Wednesday, September 28, 2022

LAT untimed (Gareth) 


The New Yorker untimed (Amy) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 7:32 (Emily) 


AVCX tk (Rebecca) 


George Jasper’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Reverse Angle”—Jim P’s review

Our revealer is BACKUP CAMERAS (35a, [Standard equipment on some new vehicles, and a hint to the circled letters]). Said circled letters spell well-known camera brands going backwards and turning up.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Reverse Angle” · George Jasper · Wed., 9.28.22

The camera brands are Canon, Nikon, Leica, and Sony. I mainly know Leica because my dad was a professional photographer, and he always wanted a Leica, but they were much too expensive. As for Sony, it’s known for making a lot more than cameras, so I would have gone with something else—Go Pro, maybe (it’s five letters long, too, like all the others). But that’s a nit. Solid theme and execution.

As for the rest of the fill, it solves like a themeless, and a nice one at that. We have two 9-stacks (ARBORETUM/GRACE NOTE and SOCCER FAN/SPIELBERG) as well as the long crossings of TAKE A HIKE/FRESH CREAM and SETH ROGEN/SALT SHAKER. Plus the song RUNAWAY thrown in for good measure. Those NE/SW stacks are especially impressive given their size and the presence of two theme entries.

Clues of note:

  • 6a. [The suicide king, for one]. HEART. Never heard this term, and I had to guess (correctly, as it turned out) that we’re talking playing cards here. Further, today I learned that the four kings are all based on four historical rulers. The King of Hearts is Charles VII of France who quite gruesomely committed suicide.
  • 18a. [Composer’s embellishment]. GRACE NOTE. I only know this term from the music company which maintains a database of information about compact discs and vinyl records.
  • 28a. [1966 debut album from a British band]. FRESH CREAM. Got the latter part mostly by crossings then inferred the first part.

Solid grid with a nice theme and lovely long fill. 3.75 stars.

Jeff Stillman’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NYT crossword solution, 9 28 22, no. 0928

Solved on my phone and am blogging from my phone for the first time. I don’t care for it!

Theme revealer: INITIAL HERE. The four themers are famous names (two real, two fictional) that usually appear with their middle initials, and their omitted initials are H, E, R, E. WILLIAM MACY, ALFRED NEUMAN, EDWARD MURROW, CHUCK CHEESE. The latter E is for Entertainment. I like the theme.

Fave fill: COMMON SENSE. Unfaves include the dreadful AH ME, which I wish would be deleted from constructors’ word lists because it’s not a thing we say!

43a. [Growth under the skin], CYST. Yes, but a great many cysts are not just beneath the skin’s surface. Ovaries, kidneys, livers, and in the spine. The latter is why I’m lying flat on the couch to blog.

3.5 stars from me. AHME really counteracts a solid theme and I do deduct points for it.

Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Road Runners” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 9/28/22 • Wed • “Road Runners” • Coulter • solution • 20220928

In which familiar words and phrases are reparsed, sort of like jockeying cars in a traffic jam.

  • 19a. [Rental agreement for a certain convertible?] HARD TOP LEASE (hard to please).
  • 29a. [Inner workings of a bygone GM vehicle?] OLDS CORE (old score).
  • 46a. [Provide sporty trucks for free?] COMP UTES (computes).
  • 57a. [Country in which all autos are scarlet?] RED CAR NATION (red carnation).

Not my favorite theme, but it suffices. Could have been a bit more consistent such as being all types of cars, or all makes of cars.

Theme-adjacent: 48a [Trucker’s compartment] CAB. 54d [One may be on a hog] BIKER. 1d [Its license plates say “Famous potatoes”] IDAHO. 7d [Opportunity to accompany a trooper] RIDE ALONG.

  • 20d [Browning work?] TAN. The question mark ALERTs (3d) us that this is not about poetry.
  • 62d [Name hidden in “that’s all”] SAL. 1a [Word within “I’m a Muslim leader”] IMAM.
  • 13a [Hill’s opposite] DALE. I’d go with complement.
  • 18a [Barely beats] EDGES. Seeing it clued as a verb a lot lately.
  • 66a [No-__-land] MAN’S.

