Wednesday, May 11, 2022

LAT 4:39 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker tk (Matthew) 


NYT 3:23 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal tk late afternoon (pannonica) 


USA Today 3:50 (Sophia) 


AVCX 6:47 (Ben) 


Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Tell Tales”—Jim P’s review

Today’s theme answers STRETCH THE TRUTH (54a, [Exaggerate, and a command followed three times in this puzzle]). Each one is a familiar word or phrase that contains the four letters FACT somewhere within. In each case those letters are doubled, thereby taking up twice as much space in the grid.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Tell Tales” · Samuel A. Donaldson · Wed., 5.11.22

  • 17a. [Quantity offering statistical wiggle room] FUDGE FFAACCTTOR.
  • 27a. [Fabricate] MANUFFAACCTTURE.
  • 42a. [Sidelined by injury, say] OUT OFF AACCTTION.

I imagine if this was in the NYT, they’d figure out a way to have those key letters actually stretch across two squares each. But this worked well enough for me, and the theme did its job by helping me fill in the lower two entries. I’m imagining someone taking liberties with the facts, and that seems to match up well with this theme.

Stan Lee is famous for saying ‘NUFF SAID, so I happily thought of him and my comic-book-reading days when I uncovered that entry. Also good: LOU GRANT, TECH SHOW, and Alexandria OCASIO-Cortez. If you wanted to get your French on, you could enjoy the ARDENNES, GATEAU, and HAUTEUR, which is entirely new to me. On the staler side, we find AS AM I crossing I TRY at the I. Meh.

Clues of note:

  • 23d. [“A Sorta Fairytale” singer Tori]. AMOS. I don’t need much of an excuse to embed a Tori AMOS video, but this one’s on the bizarro side.
  • 46d. [“You know better!”]. “TSK TSK!” I did not pick up on the accusatory tone in the clue. To me it sounded deferential.

An unusual theme today. 3.5 stars.

Michael Paleos’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 5 11 22, no. 0511

Theme revealer: 57a. [They’re always ready for a good time … or a description of 18-, 25-, 35- and 49-Across?], PARTY ANIMALS. The four themers start with words that can relate to partying and end with animals: ROCKING HORSE, WILD TURKEY booze, DRUNKEN CHICKEN, RAGING BULL. I wouldn’t use “raging” about a party but then I’m middle-aged.

Fave fill: BLOWS IT, Cristiano RONALDO (soft spot for names that kinda sound like “Reynaldo”!), ONCE-OVER.

Alternative to DUSTIN Hoffman, who might be a little icky(?): Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, whose latest project is the Hulu true-crime limited series Under the Banner of Heaven.

3.75 stars from me.

Byron Walden’s AVCX, “Strong Structure” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 5/11 – “Strong Structure”

Byron Walden has this week’s AVCX Classic, and it’s a 2/5 in difficulty?  This definitely played easier than his usual puzzles for the venue.  Let’s look at what unites all the circled squares in the grid:

  • 17A: Five-footer? — PENTAMETER
  • 24A: Establishments like Xquisite in “Magic Mike” — STRIP BARS
  • 36A: Span that’s about two weeks for opossums and almost two years for elephants — GESTATION PERIOD
  • 46A: Quality of many fish and reptiles — SCALINESS
  • 55A: Commonality of elves and Vulcans — POINTY EARS
  • 3D: Like a matte finish — NON-GLOSSY
  • 9D: Taxing demand — STRAIN
  • 25D: Three-element vacuum tubes — TRIODES
  • 37D: Beyond baggy — TOO LARGE
  • 34D: Electricity source … or what this puzzle’s highlighted squares form — POWER GRID

Yes, we’ve got an interconnected GRID of words that can be proceeded by POWER (POWER LINE, POWERPOINT, etc.), inside our interconnected grid of words.  Impressive work!

Happy Wednesday!

Will Nediger’s USA Today Crossword, “Mainframes” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer begins with MA and ends with IN

Hi folks! I’m back from vacation and ready to jump back to blogging, and what a lovely puzzle I get to start with!

  • 19a [Producer who was the first cover star of Essence’s Girls United] – MARSAI MARTIN
  • 37a [Antarctic creature with a pasta in its name] – MACARONI PENGUIN
  • 53a [Actress in “Children of a Lesser God” and “CODA”] – MARLEE MATLIN

Classic USA Today theme today executed expertly by Will. Two of the theme answers were completely new to me – MARSAI MARTIN and MACARONI PENGUIN – and yet I still finished in a pretty average time, and learned some cool things to boot. USA Today in general does a great job of incorporating things that haven’t been seen in every other crossword before while still keeping puzzles easy, and it’s very refreshing to see (take it from me, somebody who really has to scrape for interesting things to say at times about each of the NYT’s Monday puzzles). I did know MARLEE MATLIN, although more from growing up in a family of “The West Wing” fans than from either of the productions mentioned in the clue.

