Wednesday, July 19, 2023

AVCX tk (tk) 


LAT 4:30 (GRAB) 


The New Yorker 3:55+typo search (Amy) 


NYT 4:40 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 12:25 (Emily) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Joanne Sullivan’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Rotary Club”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that hide synonyms of “class” (identified by the circled letters) that have been “spun” 180° (i.e. they’re backwards). The revealer is SPIN CLASS (62a, [Stationary bike session, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Rotary Club” · Joann Sullivan · Wed., 7.19.23

  • 17a. [No more than a mouthful] BITESIZED. Set.
  • 21a. [Drought-tolerant flowering plant] DESERT ROSE. Sort.
  • 26a. [Conveys] GETS ACROSS. Caste.
  • 47a. [Forensic tool that exposes body fluids] BLACKLIGHT. Ilk.
  • 52a. [Calming Celestial Seasonings variety] SLEEPYTIME. Type.

A fun set of theme answers and a solid theme. But I’ll admit that the revealer made me want to see some motion—or at least some representation of motion—in the theme answers. I think if they were laid out in a pinwheel pattern that would’ve satisfied me, and it would’ve added another layer to the theme.

In the fill I like GARAGE SALE, PET SITTERSOTTER POP, “LET’S GO,” and DARESAY. But some crosswordese entries felt stuffy and distracting, especially BOOLA and PSHAW. I’d really like to see those erased from constructors’ word lists. ROUE isn’t much better since I’ve only ever seen it in a crossword.

I actually finished with an error at 1a/1d. I was certain the [Humped ox] was spelled CEBU, but CIP made no sense as the answer to [Secure with teeth]. In my defense, CEBU is a variant of ZEBU, it’s just too bad for me that it’s the only spelling that was living in my brain. Sadly, even when I focused on 1a, ZIP wouldn’t come to me. Clearly, this is my own failing, but ZEBU is not an entry you see every day.

Clues of note:

  • 20a. [Destination of a flight in a Beatles song]. USSR. It’s probably time we start assuming not everyone knows every Beatles song.
  • 37a. [“Insecure” creator, writer and star]. RAE. The vast majority of clues for Issa RAE are for Insecure. Well, she plays President Barbie in the movie coming out this week, so look for clues along those lines in the future.
  • 10d. [Colin of “The Banshees of Inisherin”]. FARRELL. I didn’t find this film quite as engaging as the other FARRELL/Gleeson/McDonagh team-up (In Bruges), but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
  • 22d. [Medieval European people who gave their name to a nation]. RUS. Did not know this. Glad to have learned something new today.
  • 27d. [Business that grew dramatically in 2020]. ETAIL. The clue reads like it wants a specific company’s name. I wonder if you could’ve used “industry” instead.
  • 28d. [Pro who might not catch a break in the first qtr.]. CPA. A tax break, I’m assuming.

Solid theme.  I wanted more spinning action though. 3.5 stars.

Billy Bratton’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 7/19/23, no. 0719

Several “{blank} with it!” exhortations are used to clue things that could be the “it” in a playful clue. Hard to explain clearly, but here they are:

  • 17A. [Deal with it!], DECK OF CARDS. Rather than meaning “find a way to handle this,” [Deal with it!] clues the deck of cards you’d deal out.
  • 28A. [Stick with it!], ADHESIVE TAPE.
  • 43A. [Get on with it!], BOARDING PASS.
  • 58A. [Roll with it!], BOWLING BALL.

I enjoyed the theme all right.

A big “boo!” to putting HAD AT at 1-Across. Not a great entry anywhere, but impossible to hide at 1a. [Began devouring, say]? No. You might tell someone to “Have at it!” but the past tense HAD AT feels so clunky. I continue my campaign against +AT entries like this and HITAT and LAPAT.


Least familiar usage: 52D. [Humdinger], DILLY. Is that from 1942, maybe? The crossing entry RETRY isn’t so hot, either. DILDO crossing EASED and RETRO is perhaps better, but if you quail at the word DILDO (Spelling Bee loves it!), not so much.

3.75 stars from me.

Brian Callahan & Katie Hale’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Brian Callahan & Katie Hale give us a fresh feeling twist on circled letters spelling out a word. The puzzle’s final answer is MAKINGAPACT, and each of four long across answers has PACT in them. The first has them all split apart, the second the PA are connected, then PAC…, then PACT. I liked the touch that the final answer, although including PACT, is actually split across two words: (PAC/T)WELVE.

