Wednesday, September 13, 2023

AVCX 4:42 (Amy) 


LAT 4:09 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 3:40 (Amy) 


NYT 5:43 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 8:58 (Emily) 


WSJ 4:51 (Jim) 


Alan Arbesfeld’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bingeworthy”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose final words double as the titles for popular TV shows. The two-part revealer is SERIES / FINALE (1a, [With 68-Across, end to some bingeing, and what appears six times in this puzzle]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Bingeworthy” · Alan Arbesfeld · Wed., 9.13.23

  • 17a. [Cause of many a resignation] SEX SCANDAL.
  • 24a. [Important wedding guests] BEST FRIENDS.
  • 37a. [“Beat it!”] “GET LOST!”
  • 39a. [Media darlings] IT GIRLS.
  • 48a. [Novelty #1 hit of October 1962] MONSTER M*A*S*H.
  • 59a. [Apollo apparel] SPACESUITS.

Nice theme! I got the gist of it at the beginning then mostly ignored it as I completed the solve, which I could do thanks to the well-chosen theme entries. I had my belated aha moment after the solve.

I felt things got off to a rocky start in the NW with EBEN and I IS. But looking back upon it now, I see there is more than the average amount of theme material with six theme answers and a two-part revealer. Ergo, there are a lot of fill entries that cross two or more theme answers (and some cross three). So it’s pretty impressive that the fill isn’t worse, and in fact we get some really good stuff like FALSE START, JAM SESSION, SWEEPS UP, NFL DRAFT, and CADETTE.  For that reason, I can look past the LUIs, AECs, and ICAHNs of the grid.

Clues of note:

  • 45a. [Refrain from farming?]. EIEIO. Nice clue. See also [Where cats come to play?] for JAM SESSION and [Bean town?] for LIMA.
  • 67a. [Group quarantining together]. POD. I like the modern angle here.

Some iffy fill is excused by the density of the theme and the lively long fill. Four stars.

Guilherme Gilioli’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 9/13/23 – no. 0913

I am unreasonably sleepy and drifted off while solving this puzzle. So! The theme is kinda fun, with “I dunno” answers that actually do provide the answers to the clue questions:

  • 19A. [Paradoxical answer to “What is ‘Golf’ in the NATO alphabet?”], “GEE, I DON’T KNOW.” Spelled-out letter G there.
  • 27A. [Paradoxical answer to “Can you say what ‘nyet’ is Russian for?”], “NO, LET ME THINK.”
  • 42A. [Paradoxical answer to “Where does oil come from?”], “WELL, YOU GOT ME.” An oil well.
  • 50A. [Paradoxical answer to “What isle is located between Ireland and Great Britain?”], “MAN, THAT’S HARD.”

One further explanation: 5D. [Woman in a Lady Gaga song and album title (2016)], JOANNE. Joanne was Lady Gaga’s aunt.

Four stars from me. Good night!

David Karp’s Universal crossword, “Hang-Ups” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 9/13/23 • Wed • “Hang-Ups” • Karp • solution • 20230913

  • 38a/40aR [… take a risk, or a hint to 17-, 23-, 48- and 59-Across] PUT IT ON | THE LINE.
  • 17a. [Bait holder] FISHING HOOK.
  • 23a. [Buzz source?] INCOMING CALL.
  • 48a. [Washing machine output] CLEAN LAUNDRY.
  • 59a. [A sharp or E flat] MUSICAL NOTE.

Theme works, yup.

  • 9d [“Money City Maniacs” band] SLOAN. I must be officially getting old. I might recognize the name of this band?
  • 11d [Hype campaign] MEDIA BLITZ. Nice.
  • 24d [Hunting gear, familiarly] CAMOS. Pluralized with an S, really?
  • 33d [Ontario canal that becomes the world’s largest skating rink in winter] RIDEAU. I was aware of the skating rink, but not that was a canal or what its name is.
  • 36d [Singer who has a fish in the Orinoco named after her] ENYA. Aptly. Per Wikipedia, it’s Leproinus enyae.
  • 60d [Inflation meas.] CPI. I believe this is the Consumer Price Index. I first had PSI, pounds per quare inch.
  • 20a [2023 Best Picture winner, briefly] EEAAOEverything Everywhere All At Once. Not to be confused with EO, which was nominated for Best Foreign Film.
  • Look at all those doubled letters in the final row ERR TANNIN SASS. Nifty or nah? Or meh?