Paolo Pasco’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 9/28/22 – Pasco

Fave fill: CALL IT A DAY (is it 5:00 yet?), STATE REPS, TO NAME A FEW, FINGER-SPELLS, TAKES A KNEE, KINDA SORTA, and the musical vibe of BIKINI KILL, KRIS KROSS, “MARIA MARIA,” DEBUT ALBUMS, and DROPS clued as [Releases, as a song].

10a. [Candy bar that sounds as though it should come in packs of twenty?], SKOR. Because a score is 20. My first thought was TWIX, though that would work better if it were TWIXX with a Roman numeral XX in it. Also, I’m hungry for lunch and those are both excellent candy bars. Is it permitted to focus on caramel, toffee, and chocolate for a meal?

Four stars from me.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Omega-3” — Emily’s write-up

Fairly smooth solve, though just the right amount of challenge for me.

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday September 28, 2022

USA Today, September 28 2022, “Omega-3” by Zhouqin Burnikel

Theme: each themer contains the word OMEGA


  • 17a. [Disparity in wealth distribution], INCOMEGAP
  • 28a. [“Put the pedal to the metal!”], GIVEITSOMEGAS
  • 61a. [The Mets play them at Citi Field], HOMEGAMES

A fun set of themers! Based on the title, my hunch for the commonality was correct and helped me fill them all in fairly easily. The cluing for INCOMEGAP honed me into that one immediately—always fun to fully lay down a themer right away. My first instinct for GIVEITSOMEGAS was “step on it” but that didn’t fit the pattern though based on a couple of crossings that I already had at the end, so I filled in the shared theme word then topped it off, so to speak. I slid right into HOMEGAMES when I rounded that base too. Love this!


Stumpers: NONOS (cluing had me thinking in more formal terms at first), KENO (needed crossings), and SPRANG (tried “sprung” first)

Great puzzle overall and grid, however all of lengthy bonus fill had me searching a little in the bottom half since the first two were in the top. Since themers tend to be all in one direction, it seemed likely that the third was an across as well but at first glance, there didn’t appear to be an obvious third themer, as they usually stick out a bit more. YOGAMAT is draped over it and is of a similar length and the paired fours stacked below gave the illusion of a nonthemer for me today. The cluing for the third one was great and made it clear that it was the third once I got to it. Did you feel the same?

4.25 stars


Brooke Husic’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s theme summary

LA Times

[Ambiguous outcome, and what the circled letters literally contain], MIXEDRESULTS is the revealer of Wednesday’s puzzle by Brooke Husic, and each of three answers has the letters of RESULT scrambled and hidden somewhere. A [Fudge-and-caramel ice cream dish], TU(RTLESU)NDAE is a dish I haven’t heard of. Google suggests it’s a bit like our “Chico the clown” sundae. [Regulations for a big contest], TOURNAMEN(TRULES) is a bit bland, and the clue is pretty awkward too. [Gradually and reliably], SLOWBU(TSUREL)Y is more idiomatic, and has a kind of a synergy with TURTLESUNDAE.

Fast five:

  • [Creator of a Sonic boom?], SEGA. Whose flagship videogame character is Sonic the Hedgehog. Neat.
  • [V-shaped sitting pose in yoga], BOAT is a new one on me.
  • [Eel-and-rice dish], UNADON looks delish, but never seen it here.
  • [College sports channel], ESPNU is another new one on me, but looks like it may appear again with those letters.
  • [Grocery chain based in Germany], ALDI is the butt of many British stand-up jokes


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20 Responses to Wednesday, September 28, 2022

  1. El Gran Jugador says:

    NYT – re AHME: not a thing currently, but if Bugs Bunny said it, that’s good enough for me.

    Lumber Jack Rabbit, 1953: “Ah, me. Good old vacation time.”

  2. Matt M. says:

    Not sure why people seem meh on the NYT, I thought it was a really creative and fun theme.

    • Rob says:

      NYT: I agree! I enjoyed the puzzle. Perfect for a Wednesday

    • Eric H says:

      The low ratings might be because the theme answers skew a bit old. That wasn’t a problem for me; they were all gimmes except CHUCK CHEESE, which I got with only a few crosses.

