Wednesday, May 4, 2022

LAT 4:25 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 3:21 (Matthew) 


NYT 3:33 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 9:09 (Emily) 


AVCX 10:29 (Ben) 


MaryEllen Uthlaut’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double Play”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Double-Ts are replaced by double-Ds in familiar phrases.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Double Play” · MaryEllen Uthlaut · Wed., 5.4.22

  • 17a. [Custardy concoction at a wiener roast?] PUDDING ON THE DOG. An interesting creation. Never heard of the base phrase “putting on the dog.” The internet tells me it means “to pretend that one is very stylish or rich.” Apparently, it originated in the 1860s.
  • 26a. [Old wives’ tale about milking a cow?] UDDER NONSENSE. The UDDER for UTTER pun is about as old as a wives’ tale.
  • 46a. [Contenders for the same eBay item?] BIDDER ENEMIES. This one’s cute and modern.
  • 61a. [Field of candy cane-flavored rice?] PEPPERMINT PADDY.

I was really hoping for something more from this, especially when I uncovered that first one and had no idea what the theme could still be. The second one—I have to admit—was a letdown. The title is on the generic side as well. It would be just as applicable to any theme involving double letters. Something a bit more on point would have been welcome.

Funny to see MEDDLE at 4d which has its own double-T counterpart, though it’s not part of the theme. Elsewhere CREVASSE is a fun word (sounds like a posh “crevice”), and TAILSPIN makes for lively fill.

Clue of note: 66a. [Plants with no roots or leaves]. ALGAE. Nice clue with its own little aha moment.

Hit and miss for me on the theme, but on the whole I wanted something more. Solid fill. 3.25 stars.

The theme reminded me of a scene from the BritCom I’m Alan Partridge in which radio host Alan, England’s favorite “dalendless shid,” upbraids a fellow DJ for swapping out Ds for Ts.

Eric Bornstein’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 4 22, no. 0504

I figured somebody somewhere must’ve done this theme before, with the same revealer, because that revealer is perfect: 38a. [Embassy staffer … or a hint to 17-, 23-, 49- and 59-Across?], ATTACHÉ. Attach an é to the end of a word in each of those themers to make a new word, and clue the resulting goofy phrase accordingly:

  • 17a. [People who acknowledge when they’ve been verbally bested?], TOUCHÉ TYPES. Instead of touch-types.
  • 23a. [Ruins a shiny fabric, as a pet might?], GOES ON THE LAMÉ.
  • 49a. [Bad advice from grandpa?], PASSÉ JUDGMENT.
  • 59a. [Managed to stomach a cracker spread?], GOT DOWN PATÉ. This one feels a little awkward with the object removed from the phrase (“got it down pat”).

Not only don’t I see any instances of thematic ATTACHE in the Cruciverb database, but the theme entries are kinda fun. A winner of a Wednesday theme!

Nobody’s excited to find ANAT. and OCTAD in a grid, I don’t think, but overall the fill is solid. Fave fill: AVALANCHE, THE DOW, PEYOTE, “LET’S PARTY!” 

Two more things:

  • 15a. [Elder Levy in “Schitt’s Creek”], EUGENE. Uh, this clue should say eldest. Both of his kids (Dan, who co-created the show with his dad, and Sarah, who played non-Rose-family-member Twyla) were on the show.
  • 56a. [Spammer’s medium], EMAIL. Of course, PHONE would also fit here. We hates them, we do.

Four stars from me. Cheers!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s AVCX, “Where’s the Lie?” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 5/4 – “Where’s the Lie?”

BEQ has this week’s AVCX Classic puzzle, and the tells you exactly what to keep an eye on:

  • 20A: Steady trickle of iPhones and Macs from other worlds? — ALIEN APPLE A DAY
  • 28A: “Looks like we’re gonna need to make this play work with just one star-crossed lover …”? — JULIET’S OUT
  • 39A: Singer Puth playing a gig at the North Pole? — ARCTIC CHARLIE
  • 53A: “Frank, this is not the time for your famous impersonations of athletes and politicians!”? — NO CALIENDO
  • 60A: Instrument heard a lot in the version of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” from “Tartuffe”? — MOLIERE COWBELL

The theme answers are all pretty standard crossword stuff – regular phrases with LIE inserted to make them a bit out-of-the-ordinary.  But keeping track of where the LIE is also turns out to be important for spotting down clues that are a little more…fabulous…than usual.  For instance, on ALIEN APPLE A DAY:

  • 2D: Morning TV host who was the first paid subscriber to the AVCX — KELLY RIPA
  • 3D: Swamp beast that can transform into a chicken — ALLIGATOR
  • 21D: Amount of time my wife once waited in line at the DMV, literally from the Proterozoic age until the Archean — EON

each of the down clues where LIE appears in its respective across answer has some untrue content.  It’s a cute concept, though some of the lies definitely work better than others.