Other notes:

  • Normally the standout answers in a puzzle are the themers and the long downs, but today a lot of my favorite moments were in the short fill. UP TOP, GAMIFY, DUDE BRO, LGBT, and COMMS were all standouts to me.
  • My biggest issue with the puzzle was with 1a [___ up (prep for a race)] – I had “warm” rather than CARB. Is carb up a phrase? I’ve heard carbo-load before, but never this version.
  • This puzzle had so many literary moments! “Where Rain Clouds Gather” by Bessie Head, “Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your ASS” by Meg Medina, “Friction” by Anna Tsing, and “Forget the ALAMO: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth” are all mentioned. I’ve never read any of these but I’m inspired to now! If you have read and recommend any, let me know in the comments.

Robin Stears’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Some by-lines always excite me to see. In the LA Times, Robin Stears is one who always exudes attention to details. Today’s puzzle is one of the less popular varietals – the quip theme. Like usual, I solved around the quip, which didn’t make the puzzle as frustrating as that technique is wont to do. The quip works better than most, as it has a few layers to its central mom joke. The only part I still don’t get is what it has to do with “climate change”. Anyway, AMINDCONTROLLED / AIRDEODORIZER / MAKESSCENTSIF / YOUTHINKABOUTIT. It’s an “air deodorizer” so it makes scents, and as it’s mind-controlled, it does so when you think about it.

There weren’t too many tricky spots in the rest of the puzzle, which is a good design choice for this kind of theme. I liked the [Neither here nor there], ENROUTE clue / answer pair. ALCOPOP and PANPIPE were my other favourites of the medium-length answers. There did feel like quite a few longer names, but I personally only struggled with FREEMAN, but managed to guess it, with the last letter being that F.


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16 Responses to Wednesday, May 11, 2022

  1. Anne says:

    NYT: 55 a. I’m sorry to be a bore about this, but koalas are marsupials, not bears. There must be a better clue for KOALA. (Only Americans persist in the “koala bear” usage which all Australians loathe).

    • Martin says:

      But since “koala bear” is American usage, “___ bear” is an acceptable clue. “Grizzly cousin” would not be. A clue can’t imply that a koala is a bear taxonomically, but it can imply that it’s one idiomatically.

      • David L says:

        I believe the taxonomic connection is between koala bears and teddy bears.

      • Gareth says:

        Rich Norris once rejected a grid of mine with KOALABEAR in, so I’m guessing it generates “letters”.

    • Mutman says:

      Damn! I had the “over 7:00am” that this type of comment would be posted. I now owe my brother $5.

  2. Eric H says:

    NYT; Overall, a fun puzzle with nicely-chosen, colorful theme answers.

    But with as many ways as there are to clue KNEE, do we really need ones that refer to a song with such truly horrible lyrics?

    • Mr. [Not Always] Grumpy says:

      I don’t believe anyone sings [or knows] the 19th century lyrics. Do you have problems with James Taylor’s version?

      • Eric H says:

        The Carly Simon/James Taylor lyrics seem to be fine.

        But the original lyrics are still out there, even if no one knows them.

        • Mr. [Not Always] Grumpy says:

          Understood. I think the last time I saw KNEE it was clued with reference to a piece of Roller Derby equipment or something like that. There’s also ____ jerk reaction et cetera.

          • Eric H says:

            Actually, it was in the NYT just a few days ago, clued as “One may be taken in protest.” (But I know people who are offended by that concept, too.)

  3. DH says:

    I think if you want to lobby for alternate cluing for “DUSTIN” because Dustin Hoffman might be icky, wouldn’t we have to apply the same metric for Martin Luther King, Jake LaMotta, Eminem, Zamfir? And those are just today’s mentions.

    I had forgotten that Ramona’s last name was Quimby. Would be an interesting crossover fan-fic story about Ramona and her family dealing with the loss of Uncle Jonas, the skipper of the ill-fated “Minnow” on Gilligan’s Island.

    • AlanW says:

      I’m sure that would be an entertaining story, but as I recall, the Skipper’s name (mentioned on the show, sources say, only once or twice) was actually Jonas Grumby. But I see how you might easily confuse the two in rough weather, as your tiny ship was tossed about.

    • Martin says:

      I totally missed the Zamfir scandal. Did he take the faun thing too far?

      I’m not even sure what any of those others did to compare to exposing yourself to your daughter’s 16-year old friend.

  4. Robin Stears says:

    Gareth, I didn’t get the “climate change” part of the clue either. It wasn’t part of my original clue, so editor Patti Varol must have added it. In hindsight, it’s absolutely brilliant! She’s referring to the indoor climate of a room being changed by the air deodorizer.

    If I’m honest, I’m not a fan of quip puzzles either. But that one-liner made me laugh so hard, I snorted. When it fit perfectly into a grid, I decide it was kismet.

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