Wednesday, July 20, 2022

LAT 4:18 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 3:25 (Amy) 


NYT 4:30 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 5:08 (Sophia) 


AVCX untimed (Jenni) 


.PUZ UPDATE: Alas, the server that hosts the puzzle files you can access via Fiend’s “Today’s Puzzles” links (for the Wall Street Journal, Universal, and Jonesin’ crosswords) will be down through the end of July. The crossword community is grateful to Martin for the work and expense he puts into running that server. Meantime, you can use Crossword Scraper to “scrape” data into .puz or .jpz format from a crossword’s web page. Here’s where you can download Scraper for the Chrome or Firefox browser, and here’s more information about using Scraper.

Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Primary Win”—Jim P’s review

As time goes on, I seem to be less and less enamored of tortured titles requiring awkward re-parsing as a basis for a puzzle. In this case, the title should be read as “Primary W In.” That is, the letter W is inserted at the primary position (the beginning of the entry) in familiar phrases to make new wacky sayings.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Primary Win” · Gary Larson · Wed., 7.20.22

  • 17a. [Forcefully remove, as an angler’s catch?] WRING OFF THE HOOK. But doesn’t wringing imply twisting? You’re going to twist that fish off the hook?
  • 26a. [Spa treatment featuring seaweed?] WRAP SESSION.
  • 45a. [Penned a popular “Cats” song?] WROTE “MEMORY.”
  • 58a [Low auto insurance risk?] WRECKLESS DRIVER. This one is inspired, and I like it a lot, mainly because the clue is the exact opposite of what it would be without the added W.

I don’t mind an added-letter theme, and these are fine (especially that last one). It’s just the title that I’m soured on.

The fill is solid enough though not especially sparkly. All the longest entries are in the Across direction, which is quite uncommon. We have ANDERSON Cooper, MASSEUR, WHAM-O, “EUREKA!,” and a MURDER of crows as highlights. At the other end we have old standbys I TO and ETRE, and the wince-worthy entries HAREM and RESALT.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [Lender’s offerings]. BAGELS. Nice trickeration right off the bat at 1a. That was a fun way to start the grid.
  • 58d. [Question not asked on “Jeopardy!”]. WHY. Of course, that begs the question, are there other questions not asked? I’m having trouble imagining a player asking a “when” question.

3.5 stars for the puzzle. 2.5 for the title.

Josh Kindler’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 20 22, no. 0720

It wasn’t till I got down to PICK A COD, ANY COD  (pick a card, any card) that I grasped the Boston-accent angle of the theme and was able to piece together the end of MISSING THE MOCK (missing the mark). So we have:

  • 17a. [Jokes at Massachusetts General Hospital?], DOC COMEDY instead of dark comedy.
  • 28a. [Late to a Harvard Lampoon meeting?, MISSING THE MOCK. In the debit column is the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever encountered MOCK as a noun. Believe it or not, though, Merriam-Webster lists several noun definitions of the word!
  • 44a. [Invitation at Beantown fish markets?], PICK A COD, ANY COD. Now I’m in the mood for fish & chips.
  • 58a. [Unexpectedly high interest rate for a borrower from a Boston bank?], LOAN SHOCK, for loan shark.

I like the variations of place in the clues—all in the Boston area, all different.

Trouble spot: Where 25a. [___ jure (by the law itself: Lat.)], IPSO crosses the contrivance “OK, BYE” (27d. [“Well, see you later then!”]), which in turn crosses the uncommon word FERNERY (38a. [Part of a botanical garden]). There’s also the Latin phrase ipse dixit, so it might have been better to stick with IPSO facto here. I tried NURSERY for the botanical garden and wondered if HERBERY might be a thing.

Three more things:

  • 45d. [King of the Titans, in Greek mythology], KRONOS. Also spelled Cronus. I use Kronos for the brand of pita bread (which my husband has declared subpar).
  • 29d. [1990 #1 rap hit that ends “too cold, too cold”], “ICE ICE BABY” / 55d. [“Law & Order: SVU” co-star], ICE-T. Too cold! Although in a hot July week in the Northern Hemisphere …
  • 61a. [Herky-jerky dance, with “the”], ROBOT. I’m inordinately fond of the term herky-jerky.

3.25 stars from me.

