Wednesday, April 14, 2021

LAT 3:50 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 9:31 (Rachel) 


NYT 3:04 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


AVCX 8:07 (Ben) 


Geoff Brown’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Slide Effect”—Jim P’s review

As the title implies, we’re adding L’s to words. But it’s not done willy-nilly. The L’s always come after starting S’s.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Slide Effect” · Geoff Brown · Wed., 4.14.21

  • 17a. [Possible title for a diet book?] SLEEK REDEMPTION. Seek… We don’t usually refer to people as “sleek,” but I’m having trouble coming up with a car-based alternative clue.
  • 28a. [Like mud wrestlers after competing?] SLICK AND TIRED. Sick… I like this one best.
  • 47a. [Guilty retreat from a blocked shower drain?] BATHROOM SLINK. …sink. Usually it’s not the shower drain that causes such angst.
  • 63a. [Possible title for another diet book?] RETURN TO SLENDER. …Sender. Another good one. I can see this actually being a book title.

These work, yeah? Good choices and a dash of humor make for an entertaining theme.

Fill-wise, ICE MAKER tops the list followed by LICHEN, LAUGHS, and ERITREA. Could there be a more crossword-friendly country name than ERITREA? (Okay, maybe IRAN and LAOS, but only because they’re shorter.)

An older Billy Idol, still SNEERing after all these years

Clues of note:

  • 5a. [You do it when it counts]. HIDE. There really should be a question mark here or quotation marks around the second “it.” But, you know, misdirection.
  • 21a. [Pitch product, perhaps]. MOVIE. I was really thinking about tar here, not a MOVIE pitch.
  • 22a. [1982 Matt Dillon film]. TEX. Holy cow, I just realized this says “Dillon” and not “Damon.” I was thinking, “Matt Damon was making movies in 1982?” Per Wikipedia, he was 12 at the time.
  • 66a. [Stirred, possibly after shaken]. AWOKE. Good misdirection on this one. It’s not about martinis.
  • 27d. [Litmus source]. LICHEN. Did not know this. And since I had SEAL for the crossing HEAL [Close up, say], I ended with an error. My own fault for not going back and wondering what a LICSEN was.
  • 54d. [Trademark look for Billy Idol]. SNEER. Ha! Yup. Fun angle on this clue.

Nice puzzle. 3.8 stars.

Nathan Hasegawa’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 14 21, no. 0414

Tonight’s theme is COUNT / SHEEP, 60a. [With 61-Across, advice for an insomniac … or what you can do 12 times in this puzzle, reading across and down (not including this answer)]. The rest of the puzzle feels unthemed, but there are EWEs in 14a SEWER, 19a BONE-WEARY, 49a HERE WE ARE, 46d DEWEY, 41d MAE WEST, and roll-your-own word RENEWER at 22d. The RAM hangs out in 13a RAMEN, 31a ABRAM, 27d TRAMPOLINE, and 28d RAMPART. And the LAMBs have been herded into 37a LAMBO(rghini) and 10d FLAMBOYANT.

It might actually be lambing season (a Facebook friend’s ewe gave birth to a lamb last week), but somehow these five cruciverbal EWEs and five RAMs have only managed to produce two LAMBs.

This puzzle played like a Monday or Tuesday to me, a quicker solve than I was expecting. There are plenty of less-obvious bits, though, like FRA, ELIA, singer WALE, DWI (it’s called a DUI in many places), and Spanish OYE. The plural TA-TAS and ECRUS weren’t great, but they’re gettable enough.

Five more things:

  • 37a. [Expensive Italian car, informally], LAMBO. There’s a purple Lambo in the Netflix movie Thunder Force, a goofy movie starring Octavia Spencer and Melissa McCarthy (which we just watched this evening). And the car’s put to comedic use, of course.
  • 44a. [Kind of sauce], TARTAR. I dunno, man. It’s got mayo and pickles? Not for me.
  • 11d. [___ Cinemas (theater chain)], REGAL. The ArcLight cinemas apparently won’t be reopening. Regal has reopened a number of locations. Please let movie theaters still be a going concern by the time it’s safe for us transplant recipients to go back into them! My local Regal with the spacious recliners is still closed.
  • 26d. [Double-reeded aerophone with keys], OBOE. I have never seen the word aerophone, to my recollection.
  • 27d. [Spring recreation?], TRAMPOLINE. Cute clue.

3.5 stars from me. Baa!

