Wednesday, October 13, 2021

LAT 5:21 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 3:43 (Matthew) 


NYT 4:19 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 4:07 (Sophia) 


AVCX 16:24 (Ben) 


Morton J. Mendelson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Not Quite Opposite”—Jim P’s review

Now this is a fun, original theme. Each theme entry consists of two words that sound like opposites, but the second one is actually a homophone. Wackiness ensues.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Not Quite Opposite” · Morton J. Mendelson · Wed., 10.13.21

  • 17a. [Satiny Elizabethan collar?] SMOOTH RUFF. I learned RUFF from crosswords. Thanks, crosswords!
  • 28a. [Proprietor of a store in a garret?] ATTIC SELLER. I didn’t learn “garret” from crosswords (until today). Thanks a lot, crosswords.
  • 36a. [Holy communion in a synagogue?] WRONG RITE. Nice one.
  • 49a. [Sound of a high-priced canary?] COSTLY CHEEP. Knowing the theme by this point helped resolve this one since the clue clearly was leading to CHEEP.
  • 63a. [Huge ore-extracting machine?] MAJOR MINER. Solid.

I grokked the theme with the first theme answer, but not immediately. It took a few glances in between other entries for the penny to drop, but then I got to enjoy the aha moment. An enjoyable time.


I also like NOONDAY, but maybe not with that clue [When many have lunch]. On the rare occasions that I see that word, it’s almost exclusively as an adjective, as in noonday sun or noonday meal. The online dictionaries also list it as a noun, so I can’t say the clue is wrong.

Other clues of note:

  • 19a. [Wonka portrayer]. DEPP. I just learned there’s another Wonka film in the works, titled Wonka, and starring Timothée Chalamet (currently starring in Dune). The film will be an origin story of sorts.
  • 57a. [Baritone role in “Jesus Christ Superstar”]. KING HEROD. I include Alice Cooper’s turn as the campy king for your viewing pleasure.
  • 61d. [Titan holder]. SILO. Ballistic missiles did not even register for me here, not even until I started writing this bullet point. Doh!

Four stars.

Alice Cooper – King Herod’s Song (Jesus Christ Superstar Live 2018)

Brianne McManis’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 13 21, no. 1013

I really liked this theme, though the three-piece, cross-referenced revealer was a tad irksome. 65d. [With 70- and 71-Across, agree … and a phonetic hint to this puzzle’s theme] clues SEE / EYE / TO EYE, and the four themers are notable people whose first/last name combos start and end with the letter I:

  • 20a. [First and only female prime minister of India], INDIRA GANDHI.
  • 32a. [“Red Cube” sculptor with an eponymous museum in New York], ISAMU NOGUCHI. I think I first learned this name from crosswords! You can peruse his body of work at the Noguchi museum’s website. Fascinating stuff!
  • 42a. [First M.L.B. player to enter the Meikyukai (a Japanese baseball hall of fame)], ICHIRO SUZUKI.
  • 57a. [Fashion designer and judge on “Project Runway All Stars”], ISAAC MIZRAHI. I filled this one in with some crossings in place without needing to see the clue.

Nice assortment of subjects, with people from history, art, sports, and current TV/fashion. I do like names in my crossword, so this theme’s right up my alley.

Five more things:

  • 17a. [They’re often used with people, but rarely with pets], LAST NAMES. The exception is when the vet issues a prescription for a pet. Yes, I have seen “Billy Cat Zekas” on a prescription bottle!
  • 5d. [Cover for the bed of a pickup truck], TONNEAU. Is this the cap or one of those grooved covers for the base? Wikipedia tells me a tonneau cover is a flat cover over the space enclosed by the bed and side walls, and that the space is called the tonneau. Presumably pickup truck people call the cover a tonneau?
  • 29d. [Tribe that considers the Grand Canyon its creation place], HOPI. And yet, plenty of tourism there. 60d RUDE!
  • 47d. [One who loves to shred some gnar pow], SKI BUM. Gnarly powder, I presume? Goofy!
  • How do we feel about MAURITIUS having “island” in its clue and crossing the French ILE? I’m not a big fan, but MAURITIUS is a cool entry.

