Wednesday, September 16, 2020

LAT 5:17 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 7:53 (Rachel) 


NYT 3:34 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


AVCX 6:45 (Ben) 


Kevin Christian’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Night Shrift”—Jim P’s review

The title hints that we’re changing SH sounds to SHR sounds. Spellings are changed as needed.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Night Shrift” · Kevin Christian · Wed., 9.16.20

  • 17a. [“My hard disk crashed while I was binge-gaming!” for example?] GEEK SHRIEK. …chic. That’s awfully verbose for something that sounds like a truly terrifying occurrence.
  • 29a. [Mouselike mammal playing a match?] TENNIS SHREW. …shoe.
  • 44a. [Lawn mower output?] GARDEN SHRED. …shed. Shred happens. Hmm. Lawn clippings are “shred”? I think I would’ve gone with a guitar-playing angle.
  • 59a. [Temple to Luna?] MOON SHRINE. …shine.

Cute, playful theme.

Loads of long Downs to review. STEWED OVER is only SOSO, but the rest are great: GOES WILD (I had GOES NUTS first), ROSE BOWL, SEA DRAGON, and the political lines “I’M WITH HER” and “READ MY LIPS.” If we ask nicely, maybe we can get pannonica to share some SEA DRAGON info and pictures. Pretty please?

Oh, I also enjoyed the French actress mini-theme with Brigitte BARDOT and MARION Cotillard.

SCRAG [Skinny fellow], on the other hand, threw me for a loop. I went with SCRAP since I’ve never heard of the other word, but since the G starts GARDEN in the crossing, there’s no refuting it. Also, REUNED. I’ve never seen it outside of crosswords.

Fave clues were [Fitting numbers] for SIZES (I was thinking songs until I got some crossings) and [Senate coverage?] for TOGA (which I was able to discern immediately).

Another fun puzzle. 3.8 stars.

Paul Coulter’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 9 16 20, no. 0916

Fun theme today. The revealer is 64a. [Certain fast-food offering … or what 17-, 27- and 47-Across certainly don’t add up to?], HAPPY MEAL, and the other themers are negative phrases that include foods (but are used non-literally):

  • 17a. [Negative fast-food review?], WEAK SAUCE. Used to deride anything inadequate, flimsy, disappointing.
  • 27a. [Negative fast-food review?], NOTHING BURGER. A nothing burger is something of little or no consequence.
  • 48a. [Negative fast-food review?], NO GREAT SHAKES. It’s just so-so.

Can you think of any other food phrases used figuratively to put something down?

Fave fill: The colorful RUBBERNECK, MULLIGAN, figurative TRAIN WRECK.

Got off to a disappointed start in this puzzle, with four of the first six Across entries being about sports. OREL popped up later, too. Some of the non-sports fill also didn’t grab me: ISR., -PLASM, TACET, CIE, SRO.

Fave clue: 21a. [One of 14 in “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”], SYLLABLE.

Gotta run. 3.5 stars from me.

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

The New Yorker crossword solution • Erik Agard • Wednesday, September 16, 2020

This grid is gorgeous! The placement of the squares is just so artistic, creating big, open corners and a sort of Escher staircase in the middle. Into it. Also into: the trademark Agard style of highlighting a particular woman of color whose name is a perfect 15. In this case, we have MICKALENE THOMAS, an artist I did not know but whose work, including the painting referenced in her clue, is stunningly beautiful and powerful. “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe: Les trois femmes noires” was commissioned by the MOMA, and features three black women positioned like the three subjects of Manet’s ““Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” in the MOMA sculpture garden (image at the bottom of this post). It is very cool.

Other long entries in this grid, all downs, include: LIVE ALONE / VACANT LOTS / STARING AT / GREEN ROOF / PROGRAMMED / CHAI LATTE / LATE GREAT. I particularly loved this last one; “The late, great XXX” is such a common construction, and yet I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about it before. Excellent find. The stacks in the corners are also all VERY good, but I won’t go into them because then I’d basically be listing every word in this grid.

A few more things:

  • Representation: I mean, of course this is excellent. Some other notable entries today include k.d. LANG, OCTAVIA Butler, AVA DuVernay or Berkofsky, Bessie Coleman, and IRENE Bedard.
  • I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that a bottle of Mountain Dew just says MTN DEW. That’s weird, right??
  • The fill is all solid— there’s not a single entry that doesn’t stand on its own.

Overall, nearly all the stars from me. This is a fabulous example of a moderately challenging, arts-and-culture rich New Yorker-style crossword puzzle.


“Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe: Les trois femmes noires” (MICKALENE THOMAS)

“Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” (Manet)

Ben Tausig’s AVCX, “Forked Tongues” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 9/16/20 – “Forked Tongues”

AVCX Editor Ben Tausig has this week’s puzzle, and I think I see what’s going on:

  • 17: Certain hired caregiver — HEALTH AIDE
  • 27A: Remote session of congress? — CYBERSEX
  • 38A: 2003 Sandler/Nicholson film — ANGER MANAGEMENT
  • 53A: New York Stock Exchange nickname — BIG BOARD
  • 65A: Lingerie company named after a Baudelaire volume — FLEUR DU MAL

Each theme answer has a language inside the circled squares – HEALTH AIDE has THAI, CYBERSEX (beautifully clued as “Remote session of congress?”) has ERSE, and ANGER MANAGEMENT, BIG BOARD, and FLEUR DU MAL have GERMAN, IGBO, and URDU, respectively.  With a title liked “Forked Tongues”, that absolutely hits the “tongues” part, but I feel like I’ve missed whatever the “forked” part might have meant.

