Wednesday, January 13, 2021

LAT 3:42 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 6:08 (Rachel) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


WSJ 7:17 (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


AVCX 11:17 (Ben) 


Rich Proulx’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “You’re All Wet!”—Jim P’s review

The revealer is BODY OF WATER (58a, [Geographic feature, and a hint to four answers in this puzzle]). Each theme answer ends in a word that is also a BODY OF WATER.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “’You’re All Wet!’” · Rich Proulx · Wed., 1.13.21

  • 17a. [Unofficial means of communication] BACK CHANNEL.
  • 25a. [Floor routine component] HAND SPRING.
  • 36a. [Penny Lane locale] LIVERPOOL.
  • 50a. [Seneca, e.g.] FINGER LAKE.

I was going to ding this puzzle because one of these entries (the last one) is an actual BODY OF WATER whereas words like “channel” and “spring” have alternate meanings. But then I realized there’s another layer to the theme, and that is that the first words are parts of the body. That elevates the theme quite a bit and minimizes the inconsistency in the last entry. I like a good double-layered theme.

Lots of long fill to look at but entries like MAKE REAL and TAKE TEA feel a little iffy. PALM PILOTS is pretty dated at the rate technology evolves, but TWITTERBOT is great. Elsewhere there’s LEVERAGE, APOSTLE, GRANITE, MARINER, LAID OUT, “I KNOW IT,” and RSVPED. On the whole, I’d say “mixed.” Not sure how I feel about ROISTER [Celebrate exuberantly]. I don’t know that I’ve ever encountered it before, but it is an interesting word. I could do without irrelevant entries like K-CAR and weird plurals like HEHS.

Clues were unusually thorny today and/or I was on the wrong wavelength. But I did note these:

  • 15a. [Disney movie with a Tahitian-dubbed version]. MOANA. Ooh, this I gotta see. (Have a look at the video below.) I gotta say, it feels a lot more natural to me. Unfortunately, it looks like the Tahitian version was only screened in Tahiti and isn’t available for purchase anywhere. Here is one Tahitian’s take on the film.
  • 63a. [Paris accord?] OUI. Probably not a new clue, but I like it. And I like that the U.S. will rejoin the Accord soon.
  • 7d. [Cimmerian hero created by Robert E. Howard]. CONAN. I’m pretty sure we all saw the Governator’s response to the riots a few days ago (I posted the video myself in these pages). If you didn’t, he brings out CONAN‘s sword and uses it as a metaphor for how the U.S. is tempered by fire but only comes out stronger.
  • 52d. [Range protuberances]. KNOBS. Umm, what? I didn’t know this word had a geographical meaning. I’ve been to Knob Noster, MO, though, but didn’t realize it was named for a hill. Per Wikipedia: “Eaton derives [the town’s name] from the Latin, interpreting the whole name as a barbarous mixture signifying ‘Our Knobs,’ an etymology which seems unlikely.”

I enjoyed the theme though fill seemed hit-or-miss. 3.6 stars.

Matthew Stock’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 13 21, no. 0113

Cute sports-based theme featuring movie titles that contain an NBA team name:

  • 20a. [Address by a Sacramento N.B.A. player?], THE KING’S SPEECH. The Sacramento Kings are an NBA team.
  • 35a. [Game notes for a New Orleans N.B.A. player?], THE PELICAN BRIEF. New Orleans Pelicans, because the Utah Jazz took their obvious name choice.
  • 46a. [Charlotte N.B.A. player in charge of recycling?], THE GREEN HORNET. Charlotte Hornets.

The theme works quite well, and I appreciate that there are just three themers, leaving space for fill both interesting (SAY “CHEESE,” CUTE AS A BUTTON, MINORED IN) and smooth.

There are plenty of solvers who don’t follow sports, and the theme might annoy them a bit. With a theme that hinges on knowing basketball teams, it might’ve been best to steer clear of sportsy content elsewhere in the puzzle. EPEE and STEPH really don’t lend themselves to non-sports clue possibilities, and HIT THE WEIGHTS also has an athletic vibe.

Five more things:

  • 28d. [Places for aces], DECKS. I thought this was a baseball thing I’m unclear on, but after further contemplation, it’s DECKS of playing cards, isn’t it?
  • 29d. [Pierce slightly], PRICK. Odd that you can prick up your ears as well as piercing them, and the two are entirely different things.
  • 30d. [Best-selling musical artist whose album titles represent ages], ADELE. 19, 21, and 25. You know she’s still going to be excellent when 47 and 56 are released.
  • 2d. [Home of the Anasazi State Park Museum], UTAH. We don’t see a lot of state parks in clues, do we? I looked at the website for this museum and state park, and was greeted by photos of a playful white family scampering through a pueblo replica’s doors. Gross. Wikipedia tells us that the descendants of that culture generally use the term “Ancestral Pueblo” instead, as Anasazi is a Navajo word for “enemy ancestors.”
  • 26d. [Some barriers to entry in the shipping business?], REEFS. Coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, can impede the travel of ships. Neat clue—it had me guessing all the way through the crossings.

