Wednesday, July 12, 2023

AVCX tk (tk) 


LAT 4:24 (GRAB) 


The New Yorker 3:10 (Amy) 


NYT 4:06 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 8:03 (Emily) 


WSJ 6:05 (Jim) 


Karen Steinberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Turn! Turn! Turn!”—Jim’s review

First thought: “Whoa! Cool grid design!”

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Turn! Turn! Turn!” · Karen Steinberg · Wed., 7.12.23

Today’s grid is a representation of the carnival ride TILT-A- / WHIRL (35a, [With 37-Across, spinning amusement ride, and a hint to this puzzle’s design and circled letters]). Those circled letters, found in the corners, spell out synonyms of “spin”: SWIVEL, GYRATE, ROTATE, and SPIRAL. It’s a nice touch that they’re symmetrically placed and each is six letters long.

With such a rigid design and with the revealer and circled letters set, you can predict that there will be some compromises in the fill. And there certainly are. We start off at 1a with the partial AND ALL, and then there’s ERI, ERTE, ONE OR, plural CIAOS, and less common Spanish AYER. But I think it’s all gettable and serves to support the theme. Plus there are indeed some goodies like Barry MANILOW, LOWER LIP, CABERNET, and the theme-adjacent MAYPOLE. All in all, the pluses outweigh the minuses in my opinion.

Clues of note:

  • 25a. [Deco pseudonym from the French pronunciation of initials]. ERTE. No idea on this clue. I looked it up so you don’t have to: ERTE is the pseudonym of Romain de Tirtoff (RT).
  • 14d. [“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” jingle writer]. MANILOW. Neat factoid. I think I knew this at one point but had forgotten it.
  • 58d. [Valley with a wine train]. NAPA. A popular and well-regarded attraction. I haven’t done it myself, but some family members and friends have.

Very nice puzzle. 3.75 stars.

Brooke Husic & Brian Thomas’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 7/12/23 – no. 0712

A new take on a days-of-the-week abbreviations theme. The theme entries start with 3-letter abbreviations: SUNNI, MONTALBAN (don’t know Paolo Montalban; not a ton of acting credits, but I’m always glad to hear of another Hollywood Filipino), TU ES BELLE, WE DID IT, THUMB WARS, FRIAR TUCK, and SATAN. Fair enough, and THUMB WARS is particularly zippy.


Language clue that stumped me: 40A. [English suffix equivalent to Spanish’s -ando and -iendo], -ING. I could only think of hacienda , never studied Spanish (I went with German and French) outside of a grade-school summer, and needed all the crossings.

3.75 stars from me.

Catherine Cetta’s Universal crossword, “Doctor’s Orders” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 7/12/23 • Wed • “Doctor’s Orders” • Cetta • solution • 20230712

Medicine delivery devices.

  • 17a. [Prescription for an archaeologist] STONE TABLET.
  • 27a. [Prescription for a farmer?] CABBAGE PATCH.
  • 46a. [Prescription for an astronaut?] SPACE CAPSULE.
  • 62a. [Prescription for an electrician?] VOLTAGE DROP.

tablet, patch, capsule, drop: each the second word of a phrase.

Kind of no-nonsense as themes go, but it works.

  • Okay, just went through all the downs. Nothing to highlight, just direct cluing of non-unusual words.
  • Wow, pretty much the same for the acrosses, save the theme entries.
  • 65a [“Gotta hurry!”] I’M LATE.

(I’ve probably shared that song before, but it’s the best I could come up with.)

Curiously austere crossword.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Sugar-Coated” — Emily’s write-up

A real treat for everyone today!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday July 12, 2023

USA Today, July 12 2023, “Sugar-Coated” by Zhouqin Burnikel

Theme: the word “DEAR” encapsulates each themer, split at different parts of the word and progressively shifting one letter from the start of the themer to the end


  • 17a. [Exact look-alike], DEADRINGER
  • 27a. [Item for keeping track of business appointments], DESKCALENDAR
  • 62a. [Sliced, briny sandwich side], DILLPICKLESPEAR

For me, the theme was not readily noticeable to me. I noticed the D—R commonality but needed an assist from Sally (her excellent post has additional insights, as usual) to see the full theme. It probably didn’t help that I was mis-directed by thinking only of the food instead of the term of endearment. The themer set is varied mix today: DEADRINGER, DESKCALENDAR, and DILLPICKLESPEAR.

Favorite fill: REELS, MISO, and MOLE

Stumpers: SEATURTLES (clue and downward entry didn’t get me there today), JEER (needed crossings), and CREAMS (only “beats” and “wollap” came to mind)

Today’s puzzle is clever, though with a disparate themer set, the pattern for the theme was muddled at least for me. I saw part of it but couldn’t quite get there on my own. Otherwise overall it was an enjoyable solve, especially since Zhouqin’s tend to be tougher for me.

3.5 stars


Alan Massengill & Doug Peterson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Conceptually, today’s puzzle by Alan Massengill & Doug Peterson is simple and cleanly executed: RIDESHARING is being a taxi while pretending you aren’t, and four answers are two-part and have another ridden mode of transport between their parts. We have: BUS, LIMO, TRAIN, CAR; it would have been interesting to have had more varied modes such as HORSE, but I suspect the limits of which words work between two answers played a role in which were chosen. The theme answers themselves are:

  • [*Barbie-inspired doll on “The Simpsons”], MALIBUSTACY. On the one hand, this was an instant answer for me, and I was a pretty casual watcher of the Simpsons. On the other hand, it feels like crosswords expect us to know far more about the minutia of that show than almost any other. I don’t see, for example, minor plot points from NCIS, another top-rated show for multiple decades.
  • [*”OK, gotta go!”], WELLIMOUT.
  • [*Free baseball, so to speak], EXTRAINNINGS.
  • [*Limb for Jaime Sommers or Steve Austin], BIONICARM. The Six Million Dollar People.

