Wednesday, August 10, 2022

LAT 4:07 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 3:20 (Amy) 


NYT 3:16 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 4:10 (Sophia) 


AVCX 8:36 (Ben) 


Karen Lurie’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 10 22, no. 0810

What a clever theme! It wasn’t making any sense to me until suddenly it did. And the whole puzzle was breezy, so I quickly finished filling the grid without knowing how the theme worked. It’s all tied together by “WELL, ACTUALLY …,” clued via 55a. [Nitpicker’s lead-in … or a response to 20-, 28- and 49-Across, if they were posed as questions], though many people think of “WELL, ACTUALLY …” as the start of classic mansplaining remarks.

  • 20a. [Drink from a spring], MINERAL WATER. Read it as a question: “(Would you like) MINERAL WATER?” “WELL (water), ACTUALLY.” I’m not sure how many people are out there requesting well water, which can be strong-tasting if not treated/filtered first.
  • 28a. [Steakhouse option], MEDIUM RARE. “WELL, ACTUALLY” is the Trumpy steak order. Ketchup, too.
  • 49a. [Queasy, perhaps], FEELING ILL. Mind you, I’d be more apt to ask “You feel sick?” than “Feeling ill?,” but whatever. I still like the theme and how it plays on three alternative senses of WELL besides the interjection. (There are over 20 definitions!)

Fave fill: SALUKI (the team mascot for Southern Illinois University, implausibly enough), FACE-UP, MEASLY, GAYDAR.

Three more things:

  • 10a. [Baby aardvark], CUB. Raise your hand if you, too, had no idea what an aardvark’s young are called. No, wait—raise your hand if you actually knew this one before doing the puzzle.
  • 40a. [Best-selling video game series beginning in 1997, for short], GTA. That’s Grand Theft Auto. Fun fact: Earlier this year, my employer merged with GTA’s parent company. I feel like GTA’s developers are my cousins now.
  • 69a. [First musician to have his first five albums debut at #1], DMX. Those rap albums came out in 1998 through 2003. The first one’s called It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, which is catchy! He hasn’t had any big hit singles since 2003, and I didn’t start listening to rap till more like 2010, so I don’t know DMX’s work.

Four stars from me.

Karen Steinberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Extreme Situation”—Jim P’s review

Theme: EDGE CASES (50a, [Problems that occur exclusively in extreme situations, and a hint to this puzzle’s borders]). The entries around the grid’s perimeter are all words that can precede “case” to make familiar phrases.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Extreme Situation” · Karen Steinberg · Wed., 8.10.22

Top: 1a. BOOK (case), 5a. UPPER (case), 10a. SHOW (case)

Left: 1d. BRIEF (case), 28d. SLIP (case), 62d. SUIT (case)

Right: 13d. WATCH (case), 36d. SEED (case), 58d. COLD (case)

Bottom: 68a. TEST (case), 69a. LOWER (case), 70a. HEAD (case)

A solid basis for a theme and solid entries all around (haha). I especially liked the positioning of UPPER and LOWER. For some reason, I thought a slipcase was similar to a pillowcase, but the Internets tell me a slipcase is a five-sided box for storing magazines and thinnish books.

The fill lacks any very long entries, but we do get a couple of nice 8s: GAS GRILL and WHISTLER clued as [British Columbia resort]. Elsewhere, the 7s ERUDITE, ROBOTIC, and SOONISH are enjoyable. I needed most of the crosses for TOLTEC [Quetzalcoatl worshiper] because I tried to make it TOLMEC. No doubt I was conflating the TOLTEC with the Olmec. Also, that NW corner with OUTRE, ODIUM, and KENDO proved tricky, but gettable in the end.

A chocolate (well, plastic) Manneken PIS in Brussels

Clues of note:

  • 32a. [Winery array]. CASKS. I agree that this entry matches the clue better, but it took me a long time to give up on CORKS.
  • 67a. [Bear call]. SELL. Nice misdirection with this one.
  • 7d. [Letters seen in geometry class]. PIS. I’m still waiting for the clue [Manneken ___, famous Belgian sculpture]. Seriously, it’s one of the most famous sights in Belgium; I think people can get over the fact that it’s a statue of a little boy peeing into a fountain.

Solid theme, impressively executed. 3.75 stars.

Gary Larson’s Universal crossword, “Back Talk” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 8/10/22 • Wed • Larson • “Back Talk” • solution • 20220810

Early appointment this morning, so this will be skeletal. Will try to flesh it out later in the day.

