Sunday, November 27, 2022

LAT tk (Gareth) 


NYT 15:17 (Nate) 


USA Today 6:08 (Darby)  


Universal (Sunday) untimed (Jim P) 


Universal 5:04 (norah) 


WaPo 5:03 (Matthew) 


Adam Wagner’s New York Times crossword, “Going Off on a Tangent” —Nate’s write-up

Thanks a ton to Sophia, who covered for my last weekend while my husband and I were out of town on vacation! We took our first trip to Hawaii and enjoyed ourselves tremendously in Maui. Now that we’re back, I’m excited to dive back into a new Sunday NYT puzzle. It was a fun puzzle, though one that was spoiled super early at 20A: IT’LL BE FUN! :)

11.27.22 Sunday New York Times Crossword

11.27.22 Sunday New York Times Crossword

– 22A: INNER CITY (INNER CIRCLE) [Urban area typically with the tallest buildings]

– 38A: OPEN HEARING (OPEN HEART) [Public court proceeding]

– 61A: RIGHT TRACK (RIGHT TRIANGLE) [What you’re on when you’re making progress]

– 83A: SUPER STORM (SUPER STAR) [Major concern for a meteorologist]

– 101A: LEMON SQUEEZER (LEMON SQUARE) [Certain juicing need]

– 85D + 86D: BENT OUT / OF SHAPE [With 86-Down, very upset … like the answers to five of this puzzle’s clues?]

Wow! The more I delve into this theme and its execution, I really like it. At first, you notice how the “true” answer to each theme clue veers off at an angle into the circled squares, which seems to fulfill the revealer enough … but what are the themers veering away from? Shapes! INNER CITY veers off from the CIRCLE of INNER CIRCLE, OPEN HEARING veers off from the HEART of OPEN HEART, etc. So, truly, each of the themers is literally BENT OUT OF (a) SHAPE. Solid work! The only real trouble I had in solving the grid itself was the SW corner – for whatever reason, I had a devil of a time getting any footholds there.

Crosswords offer a mental challenge that appeals to those who like Betting On Sports, and there are numerous online crossword puzzles that can be solved by clicking on the link. There are also mobile apps that offer a similar experience. Crosswords provide entertainment, as well as an opportunity to use problem-solving skills and boost brainpower.

Online crossword puzzles are enjoying a resurgence in popularity as sports betting fans turn to mental challenges to while away the hours before the games begin. There are plenty of online crosswords offered for free, but some enthusiasts prefer paid options with more challenging puzzles or those with unique themes. The New York Times even created an online crossword puzzle that is based on current world events. Whether you’re a casual puzzler or a dedicated aficionado, there’s likely an online crossword available that will pique your interest.

Other random thoughts:
16A / 16D: I wonder how many people will get stuck here with WAPE / WIGGLE instead of JAPE / JIGGLE, seeing how WAPE and JAPE seem like equally nonsensical entries? Check here for errors!
81A DANK: I’m guessing this’ll be new to some folks, so here’s a quick primer.
– There were a number of debut entries that felt quite fresh and modern, which I enjoyed, including PATREON (where the constructor works!), BONG HIT, UPZONE, and YUCKED (someone’s yum).

That’s all for now – I hope you enjoyed this puzzle as much as I did. Let us know what you thought by leaving a comment below. Otherwise, be well and have a great start to December!

PS: Today’s constructor, Adam Wagner, also co-invented a fun new daily anagram game called Anigrams – if you haven’t checked it out yet, you should!


Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword, “The Long and the Short of It” —Matthew’s write-up

Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword solution, “The Long and the Short of It,” 11/27/2022

Another meta from Evan this week, a happy outlet for peace and quiet after my holiday houseguests left early this morning.

Our title is “The Long and the Short of It,” and we’re prompted for “a five-letter American company.”

An oddly-worded clue early on caught my eye: [11d Triangle after gamma] DELTA. Delta, of course, is a five-letter American company, but I doubt it would be that easy to skip the process. Working further through the grid, we have five marked clues:

  • 23a [*Key term in many EPA publications] HAZMAT
  • 43a [*NYC film festival locale] TRIBECA
  • 72a [*Annual Nov. challenge for aspiring authors] NANOWRIMO
  • 103a [*Military org. that’s part of the U.S. Department of Defense] CENTCOM
  • 126a [*Gummy candy company that expanded to the U.S. in 1982] HARIBO

Each of these entries are notable abbreviations: HAZardous MATerials, TRIangle BElow CAnal, NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth, CENTral COMmand, and HAns RIegel BOnn. And so that “triangle” clue suddenly is more sensible, as is the (frankly preposterous) clue for SAM at 119a: [Riegel who provided the voice of Donatello on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”].

This is a good deal easier to summarize than to piece together, but each word abbreviated in the marked entries also appears in the clues. Following the first letters of those entries, from the F in FLAT [2d Below the correct pitch] to the S in SAM, spells out FEDERAL EXPRESS, which naturally shortens each of its component words to the five-letter FEDEX, our meta answer.

A fun romp through the grid with clear breadcrumps from step to step — the clues for DELTA and SAM were big red flags helping me out.

