Wednesday, August 19, 2020

LAT 4:37 (Gareth) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


The New Yorker 4:54 (Rachel) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


AVCX 7:27 (Ben) 


Brandon Koppy’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 8 19 20, no. 0819

I’m in a bad mood, so I’ll be brief. The theme is a mishmash of compound words and two-word phrases split into short entries around the edges and clued with cross-references aplenty, with both 1a and 1d being LIFE. 1/5a. [Means of survival], LIFE/BOAT. 5/9a. [place to yacht-shop], BOAT SHOW. (This is the New York Times, which absolutely caters to the wealthy, so sure, “yacht-shop” is legit for that audience.) 9a/5a is SHOWBOAT, but that doesn’t get a clue. 9a/16d, [decisive confrontation], SHOWDOWN. 16/39d, [minimize], DOWNPLAY. 39/62d [lie motionless], PLAY DEAD. 62d/71a [traveling music fan of old], DEADHEAD. 71/70a marching backwards, [call it a night], HEAD HOME. 70a/69a [advantage in sports], HOME GAME (but I think the advantage is the home court/stadium/field and not the HOME GAME). 69a/50d [athlete’s intense expression], GAME FACE. 50/27d [Apple app], FACETIME. 27/1d [company named for two magazines], TIME-LIFE. 1d/41a [generational sequence], LIFE CYCLE. So the words cycled around from LIFE to LIFE. Ultimately I found the theme not too satisfying.

Three things:

  • 32d. [So-called “third stage of labor”], AFTERBIRTH. Placenta time! I assume there are people getting the vapors from this entry. Me, I had to work the crossings. Emergency C-sections don’t need any labor process. I assume they yoinked the placenta through the incision?
  • 3d. [Cooling off period?], FALL. As in autumn. Bring it on! Weather where wearing a face mask is comfortable.
  • 51d. [Rainforest dweller, in brief], ORANG. I hate this entry. Who actually uses this in real life??

Plural CARLAS? Stand-alone ABRA (and not clued as the psychic Pokémon)? Three stars from me.

Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Whether or Not”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Punny weather homophones.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Whether or Not” · Gary Larson · Wed., 8.19.20

  • 18a. [Troops for “Braveheart”?] GAEL FORCE. This one’s not bad. Gale force.
  • 24a. [Junior’s advancement in the family business?] SON RISE. Sunrise. This was the first one I solved, and it did not impress me.
  • 37a. [Familiar family trait?] HEIR QUALITY. Air quality.
  • 54a. [Spiky hairstyle feature?] DO POINT. Dewpoint.
  • 59a. [Regime collapse?] REIGN FALL. Rainfall.

I didn’t get much out of this theme. The puns don’t feel fresh and offer nary a chuckle.

The fill has some good high points though, especially HAWAIIAN, SPENSER, EAR CANDY, and EAT HERE. I always like seeing that “annoying little Belgian” as Dame Christie once referred to POIROT, and the clue [“Macbeth” prop] does double duty for both DAGGER and CAULDRON. Nice.

However, I Naticked at the crossing of SHECRAB [Kind of soup, in Southern cuisine] and HAWS [Turns left, as an ox team]. I’ve been driving all day and my little grey cells couldn’t come up with anything but YAWS for that last answer. Clearly, SYECRAB wasn’t right, but no other reasonable alternative seemed forthcoming. Other tired entries: SNEE, ETAILED.

Clues of note:

  • 5d. [Soccer great Lionel]. MESSI. Hey! You should all know this name from this recent puzzle.
  • 39d. [It might be taught for naught]. TYPO. Tricksy clue! Good one! Though it made me think of why on earth I chose to take Latin as my language course in high school.

The theme didn’t turn me on and the fill offered a mixed bag. 3.2 stars.

Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup

This was fun! The long entries are all really excellent, and the cluing was nice, particularly the clue translations of the colloquial entries [I’M SHOCKED, CAN WE?, PSST]. Aside from a couple of minor nits, this was a solid (if not actually) moderately challenging puzzle (it was actually moderately quite fast!).

The New Yorker crossword solution • Aimee Lucido • Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The long stuff today included: POST HASTE / I’M SHOCKED / ALAN MOORE / SEMANTICS / BLEEPED OUT / BONG JOON HO / INNUMERATE / SWITCHEROO / THUMB WARS / HOME DEPOT. We just saw BONG JOON HO in another New Yorker a few weeks ago when I was utterly unable to remember his name, so I definitely got it this time. The rest of these entries are quite fun, with my personal favorites being SWITCHEROO, BLEEPED OUT, and THUMB WARS. I must say, though, the clue on THUMB WARS is maybe too clever for its own good. you don’t win a THUMB WAR hands-down! You win it when your thumb is on top of someone else’s thumb which is down. This puzzle also got me to read ALAN MOORE‘s wikipedia page. Apparently he is an anarchist!

