Wednesday, March 2, 2022

LAT 4:55 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 2:37 (Matthew) 


NYT 5:18 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today  4:35 (Sophia) 


AVCX untimed (Ben) 


David P. Williams’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Lost in Translation”—Jim P’s review

ACROSS THE POND is the central revealer at 14d [14d. Overseas, like the sets of starred clues]. The starred clues on the left side of the grid use Americanisms whereas their counterparts on the right side use Britishisms.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Lost in Translation” · David P. Williams · Wed., 3.2.22

    • 1a. [*Vehicle on a highway] TRUCK vs. 68a. [*Vehicle on a motorway] LORRY.
    • 29a. [*It can remove a period] ERASER vs. 44a. [*It can remove a full stop] RUBBER.
    • 41a. [*Thing to stop on vacation] MAIL vs. 32a. [*Thing to stop on holiday] POST.
    • 55a. [*Venue for soccer] FIELD vs. 21a. [*Venue for football] PITCH.

I like the consistency here and how both clue and entry use localized terms. This leads to cluing that feels a little awkward (I’m looking at the “remove a period/full stop” one), but it’s all in service to the cause, so I’m cool with it.

There’s a good variety here, and there are loads more examples one could draw from. But I like the fact that for this puzzle, the counterparts are all the same length, so one couldn’t have UNDERWEAR on one side and PANTS on the other, nor WIFEBEATER and VEST.

One thing that I think would’ve really improved this grid is if it had left/right symmetry instead of the standard rotational symmetry. That would have made it easier for the solver to find the counterparts and fully grasp the theme. And visually, it just would’ve made more sense.

Another nit is that the revealer clue is a generic “Overseas” which doesn’t jibe with how I’ve always heard the term used. In my experience, ACROSS THE POND has always been used when referring to the US and UK specifically. You wouldn’t say, “Oh, I’m going across the pond to Hawaii.” Feel free to refute that if you’ve heard otherwise.

Moving on, I spy KEYHOLES, DUCK CALL, ALBACORE, and IN PERSON jazzing up the grid with nice shorter entries like PORKY, RED-EYE, ALL-DAY, MADRID, and “FAR OUT!”

Didn’t know the author of Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran FOER. But I have heard of his other novel, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Clue of note: 5d. [Spying sites, sometimes]. KEYHOLES. Eww. Creepy.

A fun puzzle, especially for those of us fortunate enough to have lived on both sides of the pond. 3.75 stars.

Dylan Schiff’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3 2 22, no. 0302

The geography/wordplay theme in today’s 16×15 puzzle runs names together in a mashed-up concoction:

  • 21a. [Three world capitals (5,4,10)], CAIROMEXICOCITY. CAIRO and MEXICO CITY’s ending and starting letters spell out Italy’s capital, ROME.
  • 38a. [Three U.S. states (4,4,10)], OHIOWASHINGTON. OHIO bleeds into IOWA, which bleeds into WASHINGTON.
  • 59a. [Three countries (6,4,9)], PANAMALITHUANIA. PANAMA, MALI, LITHUANIA.

I like this sort of thing, and I’m mad at how long it took me to grasp what was happening in the 21a.


Three notes:

  • 43d. [United Nations, e.g.: Abbr.], ORG. Wonder if this clue was swapped in between last Wednesday and today.
  • 36d. [Jean who wrote “Wide Sargasso Sea”], RHYS. I learned of this book from the crosswords of 40 years ago, I think. Have any of you read it? What’s your review? (The Sargasso Sea itself is such an odd thing.)
  • 50d. [Stable electron configurations], OCTETS. Is this just one of many configurations that are stable, or is this 8 thing something I should remember from my chemistry classes? Not the usual clue for OCTET!

3.75 stars from me.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Second Part” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer starts with V and ends with P, thus “parting” the VP (second in command).

USA Today, 03 02 2022, “Second Part”

  • 17a [Adaptive clothing fastener] – VELCRO STRAP
  • 34a [Spiteful rumors] – VICIOUS GOSSIP
  • 57a [Gazpacho or minestrone, for example] – VEGETABLE SOUP

It feels appropriate that this puzzle came out on the same night that the State of the Union aired (well, at least for those of us on the west coast solving before midnight). Like all the best USA Today puzzles, the title connects well to the theme (another possible title could have been “Split Second” – has that been a USA Today title before?). VICIOUS GOSSIP and VEGETABLE SOUP are the standout theme answers, even if it took me a long time to find the word VICIOUS (kept wanting “malicious”). VELCRO STRAP is just not as exciting of a phrase, but it is valid. Given that the puzzle is totally asymmetric though, why not go for a more exciting theme answer like “venus flytrap”? Oftentimes weaker theme answers are made more excusable by length constraints, but since here any length could work, I think puzzles should aim for the most exciting words possible that fit the theme.

Other notes on the puzzle:

  • On the topic of asymmetry – I was wondering why the bottom half of the puzzle was taking me so much longer than the top, and then I realized that VICIOUS GOSSIP isn’t in the center of the puzzle! The black square configuration around it faked me out – it’s actually above the center.
  • Both the A-LIST and the A-TEAM showed up for today’s puzzle! That’s A LOT of A words (haha).
  • I didn’t know 52d [Fergus, Farkle or Felicia, e.g.], but they’re the triplet OGRE children of Shrek and Fiona… so says the Shrek wiki, at least.
  • Favorite fill words: I’M NERVOUS, PILATES, NAIROBI
  • Favorite clues: 63a [“Paws off my kibble!”] for GRR, 32d [Team sport with mounted umpires] for POLO.

