Wednesday, November 4, 2020

LAT 4:06 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 8:23 (Rachel) 


NYT 4:33 (Amy) 


WSJ 5:47 (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


AVCX untimed (Ben) 


Victor Barocas & David Liben-Nowell’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Cast Party”—Jim P’s review

As I’m writing this, it’s Tuesday afternoon and no election results are available, so we will press on with our cruciverbial business.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Cast Party” · Victor Barocas & David Liben-Nowell · Wed., 11.4.20

Our constructors have gone fishing today. They bring us hook-shaped groups of circles in today’s grid, and on each hook is a different fish: tilapia, herring, grouper, and lamprey. FISH HOOK reveals all at 38d with the clue [Device at the end of the line, and what each set of circled letters represents]. The title is reminiscent of yesterday’s puzzle and an oblique reference to voting. You did vote, right?

This kind of puzzle doesn’t have a real set of theme answers, and so there’s little opportunity for wordplay or wacky cluing, but the theme definitely helped me fill out the lower half of the grid more quickly. Other than that, it solved like a themeless.

Highlights include JET BLACK, old school BEEPERS, CROCHET, HOLE UP, SHERRIES, DAKOTA, and TOUPEE. I was 90% sure of the name EBERSOL [Dick who led NBC’s Olympic coverage], but I sometimes get him mixed up with Dick Enberg (who, I just learned, passed away in 2017).

Clues of note:

  • 16a. [Stay in all day, maybe with hot chocolate and a crossword]. HOLE UP. Most of us would need more than a single crossword to get us through the day.
  • 48a. [Bad lighting?]. ARSON. Grim, but clever.
  • 8d. [Some Spanish wines]. SHERRIES. That word doesn’t look Spanish, does it? That’s because it’s the Anglicized form of Jerez, the fortified wine named after the city in southern Spain. If I had known that when I visited there years ago, I would have had more to drink.
  • 22d. [Material for cobblers]. APPLES. Calling people who make cobblers “cobblers” feels like a stretch, but sure, why not?

Decent theme in this puzzle and it left room for some nice fill. 3.5 stars.

Jack Murtagh’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 11 4 20, no. 1104

Well, I kinda feel like throwing up, waiting to see election results evolve, so I’ll be quick here. Take the capitalized letters in the theme clues, read those letters aloud so that they sound like a word, add a noun that applies to both of the theme words, and put the sounded word with the noun to get a familiar phrase:

  • 17a. [Euro, Zloty], EASY MONEY. E.Z., easy, yes?
  • 26a. [Indigo, Cerulean], ICY BLUE.
  • 40a. [Macaw, Tern], EMPTY NESTER. Not that you’d typically use the word “nester” to describe a bird.
  • 54a. [Noon, Eleven], ANY TIME.
  • 66a. [Satellite, Pulitzer], ESPY AWARD. What’s a Satellite Award, you may be asking. Mainly movie and TV awards bestowed by the International Press Academy … which I’ve never heard of.

Fairly solid, not your usual seen-it-a-zillion-times sort of theme.

I wish constructors would remove ELIS from their word lists, because there honestly is no reason for anyone who hasn’t gone to Yale to use that term, is there? Some nice long fill: PRAIRIE, LIBRARY CARD, BASTILLE DAY, “SPIT IT OUT.”

Do we consider EASY MONEY and EAZY-E to be a flagrant dupe? I vote yes.

3.75 stars from me.

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup

The New Yorker crossword solution • Patrick Berry • Wednesday, November 5, 2020

This was a good puzzle.

That’s it, that’s the post.

Ok, fine, I’ll also note that I particularly enjoyed the clues on ALTER EGO [You again!] and HORROR FILMS [Monstrous features?] and note that there is a dupe there with the clue on PERIOD PIECE [Film that might have a high costume budget].

Good luck with the week ahead, everyone. It’s gonna be a long one.

Michael Hawkins’ Universal crossword, “Keep Celebrating” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 11/4/20 • Wed • “Keep Celebrating” • Hawkins • solution • 20201104

  • 55aR [Post-prom event, or where each word in 16-, 28-, 33- and 43-Across can go] AFTER PARTY.
  • 16a. [Dogs beg for it] PEOPLE FOOD.
  • 28a [What a tease might give you, with “a”] HARD TIME.
  • 33a. [Go casual] DRESS DOWN.
  • 43d. [Basketball court marking] FOUL LINE.


