Wednesday, August 2, 2023

AVCX 4:26 (Amy) 


LAT 7:08 (GRAB) 


The New Yorker 4:08 (Amy) 


NYT 4:52 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 6:11 (Emily) 


WSJ 6:07 (Jim) 


Zachary David Levy’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Let’s Motor!”—Jim’s review

Theme: CAR TALK (38a, [NPR show from 1977 to 2021, and a description of this puzzle’s theme]). Theme answers are familiar phrases clued as if they were car parts talking to one another.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Let’s Motor!” · Zachary David Levy · Wed., 8.3.23

  • 17a. [What did the last gallon of gas say to the tailpipe?] “I’M EXHAUSTED!”
  • 23a. [What did the burned-out clutch say to the gearbox?] “END TRANSMISSION.” I like this one. Straight and to the point.
  • 47a. [What did the shot suspension say to the strut?] “SPRING HAS SPRUNG.”
  • 58a. [What did the flat tire say to the lug nut?] “SPARE CHANGE?” It would’ve made more sense to me if this was clued [What did the flat tire ask of the jack?], because what’s a lug nut going to do about it?

Nice. I enjoyed the creativity here, especially after I got to the revealer which cemented the theme and made it all make sense. And remembering that great radio show is always a good thing. Of course, since I never knew much about cars, I especially loved the end credits.

BREAD BOWL tops the fill as well as COLLEGIAL and AFFLUENCE both of which I find to be fun words. However, I ended with an error at the crossing of ARCARO [Only jockey to win two Triple Crowns] and REE [Food Network’s Drummond] because ARCANO seemed legit to me, and I never went back to check the crossing (nor would it have helped). I feel like I’ve seen a lot of crossing of proper names lately, and that’s not a trend I’m enjoying.

Clues of note:

  • 32a. [Find My, for one]. IPHONE APP. I believe it used to be called Find My Phone but it’s been broadened to include laptops, tablets, earphones, and anything attached to an AirTag. But why couldn’t they have called it “Find My Stuff” instead?
  • 40a. [Org. that may say no to drugs]. FDA. Good clue. I was thinking this was going to be about an insurer not approving coverage for a medication, but this makes more sense.

Good puzzle. 3.75 stars.

Barbara Lin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 8/2/23 – no. 0802

Fun puzzle from Barbara for midweek, with a theme that focuses on the beginnings and ends of goofball phrases rather than their middles. She’s crafted the theme entries by swapping syllables in four 5- or 6-letter words to form another word (or part of one) at the phrase’s other end. The middle letters are there to make everything flow, no other apparent job for them.

  • 16A. [Starting with an X in the corner, say?], TIC-TAC-TOE TACTIC. TIC/TAC, TAC/TIC.
  • 25A. [Rocket launcher that makes a whimsical buzzing sound?], KAZOO BAZOOKA. KA/ZOO, ZOO/KA.
  • 46A. [Become a leading citizen of North Dakota?], GO FAR IN FARGO. Fargo is indeed the state’s largest city. I’ve gone bowling there!
  • 60A. [Disrespected adviser?], TORMENTED MENTOR. Goodness! Torment sounds much worse than disrespect.

Fave fill: STACEY Abrams of Georgia, tasty POLENTA, MOLLIFY (if someone at a rave has taken molly, have they been mollified?), and Rep. CORI Bush. OUTDOORSY is clued [Like hiking, bird-watching and similar activities]; I’ve started watching a Nat Geo Wild series on Hulu called Extraordinary Birder, hosted by Christian Cooper (he’s the guy who was Karened in Central Park a few years ago) and it’s all right, friends. (He makes the point that it’s birding, not bird-watching, and meets up with a blind birder who can identify a zillions bird species by their calls alone, even when they’re in the background of other bird calls.)

Four stars from me.

Hanh Huynh’s AV Club Classic crossword, “Power Rank”—Amy’s recap

AV Club Classic crossword solution – 8/2/23, “Power Rank”

A quartet of 4-letter cheeses are spaced out within the theme entries, with an apt revealer at the end:

  • 20a. [Solar or wind, for example], RENEWABLE FUEL. The circled letters spell out BLEU (no thanks).
  • 25a. [Care the slightest bit], GIVE A DAMN. This one contains EDAM, and I’m still mad with envy that England sells sliced Edam (ready for sandwiches!) in little corner shops while our giant supermarkets can’t be bothered to.
  • 37a. [Pioneer route from Missouri to New Mexico], THE SANTA FE TRAIL. FETA? You can have mine.
  • 46a. [Classic toy with a pair of adspeak words in its name], LITE BRITE. I was really tempted to buy myself Lite Brite a couple years ago, but I resisted the temptation. Should I do it? I think yes.
  • The delightful revealer is CUTS THE CHEESE, [Makes a stink … or what each of this puzzle’s theme answers does]. The cheese is “cut” within the long entries, with one letter sliced off from the other three contiguous ones. Maybe you’re too squeamish to find farts funny, but this is a fun theme.

