Wednesday, March 22, 2023

LAT 3:34 (GRAB) 


The New Yorker 5:16 (Amy) 


NYT 5:14 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (Emily) 


AVCX tk (Norah) 


Fundraiser News!!!

Renowned puzzle maker and author Eric Berlin has a new charity puzzle pack entitled “Puzzles for Democracy.” For a donation to Common Cause, the government watchdog group espousing democratic principles, you’ll get access to a host of puzzles by a host of top puzzle makers. The pack contains crosswords, variety puzzles, logic puzzles, cryptics and more—51 puzzles in all, one for each state plus Washington D.C. (no territories, though, pfft!).

Also, Rachel Fabi and the good folks over at “These Puzzles Fund Abortion” are currently taking pre-orders for their third puzzle pack. Donate to any of the listed organizations supporting reproductive rights, and you’ll get access to 16 brand-new crosswords with themes focused on social and reproductive justice. Donate $50 or more and you can get the previous two packs as well, just in case you missed those the first time around. Puzzles drop on March 28.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “In a Pinch”—Jim’s review

Theme: The letters in BELT are found in familiar phrases and get closer together as we move down the grid. The revealer is BELT TIGHTENING (49a, [Response to a ballooning budget, and a hint to the circled letters)].

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “In a Pinch” · Mike Shenk · Wed., 3.22.23

  • 20a. [They hang out in courts] BASKETBALL NETS. Nice clue.
  • 31a. [Triathlete’s wear] BIKE HELMET. Excellent find with perfect spacing and the B and T bookending the entry.
  • 40a. [Setting for settings] TABLECLOTH.

Wonderful execution of this theme. The coup de grâce is having the revealer double as a theme entry where the letters in question finally touch each other. Smooth all around.

Only four theme answers means we should get some nice fill, and we do: RISK-FREE, ALIENIST, FLAT FEE, PANGRAM, LIVE DJ, TAX TIPS, KILLS IT, and HIT JOBS (the last two clued without relation to each other). Not so keen on A PILE and I never like AROAR, but those are nits in an otherwise smooth grid.

Clues of note:

  • 5a. [“Feel Like Makin’ Love” singer]. FLACK. The clue gave me the earworm for the 1975 song by Bad Company which has the same exact title. Roberta Flack’s song came out the year prior.
  • 38d. [Psychiatrist, in olden days]. ALIENIST. We also would have accepted [Bestselling historical detective novel by Caleb Carr, with “The”].

Very nice puzzle. Four stars.

Madeline Kaplan’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3 22 23, no. 0322

I like the Wednesday theme here. Synonyms for “movie” appear in familiar phrases, which are clued as if they pertain to specific films:

  • 20a. [“Malcolm X” or “Milk”?], PROFILE PICTURE. Not a social media profile pic, but a movie that’s a biographical profile.
  • 25a. [“Titanic” or “Jaws”?], WATER FEATURE. Movies in the Atlantic Ocean rather than a decorative fountain in the yard.
  • 41a. [“Wild” or “The Road”?], WALKIE-TALKIE. Reese Witherspoon and Viggo Mortensen’s characters travel by foot. Do you read me?
  • 47a. [“Freaky Friday” or “The Parent Trap”?], FLICK OF A SWITCH. Mother and daughter switch places in one movie, twin sisters in the other. It would be more elegant if there happened to be a 14-letter phrase that ended with FLICK rather than starting with it. I feel like there aren’t a ton of synonyms for non-genre-specific movies, though, limiting the possibilities. If you can think of other workable theme entries, please suggest them in the comments!

Fave fill: SNL’s COLD OPEN, the electrified board game OPERATION, TAWDRY, ZIP TIE, CORKSCREW.

Wasn’t sure about this one but now know better: 37d. [Important number for a middle distance runner], MILE TIME. My husband is a long distance runner (less than four weeks till the Boston Marathon!) and he enlightened me.

New to me: 14a. [Singer Aguilar with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame], PEPE. He’s won a number of Grammy Awards as well as Latin Grammys. If he’s new to you, too, check him out.

Four stars from me.

Guilherme Gilioli’s Universal crossword, “There’s an App for That” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 3/22/23 • Wed • Gilioli • “There’s an App for That” • solution • 20230322

Familiar phrases cast as descriptive of a unit of exchange for various online apps:

  • 20a. [On Twitter, the seamstress loves reading __ ] COTTON THREADS.
  • 28a. [On Instagram, the angler spends hours watching __ ] FISHING REELS.
  • 49a. [On YouTube, the equestrian’s favorite videos are __ ] JOCKEY SHORTS.
  • 57a. [On Facebook, the officiant enjoys reading __ ] HITCHING POSTS.

