Wednesday, July 26, 2023

AVCX 4:40 (Amy) 


LAT 4:23 (GRAB) 


The New Yorker 4:19 (Amy) 


NYT 4:33 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today  8:08 (Emily) 


WSJ 6:27 (Jim) 


Bill Thompson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Dish on This”—Jim’s review

Theme: SALAD BOWL (34a, [Common kitchen item depicted by the circled letters]). Said circled letters spell out words that can precede “salad.” These are TOSSED, POTATO, SHRIMP, and CAESAR.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Dish on This” · Bill Thompson · Wed., 7.26.23

A perfectly salad solid theme. I can’t say it did a lot for me, but it certainly works and it helped me fill in some of those circled letters towards the bottom of the grid. I like the consistency in that each type of salad is six letters long, which makes—to be honest—a rather deep SALAD BOWL. I don’t think I would have objected if two of the salads were four letters long (maybe “Cobb” and “tuna”). But I have no problems with any of the ones chosen.

I do have a bit of a problem with the fill though. Maybe it’s due to the triple-checked squares, but there are some real detractors in the grid like TOILS AT, SNEER AT, STEN, the double-whammy French lesson in CES and LESE, and then toughest of all, ABRIM [Nearly spilling over] (I wanted ABOIL). I didn’t know LYSSA [Goddess of mad rage] nor FERRITE [Compound in low-carbon steel] either, but I look at those as good opportunities to learn something new.

I could’ve done without GO POSTAL though. For one, it’s pretty dated (1980s?). Second, it’s a grim reminder of our current era of mass violence. And third, it’s degrading to all the fine people who work hard to deliver our mail.

There are some definite highlights though, like SWAP MEET, MARMOSET, SERPICO, HERMIONE, and SCHMEAR.

Clues of note:

  • 15a. [Aussie’s “marge”]. OLEO. That’s what they call it down there? Funny.
  • 3d. [“Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” vis-à-vis “God Only Knows”]. SIDE A. The Beach Boys. I recognize those song titles, but I bet a lot of solvers don’t even know they’re songs. I would’ve picked something less generic-looking.

A fine theme and there’s some nice long fill. But it comes at a price in the form of iffy fill. Three stars.

Mary Crane’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 7/26/23 – no. 0726

The theme revealer is 53A. [End of a race … or a hint to the conversation closers at 18-, 26- and 42-Across], FINISH LINE. The other themers are clued with concluding “finish lines” that could be described by the theme entries:

  • 18A. [Lover’s “It’s not you, it’s me”?], STOCK SPLIT. Stock because “It’s not you, it’s me” is such a stock, pat line. And the SPLIT is the relationship’s finish.
  • 26A. [Psychiatrist’s “I’m afraid our time is up”?], SHRINK WRAP. This one’s great!
  • 42A. [Comment like “Sorry you’re upset! Gotta run, late for my nail appointment”?], SHALLOW END. That would indeed be a shallow way to end a conversation.

Fave fill: I can’t believe DREAM HOUSE isn’t clued via Barbie! Also liked AT THIS RATE and the ONs, ON TASK and ON MEDS. (Raise your hand if you’re both.) Not loving FRIEND ZONE at all, as that’s the framing created by men who feel they are owed a woman’s affections if they’re interested in her. If she’s not into you, get over it!

The [Sad trombone] clue for WAH-WAH puts me in mind of Rachel Dratch’s “Debbie Downer” sketches on Saturday Night Live.

3.75 stars from me.

Hanh Huynh’s Universal crossword, “Every Which Way” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 7/26/23 • Wed • Huynh • “Every Which Way” • solution • 20230726

The four words this is the way are rendered in different forms thanks to typography. It may not be exhaustive, but then we needn’t take the title’s description literally.

  • 3d. [*This-is-the-way app] GOOGLE MAPS.
  • 7d. [*This is the way out] EXIT DOOR.
  • 11d. [*This is the “way” text] TAO TE CHING.
  • 54a. [*”This is the way” speaker] MANDALORIAN.

As emphasized by the distribution of these theme entries, the grid has left-right symmetry.