Fave fill: NORA who is Awkwafina from Queens, ILHAN in the grid instead of Omar, SNOWED IN, CUCUMBER (yes, it is botanically a fruit, akin to melons and squash).

Didn’t really know 50d. [Indigenous Mexican people], OTOMI. Read up on them. Also not familiar with 59a. [Counting Crows song with the lyric “somewhere in middle America”], but OMAHA sure is a crossword-friendly and vowel-rich place in middle America.

Four stars from me. This is Hanh’s first puzzle for AVCX Classic.

Emily Carroll’s Universal crossword, “Looks Good Enough To Eat” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 8/2/23 • Wed • “Looks Good Enough To Eat” • Carroll • solution • 20230802

  • 35aR [Trendy dressers … or a hint to 17-, 21-, 54- and 60-Across] FASHION PLATES.
  • 17a. [Arrangements of pork that are fit for a king?] CROWN ROASTS.
  • 21a. [Cuts of beef that may be mini] SKIRT STEAKS.
  • 54a. [Iceberg lettuce dishes for the well-heeled?] WEDGE SALADS.
  • 60a. [Starch that pairs nicely with a starched shirt?] BOWTIE PASTA.

Adequate theme, but not especially interesting to this perhaps jaded solver.

Coincidentally, there is a Food & Fashion exhibit upcoming at FIT this fall.

  • 8d [Final bit of coffee] LAST DROP. À la Maxwell House. Better than DREGS, eh?
  • 40d [Vessel for cooking gumbo or goulash] STEW PAN. Is this the same thing as a stock pot?
  • 58a [Tom Collins’ spirit] GIN. The apostrophe seems an unusual choice, but in no way invalidates the clue.

Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 8/2/23 – Liu

This one felt harder than a “lightly challenging” themeless to me. And you?

Never heard of JIM WOODRING, [Artist known for his surreal cartoons featuring the anthropomorphic character Frank]. Here’s his artwork.

Fave fill: BRAINTEASER, MOO COW, SKEWERED (though it would be more fun in the satirizing vein than the pierced-by-an-actual-skewer sense), WENT “PFFT,” AU CONTRAIRE, CLOUD SERVER, ROCK BALLAD and EARWORM (if you were an Eighties teen, these pair well), MARINE LIFE, and KFC’s mascot THE COLONEL.

Less keen on the partials (DARE I, DO AS), abbreviations (I think I counted eight), “SEE IT NOW,” and TERN (overused in crosswords vs. in American life).

FIVE-second rule is fun, though there is really no scientific basis for it. It’s more a matter of how much you want to eat the food that fell on the floor.

3.25 stars from me.

Mark Valdez’s USA Today Crossword, “In the Sent Folder” — Emily’s write-up

A great puzzle that had smooth flow and a fun theme.

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday August 02, 2023

USA Today, August 02 2023, “In the Sent Folder” by Mark Valdez

Theme: each themer is contained within SE—NT


  • 15a. [Mythical aquatic snake], SEASERPENT
  • 33a. [Undercover operative], SECRETAGENT
  • 57a. [“Get what I’m saying?”], SEEMYPOINT

What a fantastic themer set! Loving SEASERPENT, SECRETAGENT, and SEEMYPOINT.


Stumpers: BARB (new to me), PREFER (misdirected with physical movement in mind), and PARE (though of “peel” first)

Overall, lots of wonderful bonus fill and cluing. Felt a bit easier today, though perhaps I was just on Mark’s wavelength.

4.0 stars


Brooke Husic’s LA Times crossword, Gareth’s review


Brooke Husic gives us a typical mid-week LA Times theme trope: WORKAROUND is the revealer and three answers are bookended by GIG, JOB, and TRADE. So:

  • [“We’ve all been there”] is the snappy JOINTHECLUB
  • [Element of some holiday traditions] is GIFTGIVING
  • [Sentiment celebrated with pink, blue and white apparel], TRANSPRIDE

Trickier answers and clues:

  • [Research on an adversary, for short], OPPO. Resisted that for a while.
  • [Four-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champions], TEAMUSA. Mostly because I was expecting a simple country name.
  • [Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks], NNEKA. I don’t think I’ve encountered a name with an opening double n before.
  • [Easy sammies], PBJS. Not encountered this, though we call them sarmies.
  • [Mexican shredded meat dish], TINGA. Not a lot of Mexican food down this way.
  • [Vacation hrs., e.g.], PTO. Around here, that means please turn over? Apparently this is paid time off. Isn’t that the default?\
  • [Touch-oriented language], PROTACTILE. Never heard of this, but inferrable.
  • [Actress Mireille], ENOS. Not sure which way the name is? Mireille Enos.


