Wednesday, November 23, 2022

LAT 3:51 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 3:14 (Amy) 


NYT 4:36 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 12:53 (Emily) 


AVCX tk (Rebecca) 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Thanksgiving Spread”—Jim P’s review

Theme: In honor of Thanksgiving, we’re given familiar phrases with the letters Y-A-M spreading out as we proceed down the grid.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Thanksgiving Spread” · Mike Shenk · Wed., 11.23.22

  • 17a. [Iconic Cold War novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer] THE UGLY AMERICAN.
  • 24a. [Ex claims] ALIMONY PAYMENTS.
  • 44a. [They’re used with whiteboards] DRY ERASE MARKERS.
  • 58a. [Builders and would-be drivers do it] APPLY FOR A PERMIT.

I guessed the theme before filling in a single letter, so no thematic aha moment for me. But I like that each entry is a familiar grid-spanning phrase. It would have been amazing if the letters in question could’ve been centered exactly in the middle of the grid like the first entry. But that’s probably an impossibility when you add the grid-spanning constraint. In addition, each “spread” is consecutive with 0, 1, 2, and then 3 letters between the YAM letters, further limiting the number of potential entries. So despite the relatively easy theme, there are plenty of constraints going on here making for a nice, tight theme.

The long fill is has some sparkle with SERENITYTSUNAMI, SKI TRIP, and TO AND FRO.

Also, PEER GYNT. I stepped away from this puzzle for a bit, and when I returned, my eye lit upon PEER GYNT and I was instantly reminded of the “Am I Pregant?” song which I binge-watched x number of times last night. I was hoping for an excuse to embed the video, and the puzzle offered up PEER GYNT. Thanks crossword gods! If the holiday has you stressed, enjoy a few laughs by watching this video a few dozen times. (It gets better with each viewing.) No, “Am I PEER GYNT?” is not in the song…but it could have been!

Clue of note: 1d. [One problem after another?]. MATH. Needed 3/4 crossings, but a fun aha moment to be had here. Nice clue.

A simple theme, but a nice puzzle nonetheless. 3.5 stars.

I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving! (Reminder: No WSJ puzzle tomorrow.)

Erica Hsiung Wojcik & Matthew Stock’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 11 23 22, no. 1123

Loved the theme in this 14×16 tallboy puzzle, tall and skinny with left/right symmetry to accommodate the four-part theme. Start with two colored circles (red and yellow), then add another color at each step till you’ve got five:

  • 15a. [Red and yellow circles], MASTERCARD LOGO.
  • 25a. [Red, yellow and green circles], TRAFFIC LIGHT.
  • 46a. [Red, yellow, green and blue circles], TWISTER MAT. The game of Twister, that is.
  • 54a. [Red, yellow, green, blue and black circles], OLYMPIC RINGS.

Elegantly conceived and executed.

Overall vibe of fresh fill and clues. Highlights in the fill include DEATH GRIP, RAW TALENT, HAT TIP, SLOSH, DART OFF, “WHY, YES,” and a tire brand I remember from my childhood, PIRELLI. (Did they make Pirellis for the 1973 Mazda RX-3 rotary wagon? Ours was lime green.)

Cute clue: 29a. [Like :( vis-à-vis :/], WORSE. Sad face emoticon vs. more of a wry face.

Never excited to see URAL in a puzzle, but I’m digging the tectonicity of 59a. [___ Mountains, formation made by the collision of the continents Laurasia and Kazakhstania]. A quick visit to Wikipedia offers a little detail. I did not know there’d been an ancient continent called Kazakhstania. Laurasia was a supercontinent, eventually split asunder by the Atlantic Ocean.

I deplore DR WHO as an entry and that “informally” in the clue doesn’t salvage it. Purge from your wordlists, constructors!

4.25 stars from me.