  • 30D: Distant relative of mine who issued a warning about the Trojan horse — LAOCOON
  • 8D: Heroic deed, like when I pulled the Rock out from under a car because he wasn’t strong enough but I was — EXPLOIT
  • 22D: “Able was I ___ I saw Elba” (palindrome I invented for this clue) — ERE
  • 31D: Emulate me when I’m on one of my yachts — SAIL
  • 42D: Measure of wealth inequality that crypto has pretty much already fixed — INCOME GAP
  • 43D: Ford van that can fly if you press the right combination of dashboard buttons — ECONOLINE
  • 54D: Applied, as a coat of paint, like I did for my Bugatti just before making this puzzle — LAID ON
  • 55D: “Since ___ Been Loving You” (song the Boston Typewriter Orchesta wrote for Led Zeppelin) — I’VE
  • 51D: Back parking area where at my house when I was a kid my sister built a perpetual motion machine but we lost it — REAR LOT
  • 61D: Dunham who did one of my crosswords on an episode of “Girls” — LENA

Luckily, there’s enough meat to the clue that if you’re not fully paying attention, you can figure out what’s actually being clued, and there’s enough content to appreciate the lies once you realize what’s going on.

Happy Wednesday!

Kyle Dolan’s Universal crossword, “S-moo-th!” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 5/4/22 • Wed • Dolan • “S-moo-th!” • solution • 20220504

Not only is it smooth but it’s tight. Firmed and toned, you might say.

  • 15a. [Skin care product] SHEA BUTTER.
  • 26a. [Skin care product] BODY MILK.
  • 39a. [Skin care product] EYE CREAM.
  • 51a. [Supermarket section where you won’t find this puzzle’s products] DAIRY AISLE. Unless you subscribe to the Radar O’Reilly filing philosophy, perhaps.

Very impressive.

Pulling the grid together more literally are two vertical spanning entries. 3d [“We were just talking about you!”] SPEAK OF THE DEVIL, 9d [They’re given at bedtime] GOODNIGHT KISSES.

  • 26d [ __ buddy (BFF)] BOSOM. The parenthetical is there to make the clue that much easier.
  • 34d [Strengthened] BEEFED UP. Also not in the DAIRY AISLE.
  • 44d [Pants supporters] BELTS. I recently saw an advertisement for a most ridiculous product.
  • 1a [Direction not used in U.S. state names] EAST. Liked this as an opening clue because it was neither difficult nor an instant fill-in; I had to stop and think for couple of beats.
  • 9a [Mind the __ (subway station warning)] GAP. I associate it most with London’s Underground, also called the Tube. Must not have been used here because of 38a [London : Underground :: Paris : __ ] METRO.
  • 20a [Country side] BORDER. Mind the gap!
  • 25a [The “O” of REO Speed Wagon] OLDS. Inveterate crossworder that I am, there was a Pavlovian response to seeing OREO in the clue.
  • 31a [Hole in the wall where you may pick up a check?] PO BOX. Too wordy, too forced.
  • 43a [Improv-style word game] MAD LIBS. As a child, I encountered this long before I ever heard the original phrase ad lib.

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

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword solution, 5/4/2022

Two typos slowed my progress through this grid from Liz Gorski this morning, but on the whole an enjoyable puzzle with a distinct New Yorker vibe.

Still on vacation, slept in a bit today, so going to rush into notes:

  • 17a [Legume-rish type of salad, soup, or chili] THREE BEAN. This joke may be overplayed, but I’m always tickled to think of a soy vanilla latte as a THREE BEAN soup.
  • 19a [2020 Mikki Kendall book subtitled “Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot”] HOOD FEMINISM. It’s a good book, and an important book that I’m glad to see in a puzzle.
  • 32a [____ Gerald R. Ford (the Navy’s largest aircraft carrier)] USS. Aircraft carriers are truly massive constructions that I didn’t appreciate until I took a tour. The clue undersells this ship a bit, as it’s not just the Navy’s, but the world’s largest aircraft carrier.
  • 67a [24 Hours of Le ____ (annual sports-car endurance race)] MANS. I re-watched Ford v Ferrari, which builds to a historic Le Mans race, this past weekend. It’s a lovely cast of characters that appeals even to those who aren’t fans of auto racing.
  • 24d [Crime writer Dominick or his actor son, Griffin] DUNNE. This crossing with RHONDA looked pretty dicey for me at first, but once I cleared up an aforementioned typo, it was clear that -N- was the most sensible letter there. A good example of the fact that proper nouns crossing isn’t an automatic demerit.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Fair Share” — Emily’s write-up

May the 4th be with you! I’m covering today and tomorrow as well, so I hope that you enjoy these additional write-ups from me this week.

Another great puzzle today, with lots of bonus fill and a fun set a themers, and tricker theme as well.