May Huang’s Universal crossword, “Workspace Notifications” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 7/20/22 • Wed • Huang • “Workspace Notifications” • solution • 20220720

Each of the theme answers is couched in a description of the Slack app, which I’ve never used. All you need to know, however, is that it’s a messaging/communication platform.

  • 20a. [Slack conversation space with messages like “It’s sunny”?] WEATHER CHANNEL. So I infer that Slack has channels.
  • 32a. [Deletes a string of Slack messages by accident?] LOSES THE THREAD.
  • 41a. [Slack’s muscle emoji, for one] STRONG REACTION. I seem to always misread that emoji as a chicken wing: 💪
  • 56a. [Meaningful shout-out on Slack?] SPECIAL MENTION.

I’m never a fan of brand-heavy themes, so am holding this one at arm’s length. With the exception of channel, these are generic digital communication terms, and I suspect that channel is found in more than a few apps—but I am supposing Slack is the most prominent or recognizable of them.

  • 61a [One attracted to attractions] SIGHTSEER.
  • 26d [Rumors and such, informally] GOSS. With the G in place, I wondered if it might be GOSS, but I have never, ever heard the term.
  • 35d [Philosopher who described friendship as “a single soul dwelling in two bodies”] ARISTOTLE. Sounds like a deep friendship.
  • 53d [Hypnotist’s instruction] SLEEP. 47a [Artist Ono] YOKO. I watched a film yesterday that involved both a hypnotist and a character named YOKO.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Wise Guise” — Sophia’s recap

Editor:  Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer contains the word SAGE.

USA Today, 07 20 2022, “Wise Guise”

  • 17a [Press organization] – NEWS AGENCY
  • 28a [American artist known for her power figures] – VANESSA GERMAN
  • 57a [By and large] – AS A GENERAL RULE

Well, I finished this puzzle in a little over three minutes, and then spent the next two hunting for an error, which ironically ended up being “este/type” instead of ESTO/TYPO. Good to know the universe has a sense of humor this morning.

Loved the title of the crossword! It took me a little bit to find the theme of this puzzle – I at first thought it might have something to do with theme answers starting with GE, even though NEWS AGENCY didn’t fit that rule. VANESSA GERMAN was new to me, and Google tells me that she’s an “American sculptor, painter, writer, activist, performer, and poet”. A very impressive resume and I’m happy to learn her name! (The “power figures” in the clue immediately made me think of action figures, which is, uh, not what she does). She’s by far the most interesting theme answer – NEWS AGENCY and AS A GENERAL RULE are fine, but neither one stands out to me.


Favorite clues: 46d [Curled part of an akita] TAIL, 51d [Part of the Sagittarius symbol] ARROW, 40d [Went live on Twitch] STREAMED

New people to me: Country singer Jake OWEN, actress Ebonee NOEL

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

The New Yorker crossword solution, 7/20/22 – Berry

Pretty easy for a themeless, even with 1-Across being musical terminology that slowed me down.


Three things:

  • 21d. [___ fatigue (doomscroller’s feeling)], OUTRAGE. There was a lot of this among Dems and other progressives during the Trump years. The news cycle was exhausting.
  • 40a. [___ Tour (sports org. that has banned members playing in events run by the Saudi-backed LIV tour)], PGA. And then President Biden goes and plays nice in Saudi Arabia, fist-bumping MBS? Pfft. No idea what LIV stands for, but it’s sports so I imagine it’s the 54 tour in Super Bowlesque Roman numerals.
  • 20a. [Lead-in to typical or divergent], NEURO-. Lots of neurodivergent folks in puzzle circles, and the community is richer for it.

Four stars from me.

Richard D. Allen’s AVCX, “Bit Flipping” — Jenni’s Review

Here I am dashing in a bit late. This whole working thing really screws up your day, doesn’t it? Not used to it anymore. And when I finally found time to solve this puzzle, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. There are numbers in each theme clue. The title had me wondering if it had something to do with computers and binary code, but the numbers aren’t all 1s and 0s.

AVCX, July 20, 2022, Richard D. Allen, “Bit Flipping,” solution grid

  • 17a [*Winter conveyances with 57738] are BOBSLEIGHS. The spelling really threw me off. The Google Ngram viewer confirms that BOBSLED is far, far more common. I wondered if that had something to do with the theme. It does not.
  • 32a [*53704 in a box score] is GOOSE EGGS, which are zeros. Some sort of cryptogram? ZEROS has five letters, and 53704 has five digits…
  • 48a [*53045 with spikes, sometimes] are HIGH HEELS. I had no clue. So to speak.