Evan Kalish’s AVCX, “Eye to Eye” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 4/14 – “Eye to Eye”

Evan Kalish guest-constructed this week’s AVCX, and it has a cute, easy-to-pick-up-on theme:

  • 18A: Sculptor and landscape artist with an eponymous museum in Queens — ISAMU NOGUCHI
  • 26A: Fashion icon who once designed a line of Band-Aids — ISAAC MIZRAHI
  • 43A: Author of “How to Be an Antiracist” — IBRAM X. KENDI
  • 65A: Prime minister for whom India’s busiest airport is named — INDIRA GANDHI
  • 73A: Legend with an MLB record of 262 hits in one season — ICHIRO SUZUKI

The I’s have it in this one – each theme entry is a person’s name that starts and ends with I.  There’s a nice range of people selected, with artists, politicians, and athletes all represented.


All of Jon Bois’ series on the history of the Seattle Mariners is great, but this bit does a great job of capturing the ICHIRO SUZUKI era of their existence.

Other fill notes:

  • KARATE means empty hand
  • “Microdosing” is a way of being ON ACID
  • DON’T AT ME (or, in non-crossword formatting, “don’t @ me”) is a way of saying “keep it to yourself” on Twitter
  • I just liked seeing TWINSIES and TIME SUCK in a grid.

Happy Wednesday!

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

The New Yorker crossword solution • Patrick Berry • Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Helloooo team! We’ve got a grid with a  neat design and fun wordplay in the clues from Patrick Berry today, and the long stuff is pretty sparkly. I love the spanners FREELANCE WRITER and THE NIGHT IS YOUNG (which I initially threw in as “YOU’RE STILL YOUNG” after getting the end of the phrase from the crosses). Berry’s entry is much better! The central spanner, PLEASE MR. POSTMAN, was inferable enough, although I admit I don’t know the song (*ducks the objects hurled at me by enraged readers*). We also have other long entries of SMALL CAPS / CAFE AU LAIT / SINGLE MOMS / EASY MONEY / EAR CANAL / TREATISE / OPERETTA / TWIST-OFF / MISSOURI / ANTENNAS. Great!

I also like the design of this grid a lot—the spanners cut through some excellent stacks, and the middle section, though pretty isolated, is still an impressive little stack of 5s and 6s. And it looks cool!

A few more things:

[One standing in the living room, perhaps]

  • Favorite clues:
    • [One standing in the living room, perhaps] for LAMP
    • [King of pop] for CAROLE
  • I had COMPELS instead of PROPELS in the SW, which realllly slowed me down
  • I have no idea what VHF is and I refuse to find out. Jk I looked it up and I still don’t reallllly get it. Is this still in use for TV? Seems like probably not, right?
  • Love the generation-spanning clue [Murphy Brown and Lorelai Gilmore, for two] for SINGLE MOMS
  • I appreciate the inclusion of Black Lives Matter in the clue for FIST, which obviously could be clued any number of ways. Especially this week, it’s a solemn and important note to end the puzzle on.

Overall, tons of stars from me. If the worst thing in your puzzle is VHF, I’d say that’s a pretty good puzzle!

PS. “These Puzzles Fund Abortion” is still available here if you haven’t picked up your pack yet!

David Alfred BYwaters’ Universal crossword, “Right to the End” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 4/14/21 • Wed • “Right to the End” • Bywaters • solution • 20210414

  • 40aR {Sooner’s alternative … or, read as two parts, a theme hint] LATER, or late R. The lone R in each word/phrase slides on down to the end.
  • 17a. [Expressive bar patron?] SHOT WAVER (shortwave). Picturing someone gesticulating while holding court, shot glass in hand.
  • 29a. [Person who retouches photos, informally?] PIX FIXER (prix fixe).
  • 47a. [What lets you convert a summer shirt into a winter one?] TEE LINER (treeline).
  • 64a. [Boxer’s training clock?] FIST TIMER (first time).

What these have in common: the originals all end in E—creating an -ER ending for all the new phrases, the originals are all kind of meh, the wackified versions are also kind of meh, but in a different way. In sum, it’s an ok crossword theme.

Pressed for time today, so let’s take a quick spin around the rest of the grid:

  • 1d [Gloomy] DISMAL. After the quarantimes, I will probably be visiting some friends who live near New Jersey’s Great DISMAL Swamp. Some good wildlife to be found there, considering the 7d [Locality] AREA.
  • 8d [Happy cat sound] PURR. Reminder that sometimes cats purr when they are in pain or in other situations.
  • 12d [Quiet road, or part of a busy one] LANE. Nifty clue.
  • 18d [Thin cookie] WAFER. Are you thinking of Mr Creosote? I am.
  • 41d [Alternative to pasta, perhaps] RICE. Can confirm. Or if you can’t decide, try orzo or rice noodles.
  • 50d [How Sisyphus constantly travels] UPHILL. Well, no. His punishment is that, as he nears the top of the hill, the boulder he’s eternally linked to rolls back down. Similarly, Tantalus—cursed with undying thirst and hunger—stands in a pool of water, branches of ripe fruit just within reach; when he tries to grab a fruit, a gently wind blows it just out of his grasp, and when he bends over to get some water the liquid ebbs away to nothingness. Hades was a fiendish place.
  • 9a [Doctor-repelling fruit, proverbially] APPLE. That’s certainly an amusing way of phrasing it.
  • 67a [Voice above bass] ALTO. What happened to tenor?
  • 62a [Time to solve this crossword] TODAY!