  • 17a. [“Me too”?] AND I QUOTE.
  • 22a. [“Let us pray”?] SERVICE LINE.
  • 38a. [“Keep on keeping on”?] AS YOU WERE SAYING.
  • 55a. [“What goes around comes around”?] CIRCULAR SAW.
  • 63a. [“To infinity and beyond”?] BUZZ WORDS.

Quote, line, saying, saw, words. Kind of literal descriptions of the quoted material.

Longest theme answers are 11 letters, longest non-theme entries are eights. Result is that the grid feels just a little bit choppy.

Nothing too tough or tricky, so a good midweek puzzle.

Byron Walden’s AVCX, “Nutmeg Seeds” — Ben’s Review

AVCX 8/10 – “Nutmeg Seeds”

Once in a blue moon I’m on the same wavelength as a Byron Walden puzzle, and apparently there was a blue moon out when I solved “Nutmeg Seeds” last night.  It’s a pretty straightforward reveal when you see everything all together:

  • 17A: Proctologist? — REAR DOCTOR
  • 27A: Clover Stout and Honeysuckle IPA? — NECTAR BEERS
  • 36A: Treaties that aren’t what they seem? — FAUX PACTS
  • 47A: Place to buy ritual oil? — UNCTION SHOP
  • 61A: HVAC passage built into Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska? — HUSKER DUCT

Connecticut is the Nutmeg State, and each of the phrases REAR DOOR, NEAR BEERS, FAUX PAS, UNION SHOP, and HÜSKER DÜ have had CT inserted into them to make new phrases.

Hüsker Dü: both Bob Mould’s punk band AND a board game!

Happy Wednesday!

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

Editor:  Erik Agard
Theme: Each of the vertical theme answers contains the letters PIT.

USA Today, 08 10 2022, “Pitfall”

  • 3d [H.S. class that might read Dante or Ferrante] – AP ITALIAN
  • 10d [Phrase introducing some brief remarks] – I’LL KEEP IT SHORT
  • 22d [Sovereign nation in Arizona] – THE HOPI TRIBE

Not too much to comment on here, themewise. It’s a straightforward USA Today theme and it goes well with the title, so I’m satisfied.

Other thoughts on the puzzle:

  • Very asymmetric grid today – look how cut off the top left corner is from everything else! This is not my favorite style, but….
  • … We got some excellent fill out of it today. CORN SALSA, LET’S EAT, STOP NOW, and NAME DROP paired with the hilarious clue of [Make a point of mentioning your close friendship with Beyonce].
  • It took me forever to see SPORT for [DodgeBow is one], even though I literally played this game yesterday  as part of a team building event at work. To be fair, it was referred to as “archery tag”, but Google tells me they’re the same. Also, it’s incredibly disconcerting to aim arrows directly at people, and I did not like it much.
  • I had a 50/50 chance on 6a [Pet hotel guest], and I guessed the wrong one – “dog” over CAT.
  • How long until we get app and/or meme related clues for BE REAL instead of things like [“Face the facts!”]??

Will Nediger’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8/10/22 – Nediger

Ha! I appreciate 1-Across in this puzzle backing up what I said about the NYT puzzle’s revealer: [“Well, ___ …” (mansplainer’s opening)], ACTUALLY.

Observations, from top to bottom: Didn’t know Arnold from Happy Days (Pat MORITA‘s character) was named Mitsumo Takahashi; Wikipedia tells us Morita’s given name is Noriyuki and his Japanese American family was incarcerated in the WWII years. Not keen on CLAMMIER, INANER neighboring comparatives. PLATYPI and SYLLABI, two us –> i Latinate plurals. 66a. [Little seizers?] is a great pun clue for TWEEZERS.

From left to right: How ridiculous is it that the G-SPOT is named for a dude? How about this 2d. [Circusy aesthetic that features polka dots and bright, clashing colors], CLOWNCORE — is that your personal style? As for 21d. [“You’re too much,” in a cutesy online spelling], STAHP, I believe you can spell that with more than one A and/or H if you please.