A few more things:

  • I’m not sold on LACER as a thing
  • A few inelegant plurals: EDIES / PEATS / ULNAE
  • Is TARGET ON redundant?
  • Slowed down a bit by putting in TENDON instead of TENSOR for [Muscle type]
  • Always down to see my buddy KANT in puzzles, and very much love The Good Place. I think today’s NYT one-upped the philosopher reference with Hannah ARENDT though
  • Fill I Could Live Without: SSR / CTO/ DEO / A TOE
  • Representation: Good! BONG JOON HO, Marie Kondo, SENATOR (for now!) Kamala Harris, several EDIES

Overall, many stars from me for a fast and enjoyable solve. See you Friday!

Trent Evans’ AVCX, “I’m Down” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 8/19 – “I’m Down”

Today’s AVCX is an AVCX debut for Trent Evans! Something seems to be missing at first glance from a number of entries:

  • 16A: Feeding frenzy with satellite trucks — DIA CIRCUS
  • 35A: Gladhanding event — ET AND GREET
  • 51A: Tendency toward nastiness — AN STREAK
  • 62A: Rolling Stones hit of almost 40 years ago, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme — START ME UP

Looking right above the theme entries (and hinted at by empty down clues), there’s a ME above each of these entries that “starts it up” – MEDIA CIRCUS, MEET AND GREET, and MEAN STREAK.

The Rolling Stones’ “START ME UP” only peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts.

This felt NYT-adjacent in theme, though there’s some cluing that’s distinctly AVCX – you can’t clue PEG as “Use a strap-on on” and pass the breakfast test.  Elsewhere, I loved the conversational I MEAN COME ON (26D, “Like, really, there’s just no way …”) and a mention of Mocedades’ ERES TU (47A, “Spanish-language hit with a title meaning “you are””), a song I strongly associate with Spanish class in high school.

Happy Wednesday!

Nina Sloan & Ross Trudeau’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s recap

LA Times

The revealing answer is EGOCENTRIC, but more precisely, there are three more answers that are SELF-CENTRED

The I shape led to a preponderance of mid-range fill answers. Highlights included the ALDENTE, EARWORM (the best way of serving them) drenched in TABASCO as well as a quaint BRASSIERE. One answer, SNARFED, will have tripped several of you up, as it did me; SCARFED seemed so right!

A couple of tough shorter names today:

  • URIEL the [Archangel who guarded Eden with a fiery sword] – he’s only found in the Apocrypha and some Hebrew traditions.
  • [Model/actress Sastre] is INES. I don’t think I’ve been introduced to her, even though her letters are very convenient!


Robert H Wolfe’s Universal crossword, “Being Shellfish” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 8/19/20 • “Being Shellfish” • Wed • Wolfe • solution • 20200819

Oho, lobster puns. Wasn’t expecting that.

  • 20a. [Lobster trap foilers?] ESCAPE CLAWS (escape clause).
  • 11d. [Where lobsters keep their eggs?] ROE HOUSES (rowhouses).
  • 57a. [Steamed green part of a lobster] HOT TOMALLEY (hot tamale).
  • 34d. [Not-so-meaty lobster posterior?] TAIL OF WOE (tale of woe).

And there you have it, your astacidean pun quota for the month. The tomalley one is my favorite, as it’s the most specific to the organism.

  • Uhm. 24a [Dingy dwelling] RATTRAP is right under themer 20a, which has trap in the clue.
  • 60a [Dinghy mover] ROWER. From dingy to dinghy. Thought this might end up being OARER.
  • 12d [What a summer does?] ADDS. >groan<
  • 44d [One may eat at your place] TERMITE. Okay, this one was pretty clever.

That’s all I’ve got for today.

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20 Responses to Wednesday, August 19, 2020

  1. AV says:

    Oops- please delete my 1 star rating accidentally given to the New Yorker! Sorry!

    • Evad says:

      Taken care of.

      • Billy Boy says:

        Then can you add a second one-star rating for today’s NYT for me, please? haha

        Repeat word making a corner, split entries, crossword mush. At least at NYT site you only have to look for the other clue, not the other spot on the grid with those splits, but goodness this was tedious. HOME FIELD, NOT HOME GAME although technically OK. I suppose as with Amy, I am in a bit of a snit (Amy – You a Gemini, as well?) must be Pandemi-Wednesday.

