty, not forteen or fourty for one of those? This language is dumb.
  • 58d. [Thunder], ROAR. You folks still hearing the thunder of (often illegal) fireworks? We heard some tonight. I’m over it!

Four stars from me.

Chuck Deodene’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Floating Points”—Jim P’s re-cap

I’m going to apologize up front because I need to keep this short, as I’m traveling today and don’t have much time.

The theme is GAS BUBBLES (31d, [What the circles represent, given the words they hold]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Floating Points” · Chuck Deodene · Wed., 7.8.20

  • 3d. [From around here] NATIVE-BORN. Neon.
  • 14d. [Classic Western ditty] HOME ON THE RANGE. Methane. Ha! That seems appropriate.
  • 6d. [Loyal employees, in 1950s lingo] ORGANIZATION MEN. Ozone.
  • 8d. [Dish with bacon, cheese and eggs] QUICHE LORRAINE. Chlorine.

I enjoyed this theme even with the outdated ORGANIZATION MEN.


3.8 stars.

Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup

Ok, so, this is what I’m talking about. Erik has made a beautifully designed grid, with entries and clues packed full of people I did not know, not a one of whom is a white man (!), that I still solved with relative ease, because every. single. crossing. is fair! The fact that the cluing is also playful and self-referential is just icing on this delicious, layered crossword cake. [Sidenote: is crossword cake a thing? My birthday is in two weeks so let’s get on that]

The New Yorker crossword solution • Erik Agard • Wednesday, July 8, 2020

I love this rotational staircase pattern, which is both a pretty visual and a good showcase for when you want to use lots of middle-length entries, rather than one or two long marquees. The whole central section of this puzzle is crammed with fully excellent mid-length entries, including: GONDOLIER / ALICE BALL / PLANETARY / PROMOTERS / LIMBO BARS / DANCE TEAMCARB LOADS / RADAR DETECTOR (ok that one is pretty long). My only question here is whether the term is CARB LOADS or CARBO LOADS. I’ve always used the latter, but google tells me they’re about equally common.

Another thing I love about this puzzle is that it treats make up and cosmetics, an industry worth over 93 billion dollars, as worthy of inclusion in puzzles. I know we occasionally see ESTEE Lauder in puzzles, but that’s likely due to the conveniently vocalic first name. I’ve never seen a mainstream puzzle treat LIP LINER (0 NYT appearances) with equal validity to, for instance, the parallel entry RADIO AD (4 NYT appearance), or GLAM clued as [Soft ___ (makeup trend)] instead of an allusion to GLAM Rock. It’s not ostentatious, but it’s definitely intentional, and I appreciate it. Similarly, BURQA and KURTA, in nearly parallel positions, have never been used in the NYT either (and KURTA seems not to have been used in *any* mainstream puzzle). Finally, we have some non-western cuisines featured prominently, including ARROZ caldo [___ caldo (Filipino rice dish)] and LIMEADE [Another name for the Guyanese beverage swank]. And again, LIMEADE could have been clued any old way, but it was clued to highlight a Guyanese beverage that most New Yorker solvers probably didn’t know before, and I think that is rad.

A few more things:

  • Representation:
    • White men: 0 (!) unless I missed someone??
    • Everyone else: MC Lyte, ALICE BALL, Solange, Niecy Nash, ENID Coleslaw, UMA Thurman, Julia Edwards, GAEL García Bernal, Coumba Gawlo (9)
  • Favorite clues:
    • Change a letter to get the body part it goes on [BOOT]
    • Constellation in the very middLE Of this clue, not counting spaces [LEO]
    • Pronoun separators in many a Twitter bio [SLASHES]

Overall, all the stars from me. This puzzle was exciting and beautiful and inclusive and educational. Erik Agard, killing the game as usual ?

Elizabeth Gorski’s AVCX, “Celebrity Crush” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 7/8/20 – “Celebrity Crush”

It’s Christmas in July this week at the AVCX, with a 21×21 supersize grid from Elizabeth Gorski, who typically writes a holiday puzzle closer to the end of the year.

“Celebrity Crush” is a great title for this, with multiple mononyms getting packed into various corners of the fill:

  • 22A: “Hmm, I see …” — VERY INTERE[STING]
  • 24A: “Heaven Knows” singer — DON[NA  S]UMMER
  • 56A: Hermetically closes — [SEAL]S SHUT
  • 68A: First city park in the United States — BOSTON [COMMON]
  • 72A: 1988 NFL MVP quarterback — E[SIA]SON
  • 74A: Folks get carried away in them — STRET[CHER]S
  • 86A: Sack-seeking defender — PASS R[USHER]
  • 122A: Teen comedy named after a 1981 Psychedelic Furs song — PRETTY IN [PINK]
  • 125A: Pat Conroy bestseller that became a film — THE [PRINCE] OF TIDES

And that’s just the acrosses – the corresponding down fill (TA[STING] MENU, TU[NA  S]TEAK, NAVY [SEAL], [COMMON] COLD, TUNI[SIA]N, PREA[CHER], [USHER]ETTE, S[PINK]S, and [PRINCE]LY) is also affected.

Another mononymic singer appearing in the puzzle, but not as a theme square: SADE

Elsewhere in the fill:

  • I’m in the middle of reading Boom Town, a book tying together the rise of the Oklahoma City Thunder with the history of the city itself, and thanks to that I knew the team used to be the Seattle (Super)SONICS
  • I got it entirely from downs and didn’t notice the actual across clue until later, but man, I hate roman numeral fill like CCCV, especially when it’s clued in a manner like “Miami area code, to a time-traveling Roman emperor”.  I never want to do roman numeral math or transformations, etc. in the middle of solving a crossword.  It’s never satisfying.
  • I got really excited to see “Terre Haute sch.” as a clue, until I realized it was the school other than my alma mater in the city, ISU, being clued.  RHIT is right there, constructors!  It’s a well-regarded engineering school!  It’s all the letters of RIT, which you love, plus an H!

