Wednesday, July 10, 2024

AV Club untimed (Amy) 


LAT 4:42 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 2:28 (Kyle) 


NYT 4:16 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 11:49 (Emily) 


WSJ 5:47 (Jim) 


George Jasper’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pier-to-Pier”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are American port cities that start with the letter B. The revealer is USB PORT (61a, [PC connection site, and a hint to each starred answer]). (Hint: re-parse the revealer as U.S. B PORT.)

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Pier-to-Pier” · George Jasper · Wed., 7.10.24

  • 4a. [*City located at the east end of Lake Erie] BUFFALO.
  • 24a. [*With 48-Across, capital city on the Mississippi] BATON / ROUGE.
  • 33a. [*City on the banks of the Charles] BOSTON.
  • 34a. [*City whose harbor empties into the Chesapeake Bay] BALTIMORE.
  • 36a. [*Magnolia State city on the Gulf of Mexico] BILOXI.

Cute theme. And I looove the title which hints at the realm of computing, just like the revealer. Chef’s kiss on that title! I also enjoyed the consistency of clues highlighting the bodies of water associated with each city and the fact that they’re all different bodies of water. Nice!

Fill highlights: AREA MAP, “BE STILL,” LANGUID, ONE-STOP shop, DEFUNCT, JERICHO, GRAB BAG, PALE ALE, and ALGEBRA. That L-SHAPED [Like an angle bracket]/ LALO [“Symphonie Espagnole” composer Édouard] crossing at the first letter is bit unfair though. An educated guess might tell you that an angle bracket is L-SHAPED but there’s no guarantee. Thankfully for me, I know the name LALO Schifrin (composer of the “Mission: Impossible” theme) which proved very helpful here.

Clues of note:

  • 54a. [Make the cut?]. OPERATE. Like a surgeon.
  • 9d. [Dey job?]. L.A. LAW. Susan Dey played Grace Van Owen on that show.
  • 41d. [Subject full of unknowns]. ALGEBRA. Cute clue.

Nicely executed theme and a solid grid. 3.75 stars.

Hal Moore’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 7/10/24 – no. 0710

We get a sports theme today, during the month that the Tour de France bike race goes on. My husband used to watch the Tour each summer, but now he’s got other sports that draw his interest—soccer with the Euro and the Copa América, track and field (Olympic trials and pro competition), Wimbledon … at any rate, much of the sports stuff I can fill in in crosswords is by osmosis. The diagonal circled letters spell out the ALPS and the PYRENEES, mountains that the Tour competitors ride up and down.

  • 8d. [Segment of this puzzle’s race], clues TIME TRIAL. Individuals racing against the clock, rather than a large group competing to finish a leg first.
  • 16d. [Typical ending point for this puzzle’s race], CHAMPS ELYSEES in Paris. I always want a d’ in there.
  • 48a. [Three-week bike race, such as the one featured in this puzzle], GRAND TOUR. Didn’t know that was a term. Guessing it also applies to Giro d’Italia and other multi-stage torments.
  • 40a. [Hard patterns to break … or a punny description of the climbs up the circled letters], VICIOUS CYCLES. The mountain stages are indeed vicious to complete!

The grid’s got diagonal symmetry, allowing the mountain ranges to not intersect with those four long themers.

A trivia tidbit from this month’s Tour de France: For the first time, a Black/African cyclist won a stage in the event, stage 3. Biniam Girmay of Eritrea followed that up by also winning stage 8. Anyway … I’m still mad at the American cyclist Lance Armstrong for doping and cheating his way to victories. If you can’t win honestly, don’t be a dirtbag and steal victory.

Fave fill: SAT SHIVA, IP ADDRESS (did it mess with your mind that the first four letters are IPAD?), STEP CLASS. I could always do without EELED.

Three more things:

  • 5d. [Singer/activist Horne], LENA. Such a legend! Memo to constructors and puzzle editors: Per a new New Yorker piece, LENA Dunham has some projects (film, TV, book) in the works, so keep an eye out for fresh cluing angles! ALBA is also in this puzzle, and Jessica Alba is in a recent Netflix movie called Trigger Warning.
  • 19a. [Most reserved], SHIEST. This is legit, but I much prefer the shyest spelling. How long till SHIESTY shows up in a newspaper crossword?
  • 33a. [“Cum On Feel the Noize” band, 1973], SLADE. I really wanted to find a way to fit QUIET RIOT in here (they did a 1980s cover).

