Wednesday, October 12, 2022

LAT 4:40 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 4:16 (Amy) 


NYT 4:36 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 8:04 (Emily) 


AVCX untimed (Rebecca) 


Gary Larson & Amy Ensz’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Playing a Round”—Jim P’s review

Theme answers consist of familiar phrases whose first words can also have something to do with golf. The second words also change meaning from the original phrase, thus each clue gets the wacky treatment.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Playing a Round” · Gary Larson & Amy Ensz · Wed., 10.12.22

  • 17a. [Fuddy-duddy on the golf course?] TEE SQUARE. I think I have to call foul on this one right off the bat (is that too many sports metaphors?). A T-square is shaped like the letter T, hence the name. No one would write it TEE SQUARE. Plus, there’s a TEE-HEE in the grid as well.
  • 27a. [Insult on the golf course?] ROUGH CUT.
  • 37a. [Mild expletive on the golf course?] TRAP SHOOT. I really wanted this to be crapshoot which googles so much better, but obviously doesn’t fit the theme.
  • 52a. [Joker on the golf course?] HOLE CARD.
  • 62a. [Liquid courage on a golf course?] GREEN BELT. I like this one best.

Not a bad theme. I do like the wordplay. But that first one irked me, especially when “teetotaler” (Person doing sums on the golf course?) is available. (GREENBELT could be pluralized to compensate.) And TRAP SHOOT sounds weird as I expect most people involved with the sport would use the phrase “trap shooting.”

Similar to yesterday, we have nothing longer than a 7 in the fill, but there are still some highlights: “I SEE NOW,” EARACHE, WHIPPET, EPHESUS, CHOLERA, plus QUAKER, TEE-HEE, MOSAIC, and PRY BAR. Needed all the crossings for Irish writer Seán O’CASEY [“The Plough and the Stars” playwright] as well as CROCKED [Blotto].

Clues of note:

  • 29a. [Blotto]. CROCKED. New to me, but it googles similarly to “blotto.”
  • 57a. [Plants in an Athol Fugard play title]. ALOES. “A Lesson from ALOES” is a 1978 by the South African writer (all of which is new to me). In the play, the hardiness of the succulent is used as a metaphor to reflect upon life under apartheid.
  • 2d. [Guinness, for one]. ALE. Serendipity in action: On seeing the clue, I immediately started writing “Alec.” When I realized the name was too long, I found I got the answer correct anyway.
  • 10d. [Maxwell competitor]. REO. I think we’re talking old-timey cars here.
  • 11d. [Otalgia]. EARACHE. In hindsight, I can see the word originates from the Greek oto (ear) and algia (pain).

3.25 stars.

Drew Schmenner’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

First up, a note to the NYT’s puzzle-editing team: Have you folks ever watched TMC, The Movie Channel? TMC is showing the schlocky exploitation flick Wild Things in the wee hours tonight. Is that something cinephiles watch? [Cable option for cinephiles] suggests it’s a channel for lovers of art films, classic films. The clue evokes TCM, Turner Classic Movies, which actually is a cable channel beloved by cinephiles. A friend of mine is a huge TCM junkie! She was friends with Roger Ebert and had a film blog. …I daresay she doesn’t spend much time watching TMC. Please stop pretending that TMC = TCM, unless you’re cool with misrepresentations. Heck, you could clue OTT as a hockey player or ORR as a baseball player, if you want to go that “it sounds kinda the same, what’s the difference?” route.

NY Times crossword solution, 10 12 22, no. 1012

Moving on to the rest of the puzzle. Cute theme! The revealer is [Modern music staple that’s a punny description of 17-, 24-, 38- and 48-Across], AUTOTUNE, and those four themers are car songs: LOW RIDER, MUSTANG SALLY, FAST CAR, MERCEDES BENZ. Certainly there are some other notable car songs, but these ones are all classics, and I like that none of the artists represented here are white men. Given how much harder it was for so many other groups to break out in the music biz, it’s good to see these successes.

Fave fill: UGLY TRUTHS, BADASS, SRSLY. Not sure how I feel about EMAIL SCAMS as an entry. Overall, though, pretty smooth fill.

Four stars from me. I’m not holding that TMC clue against the constructor. I’ll note that a recent New Yorker crossword went the same route! Friend of mine has this as a crossword pet peeve, and perhaps putting this out there into the blogosphere will raise some awareness?

Paul Steinberg and Karen Steinberg’s Universal crossword, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 10/12/22 • Wed • Steinberg • “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” • solution • 20221012

Pretty sure our constructors reside in California.

  • 60aR [Practice exercise for a seismic event, and a hint to the starts of the starred clues’ answers] EARTHQUAKE DRILL.
  • 17a. [*Disappear from public view] DROP OFF THE RADAR.
  • 26a. [*Consider every possibility] COVER ALL BASES. Are you thinking Ngrams? I’m thinking Ngrams. Let’s look at Ngrams.
  • 46a. [*”Be right with you!”] HOLD ON A SECOND.