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday May 04, 2022

USA Today, May 04 2022, “Fair Share“ by Zhouqin Burnikel

Theme: the two-word phrases in each themer are corrected by OK


  • 17a. [Cartoon character with a red bow on her left ear], HELLOKITTY
  • 23a. [Part of a baby grand], PIANOKEYBOARD
  • 51a. [Game with a Bowser’s Castle course], MARIOKART
  • 61a. [“Oh really?”], NOKIDDING

Challenging theme for me today though the themer set is excellent. HELLOKITTY didn’t first come to my mind since while she classically wears red bows, she also wears a lot of other colors especially shades of pink. PIANOKEYBOARD filled in easily though felt a little clunky to me, given that I was typing “piano keys” which clearly wasn’t quite there but simple enough to finish once I was that far along. MARIOKART was the easiest of the themers to fill, as our family loves Mario games in general—lately Mario Party 5 on my old GameCube has been particularly popular at our house. NOKIDDING is another fun entry that I personally haven’t seen in a crossword so that was a great end to the themer set. There’s a lot of playfulness in the entries throughout this puzzle as well, which was really enjoyable today!

h/t to Sally and her blog post about today’s puzzle because I had a tough time figuring out the theme itself and still feel like there’s more to it, as titles usually have some hint. If you figured out more on this theme, please let me know in the comments!


Stumpers: GIGA (I was thinking more numbers instead of computer terms), TVAD (needed crossings), and CARB (good cluing though I usually don’t think of either in that way so it was one of the last filled)

Though the first third of this puzzle was difficult for me to get a start in, the rest of it started to fill rather quickly and my time was faster than first expected when I began. Though I still feel like a missing a little something for the theme, this was a fantastic puzzle and had an awesome grid that allowed for a nice solving flow.

4.5 stars


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

LA Times

I’m not sure I fully comprehend this outré theme by Dr. Ed Sessa. The first three clues are [Dr. Jekyll, to Mr. Hyde] for YOUAREONMYMIND, IMBESIDEMYSELF and IWANTTOBEALONE; I can see them as conversations between two parts of a personality, though I don’t understand their directionality. The final entry’s clue is reversed: [Mr. Hyde, to Dr. Jekyll], ITSNOTYOUITSME. Again, I don’t quite see the significance of the inversion of the clue. Am I expecting to see too much?

  • Bullets:
    [Mitchell who won a Tony Award for “Hadestown”], ANAIS. There is another ANAIS who isn’t NIN?
  • [Robert McCloskey’s “Blueberries for __”], SAL. New to me as well. Seems to be a mid-20th century US children’s book; my children’s book reading was mostly UK-centric…
  • [Slimy pest], SLUG. Slugs are pests? I consider them more garden curiosities?
  • [“Un Poco __”: song from “Coco”], LOCO. LOVE this song so much…
  • [Policy that typically includes higher menu prices], NOTIPS. But hopefully, employees are more likely to earn a reliably liveable wage?
  • [Supermodel Banks who coined the word “smize”], TYRA. I looked it up and I’m still confused? Apparently its a portmanteau of smile with your eyes?


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8 Responses to Wednesday, May 4, 2022

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I surprised myself by really liking this one. I’m usually not a fan of the wacky phrases that ensue from adding letters but I really liked the revealer. It made it all worthwhile.
    I remember hearing about someone being an “attaché” at an embassy when I was a kid, maybe somebody my parents met. I knew enough French to think it was an odd name for a job, and it sounded temporary, like they will get detached any minute. But I guess it’s a fancy title, enough to have a case named after it. Presumably with diplomatic immunity…

  2. pannonica says:

    NYT: 21a [Two for a basket: Abbr.] PTS (points), 59d [Eight pts.] GAL (pints, gallon).

    • Mutman says:

      It took me way too much time to figure out I was not looking for something worth 8 points! Not a dupe, in my book at least.

      • marciem says:

        I agree… not a dupe. Not the same word being abbreviated :) .

        I thought it was a nice misdirection (kept me puzzling for a few).

  3. Bob says:

    A great example of a solid theme idea and execution. Appropriate for a Weds.

  4. Andy says:

    Amy, your vague sense of familiarity with today’s NYT theme might stem from this Indie puzzle (though I wish I’d thought of ATTACHÉ!):

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ … I’m usually right on MEU’s wavelength and I solved this in well below my average WSJ Wednesday time, but there were several head-scratching moments, a couple of which I still can’t quite digest …

    BRA {25A: ThirdLove product} … I’ve never heard of ThirdLove, but if all they sell is women’s lingerie, that would explain that
    PUDDING ON THE DOG {17A: Custardy concoction at a wiener roast?} … Like Jim, I didn’t recognize the phrase “putting on the dog”
    SEED {20A: Open position} … I don’t get this one at all, though I think it might be a reference to a sports tournament bracket. If so, I’m not a fan of this clue.
    SAPS {1D: Undermines} … This seemed off to me also, but has “to excavate the earth beneath : form a mine under : SAP” as the 4th definition for undermine … huh
    CRUST {51A: Tart part} … I can’t think of a “crust” that I would call “tart”. Can someone give me an example? Never mind. The penny just dropped. Tarts are a crusty pastry. Duh!

  6. Mark Abe says:

    Gareth’s LAT question: I think the last clue is reversed (Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll) because Mr. Hyde is the evil one, so it really is him!

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