Aime Lucido’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 9/13/23 – Lucido

Lots of contemporary colloquialisms in this puzzle, and older ones too. I’m partial to “IN THIS ECONOMY?”, SWEAT IT OUT, HITS DIFFERENT, WEIGHT-TRAIN, “IF ONLY,” and RIP TO SHREDS. Could do without “SO WISE” and “IT MUST BE,” though.

If you don’t know what FUNKO POP is, it’s this brand of big-headed, round-eyed figurines depicting cutesy versions of a zillion characters from pop culture.

Fave fill aside from the colloquialisms: HELLISH, AMPHIBIANS, AIR SHOW (advertising for the US military is what that is, mind you), JE T’AIME, SNEAKERS. These are offset a bit by fill like ISERE, UTILE, ETES, RCAS, LLD, UNAS.

3.25 stars from me.

Evan Milvihill & Ryan McCarty’s AV Club Classic crossword, “AV Classic Themeless #71”–Amy’s recap

AV Club Classic crossword solution, “AV Classic Themeless #71” – 9/13/23 – Mulvihill & McCarty

The AV Club team billed this as 5/5 difficulty but to me it felt like a regular ol’ Friday NYT, a mid-range themeless.

One of the first things you notice is the more salacious fill: BIG ASS right at 1a, along with SKIN FLICK and SEND NUDES. !!

Fave fill: WHEELIES, “AND THEN?”, unfortunate BRAIN FOG that too many people have experienced with long COVID, RIDE OR DIE, BACKROADS, the GOLIATH birdeater spider (!), “BOO! HISS!”, “GOOD TRY,” RED ALERTS, and a CAT TREE.

Language clue for you: 37a. [Difference between ma and má, in Vietnamese], TONE. I wonder how well hard-of-hearing kids are able to master their mother tongue when it’s a tonal language.

Fave clue: 37d. [“Offers” you can’t refuse?], THE MOB. Mobsters may be “offers” in that they off/kill people, and of course this clue plays on the Godfather line, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

Four stars from me.

Jess Shulman & Amanda Rafkin’s USA Today Crossword, “Peace Out” — Emily’s write-up

A chill puzzle collab for you today.

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday September 13, 2023

USA Today, September 13 2023, “Peace Out” by Jess Shulman & Amanda Rafkin

Theme: each themer has the word “peace” wrapping around it, PEA—CE and PE—ACE


  • 20a. [Common satay topping], PEANUTSAUCE
  • 39a. [Display of a person’s absolute best], PEAKPERFORMANCE
  • 53a. [What you might need more of if you ask someone to scoot over], PERSONALSPACE

Excellent set of themers today! PEANUTSAUCE is so tasty on some chicken satay(petite skewers). PEAKPERFORMANCE took me a few crossings but everything was fair so it filled in easily enough. PERSONALSPACE rounds out the set and has great cluing.


Stumpers: DANCEPARTY (second part tough to get for me), YET (need crossings), and RAD (also needed crossings)

Smooth puzzle overall, though due to my lack of knowledge for some things it took me a bit longer today. Cluing was fun and fresh despite the extra effort needed on my part. Hope to see more from these two! How did you all like it?

4.0 stars


Max Schlenker’s Los Angeles Times crossword–Amy’s summary

LA Times crossword solution, 9/13/23

Filling in for Gareth, who was without electricity (what South Africa calls “load shedding,” semi-regularly scheduled rolling blackouts). The theme is four names or phrases that end with words that sound like “doll”: primatologist JANE GOODALL, a WOODEN DOLL (?), dated pop-culture reference ARLENE DAHL (too bad it’s not the more familiar Roald Dahl, who could pair with an also more familiar paper doll), and the somewhat arbitrary GUJARATI DAL.

Fave fill: AGUA FRESCA! Plenty of tougher fill, like ARSENE, Spanish EXACTO, Latin VENI, French cheese Port SALUT, UTAHN, SLOVENE.

2.5 stars from me.

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18 Responses to Wednesday, September 13, 2023

  1. Me says:

    NYT: It’s a fun concept, but for me, it didn’t really work. MAN THATS HARD isn’t really a “paradoxical answer.” You can think a question’s hard but still answer it correctly. And NO LET ME THINK isn’t exactly the same as NO I DONT KNOW, so that seemed a bit forced to me. On the other hand, GEE I DONT KNOW is a true paradoxical answer.

