Wednesday, October 5, 2022

LAT 3:54 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 4:48 (Amy) 


NYT 4:30 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal tk (pannonica) 


USA Today 8:43 (Emily) 


AVCX untimed (Rebecca) 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Holding Companies”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Familiar two-word phrases have an added CO at the start of each second word.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Holding Companies” · Mike Shenk · Wed., 10.5.22

  • 17a. [Early task in a recipe for stuffed Vidalias?] ONION CORING.
  • 24a. [Group yelling “Work that brush!” and “Floss!”?] TOOTH COACHES.
  • 37a. [Spouse who refuses to witness the delivery?] MATERNITY COWARD. Hey, I was at her head and holding her hand. I was even willing to stand up and witness the proceedings (a C-section), but they warned me not to. I guess they’d dealt with enough spouses who’d keeled over in the past. So I sat down and did my job.
  • 48a. [Alternative to a saucer? ] CHINA COASTER. Never heard of a china aster, so I needed a lot of crossings here.
  • 59a. [Knockoff iPads?] APPLE COPIES.

This works well enough for me. I did wish that instead of CO in each case, we had different actual companies, like IBM, BMW, IKEA, etc.

I enjoyed the long fill, especially FRESH START and CATCHING UP which seem to go well together. LONDONER and ON REPORT are good as well, though I tried ON RECORD first for the latter.

Clues of note:

  • 11a. [Org. that investigates telemarketing fraud]. FTC. Who else went with FCC since we’re talking telephone calls here? But I guess FTC makes more sense.
  • 21a. [Iuppiter or Saturnus]. DEUS. Couldn’t be sure at first, but these are Latin words. Never mind that I took some Latin in high school.
  • 46d. [Makeup of New Jersey’s Palisades]. BASALT. Knowing nothing about this and with the B in place, I went with BOARDS. Took me a while to sort it out.
  • 60d. [Foot of the Himalayans?]. PAW. I thought this was a reference to the yeti, but no. We’re talking Himalayan cats here.

3.5 stars.

Jason Reich’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 10 5 22, no. 1005

Familiar phrases ending with MB pick up an extra O, changing the meaning:

  • 20a. [Memoirs of a dance contest champion?], LIFE AND LIMBO.
  • 28a. [Brushing, flossing and avoiding sugar?], FINE TOOTH COMBO. I love it!
  • 48a. [Disney classic without any extra features?], JUST PLAIN DUMBO.
  • 54a. [What Mary might have had if she were into Italian sports cars?], A LITTLE LAMBO, Lambo being shorthand for a Lamborghini among car fanciers.

A fine Wednesday theme.

Fave fill: FAIL UP, BAILS ON, FLOJO, Ukraine’s essential MOLOTOV cocktail. Not so keen on the ARE NOT/ARE SO overlap, with or without the linked clues, along with and LIC., plural OLAS, and TOLD NO. NON-U.S. feels tenuous to me.

Never heard of: 4d. [Peabody Award-winning radio show about spirituality], ON BEING. Apparently it’s a “seasonal podcast” now and no longer a public radio program, but it was on the airwaves until just a few months ago.

3.5 stars from me.

Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 10/5/22 – Agard

Wednesday New Yorker puzzles are usually easier than Fri NYTs for me, but occasionally they land like this one, a bit tougher. There were two long answers where I had to work the crossings for a long time:

  • 34a. [Woman said to have been the only female field marshal in the Mau Mau rebellion], MUTHONI WA KIRIMA. Africa has been way ahead of the European-oriented West in terms of woman warriors.
  • 8d. [How much longer?], THE WAYS IN WHICH. Bizarre entry! And a tricky clue: a phrase that means “how,” but it’s “much longer” than that 3-letter word.


Gen X reaction to 1a. [CD predecessors], LPS—Well, technically, cassettes came in between vinyl and CDs, along with some other short-lived tape formats. Does CASSETTES fit into three squares? No, it does not.

Four stars from me.

Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Dr. Ed Sessa’s puzzle features [Soft-shoe classic, or what can be found in the answers to the starred clues], MEANDMYSHADOW which is an interesting way to get to a theme which is 3 entries with MEEM (“em” being the mirror of ME) in their centres. I think this other song is more my speed:

I’m quite impressed that all three MEEM answers feel both interesting and natural:

  • [*Kitchen fire, for one], HOMEEMERGENCY
  • [*Laura Dern’s “Little Women” role], MARMEEMARCH. New to me. Not sure how I absorbed the names of the sisters, this apparently the matriarch. Fun answer in any case.
  • [*Lifetime Achievement Award presented to “Sesame Street” in 2009, e.g.], DAYTIMEMMY.

