Wednesday, October 11, 2023

AVCX 6:09 (Amy) 


LAT 3:17 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 2:52 (Amy) 


NYT 3:07 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 6:26 (Emily) 


WSJ 7:09 (Jim) 


Jake Halperin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Autotune”—Jim’s review

The main theme answers are musicians who lend two letters to the genre of music for which they are at least partly known. The genres are identified by circled letters in the shape of a square, hence the revealer MUSIC BOXES (58a, [Sources of opening tunes, represented by the shaded circles crossed by appropriate individuals]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Autotune” · Jake Halperin · Wed., 10.10.23

  • 18a. [Singer knighted in 2003] MICK JAGGER paired with EURO to form ROCK.
  • 28a. [Singing group whose members met at a fraternity in 1956] THE BROTHERS FOUR paired with ELKS to form FOLK.
  • 45a. [Sometime duettist with Whitney Houston] JERMAINE JACKSON paired with TUMULT to form SOUL.

At first I didn’t make the connection between the artists and the genres in the squares and wondered what was the point. Maybe part of this was due to the fact that I’ve never heard of THE BROTHERS FOUR. But once I caught on I was impressed at the serendipity in action here. It must have been a challenge to find suitable musical acts that could lend their letters to the genres and still fit symmetrically in the grid. Nicely done.

It’s odd to see a 9-letter central entry that’s not part of the theme, but clearly BREXIT DAY isn’t. That NW corner is nice with ICE BATH, NATASHA, CLANKED, and HIT JOB. Elsewhere, highlights include GEMSTONE, DNA TESTS, POLENTA, KMARTS, and BERMUDA. Never heard of a MUG BOOK [Collection of arresting images?] though, and that section with 19th-century poet HEINE plus TAJ and NAN might cause trouble for some solvers.

Clues of note:

  • 5a. [Sickly sentiment]. GOO. I suppose this works, but I’m not used to seeing this word used this way.
  • 57a. [SAT taker’s need]. ERASER. Not so fast, my friend. The SAT is apparently going digital. My daughter is taking the PSAT tomorrow…on her iPad.

Nice theme with strong fill. 3.75 stars.

Miranda Kany’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 10/11/23 – no. 1011

The theme presents a CAJUN recipe of sorts, with the circled letters in the top and bottom rows spelling out JAMBALAYA. The themers with italicized clues are the ingredients you need: ONION, ANDOUILLE sausage, bell PEPPER, CAYENNE, CHICKEN, CELERY, WHITE RICE, and STOCK. (Missing from this shopping list is shrimp.) The ingredients are generally clued playfully. Now, me, I don’t care for onions, peppers, any sausage, or shrimp, so this is not the dish for me.

Extra ingredient, [Garlic, in Guadalajara], or AJO.

I was tempted to critique the inclusion of the SAMI, [People of northern Scandinavia], which used to strike me as obscure crosswordese. But the Sami are indigenous peoples of the Arctic, and Sweden, Norway, and Finland have all marginalized them throughout the years. Where’ve we heard that story before? Oh, right–everywhere in the world. I recently got a glimpse at Sami living from the Nat Geo/Hulu show, Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, in which chef Ramsay travels to the reindeer-herding lands in the north of Norway. (The whole series is delightful!)

Long day, short write-up. Four stars from me.

Rachel Simon’s Universal crossword, “Secret Language” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 10/11/23 • Wed • “Secret Language” • Simon • solution • 20231011

Standard type hidden word theme. In this iteration they’re all names of languages, Asiatic languages at that. Further, they’re also common ‘crosswordese’. The .puz version comes with circled squares, but the clues explicitly name the relevant ones.

  • 20a. [Gary Larson comic with cows] THE FAR SIDE.
  • 30a. [Vegetable-based cooking staple] CANOLA OIL.
  • 45a. [Steve Carell had his waxed in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”] CHEST HAIR.
  • 53a. [Certain facial indentation] CHIN DIMPLE.