  • [Garb Maria creates from curtains in “The Sound of Music”], PLAYCLOTHES
  • [Administer in small portions], PARCELOUT
  • [Practical advice for an overnight stay], PACKLIGHT
  • [The NCAA’s “Conference of Champions”], PACTWELVE

Other bullets:

  • [Like Ralph Lauren clothing], PREPPY have no idea about things like that…
  • [Apple co-founder, casually], WOZ. I’ve never head cause to refer to Wozniak casually.
  • [Surgical knife], LANCET. I’ve never encountered one IRL. I use disposable #15 scalpels for almost all my cutting needs.
  • [Air mattress alternative], COT. Weird because cot here means what I think you call a crib.
  • [Purrr-manent fixture when sitting], LAPCAT. Interesting choice to spell it with three r’s.
  • [Once-common flat-screens], PLASMA. Were they ever common? Around here I don’t think they ever got past “overpriced novelty” status…


Desiree Penner and Jeff Sinnock’s Universal crossword, “Think Twice” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 7/19/23 • Wed • Penner, Sinnock • “Think Twice” • solution • 20230719

This’ll be brief, as I’m getting to it late in the day.

  • 57aR [Big baseball events … and a hint to 20-, 37- and 43-Across] DOUBLE HEADER. Familiar phrases have had their first word duplicated to make a wacky before-and-after type phrase.
  • 20a. [Starts of French cabarets?] CANCAN OPENERS.
  • 37a. [Disco performed while doing the limbo] GO-GO BELLY UP.
  • 43a. [Digit used to beat a drum] TOM TOM THUMB.

Nice finds.

  • 38d [Boxing round] BOUT. It seems ’round’ is being used not to indicate the subdivisions of a bout, but more colloquially, as in a “go ’round”?
  • 39a [Union’s foe] SCAB. Once again, I have to call out this grossly distorted framing. The common enemy of union workers and scabs are the bosses.
  • 52a [Capital of Japan?] YEN gets a question mark, yet 59d [Bread in Brussels] EURO does not.
  • 55a [“Absolute garbage water,” per Ted Lasso] TEA. Educated guess on my part, knowing that the character is an American in Britain.
  • 70a [Doctor going to work sick, e.g.] IRONY, or malpractice?

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

New Yorker crossword solution, 7/19/23 – Lucido

Aimee’s puzzles are always going to skew contemporary (at least until she’s middle-aged and less in touch with Kids These Days). So we have a number of fresh entries: a RING LIGHT for Zooming or making a TikTok video, “HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW?” (this would feel wrong with a “do” after “how”), and some Twitter REPLY GUYS ([Men offering women their unsolicited opinions, in Twitter lingo]). “KEEP IT PG” might also fit the modern category, though of course the PG rating has been around for over 50 years).

Other fill I appreciated: FRAMBOISE, ANTI-HUMOR, WENT AT IT, PRINCE clued via Paisley Park (I’ve driven past), HANNAH Waddingham of Ted Lasso (just finished the series over the weekend, so good!), HIGH HEEL, BEARCLAW pastry, and TOP RAMEN instant noodles.

Did you know the fold where your butt meets a thigh (unless you are insanely muscled) is called the gluteal fold? I learned that from the HOT PANTS clue.

Boo to the BOO AT entry. As I said in my NYT write-up, I am campaigning against these verb + AT entries that are proliferating now. Also boo to the long-gone TNN cable channel.

Didn’t know RUSHEE was a word. Thought college students rushed frats and sororities, but apparently they put themselves out there in the hopes of a Greek organization rushing them? My college had no such groups.

Four stars from me.

Jared Goudsmit’s USA Today Crossword, “Albacore” — Emily’s write-up

Today’s puzzle is fishy in the best way possible. Let’s dive right in!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday July 19, 2023

USA Today, July 19 2023, “Albacore” by ared Goudsmit

Theme: the middle of each themer (aka the core) contains —ALBA—


  • 17a. [Skin-smoothing remedy enjoyed in a tub], OATMEALBATH
  • 37a. [Your stuff, in more ways than one], PERSONALBAGGAGE
  • 59a. [Fortuneteller’s tool], CRYSTALBALL

A fun themer set, all of which I haven’t seen before so I enjoyed them a bit more for their novelty (at least for me): OATMEALBATH, PERSONALBAGGAGE, and CRYSTALBALL. While the —ALBA— isn’t in the exact center of each, part of themers beginning and end still wrap around and contain it which works well as a solid theme.


Stumpers: BEAM (first thought of “grin”), NAVEL (only “innie” and “outie” came to mind), and DOUSE (needed a few crossings)

Overall a smooth solve with excellent lengthy bonus fill, though it took me a bit longer than usually, needing a few crossings throughout to break into some sections but it was fairly even through out so they seemed fair on the whole. Great puzzle and I look forward to more from Jared in the future.