Four stars from me.

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

The New Yorker Crossword Solution • Elizabeth C. Gorski • Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Well I’m not going to give it ONE STAR, but this isn’t my favorite New Yorker I’ve solved lately. The long entries are fun, but the middle-length and short stuff didn’t really have a spark to it. I did enjoy a lot of the clues, but they don’t entirely make up for the meh fill.

I have not yet seen ENOLA HOLMES, but it’s on my list (and if anyone cares to comment/offer an opinion on the show to convince me to watch it/not watch, I would appreciate the input! Too much content!). Regardless, it’s a fresh entry and I liked it. I also enjoyed GUILTY AS SIN, which tbh I’ve never entirely understood. Is a sin guilty? Or does it mean GUILTY AS [a person who definitely committed a] SIN? Again, regardless, it’s a good entry and I got it with basically no crosses.

The middle length entries almost had a mini-theme of “things that are French” running through them: ETAGERE / ECOLE / TRENTE / MOSELLE / CEZANNE.  Nothing against the French, but that’s a lot of French! I also didn’t care for ROTH IRA (yawn) or ETCHERS, and overall the corners were just kind of…there. I did like TIP JARS (and its clue, [Dollar stores?]), as well as DASTARDSCREAM PIE, and TORTE.

A few more things:

  • Fill I could live without: ADIA (sorry Sarah McLachlan, it’s played out), TAM
  • Favorite clue: [Per an oft-quoted aphorism, someone who, when asked how he’s doing, actually tells you] for BORE

Anyways, that’s just, like, my OPINION, man. More than ONE STAR from me!

Adesina O. Koiki’s AVCX, “Relocation” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 1/13 – “Relocation”

Today’s AVCX puzzle is a guest feature from our own Adesina Koiki!  I might be biased, but I liked this one a lot:

  • 19A: Hightails it from the city where Neil Young started playing music? (1972-96) — JETS WINNIPEG
  • 30A: Directs some serious trolling at Donald Glover’s show? (1972-80) — FLAMES ATLANTA
  • 45A: Suffers hardship to get world-class cheese curds and freshly brewed Schlitz? (1953-65) — BRAVES MILWAUKEE
  • 60A: Headbutts the 22nd/24th president of the United States? (1936-45) — RAMS CLEVELAND
  • 76A: Tries to sell vacation packages to see the Gateway Arch? (1955-67) — HAWKS ST. LOUIS

This one took me a little longer than I expected it to – I caught on right away that we had sports team names being flipped around (WINNIPEG JETS, ATLANTA FLAMES, MILWAUKEE BRAVES, CLEVELAND RAMS, and ST. LOUIS HAWKS), but my sports knowledge is rusty on a good day.  An extra level I appreciated is that not only were the two parts of each team name relocated, each of these teams was also relocated (hence the years given with each clue).  It’s all very cleverly done.

I had no clue that The Turtles’ “ELENORE” was intended as a parody of their previous hit “Happy Together”
(2D, “1968 hit from the Turtles meant as a parody of their biggest hit, ‘Happy Together'”)

Other things to like in the grid: POSE NAKED, TORSI, BOOKS (clued as “They are bound to sell”), SASHIMI, learning Titus Andronicus contains an early YO MAMA JOKE, and ERYKAH Badu

Happy Wednesday!

Jim Peredo’s Universal crossword, “Digital Communications” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 1/13/21 • Wed • “Digital Communications” • Peredo • solution • 20210113

  • 65aR [Finger sound that’s the subject of this puzzle] SNAP.
  • 1a. [65-Across, to an impolite diner] COME.
  • 17a. [65-Across, to one in a rush] HURRY IT UP.
  • 24a. [ … to a hypnotist] OPEN YOUR EYES.
  • 38a. [ … to one who just missed] SO CLOSE.
  • 46a. [ … to one surprised by how quickly something happened] JUST LIKE THAT.
  • 58a. [ … to a beatnik] I CAN DIG.

Since I didn’t skip down to that final across revealer, I was buffed around a little blindly as I encountered each themer. Surveying it now, I see that these are all quite appropriate and deftly clued. I even like the terse four-letter entry at 1-across, despite encountering that off-putting cross-reference right at the start.