Leslie Young and Kevin Christian’s Universal crossword, “Making a Name for Oneself” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 11/23/22 • Wed • “Making a Name for Oneself” • solution • 20221123

Adjectival -ing phrases re-parsed as verb phrases describing people with certain names. Easier demonstrated than described:

  • 18a. [Overtaking first baseman McGwire on the freeway?] PASSING MARK.
  • 27a. [Leaving computer scientist Hopper in awe?] AMAZING GRACE.
  • 42a. [Photographing TV personality Jones?] SHOOTING STAR.
  • 53a. [Putting actor Hader up?] HOUSING BILL.

50/50 gender distribution too.

  • 2d [He’s no alpha] OMEGA MALE. It’s all hogwash anyway.
  • 34d [Truly ancient] OLD AS TIME. Totally legit, but I wonder how it compares to other versions, such as … dirt and … dust. Wow, Ngrams has it way ahead!
  • 23a [Indian dough?] RUPEE. Without the question mark it typically clues ATTA.
  • 47a [Marketing experiment with two versions of something] A-B TEST. Makes sense. Also, I can see this as a commentary on the theme.
  • 57a [Rare alternative to heads or tails] EDGE. Exceedingly rare, I’d wager.

That’s all I’ve got today. Tidy little crossword.

Lance Enfinger & Jeff Chen’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I’m not sure I totally follow what’s going on in theme of today’s puzzle by Lance Enfinger & Jeff Chen. The revealer is [“Won’t happen as long as I’m around,” and a summary of 20-, 26-/45-, and 37-Across?], NOTONMYWATCH. As far as I can tell, phrases with time related words are clued to be negative reactions to proposals for features of watches?

  • [“Only a fool would want a little calendar on their timepiece!”], DROPDEADDATE, and I only vaguely know the base phrase? Essentially something to do with a date after which a contract is void?
  • [“I don’t need two silly sticks that rotate on my timepiece!”], HANDSOFFTHE/MERCHANDISE
  • [“Digits on a timepiece? That’s ridiculous!”], FUDGETHENUMBERS

Fast five:

  • [Egg warmers], MAMABIRDS. I’m kind of ambivalent to this answer. I guess it’s a kind of kid speak?
  • [Rangers goalie Shesterkin], IGOR. Apparently that’s NHL’s Rangers and not the Scottish soccer side, which I had guessed it might be?
  • [In very sharp resolution], INHD. I don’t like the way the IN is in both clue and answer; perhaps, something like [Very sharp, as a resolution] would avoid the duplication.
  • [Conditional programming statement], ELSEIF – kind of a programming deep cut this one?
  • [Alcohol in a Dark ‘n’ Stormy], RUM. I looked it up – rum and ginger beer. I don’t think I’m in a hurry to try that. Maybe ginger >ale< though?


Rebecca Goldstein’s USA Today Crossword, “Hard-Headed” — Emily’s write-up

A bit tricker of a solve for me today but lots of fantastic fill, including one of my favorite bands!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday November 23, 2022

USA Today, November 23 2022, “Hard-Headed” by Rebecca Goldstein

Theme: the word “hard” can be added before the first word of each themer to make a new phrase


  • 20a. [Prioritization of personal and professional reponsibilities], WORKLIFEBALANCE
  • 40a. [“A League of Their Own” team], ROCKFORDPEACHES
  • 58a. [Fast food pickup convenience], DRIVETHRUWINDOW

WORKLIFEBALANCE is a constant give and take that’s never done. The puzzle’s title clued me in on ROCKFORDPEACHES by helping me get the first part but I needed a few other crossings before I could get the rest (I know, I know, I need to see that movie!). Cluing was stellar and I placed DRIVETHRUWINDOW in one go. With the theme, we get HARD WORK, HARD ROCK, and HARD DRIVE. At first, I wanted to put “hard” after the start of each themer but that wasn’t quite it. Thanks to Sally and her post to explain it—plus it always has a plethora of facts about the fill, so be sure to check it out too for more.


