Wednesday, February 7, 2024

AVCX 8:51 (Amy) 


LAT 3:50 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 3:58 (Amy) 


NYT 4:41 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 4:26 (Emily) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


There are a couple new online games from crossword constructors:

  • On the wordplay front, Jeff Chen brings us Squeezy, where players squeeze letter tiles into words to make new words (example: squeeze a P into SORT to create SPORT).
  • For trivia buffs, David Levinson Wilk has Initial Instinct, where you get a randomly rolled set of initials and have 30 seconds to guess the name of a noted person with those initials.

Azriel Wasser’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Shades of Grave”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose final words normally end in -AY, but here end in -AVE instead, causing crossword wackiness.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Shades of Grave” · Azriel Wasser · Wed., 2.7.24

  • 16a. [Question to a bargain hunter?] “WHAT DID YOU SAVE?” …say?
  • 26a. [Angry surfer’s shout?] “GET OUT OF MY WAVE!” …way! I like this one best as it is the most natural-sounding.
  • 41a. [Question for Mrs. Chappelle after her spouse’s stand-up routine?] “HOW WAS YOUR DAVE?” …day? This one’s a little goofy.
  • 52a. [Instruction to a new member of the construction crew?] “YOU’RE GONNA PAVE” …pay!

Nice. With so many changed-sound themes, the change is front-and-center, but here it’s so subtle at the end of each phrase, it’s almost an afterthought. That’s what makes this so nice. It’s a bit like having a plot twist at the end of a novel or film. You think it’s going one way then —zing! It turns into something else. Fun theme.

Nothing especially long in the fill, but we have stacks of sevens in the corner. I particularly like THE POPE/HOT TUBS stack as well as RAYOVAC and EVEREST. The MAYHEM/BLOODY and the AMIGOS/SEÑORA stacks are good as well.

How many INs is too many? Well we have four today. IN HASTE, HOMES IN, OPTED IN, and IN ALL.

Clues of note:

  • 59a. [Stern with a bow]. ISAAC. With the “I” in place, I was able to avoid thinking this had something to do with boats. Good clue, though.
  • 19d. [Thick and Fluffy Double Chocolatey Waffles brand]. EGGO. Surely, that can’t be anyone’s idea of a good breakfast.
  • 53d. [Gun-wielding grp.]. NRA. We would have also accepted preferred [Gun grp. in decline].

3.5 stars.

Daniel Mauer’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 2/7/24 – no. 0207

Pop and rock musicians love a catchy hook, and sometimes repeated sounds come into play. The Kinks sang “LA LA LA LA LOLA,” David Bowie went through “CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES,” the Who were in “MY G-G-G-GENERATION” (technically they’re a generation ahead of me), and Lady Gaga says he can’t read her “P-P-P-POKER FACE.” (I’m partial to Bowie’s song and refrain.) If you don’t know all these songs, I encourage you to go have a listen.


I enjoyed the music theme more than the rest of the puzzle. 3.25 stars from me.

Jack Murtagh’s AV Club Classic crossword, “Multiple Chances”—Amy’s recap

AV Club Classic crossword solution, 2/7/24 – “Multiple Chances”

Love the theme in this 17×17 puzzle. As the DOUBLE OR NOTHING revealer suggests, there are four squares that can be empty (with NOTHING in them) with the clues working in both directions, or they can contain a double letter.

  • 19a. [Hit maker with a notable number of games], toy company TYCO or baseball’s TY COBB, crossing 5d. [Sent someone to the bench, in a way], SUED (the judge’s bench) or SUBBED (on the sports field).
  • 26a. [Ran], SPED or SEEPED crossing 12d. [Marine animal], SEAL or SEA EEL.
  • 78a. [They may be tidied up with shears], TREES or TRESSES crossing 60d. [Begins to flourish], BLOOMS or BLOSSOMS.
  • 80a. [___ away (go through unhurriedly)], WHILE or WHITTLE crossing 70d. [Half of a term meaning “blabbermouth”], TALE or TATTLE. The TATTLE/TALE bit is where the theme finally made sense to me.


Lots of solid fill, including “ODD, ISN’T IT?”, a tennis LOVE SET, CAT PERSON, and plenty more.

2023 vocab lesson: 31d. [Displaying rizz], SMOOTH. Rizz is basically short for charisma.

4.25 stars from me.

