Wednesday, March 24, 2021

LAT 3:47 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 7:58 (Rachel) 


NYT 10:04 (Ade) 


WSJ 6:06 (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


AVCX 6:47 (Ben) 


Ed Sessa’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “TD Pass”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Hard T sounds change to D sounds. Spellings change as necessary.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “TD Pass” · Ed Sessa · Wed., 3.24.21

  • 20a. [Like a badly sunburned pachyderm?] RED, WIDE, AND BLUE. White.
  • 25a. [“C’mon, posse, let’s get going!”?] ALL RIDE, ALREADY!” Right.
  • 42a. [Staple for a cannabis baker?] WHOLE WEED FLOUR. Wheat.
  • 48a. [What separates A students from D students?] THE GRADE DIVIDE. Great.

I like a good pun, and these…aren’t bad. I especially like the first one which sounds like the punchline to a solid, middle-schooler’s joke (or a dad’s).

My only gripe would be that the theme seems to be very wide open without any other connecting constraint. Is there something in common between WIDE, RIDE, WEED, and GRADE? Something to do with “pass”? You can pass a grade, and I guess you can pass the weed. But I’m just not seeing it for the other words. If you spot something, let us know in the comments.

Moving to the fill, TIL (Today I Learned), NGAIO Marsh was a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and was a New Zealand crime writer. As a fan of Agatha Christie and P.D. James, I should probably know her name.

I also learned DONG is Vietnamese currency, and not just a word in a middle-schooler’s joke (or a dad’s). (Oh, I just noticed a point of consistency about the theme. All the T sounds are at the end of a word. If they were at the beginning, one could change “ice tongs” to ICE DONGS and clue it…[Cold, hard Vietnamese cash], obviously. Why, what were you thinking?)

Aside from those tougher bits of fill, the long entries are nice: SNOW-CLAD, GROOVING, POWERADE, SWADDLES, LIE LOW, ALLISON Janney, and fully-named ANG LEE. I could do without crosswordese ELIA, LENTO, and ONELS.

One clue of note: 41a. [Village greens, e.g.]. AREAS. Hmm. These don’t match well in my mind. Village greens are too specific for a broad term like AREAS. If you’re going to do that, then you could go with [Parking lots, e.g.] or [Rooftop gardens, e.g.] and on and on.

I enjoyed the theme answers in the puzzle, but it feels like it needs another layer. I’ll amend this if someone points out to me whatever it is I missed. For now, 3.4 stars.

Amanda Rafkin and Ross Trudeau’s New York Times crossword—Ade’s take

New York Times crossword solution, March 24, 2021

Good day, everybody! Ade coming off the substitute’s bench today, and hope you all don’t mind what is to come. Our grid is from the crossword/pro wrestling tag team champions of Ms. Amanda Rafkin and Mr. Ross Trudeau, and all I had to say upon reading the byline was a RIC Flair-style “Wooooooooooo!” (44A: [Wrestler Flair]). Bear with me, this review gets better, I promise.

In their grid, four theme entries are articles of clothing donned by the two animated characters mentioned in each of the theme answers’ clues. To top it off, the theme entry of WHO WORE IT BETTER right across the middle acts as the reveal (38A: [Question asked regarding two red-carpet photos of those named in the starred clues?]).

    • SAILOR SUIT (17A: [*Donald Duck or Popeye])
    • DENIM OVERALLS (24A: [*Minions or Mario?]) – So when Mario came across the flower that made him change into a white outfit — and give him the power to release fiery spitballs — what material do you think those overalls were made out of?
    • FOOTIE PAJAMAS (50A: [*Michael Darling or Baby Smurf?])
    • TRENCH COAT (61A: [*Inspector Gadget or McGruff the Crime Dog?]) – The answer to that question is neither. Carmen Sandiego for the trench coat win!! (An opportunity to put in a female animated character among those mentioned in the clues, perhaps?)