So that leads to “Drop, cover, [and] hold on”, which seems like plausible advice. Being an Eastcoaster that phrase is less familiar to me than, say, “Stop, drop, and roll” for fire mitigation.

  • 1d [Website with thousands of casts] IMDB, the Internet Movie Database.
  • 48d [Motor cycles?] EBIKES. Pretty much the only answer that wasn’t a straight gimme during the solve. At least for me.
  • 53d [Like spoken exams] ORAL. 29d [What you hear] SOUND.
  • 54d [Contented cat’s communication] PURR. Haven’t said this recently, but I do like to inform people that cats may purr for many reasons, including when they’re insecure or frightened.
  • 16a [Chess piece that goes straight] ROOK. I’d prefer orthogonally here. Bishops go straight, queens go straight, pawns go straight, kings go straight.

Solid, not shaky, crossword.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Breaking Stories” — Emily’s write-up

Fun theme with a great grid and an abundance of excellent bonus fill and entries!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday October 12, 2022

USA Today, October 12 2022, “Breaking Stories” by Zhouqin Burnikel

Theme: each themer starts with LO- and ends with -RE, splitting up LORE (the “broken story”)


  • 17a. [Not very stressful], LOWPRESSURE
  • 46a. [Service provided by a nursing home], LONGTERMCARE
  • 61a. [“Check this out!”], LOOKIEHERE

As a set, the themers are a wide range of phrases today but all perfectly fit the theme. Each took me some crossings today before being able to complete them all—how about you? LOWPRESSURE is usually something I associate with weather but is a great fit, although “low stakes” came to my mind first given the cluing. LONGTERMCARE took me longer, as I was trying to think of specific examples. LOOKIEHERE once filled in immediately made me think of Robin Williams’s Genie in Aladdin, though I thought it might have been “look at this”.


Stumpers: EASEL (thinking “tripod” and “stool” with recording studio in mind instead of art so took crossings), TREAT (“break” was first instinct), and CLUTCHES (“grasps” and “clings to” initially came to mind)

Lots of delightful bonus fill as well as many tasty entries including (and not already mentioned) GRUB, RICE, ALOO, TREAT, ATE, GRILL, and COOKED.

4.25 stars


Amie Walker’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Amie Walker’s crossword today is beautiful in its multi-layered intricacy. I wish it had a fourth example rather than limping in on a “revealer”, but I’m guessing the constraints were too onerous. Each of three phrases – [Protest song], [Backing Track], [Opening Number] – use different synonyms of tune that are common phrases – but then applies them literally as clues for old pop songs. These are COMEONEILEEN by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, HELPMERHONDA by the Beach Boys, and DEARPRUDENCE by The Beatles. It finishes with [Revived game show hosted by Jane Krakowski that’s also an apt title for this puzzle], NAMETHATTUNE.

Fun five:

  • [Msg. to the whole squad], APB. Bouncy clue.
  • [Broadway props?], TONYNOD. Both an interesting answer and a clever clue.
  • [Low-hemoglobin condition], ANEMIA. Hallelujah for this being clued medically and not as “lack of vigour”.
  • [“Darn it all to __!”], HECK. Another clue that tickled me, in the way it doubles down on minced oaths.
  • And [Spanish hand], MANO just because it’s an -o noun that’s feminine in Spanish!


Brooke Husic’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 10/12/22 – Husic

In brief–

Fave fill: CROWN ACT, fun TWIRLY (bonus points if that twirly skirt or dress has pockets), “WHAT’S YOUR SECRET?”, BRALETTE, COVER ART, “WHO DOES THAT?”, SAFE WORD, HBCU.

New to me: EAR CLIMBER. A newer jewelry option that kinda makes it look like you’ve got multiple piercings in that ear.

Generally smooth fill, lots of flavor in the clues. Four stars from me.

Becca Gorman,’s AVCX, “The Best Thing Since …” — Rebecca’s Review

AVCX 10/12 – “The Best Thing Since …”

This week’s AVCX Classic from Becca Gorman was a delicious 2/5 difficulty.

The title had me immediately think of sliced bread, to find them theme doing just that – we have NAAN, ROTI, RYE, and BAO hidden in the themed answers. I would’ve liked to see a revealer in the grid, but the title gave us all the information we needed about the shaded squares so it was still an enjoyable solve. I was also impressed with the spacing of the slices, which made the bread feel sliced rather than just randomly scattered. The grid was super smooth as well, with clues and fill that worked really well.

