Wednesday, January 20, 2021

LAT 4:21 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 8:06 (Rachel) 


NYT 4:25 (Amy) 


WSJ 6:38 (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


AVCX 6:20 (Ben) 


Ross Trudeau’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Heart of Darkness”—Jim P’s review

Happy Inauguration Day! It’s a day to be hopeful and optimistic, so in that sense, maybe this puzzle would have been better yesterday, the last full day of one of America’s worst presidents.

Our theme is a list of sayings describing the “evil that lurks in the heart of men.”

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Heart of Darkness” · Ross Trudeau · Wed., 1.20.21

  • 16a. [Depraved through and through] ROTTEN TO THE CORE
  • 22a. [1968 #2 hit for Steppenwolf] BORN TO BE WILD. Hmm. “Wild” doesn’t equal “bad” to me.
  • 47a. [Incorrigibly wicked] BAD TO THE BONE. I’m surprised to learn the 1982 song by George Thorogood and the Destroyers was not a hit when it was released. It only became hugely popular after appearing in film and other media.
  • 57a. [“O.P.P.” hip-hop group] NAUGHTY BY NATURE

Also, note the very central entry in the grid is TOXIN [Poisonous substance]. Coincidence? Perhaps.

Good theme (ironically), even though one of the entries has to be interpreted a little loosely.

With only four themers, the fill is strong, especially COOKIE JARS, KICKED BUTT, STUNT DOG, FAKED IT, and FORESTRY clued [Wood working?]. In the trickier-but-still-good category is the phrase NOTA BENE [“Pay special attention to this”]. Did you have trouble parsing that one? A hint that this was a Latin phrase would not have been unwelcome.

Clues of note:

  • 26a. [Feigned competence or knowledge]. FAKED IT. We would also have accepted [Emulated Elaine Benes].
  • 12d. [Malevolent sort]. FIEND. Theme-adjacent, but we take offense to this, don’t we?
  • 36d. [“Well, that was sassy!”]. “MEOW!” Fun clue.

An enjoyable puzzle. 3.8 stars.

Natan Last, Andy Kravis, & the JASA Crossword Class’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 20 21, no. 0120

Our Inauguration Day revealer is THE UNITED STATES, 36a. [Red, white and blue land … or what 15-, 22-, 45- and 57-Across feature?]. Those four themers are rendered so well: one word that connotes uniting and one word that can be split into two state postal abbreviations.

  • 15a. [Sharing thoughts like a Vulcan [Detroit, Fargo]], MIND MELDING. Detroit, MI, and Fargo, ND. I’ve been to Fargo and merely through Detroit.
  • 22a. [Classic of daytime TV first aired in 1962 [Atlanta, Bangor]], MATCH GAME. Georgia, Maine. I love this because (a) I watched the 1970s rendition of Match Game as a kid, (2) the RuPaul’s Drag Race version, “Snatch Game,” is a hoot, and (III) Georgia’s two new senators are to be sworn in on Wednesday.
  • 45a. [Arthritis symptom [Altoona, South Bend]], JOINT PAIN. Pennsylvania, Indiana.
  • 57a. [Sommelier’s suggestion [Oshkosh, Omaha]], WINE PAIRING. Wisconsin, Nebraska. I have a friend in Omaha. She recently transitioned and I’m super happy for her!

I’m dumbfounded that the constructing crew found four perfect examples for this theme. Nicely done!

Three more things:

  • 1a. [“God is the perfect ___”: Robert Browning], POET. Not a line I was familiar with. Writes limericks, yeah?
  • 9a. [“Avatar” f/x, e.g.], CGI. So Avatar 2 is supposed to come out in 2022. Get ready, constructors! Because OONA Chaplin has a part in both of the planned sequels.
  • 24d. [Brand name derived from the phrase “crystallized cottonseed oil”], CRISCO. I did not know that!

Four stars from me.

