Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
Belly up to the bar for the first puzzle of July. Each theme entry has two sets of circles.
- 17a [Devil-may-care] is the delightful HARUM-SCARUM.
- 24a [Town crier’s cry] is HEAR YE, HEAR YE.
- 51a [Rock drummer whose last name is the same as his band] is ALEX VAN HALEN.
- 62a [Accessing, as a password-restricted website] is LOGGING INTO.
And the revealer in the middle tells us what we probably already know: 39a [Bar request … or hint to the letters in the circles] is MAKE MINE A DOUBLE. Nice Monday theme – solid, consistent, and accessible – although does anyone have a “double ale?” I don’t mean a doppelbock.
It’s a lot of theme material for a 15×15; the fill didn’t rub me the wrong way, which is impressive.
A few other things:
- 1d [___ funny (genuinely humorous)] is HA-HA. I’ve always used “funny HA-HA” as something different from “funny peculiar.” The clue’s not wrong; it’s not the colloquialism I’m accustomed to. Is this regional?
- 6a [“Red, white and blue” land, for short] is the US OF A.
- Love 11d [“Absolutely, positively not!”] – NO SIREE, BOB.
- 22a [Summer romance, perhaps] is a FLING. Ah, teenage summers….although the teenage summer in this house mostly consists of FaceTiming with a boy in CA.
- We get élan in a clue this time. The answer is GUSTO.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I only remember Eddie VAN HALEN. I knew he had a brother in the band but didn’t know his name was ALEX or that he played drums.
Sara Nies and Lynn Lempel’s Universal Crossword, “Site-Seeing in France”—Judge Vic’s write-up
Seasoned vet Lynn Lempel steps up today with newbie Sara Nies to give us a clever, punny theme based on cities (sites) in France:
- 17a [Satellite broadcasts in a French city in Brittany?] BREST FEEDS
- 22a [Switchboard worker in a French city in the Loire Valley?] TOURS OPERATOR
- 45a [Starting acts in a French city on the Cote d’Azur?] CANNES OPENERS–Cannes, by the way, is pronounced can, not con.
- 52a [More than half the adults in a French city near Belgium?] LILLE WOMEN–I love this one, perhaps because I grew up with folks who pronounced little with silent t‘s.
Other stuff I liked:
- 29a [Scribbles’ spots] NOTEPADS
- 42a [Picnic competition] SACK RACE
- 4d [Dress rehearsal] TEST RUN
- 10d [Cereal buyer’s proof of purchase] BOX TOP
- 11d [Mobile photographer’s convenience] CAMERA PHONE
- 24d [A driver may have one] UBER ACCOUNT
- 41d [Establish precisely] PIN DOWN
My least faves:
- 28a [Photographer Diane] ARBUS
- 36a [Ouster] DEPOSAL
- 30d [More precious] DEARER
Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword—Ben’s review
If Kam’s fantastic Saturday puzzle didn’t fill your need for high-quality themelesses, he’s also got today’s New Yorker puzzle.
Let’s take a sec to look at how pretty that pattern of black squares in the grid is. Okay, second over, let’s talk about the fill:
- The New Yorker used featured fill NOTE PAPER as a jumping off point to link to a fascinating article on why we still get paper jams. Check it out!
- Kam does a great job with longer fill in grids like this – I really dug the downs in this grid’s corners – ANNA PAVLOVA, COUTURIERES, EXPEDIENTS, SOLAR CORONA, A VOTRE SANTE, and MCGRIDDLES.
- Also great, in the fill department: MOMMYBLOG, CAME ALIVE, I’M ON A DIET, GOES STALE, DRAWBAR, GE BUILDING
Hope you enjoyed solving this as much as I did! ENTER STEREOLAB:
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “The Coast is Clear”—Jenni’s review
A seasonally appropriate theme celebrating the one place I’d rather be than here on my screened porch.
We have three starred answers plus a revealer.