    • Gary R says:

      I thought the theme was kind of cute, but nothing special. I’m familiar with all of the theme personalities – though I didn’t realize it was CHUCK E. CHEESE rather than Chucky Cheese. The revealer was clever.

      I think I’m never going to be a big fan of a puzzle with this many 3-letter entries. It’s just really hard to make them interesting/exciting.

      • Eric H says:

        I hadn’t noticed there are 30 three-letter answers. That is a lot.

        • sanfranman59 says:

          A crazy amount … especially when there are also 18 4-letter answers. Oof.

          I’m not one for strict adherence to supposed crossword rules, but even I think that having both AH ME and AHS in the same grid is a technical foul. And who the hell says HOLLA except when they make a typo? Is it the same people who say AH ME?

    • John R says:

      Theme is great, but that’s not the only thing that matters. Like Amy said, AHME sucks–especially since the puzzle also has AHS. A double sin of too similar and both being crosswordese.

      I think I get why they did it: BACNE is pretty great, and the clue for GOAL was probably hard to resist, so changing either AHME or AHS would’ve been challenging with those constraints.

      • Eric H says:

        The thought of BACNE grosses me out. I’m glad you liked it, though.

        I did like the GOAL clue. It was easy to get and gave me a chuckle, which is a rare combination.

    • gyrovague says:

      Could have something to do with the inclusion of Macy, who was embroiled in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal with his wife Felicity Huffman. She ended up doing time, you may recall. While he avoided that fate, his involvement in the scheme rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, me included.

  3. sanfranman59 says:

    TNY … Re PINE {16A: “Letter to the Person Who Carved His Initials Into the Oldest Living Longleaf ___ in North America” (Matthew Olzmann poem)}, I’m an avid hiker and it bothers me to no end when I come upon trees that have been marred by some vandal who has seen fit to carve into its trunk. Around these parts of Northeast Ohio, birches are particularly prone to be victims of this offense. I recently hiked a brand new trail through woods where stunning birches predominated and it was awe-inspiring to see so many unspoiled gray/white tree trunks. I have little doubt that if I were to visit that area again next year, those same trees will be defiled with initials and such.

    It may seem like a relatively harmless frivolity to some, but it renders these magnificent trees vulnerable to disease. If you ever hear of or see someone engaging in this regrettable behavior, please educate them of the possible consequences of their actions.

  4. David Roll says:

    WSJ–I can’t find “fer” as being “Not agin” when I Google–Help? Just for my education. Thanks.

    • gyrovague says:

      “Fer” and “agin” are classic hillbilly-speak for “for” and “against.” Not much in use today except in crosswords and maybe [insert your favorite backward locale here].

      • David Roll says:

        Thanks. Probably West Virginia. It is thought that the term “toothbrush” must have been coined there–anywhere else it would have been “teeth brush.”

  5. JohnH says:

    Since it came up today, I can’t help asking. I’m sure you folks will know. In some fill, ET AL is left abbreviated as we so often see it. Other times, it can be either ET ALIA (what I’m used to in real life) or ET ALII. How do they differ in meaning, and should an ideal clue reflect that difference?

    FWIW, BACNE was new to me, and I’m not sure I’m the happier for learning or grossing out on it. Perfectly legit fill, though. And I’m in the camp who found the NYT quite nice and apt for a Wednesday. But if others were put off, that’s fine, too.

    • David L says:

      According to a quick google, et alia is a neuter plural, et alii is masculine, and et aliae is feminine. I would imagine that the standard, neuter version is the default and that the other two are rarely if ever used. So et alii qualifies fully as ‘phrase never seen outside of crosswords.’

      • JohnH says:

        Thanks! I should have been able to figure this out from my minimal exposure to Latin grammar in middle school, but obviously not. (Never seen ALIAE in puzzle, I’m pretty sure.)

  6. Dan says:

    Not being a photography buff or even a nanobuff, I hadn’t known Sony made cameras.

    But it makes perfect sense, since cameras nowadays are electronic instruments and Sony has a long history of electronic instruments (TV sets) that create images.

    But: Sony wasn’t in the camera business *prior* to making electronic cameras … or was it?

    (just curious)

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