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

New Yorker • 1/20/21 • Merrill • Wed • solution

This was a super smooth solve! It wasn’t *easy*, per se, but I never felt stuck— each time I reached a stopping point, I was able to pick right up on a different section of the grid until the whole thing clicked together beautifully.

The long entries weren’t exactly groundbreaking, but that they’re all solid and stack nicely. My favorite sections were the across stacks in the NE and SW: ROOT CANAL / DON’T ARGUE / SHOPS AROUND and IF I MAY SAY SO / AFTER DARK / TELLS A LIE. We also had OUT OF LINE / STIRRED UP / RICE-A-RONI in the NW and ROB PETRIE / TAKES HEED / STAR TURNS in the SE. I have never watched the Dick Van Dyke Show (surprise!), so ROB PETRIE took me some time, but the rest was, like I said, pretty darn smooth.

A few more things:

  • Favorite clues:
    • [Quaker Oats product whose logo resembles a cable car]  for RICE-A-RONI. I had no idea what the product was, but of course, it was the San Francisco treat!
    • [Kiri Te Kanawa performance] for ARIA – I’m not really an opera person (surprise again!), but I looked up some [Kiri Te Kanawa performance]s after solving and dang, she is talented.
    • [Stars of many viral videos] for CATS – so many directions we could have gone with this clue, including the film fiasco, so this was a fun and unexpected direction! I asked the internet what the best cat video was, and in the 22 minutes since I posted, I got about six responses, and I think Keyboard Cat is the most classic example:

  • Fill is all livable
  • I don’t know what else to say, there’s an inauguration today and I am pretty distracted so I’m gonna end this post!

Overall, enjoyable and smooth but not-quite-exciting puzzle. Many stars from me. Happy inauguration day, folks!

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s AVCX, “Litter Collection” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 1/20/21 – “Litter Collection”

After MIT Mystery Hunt last weekend, today’s AVCX was a nice, gentle re-start to solving more puzzles, with an adorable theme.  It’s all spelled out in 24A and 29A:

  • 24A: With 29-Across, thing found four times in this puzzle, as well as how the four things are arranged — KITTY/CORNER

As this suggests, each of the four corners of the puzzle contains two different cat breeds:

  • 1A: Bangkokians, e.g., before 1939 — SIAMESE
  • 1D: Album by Assyrian metal band Melechesh that features a winged lion on the cover — SPHINX
  • 8A: Premium cigar — HAVANA
  • 13D: Sea described by Homer as “wine-dark” — AEGEAN
  • 46D: Third largest Mediterranean island behind Sicily and Sardinia — CYPRUS
  • 66A: Like residents of Mogadishu — SOMALI
  • 50D: Cincinnati NFL player — BENGAL
  • 67A: Ann or Andy — RAGDOLL

Other things to like in the grid: the cluing on LAD MAG (18A, “Racy periodical usually aimed at straight chaps”), Ai WEI WEI, PLANKING, NEATNIK, A SMIDGE and A TAD clued as measuring spoons, and DO AS I DO

Happy Wednesday!

Will Nediger’s Universal crossword, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 1/21/20 • Wed • “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” • Nediger • solution • 20210120

The answers to starred clues have the property of reversing over themselves for the last two letters. Since they are all two-word phrases possessing a three-letter word as the second word, they can be described by the title.

Another, probably less useful, way to think about it is that the answers end in a palindromic five-letter sequence, with the final two letters missing.

  • 17a. [*Certain tribal healers] MEDICINE M{EN}.
  • 19a. [*Juicy, as a biography] TELL-A{LL}.
  • 27a. [*Business flyer?] PRIVATE J{ET}.
  • 35a. [*Prophecy subject, often] CHOSEN O{NE}.
  • 44a. [*Food that purists refuse to put ketchup on] CHICAGO D{OG}. As wrong as a Chicago-style hot dog is, I agree that ketchup has no place near a hot dog.
  • 56a. [*Emergency status] CODE R{ED}.
  • 57a. [*Collector’s goal] COMPLETE S{ET}.