Stumpers: MINKS (needed crossings), AMIRITE (stuck on “right”), and IGOR (new to me)

One of my favorite bands of all-time TED Leo and The Pharmacists made the grid! Such amazing music and he doesn’t preform much anymore with his band or solo; however he is part of The Both with Amy Mann and also plays guitar for her too (which is odd to me, knowing how awesome of a performer he is as lead or solo). A classic and fan fave for the band, though he’ll play it on rare occasion as a solo is “Me and Mia”, which he preformed in a studio in 2017. My husband and I have seen him 3 times live (Madison, Pittsburgh, Cleveland) and we’ve definitely go to another live show if we had a chance. So he chose “Biomusicology”, as his pick to share with you all and I found a pretty good live concert version of “Biomusicology” to give you a feel for being live with them. Seriously though, go check out all of their awesome punk albums with amazing story-laden, fast paced lyrics and driving rhythms with fantastic guitar, drums, and even cellos (in studio recoding of “Biomusicology”)!

4.25 stars


Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 11/23/22 – Lucido

Whoops, forgot I was on New Yorker duty today! I enjoyed this one.

Fave fill: MCU (I’ve watched over a dozen Marvel movies this month!), “BE MY GUEST,” “I LOVE THAT FOR YOU,” METADATA, BLATHERED, CLOSE CALL, UP AND ABOUT, VIBRATOR, MESSIAH clued via the powerful film Judas and the Black Messiah, BEBE REXHA, GAMEBOY, a THUMB WAR, and “DON’T START.”

Easy, breezy puzzle, though some of the fill is on the tough side for newbies: OCAS, BEL Canto, APERY, RIA.

Entirely new to me: [___ Day (celebration for those who shun pi as a mathematical constant), TAU. Wikipedia elucidates, “Two Pi Day, also known as Tau Day for the mathematical constant tau, which is approximated as 6.28, is observed on June 28 (6/28 in the month/day format.”

Four stars from me.

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11 Responses to Wednesday, November 23, 2022

  1. cyberdiva says:

    Amy, I know next to nothing about Dr. Who. I never saw the TV series, but I’m curious as to why you’ve responded so negatively to the clue.

    • Dallas says:

      Same… I understand the show is called Doctor Who, and since the doctor is not a Real Doctor (does he have a master’s degree … in science?) maybe that’s why it shouldn’t be Dr. Who? But… yeah, I’m a bit confused by the negative response too.

      • PJ says:

        My guess is the show is Doctor Who, not Dr. Who. At least I haven’t been able to find anything online that would condemn the show outright.

    • Mutman says:

      I think an opposite example would be referring to the Beatles album as “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

      It just ain’t right!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The character is called the Doctor. “Who” is not a surname. The character is not called Doctor Who. And since when do we blithely abbreviate actual titles of works? Nobody calls the show “The Wonder Yrs.” because that is not its title. Would you accept WUTHERING HTS as a crossword entry? No. No, you would not.

      Disclaimer: I’ve never actually watched the show. I just care about accuracy and don’t care for crossword fill that chucks accuracy when it’s convenient to do so.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: I had trouble deciding how to rate this puzzle. I agree that the progression of the colored circles is elegant and the puzzle is very well executed. I admired it but couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t loving it. I think maybe it’s the nature of the theme entries individually. I loved TWISTER MAT (and had no idea about its circles). The rest were not especially zippy.
    DEATH GRIP and WHY YES were my favorite non theme entries. Oh, and SLOSH. What a great word that is!
    Cool to learn about Laurasia and Kazakhstania! It must suck to be downgraded from a continent to a “former Soviet Republic”. It’s still the 9th largest country in the world!

  3. Gary R says:

    NYT: Entertaining puzzle and a fun theme (though the MASTERCARD LOGO looks red and orange to me). Had almost forgotten about “Twister.” My siblings and I got the game for Christmas when it first came out, and we had a lot of fun with it. Of course, we were considerably more flexible then – would probably put one of us in the hospital today!

  4. Mr. [just a little bit] Grumpy says:

    Who on earth has a single yam in their Thanksgiving spread?

  5. Brady says:

    Someone’s nose is waaaaaay up in the air about Dr. Who. The recent female protagonist would not be impressed.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The woman playing the Doctor would know that “Dr. Who” is not a thing that exists. Nice job trying to paint me as anti-feminist for calling out an entry that’s not an actual thing.

Comments are closed.