Wednesday, December 28, 2022

LAT 4:51 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 7:18 (malaika) 


NYT 3:51 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 8:09 (Emily) 


AVCX tk (Rebecca) 


Josh Goodman’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 12 28 22, no. 1228

A pop culture trivia theme greets us for this Wednesday puzzle. There are three women who’ve been inducted twice into the ROCK AND ROLL / HALL OF FAME: STEVIE NICKS (solo and with Fleetwood Mac), CAROLE KING (solo and as half of a songwriting duo), and TINA TURNER (solo and as half of a duo, the other half being her abusive ex; ain’t it a shame she wasn’t recognized first for her solo career?). There are 20-some men who’ve been inducted twice.

Fave fill: MOORE’S LAW (43a. [“Rule” stating that the number of transistors per microchip doubles every two years]), Janelle MONAE (just saw her in the movie Glass Onion), SCANDAL, Chicago legend JANE ADDAMS, Canada’s NANAIMO bar (interesting backstory: the colonizing Europeans couldn’t pronounce the name of the indigenous people there, and anglicized Snuneymuxw to “Nanaimo”).

Didn’t love all the fill, but nothing stumped me and I appreciated the focus on women in music.

3.5 stars from me.

Rich Proulx’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Squeeze Play”—Jim P’s review

Theme: CRUNCH TIME (60a, [Do-or-die moment, or what you must do to this puzzle’s theme answers]). The other theme answers are familiar two-word phrases that include a unit of time. The theme clues are also familiar phrases that include a unit of time, albeit a longer one, and the non-time words in both clue and answer can be roughly synonymous.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Squeeze Play” · Rich Proulx · Wed., 12.28.22

  • 18a. [Year of the Cat, briefly?] PRIDE MONTH. The Year of the Cat gets crunched down into a month honoring a pride of lions.
  • 23a. [The Me Decade, briefly?] PERSONAL DAY. The Me Decade gets crunched all the way down to a single PERSONAL DAY.
  • 31a. [Greatest Generation, briefly?] FINEST HOUR.  A generation becomes an hour and “greatest” = “finest.”
  • 43a. [Season finale, briefly?] LAST MINUTE. A season becomes a minute, and “finale” roughly means “last.”
  • 51a. [Summer break, briefly?] SPLIT SECOND. Summer gets crunched into a single second, and “break” is synonymous with “split.”

Welp, I have to say I found this confusing. These don’t all translate in exactly the same way, and I found myself going back and forth trying to find an easy way to explain it. I wanted there to be a consistent way of reducing the time (e.g. a year becomes a month, a month becomes day, a day becomes an hour, etc.), but that’s not possible when there’s the constraint of tying the other halves of the phrases together.

Still, it’s pretty impressive to have found all these pairs of phrases (clues and their answers) which roughly line up but for a reduction in time period. And then getting all these to fit symmetrically is another feat. Unfortunately I don’t think it translated into a fun time for the solver (at least not this one).

In the fill, SOUL ON ICE shines (though I didn’t know it) and I also liked TOP-SEEDED. I’m on the fence with ECONOCARS (do people actually use that term?), and I’m downright skeptical about “HOP ON IT” [“Get going already!”]; “Hop to it” sounds more familiar to my ear.

Clue of note: 17a. [Guitarist’s accessory]. CAPO. I’ve seen this occasionally in crosswords and never knew what it does. Today I do since I looked it up. It’s basically a clamp that goes across all the strings at a chosen fret thereby raising the pitch of the guitar.

Three stars from me.

Matthew Stock’s USA Today Crossword, “Anagram Et Al.” — Emily’s write-up

Fun puzzle with great fill and and easier theme than first thought.

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday December 28, 2022

USA Today, December 28 2022, “Anagram Et Al.” by Matthew Stock

Theme: each themer ends in an anagram of “et al.”


  • 19a. [Colorful North American duck], BLUEWINGEDTEAL
  • 34a. [How a person might show up to a party, but not a meeting], FASHIONABLYLATE
  • 52a. [Story used as a warning], CAUTIONARYTALE

At first, I tried mallard but BLUEWINGEDTEAL filled in quickly with a few crossings. Cluing for FASHIONABLYLATE was excellent, though had me misdirected to thinking about clothing instead of timing. The point of most fairytales are a CAUTIONARYTALE, meant to teach morales and warning listeners/readers about dangers. With the theme, we get the following themer endings: TEAL, LATE, and TALE.

Favorite fill: MULAN, TINGA, DILL, and SOL

Stumpers: JADE (stuck on green like “emerald” so needed crossings), JEWELL (new to me), and AREA (needed crossings)

Smooth solve today, though for some reason I got hung up in the NE corner. Cluing just didn’t quite click for me, though it wasn’t particularly difficult, other than the sports player I didn’t know but since it was all together, it was the last portion that I finished.