Four stars from me.

Richard Shlakman and Will Nediger’s AVCX, “They’re Here” — Ben’s Review

Today’s AVCX isn’t the first puzzle I’ve seen with its theme, but Richard and Will do it well. It’s a full Sunday-sized grid AND has rebus squares, so you may want to click on the image to see the full fill on some of these.

  • 25A: Formal designer gown, for example — [RED] CARPET LOOK
  • 32A: Navel, Ambersweet, or Valencia — FLORIDA [ORANGE]
  • 36A: Flip side of “Eleanor Rigby” — [YELLOW] SUBMARINE
  • 65A: L.M. Montgomery’s children’s novel set in Avonlea — ANNE OF [GREEN] GABLES
  • 96A: Last item mentioned in a rhyme for a bride — SOMETHING [BLUE]
  • 98A: She was 22 when she won season seven of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — [VIOLET] CHACHKI
  • 105A: Symbol of LGBTQ pride represented by this puzzle’s theme entries — RAINBOW FLAG

And since these are rebus squares, they also work with the down clues:

  • 1D: Blew a gasket — SAW [RED]
  • 35D: Protestant fraternal group founded in 1795 — [ORANGE] ORDER
  • 36D: Signal of an official caution for unsporting behavior in a soccer game — [YELLOW] CARD
  • 47D: Hemlock or pine — EVER[GREEN] TREE
  • 77D: Machine that bested Garry Kasparov in 1997 — DEEP [BLUE]
  • 68D: 2006 sci-fi movie starring Milla Jovovich — ULTRA[VIOLET]

Again, it’s not the first RAINBOW FLAG theme I’ve seen, but it’s a really well-executed one and I had a great time solving this even after I had spotted what was going on.

Happy Wednesday!

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s review

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword solution, 10/13/2021

Fun grid from Liz Gorski today, that played a little harder than the past few Wednesdays, I think. I have a bad habit of getting a foothold in the NE corner and then having to work into the grid with only the backs of many words – it made the middle stack particularly tough to see.

Speaking of that group, really fantastic clue for WEDDING VIDEOS (34a- Bond films?). Even with the question mark indicator, it took me awhile. And it didn’t help that NIGER (30d- Algeria neighbor) was my third attempt at a five-letter North African country, the first of which doesn’t even border Algeria.

In fact, so many enjoyable clues in this one that I’m going to jump right to notes, because I’ve got a bunch:

  • 1a- (Ranch measure?) TABLESPOON. This refers to ranch dressing of course. I can’t imagine measuring out my salad dressing, and I generally stick to oil and vinegar to avoid the more caloric dressings.
  • 11a- (Threatening voice mail from an “I.R.S agent”) SCAM. I *love* that it’s “voice mail” and not “call”. I simple don’t answer the phone if I don’t recognize the number, and haven’t for a long time.
  • 20a- (James Van Der ____ (actor whose surname, aptly, is Dutch for “from the creek”) BEEK. I did not know this, and holy cow, talk about nominative determinism.
  • 24a- (Arnaz-and-Ball-founded production company behind the original “Star Trek”) DESILU. I did know this, and I love it. I’m a sucker for Lucille Ball references. Do yourself a favor and look up the “scary Lucy” statue that her hometown of Jamestown, NY put up and ultimately replaced. It’s… something.
  • 51a- (Shakira single whose title means “crazy”) LOCA. I dropped in “LOCo” which caused some trouble with the crossing, and felt kind of sheepish when I realized my error.
  • 53a- (Like Florida but not Georgia) PENINSULAR. Memories of a very early Latin class freshman year, learning the word *paene* (“almost”). Florida is *paene insula* – nearly an island.
  • 56a- (Admonish) TAKE TO TASK. I just like the phrase :)
  • 5d- (Brand for parents-to-be, perhaps) EPT. I had to look this up afterwards, which tells you a bit about me; it’s a pregnancy test. Not sure I’ve seen it in a grid before – it’s nice to see.
  • 9d- (Greeting from a pen pal?) OINK. I feared this was going to be a prison joke, which I really don’t like, but nope, pig pens!
  • 14d- (Any track on Danger Mouse’s “The Grey Album,” e.g.) MASHUP. There are some really fantastic mashups out there. I went through a mashup phase a few years back and might dig some back up for a listen. Off topic, I so prefer “grey” to “gray”. Just looks better to my brain.
  • 37d- (“I’m blushing”) OH STOP. The clue and answer are both colorful, and they’re a perfect match tonally. Love it.

