Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Jonesin' 7:52 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 3:02 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal auto-solved (Amy) 


USA Today 3:25 (Sophia) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation tk (Ade) 


Jerry Edelstein’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

Quickly while the hotel internet allows me to connect….

We have five theme answers and a revealer. That’s a lot of theme material. The fill doesn’t seem to suffer, though.

The themers:

Los Angeles Times, September 13, 2022, Jerry Edelstein, solution grid

  • 16a [*Sibling by marriage] is a STEPBROTHER.
  • 23a [*Best Picture Oscar winner directed by Barry Jenkins] is MOONLIGHT.
  • 29a [*Wee] is PINTSIZE.
  • 43a [*Lengthy warranty period] is LIFETIME.
  • 50a [*Retrace one’s steps] is BACKTRACK.

And the revealer at 61a: [Coffee creamer option, or what can precede both parts of the answers to the starred clues] is HALF AND HALFHALF STEPHALF BROTHERHALF MOONHALF LIGHT (that one doesn’t work well for me), HALF PINTHALF SIZEHALFBACK, and HALFTRACK. The only HALFTRACK that comes to mind is the general in the Beetle Bailey comic strips. So the theme mostly works, and the fill is solid. Not my favorite Tuesday, but not too bad.

A few other things:

  • When I said the fill was solid I’d forgotten about 19a [Can opener], POP TAB. Should be either POP TOP or PULL TAB, shouldn’t it?
  • Few things feel as good as UNHOOKing a bra at the end of the day.
  • I do like the long downs, ELEPHANTS and FAIR SHAKE.
  • I am currently in Paris where the sidewalk CAFES are the stuff of legend, and deservedly so.
  • Eddie ARCARO and Elia KAZAN are probably not familiar to younger solvers – and by “younger” I mean anyone younger than me (b 1960).

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Barry Jenkins directed MOONLIGHT.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Freefall” – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 9/13/22

Jonesin’ solution 9/13/22

Hello lovelies! We have a themeless to review this week, with so many 15s! The center triple stack is lovely, consisting of BERENSTAIN BEARS, YOU CAN’T TUNA FISH, AND IMPERIAL MAJESTY. Towards the top of the grid lie IMAGINARY FRIEND and LOCH NESS MONSTER (who could very well be someone’s imaginary friend), and the bottom gives us FAVORABLE REVIEW and THE NEWLYWED GAME.

Three of the four corners have a culinary slant: TOFU DOG, PARSLEY, and SESAMES. How often is the plural for sesame used? I love the clue though: [Everything usually includes them], as in an everything bagel. Now I want a bagel.

Things I learned today: Liza KOSHY hosts the new reality show “Dancing With Myself” and the new “Double Dare.” The Disney show “Agent OSO” stars Sean Astin.

Blasts from the past: Carson Daly and TRL (Total Request Live), and Dance Dance Revolution or DDR [Mus. arcade game with lots of descending arrows].

Things I didn’t love: the partials BY ITS and ONE AT, and REOMIT, which I’m not sure is an actual word.

Things I love: the clue for DONNA [Summer in the club].

What were your favorite bits of this themeless? Let us know in the comments.

Kyle Dolan’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Win/Loss Columns”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Vertical theme entries are familiar two-word phrases with the initials W.L. (or W/L if you prefer), hence the title.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Win/Loss Columns” · Kyle Dolan · Tue., 9.13.22

  • 3d. [Feature of many a cartoon pirate] WOODEN LEG.
  • 7d. [Humanities survey course, perhaps] WORLD LITERATURE.
  • 9d. [Limbo for college hopefuls] WAITING LIST.
  • 24d. [Frequent subject for Claude Monet] WATER LILIES.
  • 35d. [One happy to take a cab?] WINE LOVER.

Simple theme, but with a perfectly apt title which elevates it nicely, in my opinion. Fun, lively theme entries make for an enjoyable solve from start to finish.

Those two long non-theme entries are fun, too: “…OR SO I HEAR” and “SPIT IT OUT!” Also good: GET WORD, FAKE ID, and LIBIDO. I wouldn’t mind never seeing ASPIC [Gelatin made with meat stock] again since (a) it sounds terrible and (2) I only know it from crosswords.

