Wednesday, July 27, 2022

LAT 3:08 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 4:13 (Amy) 


NYT 3:40 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 3:45 (Sophia) 


AVCX 5:14 (Ben) 


Jake Houston’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Mug Shots”—Jim P’s review

The idea here is that the groupings of circled letters in the four corners are meant to resemble coffee mugs. The revealer is CUP OF JOE (23d, [Common diner order represented four times in this puzzle]) which punnily tells us that the “cups” consists of famous people named Joe.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Mug Shots” · Jake Houston · Wed., 7.27.22

Thus we have Joes BIDEN, JONAS, TORRE, and PESCI. I think I maybe knew one of the Jonas brothers was Nick, but I couldn’t have told you anything beyond that. The rest are recognizable enough (to me, anyway).

I found the theme satisfying enough, maybe not thrilling though. I wouldn’t say the Joes are exactly cup-shaped, either, but the theme did its job in allowing me to fill in those circled squares in the lower half of the grid with just a few crossings.

I generally like it when a constructor goes for an approach different than the norm, which is the case here with the left/right symmetry. It makes sense given that each Joe is five letters long.

Some enjoyable long fare in CON JOBS, PASTORALS, NEW CARS, and ARMY CORPS.

I did come to a complete stop at LEVI [Coffin nicknamed “President of the Underground Railroad”] crossing SLIDES [Casual footwear]. Is the latter a modern bit of slang, because I haven’t heard that before. And the former I just googled to realize we aren’t talking about a named coffin, rather a person named Levi Coffin.

Other clues of note:

  • 18a. [Composer Dusan Sesti?, for one]. BOSNIAN. That question mark is really confusing, isn’t it? Turns out it’s a mistake in the online version of the puzzle. The PDF has the name correctly written as Šestić. Something must’ve gotten lost in translation.
  • 30a. [Finn’s transport]. RAFT. Huckleberry Finn, not Finn from Star Wars.
  • 44a. [Reserved play?]. LET. I just figured this one out. It’s a re-served play in that the tennis ball is served again.
  • 61a. [Juicer stuff]. STEROID. I’m assuming we all read that as [Juicier stuff] the first five times we read it.
  • 31d. [Maker of the VCS gaming console]. ATARI. Huh. New to me. The VCS is a new (2021) console that allows you to play modern games and stream various forms of entertainment with Chrome built-in for surfing and/or productivity. But it’s a crowded field with plenty of other more recognized and bigger names.
  • 51d. [Makes it, in a way]. TAGS. Makes “it,” that is, when playing a game of Tag.

Solid puzzle. I like the unusual approach. 3.5 stars.

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 27 22, no. 0727

It’s not the first time this theme idea’s been used—there are similar puzzles with STUFFED SHIRT in the NYT, LAT, and erstwhile New York Sun from 4, 5, and 15 years ago. But it’s been awhile. Some of the other ‘adjective + apparel’ phrases in those other themes included SMARTYPANTS, BRASS HAT, and SILK STOCKING, along with some of Enrique’s other themers. Anyway, there are a zillion other themes that have been done before in similar ways, and it doesn’t mean the puzzles aren’t enjoyable for their current solvers!

  • 20a. [Cowardly person], SCAREDY-PANTS. Surprised to see that dictionaries may have scaredy-cat, but not scaredy-pants. It feels familiar, no?
  • 27a. [Villainous person], BLACK HAT. As in hackers, operatives, etc.
  • 35a. [Ineffectual person], EMPTY SUIT. In this day and age? More like EMPTY COMFY PANTS AND A T-SHIRT, amirite?
  • 49a. [Traitorous person], TURNCOAT. Oh, hey! I know about such people.
  • 54a. [Pompous person], STUFFED SHIRT.

Three more things:

  • 4d. [Snack item on a stick], POPSICLE. “Snack” encompasses so much besides quiescently frozen sweet treats! For example, lollipops and corn dogs and assorted state fair foods. Speaking of corn dogs, I want to try this Korean specialty corn dog place called Kong Dog. They have cheese and chicken sausage and plant-based sausage insides for the non-beef crowd, and a wild assortment of coatings.
  • 6d. [Represent, as a designer at a fashion show], WEAR. I like that this verb is in the puzzle alongside the apparel theme.
  • 23a. [Washington and Lincoln], CITIES. I think I had three or four letters in place before I had the faintest idea what this clue was getting at!