So we have BLUTO (7D: [Comic strip antagonist with massive arms]) crossing the theme entry that has Popeye in its clue and we have LEES intersecting the “denim” portion of the second theme entry (18D: [Wine dregs]). Not sure if that was intentional or not, but definitely next-level meta right there. Definitely came across a BLIND SPOT (3D: [Driver’s danger]) when coming across John Irving novels, though the crossings allowed me to get GARP fairly easy (9A: [Title character of a John Irving novel]). Only real slip-up was typing “The Volga” initially where WHITE SEA should have been (39D: [Body of water in norther Russia]). Interesting clue for LAT that could cause people to not recognize the longitude reference in the clue (21A: [What doesn’t go a long. way?]). Any time I think of PAIRS in relation to figure skating, the only people that pop into my head are the British ice dancing pair of Torvill and Dean (Jayne Torvill/Christopher Dean), probably because they’re, almost inarguably, the best duo to ever perform on the ice (12D: [Figure skating category]). Before heading out, a shout-out to JANIE Smulyan, who so wonderfully provided so many wonderful takes of crosswords on this site, and so hoping she is doing well and pops in to say hello to all of us on here soon once again (54D: [Title girl with a gun in an Aerosmith hit]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DADA (67A: [Duchamp’s art movement]) – In the early 2000s, an obscure shoe company named DaDa entered the sneaker game in the NBA, trying to rival the big boys of Nike, Reebok, Adidas and the like. What resulted were some of the more memorable sneakers of that time, though it might have be memorable for the wrong reasons. The good news is that, for a time, NBA All-Stars such as Latrell Sprewell and Chris Webber signed onto its brand. However, when one of the sneakers has spinning rims designed onto the panels of the shoes, like the one Sprewell wore, then you might get more stick than praise. Spinning rims were a fad on cars, and even more fleeting of a fad on sneakers! Enjoy!

Thank you so much for the time, and I hope you did not mind my temporary stay on here today. Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving! (Thank you for allowing me to keep this line active, Janie!)

Take care!


Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword — Rachel’s writeup

The New Yorker crossword solution • Wyna Liu • Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Hi good morning, this was fun! Fairly brief writeup today because I teach in 30 minutes.

I mostly love the stacks in the NW/SE (LOREM IPSUM / E-CIGARETTE / BANANA PEEL / SMOG ALERTS / EASY TARGET / SPYMASTERS). I don’t super care for E-CIGARETTE (don’t vape, kids), although the clue [Vaporware?] was clever. Other good long stuff include DON’T STARE, “HAHA” FUNNY, WHALESONG, KALAMATA, and the full name IRA GLASS, who is so often cut down into just IRA in crossword puzzles. “HAHA” FUNNY, for those who may be confused by this entry, means something that is FUNNY in the sense that it makes you laugh, as opposed to FUNNY in the sense of suspicious or otherwise not-actually-funny.

Quick hits:

  • Favorite clues (there were many! Wyna’s clues are always so evocative!)
    • [Item whose slipperiness was the subject of a 2014 Ig Nobel Prize-winning study] for BANANA PEEL. That is HAHA FUNNY!
    • [Gesture that may accompany “Aw, nuts!”] for SNAP
    • [Piecemaker?] for REESES
  • Enjoyed SNOOK crossing SNOOP in the middle of the grid
  • WKRP / KARA may trip some people up, although KARA Walker was in another New Yorker puzzle not terribly long ago with her full name

Overall, tons of stars for a fun grid and even funner cluing. Yeah, I said funner.

PS. I wrote this week’s Boswords tournament puzzle! If you haven’t solved it yet, there’s still time to submit!

Stella Zawistowksi’s AVCX, “Broadway Medleys” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 3/24 – “Broadway Medleys”

Today’s AVCX is a tribute to Broadway from Stella Zawistowski.  I encourage you to read her constructor note that came with the puzzle, as it’s really sweet.  Let’s dive into the theme!

  • 17A: “West Side Story” medley, or a suave person’s self-assessment? — I FEEL PRETTY COOL
  • 27A: “Dear Evan Hansen” medley, or an envious remark from those who feel ineloquent? — WORDS FAIL ONLY US
  • 48A: “Hamilton” medley, or advice about an inadequate insult? — SAY NO TO THIS BURN
  • 63A: “The Sound of Music” medley, or coins depicting a mountain flower? — EDELWEISS DOREMI

Each “medley” consists of two songs from the musical that can be placed consecutively to make the clued phrase.  The only one of these I struggled with was 27A – I never saw “Dear Evan Hansen”, so I’m not as familiar with its songs.

This series of “Gap” ads (and the SNL sketch that made fun of them) are the first thing that pops into my head when I’m reminded of “Cool” from West Side Story.

Other nice fill: cuba LIBRE, ODIUM, “BODAK Yellow”, SLAG, Drag Race’s MICHELLE Visage, TRON, UNHORSED

Happy Wednesday!

“riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.”