4.0 stars


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18 Responses to Wednesday, July 19, 2023

  1. Lois says:

    NYT: Amy, you know I’m old, but DILLY is easy, ADORBS not so very. From his picture I would say that Billy Bratton was not around in 1942, and I wasn’t either. (And would that be a crime?)

    • Dallas says:

      Fun theme today! I seem to forget that HADES is the god, as well as the place…

      Having DILLY clued with “Humdinger” primed me to think of an older word. But I wonder if you could clue it as an adjective instead, something about a pickle? That said, I’m all for DILDO making an appearance in the NYT ;-)

  2. placematfan says:

    I think there are legitimate [verb + preposition-repurposed-as-adverb] phrases that are In The Language enough to be crossworthy; for example, PINE AWAY. “Pine away” has a different hue than “pine” does. “Pine away” means something immediately recognizable. It’s In The Language. And I would make the same case for “have at”–totally In The Language, means something different than just “have”, a verbal phrase that like many verbal phrases constitutes a legitimate lexical chunk that entitles it to crossworthiness. Not so for “hit at” and “lap at”–no really good arguments for putting those in your crossword other than “my wordlist told me I could”. And of course there’s a subjectivity factor: both regarding familiarity and usage and regarding one’s own cruciverbal standards. But HAD AT is perfectly acceptable fill to my mind.

    • Eric H says:

      I originally put “dug in” for 1A, but HAD AT didn’t bother me at all

      • huda says:

        I also put DUG IN. But agree with Amy that HAD AT is not ideal, especially in 1A.
        I enjoyed the rest of the puzzle and finished in Tuesday time.
        ADORBS is something I learned from my granddaughter a little while back.

    • DougC says:

      Completely agree that HAD AT is “in the language” in a way that the other “-ats” are not. Not only perfectly acceptable, but a devious entry at 1A, since “dug in” is an obvious alternative, making it necessary to check the downs in order to even get started.

    • JohnH says:

      Didn’t really bother me either; nor would LAP AT. (Are we at war on dangling participles as well? Yeah, I do avoid them in formal writing, but I realize there’s no point.) I can’t say that AWAY is a preposition, though, so maybe not the best example. I also can’t say that I’d ever use HAD AT in that sense, maybe not ever. Indeed, the closest I can come to a remembered use is Laertes cheating, to put it mildly, in the duel, poisoning and so killing Hamlet: “Have at you now.”

      FWIW, I recognize both DILLY and ADORBS although I do cringe at both. The first does seem way dated as Amy observes and the second, sell, as cutesy-poo as it intends to be. But they’re no worse fill for that.

      • placematfan says:

        Thanks for pointing out that AWAY is not a preposition. Aaargh. Word nerd license revoked.

  3. JohnH says:

    In the WSJ, “spin” (applied to “class,” meaning a word for a type, set, or collection) means to read it backward, so a feature that adds answers displaced in a circle would be superfluous or inconsistent. True that cryptic fans will think of “spin” as more likely an anagram than a reversal indicator (or a new clue type that some are, annoyingly, pushing for in which the letters are rea continuously but moving as if in a circle where the end leads back to the beginning, so that, say, “spin” could become PINS). But it will have to do.

    • Milo says:

      So … does that mean you liked it? I thought it lacked a certain zip that I look for in any crossword, much less one with such a well-trodden premise. My joy came mainly from imagining alternate clues that might have livened things up. Ex. What happens when you criticize your nonna’s biscotti? She GETS ACROSS.

      • JohnH says:

        I’d no strong feelings. Seemed pretty routine. Maybe a tad better than average for me because the words running back are longer than in many puzzles, so decent finds.

  4. E-Jay says:

    For the CPA clue, I took not being able to “catch a break” to mean they’re slammed for the first quarter of every year during tax season.

  5. Matt M. says:

    More evidence for “ignore the star ratings” — two one-star ratings for the AVCX puzzle that isn’t out yet…

  6. Gene says:

    Don’t understand why Amy didn’t also complain about THREEPE AT. 😁

  7. Eric H says:

    AVXC: Both the “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” puzzles were fun. The “Oppenheimer version” was more challenging, at least until I got to the DESTROYER OF WORLDS revealer. I did well on the “Barbie version” because I grew up with four sisters, most of whom had Barbies, and I eventually remembered some of the supporting characters’ names. The links between the two grids, like the SINGLE/TRIPLE clues, were nice.

    Speaking of supporting characters: What do we think of Jar-Jar Binks these days? I saw “Phantom Menace” in the theater (19990 and Jar-Jar’s patois was pretty offensive. But when we watched it again on Netflix or whatever a few years ago, I was impressed that he actually turns out to be a sort of heroic character (with killer deltoids). Still, I was a bit surprised to see him in the puzzle, especially with a clue that quotes him like that. (And it took me way longer than it should have to remember his name.)

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