        Just have to disagree slightly that NYT is not the panderer to the rich. They pander (See: iApple), but that isn’t the demographic that comes to mind.

        Since when is the same word used twice OK? Now that I’m done being sarcastic, I am being serious, I thought even the same word in a clue and a grid answer was cause for disdain.

        On the other hand, I liked the punning and general fill in WSJ.
        I’ll be really late with today’s NYer …

        Cheers, excuse the snark

        • Will says:

          Using the same word in the puzzle twice gets a pass on this once since it was part of the theme of “Life Cycle”, with a bunch before and after clues starting and ending with LIFE

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Of course I am not a Gemini! Please. I am a Leo.

          Billy Boy, if you google nytimes and yacht, you’ll find plenty of articles from the past decade. Megayachts! The market for used and new yachts. And many more. During the previous recession, I recall an article about the plight of yacht owners who were having trouble finding buyers for the boats they could no longer afford. The real estate and home decor they spotlight, also primarily affluent white people.

          • Billy Boy says:

            Re: Rich White folks homes and toys? Don’t look at WSJ then, it’s all relative! That’s where the big stuff is, and FT London? LOL – but they do have a more (Not at all perfect) equitable society towards race, colour, identity, sexual preference. They even have a special “How to Spend it!”

            As for finally doing the NYer – TENSOR as a muscle type? Action of a muscle would be much better clue, there is a muscle on your lateral pelvic crest Tensor Fascia Lata could even be clued ______fascia lata

            I was so proud of myself to remember APIA. (Very small victories …)

  2. Ethan says:

    WSJ: It’s a real stretch to say that a sunrise is a kind of “weather.” Also, it’s not great form to have a row of two seven-letter words where one is a theme entry and one is not. So SON RISE should have gotten the ax.

  3. pannonica says:

    NYT: I found the theme underwhelming and the puzzle a short slog. That is, it felt like a slog even though it fell quickly. I’d say calling the theme “not too satisfying” is generous.

    Also, I really wanted to have ADOLESCENCE fit for 32-down, [So-called “third stage of labor”]

  4. Huda says:

    NYT: I seem to be in the minority, but I liked it. It’s a nice change of pace, and I like it when people take a bit of chance and experiment with something that has a typical format. So, thanks to the constructor for taking a bit of a risk.

    • Lise says:

      I liked it too, especially how the last word was in the center. But I tend to like cross-referenced clues.

      Who uses ORANG in real life? Why, the Spelling Bee! (Okay, not real life)

    • Kelly Clark says:

      Gee, I’m with you — I thought it was delightful and really enjoyed the solve.

  5. Lise says:

    AVCX: I listened to Elon Musk explaining “X AE A-Xii” (13A). That was interesting. Also, it seems from the video, that little A-Xii has multiple tattoos. On his face. Near his eyes.

    I hope that’s just Sharpie art.

  6. Mutman says:

    NYT: I was wondering if the cross-referenced entries were highlighted, would they make some sort of pattern?

    Since COVID, I’ve been primarily solving on PC, not paper, unless necessary (Gaffney, e.g.). And I don’t want to waste my precious toner only to find out there was nothing there. (When I used to work at work, I had no problem using their toner :)

  7. Luther says:

    Say “hey”, say….ASPIRATE ?

  8. Luther says:

    Say “hey”, say. ASPIRATE ? I don’t get it.
    Manhunt quarry ESCAPEE. Ditto.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      When you say the word “hey,” that H is an aspirated sound (in terms of phonetics). Your mouth is open and you breathe out air. Compare to the M sound, where the sound originates further back in your mouth and you’re not exhaling a puff of air.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      An ESCAPEE from jail is the target (quarry, prey) of a manhunt.

      • Luther says:

        Amy, Thank you for both answers. I didn’t check until this a.m.
        I’m afraid I only know aspirate as in choking on liquid.
        And I’d better bone up on QUARRY too. It comes up often enough.

  9. Mac says:

    AVCX: Of the eight entries in the NE, five are proper names. Admittedly they come from different spheres, but if you are not proficient in SNL, Breaking Bad, Greek yogurt, video games, and Asian newspapers, you’re in trouble.

    Plus, the Speaker of the House is next in line after the VP (22A) in presidential succession, not the President pro-tem of the Senate, right? Am I missing something?

  10. Christopher Morse says:

    NYT – finding a string of 12 four-letter words that chain together in pairs to make common words or phrases and that both starts and ends with the same word? Well done! A delightful and refreshing change of pace for a theme!

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