Four stars from me. I appreciated the inclusion of ANAIS Nin, Daisy Ridley’s REY, GENA Rowlands, Celia CRUZ, AKIRA Kurosawa, CAFTAN with a West African clue, Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple HAZE,” and PATTI LuPone. I even liked GEN Y because in the grid it looks like my husband’s Tita (aunt) Geny is included.


Quiara Vasquez’s AVCX, “Big Boxes” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 7/27/22 – “Estrange Brew”

The AVCX description of today’s puzzle as “perfectly middle-difficulty”, and I’d agree with that description – this felt precisely calibrated to amuse without being overly tricky.:

  • 17A: *Worthy tool for removing the bag after reaching a desired strength? — ABLE SPOON
  • 27A: *”The label says it’s grown in Fujian and yada yada yada”? — OOLONG DIDN’T READ
  • 42A: *The best hot water dispenser produced between 1901 and 2000? — URN OF THE CENTURY
  • 53A: Steeping needs … or a way to say phonetically what happens in the answers to this puzzle’s starred clues — TEA LEAVES

Finding 3 tea-themed phrases after removing the T from each of TABLESPOON, TOO LONG DIDN’T READ, and TURN OF THE CENTURY was such a nice find that really unified this puzzle.

Here’s the winner from Eurovision 2003 (held in RIGA, Latvia, as clued in 5A), Sertab’s “Every Way That I Can”

Happy Wednesday!

Bill Pipal and Alie Burnet’s Universal crossword, “Reframing the Question” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 7/27/22 • Wed • “Reframing the Question” • Pipal, Burnet • solution • 20220727

More literal parsing of metaphorical questions.

  • 17a. [Leading question?] WHO’S THE BOSS?
  • 26a. [Burning question?] WHERE’S THE FIRE?
  • 44a. [Trick question?] HOW’D YOU DO THAT?
  • 57a. [Loaded question?] ARE YOU DRUNK?

This is not dissimilar to the Captain Obvious trope that we sometimes see in crosswords and elsewhere.

Very smooth grid and a straightforward solve.

Speaking to both the title and the final theme answer (as well as 35a [Impressive achievement] FEAT):

  • 3d [Steely Dan and Indigo Girls] DUOS. The former has always been more of a core duo surrounded by a rotating arsenal of musicians whereas the latter is usually a more traditional duo.
  • 28d [Inventor known for interchangeable parts] ELI WHITNEY. Ah, elementary school memories come flooding back.
  • 40d [Maniacal laugh] MWAHAHA. My only misfill, as I briefly had it as BWAHAHA.
  • 47a [Japanese canines] AKITAS. Someday the answer will be SHIBA or TOSA or CHIN or KAI KEN or … and I will duly fall out of my seat.

 Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Beam Up” — Sophia’s recap

Editor:  Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer contains the word “RAY”, going upwards

USA Today, 07 27 2022, “Beam Up”

  • 3d [Tender salad green] – BABY ARUGULA
  • 8d [Place with a slide] – PLAY AREA
  • 25d [Venue for slapshots and hat tricks] – HOCKEY ARENA
  • 37d [Narrative path] – STORY ARC

Great theme set today! It’s nice that the theme answers are constrained by the RAY needing to span both words, since it’s not an uncommon string of letters. Are there any phrases that would have broken the RAY up differently across the answer? I guess that means themers that are ___YA R___…. Idle construction thoughts. Anyways, I liked the theme and the answers chosen a lot, although given that arugula is my favorite salad green it took me a while to see BABY ARUGULA – I haven’t seen it with the “baby” prefix as much, so it threw me off.

Other notes:

  • Such great fill throughout the puzzle – and it’s even symmetric! LOOK AT THAT, WORMHOLE, ROSE PARADE, SAY WHAT, I HEAR YA. The puzzle had a fun conversational tone the whole time I solved.
  • Despite dropping it into crosswords for years, I never knew what 14a [The “f” in f-stop] meant! It’s FOCAL.
  • I liked the cluing repetition at the start of the puzzle with 1a [Classroom stand-ins] and 5a [Office stand-in] for SUBS and TEMP, respectively.

Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up

New Yorker crossword solution, 7/27/22 – Agard

I learned a few things from this puzzle, but Erik nailed down easy enough crossings so it played like an easyish Friday NYT puzzle, which feels like exactly where a Wednesday New Yorker wants to land.

