Wednesday, November 22, 2023

AVCX untimed (Amy) 


LAT 4:19 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 2:55 (Amy) 


NYT 4:43 (Amy) 


Universal tk (pannonica) 


USA Today 8:46 (Emily) 


WSJ 5:43 (Jim) 


Aaron Ullman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fowl Play”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that each feature one of the birds in TURDUCKEN (49a, [Entree with nested birds, as suggested by the progression of fowl in the starred answers]). “Nested” ha! Like they were some sort of abominable Matryoshka dolls. 😀

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Fowl Play” · Aaron Ullman · Wed., 11.22.223

  • 19a. [*Piece of cake] TURKEY SHOOT.
  • 31a. [*Post-Election Day meeting] LAME DUCK SESSION.
  • 44a. [*Past one’s prime] NO SPRING CHICKEN.

Pretty straightforward, but enjoyable nonetheless. I like the creative grid design using left/right symmetry since the theme answers won’t all play together with the usual symmetry. And it seems appropriate. If you blur your eyes, you can almost envision a turkey going into the oven looking at it from the top down. Maybe. Kinda sorta.

In the fill I liked “LOOK YOU! (which gives me a Three Stooges vibe), WINE BAR, DRUM SET, SIT-SKI, and “CAN’T BE!” I had a bit of a sticking point when I opted for ER NURSE instead of the correct OR NURSE, but I sorted it out in the end.

Clues of note:

  • 23a. [Conciliatory gifts]. SOPS. I’ve probably seen this usage before, but it sure doesn’t stick with me.
  • 47a. [Skipper on the water]. STONE. Good misdirection. I first thought of a boat captain and then a mudskipper.
  • 15d. [Proxima Centauri, of all stars]. CLOSEST. I hardly think so. There’s one much, much closer.

Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Will Pfadenhauer’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 11/22/23 – no. 1122

A creative theme that feels a bit oddball …which is apt since that’s the revealer. ODDBALL is clued [Eccentric sort … or a “sport” where one might make the plays at 19-, 27- and 44-Across?], and those fictional sports plays are to RUN WILD, CATCH OFF BALANCE, and THROW OUT OF WHACK. Listen, I throw out of whack more often than I have accurate aim.

Fave fill: THE BREWERS (I have seen the sausage race in person in Milwaukee! You always gotta pull for the bratwurst, amirite?), DUOLINGO, SEATMATE, HOODIE, and MOLTEN LAVA (good luck to Iceland).

Freshest entry: 37d. INUIT ART, [Walrus ivory is one traditional medium for it]. Scrimshaw is one letter too long. Here are some recently exhibited examples of Inuit art.

Four stars from me.

Neville Fogarty & Brooke Husic’s AV Club Classic crossword, “AVCX Themeless #73”-Amy’s recap

AV Club Classic crossword solution, 11/22/23 – “Themeless #73”

Dang, I keep forgetting that I don’t have the Crossword Nexus solver set to start the timer automatically. It was a hard themeless, though, especially the bottom four rows.

A ton of great clues accompany the sparkling fill. Fave fill: TEARJERKERS, STREET VALUE, PASS THE TIME, MIND GAME, HUSBAND-TO-BE, SETS THE MOOD, “I’LL GO FIRST,” GOT TENURE, RUM RAISIN ice cream, an LED CANDLE, “GO GET ‘EM!”, and my beloved BENDY STRAW.

Small sample of terrific clues:

  • 1a. [Read ’em and weep!], TEARJERKERS. The AVCX puzzle email tells us that Neville’s clue here was the germ for the entire puzzle.
  • 16a. [American terminal?], EDU. That’s American University, not the company with JETLINERS.
  • 40a. [Head-to-head tactic?], MIND GAME. Minds rather than “head” standing in for one competitor against another.
  • 56a. [Intended, perhaps], HUSBAND-TO-BE. Intended as a noun.
  • 31d. [Replaced one’s “assistant,” say], GOT TENURE. As in going from assistant professor to associate professor.

4.5 stars from me. Brooke and Neville make a good team.

Amy Johnson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Amy Johnson’s gives us a simple, yet clever theme today: revealed at a central STRINGSATTACHED. Either the front or back half of four phrases is something with STRINGSATTACHED:

  • [“Get lost!”], GOFLYAKITE
  • Hands-on creation?], SHADOWPUPPET
  • [Home of SpongeBob SquarePants], BIKINIBOTTOM
  • [Actress who completed her EGOT with a Grammy for the audiobook “Finding Me”], VIOLADAVIS

Quite a few longer abbrs. today: ESTAB, WNBA, ASSN, CTRL… Plus a few other creaky answers like STOA and IBEAM in the shorter answers. I guess that’s the price you pay for a five part theme with a central fifteen?


Aimee Lucidos’ New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 11/22/23 – Lucido

Short on time, holiday week and all, so super brief. Enjoyed the puzzle, lots of zippy fill, fun pop culture sprinkled throughout, a few short clunkers like IRR SDI. A few faves: LEAVE ROOM (for pie!), CASE DISMISSED, SEVERANCE, TEEN BEAT, HARD STOP, NEW HIRE, VERBOTEN, “STAY MAD.”

Four stars from me.

Olivia Mitra Framke’s USA Today Crossword, “Round the Clock (Freestyle)” — Emily’s write-up

As the Thanksgiving holiday break begins for many this evening, there will be more free time and this is a fun way to start off!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday November 32, 2023

USA Today, November 22 2023, “Round the Clock (Freestyle)” by Olivia Mitra Framke


Stumpers: LIRA (cluing new to me), ARSENAL (needed crossings), and NEWER (also needed a few crossings)

Check out this grid! Even on the phone, I had to pause my solve flow after a few entries and take in this beauty once I realized, along with the title, the grid design. Such a fantastic idea! It would have been great with a theme but so much harder to pull off so I’m glad to see it anyway with a freestyle. Loved it!