Julian Lim’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

This is an example of a basic theme concept, but with some really top notch execution. The revealer, ENEMY, is quirky; we need to find a hidden “NME” – across two parts of the answer. The choice of entries was varied and interesting: I didn’t know DEGUSTATIONMENU, but it’s possibly my favourite. It seems to be a posh sort of tasting menu. TOWNMEETING is probably the most prosaic of the four, and the others are the geographical LINCOLNMEMORIAL and pop star SHAWN “I thought he had a U” MENDES.

Other interesting choices in the answers include ALEXA (who may become a crossword cliche in very quick time), SEGWAY, OAXACA, and EPUB. In particular, if you’re going to use an X, a move like CARBONTAX/OAXACA is the way to go!


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18 Responses to Wednesday, April 14, 2021

  1. Maxine Nerdström says:

    I feel more fondness for the NYT after reading that the constructor is a high school student making his debut. I definitely didn’t dislike it, but I wasn’t wowed. I also didn’t take the time to count ewes, rams, and lambs.

    Getting a puzzle published when you’re so young is a real accomplishment, and this was a cute idea.

    • JohnH says:

      I didn’t take the time either, and it just wasn’t exactly a theme motivating me to bother. So I’m not a huge fan. Also too many same old, same old clues, which makes sense for a teen eager to meet Shortz’s expectations. I can imagine introducing someone to NYT puzzles and explaining that you’ll see Mauna _ a lot and just have to wait for crossings to see which one, and the newbie answering, “Do I have to?” OTOH, the two long down entries were not at all stale, which was nice.

  2. Chris McBride says:

    Where I’m from DWI is reserved for strictly alcohol related impairment, while DUI may be applied to someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Either way, not cool.

  3. Billy Boy says:


  4. Crotchety Doug says:

    WSJ – I loved this one. LOL when filling in the H on 5A. Clue for 27D led me down a fascinating rabbit hole. 4.5 stars

  5. Mr. Grumpy says:

    Once upon a time long, long, ago, TV was VHF [variable high frequency] — nothing more — and the channels ran from 2 to 13 [I don’t recall a channel]. Then came UHF [ultra high frequency] with channels running up from 13 to ? [not sure if it went as high as 99 in the beginning]. There are probably still people who use antennas for whom this matters.

  6. David L says:

    VHF is very high frequency. Since I cut my cable subscription for everything except the internet, I use an antenna for over-the-air tv stations, but I’m pretty sure all channels now are what would have been called UHF back in the day. At any rate, the distinction is no longer relevant.

  7. Alan D. says:

    Is tartar sauce a Northeast regional thing? Can’t have fish and chips without tartar sauce!

    • Joe Pancake says:

      Definitely not strictly a NE thing. Grew up with it in the Seattle area. I think it’s prevalent anywhere there’s seafood (so pretty much everywhere?).

      It’s also good on French fries. Got that culinary tip from Sir Mix-a-Lot, who said in an interview that he’d eat French fries in tartar sauce at the Seattle burger joint Dick’s — the place where “the cool hang out, the swass like to play, and the rich flaunt clout” according to his song “My Posse’s on Broadway”.

  8. R says:

    AVCX: There’s a typo in the name of ISAMU NOGUCHI.

  9. Artdoe says:

    Can anyone explain today’s L.A. Times puzzle, please?

  10. Food says:

    LAT: DEGUSTATIONMENU seems obscure for a Wednesday theme answer, especially one that’s not really guessable. I am a foodie, and I make it a point to eat at a fine dining restaurant about once or twice a year when I travel. DEGUSTATIONMENU is not commonly seen in upscale US restaurants in my experience. It’s usually just called a “tasting menu.”

    I only remember seeing it under two scenarios: 1) in French restaurants, where it’s usually called “menu degustation,” with an accent on the “e” of degustation, which I believe is the French-language version of the term; and 2) as a deluxe version of the tasting menu, with even more items (and with a higher price tag). In the second scenario, the restaurant has a “tasting menu” and also a more expensive “degustation menu.” But that’s pretty rare, at least in my experience, and even there, it’s often called “menu degustation.”

    • John O says:

      I have never heard of a Degustation Menu, and I eat out a lot! Well, I used to. I found the crosses to be fair enough, so I got it. But it looked wrong until the end.

  11. Jim says:

    NYT: Wasn’t “James A Garfield’s middle name” in NYT just a few days ago? Likewise, “LAMBO”?

Comments are closed.