- 18a [*Cereal that Sonny the Cuckoo Bird is “cuckoo for”] is COCOA PUFFS. We’re all hearing Sonny in our heads now, right?
- 26a [*The Pontiac GTO and the Dodge Challenger, e.g.] are MUSCLE CARS,
- 46a [*Life line examiner] is a PALM READER.
And the revealer at 58a: [Coastal strip of land, and a hint to the starts of the starred answers] is BEACHFRONT. COCOA BEACH, MUSCLE BEACH, and PALM BEACH. Very nice.
A few other things:
- 1a [Ready to drop] is BEAT. David and I just finished discussing the crop of fruit on our fig tree, so I dropped in RIPE.
- 4d [North Carolina crop] is TOBACCO. I did a bit of online research and it appears that tobacco remains North Carolina’s most economically important crop, although it is not the financial behemoth it once was.
- 6d [Typographical face] is not the name of a font. It’s an EMOTICON.
- 32d [Plant that yields mescal] is the AGAVE. David is retired and has taken up cocktail-making as one of his new hobbies. He’s a big mescal fan.
- 53d [“Damn Yankees” role] is LOLA. I’ve been watching “Fosse/Verdon” while I recover. It’s very well done and often painful to watch. I enjoyed this piece on Nicole Fosse and her role in the production.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Swee’Pea was POPEYE‘s adopted son.
I leave you with Gwen Verdon.
NYT: I thought it was an awesome Monday
Agreed — a way above-average Monday, at that.
NYT: A double ale is definitely not a thing. I would also say that double gins and double rums are not very commonly ordered. In my experience, doubles are most common with liquors that are ordered straight or neat, such as bourbon, scotch, etc. (A former board member of the company I work for once ordered a quad of scotch. That’s the first time I ever heard of that!)
There is, at least, such a thing as a double India Pale Ale. Whether there is such a thing as just a double ale I admit don’t know.
I didn’t take the puzzle that way. I just took it to mean that the circled letters would be doubling a drink. If you asked me whether “double rye” was an order, I couldn’t have told you. (I do like double IPAs, though, not that they’d help here.)
wait i thought [Photographer Diane] in the universal was a highlight, why would it be a least fave
Exactly. A terrific artist who arguably isn’t seen enough in puzzles, in my opinion. Maybe it’s not an ILSA? (I still don’t know what exactly that term means, and I’m increasingly annoyed by its constant usage in his reviews – I’ve come to think of it as a vacuous buzzword).
Diane Arbus is an ILSA. Two-unit names of real people are almost by definition included within its ambit. My take on Universal Crosswords is that they are typically blessed with a Tuesday-ish difficulty level. I see Arbus as being a notch beyond that. She was not familiar to me until I began studying her through crosswords.
An analogous name for universal purposes is Alexis Bledel. The name is an ILSA, and I loved her in every episode of “Gilmore Girls.” But look at Ginsberg’s database. She’s been in two puzzles, one of them unID-able and one of them a Saturday Times.
For Universal, she’s too hard for its picky solvers.
alexis bledel has one more emmy than 37-down – i don’t think her being scarce in puzzles proves what you think it proves, but i agree there’s an analogy
Vic, inclusion in a clue database only tells us what constructors — more than 70% male for at least the past 10 years, probably longer — have considered important or interesting enough to include in puzzles. It isn’t a reliable indicator of what the solving population does/doesn’t know.
For ex.: Shortz recently clued TONI as the retired-in-2006 athlete Kukoc despite his having a fraction as many Google hits (355K) as 3 famous female TONIs: Toni Braxton has 11.4mil, Toni Morrison has 5.5mil, and Toni Collette has 4.6mil. Even Toni Tennille (1970s singer) has more than 1mil. And considering the dearth of women in fill and clues, that was an appalling choice on his part (even if the constructor clued it, not Shortz, he allowed its publication).