Luckily, there’s a revealer at 62a [Device one might turn upside down to decode the starred clues (or to enter their answers)] is a CALCULATOR. Ohhhh. Back in the day, we had handheld calculators, and some of the numbers look like letters if you turn them upside down. Letters, of course, can make words. Since we don’t have a calculator in the house, I turned to the internet and quickly found out that 57738 = bells. Maybe SLEIGHS was supposed to evoke “Jingle Bells” since Olympic bobsleds don’t have bells. 53704 = holes. This doesn’t quite work for me. Holes and zeros aren’t the same thing. 53405 = shoes and that one works!

This is a good idea for a theme that suffered somewhat in the execution, at least for me. And even the idea relies on knowledge of an obsolete piece of equipment. Well, it should be obsolete, although as recently as 2018 my daughter’s high school required specific TI calculators for math classes and would not allow them to use their phones. Anyway.

Since this writeup is already late, I’ll skip to what I didn’t know before I did this puzzle. I had no idea that most pecorino ROMANO cheese is now made in Sardinia. I also didn’t know that Myanmar is second only to Afghanistan in OPIUM production.

Dan Caprera’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I like the concept of Dan Caprera’s puzzle theme. Each of a number of people or things are the “Queen of X” and clued as such. However, I can see several clues/answers in the collection being problematic though. So:

  • [Religious figure known as the “Queen of Heaven”], VIRGINMARY. Veneration of the virgin Mary is a touchy subject for a lot of Christians…
  • [Novelist known as the “Queen of Crime”], AGATHACHRISTIE.
  • [Military division known as the “Queen of Battle”], INFANTRY
  • [Field of study known as the “Queen of the Sciences”], THEOLOGY. I’d have prefaced this with “by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th Century”, because this will irk a lot of people.
  • [Singer known as the “Queen of Jazz”], ELLAFITZGERALD
    [City known as the “Queen of the West”], CINCINNATI

As usual, be aware for some updated clues for common names: [Fashion journalist García], NINA; [Gospel singer Campbell], ERICA; [“Jeopardy!” champion Schneider], AMY


This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Wednesday, July 20, 2022

  1. Rob says:

    NYT: Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd and then go get some lobstah! I loved this puzzle! Why the low ratings?

    • Alan D. says:

      That’s the Boston accent. Not “Pock the caw…” That’s more of a Kennedy one which you really don’t hear very much around Boston, if at all.

      • David L says:

        I agree. I think before the NYT does another alleged Boston accent puzzle, someone should forcibly drag the constructor and Will Shortz to Boston and teach them what the accent really sounds like. This puzzle isn’t even close.

        I’m more than usually annoyed by this one because I moved to New England earlier this year and hear the authentic accent all the time.

        • Boston+Bob says:

          The person I ever heard using that version of the Boston accent was Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting.

    • Eric H says:

      “Why the low ratings?”

      1) The puzzle’s misrepresentation of a Boston accent, as Alan D. and David L have mentioned. (I haven’t been to Boston in several years, and have never lived in that area, so I can’t really say how accurate that criticism is.)

      2) Some people don’t like puns.

      3) Some people commenting on Wordplay think the puzzle had too many proper nouns and pop culture references. Those entries didn’t bother me, but most of them were gimmes for me.

      4) The puzzle is relatively hard for a Wednesday NYT puzzle. It took me about 150% of my Wednesday average, which pushed my time into the Friday range. Part of that was my unfamiliarity with STAFFA and FERNERY, which slowed me down in that section. Part of it was misspelling KRONOS with a C, which took a few minutes at the end to find.

      5) The user ratings here tend to skew low. It seems rare to see a puzzle with an average rating over 3.5 stars. I’ve solved something like 5,000 puzzles in the last few years, so I don’t expect to love every puzzle I do.

    • JohnH says:

      Why? I didn’t rate it (until just now) but was relieved that so many others found it as unfriendly as I did. In my case, it wasn’t the theme that turned me off. I’m not expert enough on Boston accents to weigh in, so just accepted that dropping an R worked (and didn’t seem THAT far from clips of the Kennedy, including one just this morning in a show about art of the early 1960s at the Jewish Museum). I’m a little embarrassed but didn’t think of “missing the mark” for some time.