Other notes:

  • 64a [Comedian Funches] RON. I recognize the name, but have seen nothing on his filmography, including any of the Trolls franchise. Perhaps someday.
  • 87a [Central Chinese city] XIAN. This was one of the last meta-related bits I found, despite the obvious choice to not clue the city to the Terra Cotta Army.
  • 95a [Preakness headgear] BRIDLE. The Preakness being the second horse race in the annual (American) Triple Crown, a few weeks after the Kentucky Derby.
  • 124a [Cinematic cairn terrier] TOTO. I was moving a little too quickly here and initially filled in CUJO. How’s that for an image?
  • 35d [Stare case?] TRANCE. I quite like this one.
  • 98d [Conference USA org.] NCAA. This clue had me on the verge of an unsuccessful rabbit hole, as “org.” was also the abbreviation indicator used in the clue for CENTCOM

Universal Crossword, “Themeless Sunday 17” by Zhouqin Burnikel — norah’s write-up



Universal, Z. Burnikel, 11-27-2022

Universal, Z. Burnikel, 11-27-2022

  • CIGARBARS 5A [Places where Cubans hang out?]
  • JOBHOP 46A [Change positions often]
  • KEDS 63A [Sneaker brand featured in “Dirty Dancing”]
  • RIMSHOT 1D [Drum sound after a one-liner]
  • CARAMEL 3D [Upper part of the Milky Way?]
  • IVEMADEUPMYMIND 6D [Statement after some deliberation]
  • KOIPOND 42D [Water feature in a certain Japanese garden]


I don’t get IMAM [Prayer leader on the minibar]. Can anyone help?

I would like to have seen a few more ? clues and a little more playfulness, but this is a solid grid and well-clued.

I learned:

  • TBS (57D [“Rat in the Kitchen” network]. “A group of six cooks who are competing to win a cash prize across a series of challenges, but all the while, one of them is trying to sabotage their efforts – the rat in the kitchen.”
  • LOREN (15D [TikTok star Gray]) She has been praised for using her platform to speak out against sexual assault.

Thank you Zhouqin!

Stella Zawistowski’s Universal Sunday crossword, “Postscripts”—Jim P’s review


You can’t help yelling, “Stella!”—at least in your head—whenever you see her byline, right? Especially when a puzzle is this good.

She brings us a simple yet perfectly elegant theme which adds a PS to familiar phrases—at their ends, of course.

Universal Sunday crossword solution · “Postscripts” · Stella Zawistowski · 11.27.22

  • 23a. [Online rascals?] INTERNET SCAMPS.
  • 32a. [Avoid highway entrances?] DODGE RAMPS. I have to give this this side-eye. Ram Trucks are no longer owned or made by Dodge. They’re their own brand although Dodge and Ram are owned by the same parent company.
  • 53a. [Fasteners for a big trunk?] STEAMER CLAMPS.
  • 65a. [Tool for grabbing iron filings?] MAGNETIC FORCEPS. I love this unexpected entry.
  • 84a. [Traveler’s skill in sci-fi?] THE ART OF WARPS. I would’ve gone straight to [Sulu’s skill?] since most people know Mr. Sulu was the helmsman on Star Trek. They know that, right?
  • 100a. [Sand dunes, say?] BEACH BUMPS. This one was good for a chuckle.
  • 115a. [Bottoms of tropical fruits?] PINEAPPLE RUMPS. Appropriately placed last.

The theme was just the start of it. This puzzle is quite clean and smooth for a 21x and there’s plenty of fill to enjoy along the way. Case in point: “DON’T DELAY,” KOOL-AID MAN, URUGUAY, GREASE TRAP, SWAP MEETS, RUTGERSLOSE IT, and TWOSOME. Plus a cool ISRAEL/SHALOM pairing.

I confess to never having heard of a TUBE PAN [Bakeware item for angel food cake], even though I used one on Thanksgiving to make some monkey bread. I always thought it just a smooth Bundt pan. And now I just learned Bundt comes from the German Bund which means turban, and according to the OED, should be capitalized.

There is one crossing that might cause solvers trouble: 21a SIMU [Actor Liu who played Shang-Chi] and 11d MUSS [Tousle]. Even though I was pretty sure SIMU was correct (having seen the film in question and having seen his name in crosswords), I did consider whether MESS might’ve been right for 11d. If a solver didn’t know the name, they might’ve gone that direction.

Clues of note:

  • 12d. [Elusive Golden Arches sandwiches]. MCRIBS. Ha! I love the clue. As if people are desperately hunting these sandwiches. (They aren’t, are they?)
  • 15d. [“Oh, yeah!” drink mascot]. KOOL-AID MAN. I’m reminded of the modern-day “Chicken or the egg” question: Is the KOOL-AID MAN the jar or the liquid? What say you? Are you Team Liquid or Team Jar? This article attempts to deliver a definitive answer.

Wonderful puzzle with lovely fill all around. 4.25 stars.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today crossword, “Wise Women of Literature” —Darby’s write-up

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme: A play on the Y sound in the puzzle’s title, each theme answer is a female author whose first and last names end in Y.