Francis Heaney’s AVCX, “Silent Partners” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 11/4 – “Silent Partners”

Hello!  It’s a stressful day, and I hope that Francis Heaney’s puzzle for the AVCX gave you a few minutes of relief from that if that’s what you came to the puzzle for.  This one’s called “Silent Partners” and while I may have missed something in the theme, solving this definitely gave me something to do last night when I needed something to do:

  • 17A: Smartwatches and wireless headphones for baby cows? — CALF TECH
  • 24A: Souvenir undergarments that show where you bought them? — PLACE KNICKERS
  • 38A: Never responds to any of Isaac’s or De La Hoya’s texts? — GHOSTS THE OSCARS
  • 50A: Welcoming doorways? — FRIENDLY JAMBS
  • 62A: What you’re imitating if you float like a brick and sting like a noodle? — ALI WRONG

This felt straightforward – the “silent” part is the letters (which can often be silent, phonetically) added to otherwise normal names and phrases to make them wackier – CAL TECH, LACE KNICKERS, HOSTS THE OSCARS, FRIENDLY JABS, and ALI WONG all get this treatment.  I’m not sure if there’s something going on for the “Partners” half of the title, but I’m also not sure I’m in the headspace to have caught it.

It’s explicitly not the Wendy Carlos version, but enjoy some MOOG Bach.

I’m leaving things there for now, though I will say that Francis mentioning that “KOOPA Troopa” earworms him with ABBA has now also earwormed me with that group’s “Super Trouper”.  Job well done.

Happy Wednesday!

Mike Peluso’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

TRAINCREW is not a term I’ve personally heard of. But it seems solidly in use and it functions well as a revealer. This is of course a “words with” theme, and the four trains are MODEL, GRAVY, BULLET & CIRCUS. As such sets go, this is a more colourful collection than most.


  • AOC – going to see her monogram a lot more in future puzzles I’m sure!
  • [Nigerian pop star], SADE. No! Nigerian-born, yes, but she’s British.
  • PDAS and DSLMODEM make up an obsolescent tech mini-theme
  • [Canon initials], SLR. Just bought a Canon, but a bridge, to take wildlife photos in the main. Couldn’t really justify an SLR given my lack of experience.
  • Tough entries include alliterative SCHAAP and SCUP.


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27 Responses to Wednesday, November 4, 2020

  1. Maxine Nerdström says:

    I feel so ill over how close this election is. I’m angry at myself for letting myself hope for anything different. I really wanted to believe better of my country and its values. I feel wretched.

    • Ed says:

      This is not the place for politics. Take it elsewhere.

      • PJ says:

        You ain’t from around here, are you?

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Ed, you can biff off. I’m with Maxine and John, and this is my site. Good luck finding yourself a crossword blog that covers the puzzles you solve and has a decidedly apolitical or conservative slant. Maybe you could start your own?

        • Billy Boy says:

          I actually much enjoy the politics here.

          Opposing (If that’s what it is) viewpoints enrich one’s understanding of others just by exposure, including enriching one’s own.

          It’s one of the reasons I participate, agree and even antagonise.

          We’ve a couple of days to go at least

      • Jenni Levy says:

        What is up with men trying to dictate the rules on a place managed by a woman? Because it seems like it’s always people with male-sounding names who whine about the political stance of this blog. Witness the sniveling on Monday about Rachel’s review of the New Yorker puzzle.

        “This is not the place for politics” is a breathtaking admission of unrecognized privilege. Those of us at risk from the criminal and genocidal policies of the current administration don’t have the luxury of being above the fray. We are in it, and we’re dying from it, and you are complaining because it interferes with your crossword puzzling.

        You have some choices here. You can take yourself off in a huff and moan to someone else about us. You can stay here and shut the eff up about “no place for politics.” Or you can listen to what we’re saying and maybe learn something. What you can’t do is silence us or the members of our community. Only one person decides what this is the place for and it’s not you, Ace.

        • Luther says:

          “Those of us at risk from the criminal and genocidal policies of the current administration don’t have the luxury of being above the fray. We are in it, and we’re dying from it,…”
          Are you speaking of the genocidal policies of the governors who sent nursing home patients who tested positive for Covid BACK to the nursing homes to infect and cause the deaths of the other residents? Some estimates are that 42% of Covid deaths were in nursing homes and assisted living residences.
          Criminal policies? Are you speaking of the crimes committed by the loser of the 2016 Presidential race?
          The 4 years of fabrications that were all proven to be false?
          Now THAT’S criminal.