Catherine Cetta’s Universal crossword, “Housebroken” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 10/13/21 • Wed • Cetta • “Housebroken” • solution • 20211013

In the case of this puzzle, it’s the title that resolves the theme. Why are the (circled) names of buildings split like that? House-broken, natch!

  • 16a. [Short words?] VOCAB.
    17a. [True geeky self] INNER NERD.
  • 25a. [Wellness center] HEALTH SPA.
    29a. [Velcro alternative] LACES.
  • 47a. [Televised again] RERAN.
    49a. [Gamer’s leg up] CHEAT CODE.
  • 62a. [“Awesome,” to the Ninja Turtles] COWABUNGA.
    64a. [Like a peon’s position] LOWLY.

So it turns out that the buildings are more specifically houses, as per the title. Theme works fine for me.

  • 13d [Hotel room fixtures] TVS. Too close to duplication with the clue for themer 47-across, in my opinion.
  • 23a [Mo. city near Ill.] STL. 57a [Home of NOLA and KCMO] USA.
  • 28d [Inning’s beginning] PITCH. Nifty echolalia.
  • 32d [Word before “tire” or “change”] SPARE. 38a [Word before “all” or “hours”] AFTER. Always appreciate it when the two key clue words also fit together.
  • 61d [What a peacock’s tail spot resembles] EYE. Yep, in fact the technical name is ocellus, a diminutive form of the Latin word for EYE.
  • 20a [Wine choice] RED. Very proximate to the CAB of CAB|IN. Just me?
  • 24a [Narrowest of margins to win by] HAIR. 24d [Fabled race loser] HARE.
  • 33a [Gene variant] ALLELE. Is it my imagination, or are we seeing this more frequently in crosswords? Does it have something to do with it being a frequent flyer in the NYT Spelling Bee?

August Miller’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

lat 131021

Today’s puzzle by August Miller is explained at the final entry, THEITCROWD. I was surprised to see that, as I thought they had at best a niche audience in the US. Nevertheless, the revealer is apt as each of four people begin with the initials I.T.

Both in the top-right, there were two particularly fun clues: [Blades that cut blades] for LAWNMOWER; [Evaluation with a capital E] for EYETEST.


Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today crossword, “Doubleday”— Sophia’s Recap

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme: Each theme answer has WED and MON in it, which are abbreviations for two days of the week, Wednesday and Monday.

  • 18a [Took out a loan, for example] – BORROWED MONEY
  • 33a [Stockholm Palace line] – SWEDISH MONARCHY
  • 49a [Japanese bridal garment] – WEDDING KIMONO

I’m somewhat split on this theme. On one hand, it goes well with the “Doubleday” title, each theme answer has the days arranged the same way which is nice for consistency (“wed” in the first word, “mon” in the second), and the puzzle is published on a Wednesday, so that’s fun and meta. On the other hand, why is Monday the other day? Is it just because there were the best phrases with “mon”? I almost wish the puzzle had done theme answers using abbreviations of all the days of the week, although with there being 7 of those they wouldn’t have fit nicely into “doubles”. I love WEDDING KIMONO, but BORROWED MONEY is a little boring to me, and SWEDISH MONARCHY felt somewhat arbitrary as a phrase.