Four stars from me.

Maia McCormick & Michael Lieberman’s AV Club Classic crossword, “Dated Advice”—Amy’s summary

AV Club Classic crossword solution, 7/10/24 – “Dated Advice”

OK, it’s too late in the evening for me to do a 21x puzzle, so I auto-filled the solution. The theme revealer is SEIZE THE DAY, and there are two-pronged rebus squares where you “C’s the day”: The double C in MAGIC CARPETS, GENETIC CODE, SATANIC CULT, MARC CHAGALL, and (meh) IONIC CHARGE becomes MON, TUE, WED, THU, and FRI in their down crossings. For example, I'{M ON}LY HUMAN. Neat.

Fill that catches my eye as I peruse the completed grid: UNBEATABLE, food show host and NBA spouse AYESHA Curry, [Traditional Japanese dagger] TANTO (never heard of that one!), DASHI (learned this term from Top Chef), KSTEW (Kristen Stewart is shortened to KStew), thematic BILL O{F RIGHT}S (which makes me think of Bill O’Reilly as Bill O’Frights), SIDE QUEST, STAR ANISE (too popular on Top Chef), “DON’T WAIT UP,” UNDEAD, and ALGORITHM.

Didn’t solve the puzzle so I can’t weigh in on the clue vibes. I do like the theme quite a bit, though.

Shannon Rapp and Will Eisenberg’s Universal crossword, “Fly Back” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 7/10/24 • Wed • “Fly Back” • Rapp, Eisenberg • solution • 20240710

Not 100% sure about the theme here, so let’s check it together.

  • 56aR [Travis Kelce and George Kittle, e.g., and a hint to the starred clues’ answers] TIGHT ENDS. I think we’re dealing with various senses of ‘tight’. Let me check the definitions from …
  • 17a. [*Remains calm] KEEPS COOL. Well, for starters, cool appears twice among the near-antonyms in the thesaurus listing. Closest definition I can find is sense 9: capable, competent (chiefly dialectical).
  • 23a. [*2017 film co-written by Emily V. Gordon] THE BIG SICK. Hmm, sick = tight? Not finding an appropriate sense for that. Perhaps m-w is not the best resource here.
  • 32a. [*Ali’s technique in the Rumble in the Jungle] ROPE-A-DOPE. So, dope? Not getting this one either. Okay, Wiktionary, (adj.) sense 5: extraordinarily great or special. I guess this sense could also work for sick, above. (48d [Boxer Ali who was on “The Masked Singer”] LAILA.)
  • 46a. [*Class covering Austen and Eliot, informally] ENGLISH LITsense 8: slightly drunk.

Okay, wait. I’ve had it all wrong. There isn’t a different sense for each theme answer. All of them are slang synonyms for Wiktionary’s sense 5. Maybe I’m too out of touch, but it feels like more work than should be necessary to comprehend a theme.

  • 7d [Opposite of poetry] PROSE. Opposite?
  • 26d [Swear words heard in church?] I DO. 27a [United] ONE.
  • 37d [Refused to feel shame] OWNED IT. Colloquial.
  • 38d [Campari cocktail] NEGRONI. Big fan.
  • 56d [Palindromic hashtag whose last letter stands for “Thursday”] TBTthrowback Thursday.
  • 1a [Infomercials and such] ADS. Yep, nothing more.
  • 29a [Went back to black, perhaps] DYED.
  • 30a [Sandwich to which an “A” (for avocado) might be added] BLT. How does that work? BLAT? BALT? ABLT? BLTA?

Caitlin Reid’s New Yorker crossword – Kyle’s write-up

Thanks Caitlin for today’s puzzle.