Honorable mention to the Chills’ “This is the Way“. Although I like the band, this isn’t one of their stronger songs. Instead:

  • 1a [2012 Best Picture winner] ARGO. This is rapidly becoming a reflexive answer. Can we go back to Jason’s ship? Hmm, there are plenty of other namesakes, but they’re relatively obscure.
  • 17a [Apt letters missing from “b__m that s_oth_s”] ALOE. I am once again calling for a moratorium on this tedious type of clue.
  • 23a [Messi, to fans] LEO. I hadn’t realized that was his nickname. Looks as if it reflects the Spanish pronunciation of Lionel, which makes sense, as he’s from Argentina.
  • 9d [Biblical paradise] EDEN. I appreciate the qualifier here; pushes back on hegemony.
  • 27d [Thin pancake that’s similar to a banh xeo] CRÊPE.

Solid little crossword.

Alan Olschwang’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

Alan Olschwang’s LA Times puzzle today features a fairly typical mid-week LA Times theme trope. As explained at LONGWINDED, the tetragram WIND is spread out across the length of three long across answers:

  • [Watch straps], wRiSTBAndS
  • [Chardonnay-based wine], wHiTEBURGUndY
  • [Reverse chin lock, for one], wRESTLinGHOLd

Tricky points, of which there were few:

  • [Not as sweet], ICIER – in disposition, not taste.
  • [Outdoor gear co-op], REI – Recreational Equipment Incorporated, apparently. Was trying to remember KOA.


Ben Zimmer’s AV Club crossword, “AVCX Classic Themeless #70”–Amy’s recap

AV Club crossword,
AVCX Classic Themeless #70,” 7/26/23

Fave fill: “SIR, THIS IS AN ARBY’S.” True story: A couple years ago, I sent my husband out to Wendy’s for a chicken sandwich and a salad. Instead he went to Popeyes (a superior chicken sando) and kept insisting that salad was on their menu. The clerk showed great restraint in not telling him, “Sir, this is a Popeyes.” SLIDE INTO YOUR DM’S, SWOLE, “NO SHADE,” CONGENIAL, HYPNOSIS. There are also some shorter entries, such as STAN, in the same “contemporary usage” category as SWOLE, NO SHADE, and the 16s. Ben Z is involved in the American Dialect Society’s year-end selection of the word of the year in various categories, so he’s always going to know the words and phrases that have picked up currency.

Buffalo Exchange in the CONSIGNS clue crossing EXCHANGED jumped out at me. Never heard of Buffalo Exchange, which apparently has just 41 stores nationwide but I unknowingly drove right past one of them a few days ago!

Old-school clunkers in the grid: ENIAC, ESTOP.

3.75 stars from me.

Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 7/26/23 – Agard

Really enjoyed this one, with its Erik Agard trademarks of sparkling, modern fill and a touch of education. Today I learned of CLAUDIA JONES, [Activist and writer who’s the subject of the Carole Boyce Davies book “Left of Karl Marx”]. Everything else was on the Friday-NYT level of pliable for me.

Fave fill:  “IT’S PERFECT!”, “WHERE TO BEGIN …”, “I HAD NO IDEA!”, the talented and funny Robin THEDE of HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, TEST PREP, “AMIRITE?”, GO ROGUE, GAVE OUT, PIEROGI, “WHO CARES?”, and “BEEN THERE.” I also like AND UP, [Or higher].

Jumped out at me that this puzzle and the AV Club both have ORBS and CALI, which aren’t entries we see every day. It is not a conspiracy.

Terrific clue for OVAL: [Rectangle alternative, when rug shopping]. I’m a rectangle person myself.

[“Sister, Sister” city] is a fun clue for DETROIT because it evokes sister city while actually being a pop culture clue. I never watched the 1990s sitcom but it’s plausible that a show starring a Black pair of twins (Tia and Tamera Mowry) would be set in one of America’s majority-Black cities.

4.25 stars from me.