New to me:

  • 20a. [Mononymous author of “The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth”], ZANE. She writes a lot of erotic fiction featuring Black people, and her work has been adapted into a Cinemax series and a 2014 movie.
  • 42a. [Papel ___ (Mexican folk art with intricate cutouts)], PICADO. Could have gone with skier of yore PICABO Street crossing ABS, but isn’s this a more interesting angle? You can see some examples and learn a bit here.
  • 51a. [Gluten-free main ingredients of tteokbokki], RICE CAKES. Entirely different from the airy, crunchy rice cakes of American groceries. Here’s a recipe for this Korean street food.
  • 45d. [“Gucci” singer Runway], BREE. She’s a British rapper.


Great example of a modern themeless that spotlights the constructor’s voice, without piling up difficult crossings. Four stars from me.

Peter A. Collins’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Today’s puzzle by Peter A. Collins features the classic anagram hint phrase, in this case WRONGWAY in TAKETHEWRONGWAY. All the answers feature the tetragram TAKE between there two parts. So:

  • [*Small Hershey’s treats], CHOCOL{ATEK}ISSES.
  • [*Cabbagelike ornamental plant], WHI{TEKA}LE.
  • [*Baker’s pan], C{AKET}IN
  • [*Pedicabs], BI{KET}AXIS

The puzzle overall, including the theme, played very easy for me. There were a few extra effort clues though:

  • [Orecchiette shape], EAR.
  • [“Can we turn on the ceiling fan?”], IMHOT. More appropriate for you guys than here, where we’re having a mild and slightly dry winter.
  • [Puts a glove on, in a way], TAGS. My final square was that “G”.


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

12 Responses to Wednesday, July 27, 2022

  1. Jim Peredo says:

    Here are today’s .puz files: WSJ, Universal.

  2. David L says:

    SCAREDYPANTS is new to me. I wanted CATS. I had one cat who truly was a scaredycat (rescued from the streets after a hard life, I suspect) but I’ve had others who were not scaredy at all.

    • JohnH says:

      Yes, regarding the NYT: I’d have said that SCAREDY PANTS confuses “scaredy cat” and “smarty pants.”

      • Mr. Grumpy says:

        Scaredy Pants was an episode on SpongeBob SquarePants. It is not an idiomatic term like the others in the puzzle.

  3. Jim Peredo says:

    Amy: Whoa. Tita means “aunt” in Filipino?! I have an aunt (my mom’s sister) who has always been “Auntie Tita” to us, so we’ve been calling her “Auntie Aunt” our whole lives, even though her actual name is Maria. (We) Chamorros are weird. Or maybe it’s just my mom’s family. My other aunt was known as “Auntie Fina” for Josephine, which makes sense, but she decided she wanted to be “Inang,” which I learned just now means “mother” in Filipino. My own mother has always been “Auntie Bebia” to my cousins, despite her name being Rosita. Apparently, bebia means “I was drinking” in Spanish. I’ll have to have a talk with her.

    • huda says:

      that’s hilarious :)

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Jim, my mother- and father-in-law’s families use different variations for “aunt” and “uncle.” Dad’s side has Tita and Tito, whereas Mom’s side uses Tia and Tio, pronounced almost like “cha” and “cho.” I did not know “Inang”!

  4. placematfan says:

    Some days my big takeaway from reading this blog is just smiles. This morning, both OOLONG DIDN’T READ and the “loaded question” ARE YOU DRUNK? had me grinningly daydreaming about subtly obnoxious real-world employment of that material, and the situational engineering that would allow for said employment. And thus did I fulfill today’s quota of what Julia Cameron calls “filling the well”. So thanks, blog.

  5. scrivener says:

    NYT: Felt pretty easy for a Wednesday, but it took me at least a couple of minutes to find and correct my error at that ETOILE/EAU crossing. Two French words crossing like this was a bit brutal for me. At least I spotted the error. A few years ago I would have been guessing.

  6. Derek says:

    Can someone post the print version of today’s USA Today puzzle? Their website isn’t working properly for me. Thx.

  7. marciem says:

    LAT: I had to go to the LAT Xword corner to find out about why ‘put a glove on’ = ‘tags’… baseball term.

Comments are closed.