Enjoy your Wednesday!

Margit Christenson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

As a general entry, I’d prefer LONGLEASH to ALONGLEASH, but as a revealer I think it works well. Each of three entries spell out LEASH in circled entries. With five letters to cram in, that requires them to be quite long.


  • [Actress Chaplin], OONA. Related of course to Oona O’Neill. She’s about to play in the Avatar sequels so her profile is perhaps about to expand significantly…
  • [Treatise on verse], POETICS. I thought it was a specific work, but no. Not heard of this word, but inferrable.
  • [Confession about the last piece of cake], IATEIT. Not sure that’s an in the language phrase, rather than just an arbitrary statement.
  • [App with pics, familiarly], INSTA. Recently installed to see our cattery’s page, but it’s horrible. Nothing is organised in any way shape or form so you can find anything…
  • [Overwhelmed with diner orders, as a server], INTHEWEEDS. Excellent entry.
  • [Domesticated farm squealer], PETPIG. I should try and find a photo of Jannie, our day old piglet surrender who is now a porker of leisure…
  • [Beer named for a Baja city], TECATE. Not a brand I’m familiar with.


Lee Taylor’s Universal crossword, “Fantastic Directions” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 7/8/20 • Wed • Taylor • “Fantastic Directions” • solution • 20200708

Quickie today. Fictional locales.

  • 18a. [To get here, go down the rabbit hole] WONDERLAND. Lewis Carroll.
  • 27a. [… catch the train at platform 9 3/4] HOGWARTS. JK Rowling.
  • 48a. [… go inside a speck of dust on a clover flower] WHOVILLE. Dr Seuss
  • 63a. [… travel north on the Kingsroad from moat Cailin] WINTERFELL. George RR Martin.

More or less your typical categories type theme. Solid midweek puzzle.

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20 Responses to Wednesday, July 8, 2020

  1. davey says:

    “downward” doesn’t suggest “strike a” – the strikethrough does!

  2. pannonica says:

    I wish people would add extra space between words when they do the alternate-spacing-for-effect-schtick. It more effectively approximates the effect of increased tracking. I see the lapse all too often.

    M i l i t a r y   t r a i n e e s


    M i l i t a r y t r a i n e e s

  3. Anne says:

    I liked the “stylish” clues. Cute theme.

  4. Ethan says:

    NYT: I hadn’t noticed that the gender of the person in the clue was being used to indicate ESOS or ESAS, so I looked it up. What I found is that only masculine names have ever been used to clue ESOS (along with more generic clues like “Those: Sp.”), but *either* masculine or feminine names have been used to clue ESAS. Interesting.

  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I loved Erik’s New Yorker puzzle, too, and appreciated the inclusiveness. Far more people in the world today wear KURTAs and BURQAs than have ever worn a KEPI or a TAM, I’d wager.

    ARROZ caldo is a perfect comfort food when you’ve got a cold—the ginger, garlic, and onions will clear your sinuses, and it’s basically chicken soup with a ton of rice in it.

    I needed the crossings for ALICE BALL but faintly remembered seeing the name in this Wiki page when looking for notable Black inventors (I learn so much in the course of my job):

    I was delighted to learn of swank, Guyanese limeade. Guyana, if you don’t know, has English as its official language, and its neighbor Suriname uses Dutch (remnants of colonialism, of course). So South America contains multitudes, not just countries that primarily use Spanish and Portuguese.

  6. Karen Ralston says:

    To all who knew him here at the Diary of a Crossword Fiend: Today would have been Bruce Morton’s 77th birthday. Thanks to Amy’s sleuthing, she discovered his obituary a couple of months ago when I asked her about him. He passed away on January 2 of this year. Lost his long battle with melanoma. I had the pleasure of meeting him when he visited Santa Fe; I gave him a tour of the O’Keeffe Museum and we had a delightful lunch after. He was a brilliant, charming and totally delightful person. Let’s all think of him while solving puzzles today. His comments here were among the most insightful and appreciated.
    Here is the obit:

    • Stephen B. Manion says:

      I used to converse with Bruce about racquetball and squash. I enjoyed his posts and our conversations. I can’t remember if it was Bruce or someone else on either this blog or the old NYT forum who suffered from a condition called prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces. Does anyone recall?

      Anyway, I am sad to hear of his passing.


      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Yeah, that was Bruce with the prosopagnosia. ACPT nametags really came in handy for “recognizing” old friends at the tournament.

        Bruce last attended ACPT a few years ago, and he and pannonica had so much to talk about, she invited him to crash the Team Fiend dinner. He was most congenial company.

    • Anne says:

      I am very sorry to hear this. In my journey backwards in NYT puzzle time I am in 2013, and Bruce was a prolific and interesting commentator. Strangely I just did the Sunday puzzle of 20 April 2013, which had ENNIO clued as the composer Morricone. Bruce wrote an energetic defense of the use of the name. And a day or so ago I heard that Ennio Morricone has passed away at the age of 91. All sad news.

  7. LtKije says:

    Weird, in the New Yorker I have LEO clued simply as “Sign before Virgo”. Why did they change it?

  8. Phil says:

    When I finished the AVCX puzzle in Across Lite on my iPad, it gave me errors for all the rebuses. Is this a coding thing? Why have rebuses if the puzzle isn’t going to accept them?

  9. WhiskyBill says:

    @Gareth: Aristotle’s Poetics is an influential philosophic tract.

  10. joel roman says:

    RACHEL: Gael Garcia Bernal is a terrific MALE actor!

Comments are closed.