Another pair:

  • [Spice in pumpkin spice, often], MACE. Mace flavour doesn’t sound as enticing…
  • [Metallica’s “__ It Sleeps”], UNTIL. I looked it up, and it’s their only Billboard Top 10 Single. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but the Billboard Charts have a lot of… quirks.

Gareth, as load-shedding looms…

Liz Gorski’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 7/12/23 – Gorski

Getting late, quick peek.

Fave fill: NAPTIME (though I can’t nap), VANILLA ice cream, MINIMART, GO BAG, LOSE-LOSE, and SLEEP IN (now that, I can do). Non-fave: ANODE, RIT, Latin AMO, PENMAN, ARS clued as letter R’s (couldn’t do Latin for “art” with ARTS in the grid), SERA.

Best clue: [Private residences?] for MILITARY BASES.

3.5 stars from me.

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22 Responses to Wednesday, July 12, 2023

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Haha, loved it!
    Did it faster than a Monday. Worked it as a themeless, and it took a minute for the penny to drop. Clever!

  2. Barry Miller says:

    Had to visit here to understand the theme. Thank you.

    • rob says:

      NYT: Same. Not a clue! (Pun intended 😎)

      • David L says:

        Me three! I guess it was meant to be obvious but it wasn’t obvious enough for me (this is why I have given up on metas).

        I wanted HELICES instead of HELIXES but it clearly didn’t work. I prefer the former. Make of that what you will.

    • Eric H says:

      I needed to read Wordplay to get the theme.

      The last few metas I have tried to solve had similar hidden words. I guess my brain just doesn’t recognize those things.

      • PJ says:

        I didn’t see it, either. In retrospect, ‘ of 7’ is a pretty big nudge.

        • PJ says:

          Oops! I didn’t save my edit. I meant ‘of 7’

        • marciem says:

          the “of 7” in the clues finally gave it to me after the solve, before I headed here for help figuring out “what the… do they mean?”.

          The theme did nothing toward the solve, so that’s a minor ding from me. As said above, more of a meta than actual theme. Otherwise, it was a pretty easy breezy puzzle, fast but fun with all the plusses Amy mentioned. I did try “jolie” for “belle” which was wrong in translation and in the puzzle :) .

    • JohnH says:

      Funny. Unlike others I got the theme quite quickly and entered the day of the week abbreviations right away, before being able to fill them out. And it did seem novel in a good way.

  3. Art Shapiro says:

    NYT I happened to see the theme fairly easily. I dinged the puzzle for crossing a proletarian name with a strange French phrase, not using the smattering of foreign words that we usually see in puzzles. A Natick for me.

  4. DougC says:

    NYT: Jeff Chen notes that this theme was seen in a (Tuesday 3/26) 2019 puzzle by Zhouqin Burnikel. This one repeats 3 of the seven theme entries from that puzzle: TU ES BELLE, WE DID IT and FRIAR TUCK. Not too surprising given the difficulty of coming up with interesting and challenging entries that fit the theme, I suppose, but that feels like a lot of recycled theme entries in one puzzle.

    • Zach says:

      Zhouqin seems to have taken it to the next level with a revealer at 62 across. This version was missing something like that.

      Also, I thought the NYT was very anti-recycled themes. I was recently rejected for accidentally reusing a theme that was used back in like 2006.

      • Milo says:

        Agreed. I don’t solve a lot of Mon/Tue NYTs, so I don’t think I did the first one. But 2019 was not very long ago. And the constructors of today’s version apparently feel it’s important to let us know they made this puzzle two years ago…? Weird.

    • Gary R says:

      I’m hard pressed to come up with an alternative answer for Tuesday, but it seems like there should be some phrase involving “wedding” or “wedded” that would be as interesting as WE DID IT, and for Friday, there are options involving “friend” or “fried” as well as good ol’ Frida Kahlo. Three out of seven *does* seem like a lot of overlap.

      I’m likely to have done the 2019 puzzle, but I had no sense of deja vu when I was solving today’s. I enjoyed today’s, but didn’t get the theme until after I finished. Tried to think of sets of seven while I was solving but missed one of the most obvious!

    • damefox says:

      I have definitely had puzzles rejected by the NYT because the theme is too close to one that ran *over five years ago* (I just went back in my email to check to make sure I wasn’t exaggerating: in 2020 I had a puzzle rejected because the theme ran in 2014), so it is really disheartening to see a repeat theme like this get published. It makes it seem like different standards are applied to different constructors. As Rex pointed out over on his blog though, the fill in this puzzle is exceptionally clean, so maybe that’s what tipped the scale in its favor.

  5. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Robyn Weintraub gets an extra half a star for fitting EELLIKE into her grid rather than “eely.”

    • janie says:

      except that was liz gorski this time!


      • Eric H says:

        Oops! You’re absolutely right.

        I don’t know how I conflated the two of them, except that they’re both pros at this.

        Thanks for catching my mistake.

        • janie says:

          you’re very gracious, but truly: no harm, no foul! and really — this is far from an egregious kinda “oops!”


          • Eric H says:

            I got paid decent money for almost 30 years to write legislation. I worked very hard to avoid mistakes in my own drafts and to catch them in other attorneys’ drafts. It still bugs me to make mistakes like that.

            And I knew it was Gorski!

  6. Seattle DB says:

    UNI: I thought this puzzle was very creative, kudos to the gridder! (And as always, David Steinberg never messes up a good puzzle by trying to be too cutesy or coy-clever!)

    • Eric H says:

      I kinda liked it, too. Each theme answer is a real phrase that’s got nothing to do with medicine.

Comments are closed.