Farsi, Lao, Thai, Hindi. Well executed.

The ballast fill is pro forma.

  • 4d [Nonlocal nickname for Golden Gate Park’s city] SAN FRAN. Ditto Frisco.
  • 12d [Mirelle of “The Killing”] ENOS. Unfamiliar to me, as was the actor in the symmetrically opposite location: 51d [Shawkat of “Search Party”] ALIA.
  • 13d [Like just-moisturized skin] DEWY. Confidently filled in SOFT until subsequent crossings schooled me.
  • 35d [“American __” (1930 painting)] GOTHIC. But I’d previously misinterpreted 41a [Journey to the summit] as a cue for a verb and put in ASCEND (rather than ASCENT), which led me to complete 35d as AMERICAN GODIVA, which could be an interesting painting, right?
  • {nothing too exciting among the acrosses}

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

New Yorker crossword solution, 10/11/23 – Gorski

This one played like a Thursday-easy New Yorker rather than a slightly less easy Wednesday. There are lots of clues I never even saw, having filled in the entries via the crossings. Heck, LIMITED EDITIONS filled itself in.

Fave fill: LEONARDO da Vinci, SEARCH HISTORIES (mine is bonkers from all the clue research a crossword editor does), COPY MACHINE, CARICATURES, MEMORY FOAM.

If you’re not Hawaiian or you haven’t ever seen Disney’s Lilo & Stitch, you might have found 25d. [Hawaiian word that means “family”], OHANA, to be obscure. My kid was a kid when the movie came out, though, so the word is indelibly etched in my mind from the line “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” Lilo’s an orphan, so it’s extra freighted. (Also from my son’s toddler years: DIPSY the [Green Teletubby].)

3.5 stars from me.

Emet Ozar & Matthew Stock’s USA Today Crossword, “Let ‘Er Rip!” — Emily’s write-up

A fun collab today!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday October 11, 2023

USA Today, October 11 2023, “Let ‘Er Rip!” by Emet Ozar & Matthew Stock

Theme: the first part of each themer can be prepended with RIP to make a new phrase


  • 16a. [Decade known for flappers and speak-easies], ROARINGTWENTIES
  • 29a. [Things happening right now], CURRENTEVENTS
  • 52a. [People who cancel their cable], CORDCUTTERS

A seemingly random themer set becomes a more cohesive set in their final form. It starts with the ROARINGTWENTIES, CURRENTEVENTS, and CORDCUTTERS. With the theme, the set becomes: RIP ROARING, RIP CURRENT, and RIP CORD. Based on the title, I thought the hint was “ER” but after a few more minutes thinking about it, RIP jumped out more and it was clear that was the actual

Favorite fill: IFTAR, HATTIP, and NEWWAVE

Stumpers: DIANE (new to me) and OPINE (needed a few crossings)

Loved the grid design and it was a smooth solve for me. A solid and enjoyable puzzle for today!

3.5 stars


Lisa Senzel & Will Nediger’s AV Club Classic crossword, “Regrouping”–Amy’s recap

AV Club Classic crossword solution, “Regrouping” – 10/11/23

This 19×19 grid centers the post-punk band JOY DIVISION, and three themers in the top half of the grid have circled letters that spell out synonyms of “joy” that are divided throughout those entries in the circled letters. SINGLE TEAR has GLEE, LEGAL ACTION has ELATION, and the TABLOID PRESS has BLISS.

After a band member died by suicide, the band reformed as 100a. NEW ORDER, clued [Band jointly nominated with 54-Across for induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year … and what 70-, 78-, and 87-Across have, compared to 41-, 26-, and 22-Across, respectively]. OK, let me piece that together. I filled in NEW ORDER via crossings and never saw this key theme clue while solving. Oh! Dang, this is fancy. 87a is GENERALIST, an anagram of that SINGLE TEAR. 78a is EATING LOCAL, a “new order” of LEGAL ACTION. And 70a SPOILED BRATS goes with TABLOID PRESS.

JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER were jointly nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (nomination doesn’t always mean induction), and the two band names are interpreted cruciverbally in two distinct ways that interact with each other elegantly.

I hate ORANG (tell me how many times you’ve seen that word outside of crosswords) and ETUI, but overall the fill’s quite good, with bits like BROMANCE, AMETHYSTS, TAX SEASON, and ART STORES.

4.75 stars from me. Amazing theme!

Joseph A. Gangi’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

To those of us that looked at Joseph A. Gangi’s grid today and thought, “this theme’s entries will run down,” you were correct. The final word of three long downs end in a kind of THREAD – with the revealer being GODOWNTOTHEWIRE, a cute, simple revealer with a strong visual element:

  • [*”You should be ashamed!”], THATSDESPICABLE
  • [*Ability to show restraint], SELFDISCIPLINE
  • [*Recent entry in Guinness, say], NEWWORLDRECORD

The puzzle felt very early week, with a lot of fours and fives. The one long non-theme pair, also down were [Everyman], AVERAGEJOE and [Formal footwear], DRESSSHOES. [Stubbing victim], TOE was a clever, if violent, pun and the obvious stand-out in the clues today.


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22 Responses to Wednesday, October 11, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: As a fan of Cajun cooking (my husband and I make a mean gumbo and pretty good red beans and rice), I ate up this theme.

    And a lot of the fill hit home: ROCK MUSIC (like many my age, I’m a longtime fan); LUCAS (we’re looking forward to Season 5 of “Stranger Things”); OWLS (I have a tattoo of an owl petroglyph); NERD (guilty as charged).

    • Mutman says:

      +1. I also love and make RB&R as well as JAMBALAYA. And Amy is correct, like it or not, you need shrimp for jambalaya!

    • JohnH says:

      Besides AJO as an extra ingredient, prominently placed where it could easily have been the revealer, don’t forget ROUX. But I guess the second is too loose a fit, while the first has “garlic” only in the clue, with a Spanish rather than Cajun answer. (Oops, apologies. Huda already notes ROUX below.)

      I also forgive them for not having SHRIMP. They’ve managed to fit quite a lot of themers as it is.

      In a city of diverse restaurants like New York, Cajun is surprisingly rare. There’s one in Tribeca near the galleries I’ve been wanting to try.

      • DougC says:

        You don’t technically need to have shrimp in a jambalaya… but really, you do. 8)

        This the third day in a row that my solving time was below my average for the previous day. So it’s feeling like a string of pretty easy puzzles so far.

        • Eric H says:

          Wednesday’s puzzle was easy for me, too — about 30 seconds faster than my Monday average.

        • DougC says:

          Correction to my comment above (grins sheepishly): Well, I guess Monday’s time would naturally be below Sunday’s. What I meant was, Monday was waaay below my Monday average. Tuesday was also below Monday’s average. And Wednesday’s time was below my Tuesday average.

          I keep hearing that the NYT is having trouble attracting as many new solvers as they would like, because the puzzles are perceived as being too hard. So maybe the strategy to boost subscriptions is to make the puzzles easier? If so, that’s disappointing.

          • Eric H says:

            I haven’t really noticed a trend towards easier Monday and Tuesday puzzles, but for the past few years, I’ve been trying to focus on getting the theme answers without too many crosses, rather than solving the puzzle quickly. But a lot of them are really easy.

          • Gary R says:

            “So maybe the strategy to boost subscriptions is to make the puzzles easier? If so, that’s disappointing.”

            Agree. I’m at the point where I rarely bother to solve a Monday or Tuesday NYT any more – opting for TNY instead. I think it’s fine to have a couple of days that are accessible for newbies, but I hope they don’t push that further into the week.

    • Dallas says:

      Very fun and fast fill (a few second shy of my record Wednesday time). I love Cajun food, but have not had much since going pescitarian a decade ago.