Byron Walden’s AVCX, “Proper Alternatives” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 3/2 – “Proper Alternatives”

Byron Walden has today’s AVCX, though I’m not sure I agree with it’s 5/5 rating on the difficulty scale – the cluing was hard, but having an aha on the theme helped make any squares that didn’t feel like they were working out make a lot of sense:

  • 17A: Somewhat fallen idols — TARNI[SHE]D [HER]OES
  • 27A: Musical instruments with mass appeal? — CAT[HE]DRAL C[HIM]ES
  • 47A: 2016 or 2028, in Chinese astrology — [THE Y]EAR OF [THE M]ONKEY
  • 60A: Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to “The Hurt Locker” — [ZE]RO DARK T[HIR]TY

Each of the entries includes a set of pronouns for properly addressing someone – HE/HIM, SHE/HER, THEY/THEM, and ZE/HIR.  Each down clue crossing one of these also takes advantage of the extra letters available, so we’ve got RADIO[HE]AD, “UP [HER]E!”, HIROS[HIM]ANS (“Fans of the Toyo Carp baseball team, most likely”), [SHE]MITE, SOU[THEY], [THEM]E ROOM, RE[HIR]ES, and [ZE]ST.

15A — “I’m just ___ boy, nobody loves me” (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) — A POOR

Happy Wednesday!

Adam Simpson’s Universal crossword, “Cafe Talk” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 3/2/22 • Wed • Simpson • “Cafe Talk” • solution • 20220302

Theme’s straightforward: spoken phrases containing things that are elements of coffee preparation.

  • 20a. [“Tell us!”] SPILL THE BEANS.
  • 25a. [“Just speaking my mind, as usual”] I HAVE NO FILTER.
  • 44a. [“The reason being?”] ON WHAT GROUNDS?
  • 49a. [“You’re such a hypocrite!”] POT, MEET KETTLE.

Drink up. This was a very fast solve, as I encountered zero impediments.

  • 7d [“Gotcha”] I SEE, 19a [Understands] GETS.
  • 32d [Traditional Japanese soup flavoring] MISO; 32a [Traditional Mexican soup] MENUDO. I thought the latter was more of a stew, but Wikipedia suggests that in Mexico it’s soupier while the Filipino version is stewish. 6a [Culinary creation] DISH.
  • 17a [Duke or dame, e.g.] TITLE; 42a [Noblewomen] LADIES.
  • 48a [Joe server] URN.

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

LA Times

As theme concepts go, this one by Dr. Sessa is a doozy. The wheels on the buses are represented by two circled O’s, and each is on a BUS trigram, the revealer completes the tot song lyric with GOROUNDANDROUND.

The fill on the other hand, UMNO. It rarely SPARKLES, and is tired an dull far too often. We have SONANTS, OMOO, ESSE, TOASTEE, and often in places that aren’t excessively stressed.


Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword — Matthew’s write-up

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword solution, 3/2/2022

I had many nice words written about this puzzle somewhere around 9 am, and now my day is gone, and I don’t know where those nice words went. But look at those long entries! I don’t know two whits about wordlist management, but each was a lovely treat.

Much of the grid fell too quickly for me to savor, but I’m here for OLGA Tokarczuk, love the cluing angle for PANAMA, and am not that wild about SPONGERS, as an entry or as a word in general. Don’t know why.

Does BOONIES have a connotation, either negative or positive? I don’t use it often myself, but I have the Little Big Town song stuck in my head, now.

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9 Responses to Wednesday, March 2, 2022

  1. David L says:

    Electron OCTETS: this is a pretty arcane thing. Electron orbitals in atoms form ‘shells’ — the first one being a pair (which is why helium, with two electrons in the first shell, is so much less reactive than hydrogen, which has just one electron). Then there’s a quadruplet and then an octet. An element with seven electrons in the octet shell likes to grab onto another electron in a chemical reaction, and an element with a single electron hanging outside the octet likes to give it up. A filled octet is particularly stable. But other configurations are not unstable, in isolation anyway, it’s just that they like to get involved in electron-swapping with other elements. Hence chemistry.

    I like to see science in the puzzle but, boy, I don’t think I would have gone for this cluing angle.

  2. Jade Swanton says:

    Today’s NYT felt closer to a Thursday than last Thursday (if that sentence makes sense). Enjoyable overall!

  3. Billy Boy says:

    Excellent WSJ today, decent NYT

    A very nice day!

  4. Christina says:

    WSJ made me think of Ross’s NYT puzzle:

  5. David Roll says:

    WSJ–I don’t understand the last half of this clue/response. *Venue for soccer] FIELD vs. 21a *Venue for football] PITCH. Help.

  6. R says:

    NYT: Wide Sargasso Sea is definitely worth a read. If you like Jane Eyre, but want to read its postcolonial feminist prequel, it’s a good one.

Comments are closed.