Not a lot of entries to note for better or worse. I knew [Michael of “SNL”], CHE who is most often seen alongside Colin JOST, but think has shown up surprisingly sparingly. [Mystery writer Nevada] BARR is new to me. Her main series is apparently “Anna Pigeon”, which could show up in an ANNA clue near you!


Francis Heaney,’s AVCX, “Gimme Five” — Rebecca’s Review

AVCX 10/5 – “Gimme Five”

This week’s AVCX Classic from Francis Heaney was a very demanding 4.5/5 difficulty.

  • 19A: Things that make your back hurt? (S) SPINE STRESSES PINE TREE
  • 27A: Halloween costume options if all you have is a little bit of leopard-print fabric? (M) BAMM BAMM OR MILEY  BABA O’RILEY
  • 36A: Monthly payments for cloths used in a second pass of dusting? (R) RESTARTER RAG RENTS ESTATE AGENTS
  • 57A: Forbid a reed instrument and bring on the herbal tea? (O) BAR OBOE CUE ROOIBOS BARBECUE RIBS 
  • 64A: Celestial bodies being mined by Ore-Ida? (T) TATER TOT PLANETS AEROPLANES
  • 76A: Suffer from chucklephobia? (E)FEAR TEE HEEING FARTHING

Some favorite moments in the grid:

  • 14D: Musical in which Anne Boleyn sings “Don’t Lose Ur Head”– SIX
  • 49D: Resort that is very much not a secure location for highly classified government documents — MAR A LAGO
  • 52D: Site of a metaphorical fire — DUMPSTER
  • 74D: Letters before Q — LGBT
  • 72A: “___, it’s about cats” (explanation of “Cats” by Andrew Lloyd Webber  to his producer) — HAL

Here’s some SIX

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Tree Stand” — Emily’s write-up

What a fun way to kick off this first week of October! Such a perfect themer set.

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday October 5, 2022

USA Today, October 5 2022, “Tree Stand” by Zhouqin Burnikel

Theme: each down themer contains the word “tree” but upside-down so it needs to be stood upright


  • 3d. [Haunted house feeling], SHEERTERROR
  • 34d. [Oktoberfest structures], BEERTENTS
  • 36d. [Forest path], DEERTRAIL

A very fall-themed set! How apt for the start of October. The cluing for SHEERTERROR was too subtle for me, as I keep thinking “eerie” or “spooky” or “scared”—maybe a mention about extreme horror or interactive 21+ would have helped with this otherwise fantastic themer. (I’m not one for any type myself, as I prefer the hot apple cider or cocoa and cozy fall movie watching with blankets activities instead of being scared.) BEERTENTS is another great one, though the first half took me longer than it should but I had the second half right away. DEERTRAIL took me the longest and I needed crossings, as I know the term once it filled in but again the first half was tricker for me.

Favorite fill: GARLICNAAN, ONEATATIME, GHOST, and VLOG (with delish cluing too!)

Stumpers: SLAY (kept thinking names like “Pete” and “Puff”), and ALIEN (needing crossings, cluing new to me)

Fun that SLAY and SLEW are next to each other. Though for some reason, I kept looking around for a fourth themer in the NE quadrant or thereabouts. Three is usually the norm but it felt like there could have been one more, not sure why though. Guess the grid just feels a bit weighted in the bottom half due to the design.

4.25 stars


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22 Responses to Wednesday, October 5, 2022

  1. Help Please says:

    Hi, thought someone here could help. In the August 7 Puns and Anagrams puzzle the answer to D&D is DEADENDS. All I can gather is it’s a Dungeons and Dragons reference but that seems a bit niche. Thanks.

    • Crypdex says:

      The letters ‘D’ & ‘D’ are the first and last letters (i.e. ‘ends’) of the word ‘DEAD’.

    • Anne says:

      Maybe because both ends of the word DEAD are the letter D?

      Oops, someone beat me to it. Never mind.

    • Help Please says:

      Thanks to you both. That occurred to me but seemed too straight forward and a bit off for P and A clue. I suppose there’s some play or misdirection going on with Dungeons and Dragons since the clue could’ve been D and D.

    • Help Please says:

      To be specific: There’s seems to be no wordplay, no cleverness if D&D is simply the ends of the word dead. But if dungeons and dragons are two ways you lose, can’t go on, die in Dungeons & Dragons (know as D&D), if they’re literal dead ends in the game, then DEADENDS takes on more wordplay.