The New Yorker solution grid – Caitlin Reid – Wednesday 07/10/2024

This offering felt a bit flat to me, compared to other recent New Yorker Wednesday puzzles (including others by Caitlin). The grid is well-made, to be sure–no bad crosses and a good mix of fill–but it just feels a bit uninspiring to see a lot of familiar fill, especially in the long answers. To be sure, that’s not entirely the constructor’s fault–I solve lots of puzzles, and so the chances of encountering the same fill are objectively higher. In this case, the long marquee entry “GETS ME EVERY TIME!”–a great answer on its own!–is something I just saw recently elsewhere (I think in a themeless by Amanda Rafkin) so it didn’t carry the effect of novelty. “WELL LA-DI-DA” is an entry that actually appeared in one of my own themelesses earlier this year–again, nothing to be done about that. I’m a bit more put off by the presence of “I NEED SPACE”, which also appeared in this New Yorker crossword by Liz Gorski in March of this year. Granted, one could argue that the solving audience for New Yorker’s tougher Mondays and beginner-level Wednesdays won’t overlap much; but it seems to me that if you’re going to run a crossword series entirely devoted to themelesses, ensuring a minimum amount of time between appearances of long entries (maybe a year?) would serve well. Editors at many other venues are not shy about saying “we’ve run ____ recently in a themeless and would like to wait to run it again”, so why not at the New Yorker, especially given the talent in their constructor lineup?

I did like the symmetric duo of Ed Sheeran’s “BAD HABITS” (can’t say I know the song though) and the Elton John biopic ROCKET MAN. And the weird, wonderful clue for COSTCO: [Bulk retailer that hasn’t changed the price of its hot dogs since introducing them in the eighties].

Seth Bisen-Hersh’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

Today, Seth Bisen-Hersh offers us a typical mid-week LA Times theme concept. BIGBREAK is the central and explanatory answer, and four long across answers begin and end with letters that spell out synonyms for BIG. The entries themselves didn’t seem the most engaging, though this may be due to a relatively short list of entries that can fit the theme’s criteria. So:

  • [Small, rustic house on a game reserve], HUNTINGLODGE.
  • [Vacation spot in the Adirondacks], LAKEGEORGE. Maybe this means more to USians?
  • [Joins the table], GRABSASEAT
  • [Changing price], VARIABLECOST

Interesting clues and answers:

  • [Stage name of actor Raiford Chatman Davis], OSSIE. Talk about buried in the details!
  • [Muppeteer Jerry], NELSON. Had to look him up. He was one of the puppeteers on Sesame Street.
  • [Gloves, gowns, and goggles in the ER], PPE. Technical vocab that went mainstream for a bit…
  • [Irish brew], REDALE. Never encountered it, though parts of America have a lot of Irish influence, so I dare say it’s encountered Stateside?


Katja Brinck & Shannon Rapp’s USA Today Crossword, “Split Peas” — Emily’s write-up

Eat up!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday July 10, 2024

USA Today, July 10, 2024, “Split Peas” by Katja Brinck & Shannon Rapp

Theme: each themer contains PEAS, split at different spots


  • 20a. [Spots to enjoy meals on blankets, maybe], PICNICAREAS
  • 37a. [Meat pies, in a manner of speaking], PEPPERONIPIZZAS
  • 53a. [Fuzzy navel ingredients], PEACHSCHNAPPS

Delightful themer set today, though I needed crossings to get each of them started. Just be sure to check PICNICAREAS rules before going. PEPPERONIPIZZAS should be fine but the PEACHSCHNAPPS might have to be enjoyed else where. Also, with the theme, the split continues to shift with each consecutive themer—so good!

Favorite fill: AHORA, LOONS, SEGA, and UNAGI

Stumpers: MTV (could only think of “jock” which I know are albums but I was stuck on that association), WEEMS (new to me), and DOLE (only “mete” came to mind)

A fun puzzle though the cluing was a bit trickier today. Everything was fairly crossed so eventually I got everything, it just took a while.

4.25 stars


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17 Responses to Wednesday, July 10, 2024

  1. Sarah says:

    So I’m completely obsessed with this band Slade now.
    Of all the new things I’ve discovered through crosswords, this horrifying plaid top hat may be my favorite.

    • pannonica says:

      What about the spangled wimple?