  • Despite the plethora of theme entries, the constructor still had the panache to include paired vertical tens: 11d [Like some grab-and-go meals] READY TO EAT, and a SMILEY FACE at 12d; 27d [Like the cars at Texas’ Cadillac Ranch] HALF-BURIED, 28d [Robby Benson figure-skating film] ICE CASTLES (1978).
  • 24d/33d [Three Musketeers word] ONE / ALL. “One for all, and all for one!” Factette: the candy bar was originally three pieces – chocolate, vanilla, strawberry.
  • 14a [0 letters, on a telephone] OPER. Rather obsolescent.
  • 16a [“… my own worst __”] ENEMY is mildly disorienting, appearing as it does immediately below the homophonic* WURST.
    *when (mis)pronounced the typically American/English way
  • 40a [Org. for Packers and Panthers] NFC. I did get fooled into putting NFL here.
  • 42a [It isn’t so easy on the eyes] MACE. Ha, ha?

Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Until the revealing answer, I wasn’t that enthused by the theme. It consists of nouns meaning to talk, used roughly in the same sense in the phrases. However, the descending order of WHISPER/TALK/SCREAM, plus the revealing CANYOUHEARMENOW, are both big winners in my book.

Cute clues, which sometimes get short shrift in the LA Times:

  • [Hang out in alleys], BOWL
  • [Stall for Time?], KIOSK
  • [Immortal “Citizen”], KANE

More obscure answers:

  • [Lamb pen name], ELIA. Had a copy of one of his on my bookshelf growing up. Never touched it.
  • [Owl’s call], WHOO. It’s in the dictionary like that, though I don’t quite believe it. Mildly disappointed the SCREECHOWL didn’t make the puzzle.


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28 Responses to Wednesday, January 13, 2021

  1. huda says:

    NYT: The depth of my ignorance about sports is unfathomable, and yet this came along nicely, working around the holes… Testament to using theme entries that are in the language.
    I also liked the long downs. I have been HITting THE WEIGHTS for a while now, and I have invested in a set for home. The longer this pandemic lasts, the more weight I can squat…

  2. RSP64 says:

    WSJ – I think range refers to a kitchen range, not a geographical feature for the KNOBS answer.

  3. jack says:

    WSJ DAX who? NIALL who? And RSVPED should be clued as abbr!

  4. marciem says:

    WSJ: Jim P… thank you much for the Moana clip in Tahitian and the link to the review by a Tahitian. I really enjoyed both and wished that entire version of the movie were available in some form here.

    I DID see an article that said that “Moana” in Maori is available for streaming on Disney+ (I don’t have D+, but that might tempt me to look for a free trial somewhere :) !)

  5. Mutman says:

    NYT: The Utah Jazz is a fine example of why, when pro teams move, they should not keep the team nickname, but rather get a new one. They originated as the New Orleans Jazz, then moved to Utah. The name is now ironic as well as ridiculous.

    Other examples: Minneapolis Lakers –> LA Lakers.
    St Louis Cardinals –> Arizona Cardinals

    • marciem says:

      I always thought they got it backward with Utah and New Orleans teams! Utah being the home of the Latter Day SAINTS, and NOLA known for Jazz of all types.

      So there ya go. I’m saying I agree with you :) . The moves make the names seem odd. Maybe find names that aren’t so site-specific next time LOL! Or else stay put.

    • Mark Abe says:

      Don’t forget the team that was named for how fans had to dodge trolley cars in Brooklyn to get to the game. I’ve cheered for the Dodgers since they moved to L.A. in 1958, but always wondered why they never changed the name.

      • R says:

        Though the name Dodgers wouldn’t mean anything to anyone in Brooklyn under the age of 80. It’s probably best to hang on to one of the few long-time team mascots that isn’t offensive.

    • Gareth says:

      It’s better than our sports with teams that have had simple geographical names for a long time, but now our administrators feel the need to tack on random names. Occasionally they work. Of our six cricket franchises: Cape Cobras – good and apt; Gauteng Lions – acceptable, has been on their logo for a long time; KZN Dolphins – could be worse, they’re at least on the coast; but the other three: why are the Eastern Cape team the Warriors, the Free State team the Knights and the Northerns (Pretoria) team the Titans – all ridiculously an inappropriately martial…

  6. Jenni Levy says:

    Loved Ade’s AVCX!

  7. marciem says:

    Well booo… that sucks :( . The articles I saw were from New Zealand publications so it may only be available to D subscribers there or in the Pacific Island areas.

    Not that I speak Maori, but I would watch it. I do love seeing cultures and languages preserved, and Maori and Tahitian are dying out. Animated films are a good way to capture the imagination and interest of young people before they are too jaded.

  8. pannonica says:

    NYT: Anyone care to explain 10d [Grateful?] ASHES? Can it really be grateful → dead → ashes?

  9. Cynthia says:

    Shout out to Jim P for a fun Universal today. I enjoyed the cluing quite a bit.

  10. Gale G Davis says:

    WSJ 57 A
    Tell Tale Item

    Can someone explain this one for me ?

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