Harry Doernberg & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Online Dating”—Jim P’s review
Today’s theme answers are familiar(ish) phrases that include words that are also names of web browsers. The clues allude to historical events (and a rough time frame) which explains the revealer BROWSER HISTORY (51a, [Surfing records, and what 20-, 25- and 46-Across are part of?]).
- 20a. [Eric the Red, for one (10th century)] ARCTIC EXPLORER.
- 25a. [Developing invention (late 19th century)] MONOCHROME FILM.
- 46a. [Concern for Flat Earthers (6th century)] EDGE OF THE WORLD.
Hmm. I’m not sold on this one. The revealer clue says that each of these entries is part of BROWSER HISTORY, but try as I might, I can’t make the term ARCTIC EXPLORER (or the others) fit into that description. Explorer is definitely a part of BROWSER HISTORY (especially since no one uses it anymore), but ARCTIC EXPLORER is not. It’s more like the entries have a browser plus a side of history.
Oh, and I don’t get the date for the Flat Earthers. Surely people thought the Earth was flat well before that. In fact, according to the Smithsonian, some knew the Earth was round since the 6th century B.C.E., so surely others before them assumed it was flat. I’m just not clear what the clue is getting at.
Lastly, the theme offers up two Microsoft products and a Google product. I would’ve liked to have seen something else in there instead of two Microsoft entries. Opera and Safari seem like decent possibilities for this theme.
For some actual BROWSER HISTORY, check out this video chart I recently saw on Reddit showing the market share of each browser in the past 28 years.
Top fill includes “I’M ALL FOR IT!” and ODE TO JOY as well as FESS UP and HARLEM. Didn’t know proper names LILA Wallace (co-founder of Reader’s Digest) nor RAY J [R&B singer with the 2008 #3 hit “Sexy Can I”]. (Seemed like the grid was heavy on proper names, as well.) PAEAN is a word I’ve heard before, though I couldn’t have told you it meant [Triumphant hymn] before I did this grid.
Clue of note: 17a. [Cell feature]. BARS. I suppose the clue is referring to cell phones and signal strength. If it was referring to a cell in a prison, then I’d say it needed to be plural.
Maybe I’m being dense, but the theme felt off for me. Three stars.
Joe Deeney’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This is a Roman-numeral theme: The FIVE SECOND RULE (whereby you can eat food that’s been on the floor for no more than 5 seconds) ties together six themers where the letter V (Roman 5) is the SECOND letter, always with the phrase’s first two letters being spelled out: TV DINNER, IV FLUID, AV CLUB, RV PARK, JV SQUAD, and EV CREDIT. The V’s in question stand for -vision, -venous, -visual, vehicle, varsity, and vehicle. The theme would feel more elegant if the 8s had been omitted, given their duplicative V words. How and odd is it that VEIN crosses the V in IV FLUID? Also, health-care professionals: Does the mass noun IV fluid sound right to you, or do you prefer plural IV fluids? (Maybe you just call it saline or Ringer’s.)
Note that the grid is 14 squares wide, so I hope you shaved a few seconds off your usual Wednesday time!
Fave fill: “I CAN DREAM,” can’t I?
Three more things:
- 59a. [Good name for a home renter?], ELISE. Because it sounds like a lease? Eh.
- 19a. [Only about one-sixth of these in humans is visible], EYES. This clue reads really weird! I think it means that 5/6ths of your eyeballs are located out of sight beneath your eyelids, orbits, and whatnot. Unless! If you have Graves disease, you may be displaying a somewhat larger percentage of your eyes.
- 55d. [“Mr. Roboto” band, 1983], STYX. Listen, I bought that album on vinyl!
3.5 stars from me.
Ben Tausig’s AVCX, “Power Players” — Ben’s Review
This week’s AVCX Classic is from editor Ben Tausig, and it was a 2/5 difficulty that played pretty nicely:
- 19A: Angels star who hit five home runs in a five-game series this past June — MIKE TROUT
- 34A: Softball legend who struck out 13 and gave up one hit in eight innings to help the US win gold in 2004 — JENNIE FINCH
- 47A/51A: With 51-Across, skating icon who landed a 900 on a vert ramp in 1999 — TONY/HAWK
- 48A: WNBA great who once scored 14 points in the last six minutes of a game to save a playoff series — SUE BIRD
- 61A: UConn titan who dropped 32 points in her college debut — REBECCA LOBO
- 80A: Dialed-up state for athletes, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme entries — BEAST MODE
As a non-sports person, catching the theme early made it easy to fill in the gaps of my knowledge of these players with some educated guesses, and the crossings here were very fair in helping with that.