The bald-faced hornet

Clue of note: 9a. [Narrow-waisted insects]. WASPS. Ooh, I have a giant wasp nest in one of our trees overhanging the street. The nest is probably twice the size of my head, and the wasps in question turned out to be bald-faced hornets which are by all accounts nasty little devils. It’s said they go for the eyes and can even remember past assailants and attack them specifically. Since it’s so close to the street and has been damaged multiple times by passing garbage trucks, I sprayed the nest thrice for good measure. There are still some in there, but their activity is much diminished and they’re winding down for the season anyway.

That’s all I have. Nice, clean puzzle. Four stars.

Adam Wagner’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 13 22, no. 0913

The theme is summed up by HERE’S THE KICKER, [Lead-in to a surprising twist … or a hint to 16-, 22-, 32- and 45-Across]. Those themers are a FOOTBALL PLAYER (mildly tricky clue, [Buffalo Bill, e.g.]), ROCKETTE, UNBORN BABY (a somewhat loaded term—could’ve kept a 15-wide grid with a central FETUS), and KANGAROO.

It’s a Tuesday-level theme, but some of the fill feels tough for newer solvers: OCKHAM, TSAR, the AT-AT (if you’re not a Star Wars junkie), ECOCAR (who actually uses that term?), plural abbreviation A.I.’S, ELL, RUER, the [Albanian currency] LEK, and TAM. If you are out there thinking, “I guess I’m not cut out for crossword puzzles,” stick with it! You usually won’t be asked to come up with William of OCKHAM or LEK, not before the harder late-week NYT puzzles.


Three more things:

  • 27a. [Paddle lookalike], OAR. You might still be wondering exactly what the difference between a paddle and an oar is. Here’s an explainer!
  • 59a. [Skier’s “powder”], SNOW. Who tried COKE here first? Not me.
  • 17d. [Forbiddance], BAN. The word forbiddance looks weird to me. Anyone else thinking about the ’80s movie Footloose now?

Three stars from me.

Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 9/13/22 • Tue • Shechtman • solution • 20220913

This one fell rather easily for me, thanks in no small part to being able to get some of the longest entries with only a crossing or two. I’m talking about stuff like 17a [1958 novel that takes its title from Yeats’s “The Second Coming”] THINGS FALL APART (the poem also inspired the title of Slouching Towards Bethlehem) and 37a [Ingmar Bergman film with a monologue that Pauline Kael described as “more erotic than all of ‘Ulysses'”] PERSONA and 53a [Titular item in a Poe story whose Latin epigraph translates to “Nothing is more hateful to wisdom than excessive cunning”] PURLOINED LETTER. That’s a big head start!

  • 3d [Malt beverage with Peach Bellini and Hurricane Punch flavors] SMIRNOFF ICE. Pass.
  • 4d [Heroine of Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman”] SENTA. My last bit of fill was the crossing with this and 19a [Mexican sandwich] TORTA.
  • 6d [ __ Enterprise] USS was, conversely, the first entry I made.
  • 11d [Paintings on hinged panels] DIPTYCHS. Another gimme.
  • 22d [Like some varieties of mind-body dualism] CARTESIAN. No doubt this relates to the famous Cogito ergo sum statement, and whatever philosophy that led to the conclusion.
  • 27d [Fishes along the ocean floor, maybe] TRAWLS. Am just now realizing this could have been intended as a misdirection clue.
  • 22a [Barbecue remnants] COBS. I was expecting something more like ASHES, which is common in crosswords. Of course, it doesn’t fit here.
  • 32a [Throwaway line?] BURNER PHONE. Cute clue.
  • 38a [Extremely high vocal register, as heard in the music of Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande] WHISTLE TONE. Oh, so that’s what that’s called. Makes sense, I guess.
  • 45a [Pros and cons, often] LIST. Didn’t see what this was getting at for a while.
  • 50a [Major plot element of “The Asphalt Jungle”] HEIST. Something I found notable was that the Midwestern city is never identified; it’s meant to be an Anytown. Seem to recall from a smidgen of research that it was filmed somewhere in Ohio.
  • 59a [Character with joined components, such as “Æ”] LIGATURE.

Kate Chin Park’s USA Today Crossword, “Inner Circle” — Sophia’s recap

Editor:  Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer contains the string “RING”

USA Today, 09 13 2022, “Inner Circle”

  • 20a [Type of comedy that’s painful to watch] – CRINGE HUMOR
  • 39a [Tart and sweet pie variety] – LEMON MERINGUE
  • 56a [Much thinner alternative to potato wedges] – SHOESTRING FRIES

Cute theme with great answers. I really like how the “ring” makes different sounds in each of the words, which adds another layer to the theme. CRINGE HUMOR is my favorite theme answer even though I can’t watch it at all – I always feel too much secondhand embarrassment for folks.

