Wednesday, June 15, 2022

LAT 4:07 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker tk (Matthew) 


NYT 4:20 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal tk (pannonica) 


USA Today 3:46 (Sophia) 


AVCX 5:14 (Ben) 


Gary Larson & Amy Ensz’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Addenda”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Familiar phrases have a schwa sound added (aptly, given the title) to the ends of their final words, changing that word into something different.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Addenda” · Gary Larson & Amy Ensz · Wed., 6.15.22

  • 17a. [Prom corsages?] DANCE FLORA. Dance floor. An unexpected and nice start to the theme.
  • 25a. [Plagiarized innovation passed off as original?] FAKE IDEA. Fake ID.
  • 39a. [Stepfather?] ALT-PAPA. Alt-Pop. I like this one, too. Sometimes the Alt is better than the real thing.
  • 50a. [New age?] FRESH ERA. Fresh air. I don’t think the clue is referring to the music genre, but it still works.
  • 60a. [Bread with a hidden pocket?] SNEAKY PITA. Sneaky Pete. This one is chuckle-worthy. I can imagine some genius thinking, “I’m going to put a hidden pocket in this pita, and no one will ever find it!” Ha.

I enjoyed this. It’s consistent, has clever entries, and a touch of humor. Nicely done.

In the fill, I’ll highlight KIPPER, ECSTASY, and CRICKET in lieu of anything especially long and meaty. Two phrases I didn’t know are TAX LIEN [Filing by the IRS] and TRAP SET [Drum kit]. The former is what the IRS puts on you if you don’t pay your taxes. The latter is just a synonymous term for “drum kit.” Apparently “trap” is old slang for “contraption” and referred to cowbells and other percussive doodads the drummer added to the set.

Clues of note:

  • 67a. [Joel with an Oscar]. GREY. Best Supporting Actor winner for Cabaret. Also, father of actress Jennifer GREY (Dirty Dancing).
  • 8d. [Proof, perhaps]. REREAD. Had to look up what the intention is here. I’m guessing “Proof” is short for “proofread”? Do people who aren’t in publishing use it this way?
  • 36d. [Suite spot]. HOTEL. Nice clue. Also: 45d. [Makes a bust, say] for SCULPTS.
  • 42a. [Singer Easton]. SHEENA. How about a little “Morning Train”? I don’t know about Ms. Easton’s qualifications, but I wonder if she should be allowed to pull that switch lever at 1:52.

Enjoyable theme and grid. 3.75 stars.

Rob Baker’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 6 15 22, no. 0615

Today’s theme is a blend of quip, rebus, and Schrödinger’s square: NO MATTER HOW MUCH / YOU / PUSH THE ENVELOPE, / IT’S / STILL STATION{E/A}RY. One could argue that if you push a literal envelope, it does move rather than staying STATIONARY, but it does still remain a piece of STATIONERY. Unusual theme, and I’m not sold on STATIONARY making sense here. The crossing clue is 57d. [Rips [five letters]], T{EA}RS.

Fave fill: TINKER (I tried MONKEY first), SAWHORSE, tutti-FRUTTI.

A number of phrase entries stuck out while I was solving: COOL TO, AT SEA STICK TO, SURE DO, TAKE FLAK, LIT OUT. LIT OUT is the only one of these I actually liked.

Three more things:

  • 13d. [Dit’s counterpart], DAH. Whoa! Been awhile since I’ve seen Morse code DAH (or dit, for that matter) in a crossword. Could have been SHE-RA/AIDES crossing HIM/EDU/REC/ASH, not technically a dupe of Arthur ASHE. Always worth taking another look at a section with a clunky but of crosswordese, no?
  • 66a. [Where shampoo was invented], INDIA. Now, this clue is sort of Eurocentric, because while it’s true (per Wikipedia) that the Europeans picked up the shampoo concept from India just a couple hundred years ago, there were a number of other cultures that were making various preparations from plants in order to wash their hair. Certainly the word shampoo has Indian roots.
  • 16a. [Hot apple pie has one], AROMA. Were you eyeballing HOTAPPLEPIE and trying to figure out which letters or sounds appeared in the phrase just once? No? Just me? (It has one LONG “I”!)

3.5 stars from me.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Toto Two” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer is two words, and each begins with TO.

USA Today, 06 15 2022, “Toto Two”

  • 17a [Second-tallest structure in Japan] – TOKYO TOWER
  • 26a [“Same difference”] – TOMAYTO TOMAHTO
  • 59a [Cheerleading jumps] – TOE TOUCHES

Not much time this morning, so some quick hits on the puzzle:

  • I’m not sure about the puzzle’s title. Given that I pronounce “toto” as the dog’s name, the assonance and the “two” joke isn’t really there. That being said, I do like the theme and the theme answers.
  • I had “hurricanes” instead of HAILSTORMS for a pretty long time.
  • I never knew DORA the explorer had a last name! 25d[Animated explorer Marquez]
  • Jennifer Hudson became an EGOT winner this weekend at the Tonys! Congrats to her.