Michael Sembello’s “MANIAC” (14D, Hit single from “Flashdance”) was his only hit song and was nominated for an Oscar.
Gary Larson and Amy Ensz’s Universal crossword, “DownSPout” — pannonica’s write-up
Let’s parse the title first. “Down + SP out” translates to ‘down entries with the letters SP taken out’. In each case, the SP bigram appears at the beginning of the phrase.
- 3d. [Fainthearted boxers?] RING CHICKENS (spring chickens).
- 9d. [Floes?] ICE ISLANDS (Spice Islands).
- 24d. [What prevented a biblical boat from leaking?] ARK PLUG (spark plug).
- 25d. [Choice made while drunk?] LIT DECISION (split decision).
- 29d. [Heads-up for Edmonton hockey fans?] OILER ALERT (spoiler alert).
Spiffy or iffy? You decide.
- 6a [Drastically reduce] DECIMATE. Some folks will insist that it must indicate a 10 percent reduction, per its original Latin meaning. I’m not one of those.
- 17a [“Where the Wild Things Are” author Maurice] SENDAK. 23a [Wild things] BEASTS.
- 40a [Low site for a bracelet] ANKLE. Despite my opinion regarding DECIMATE, I do feel that bracelet should exclusively refer to ornamentation of the arms (including wristlets) because the etymology is French bras, which derives from Latin bracchium. The term to use here would be anklet.
- 48a [Slow movement, in music] ADAGIO. You probably know this famous piece:
- 54a [What’s needed to split “the check” online?] SPACE BAR. That’s a weird clue.
- 63a [Bills that will feature Harriet Tubman] TWENTIES. When, when will we get our Tubbies?
- Q: Is this a Universal crossword? A: 2d [Log splitter: Var.] AXE.
- 15d [Vail regular] SKI BUM. Doesn’t that look like a doo-wop snippet? “Skibum, skibum, skadoodle-di-dum-ti-dum …”
- 42d [Automated sweeper] ROOMBA. Has it so rapidly become a generic trademark?
- 51d [Glance over] SCAN. Once more into strict definitional waters. This is an autantonym. In fact, m-w lists the contrary meanings as subsections of the same sense! “2: to examine by point-by-point observation or checking:
a: to investigate thoroughly by checking point by point and often repeatedly
b: to glance from point to point of often hastily, casually, or in search of a particular item”
More pointedly, sense 3 is a better example of the diametrically opposite meaning: “3a: to examine systematically (as by passing a beam of radiation over or through) in order to obtain data especially for display or storage”
- 6d [Indian dish hidden in “vindaloo”] DAL.
So the natural choice here is “Goodbye to You” by Scandal, but it’s just too unnaturally ’80s, so here’s something a little more organic:
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Crying on the Inside” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer includes the string “sob” bridging two words.
- 16a [Place that serves cappuccinos] – ESPRESSO BAR
- 25a [Umami-rich condiment for grilled fish] – MISO BUTTER
- 47a [“Ugh, there’s nothing to do”] – I’M SO BORED
- 60a [Musical group with steelpans] – CALYPSO BAND
Some quick takes on today’s puzzle:
- Great title, and a solid USA Today type theme to go with it.
- Four strong themers today – a lot of USA Today puzzles only have three, so this was a pleasant addition.
- GUESS WHAT and ON THE DL are fun bonus answers.
- I’ve never heard of RICOH, and it’s kind of rough that it has the exact same vowel placement as “Nikon”.
Shannon Rapp’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
The theme concept at least in today’s puzzle by Shannon Rapp is fairly simple and well-worn. We have a revealer, [Take a chance, and how to form the sequence in each set of circled letters], ROLLTHEDICE preceded by four long across entries. Each of those has the DICE tetragram scrambled between two parts of the word/phrase. The choice of entries though felt more imaginative than normal, with some creative choices:
- [Many a modern suburb], PLANNEDCITY.
- [Shellfish dish often prepared with coconut milk], CURRIEDCRAB. Never heard of it, but not up on my Thai food.
- [“Helping You Ditch Wedding Stress” podcast/blog], BRIDECHILLA. Never heard of it, but inferrable.
- [“Star Wars” ruling body], JEDICOUNCIL
Other tricky spots:
- [Sitcom set in a H.S. science class], APBIO. The latter half is all you need really.
- [Like chunky milk], GONEBAD. I was expecting some kind of culinary dish here.
- [Vinegary sauce], ADOBO. Is that what that means.
- [Celebrity revered by some in the queer community], BIICON. Familiar with GAYICON, so guessable.