  • 18A: “When I feel like it!” or “Once in a blue moon” NOW AND AGAIN
  • 28A: “Don’t try me!” YOU’RE ON THIN ICE
  • 43A: “When hell freezes over!” OVER MY DEAD BODY
  • 57A: “Use some common sense!” DON’T BE A FOOL

And in honor the ‘Hacks’ clue for NDA, here’s a great scene from one of my favorite shows

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27 Responses to Wednesday, October 12, 2022

  1. Jon says:

    Where’s the MGWCC blog for this week?

  2. Dallas says:

    I had a little trouble with “XXX” in comics as a clue for ALE; I first put in RUM, as I feel like it’s always some hard alcohol or even moonshine, never used for a beer… a small pet peeve

    • Me says:

      Yes, I agree. XXX is for something in a jug, not an ALE. But that’s a small issue in what is overall a great puzzle.

  3. David L says:

    BADASS? NYT is getting pretty edgy these days, doncha think? Perhaps a response to all the indie puzzles out there.

    Great theme today.

    (As a non-cinephile, I know about TCM and TMC mainly from crosswords and wait for crosses to see which one it is this time).

    • Eric H says:

      David Steinberg got BADASS into a NYT puzzle in 2017. Today was its eighth NYT puzzle appearance.

      Yep, TCM/TMC is a classic kealoa.

      • Mutman says:

        And if you’re in the mood for tunes, there’s CMT (country music television).

        Clue: Cable station where you might watch “Coal Miner’s Daughter”.

        Answer: They all work.

      • pannonica says:

        ‘kealoa’, I like it.

        • Eric H says:

          I stole “kealoa” from Rex Parker.

          A critical part of his definition, in my view, is that you really don’t care what the damned word is. You just want to be able to fill it in and get on with your puzzle.

          • Me says:

            For some reason, I don’t like “kealoa.” I think it’s because it sounds very forced to me. Perhaps because it looks like an artificial word. Rex is trying to create another Natick by pushing it every chance he gets rather than having it come more organically, and I feel like the people in Mean Girls who said, “You keep trying to push “fetch,” but “fetch” is not going to happen!” Although Rex mentions it so many times that I think it will catch on.

            • pannonica says:

              Not a fan of natick but kealoa works for me. Go figure.

            • Eric H says:

              At one level or another, every word is “artificial.”

              But we’re all free to not use any word we don’t like.

              Whether “kealoa” catches on depends on whether people hearing or reading it understand what it means without needing an explanation. I’d think most people who solve a lot of crosswords can figure it out on their.

          • e.a. says:

            given that Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are sacred sites for Native Hawaiians, with distinct characteristics and histories, this “kealoa” thing feels weird to me – especially if “you really don’t care” is part of the premise (mind you, crossword editors, myself included, are to blame for cluing LOA and KEA the same way every time, just [Mauna ___], with no attention paid to any additional context)

  4. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT: Medium LAT Wednesday solve time here. I’m sure I must be missing something, but I don’t get how the theme clues fit the answers. Maybe Gareth’s review will enlighten me. Anyways, I just interpreted them as “Name an old song” and filled them in from the letter patterns. Fortunately, all three were kind of in my pop culture wheelhouse, even if I was never a big fan of “COME ON, EILEEN”. Plus, any criticism is waived because the puzzle has Beatles immunity with me.

    • marciem says:

      “Name an {old} song”… with a (woman’s) NAME in it… goes with the revealer “NAME that tune”, an old show revived.

      best guess.

      clues? I dunno… c’mon = protest? Help me = (asking for) backing? Dear..[whoever] = (letter) opening

      again best guesses.

    • pannonica says:

      They’re all songs that include a person’s name in the title.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I understood the theme itself. I was of the same mind as marciem about the clues They just didn’t evoke the answers for me and triggered more of a furrowed brow than an “ooh, that’s clever” reaction. YMMV.

    • Eric H says:

      I’m willing to accept COME ON as protest and DEAR as opening (as in correspondence), but I cannot see how “Backing track” gets you to HELP ME RHONDA, unless it’s supposed to evoke financial backing.

      In any case, between today’s NYT and LAT puzzles, pop music-loving baby boomers won out.

      I found a few answers in the LAT too green painty for my taste, specifically USE A LOT and WON ONE. But they were easy enough to figure out. And at least I remembered LUCA today; that one cost me a few minutes with Tuesday’s NYT puzzle.

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    NYT … Amen, Amy. Beat that drum loudly! I’m a big classic movie fan and watch a lot of TCM. The typical cluing for TMC is one of my crossword pet peeves. Every now and then, when I see TMC clued this way in a puzzle, I look up what’s on their schedule, thinking that maybe they’ve changed. Nope. Tonight, they do have a Tarantino film (“Death Proof”), though I don’t think I’m familiar with it and it sure doesn’t sound like something cinephiles would gravitate toward. The others sound like B movies (at best) and all of them are from 2007 or later.

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