Ada Nicolle’s USA Today Crossword, “Buried Treasure” — Emily’s write-up

Today’s puzzle is filled with riches, found with just a bit of searching!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday July 26, 2023

USA Today, July 26 2023, “Buried Treasure” by Ada Nicolle

Theme: each themed contains the word —CHEST—


  • 19a. [Keeps impatiently checking the time], WATCHESTHECLOCK
  • 36a. [Ukrainian group that won Eurovision 2022 with the song “Stefania”], KALUSHORCHESTRA
  • 54a. [Moves closerto form a tight group], BUNCHESTOGETHER

Great themes set today with a fantastic theme! WATCHESTHECLOCK is a fun evocative phrase that I can instantly visualize. Though I didn’t catch the competition this year, it’s great to hear that KALUSHORCHESTRA won. BUNCHESTOGETHER took me a few crossings before it filled in for me, but it too is a visual phrase for me that I usually think of in the sense of gathering fabric or tissue paper but it also works for people huddling close.


Stumpers: CAMI (only “tank” came to mind), CROSS (oddly needed crossings), and GIGI (new to me)

Fun puzzle with a great grid and flow. All the bonus fill, especially so many lengthy ones, were such a treat as well.

4.0 stars


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31 Responses to Wednesday, July 26, 2023

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Totally love SHRINK WRAP!!! I’m the wife, sister and mother of a shrink (!). They will hear about this :)
    Finished this one in Monday time.
    I appreciated the factoid about OMANI (news to me), and I liked the poetic cluing for several entries.

    • Eric H says:

      SHRINK WRAP is probably the best of the theme answers, but I liked SHALLOW END, too.

      Definitely on the easy side for Wednesday.

    • Dallas says:

      Agreed, SHRINK WRAP is the winner. My Catholic upbringing* had me put BODY before I fixed it to HOST. I think FRIEND ZONE needs some more inventive cluing to get away from “unrequited love” … ugh. I’d also prefer TESLA cluing stick with Nikola, but that’s my pet peeve.

      * I had to take two years of Latin in HS, and we were told that it would be useful if we went into law or medicine, and for doing crosswords. I’ve only seriously been doing crosswords for the past 1-2 years, and while Latin is certainly useless for crosswords now, I wonder if it was even useful back then (late 1980s)… It does help me know the differences between i.e. and e.g., and etc. and et al. Not worth two years of classes, though…

      • Paul+Coulter says:

        I wouldn’t say that having some familiarity with Latin is useless for solving crosswords. I also had to take two years of Latin in HS, and it’s helped me countless times for figuring out an answer because I recognized a root.

        I liked this theme. All three examples are terrific, and the revealer was a nice surprise. It appears to be a debut, so congratulations, Mary, on a job well done.

      • Gary R says:

        I had body before HOST, too – and I wondered about that answer. My thought was that the wafer “is” the HOST, and it “represents” the body or the flesh of Christ. I was raised Catholic, but haven’t practiced for many years, and I was never much of an expert – so maybe I’m off base.

      • JohnH says:

        Funny, but I thought of BODY for HOST, too, although I could rule it out right away given Tic-TAC, and I put it down to my ignorance as NOT being Catholic.

  2. JohnH says:

    I haven’t had any luck reaching TNY’s home page this morning, after 45 minutes.

    • PJ says:

      This link from the Today’s Puzzle tab worked for me.

      • PJ says:

        Although your browser may be blocking the page since it’s an e.a. puzzle. (That’s a joke)

      • JohnH says:

        Thanks. Odd but yes, while the problem remains for now, it’s just about the home page. (I see it’s by Eric Asgard, so my run of Monday and Tuesday as solvable may end.)

        • JohnH says:

          Actually turns out I found it easy except for the bottom where I didn’t know CLAUDIA JONES, THEDE, ERMA, or the memes. Maybe the first is nice to learn even if you could debate for hours what counts as to the left of Marx. The rest to me anything but “sparkling.” But puzzle overall great.

          • Gary R says:

            CLAUDIA JONES and THEDE were new to me, too. I know ERMA Franklin from crosswords, and I know the song in the clue, but was only familiar with the Janis Joplin cover. Just listened to the ERMA Franklin version, and it’s going onto my play list.

    • mary Flaminio says:

      Me neither!

    • Lois says:

      Though PJ has given us the New Yorker crossword, something is wrong with Name Drop for today and yesterday too, though I already did yesterday’s. It went out also.

      • Lois says:

        Still defective. Seems as though they’re working on it.