If you haven’t seen this clip of Lil Nas X performing Old Town ROAD to an elementary school that is ecstatic to see him, I highly recommend it.

Other notes:

  • Pitchfork just published a great deep dive on ENYA‘s career and the influence she’s had among a recent generation of musicians
  • Seeing ELON Musk clued as a “Just generally exhausting person” brightened my morning
  • Today I learned that IBISES were sometimes mummified in ancient Egypt.

Happy Wednesday!

Lita and Tass Williams’ Universal crossword, “Tree Farm” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 9/16/20 • Wed • Williams • “Tree Farm” • solution • 20200916

This crossword worked exactly as intended for me. The similarity of the theme answers’ circled letters was evident, but I couldn’t see the rationale for a tree paired with a crop. 66a [Kernel] SEED, near the end, provided one last distraction, but then the revealer elucidated all.

  • 61aR [Tree texture, or a hint to each starred answer’s pair of hidden words] WOOD GRAIN. Aha! I SEE (13a [“Of course!”].
  • 17a. [*Amount with no wiggle room] FIRM PRICE.
  • 27a. [*Milk-producing animals from France’s mountains] ALPINE GOATS. Perhaps someothing like [{French/Swiss/Italian/etc} ibexes] might have been a better clue? Still, kind of a green-painty entry.
  • 45a. [*Appliance combination that can be stacked] WASHER/DRYER.

Neat theme!

  • 16a [Any Best Picture winner] MOVIE. My inclination was to enter DRAMA while kind-of knowing that comedies (and musicals?) had won the honor. Good non-dupe with 4d [“Saving Private Ryan” or “Dunkirk”] WAR FILM.
  • 33a [Made tracks] SPED, not FLED.
  • 3d [German word that doesn’t rhyme with “sir”] HERR. I … didn’t know people did this.
  • 7d [N95 masks and such, briefly] PPE. Timely.
  • Simpatico sequence: 8d [“Everything gets done”] I MANAGE, 9d [“It’s all right”] DON’T WORRY.
  • 10d [Live the wrong way?] EVIL. Quasi-cryptic clue (reversal).
  • 24d [“Phooey!”] PSHAW. The ph- start in the clue primes the solver to think of the unusual psh- beginning of the answer. A crossword intended to be more difficult would be more coy. 46d [Root problem] employs the same tactic for ROT.
  • 56d [November 2020 choice] VOTE.


Jake Halperin’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times 200916

The circles made it quite clear early on what was going on. First EMMY materialised, and then GRAMMY did and I realised we were spelling out EGOT. The answers, particularly ONEMANARMY, made for strong choices. The only question I have is, “why non-sequential circles?”

The LA Times is syndicated in a number of locations. I hadn’t heard of AMPMS being stores, and Google suggests they’re only found in a few states, mostly around California. Are non-West-coasters aware of these franchises?

The other odd fill choice was NTEST. Even with the terse revealing EGOT busying up the corner, my reaction to NTEST was GODNO.


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14 Responses to Wednesday, September 16, 2020

  1. Michael Hanko says:

    NYT: The clue for HAPPYMEAL contains a rare typo—it should be 48- not 47- Across.

  2. Yossarian says:

    WSJ: Smooth with nice long downs and the four themed crosses.
    The south center with awgee, reuned, mag, btu, needed more work.

  3. Jenni Levy says:

    Erik’s New Yorker puzzle is a thing of beauty.

  4. Billy Boy says:

    Isn’t McDonalds ‘food’ bad enough without negative FF reviews leading to a HAPPY meal? I’m sorry, that was depressing.


    Just ignore me

  5. Ethan says:

    I just did the most recent Fireball and I don’t understand how CASTOR is “Olive relative”. Is it because you can make oil out of both? Is coffee a “relative” of blueberry because you can make ice cream from both? I usually like Peter’s clues, but that was not good. Especially since it crossed an unfamiliar abbr. in SHR.

  6. pannonica says:

    WSJ: “If we ask nicely, maybe we can get pannonica to share some SEA DRAGON info and pictures. Pretty please?”

    Honestly, despite my facebook antics, I have no special knowledge of the critters. Wikipedia and the like are plenty informative. They are quite fascinating, though!

  7. Cynthia says:

    Pannonica – Alpine goats are a popular breed of dairy goat that originated in France. I had one and she was the best-behaved of all my goats. I’m not sure though how familiar the breed name is to most people.

  8. janie says:

    avcx — the names of the languages (tongues) are “forked,” i.e., split between two words. (doin’ a head slap now?…)


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