Wednesday, August 3, 2022

LAT 3:12 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 3:38 (Amy) 


NYT 5:something (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 3:50 (Sophia) 


AVCX 7:03 (Ben) 


Steve Faiella’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Chicken Little”—Jim P’s review

I gave an audible chuckle when I got to the second theme answer and the penny sky dropped. I’m glad there was no additional revealer beyond the title.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Chicken Little” · Steve Faiella · Wed., 8.3.22

  • 3d. [Windows to the heavens] SKYLIGHTS.
  • 14d. [Speculative stock buys, e.g.] RISKY MOVES.
  • 6d. [Father of Padmé Amidala’s twins] ANAKIN SKYWALKER.
  • 27d. [“If it’s not too personal…”] “MAY I ASK YOU…”
  • 35d. [Acted like a catnip-sated calico] GOT FRISKY.

It’s not a perfect theme set; “sky” is used with its original meaning in SKYLIGHTS and arguably in SKYWALKER and not in the others. And “MAY I ASK YOU” strikes me as an awkward phrase for a puzzle. But the humorous aha moment outshone any negatives in the theme, and I was still won over by the end.

Elsewhere, highlights include MACRAME and AMAZON clued with respect to Wonder Woman, not the online behemoth. There seemed to be a high number of proper names in the grid, which might prove troublesome for some solvers.

Clues of note:

  • 40a. [Follower of “This isn’t a hand, it’s a foot!”]. I FOLD. Is this quote from somewhere specific? I’m not finding any sources online.
  • 47a. [Mil. high fliers]. USAF. Did anyone else read the clue as “mile-high fliers,” as in the mile-high club? No? Just me, then?
  • 46d. [It often leads to an early touchdown]. RED-EYE. I was thinking “tailwind” so at least I was on the right track.

An enjoyable theme. 3.75 stars.

Daniel Bodily’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 3 22, no. 0803

I use Crossword Scraper to generate a .puz file of the NYT, and that turned out to be an unsatisfying option for this puzzle. There didn’t seem to be an accepted solution! The solution in the Web version of the puzzle fills a particular square with the word SHADE, but the theme clue says to “fill in” the correct circle, not to SHADE it. A tad dissatisfying as an endgame. Curious to know if the Web/app versions give you any hint that the word SHADE is what’s expected. Here’s the theme:

  • 16a. [With 30- and 49-Across, test question to be answered by filling in the correct circle], IN A SCRABBLE GAME, / WHAT TILE IS WORTH / TWO POINTS?

The circled letters in the bottom row are A, B, C, (D), and E, with the A B C E working with the Downs and 40d’s clue looking for a singular PASTEL, so you should fill in that circle with your pencil … though standardized test papers don’t generally put the multiple-choice letter inside the bubble you fill in, so the concept here feels a bit off. At any rate, A and E are worth 1 point each, C and B are 3 apiece, and only D is 2 points among these five letters.

The overall vibe felt a bit crosswordese-ish, with ADZ, ONT, RITARD., EPODE and -ODIC, along with the awkward I SAY NO.


Three more things:

  • 30d. [Rushing sound], WOOSH. Merriam-Webster tags this as a variant of whoosh, which is the spelling I’m familiar with.
  • 18d. [Trudeau’s party: Abbr.], LIB. Short for Liberal. Anyone else try abbreviating Labor as LAB, assigning Canada a political party it doesn’t seem to have currently?
  • 29d. [Genetic variant], STRAIN. I wanted something like ALLELE or MUTANT here, but certainly viruses have variant STRAINs. Damn that SARS-COV-2 and all its STRAINs!

3.5 stars from me.

Ariel Haymarket’s AVCX, “AV Classic Themeless #64” — Ben’s Review

AVCX Classic 8/3/22 – “AV Classic Themeless #64”

It’s a themeless Wednesday from the AVCX, and today’s grid from Ariel Haymarket had some lovely flavor:

  • “Apt place to see them?” is a great clue for PRONOUN PIN
  • I absolutely spelled RAISES CAIN like the chicken finger fast food restaurant at first, which made it tricky to figure out SERIES I and TREASON until I caught my typo
  • other nice fill/cluing: PEACE CORPS, PAPRIKA, learning that ITUNES was nearly called “SoundJam” (crisis averted, indeed), WINCING AT, and EVEN MORE SO

This is my favorite breakdown of the AMEN break, a clip of music you’ve absolutely heard sampled somewhere.