The mirror-symmetric grid today is very visually appealing, at least in my mind. There are a lot of three letter answers (pretty much all sides of the puzzle is full of them), but that means we get lots of longer fun fill: CAR CHASE, STAGE NAME, IRON GRIP, NEMESIS, I DARE YOU. It’s a pretty fair trade off in my opinion!

Jon Pennington’s Universal crossword, “Talk Down”—Amy’s theme recap

Universal crossword solution, 9 13 22, “Talk Down”

Theme revealer: 62a. [Reveal juicy gossip, or what 17-, 31- and 46-Across do], SPILL THE TEA. The puzzle title, “Talk Down,” relates to that gossipy talk, TEA, going down in the grid.

  • 17a. [Pale from fright (Hint: Look down at this answer’s 4th letter)], WHIT{E A}S  A SHEET. The TEA descends from the first T, and then the answer picks up in the square to the right of the T.
  • 31a. [They’re neither right nor obtuse (… 4th letter)], ACUT{E A}NGLES.
  • 46a. [Reluctant convert to technology (… 3rd letter)], LAT{E A}DOPTER.

SPILL THE TEA is a fun basis for a theme, and I like how the TEA is “spilled” down.

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27 Responses to Tuesday, September 13, 2022

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I agree with you Amy. The theme is cute- I remember hearing that expression the first time and wondering where it came from. But some of the fill is not Tuesday level.
    Is “No Shot” a common expression? I understand it, but I don’t think of it as a standalone phrase, so it took a bit for me to think of it.

    • marciem says:

      I had the same problem with “no shot”… I also was totally unfamiliar with the spelling of Ockham for the more familiar Occam’s Razor, and crossings Ecocar and “in the zone” made the NW brutal for me, as well as Mraz. On a Tuesday that’s unexpected.

      p.s. I just read your response of yesterday to placematfan, and enjoyed your perspective very much. It really is a complex subject.

      • JohnH says:

        All those were tricky for me, too. Not that I’m complaining.

        • marciem says:

          Me not complaining either. Just commenting, as I’m not used to associating the word “brutal” in conjunction with a section of a Tuesday NYT . :) (I usually find crossings totally fair & helpful for toughies on Mon-Wed puzzles.) I don’t have any problem with new/difficult stuff.

  2. huda says:

    #placematfan, I wrote a late reply to your interesting question/comment on yesterday’s page.

  3. RSP64 says:

    NYT – am I the only one who has an issue with FOOTBALL PLAYER being considered a kicker? Given the clue, I assume the puzzle is not referring soccer players, as we would call them in the US. On a typical football team of 50+ players, there are generally only two players who actually kick the ball: the punter and the placekicker. So most (American) football players are not kickers.

    • JohnH says:

      I found it acceptable. While not all kickers are football players and not all football players (at least in American football) are kickers, it still felt fine. You can think of the puzzle as saying that some kickers are this, some are that, and so on.

      And yeah, then there’s what the rest of the world calls football.

    • Papa John says:

      If two are, there you go…

      • RSP64 says:

        By that logic, then MOVIE ACTORS would be an acceptable answer because periodically some of them kick something in a movie.

        • sanfranman59 says:

          I think you’re being a little disingenuous here. Crossword constructors and editors use this kind of cluing all the time. Some football players are kickers ergo some Buffalo Bills are kickers. I wasn’t thrilled with it either, but it’s a perfectly legitimate crossword clue/answer combination. This time, the clue just fooled you. If you’ve done more than a few crosswords before this one, I’m sure it’s happened before.

  4. Bill Harris says:

    I also had an issue with the politics of UNBORN BABY. A puzzle is not an ideal place for sensitive language.
    I wonder how many LEKS an AT-AT ECOCAR cost in OCKHAM?

    • Jan O says:

      Yes, seeing the central entry before getting the theme was jarring, and for some people who might have suffered a loss, could very well be triggering.

    • Gary R says:

      Given the theme, I don’t think “fetus” would work. I’ve never heard a pregnant woman say “The fetus is kicking” – it’s always “The baby is kicking” or maybe “She/he is kicking.” I suppose it could have been just BABY, as infants I’ve known did a lot of kicking, too – but that would be a pretty short themer.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Certainly nobody says “My unborn baby is kicking.”

        • JohnH says:

          Bingo. That’s what I wanted to say. Pretty much the only use of “the unborn” has been in anti-abortion circles.