          • Jenni Levy says:

            So I know you’re not really asking, but no. I’m talking about the murderous policies that led the the virus getting into nursing homes in the first place and killing people who are in the nursing home because they were unable to get timely care because their access to health insurance was eliminated by the Republican Party. I’m talking about the criminal actions of the white hoodlums who damaged my front door trying to kick it in at 1:00 AM because they didn’t like our political signs. I’m talking about the friends of mine who have been physically attacked by thugs shouting “Trump will make you go back where you belong.” But you knew that. You just wanted to posture and show all your friends that you can stand up for your ideas. Good on you, bro. Pat yourself on the back.

            • David Steere says:

              I have no religion at all, but I just wanted to say “bless you” to Amy, Jenni, Rachel, pannonica, Ben, Maxine, JohnH, PJ, Billy Boy and Maxine for taking the time–at a stressful time like this–to blog and comment. Ditto to the other bloggers here over the next few days. I’ve had a stomach ache from disbelief since last night which is likely to continue for some time. Thank you all.


              p.s. as to Luther and Ed…ACK!

    • Mutman says:

      Patience people. Patience.

      • Christopher Smith says:

        I’m sympathetic to the political positions of most of the people here. It saddens me, though, that politics has become so entwined in our identities of that it wends its way into forums like this. There are a lot of intellectual settings where our perspective operates as a default, which must be alienating to those who don’t share it. I was brought up to not discuss politics in general company which is maybe
        just hopelessly old fashioned. But it seems like an aspect of courtesy & civility we’ve lost.

    • snappysammy says:

      i was ill last night, had nightmares
      luckily things looked a bit better in the morning

      my disappointment in my fellow americans may never go away

      the puzzles today were a big help in pretending to be normal

  2. Jenni Levy says:

    Um, Yalies are not the only ones who say “Elis.” People from rival schools also use the term – with a very different intonation.

  3. Amy Reynaldo says:

    In the New Yorker puzzle, INCA is clued as [Ancient civilization that, unusually, never developed money]. I’ve grown so tired of seeing the word “ancient” in INCA clues. How old is “ancient” history? The Inca Empire roughly coincided with Europe’s Renaissance period. Is that also “ancient”? I feel like European history reserves “ancient” for things that happened about 2,000 years ago.

    It’s not as if the Incas vanished because of inherent problems in their way of life. The Spanish conquistadors brought weapons, diseases, and the intent to dominate. (Also, there are still millions of people who speak Quechua, the language of the Incas. Not a dead culture!)

    • Amy L says:

      I brought up this issue a few years ago–about the Inca Empire being contemporaneous with the Renaissance and therefore not ancient. I have seen some clues that seem to understand this. I didn’t do the New Yorker puzzle, so I didn’t realize this misinterpretation of history was still around.

  4. Mary says:

    Gareth – In the LAT puzzle, I think PLACE KICKERS is the base phrase (to which an N is added to KICKERS) rather than LACE KNICKERS.

  5. Zulema says:

    Gorgeous puzzle from Patrick Berry in the New Yorker!! Crazy puzzle in the NYT. Got it perfectly done (I wouldn’t say solved) and came here to find out what it was about. The best thing about it, it kept me from distressing about the election while I worked on it last night, and am not so completely hopeless this morning.

  6. To clarify the AVCX theme — letters are added to phrases and pair up with another letter to make that letter silent — e.g., an N is added to PLACE KICKERS to make PLACE KNICKERS, and the K becomes silent.

  7. Christopher Smith says:

    It’s nice when TNY or another puzzle outlet dips their toe into soccer but I’m not sure what’s particularly “dramatic” about a header. They usually miss, often pretty badly.

  8. Amy L says:

    I do like getting away from politics on this site. Don’t we have it enough other places?

  9. Michael says:

    We go just shy of four years without STYLI in the NYT and here we got them in back-to-back puzzles with both coincidentally appearing in the Down direction at the last letter of the second Across clue.

  10. Joan Macon says:

    I wonder what kept Gareth so busy he didn’t get around to posting the LAT? I hope he is OK and will be back soon!

Comments are closed.