Happy Wednesday!

Emily Carroll’s Universal crossword, “In Style” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 8/3/22 • Wed • Carroll • “In Style” • solution • 20220803

  • 55aR [Aircraft’s delay maneuvers, or what 20-, 27- and 48-Across are doing?] HOLDING PATTERNS. Those entries are containers, as helpfully indicated by the circled squares.
  • 20a. [Celine Dion hit heard in “Titanic”] MY HEART WILL GO ON (twill).
  • 27a. [Go back to square one] START ANEW (tartan).
  • 48a. [Arcade game with a mallet] WHAC-A-MOLE (camo).

These seem acceptable to me.

  • 7d [Demonstrates for] SHOWS TO. Was going to complain about this one, but that’s because I’d originally interpreted it as a political-type demonstration rather than an instructional one. Accordingly, I filled in SHOWS UP, which seemed a bit weird but credible.
  • 32d [Race that’s winding down?] SLALOM. Nice little clue there,

Nothing else is really jumping out at me. Just a well-constructed midweek crossword.

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

New Yorker crossword solution, 8/3/22 – Berry

Let’s get right to it. Fave fill: SNAPPED UP, JUJUBE, “OVER TO YOU,” ANTS ON A LOG, PETER BOYLE, and HOSPICES (because the hospice volunteers were so much comfort when my grandma was dying).

Three more things:

  • 26a. [Holder of a pair of aces?], COCKPIT. As in flying aces. Tricksy!
  • 31d. [Game that ends suddenly after much buildup?], JENGA. Cute clue.
  • 40d. [Bit of footwear also called a Wellington], GUMBOOT. Looks weird in the singular, no?

3.75 stars from me. OVER TO YOU, over and out!

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Triple Dare” — Sophia’s recap

Editor:  Erik Agard
Theme: Each of the three theme answers includes the string “dare”

USA Today, 08 03 2022, “Triple Dare”

  • 19a [Sanctuary for some giant bears] – PANDA RESERVE
  • 33a [19-Across, for example] – PROTECTED AREA
  • 51a [“Grow up!”] – HOW OLD ARE YOU

I liked this theme because the title immediately made me think of “Triple Dog Dare” by Lucy Dacus, so thank you puzzle for starting my day with that. The theme answers are pretty good, although when I saw the clue for PROTECTED AREA I hadn’t gotten PANDA RESERVE yet, so the whole top of the puzzle took me quite a while to get through due to the cross-referencing.

Straight up my favorite thing in the puzzle was this amazing clue for GLEE: [TV show that featured a tracksuit-dress self-wedding]. I can’t believe we’re getting this reference over 10 years after it originally aired, but I’m here for it. Curious if there was literally anyone else on the planet that this was such a gimme for.

Oh yeah, other things in the puzzle! LANDMARKS and EARL GREY TEA are nice longer answers. I had “sake cups” as opposed to SAKE SETS, which held up the middle of the puzzle for a while. I have never heard of this Lani character so the ELI clue meant nothing to me – it’s only after googling that I learned that “Days” is just “Days Of Our Lives”? Is it usually abbreviated like that?? I thought it was a new show I had never heard of.

Susan Gelfand’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Today’s puzzle theme by Susan Gelfand is fairly basic: the three LITTLEWOMEN lead characters: AMY, MEG, BETH and JO are found split across two answers in three long across entries. Despite its short length, splitting JO across two answers is quite tricky! We have:

  • [*”We’ll never understand”], ITSAMYSTERY
  • [*Color named for a fruit], LIMEGREEN
  • [*Large bovine of American folklore], BABETHEBLUEOX
  • [*Political satirist who wrote “Holidays in Hell”], PJOROURKE

The five theme entry arrangement with a middle thirteen entry always tends to cramp the rest of the grid. Dealing with that, plus the thematic X and J meant there were few other splashy spots in the grid. There weren’t too many tricky or up-to-date clues, but only a few really cliched ones too: [Architect Saarinen], EERO is a rarely sighted beast these days.


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29 Responses to Wednesday, August 3, 2022

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I dunno. I finished successfully, I read Amy’s review which helped me make sense of SHADE up to a point, since the clue does feel a bit misleading–a missing D, which is presumably covered over with the word SHADE seems like a stretch.
    I do appreciate it when constructors try a new concept. May be it should have had slightly tougher cluing and placed on Thursday?