    • Help Please says:

      Last post for clarity. So I see no real wordplay going on with DEADENDS if it’s simply about the letter D. If it refers to the role playing game D&D I see it but it seems too niche. If it’s a play on both it still seems off for a P and A puzzle.

      Okay, that’s it. :) Would love to hear from anyone else. Thanks.

      • Jim G says:

        Note from a D&D nerd: dungeons are what you explore, and the dragon usually loses. Usually—not always (sometimes you don’t even fight the dragon!). And yes, dungeon traps can kill a party. But dungeons and dragons don’t make any sense as “dead ends” in D&D.

        • Help Please says:

          Thanks. I’m not really familiar with with the game.

          If it’s Ds at the ends of “dead” I don’t see the wordplay. Maybe DEADENDS wasn’t a seed entry, he had nothing clever for it, so D&D had to do.

          • Jim G says:

            I could see the answer to “Dead ends?” being “D AND D,” but it doesn’t really work in the other direction. There’s just not enough information in “D&D” to know that you’re supposed to come up with DEADENDS from it. Why “dead?” Why not any other word starting and ending in D?

            Or is this sort of thing common in puns & anagrams puzzles?

            • Jenni Levy says:

              It is totally on brand for a P&A puzzle. They don’t follow the same rules as cryptics and some entries are easier.

            • JohnH says:

              I’m with Jenni. While I’m glad to see so many following P&A and implicitly sympathetic with cryptics, the puzzle has always been totally freeform since the Mel Taub days. (BTW, Cox and Rathvon, when still known for the standard-setting full-page cryptic challenge at the back of the Atlantic, have noted that his name works out to MUTABLE, but it was really his name.)

              I started solving these before I was aware of cryptics and liked them a lot. Naturally cryptics still had a learning curve, but in time I found that P&A actually got harder for me once I came to expect more structure. Which is not to complain!

            • marciem says:

              What other four letter word that starts and ends with “d” would fit in the grid, and be common English usage?

              It seemed perfectly reasonable to me on solving (with a nice misdirect toward Dungeons and Dragons), and I don’t see Caitlin even mentioning it in the write up at NYT, so this one is a KISS, IMO.

            • Help Please says:

              Because “dead ends” are a thing. Another 4 letter word ending with Ds that becomes a thing when coupled with ENDS would work but I can’t think of one at the moment.

              Done a lot of P&As (Mel Taub is missed) and I just found this entry lacking.

              Thanks to all for the input.

  2. Zach says:

    WSJ and NYT both had a theme clue/answer pertaining to dental hygiene today. I looked it up, and October is indeed National Dental Hygiene Month! Coincidence?

    • JohnH says:

      I’m surprised there hasn’t been some controversy over the Hedy Lamarr invention clue. Apparently it’s a long story, and I won’t try to recap or adjudicate it, which would be pushy.) To be honest, I couldn’t have told you about her even as an actress. She’s just a famous face for me. But nice to be stimulated to learn more, even if the clue might just as well have been something like “Actress said to have invented . . . .”

  3. JohnH says:

    I can’t speak for others, but TNY got significantly harder heading east. I, for one, needed every crossing for the long central across from the Mau Mau rebellion but ran into other things as well. Could someone explain the long down entry on that side, clued as “How much longer”? I get an incomplete phrase that I can’t match to it. Thanks.

    • Flinty Steve says:

      “This is how much I like crosswords,” or, longer “These are the ways in which I like crosswords.”

    • marciem says:

      I was going to ask you the same thing. That means nothing to me.

      nevermind…. google helped = “much longer” way to say “how” = the ways in which

      and Flinty beat me to it. Nice cryptic/ PandA clue.

      Smoothish puzzle until I hit that and 34a,, which unfortunately needed a crossing of the above. I always enjoy learning new things, but I like fairness.

    • JohnH says:

      Oh, I see: “much longer” applies to the fill in a different way than “how.” Barbara below clarifies it with a comma, although that would have spoiled the punning construction of a clue phrase and removed the reason for the clue. Does it work? I don’t dare to say.

  4. Gerald Paul says:

    TNY — The clue to 1.a does not say “immediate” predecessor.

  5. Barbara Monegan says:

    I sorta think the clue “How much longer” should have been “How, much longer”

  6. BillC says:

    What does “tk” mean after a puzzle name (like Universal) in place of the solving time or the word “untimed”? It seems to indicate that that puzzle’s review is missing or unavailable.

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