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

25 Responses to Wednesday, August 2, 2023

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Either I’m getting better (which I doubt after all these years) or the NYT puzzles have been on the easier side for their day. This one took a shade longer than my typical Monday.
    I too liked the theme- not easy to explain but once it jumps at you, it’s easy to execute (coming at the entries from either end).
    A TORMENTED MENTOR is one who is deeply worried that their mentee is digging themselves into a hole and refusing guidance- no disrespect necessary.
    I heard an interview with Christian Cooper on NPR. Birding sounds like an interesting hobby. My late mother-in-law coupled it with bird photography and with offering sanctuary to migrating birds on her land. The Audubon Society loved her and would sometimes send members to tag birds and study their migration patterns.

    • David L says:

      Years ago I went out at with a birder friend at some ungodly hour one morning to see warblers along the banks of the Potomac during their spring arrival. Little green birds in big green trees, so I couldn’t see a single one, but my friend identified the various species by their calls.

      I got to see an indigo bunting, though, which was lovely.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I saw an indigo bunting in one of Chicago’s top birding sites, the Magic Hedge near Montrose Harbor and Montrose Beach. It’s a migrating birds hotspot, as they fly north or south along the edge of Lake Michigan and stop off to rest and eat. The same day, I also so a brilliant orange Baltimore oriole!

      • Eric H says:

        For the past few years, we’ve had painted buntings hang around our bird feeder in February. They’re pretty awesome to see.

  2. AVCX: Dunno if it’s implied by the review but the letters that cut the cheeses spell out FART in order.

  3. ZDL says:

    WSJ: My initial draft had OBTAIN and FRANCE crossing ANT, ICE, and NED; it looks like Mike changed it to ARCARO and ROARED crossing ART, REE, and ODD. I’m assuming he thought that was preferable to the very awkward partial in my version, OF A MAN (“Measure ___” (#1 Billboard album for Clay Aiken)).

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      While Merl Reagle let himself use partials longer than 5 letters, a number of crossword editors do disallow those.

  4. PJ says:

    UC – Missed a chance to bookend Lent with 61D and 64A

    • Lester says:

      But didn’t miss the chance to cross “drug that is ‘dropped'” (25A) with “last drop” 8D. I’m not obsessive about dupes, but having them cross like that struck me as inelegant, to the point that I resisted filling in “drop” in 8D.

  5. carolynchey says:

    WSJ – Jim, the app is called “Find My” because it combined “Find My Phone” and “Find My Friends”. It allows you to find people who grant permission, as well as Apple devices and tagged items.

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT … Yeesh! I counted 40 clue/answer combinations that involved either a proper noun or an abbreviation. The L at the LIA (“NCAA swimming champion Thomas”)/LO-FI HIP HOP (“Form of chill-out music”) cross was my Waterloo.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      TNY … Argh. Another abbreviation-fest, though I count “only” 26 proper nouns and abbreviations in this one. I’m sure that some will regard my comments as Karen-ing (is that a word now?), but puzzles that get their difficulty from clever cluing instead of trivia are much more fun and interesting.

  7. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Nice puzzle. I found it lightly challenging, finishing in a Monday NYT-level time. Like Amy, I didn’t know JIM WOODRING (whose work doesn’t look familiar). I’m not sure if I knew about the OTOMI people.

    WENT PFFT and AU CONTRAIRE are nice fill, but I really want the latter to be followed by “mon frère.”

    AVXC: I feel like I did a similar cheese-themed puzzle just a few weeks ago, but not one with the (in)elegant fart joke (nice catch, Mr. Birnholz!) I *know* that REEFER has been in at least two other puzzles I’ve solved this week, which is making me paranoid. It was fun to see OMAHA clued as the Counting Crows song; that album has always been a guilty pleasure of mine.

    • marciem says:

      I really enjoyed TNY today… lots of unfamiliar stuff but it was all crossed fairly so I ended up in good shape (I don’t do timing). Seems like we’ve seen a couple other “pfft”s lately, no? Can some “ptui/ptooie”s be far behind? :D

      I’m very much enjoying the constructor’s new game, “Connections” which is in beta, it says. She can be very tricky :) . But it’s quick and doable for a brief diversion .

      • Eric H says:

        I’ve been doing Connections for the last week or so. You’re right, it can be a bit tricky. Today I initially stuck “mouse” in the wrong group.

        • marciem says:

          so did I, today :( . Not always easy to get the “Perfect”… but still fun.

          Someone at Spelling bee was running their own “connecctions” game with the added layer of the player naming what the connection was. That added to the fun, IMO. Maybe Wyna will consider it when the game gets out of Beta.

          • Eric H says:

            That might be fun, but I have finished a few games with four words that have to go together by default, but I wasn’t able to figure out what linked them. But if that had been part of the game, I’m sure I’d have put more thought into it.

        • PJ says:

          I’ve learned to watch out for a category that has five possible members.

          I often end up clean but having no idea what connects the last set.

      • pannonica says:

        If you enjoy that, check out the long-running BBC show “Only Connect”, which must have been the inspiration for it—specifically the round called “the connecting wall”.

    • JohnH says:

      I liked TNY but didn’t know the cartoonist and some other stuff either. Took a while, but went steadily and well.

Comments are closed.