    • JohnH says:

      I never made sense of it, and I don’t think that designating it a Thursday would have made it make any more sense. I know nothing about scrabble, but I’m not sure even that knowing more would have helped.

      I took the spoiler clue as saying one needed the right fill, but unclear: in one or all the circles? A blank seemed called for, as PASTEL and TREE seemed self-contained, although others had to be filled normally. But then so did D, although why apart from the pattern of five letters from early in the alphabet? Could all these be worth two points, or could it be just one of them as the sole two-pointer in the entire alphabet? If not, why are we looking at those five? SHADE never occurred to me (and entering it sure doesn’t seem to be same thing as entering D and shading it), but then, too, PASTEL SHADE is peculiarly redundant.

      Maybe for huge Scrabble fans.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Ah, PASTEL SHADE / SHADE TREE. I didn’t see that. Yes, PASTEL SHADE is redundant, not all that obvious as a rebus word.

  2. davey says:

    NYT: i think the intended rebus changes DTREE and PASTELD to SHADE TREE and PASTEL SHADE. however the fact that TREE and PASTEL work perfectly well as answers ruins what would have been a fun theme imo!

    • Eric H says:

      No, D alone doesn’t work for the rebus (at least it didn’t for me).

      I failed to figure out SHADE on my own, partly because PASTEL and TREE seemed to work by themselves, and (maybe) partly because PASTELs are technically known as tints, not shades.

      Basically, I got off to a bad start with this one. 16A, 30A, and 49A were easy to get, but they read like one of the quote/quip puzzles that I keep running into in the NYT archives. I just don’t like that kind of theme.

      • Jim G says:

        Also, a blank tile is completely legit for Scrabble. It’s not worth two points, of course, and it breaks up the ABCDE thing in the bubbles, but it makes no less sense than SHADE.

        Really not a fan of today’s puzzle. Aside from throwing SHADE because of that silly rebus, it’s basically a quote/quip crossword (my least favorite theme by far) without even the “wittiness” of a quip to save it. And as trivia, it’s…pretty dull, too.

        1.5 stars from me.

  3. Sheik Yerbouti says:

    This NYT puzzle is a disaster in so many ways. The theme answers start by seeming like a literal question, but then it’s supposed to be a punny/silly question because no actual quiz would ever ask this question. Then the “D” is supposed to be both the multiple choice answer but also for some reason the literal answer, but D isn’t the only answer to the question so it doesn’t even work on its own terms. Then you’re supposed to add “shade,” but as others have pointed out the answers work fine without shade. Then you’ve got some really bad fill like ODIC and the misspelled WOOSH. Just none of it works in my view.

    • Steve says:


    • marciem says:

      All of the above. Don’t care for “quiptic” puzzles ever, and this one has no punchline. That’s a personal taste issue…. BUT ‘Shade’ just doesn’t come easily (though I see they tried by using “hue” in the clue for pastel). D fits in the bubble but doesn’t make sense with the words, so the other bubbles were more a distraction than helpful.

      Just a mess. My eyes light up when I see the “rebus” signal in AL, so this was a double let-down.

      Sorry for negativity.

      • Art Shapiro says:

        Where is the “rebus signal”??? I wasn’t aware it existed, and I’d opine that it’s an unwanted spoiler.

        I guess I liked this puzzle more than most folks here, because the rare single-square rebus rubs me the right way. It wasn’t a struggle to put in “SHADE”, although I still don’t grasp the significance of the other circled letters.

        • Eric H says:

          The circled letters are the five choices on a multiple-choice test, except we can’t see the D anymore because it’s shaded in.

          I don’t know if AcrossLite has a rebus signal. I’m using the free version, which has no way to enter a rebus.

          I’d be fine with AcrossLite or the NYT puzzle app alerting the solver to the presence of a rebus so long as I can turn that off. Part of the challenge of a rebus puzzle is realizing that’s what’s going on and where the rebus is.

          • Gary R says:

            Eric – I use a free version of AcrossLite (for windows) and to enter a rebus, you press the “insert” key, and a small window pops up where you can enter the rebus.

            • Eric H says:

              Ah. Thanks.