Aside from my issues with the theme, I enjoyed this puzzle. Y’all know I love a Minnesota reference, and I’ve even attended a game at Target Field, so HOME GAME was a total gimme for me. I also loved I’LL BITE and BLOWS IT. Some of this puzzle felt a little repetitive to me – there were multiple answers with similar clues (see ICE STORMS and SNOWS both clued as [Winter weather events] and RINSE and WASH clued as [Remove soap from] and [Use soap on]). There were also some similar words in the puzzle like ADOBE and ADOBO. I didn’t mind any of these individually (especially things like ADOBE/ADOBO, which are very different despite being spelled similarly), but all taken together it was a bit much.

Happy WEDnesday!

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17 Responses to Wednesday, October 13, 2021

  1. Zulema says:

    The fill (content) of the NYT puzzle was very interesting and I enjoyed solving it very much, Thank you, everyone involved!

  2. e.a. says:

    wow, that really is a fantastic marquee clue in the Gorski

  3. e.a. says:

    also i know ratings don’t matter and ignore them etc but if you give someone’s debut crossword a 1-star rating you really are vile imo

    • Charlie W says:

      Disagree. The review/rating should be based on the quality of the puzzle, not inside knowledge of the constructor’s situation. I wish there was a way to hide the constructor names until the puzzle was solved.

    • Billy Boy says:

      So I guess those PDA billboards of eventually successful people who failed repeatedly are too mean to be keen?

      Since you’re talking NYT, it was awful from my seat

      It was not so good because of all the teeny icky words, the corner of the thin theme on top of itself and two incredibly obvious themers coupled with two incredibly tedious themers that needed those icky little words for crosses. Not fun or clever.

      I also think of TONNEAUX associated with MG’s, Shaguars, A.C.’s and their rowdy children Cobras (All cars) not to mention, since I am almost a wine snob oaken barrels so named.

      Hit me.

  4. KarenS says:

    TNY: Loved this Liz Gorski puzzle, and I also found it tougher than recent Wednesday New Yorker puzzles. I was stymied by the 18A/12D crossing. I can never remember Tolkien characters.

  5. Bob says:

    Before pick-up trucks, the tonneau was the open seating area inside the car. Tonneau covers were originally for convertibles or cars without a roof. I’ve seen tonneau covers on old MGs, Porsches and other convertible sports cars. I have heard them referred to as a tonneau, without the word cover.

    To answer your question Amy, it does not lie in the bed of the pick-up. It is a cover for the space defined by the bed and the walls. But it is not a truck-cap.

  6. marycat says:

    LAT: They misspelled Isaiah Thomas’s name, and it’s a themer. How does the editor keep getting away with this?

  7. Gareth says:

    “An old woman gave us shelter
    Kept us hidden in the garret
    Then the soldiers came
    She died without a whisper”

    (French Resistance song, via Leonard Cohen)

  8. Me says:

    NYT: NIP is centered directly underneath the name of a Japanese man. In a different puzzle with a different theme, it’s exactly where you would intentionally put a reference to him, and the placement makes NIP very problematic.

    There’s quite a bit of discussion about this over on Wordplay. I’m surprised that this wasn’t caught in the editorial process; it really should have been.

    • Eric S says:

      Uh oh.

      (Which would have worked as a replacement for UDON, if you’re willing to accept “pah,” which has been in the NYT puzzle 89 times.)

      This may not be the only solution. I didn’t notice NIP while solving the puzzle, but I agree that in the context of that puzzle, it was bad fill.

    • lk says:

      There are about a half-dozen usages of nip that are perfectly fine. The slur usage isn’t even etymologically related to these benign nip usages. It’s a completely different word. As clued, the word is not a slur. If it was clued as the slur (which it never has been) then I’d see your point. But it’s not. You are making the connection from something not clued as a slur into a slur. We don’t do this kind of lexical gymnastics when processing other art forms or written media. We don’t ignore the context given (a crossword clue in this case) and then re-interpret its use to a wholly different (and worst possible) usage of a word. That is a process of completely bad faith and is very unfair to the writers and editors in question.

  9. Billposter says:

    “I” themes in NYT and LAT today. Coincidence? Nobody noticed?

Comments are closed.