Good theme in concept and execution. Seven entries, reflecting and allowed by the shorter length of these answers.

I’m not a Bruce Springsteen fan, but I’ve always thought this album and song were better than most of his schtick, so here we go:

(Yes, I’m aware that most of his fines don’t care for this album, or at least didn’t at the time.)

  • 18d [On a vast scale] COSMIC. Back when I still thought the theme involved rebus squares, I was trying to figure out how COLOSSAL would be collapsed to fit.
  • 25d [Moonshine] HOOCH. Spelling Bee crossover content: have you noticed that the variant HOOTCH is no longer accepted there?
  • 27d [Not candid] POSED. Nice clue. Understated.
  • 49d [Walkout defier] SCAB. Glad to see the clue doesn’t invoke the false framing of something like “union foe”.
  • 13d [Extremely amused, in millennial slang] DEAD, 54d [Distracted Boyfriend, e.g.] MEME.
  • 4d [Word that means “offensive,” not “loud”] NOISOME. It traces its etymology through the Middle English noysome, which is related to ‘annoy’ and ‘annoyance’. ‘Noise’, in contrast, stems from Latin nausea.

Steve Marron & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I’ve never heard the phrase PAPER CARRIERS, but I assume it’s a gender and age neutral form of paper boys/girls. In any case, three amounts of paper – a QUIRE: 25 sheets; a BALE: 5000 sheets; and a REAM: 500 sheets, are hidden across two parts of three otherwise unrelated entries.

Unusual entries:

    • I still haven’t got my head around the surname of Hoda KOTB. It’s Egyptian, but I still struggle to come up with that T!
    • TATAMI MAT sounds tautological, but it seems to be in use.

[Ticket stub abbr.] for SECT, which is also a word, which seems by far the better clueing angle.

  • LOQUAT is an underappreciated fruit.


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25 Responses to Wednesday, January 20, 2021

  1. zevonfan says:

    On 67 Across in the AVCX puzzle, I could not figure out why LANDERS was not fitting. Andy Landers is a Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coach – I thought very obscure for a crossword puzzle, but it fit… Was not even thinking dolls until the downs were not working at all.
    Solid puzzle.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Favorite is MIND MELDING… Just imagine…
    I actually saw a gradation in the theme, from the most extreme type of union (MELDING), to a lesser degree (MATCHING AND JOINING), to merely a PAIRING…
    It’s great to underscore the word UNITED in the name of this country and to use that to drive the theme on inauguration day.

    • GlennP says:

      There’s also a bit of symmetry going on. MIND is at the beginning; GAME is at the end; PAIN is at the end; and, WINE is at the beginning.

  3. PJ says:

    WSJ – I don’t think of BAD TO THE BONE as meaning incorrigibly wicked. To me the song was more about youthful rebellion.

    Happy Inauguration Day!

  4. David L says:

    I have a feeling this has come up previously, but how does ‘one up’ mean TIED?

  5. Billy Boy says:

    I had a very hard time finding the wavelength of both NYT and WSJ today, anyone else?

    NYT – I’m assuming that that is multiple young constructors all chipping in and that may be a part of it, it was to cute by half in spots away from the theme, but I did like the theme, its density and how the 2abbr 4-letter word flipped ends.

    In the end I maybe liked NYT better, WSJ was fairly obtuse in spots for me..

    • David Roll says:

      Lots of trouble in SE corner–PETA, I went with SPCA and I really don’t understand ARGOT. Not crazy about FORESTRY and OPP was not in my wheelhouse either.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      According to their website, JASA classes are for “older adults”. JASA stands for Jewish Association Serving the Aging.

  6. Steve Manion says:

    Regarding “one-up,” it is usually if not always the answer to the precise question: “what’s the score?”

    It means the two times are tied and it would make no sense to mean that one team is ahead by one without announcing who is winning.

    One-all is superior and removes any possible ambiguity.

  7. Zulema says:

    I found the New Yorker puzzle exactly as described by Rachel. Wonderful!!

Comments are closed.