              I solve on my iPad. Neither the touchscreen “keyboard” or my detachable physical keyboard has an Insert key. (Nor, for that matter, does the extended keyboard on our new iMac.)

            • pannonica says:

              A search told me that it can be accomplished with Fn + Enter

              Perhaps that will work on your system(s).

        • marciem says:

          The desktop version of AL gives you the option to turn on a rebus signal down at the bottom of the puzzle. I choose to do so. It doesn’t (usually) spoil the experience for me, but to each their own. I still enjoy (usually) figuring out the where/why/what of the rebus squares.

          In this case it was pretty useless/unnecessary anyway. Once the puzzle was otherwise filled, it was obvious where the rebus square was located. The contents of that square… pfft.

  4. David L says:

    I inserted SHADE as a more or less random guess and was surprised to find it was correct. I still don’t understand why. Maybe that’s because I haven’t memorized the values of scrabble tiles and I’m not very familiar with how multiple-choice tests work (they are not a thing in the UK, or at least they weren’t when I was at school there).

    Truly a strange puzzle.

    • Eric H says:

      You have to imagine a D under that shading (which would be the fourth option in a multiple-choice test). In Scrabble, D’s have a face value of two points.

      I don’t know that I’d call the puzzle “strange,” but I didn’t find it much fun.

  5. Susan+K.+Hoffman says:

    The NYT was a failure, in my view. Like others, I thought “Tree” and “Pastel” worked as answers, so I thought the “D” square had to be filled in, as it would have been in a test. I tried “B” for black, I tried inserting a black square, I tried an X (as you would put an X on a test), and nothing worked until I tried “S” and I could not figure out why “S” was the right word. Who thinks of “shading” a square on a test?

  6. pannonica says:

    NYT: I found the rebus of SHADE to be intuitive; I guess the belabored clue for TREE was sufficient for this solver. Nevertheless, not a fan of the crossword. Agree that it should have been configured for a Thursday appearance.

  7. Scott says:

    When I have to come here to read what is actually going on after completing the NYT puzzle, that often means it was less than spectacular.

  8. gyrovague says:

    NYT: Not to pile on, but yikes, what does it say about the editorial crew at the Times that this puzzle — at least in its current form — was allowed to see the light of day? Someone’s asleep at the wheel.

    • Eric H says:

      What it says about the NYT puzzle editors is that they’ll grab at most anything that’s a little bit different than what we usually see.

      I give this one points for being novel. It’s too bad that overall it’s not very satisfying.

      • R says:

        Exactly. I’m glad that they try new things even if they whiff every once in a while.

        I think this is actually a great concept, but the fact that SHADE wasn’t really necessary in its rebus spot wrecked it. Hopefully somebody can take the idea and make it work in the future.

        • tom says:

          It would seem that tossing a Rube Goldberg contrivance into a NYT puzzle submission is the equivalent of shouting “squirrel” at the editorial team.

  9. Eric H says:

    AVCX: It was much easier than the email introduction led me to expect, though I did get a little internet help for PRONOUN PIN. That’s a product I’d not heard of before, though the fact that such things exist doesn’t surprise me at all.

  10. Gary R says:

    NYT: Maybe I’M Mr. Grumpy this week, but I haven’t cared much for the last three themes. I was unhappy with today’s as soon as I saw that most of it was just a non-humorous phrase. But I got lucky – I entered PASTELS at 40-D and thought to myself there was either an editing mistake or this is some type of modern usage issue with or/and that I’m not familiar with. I then finished up the puzzle with the Down entries in the southeast, got Mr. Happy Pencil (AL accepts the initial “S” for the SHADE rebus) and decided I didn’t want to spend any time trying to figure out the theme. If I had gotten an error, and spent time trying to find it (I probably would have focused on the right square, but probably would not have come up with SHADE), I’d be even Grumpier.

  11. Mutman says:

    NYT: fortunately, I don’t care when I get a square wrong. I just left it blank, hit ‘Reveal’, and then pretty much had the same reaction as most of this thread.


  12. Billy Boy says:

    Funny, the NE of the New Yorker gave me fits for a bit being a gently Berry, lol.

    WSJ I liked more than the madding crowd today, well-written clues

  13. scrivener says:

    NYT: I thought it was cute, and I smiled upon completing it, that SHADE square being my final entry. Did feel more like an easy Thursday to me than a crosswordese-laden Wednesday. I gave it a 4.

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