      Nope, to me it just felt like a Monday or Tuesday TNY puzzle in its reliance on cultural trivia. The SW required ORA, BABE, and KITS crossing ROBOT (as a dance), and I did hesitate between KRONOS and Cronos, all of which was bad enough but guessable. The NE, though, just defeated me with the cluster of LIL KIM, FERNERY, and STAFFA. My problem coming up with MOCK didn’t help. O’HARA has at least become crosswordese (bad as that is). But then I also hesitated over OK BYE (anyone really say that?) and IPSO. It occurred to me that maybe, unlike in ipso facto, the term’s Latin declination runs to ipse, say, and who was I to know? Oh, and USC could have been instead almost any school, and OCHRE is really a British usage, no? That’s quite a concentration. I don’t judge based on days of the week, and a Friday for me wouldn’t have justified the triva approach, but it’s Wednesday all the same.

  2. m says:

    I can’t figure out how to use scraper. will your links work again in the fiend after July?

    • pannonica says:

      Once you install the scraper plugin, there should be a little downward-pointing arrow that appears along the right side of your desktop browser’s toolbar. Navigate to a webpage that has a crossword interface, then click that arrow.

      The first time you use it, it will ask for permissions, which you should grant. Then you can select which format you want the puzzle downloaded into.

      • m says:

        not working for me…don’t see the plugin install. Easier to just kill trees and print WSJ on hard copy and come here for the solution. only through July, right?

  3. BarbaraK says:

    Thanks for the info about the .puz files!

    Will crossword scraper work on Chrome on an iPhone and/or iPad?

    • GlennP says:

      My experience is that it won’t work on phones or tablets (at least not on my Android phone and tablet). I have to do a convoluted workflow of scraping the puzzle on my laptop, emailing to myself and then opening it in my puzzle software on my tablet.

  4. Dan says:

    The L.A.T. puzzle’s clue for 6 Down is “Sleep acronym”, for REM. But I haven’t heard people pronouncing REM as one word; instead I hear them saying the three letters: R+E+M.

    So I would call it an abbreviation, rather than an acronym.

    • Eric H says:

      My dictionary says that REM, as in the sleep stage, is pronounced “rem,” which would make it an acronym. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard people say that.

    • Gary R says:

      My experience has always been to hear REM sleep pronounced “rem.” R-E-M is (was?) a band.

      • gyrovague says:

        Speaking of which, with the sleep and band angles being the defaults for REM all these years, isn’t it high time someone clued it as Pritzker Prize-winning architect Koolhaas? He’s been a star in his field for decades, after all. At least as crossworthy as I.M. Pei, if you ask me.

        • Eric H says:

 lists two Koolhaas clues (LAT, 8/12/07 and NY Sun 9/22/05).

          I suspect that most people don’t pay much attention to architecture; for them, Pei is much more familiar than Koolhaas. (I know the name, but none of his projects immediately comes to mind.)

        • Bob says:

          I’ve seen architect Koolhaas clued three times, the most recent being by Peter Gordon in his 5/18/2012 The Week crossword.

      • Eric H says:

        Per Wikipedia, “R.E.M. disbanded amicably in September 2011.”

        In my memory, their first album came out my freshman year at UT Austin. I was only off by about five years. They were one of my favorite bands in the 1980’s.

  5. Lester says:

    Universal: 15A says the acai berry is written with an acute accent. Is that right? It has a cedilla. Is that what they’re thinking of?

  6. GlennP says:

    My thanks to Martin for all he does for us “fiends” and good wishes to his server for a speedy recovery!

  7. Toby Berla says:

    The puzzle download site — — seems to be DOWN.

  8. Eric H says:

    For anyone who doesn’t want to mess with installing the scraper extension, this site usually works for me to get .puz files from Universal and the WSJ:

  9. Alex B. says:

    You can also use Xword to download USA Today, Universal, and (I think) WSJ puzzles!

  10. Michael+Cornfield says:

    TNY: LIV indeed stands for 54 because the tournaments only last for three days instead of the PGA’s four. 3 days x 18 holes = LIV.

  11. David Roll says:

    WSJ–not crazy about or familiar with Lender’s, but it worked out.

Comments are closed.