          The clue made me uncomfortable, too, although I hesitate to weigh in. It’s a controversial subject, and whom am I to speak for anyone. If a woman won’t speak of this in describing her sensations during pregnancy, I figured, who am I to speak for women. But then, who are too many other men and who is the constructor here to do so? The clue is entering politics in a way I feel is seriously wrong on all counts.

    • dh says:

      I don’t see how “unborn baby” is sensitive language, especially given the context. Babies are born, and before that they are widely considered by parents-to-be as “unborn babies”. For others who for their own reasons don’t wish to go down this path typically use the term “fetus”. If one is going to be truly “pro-choice”, one needs to respect both choices. As for the context, I agree with Gary R., and would add that the term “bun in the oven” refers to the former population – who do exist, and who do use language.

      The Football Player clue definitely refers to American football, not soccer – unless there’s a soccer team in Buffalo that I haven’t heard of. As for the accuracy of the definition, and coincidentally, the Bills were auditioning two punters during this year’s pre-season. No sooner had they cut one of them from the roster than the one who had won the spot had some rather public personal issues and was released. In the third and final preseason game, Matt Barkley, the back-up quarterback, did the punting for the team.

      • Leah says:

        dh – As JohnH says, the only time I ever hear “unborn” is when someone is trying to lob an anti-abortion argument into the world. I promise you, when I was pregnant, not once did anyone call the fetus an “unborn baby,” though we definitely used fetus and embryo and various terms of endearment. I strongly support *personal* choices of all sorts, and strongly oppose the government getting in the way of that. We may not be as rare as you think.

        Whether or not you see how it can be sensitive, for this semi-recently pregnant person (and someone delighted to have the resulting child), that central themer definitely soured the entire puzzle-solving experience. Thank you to Amy for saying that, and for creating a community where I can say it too.

  5. Art Shapiro says:

    WSJ link goes to a September 6th writeup.

  6. David L says:

    NYT: Googling ecocar brings up a competition, defunct since 2011, sponsored by the Dept of Energy. Referring to low emissions or electric vehicles as ecocars is one of those ‘only in crosswords’ issues we have all become familiar with.

    Also, calling an OAR a ‘paddle lookalike’ is iffy, IMO, since they don’t really look all that much alike.

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT … Super easy puzzle, but I had a couple of the same head-scratching moments as Jenni (maybe it’s an age cohort thing … b. 1959) … HALF LIGHT? POP TAB? I remember HALFTRACK thanks to my fascination with all things military-related during my youth (and Beetle Bailey). But I wonder if anyone much younger than me would know what that is?

  8. Alex says:

    NYT: I had little trouble with most of the un-Tuesday fill mentioned by Amy, but certainly would not expect them to be easily gettable by many. I got slowed in the SE, mainly because it took me forever to recall Adam Sorkin and because 44D as clued didn’t get me to hit on REDREW; shouldn’t it have been gerrymandered, rather than un-gerrymandered? If electoral districts are un-gerrymandered, don’t they just go back to their original boundaries?

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Unfortunately, virtually every legislative district in the country is gerrymandered at this point, so un-gerrymandering them means they have to be redrawn. Since our federal government usually prefers to leave such things to the states (even with federal offices), in many states, we’re at the mercy of whatever political party holds the levers of power. In my current home state of Ohio, the misrepresentation has reached the point of ridiculousness. Ohio is pretty much split down the middle between registered Democrats and registered Republicans with Democrats holding a slight edge according to most sources I’ve checked and popular votes for statewide federal office are generally no more than 55%/45% one way or the other (at the most). For example, Trump/Biden was 53%/45%. But the state Senate is 25 Republicans/8 Democrats (you read that right), the state House of Representatives is 64 Republicans/35 Democrats and the US Congressional delegation is 12 Republicans/4 Democrats (you read that right, too). Representational government? Not here.

      • pannonica says:

        Are you familiar with David Pepper? He’s based in Ohio and presents many whiteboard videos on Twitter (and perhaps elsewhere). His latest nonfiction book is Laboratories of Autocracy.

      • JohnH says:

        I don’t even rely on the extent of gerrymander to justify the clue. All one needs to know is that un-gerrymandering (assuming that’s a word) requires redrawing. Doesn’t matter if so does gerrymandering.

        Of course, one could even argue that the un- is safer, as it assumes a previous state. Maybe, say, some territory created gerrymandered districts on drawing them in the first place to become a state. But that’s not important.

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