Rebecca Goldstein’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I like Rebecca Goldstein’s spin on the “both parts of phrases go with a word” theme trope more than most. Instead of both parts being added to either the front or the back of the words, the first goes after and the second before, and you have to imagine an “END” in the middle of the phrase. The phrases are much more solid than is usually the case as well. We have:

  • [Close contest], TIGHT|END|GAME
  • [Good thing to go out on], HIGH|END|NOTE
  • [Area with no cell service], DEAD|END|ZONE
  • [Military academy on the Hudson], WEST|END|POINT

With the central twelve revealer requiring a sixteen-wide grid, we get two eleven letter downs that are longer than the theme answers, which is why asterisks were used. The idea of BANANAPEELS being “vegan bacon” I gave a lot of side eye to, but its a fun clue nevertheless. Its partner was the more prosaic NOTABADIDEA; which is at least a more believable answer than ISDONE and ITISNT, who are having a rather banal row somewhere.

Most mystifying clue: [Omelet specification], EGGWHITE. The only thing I’ve ever specified with regards to an omelette is what goes in the middle?


Amanda Rafkin and Brooke Husic’s AVCX, “I Woke Up Like This” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 6/15/22 – “I Woke Up Like This”

I managed to forget to do the AVCX as soon as it came out, but had a delightful 5-ish minutes cracking what Amanda Rafkin and Brooke Husic cooked up this week:

  • 15A: *”It’s okay, there’ll be other tests”? — GET OVER YOUR EXAM
  • 29A: *”Frowning shouldn’t be our fate”? — WE’RE MEANT TO BEAM
  • 44A: 44. *”Actually, my pronouns are he/they”? — DON’T MAKE ME MADAM
  • 58A: 58. Period following a one-night stand … and what can be found in the answer to each starred clue — THE MORNING AFTER

They’ve placed the morning (“AM”) after the more common phrases GET OVER YOUR EX, WE’RE MEANT TO BE, and DON’T MAKE ME MAD (all of which, come to think of it, could be said during a one-night stand), and wackiness ensues.

53A: “You can start now” — OK GO

Happy Wednesday!

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16 Responses to Wednesday, June 15, 2022

  1. Bill Gardner says:

    NYT: Was sure that 59D was TYPO rather than HYPO

  2. Mutman says:

    NYT: I don’t get the STATIONARY angle either. If you are pushing it, it is anything but stationary.

  3. marciem says:

    NYT: 41d. I was convinced “take heat” was the perfect answer and wouldn’t give it up until I had to :( .

    TNY: nice Wednesday level, a little crunchy but all getable ..until…. 39a and d… two semi-obscure not inferable names crossing? NONONONONO >:-( Only good thing was there wasn’t far to go far thru the alphabet to complete.

    • Eric H says:

      I too made the “TAKE heat” mistake in the NYT puzzle. It made that whole corner much harder than it would have been otherwise.

  4. Jim says:

    NYT: The STATIONARY/STATIONERY pun is simply one of those that works when spoken, and not so much when written. Another that springs to mind is “Seven days of labor makes one weak/week”.

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    Here’s some weird trivia … I’ve diligently recorded my crossword solve times in a spreadsheet since 2009 and include the names of the constructors so I know whose puzzles tend to be easy for me and whose tend to be tough. I’ve got about 2000 constructors in my database and am approaching 22,000 puzzles. Today’s Universal is the first one constructed by someone with the relatively common first name of Justin.

    • Mr. [Not Always] Grumpy says:

      I thought I was unique for saving all my NYT puzzles and commenting in my journal on each puzzle I solve every day. We should have lunch some time. Or FaceTime or chat or whatever. Norm in Berkeley

      • sanfranman59 says:

        lol … nope … there’s at least one other nerd out here … I’ve been a numbers (and words) geek all of my life and am a retired statistician. Unfortunately, I’m no longer a Sanfranman. I returned to the land of my youth a couple of years ago to return my mother the favor of taking care of me for the first 21 years of my life in Ohio. I can also afford to retire comfortably here. How I miss the Bay Area though!

        Do you happen to know Andrea Carla Michaels? She and I became friends over the years. We used to bump into each other occasionally at my neighborhood Starbucks there and at crossword events in the area.

        • Mister [Not Always] Grumpy says:

          I do not know ACM personally, although I enjoy her posts. FWIW, my grandfather came from Chillicothe and my wife was born in Portsmouth [but grew up in Louisville]. Still has relatives all along the Ohio River. Small-ish world. Regards, Norm

  6. Eric H says:

    LAT: An EGG WHITE omelette might be ordered by someone who’s trying to reduce their “bad” cholesterol. I’m sure it pairs well with BANANA PEEL bacon. (Marinated in what?)

    • marciem says:

      from one site: “soy sauce, maple syrup, smoked paprika, and garlic powder”, and another says ” tamari, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, pepper and salt”.

      Now we both know :)

      • Martin says:

        The substitution of tamari for soy sauce yields gluten-free vegan banana-peel bacon. Kosher too.

  7. Christopher says:

    I see the Universal crossword listed at the top of the page (“Encoded”), but don’t find a review on the page anywhere. Can someone explain the theme? I solved it quickly but don’t understand “country Trio” as a theme. thanks in advance.

    • John says:

      All the themers are spelled with 3 consecutive country abbreviations.

      • Christopher says:

        OK – thanks. That actually crossed my mind, but I couldn’t figure out what some of them were, like VAN, ESA, LES, etc. So I thought it might be something else.

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