Universal • 3/24/21 • Wed • “The End is the Beginning” • Goldstein • solution • 20210324

  • 17a./R [*Intergalactic makers’ studio? (hint: read each starred answer’s middle word twice)] SPACECRAFTSPACE, that is, spacecraft craft space. So these are essentially ‘before-and-afters’ in which the before and after are the same.
  • 30a. [*Retaliation for overdue wages?] BACKPAYBACK (back pay payback).
  • 38a. [*Where Fred Flintstone goes to get away from it all?] CAVEMANCAVE (caveman man cave).
  • 55a. [*Chardonnay served at a state dinner, say?] WHITEHOUSEWHITE (White House house white).

That’s a nifty little theme.

  • 4d [Puffed snack] RICE CAKE. Those dryasdust discs, no thanks. My favorite kind of ‘rice cake’ is chewy Shanghai-style niángāo.
  • 25d [“You had one __!”] JOB. Consult knowyourmeme.
  • 39d [Replace, electorally] VOTE OUT. Tell me more.
  • 43d [Birthday party performers] CLOWNS. How does this not traumatize kids?
  • 46d [One often on the rebound?] CENTER. Basketball clue.
  • 41d/50d [“I’m not impressed”] MEH, [“I’m impressed!”] OOH.
  • We get relatively updated clues for TARA and TESS. Skater Lipinski for the former and model Holliday for the latter, rather than the GWTW property and Hardy’s protagonist. (28d & 53d)
  • … segueing to 21a [Runway display] FASHION, segueing to 64a [Prepare for takeoff] TAXI segueing to 5a [“Surely you __!”] JEST – I could do this all day, people.
  • 52a [Sandal feature] OPEN TOE, 54d [Toenail treatment, informally] PEDI.
  • 61a [Like some affordable textbooks] USED. Relatively speaking, of course.

Jerry Edelstein’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I can see the attraction of SEMPERFI as a revealer, especially to jingoists. That said it’s a little tortured to translate SEMPER into ALWAYS and then to… BOTH to get to answers with the pattern: FI…/FI… It seems the number of theme possibilities was far more limited than apparent. We have two gratuitous plurals, with FISHFILETS really wanting to be either unthematic FILETOFISH or FISHFILLET, but is stuck as some unholy hybrid.

There are also big corners, with the extra revealer resulting in the bottom right being propped up by IDEATING. The opposite corner, however has SHOOTOUT and SANTAANA and elsewhere we have MATILDA in the debit column.

I wonder when RONA will be clued pandemicly? Probably not for a while…


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31 Responses to Wednesday, March 24, 2021

  1. janie says:

    ade! major cyber-blush for that too sweet shout out! always a treat to read your puzz coverage — and wow — coming off the bench to fill in during ncaas? i think that puts you in contention for mvp! it’s also been a treat seeing your by-line attached to those puzzles in the nyt. for the record, tho — am fairly certain that w/ her blessing, i appropriated the “keep solving” sign-off from liz gorski. but from where i sit… it bears repeating — so keep on keepin’ on. it’s a highly relatable sentiment for solvers — and especially good, friendly encouragement for noobs.

    cheers always, ade!


  2. J says:

    31-Down could have functioned as a second revealer in today’s LAT

  3. Lise says:

    I apologize if this is too off-topic, but has anyone else had trouble accessing Spelling Bee?

    I get a server error when I try, but all of the other games are accessible, and the NYT newsletter titled “The Morning” show’s today’s letters, so it must have been published at some point.

    Anyone know what the trouble is? I checked Wordplay; others have commented on the problem but there’s no information about it there.

    Thanks for any information ❤

  4. Will says:

    Twice in the New Yorker puzzle I saw “Band with the 90’s hit Creep” and thought, how do I get Radiohead to fit in here, and yet it turned out I still knew both songs. That puzzle seemed to have a mini-music theme going on in it.

    • RM Camp says:

      Whoa, how’d you manage to cram Stone Temple Pilots in three spaces? (That’s *three* songs now).

      edit: oh, so STP *was* the other one. Huh. I didn’t do that puzzle so I fully expected Radiohead to be the answer.

    • David Glasser says:

      Same here.

      Kara Walker’s art is incredible and I’d recommend seeking it out if you have a chance (once you’re comfortable going back to museums).

  5. Fred Smith says:


    New to crosswords but do my best with the WSJ crossword (until I hit Thursday’s puzzle and then I rely on you guys!). Question on today’s puzzle clue 23 ‘Gala discard’ with the answer being Core. I don’t get it. I could see cork (gala being a party) but not core. Thanks!