I’d never heard of 62d. [Snotty Nose ___ Kids (First Nations hip-hop duo)], REZ, but it’s inferrable because REZ is a slangy shortening of reservation. Presumably Canadian First Nations people also shorten reserve (the term used there for those land carveouts) to REZ, since Snotty Nose Rez Kids are in Canada. I love that Hollywood is finally opening up more to Indigenous people’s stories and performances. There’s the studio picture Prey, a Predator sequel, on Hulu, with a mostly Indigenous cast; it’s quite well done. Recently started watching the Hulu series Reservation Dogs and am enjoying it. Have not yet seen the series Rutherford Falls, starring white Ed Helms and Sioux Jana Schmieding; this one’s on Peacock, and I hear good things about it. If you’ve got Hulu or Peacock, give these a look!

3.75 stars from me.

Catherine Cetta’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Catherine Cetta’s LA Times puzzle features a hidden sequence spread across two parts of four theme entries. The revealer is [Quantity applied to dubious advice…], GRAINOFSALT and the chemical formula for salt, NaCl, appears four times:

  • [*When “you can see forever,” per the classic song], OnaclEARDAY
  • [*Genetic lab project], DnaclONING
  • [*Almost got the gold], RAnaclOSESECOND
  • [*Long, curved barrette], BANAnaclIP

I’m guessing it’s to do with the pattern imposed, but all of the entries felt at least somewhat clunky today.

As is often the case with five entry grids, there weren’t too many bonus marquee entries. The clues were pretty quiet today as well, though all in all not much to groan at either. I’d have changed [Cookie source], BAKER to BAKED and thus replace IRONER with IRONED, which seems less contrived.


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

29 Responses to Wednesday, August 10, 2022

  1. Cougar says:

    Goose was not Maverick’s wing man. He was his rear or back seat or radar navigator. Maverick was Iceman’s wingman. At the conclusion of the movie iceman tells Maverick that he (Maverick) can be his wingman anytime. Maverick replies that Iceman can be his.

    • tom says:

      Not unusual for the back-seater to be designated a Weapons Systems Officer, or WSO, or Wizzo.

    • Jose Madre says:

      wingman here is being used in a slangy sense, not military.

      From Urban Dictionary: “A wingman is a friend that you can bring to a bar or party in order to find women more easily.”

      Therefore Goose was Maverick’s wingman. Remember the Righteous Brothers jukebox scene?

  2. judy says:

    Why are there so often overlapping clues/fill between the NYT and New Yorker puzzles? Often it’s just random proper nouns, but today was pretty wild with New Yorker’s 1A being the same as NYT’s theme reveal.

    • JohnH says:

      Actually, I see there’s a Yoko clue in TNY, too. Still, while certain fill sure does come into fashion (quite apart from the eternal answers with frequent letters like REM, ELO, and Yoko), I can’t believe that there’s consultation across constructors and publications that would deliver this kind of dupe. Has to be mere coincidence?

      Same day aside, why the aforementioned surges in use? It’s been nagging at me, so some thoughts. Even if some is the convenience of certain letter combos, I bet memes just have their own momentum as well. Surely constructors also look at other puzzles because they’re solvers too, because they could use ideas to finish one off, or because they want to know what gets into print. Maybe, too, they are not on commission so can’t know where they’ll make a successful pitch, so Will Shortz’s biases (Star Wars, Harry Potter, the Simpsons, sci-for for literature) are bound to weigh on puzzles that appear elsewhere as well. Anyhow, enough mainsplaining! I could also be just plain wrong.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      See Deb Amlen’s Diary of a Spelling Bee Fanatic, and scroll down to the Tuesday, August 2 section for more on those overlaps:

  3. Paul+Coulter says:

    Really good Uni today. Great take on the theme. For me, each one landed perfectly.

    • Mr. [Not Always] Grumpy says:

      Meh. BUZZ WORDS got a chuckle from me; thought the others were strained.

    • Eric H says:

      I quite liked SERVICE LINE, CIRCULAR SAW and BUZZ WORDS. The other two were OK, but didn’t have quite the same sense of wordplay. Overall, a nice puzzle.

  4. gyrovague says:

    NYT: Yay, that’s my kind of Wednesday. Breezy, clever, and fun, it could very well have worked as a Tuesday … if not for that cute SALUKI stopping by to be petted and admired.