Nice tidy theme.

More online content: 32d [Symbol such as Face Blowing a Kiss] EMOJI, 34d [Hyperlink phrase] CLICK HERE, 47d [Beginning for a URL] HTTP, 58d [Desktop image] ICON, 48a [“My bad,” online] SRY.

  • 5d [From Zhengzhou or Shenzen] CHINESE. 30d [Like Enya and Guinness] IRISH. 44d [In __ (coordinated)] SYNC.
  • 10d [Press releases?] NEWS LEAKS. Will there be one today?
  • 61d [With 55-Down, puts in reserve] SETS |ASIDE. Possibly interestingly, those are two words that can be associated with theater. 46d [“Hamlet” genre] TRAGEDY.
  • 19a [Small cities] TOWNS.
  • 5a [“Bob Hearts Abishola” network] CBS. Have you heard about the flap with New York’s recent update of Milton Glaser’s iconic I❤️NY logo?
  • 16a [Name hidden in “The Fire Next Time”] IRENE. That’s the title of a James Baldwin book.
  • 66a [Proofreader’s find] ERROR. 68a [Prepare for publication] EDIT.

All set to publsh here. Hope there are no mistakes!

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 3/22/23 – Berry

The puzzle’s probably easier than my comparative solving times suggest, since I was talking on the phone at the time. Multitasking!

Fave fill: “RHINESTONE Cowboy,” since I was a kid in the 1970s when country could mingle with the top 40. “DON’T GO AWAY,” we’ll be right back. MALAYSIA with a Michelle Yeoh clue (she mentioned her family there in her Oscar acceptance speech). THE NANNY, gotta love Fran Drescher. CAVE PEOPLE! A LUCKY GUESS. Hitting a ROUGH PATCH. LEAD SINGER Paul McCartney’s MOTHER MARY of “Let It Be.” And who doesn’t love APPLESAUCE?

Wasn’t sure of 30d. [Predator of the Jurassic period], CARNOSAUR. Am I the only one who can’t swear they’ve ever heard this before?

Four stars from me.

Alexander Liebeskind’s Los Angeles Times crossword–Gareth’s summary

LA Times crossword solution, 3 22 23

Alexander Liebeskind’s theme is of one of my favourite early-in-the-week types. Each of four answers can be defined by the central revealer: THECHARGERS, a [Los Angeles NFL team] in that they charge, but each in a different way:

  • A [Animal that may be on the verge of an attack], RAGINGBULL runs at you.
  • A [Laptop accessory], POWERCORD fills the battery with charge.
  • A [Body that investigates potential criminal conduct], GRANDJURY charges someone with a crime.
  • And a [Person who likely has a high credit card balance], BIGSPENDER charges things to said credit card.

Other notable clues & answers:

  • [Like someone with a hit single?], ONBASE. Clever mis-direct; sportsball not music.
  • [National animal of Malaysia], TIGER. Anyone else want TapiR first?
  • [Award for very good plays?], ESPY. Again, sportsball, not, in this case, theatre.
  • [What’s up?], SKY. OK, dad.


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5 Responses to Wednesday, March 22, 2023

  1. rob says:

    NYT: Congratulations Madeline on an excellent debut puzzle. I really enjoyed it. Look forward to more puzzles from you!

  2. milobela says:

    Loved the NYT, great midweek theme. I didn’t think the “flipped” final themer was inelegant but a fun punchline / subversion of the pattern set up by the first three.

  3. marciem says:

    TNY: Re: Carnosaur… I’m with Amy, not sure I’ve ever seen/heard this before. Easy to figure out with Carn in place. Wouldn’t be Carnivore given the Jurassic clue, so the saur came readily. Had trouble with the ‘o’, wanting ‘i’ in that spot but that didn’t work so ok… maybe that was the Purple People Eater of song :D (evoked in the movie Nope which I just saw.)

    • JohnH says:

      I hadn’t either, but kinda nice, to cross a dinosaur with a carnivore! I’d forgotten, too, that -saur comes from lizards, reflecting an older understanding.

      I somehow had never heard of a garden fountain as a water feature, but no big deal. I also didn’t know the plot twist alluded to by FLIP and SWITCH. I’m sure I read a review of each film, which no doubt had the giveaway of that much, but I quickly tuned it out as to do with movies I’d never want to rent in a million years. Still, again, totally fair. One could deduce it.

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