Diane Arbus has 2.3mil hits — more than enough to assume that a good chunk of the solving population will know of her. (And, solvers’ knowledge base won’t expand as long as editors — *all* of whom are men — and constructors include only the same old.)
I’m writing in an earnest tone and I hope that’s “heard”; I enjoy your reviews, and I respect your broad skill set.
DD: Trip Payne and I are co-editors of Crosswords With Friends, and Patti Varol is the editor of Daily POP Crosswords. Both of these mobile-only puzzle venues publish more puzzles by female constructors and have female editors. Not everybody wants to solve 13×13 pop culture crosswords, but then again, not everybody is interested in newspaper crosswords that invariably include crosswordese and tend to be more male-dominated. Liz Gorski’s Crossword Nation weekly puzzle also offers crosswords that don’t stint on clues/fill relating to women. And then there’s the Inkubator crossword, every two weeks—all puzzles constructed and edited by women.
I disagree that a first or last name entry is somehow inferior.
Given how very rare 12-letter fill is in crosswords, of course ALEXISBLEDEL doesn’t appear much! And her last name, two-thirds consonants, isn’t going to show up much, either. First name contains a tricky X.
lk — ILSA = “In-the-language, stand-alone” phrase or term.
Thx. For 13 years I’ve worked on this vacuous buzzword!
I have a question about the bonus AVCX puzzle from Friday, 6/28: “Queening It Up”, by Stella Zawistowski. I would love to know more about the drag queen references, as they are unfamiliar to me (for instance, 11D, “Perfectly painted to resemble a feline, as a drag queen” for TIGER BEAT, or 20A, “Super-feminine Scandinavian drag queen”, for SWEDISH FISH). I feel as though I’m right on the edge of understanding these, but not quite there.
I know that there are not always resources to review every puzzle ever, but if anyone would like to enlighten me, that would be great. It was a really interesting puzzle. Thanks!
I second Lise’s request for an explanation of the theme of Stella’s puzzle! Just like Lise, I feel like I _almost_ get it, but not quite.
As for today’s puzzles, I got horribly Naticked by the New Yorker puzzle and had two wrong squares. 5-down (YAEGER) and 19-across (IGBY) are complete unknowns to me, and for 6-down I had BLOTS instead of BLOBS. Can’t remember the last time I finished a themeless with two errors.
Here’s a brief glossary of drag terms that should help.
Okay, thanks, this does help. I should have tried to look this up myself. I didn’t think that “shade” was used in the throwing shade sense in the Window Shade answer, but I guess it is.
Thanks for the illumination!
Also, now that I understand it, I think the puzzle was all kinds of clever, and I am appreciating it a lot more. More from Stella!
Is Universal a subscription? Trying to find it an no luck- anyone have website? Thanks
It’s also found, along with the extra Sunday 21×21, on the Today’s Puzzles page right here.
Wall Street Journal puzzle not available at Today’s Puzzles.
Not available on the WSJ website either!
Maybe WSJ is celebrating Canada Day!
It’s up now. And Happy Canada Day ?
Across Lite version is up now.
Thank you, Martin!
Re: WSJ, it’s really FOUR starred entries (plus the revealer): LONG AGO –> LONG BEACH.
Big problem with today’s NYT: no one ever says “I’ll have a Bass Ale, and make it a double”
Seems like a deal killer to me
Come on, why are we missing the LAT again? So soon? It can’t be because we are on the west coast when you get the puzzles by computer. I have to wait for my paper every morning, and if I can get it, why can’t you?
I love this blog and I really enjoy all the contributors, so please don’t take this personally!
Joan, dial it down! Not a single one of us bloggers is getting paid to write about puzzles here. (The blog donations—which we are truly grateful for—all go to cover the web-hosting and domain name server expenses, and to pay for a Team Fiend dinner at ACPT.) Between jobs, family duties, vacations, and illnesses, sometimes we do miss a puzzle, and we appreciate our readers’ understanding.