Susan Gelfand’s Universal crossword, “Side By Side” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 2/7/24 • Wed • “Side By Side” • Gelfand • solution • 20240207

Super-easy crossword, my solving time limited only by how fast I could type.

  • 35aR [They never meet … or what 17-, 22-, 48- and 56-Across are?] PARALLEL LINES. Each of those theme answers can be called a ‘line’ and, since they are all across answers in an orthogonal grid, they are perforce parallel. It feels to me like a cheat, a half-baked theme. (66a [Bakery elevator?] YEAST.)
  • 17a. [Occupation] LINE. As in the old quiz show What’s My Line?
  • 22a. [Facial crease] WRINKLE.
  • 48a. [Water-skier’s necessity] TOW ROPE.
  • 56a. [Genealogy] FAMILY TREE.

I had only two partial mis-fills, both obviously wrong. These of course were quickly rectified.

  • 3d [Not prone to crushes, briefly] ARO. Aromantic. I feel as if it’s going to be a while before people internalize this bit of jargon.
  • 4d [Quite a drag] NO FUN.
  • 12d [Like some retrievers] GOLDEN. <side-eye>
  • 13d [Ragweed reaction] SNEEZE. For some.
  • 21d [ __-woogie] BOOGIE. (nb: contains a dated mild racial slur, in the third person)
  • 29d [Prepared to propose] KNELT. 8d [Try to win over] WOO. 1a[Intended] MEANT.
  • 15a [What could aptly be used on a golf shirt] IRON. I’d say ironically more than aptly?
  • 42a [Something to sleep on] BED SHEET. I leapt an AXON (62a [Nerve fiber]) and filled in TOP SHEET here. (I’m more likely talking about a SYNAPSE, but that didn’t appear in the grid.) The other mis-fill was FAMILY TIES for the final theme answer, where I hadn’t yet clocked the theme and I didn’t read the clue.

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 2/7/24 – Berry

Nice one. It lands right in the expected range of difficulty and it’s got lots of crisp fill.


Three things:

  • 15a. [Fruit that can be wet- or dry-picked], CRANBERRY. I’ve seen the wet picking, in bogs, but have no idea about dry picking. Cranberry plants not in bogs?
  • 44a. [Ton, for one?], RHYME. Nice!
  • 60a. [Gemstones that prevent drunkenness, according to Greek legend], AMETHYSTS. Sure, sure. The science checks out.

Four stars from me.

Rafael Musa’s USA Today Crossword, “PCs” — Emily’s write-up

Boot up and logon to enjoy this puzzle!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday February 07, 2024

USA Today, February 07, 2024, “PCs” by Rafael Musa

Theme: each themer contains P–C–


  • 17a. [Where all 20 of the tallest buildings in Central America are located], PANAMACITY
  • 30a. [They’re called “crisps” in the U.K.], POTATOCHIPS
  • 48a. [Acknowledgment for camera skills], PHOTOCREDIT
  • 63a. [Cocktail made with pineapple juice], PINACOLADA

A fun themer set, starting with PANAMACITY, picking up a snack of POTATOCHIPS, then getting a PHOTOCREDIT, and a PINACOLADA to round it out. I needed a few crossings for the first but the rest were easy enough for me to place.


Stumpers: HAIR (first through “head”), SARAH (new to me), and AWARD (needed a couple of crossings)

This is a record solve time for me today. I was in the zone with the cluing, the puzzle had great flow, and nearly everything fell right into place for me. How’d you all do? Also, check out the lengthy bonus fill!

4.0 stars


Alan Massengill & Doug Peterson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

Alan Massengill & Doug Peterson’s puzzle today features USB connections – phrases with USB spanning two of their words:

LA Times

  • [Place that takes care of bad Apples], GENIUSBAR
  • [Agency that conducts a decennial count], CENSUSBUREAU
  • [Congressional economic boost], STIMULUSBILL
  • [Top-quality meat], ANGUSBEEF

I’m totally spent, but one thing I noticed solving this puzzle was a few old Crosswords Greatest Hits answers to note down: [Former SeaWorld headliner], SHAMU; [Chilean pianist Claudio], ARRAU; [Jamaican tangelo], UGLI


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27 Responses to Wednesday, February 7, 2024

  1. Henry T says:

    NYT: Wrong lyrics! it’s Lo-Lo, Lo, Lo-Lola

    • Gary R says:

      Yeah – that’s a fairly big “oops!”