4 stars


Erik Agard’s New Yorker puzzle– malaika’s write-up

Good morning, friends! Bullet points today, for this easy breezy Wednesday puzzle:

new yorker– 12/28/2022

  • [Sarcastic chant directed at a third-stringer from the opposing team] is such an aggressive image for the entry MVP, I love it
  • [Rod for a snapper?] was a nice little misdirect for SELFIE STICK
  • PALAK paneer threw me for a second, I typically hear this dish as saag paneer
  • Here is my unpopular opinion: I have never used a PIZZA CUTTER that was sharper / easier to use / better at cutting than a regular old knife
  • KUJICHAGULIA is one of seven principles of Kwanzaa, and it translates to “self-determination”– I wish the clue had included the translation, I think it would have been more interesting that way. The principles are in Swahili (as is the word “Kwanzaa”), which is the same language that my name is in.
  • I liked seeing the clue [Beast MODE], and it made me want to see the full entry BEAST MODE in a grid.

Julian Lim’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I’m not sure that [Sly, and a phonetic hint to the pattern in the last words of 17-, 24-, 42-, and 58-Across], DEVIOUS gets across what is going on in today’s theme, or at least I’m too thick to understand the hint. I get that each of four answers is D-VOWEL-V-VOWEL-S, but after that I’m lost. Anyway, the entries are:

  • [Actress who wrote the 2022 memoir “Dying of Politeness”], GEENADAVIS
  • [Expeditions made by freegans, say], DUMPSTERDIVES
  • [Policy debate sides during an international conflict], HAWKSANDDOVES
  • [Prima donnas], OPERADIVAS.

Can’t say I was a fan of the multiple contrived plurals in today’s puzzle: [Hollywood’s Vigoda and basketball’s Saperstein], ABES; [Actresses Cheryl and Diane], LADDS; [Legal honorifics: Abbr.], ESQS; [Yelps of pain], OWS


Adam Simpson’s Universal crossword, “Enter the Octagon” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 12/28/22 • Wed • Simpson • “Enter the Octagon” • solution • 20221228

No write-up as yet. This is a post-facto post, as I was unable to do crosswords for a few days. I’ll try to drop in some more discussion (still) later on.


This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Wednesday, December 28, 2022

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: I love a pop culture trivia theme when it’s pop culture that I know.

    Amy, it may be a shame that TINA TURNER got into the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME as part of a duo, but (as you probably know), “[a]rtists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record.” (Wikipedia) So it makes sense that she and Ike were inducted first, given how great some of their records were. (And yeah, he’s an asshole.)

    • Gary R says:

      Yeah – if there’s something screwed up here, I’m thinking CAROLE KING not being inducted as a performer until last year is pretty ridiculous. Tapestry was released in 1971!

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I couldn’t agree more, Gary. I can’t believe it took until 2021 for her to be recognized by the R&R HOF as a solo artist. “Tapestry” alone should have made her a lock, but all of her early solo material is fantastic and highly underrated, IMO. I wore out the grooves in both “Tapestry” and “Rhymes & Reasons” as a teenager. She cranked out 13 solo albums in 14 years from 1970 through 1983. Such an amazing talent.

    • PJ says:

      Ike Turner was mentally ill and yes, an asshole. Yet Miles Davis gets a pass.

      • R says:

        I don’t see how he gets a pass; I rarely see him mentioned at any length without a side note about his personal awfulness. Also, Miles was much more influential on music for much longer, and was less publicly monstrous than Ike.

    • JohnH says:

      I don’t like pop culture trivia themes, period, even when as here everything was all but a gimme. Just felt so mechanical filling things in, and of course as with any quiz theme you know it or you don’t and then have to work around it. WSJ was more than halfway clever or amusing by comparison.

      The good news for me was that, between a Wednesday level puzzle and the fact that in context the last revealer was so obviously HALL OF FAME (even if I couldn’t yet know which one), I had so much rapid fill that once I had time to look at the themers they were all but filled. Then it was just rounding things out. The island city, unfamiliar and so strangely spelled, was tougher and my last to fall, and I didn’t happen to know BERNESE either. So overall for me a really easy puzzle (which isn’t to my taste in itself) and a not great theme.

      In TNY, I guess I’ll find out whether Mr. Asgard can craft an easy puzzle rather than a harder quiz. Hmmm.

  2. rob says:

    NYT: Loved the theme! I was off to the races the second I read the revealer. Thanks Josh for a Wednesday puzzle that was right in my wheelhouse!

  3. Mr. [Moderately] Grumpy says:

    I hated seeing the clue for MVP in the New Yorker. That’s bullshit taunting and bullying. Okay for pros [maybe], but at the high school [and even college] level, it’s unacceptable, and I do not think it deserves praise.

    • PJ says:

      I agree. I got a punching down vibe from it. Pros don’t even have third teams. Colleges either. Owners and players don’t want to pay that deep on pro rosters and there’s not enough scholarships at the college level.

      • Mr. [Moderately] Grumpy says:

        Well, the colleges and pros have depth to the third and even fourth spot, so I was willing to overlook the terminology, but the whole vibe was ugly.