  2. Cyberdiva says:

    NYT: I printed out my copy from the NYT website, and I was very surprised when the clue for 29D mentioned “the italicized clues.” My copy had no such clues. Fortunately I had no problem doing the puzzle without the italics, but I would have expected the NYT to get things right on their own website. Oh well….

    • Eric H says:

      I always solve in the NYT Games app. But from comments on the NYT Wordplay column, I gather that if you want to solve the puzzle on paper, it’s best to print out the “newspaper version.” For some reason, the regular PDF seems to be the version that has the most trouble reproducing things like italics and special characters.

      I agree that you’d expect an organization like the NYT to be able to offer the same experience to print solvers as they do for electronic solvers.

    • Lois says:

      Before printing, I always scan the newspaper version for italics and other things that don’t reproduce in the inksaver version, but sometimes I miss something. I saw the italics and so used the newspaper version. I thought 40a should have been in italics. It was a long time before I realized that there were those differences.

  3. cyberdiva says:

    NYT Thanks, Eric H, for this information. I used to use “newspaper version,” but at some point it became smaller. It didn’t use the entire sheet of paper, whereas the “Standard Layout” option does use the entire sheet and is substantially bigger. The puzzle boxes are bigger, the numbers are bigger, and the clues use a bigger font size, making everything easier to read. So I think I’ll stay with Standard Layout (except on Sunday, when I switch to “Large Print” and have the clues on a separate sheet (or on the back side of the puzzle).

    • Eric H says:

      You’re welcome.

      You might try the newspaper version again, but use your printer settings to scale it up to 120% or 150% — whatever fits on the page. (I have never tried this, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.)

    • JohnH says:

      I used to use the “fit to margin” option in printer settings, then click on the manual resize button and take it down from there to 80 percent. At some point, I just decided I liked find how it is with original size. It’s smaller type than some puzzles, but of course larger than the Saturday WSJ.

      But of course devices vary. My newest laptop has much higher res, which would be good for gamers but has a price: the type in my older apps was egregiously small, even for me. So I tried a setting that enlarged everything, but then the icons were huge. So I tried changing some additional settings to see if I could control those. It’s still a mess. The tools in my email software can be too small, while the Windows status bar is too big, and they removed the ability to adjust it with Windows 11. There are, I see, some third-party fixes for that, and I haven’t yet dared see if they work.

      TNY is easy for today, but there’s enough interest.

  4. huda says:

    NYT: Really enjoyed this theme. My husband grew up in NOLA and I lived there for a year and came to love the people and the food. This was a wonderful reminder and makes me want to head back there. Last time we visited, my grandson ate the most sinful dish of french toast ever. Still trying to replicate it.
    Beyond garlic, ROUX was in the puzzle. A common ingredient but not in JAMBALAYA.
    Thanks for the pointer to the Hulu series, Amy. I’d like to learn more about the Samis (In Arabic, Sami means lofty or noble and is a common name for a male).

    • Eric H says:

      What’s the elusive French toast?

      One of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had was at El Tovar, the hotel on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. French toast made from brioche, with a compote of apples sautéed in butter and brown sugar, topped with mascarpone. I still remember it after 30 years.

      We tried making that French toast at home, and it wasn’t as good. But then, neither was the view.

  5. PJ says:

    NYT – a timely theme as I’m making smoked pork and sausage gumbo and starting a batch of bone stock today. I typically include shrimp in jambalaya but I’ve also made it without them. Since jambalaya is basically cooking rice in seasoned water with other things thrown in, it lends itself to using whatever I have on hand.

  6. F Grant Whittle says:

    Just a niggle, NYT: Cajun food 8s the food of the country, and has never been as popular in New Orleans as Creole cuisine is, and though they are related, the two cuisines are distinct.

  7. Brenda Rose says:

    So no one but me sees that America() Gothic should be American Gothic? Pannonica almost got it except the subjects painted weren’t nude.

  8. pannonica says:

    NYT: It turns out that Thursday 12 October—the day after this jambalaya-themed crossword was published—is National Gumbo Day.

Comments are closed.