    • Meg says:

      I was stuck on that one too until I realized they were talking about a gala apple.

    • JohnH says:

      I didn’t know about gala apples either, and it’s not in RHUD, so I was puzzled, too. But then I found it in MW11C and often enough online.

      The NYT was a truly unpleasant slog for me. Not because of vocabulary like LEES, but all these proper names. Dreadful. I also hadn’t heard the revealer before. As usual, Rachel’s experience of TNY is totally opposite to mine. I found it way harder than Monday’s, but Kara Walker is a gimme for me (also a fave).

  6. Meg says:

    Can someone explain the “Red Wide and Blue” reference (20A) and how it relates to a sunburned pachyderm in the WSJ. For the life of me I don’t get the connection to any sort of animal.

    • marciem says:

      The theme is changing the T sound in common phrases to a D.

      Most pachyderms are pretty wide. I think the clue referred to a sad sunburned pachyderm so there’s the blue, replacing “Red, White and Blue”.

      • Meg says:

        That makes sense. I guess I missed the “sad” part when I was trying to figure out how it related. ??‍♀️

        • JohnH says:

          That puzzled me, too, and I could swear there was no “sad” in the clue in the puzzle I printed from online. I figured they just cheated and decided to count the gray of a rhino or elephant as kinda blue. Maybe they should have gone with a whale.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        FWIW, there’s no “sad” in the clue in the version I solved. I was okay with the answer and the clue but, IMO, it would have worked better if the clue was “Like a sad sunburned pachyderm?” instead of “Like a badly sunburned pachyderm?”

  7. Margaret says:

    I’ll be interested to see what Gareth thinks of the LAT. The theme was fine but the fill just seemed dated and choppy and blah to me. Not sure if it’s really all that terrible or if I’m just having a bad day.

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I loved Wyna’s New Yorker puzzle just about as much as I did Rachel’s Boswords puzzle! I seem to find a greater joy in solving good themelesses by women, and I suspect I’m not alone in that.

  9. sanfranman59 says:

    NYT: In addition to LEES crossing DENIM OVERALLS, we get LEVI in the NE just above it. It’s probably just the Boomer in me, but if I were part of Trudeau Crossword Constructing Enterprises, I couldn’t have resisted somehow working Columbo into the puzzle crossing or near TRENCHCOAT.

  10. Luther says:

    WSJ- Out of the four long answers RED WIDE AND BLUE makes no sense to me.
    If it’s what marciem suggests, I think Ed Sessa is really stretching it.
    Sunburned- RED Pachyderm- WIDE, but BLUE?
    I’m not sad when I get a sunburn, I’m darned sore, tender and rueful that I stayed too long in the sun.
    As it was the first reveal, it was my last “I give up” entry.

    • marciem says:

      Well whether the hippo/elephant/rhino was sad about being sunburned or some other reason, it WAS described as sad in the clue, which is often used as a synonym for blue.

      Edit: oops of course I read badly as sadly, so it isn’t as close, but if they were badly sunburned they might be sad about it, as well as hurtin’ for certain.

      • Luther says:

        marciem, you almost got me there! :-)
        I said, “It was?”
        The clue is Like a BADLY sunburned pachyderm.
        But thanks for your help.

  11. RM Camp says:

    I don’t think Mario’s Fire Flower overalls were cut from any special cloth: Mario could throw fire, but don’t forget that Bowser could too…

  12. huda says:

    NYT: I thought it was a fun theme!!! And I loved the revealer. Surprised at the ratings.
    Maybe the question: “Who wore it better?” is not familiar for some?

  13. BOB says:

    Like the NYT! Good Wednesday. Solid construction and nice theme execution. One simple thing was my favorite. The clue for 21A – What doesn’t go a long. way? Creative and I couldn’t find it clued that way anywhere else. Lat. has been an answer 82 times in the NYT and always difficult to come up with a creative clue for such a simple answer.

  14. Lobsterboys says:

    Does anyone else have issues with the LA Times .puz file? Using Safari, I get a message saying either the site did not send an AcrossLite puzzle or that it was corrupted. I’m trying from the site.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts!

  15. DRC says:

    WSJ – “wheat” and “weed” don’t begin with the same sound

  16. Carolyn H. says:

    WSJ – In answer to Jim’s question about football pass connections to the answers, you go “wide” to receive a pass. Still haven’t come up with a connection for “ride”.

Comments are closed.