    I really liked the idea, but the inconsistencies didn’t sit well with me. If the clues made reference to “confusing answers” rather than “paradoxical answers,” that would have been much better from my perspective.

    On an unrelated note, if anyone were asked where oil comes from, the response wouldn’t be WELL. It would be “a WELL.” Different wording of that clue would have helped.

    On another unrelated note, I don’t know if APNEA means something super-specialized in freediving, but it generally just means “not breathing.” I don’t know if it’s a “breath control practice,” as the clue states. From quick googling, it doesn’t sound like a freediver would say, “On this dive, I used the APNEA technique, while on this other dive, I used some other breath control practice.” There are different disciplines within freediving such as static apnea and dynamic apnea, but the differences are about what the diver is doing while competing (not moving in static apnea vs moving in dynamic apnea), as opposed to the breath control practice being different in the different disciplines. (Someone who knows more about freediving, please set the record straight if I am totally off-base!)

    • JohnH says:

      I was surprised be APNEA, too, and struggled with the theme, but on its own terms it works just fine. The paradox is that you sound like you’re struggling at best to get the answer, even as you’re saying it. So you don’t know it and yet you have it.

      SCHWA didn’t really work for me, but I won’t start yet another discussion about vowel pronunciation!

    • Hi. says:

      You just described two different practices after saying they are not practices.

      • Me says:

        For me, “breath control practice” means that the execution of the practice involves a certain type of breath control. I wouldn’t say sitting in an idling car is a “driving practice,” although I guess the NYT editors would disagree.

    • PJ says:

      I searched ‘apnea free diving’ and see it’s a thing. I’m sure I’m missing something but holding your breath while underwater seems pretty natural. Dry static apnea training seems more interesting.

    • Dallas says:

      Reminds me of the joke:

      Q: Where does a mansplainer get his water?
      A: From a well, actually.

      Fun puzzle! Took me a bit to lock in to the theme, but pretty good for a Wednesday.

    • Seattle DB says:

      For me, some editors take too many liberties with their cluing interpretations and alterations because maybe they want to get too-cutesy or coy. I’ve read enough comments by puzzle creators where they try to explain how their crossword got mangled by the editing staff. (Hint: if a puzzle is good, leave it alone. And don’t try to put your personal stamp on somebody else’s artwork.)

  2. David L says:

    I was perplexed by the APNEA clue too.

    I was also puzzled by “Little wonder?” for ATOM, which sounds like something from a 1950s newsreel about the mighty atom and nuclear power (“electricity so cheap it won’t be worth metering” ha ha).

  3. placematfan says:

    Great to see Alan Arbesfeld. Seems like it’s been a while. One of those names that just oozes “cool puzzle”–and today did not disappoint.

    • David R says:

      I miss him too he was a regular on the CrosSynergy circuit with Lynn Lempel, Martin Ashwood-Smith and the surprise Bob Klahn puzzles that I was always on the look out for.

    • Eric H says:

      Perfectly fine puzzle, but I totally missed the theme. I saw the “what appears six times in this puzzle” in the clue for 1A, then forgot about it. Of the six series, “M*A*S*H” is the only one I ever watched, though I recognize the other titles.

  4. Eric H says:

    NYT: I wonder if the clue for APNEA was an attempt to avoid the typical depressing clue like “breathing problem.” If so, it didn’t work. My husband was diagnosed with sleep apnea about five years ago, and we learned just how serious it is. I can’t help but get a bit downhearted whenever I see APNEA in a grid (much as I recognize that it’s a constructor-friendly combination of letters).

  5. Seattle DB says:

    Matt got his “Jonesin” website fixed, so let’s go play!

  6. Eric H says:

    AVXC: I didn’t think it was particularly challenging. Very smooth solving, with no real delays.

    But I do like the cheekiness of BIG ASS, SKIN FLICK and SEND NUDES.

  7. JohnH says:

    I found TNY easy for a Wednesday, but not bad at all. I guess I was less troubled by idioms than Amy guessed.

  8. e.a. says:

    i don’t think [LAT 63a] is arbitrary? (unless arbitrary is some new slang for delicious)

  9. Seattle DB says:

    Wow, just wow! Amy pulled quadruple-duty today in her reviews, and we all thank her so very much for all of the hard work that she has done for over two decades to make this website happen!

Comments are closed.