  5. gyrovague says:

    WSJ: Afraid I have to disagree with Jim P that this is a solid basis for a theme, and that the puzzle boasts solid entries all around (though pun appreciated). The revealer, EDGE CASES, is far from being an everyday phrase, so I found the very concept to be a stretch. I would also argue that WATCH and SEED are not nearly as strong as the other cases. I did appreciate much of the fill, but overall I’d characterize this one as a rare miss from the House of Steinberg.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      This puzzle definitely missed my sweet spot. It kind of reminded me of how I used to struggle (and sometimes still do) with KS’s son’s puzzles. FWIW, I posted my slowest WSJ Wednesday solve time in four months. It didn’t help that I’m not aware of the phrase EDGE CASES. Apparently, it has its roots in computer programming. Though I never took a formal programming class, I was a statistical programmer for 40 years in medical research (albeit in a 4th generation language called SAS) and never heard of it. Now that I’ve read about it, I get the concept, but I didn’t know that there’s a formal term for it.

    • Eric H says:

      I had never heard of EDGE CASES, but I had only two corners (and much of the middle) filled when I got it. Knowing that the words I was struggling to find could all precede CASE help me get a lot of them.

      None of the CASE words seem at all to be stretching.

      The theme answers put a lot of stress on the grid. The fill is not too bad despite that stress.

      One of these days I will remember it’s IRINA. I think I’ve finally got Olga and Maria more or less committed to memory.

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    NYT … It’s hard for me to be critical of a puzzle that I breezed through as easily as I did this one, but I’d have preferred if MEDIUM RARE {28A: Steakhouse option} was something other than a meat doneness designation since that’s conceptually identical to the reason for its inclusion as a themer (MEDIUM WELL). For that matter, though I don’t really know the specifics of what a MINERAL WELL is, I’m guessing that it’s awfully closely related to a MINERAL spring.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      It’s well water instead of mineral water, and well(-done) instead of medium rare. No “medium well” or “mineral well” is implied.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        Doh. I guess that I completely misinterpreted the theme (certainly not the first time that’s happened!). I thought it was just that “well” can follow the first word of each themer … so “MINERAL WELL”, “MEDIUM WELL” and “FEELING WELL”. Oh WELL.

  7. gyrovague says:

    TNY: I wanted to like this one, honest, but encountering INANER and STAHP early on, and then the execrable “sesh” (lurking in the 25-A clue) caused me to WINCE repeatedly. As did the mere notion of CLOWNCORE. Ick! What better than a fetid PBR to wash down this mess.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Re SQUEES {43A: High-pitched cries of delight, in modern slang}, REZ {62D: Snotty Nose ___ Kids (First Nations hip-hop duo)} and STAHP {21D: “You’re too much,” in a cutesy online spelling} … I always know I’m in trouble when the clue includes “in modern slang”, “cutesy online spelling” or “hip-hop”. [All together now … “okay Boomer”]

    • Eric H says:

      INANER, PLATYPI, SYLLABI — that was fill I didn’t much care for. STAHP was new to me, and I’d be fine if I never saw it again.

    • JohnH says:

      I can identify with the criticism. As for CLOWNCORE, I felt lucky indeed to guess right on its crossing with the car, giving us the second C.

      • Eric H says:

        I’m not surprised to see that the CLOWNCORE aesthetic is big on TikTok. It was one of those answers where I just told myself, “That must be a thing.”

  8. Eric H says:

    AVCX: I don’t think I’ve done a Byron Walden puzzle that I didn’t enjoy — I guess our senses of humor echo each other. This one was easier than his often are, but just as much fun.

    The “add some letters and create wacky new words/phrases” theme can be hit or miss with me. Maybe I just found these ones funny. Maybe I just spotted the theme quickly: Knowing that Connecticut is the “Nutmeg State,” I got the theme with whichever theme answer I filled in first — HUSKER DÜCT, I think.

    57A (LOWRIDER) brought back memories — both of the funky song by War and of my career as an attorney for the Texas Legislature. Between legislative sessions, we revised old laws that hadn’t been rewritten since the 1920’s. At some point in working on the Transportation Code, I came across the legal definition of a low rider. (Not surprisingly, it’s illegal to operate such a vehicle on a public road in Texas.)

  9. Gloria Elizabeth says:

    LAT: Very much liked today’s theme!

  10. Seth says:

    AVCX: This theme was completely meaningless to me. Nutmeg meant nothing to me. Why is rear door a notable base phrase? What is near beer? What’s a union shop? Who or what in the hell is husker du?? I feel like with a theme so simple, there must have been more common base phrases to use. Four out of five being complete mysteries is weird.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Husker Du was a 1970s board game as well as a punk band from the Twin Cities in the ’80s (Bob Mould was in it, not sure if you know his name). A union shop is a workplace with unionized workers. Near beer is beer that’s less than 1% alcohol. Rear door may be more of a thing to city folks who take the bus.

Comments are closed.