    • Mutman says:

      I thought the same thing. I went to Wordplay blog and they addressed that. The puzzle was originally written with LOs but apparently the official lyrics from The Kinks has LAs, despite what you see on internet lyric pages.

      And, btw, I really liked this puzzle!

      • Eric H. says:

        “[Despite what you see on internet lyric pages.”

        I’ve visited almost every one of those sites. The stupidest and most obvious errors are repeated on almost every site. They often solicit corrections, but no one ever reads them and fixes the mistakes.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          My kid’s school was singing “Eye of the Tiger” in a show and the teacher had xeroxed a printout from a lyrics site. She did not care when I corrected her days before the big show, as the kids had already learned to sing it as “the cream of the fight” (should be “thrill”). Still mad!

          • Eric H. says:

            I’d have been mad if my kid had to sing that song at all. (But I don’t have kids.)

            I never understood that song’s appeal. (I also never much liked “Rocky” and its sequels.)

      • Henry T says:

        Well, LO is what they sing. Anyone can hear that. If you want to use the official lyrics, and not what they sing, say it in the clue.

      • m says:

        I really liked this puzzle too!

    • JohnH says:

      Interesting. I listened yet again just now on YouTube. Of course, the syllables occur many times. I’d have said that once, about 3 minutes in, it might or might not be LA LA LA LA, and once a little latter maybe LA LA LO LO, but otherwise LO.

      Funny thing about My Generation is that almost the entire time G isn’t repeated while pretty much every other initial sound is, and that’s how I’d remembered it. But at least once there you go.

    • pannonica says:

      We’d need to consult the lyrics on the original 1970 LP. I’ve found images online, but none are at a high enough resolution. I bet someone here has a copy at home.

      • Andy G says:

        I’ve loved the Kinks since the mid 60’s and have many of their albums. I pulled out “Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One” and the lyrics do say la la, etc. I can see why there are no clear images of the lyrics from the album, it’s light blue ink, on a white background, in italics and a tiny font. Hard for me to see without my magnifying glass.
        Andy G.

  2. David L says:

    I listened to Lola on YouTube and it sure sounds like LO-LO-LO-LO-LOLA to me. I can’t find the ‘official’ lyrics through google.

    CODA was new to me, and that crossing with GIFS was tricky but guessable. I found the cluing on this one harder than a typical Wednesday. Clever theme.

  3. anon says:

    AVCX: I think another part of the theme was missed in the write-up: the doubled squares (read top-to-bottom left-to-right) spell out BETS

    This was a nice puzzle

    • Eric H. says:

      My biggest mistake with the AVCX puzzle was doing it right after I finished the NYT. The Times took me an extra ten minutes or more because I had LUrID/IrONIC instead of LUCID/ICONIC, and I couldn’t find the error.

      So while I enjoyed the AVCX puzzle, I didn’t fully get the DOUBLE OR NOTHING connection: Most of the theme answers worked better to my thinking with the double- letter rebuses, but 26A “Ran” made more sense with a blank (as SPED), so I left an empty square and thought that was the NOTHING.

      The Schrödinger aspect of the theme answers is really clever (though I’m not entirely sure that “Ran” equals SEEPED). And I completely missed BETS. Thanks for pointing it out.

      • Twangster says:

        I got the “nothing” but didn’t get what we were doubling until coming here.

        But now that I see it, I think it’s SEEPED in the sense of ink bleeding, which is similar to RAN.

    • m says:

      Yes…. great puzzle!

  4. DougC says:

    NYT: Cute theme, liked this puzzle a lot! Terrific for a Wednesday.

    The fill, while maybe somewhat less than captivatingly brilliant all on it’s own, seemed completely fair and reasonable in service of the theme.

    I’ve always thought that Kinks line sounded like “lu-lu-lu-lu-loluh”. The “uh” sound could have been an “o” or an “a.” Expecting a 1970 rock band to enunciate crisply would’ve been asking too much, I’d say.

  5. PJ says:

    My Lola two cents – I bought the album when it was new. I listened to the song a lot. An awful lot. If you’ve listened to it more than me you’ve listened to it a fuck ton number of times. I’ve always heard La and I’ve always sung La.

  6. m says:

    Chen’s SQUEEZY game is quite fun, ala Connection, Wordle, spelling bee. A new daily fix for me.

Comments are closed.