4.0 stars


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26 Responses to Wednesday, November 22, 2023

  1. Dan says:

    NYT: The one thing I object to is cluing BB GUNS as”Toy shooters”.

    Maybe by some definition they are “toys”, but they can kill a small animal or put out a person’s eye, so it’s a very bad idea to think of them as mere “toys”.

    And then the same puzzle had “Rifle filler” for AMMO. More like “rifle killer”.

    • pannonica says:

      I also didn’t care for the glib 40d [Sanctuary against extinction] ARK.

      • Dallas says:

        Yeah, that was a bit of a weird clue…

        • pannonica says:

          In this time of unprecedented anthropogenic species extinctions, to unreservedly make reference to an old mythological tale as some sort of actual solution to anything?

          • JohnH says:

            But then wouldn’t you have to eliminate the story itself, not the crossword clue?

            I obviously don’t believe in literal interpretations of the Bible, and the point of the story is no doubt worth arguing over, but it is surely not to lay out a program for environmentalism today. After all, a progressive speaker who began a presentation with “Unlike Noah,” would be either consciously witty or laughable.

            • pannonica says:

              I’d like a qualifier rather than a glib blanket-type statement.

            • JohnH says:

              Fair enough. I understand.

              Of course, anything can get one into trouble pressed hard enough. The New Republic blog today complains fiercely about the custom (admittedly not that old) of pardoning turkeys. Good reasons were given, but it still felt kinda silly.

              Speaking of faulting the ark, how about this (with a smiley): “At the end of the great flood, the god of Genesis promises never to do this again. Unfortunately, his promise could not extend to human beings, especially Christian nationalists and corporate America.”

          • Stephie says:

            Good grief.

  2. Gary R says:

    NYT: No problem solving in a normal Wednesday time, and no significant complaints about the fill. But the theme’s not working for me. I see that RUN, CATCH and THROW can relate to a “sport” involving a BALL. And I see that WILD, OFF BALANCE and OUT OF WHACK might be ODD. But does that really all fit together as a theme? Maybe I’m just dense tonight.

    • Mutman says:

      Agreed. The theme just didn’t click for me either.

      I own no guns, but do not feel threatened by crossword entries referencing them or ammunition.

    • JohnH says:

      Agreed. I came here to see if someone could explain it better.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Hear, hear, except that my solve time was close to 25% higher than my current NYT Wednesday average. I’m sure it’s well known to other solvers, but DUOLINGO was total gibberish to me. I also shot myself in the foot with ‘earN’ instead of REIN (“Pull (in)” seems like an awkward clue there) and I was too locked into ‘HI rEs’ where HI DEF belonged. There were at least several other clue/answer combinations that just didn’t land for me. I think it was primarily just a wavelength thing.

  3. Philip says:

    I confess that when I saw the first two letters in 42 Down in the NYT (before reading the clue), I was excited that we might be seeing GWAR in the puzzle.

  4. Eric H says:

    AVXC: Tougher than most of their “Classic” puzzles. I had to put it down last night when I got too sleepy to finish it, then still needed two sessions to finish it this morning.

    Perhaps it’s the Husic factor. I enjoy her work, but she and I clearly inhabit different worlds.

    The SE corner took the longest. TRIANGLE BRA means nothing to me, and for far too long, I had SETtles____ rather than SETS THE MOOD.

    The GOT TENURE clue is great. I had half of that answer and was trying to make sense of GOTTEN ___.

    • RichardZ says:

      Agreed today’s AVCX puzzle was more difficult than their usual Wednesday offering.

      I was mystified by two entries:

      3D (ARSE) with clue: Bottom of Niagara Falls?
      9D (ELIDES) with clue: Drops, as a fifth of “fifth”

      Re the first – ARSE is a synonym for “bottom,” but I’m not sure what purpose the reference to Niagara Falls is serving.

      Re the second – ELIDES and “drops” are synonyms, but a fifth of “fifth”?

      • damefox says:

        The first one I don’t get (unless Niagara Falls is a place in the UK? or maybe they also say ARSE in Canada?), but the clue for ELIDES is referring to the fact that one of the five letters in the word “fifth” (the second “f”) is often elided, i.e., people just say “fith.”

        • Eric H says:

          I expect Canadians (or some of them, anyway) say ARSE.

          I’m glad Richard Z asked about it. That was a clue I couldn’t figure out, but the answer filled in from the crosses, and I never saw it.

        • RichardZ says:

          Ah – thanks. I checked, and it confirms “fith” as a pronunciation (although “fif(t)h” is also shown).

          Niagara Falls (the city) is in New York state, and Niagara Falls (the set of waterfalls) straddles the US – Canada border. If the idea was to come up with a location where “arse” might be used, it’s a poor choice. There is a question mark at the end of the clue, so I thought there might be a clever interpretation I’m missing, but if so, I’m not seeing it.

          • Eric H says:

            Looking at Google Maps satellite view, I’d say that over 90% of Horseshoe Falls (the really big one), including the base, is considered to be in Canada. That’s consistent with what I remember from visiting there about 15 years ago.

  5. Abi Bakre says:

    The messages in these puzzles were sick minded, depraved and disgusting. Nyt and la times should be careful it’s not that coded and could be E-V-I-D-E-N-C-E. Lol

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