    • JohnH says:

      I mostly didn’t care for it because, from the clue alone, the answer could have been almost anything (or anything that fits in three letters). I definitely don’t agree with Malaika that this was an easy puzzle, and from the dismal ratings looks like others don’t either and don’t find the difficulty fairly achieved by clever clues that might lead to an “aha!” Right on setting down to work, there seemed no easy points of entry, at least starting in the tough NW. Even before MVP in 2A (with two crossing Star War clues next to it), one had a proper name right in 1A.

      I needed every single crossing for the long Kwaanza entry, and one of those crossings was an author I’ve never heard of. (The J was a plausible guess.) While PALAK, to the contrary, is indeed fair, must admit I kept wishing it were SAAG, which is what’s on the menu at all my fave Indian restaurants (occasionally as shag).

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I found the Erik’s TNY puzzle mostly very do-able and enjoyable, but definitely not easy-breezy (FWIW, I finished it in almost 50% above my average TNY Wednesday solve time). Where I didn’t know an answer, I was able to figure most of them out (to me, that’s the mark of a good puzzle). But I still finished with a triple-letter DNF. My monolingualism reared its ugly head again with ‘MeNO’ instead of MANO. There were two crosses that required total guesses on my part: the J at KUJICHAGULIA/JOY JAMES and the L at PALAK/IDLE NO MORE (I guessed PAiAK/I DiE NO MORE). It’s frustrating to battle all the way through a puzzle that challenges me, only to get to the end and be forced to take a stab in the total dark at a cross or two. Alas.

        Disclaimer: I realize that I’ve seen MANO and PALAK paneer in puzzles before, but I’m afraid I struggle with non-English words, even sometimes when they’re relatively common (sue me). Also, please realize that it’s not my intent to criticize this puzzle or its constructor for the clues/answers I missed. Nor do I think I’m complaining or bitching. I’m simply sharing my solving experience.

        • sanfranman59 says:

          More accurately, I finished everything in the grid except the three letters I missed about 15% above my TNY Wednesday average and then spent about two minutes Googling to come up with the correct answers. So, it wasn’t as difficult for me as I suggested above, but it was still definitely not easy.

      • Martin says:


        Saag and palak are not quite the same. Palak is spinach. Saag is more generically greens. So if a dish is made with only spinach it could be palak paneer. If it’s made with spinach plus some mustard or fenugreek leaves, it’s more precisely called saag paneer.

    • Gary R says:

      The MVP chant – is this really a thing? I’ve attended quite a few Division 1 college basketball games over the years and watch a lot of it on TV. I’ve heard my share of derisive cheers of various sorts, but never this, and usually not even an “airball” chant directed at a third-stringer, for crying out loud.

      • R says:

        I’ve only heard it when a player on the other team is screwing up so much that they’re basically our MVP. Not generally a third-stringer, usually a starter having a bad day.

  4. sanfranman59 says:

    OT … Amy, JohnH, Eric H (and anyone else who followed our discussion of yesterday’s TNY puzzle) … just an FYI that I responded to Amy’s late message yesterday in that thread

  5. Mr. [Very Very] Grumpy says:

    re LAT. Let’s start with my opinion that this was a stupid puzzle. I think it requires you to pronounce devious as DeeVeeEss rather than DeeVeeUs [or anything in between] but, even if you accept that premise, it’s just a waste of space. D-V-S? Who cares? You couldn’t even be bothered to make a letter ladder or include every vowel? I guess that would not have been possible, which … guess what … means that this one should have never seen the light of day. My nominee for WPOTY.

  6. Jack Avery says:

    Can anyone explain the Universal “enter the octagon” ? I see the octagon but I don’t sense any theme with the answers within the octagon. And why are the 3 other cues marked by an asterisk (1 row and 2 column answers)? They give a symmetrical frame around the octagon, but beyond that, I don’t see the point?

    • Adam Simpson says:

      Hi Jack!

      I made this puzzle.
      All of the across clues for answers inside the octagon have a shared word. And all of the starred answers refer to the grid art that’s being referenced in a punny way. Hope that helps!

      • sanfranman59 says:

        Thanks for chiming Adam. It took a minute or two post-solve, but I managed to pick up on all the elements of the theme (an unfortunate rarity for me, I’m afraid). I thought it was both unique and clean. I don’t recall seeing one quite like this before, but I generally have a poor memory for such things.

        My only even mildly furrowed brow reactions came with RANSOMS {63A: Racketeering charges?} and TOTORO {27D: Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor ___”}. The dictionary in my brain didn’t associate RANSOMS with racketeering, even in a punny sense. I’ve seen TOTORO before, but still needed every cross.

        Good stuff. Congrats.

    • Adam Simpson says:



      The grid art is a stop sign, which is a post with a command on it, as well as a sign with a warning on it. And stop is a word you see on the street. ;)

      • Jack Avery says:

        Thanks, Adam. Almost immediately after posting, a repeat view made me catch “word on the street” in a different way and I saw “post” and “sign” in a different way, too. I did, however continue to miss the shared word in the octagon clues. I do the Universal every day in the Mpls Star Tribune so I’ll keep an eye out for future creations from you. Thanks, again.

      • PJ says:

        Nicely done!

      • pannonica says:

        Apologies for not having a proper write-up done. Some life things intervened this week.

Comments are closed.