        • Lois says:

          Bizarre problems with The New Yorker’s Name Drop today. It’s finally working, after earlier automatically showing a reveal after three clues, but apparently the answer was dictated rather than typed, because it’s spelled all wrong!

          • Eric H says:

            Are you sure? Perhaps the Name Drop has been fixed since you did it, but in any case, it’s correct now. The first name is perhaps not the most common spelling, and the last name is just kind of unusual.

            I like playing that game, though I’m not very good at it. The authors usually get me. Or, like today, I try to answer before I go through all the questions, and I make a reasonable but incorrect guess.

            • Lois says:

              It is fixed now, but was spelled hilariously wrong before. I know that it’s an unusual name, but every element of it was wrong before.

          • Eric H says:

            It’s interesting that they spelled it wrong. I haven’t seen that.

            There have been times when links to the game didn’t work, but those usually get fixed pretty quickly.

      • JohnH says:

        A little late to check again, I know, but the home page is back, too.

  3. Jim says:

    I’m completely OK with FRIEND ZONE as I’ve seen/heard it used in both “directions”. In fact, it seems to me there’s a plethora of films and books with women despairing that a male character doesn’t recognize them as more than a friend.

  4. Papa John says:

    I must make exception to Amy’s adamant attempt at disparaging her male readers with the insulting “…get over it!” Wikipedia backs up my assertion that both men and women may suggest a FREIND_ZONE following a romantic breakup.

  5. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Overall a nice puzzle, though I’d describe it as on the easy end of “moderately challenging.” I usually don’t expect to have to “erase”answers in a “lightly challenging” puzzle; this time, there were at least two answers that I got wrong the first time.

    CLAUDIA JONES is probably a name I should know (and probably one that I have heard), but not having it as a gimme left a lot of empty squares in the center for a relatively long time.

    The conversational entries are all things I have said or heard someone say, which is not always the case for those. I kinda like the way they are spread out over the grid, because I usually need a few crosses to see that kind of answer.

    • JohnH says:

      I can see now why I didn’t know Claudia Jones. She’s much older than the civil-rights era and its successes, and owing to deportation had much of her activism in the UK. But fascinating. She seems less ideological or, for that matter, class based that you might guess from the reference to Marx. Looks like she was instead way ahead of her time in demanding rights for black women.

      Speaking of what’s spoken, I could swear that we’ve been seeing CALI a lot in recent puzzles, but I had never encountered it until recently. Indeed, at least here in NYC I’ve never heard it once spoken. (I’m used to Calfornia [in full], the Coast, the West Coast, or occasionally Southern Cal, but never the two syllables.) Anyone know when and how it caught on?

    • Gary R says:

      I think today’s puzzle was classified as “Lightly challenging,” which sounds about right to me. I don’t usually do the Wednesday TNY, so don’t know if this is typical.

      • Eric H says:

        It was described as “lightly challenging.” I just had a little more trouble with it than I expected. That’s been true of some other New Yorker puzzles they’ve called “lightly challenging,” so maybe I just need to readjust my expectations.

  6. JT says:

    NYT: Really liked this one, a lot of fun answers. That said, TRON is not set in a video game, it’s set in the ENCOM computer mainframe which stores several of ENCOM’s published video games, but it also has non-gaming systems within and is run by the Master Control Program which is taking programs from other networks to force them to play in gladiatorial combat in various video games, forcing them to renounce their creators, their gods known as “users” – aka human programmers – as it cuts off free access between programs and users. When the MCP discovers a hacker, Flynn, who has been trying to hack the system to prove they stole his work, it uses a prototype laser to transport Flynn into the mainframe, where he is forced to play several video games and eventually escapes one of them alongside program compatriots.

    I may have enjoyed the film a time or two.

    • Lois says:

      Tron had such bad reviews in New York when it came out, but my husband and I saw it in a theater and loved it. Your knowledge is impressive. I don’t remember anything except that it was a lot of fun.

  7. Brenda Rose says:

    I make my home in California. No one here says Cali. The indie xwords use this 4 letter word often so I’m used to it…think maybe it’s from the rap song “Going back to Cali?”
    The Beach Boy reference brought me right back to my 1st beau in ’64. Talk about hormones.

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