    • rob says:

      NYT: I was listening to my classic rock station this afternoon (Q104.3 based in NYC) and they played “Cum on Feel the Noize” by Quiet Riot. Go figure! I had forgotten that this song was originally done by Slade. By the way, I enjoyed today’s puzzle.

  2. David L says:

    Strange coincidence dept: I hadn’t heard the name NED Rorem in ages, but then a piece of his was played on the radio yesterday as I was driving home (courtesy of Maine Classical, an excellent PBS station), and then he shows up in the crossword today. He used to put in regular appearances in days gone by, but tempus fugit, as it does.

    Oh, the crossword? It was OK, I guess.

  3. JohnH says:

    I’d no idea about or prior interest in the NYT theme, and it made tracking down the theme entries a bit strange. (At least at first I took the circled diagonals not taking one all that far into the grid as a flaw, but there’s more!) I didn’t worry about picturing the route with mountain circles (ok, that makes sense) and from one side of a mountain range to the far side of another, ending north of the middle. But I ended up liking the added difficulty and the sheer density of theme fill. I’d swear, though, that one says vicious circles, not CYCLES. Or maybe a jokey shift from the actual idiom is intentional.

  4. Katie says:

    NYT: Ah, Le Tour! If you haven’t read up on the early years of the Tour de France before (with cyclists smoking and drinking along the way), it’s worth looking into, for kicks:

    …and the famous blacksmithing incident (to repair a broken fork on a Peugeot) in 1913: Eugène_Christophe

    Finally, Champs-Élysées isn’t merely the “typical” end-point of TdF, I think? (2024 ends in Nice due to the Paris Olympics, but I think previously it had always ended there?)

    I _used_ to follow the Tour each year. Not so much lately… Good puzzle, though, for me. (i.e., could see the theme pretty early, and had fun anticipating the theme entries).

  5. Simon says:

    Re NYT puzzle – yes, the first four letters of 3D threw me for a while! Very clever misdirection.

  6. Eric H. says:

    Universal: Like pannonica, I struggled to make sense of the theme at the end. I decided LIT in the sense of “drunk” somehow made sense, but of course it doesn’t.

    When I have seen a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with avocado on a menu, I think it’s been listed as a BLAT. They’re very tasty, but I love a good BLT, and what’s not to like about avocado?

    AVXC: I really wish I hadn’t done that one last night as I was falling asleep. I struggled to make sense of the Down answers that had rebuses, partly because of the rebuses, but also because several answers throughout the puzzle were infamiliar. It didn’t help that I didn’t notice that I was spelling MAGI[CC]ARPETS with a single C.

    I put CC in all the rebus squares, but Across Lite didn’t like that. I ended up revealing the square that had FRI in it. It wasn’t until then that I understood the theme.

    Last night, I was peeved that there was no SAT, but seeing now that SUN is also missing, I”m OK with not having Saturday.

    I CALL BS irritates me every time I see it. It’s so much more self-centered than merely calling something bullshit.

  7. Leslie says:

    Re: July 10 Universal ‘Fly Back’, I don’t believe pannonica or Eric H even got close to the theme explanation. Neither included what the title ‘Fly back’ and the hint ‘tight ends’ had to do with the starred answers ‘keepscool’, ‘thebigsick’, ‘ropeadope’, and ‘englishlit’??? I still don’t get it? Anybody got it? Thanks.

    • pannonica says:

      Fly is another slangy synonym for ‘extraordinarily great or special’, as is tight. Each of the theme synonyms—including the title and revealer—appears at the end, or back, of the phrase.

      I should have been more explicit, but got caught up in the why of it all.

      • Eric H. says:

        I wasn’t clear in my original comment. Your explanation of the theme makes a whole lot more sense than my “drunk” interpretation.

  8. Leslie says:

    I guess I get it now. Thanks for coming back pannonica. I didn’t know ‘fly’ as an adjective synonym for great/awesome. And reckon I know ‘cool’ and ‘dope’ as synonyms for ‘good’. But didn’t know ‘lit’ was, and don’t generally think of ‘sick’ as ‘great’ synonym. I guess I forgive myself for not getting this one. Coulda never have done it without you pannonica. Many thanks!

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