Theme Answers

Zhouqin Burnikel's USA Today crossword, "Wise Women of Literature" solution for 11/26/2022

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today crossword, “Wise Women of Literature” solution for 11/26/2022

  • 16a [“‘Head Off & Split’ poet”] NIKKY FINNEY
  • 25a [“‘Beezus and Ramona’ novelist”] BEVERLY CLEARY
  • 60a [“‘Frankenstein’ author”] MARY SHELLEY

Late post here since I had a long drive home yesterday. This was a fun theme, and I appreciated that it used the Y sound so well to highlight these women. I knew both BEVERLY CLEARY and MARY SHELLEY. I wasn’t familiar with NIKKY FINNEY and initially filled in NIKKI out of habit before 5d [“Privacy-violating computer programs”] SPYWARE corrected me.

Aside from the themers, I really liked 10d [“Cozy sweater style”] CHUNKY KNIT, which is seasonally appropriate. 9d [“Instruments for kids”] TOY PIANOS and 52a [“Talking endlessly”] YAKKING were also really fun.

Overall, definitely a fun Sunday puzzle.

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13 Responses to Sunday, November 27, 2022

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: I appreciate the the technical difficulties of the construction (diagonals just make things harder). And some of the clues are truly inspired, especially the ones for MOLTS and FRAMES.

    It might simply be that I spent two-thirds of my time on the last quarter of the puzzle, but I didn’t particularly enjoy the puzzle. I only really caught onto the theme after I was finished. Throw in some proper name crossings I had no idea about (KAY/KEENAN and EWAN/VAN) and it’s no wonder my head aches.

  2. JohnH says:

    I had the crossing problems, between proper names, DANK memes, BLIND in poker/ILLIN in song, and much else. They already did a lot to ruin the fun of a decent theme construction. Maybe it didn’t help that there my first reaction was “not that again!,” although it got a lot better as I realized that the unclued answers all involved a shape.

    But then, worse, besides things obscure to me, there was just plain too much that didn’t feel right. Dictionaries confirm my sense that a JAPE is a jest, not a scam (and RHUD confirms that “chicanery” is fraud), and the INNER CITY is the last place you’d like for skyscrapers. Similarly, an AREA MAP is one with features as seen from above, not the same as a local map, and I sure hope that residents aren’t responsible for paving streets. At least they aren’t in NYC where, I promise, paved streets are where cars go, not the sidewalk. Overall, one of my least favorite Sundays.

    • Gary R says:

      I don’t know much about poker, so BLIND didn’t make much sense until I googled it. There are blinds in many other card games I’m familiar with, but they aren’t anything like an ante, so that took some time to accept.

      Definitely agree on JAPE – clue/answer just don’t work.

      Perhaps there is a place outside the U.S., or there was a time (pre ’60s?) in the U.S. where skyscrapers would be found in the INNER CITY, but that phrase has a different connotation here/now. I was thinking in terms of something like “downtown” or “business district.”

      I was okay with AREA MAP. Before GPS nav systems, I got them regularly from visitor’s centers or rental car counters and used them frequently to find my way around. I was also okay with PAVED ROAD. When a developer is starting work on a new residential subdivision, construction of paved roads (or at least the substrate for them – to be finished later) is an early part of the project. (Probably a type of construction project that doesn’t happen much in NYC.)

      • JohnH says:

        Ah, thanks for that explanation. I wonder if there’s an equivalent to a subdivision anywhere here. It would face considerable obstacles between zoning and the city’s hold on public property. Perhaps Coop City in the Bronx, the housing on Roosevelt Island, or wealthy portions of Riverdale/Fieldston, which even has signs insisting on private property.

  3. Philip says:

    NYT: Nate, I don’t understand “equally nonsensical” for JAPE and WAPE. As far as I know, JAPE is a real word (handy in Scrabble) and WAPE is not.

  4. Douglas says:

    Universal: 14A Prayer leader on the MINBAR, not minibar. A minbar is a pulpit in a mosque where the imam stands to deliver sermons.

  5. aura says:

    NYT only offers partial clues for the theme answers. Nothing for the across answers, only the tangents. Weird. I guess if Will Shortz likes something you’re done outside the NYT, he’ll publish your mediocre puzzle.

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ … I know I’m too dense to solve metapuzzles when I can’t even understand it when someone explains one to me. Even without the meta, this was a perfectly fine puzzle, even though I thought for sure that I had something wrong in the middle of the grid with NANOWRIMO (???).

    • David L says:

      (WaPo not WSJ)

      I took my usual approach when dealing with one of Evan’s metas:
      1. Solve puzzle, find it enjoyable as usual
      2. Immediately notice that the theme answers are abbreviated words mashed together
      3. Think for a moment about the ones where I knew what the abbreviations stood for
      4. Briefly contemplate googling to find the rest
      5. Put puzzle aside and do the LAT instead

  7. Mike_H says:

    I thought the LAT puzzle was fun but super-duper easy. Apparently, Gareth thought it wasn’t worthy of comments. Oh well – I didn’t pay to see his review.

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