Monday, June 28, 2021

BEQ tk (Jenni) 


LAT 2:05 (Stella) 


NYT untimed (Jenni) 


The New Yorker tk (pannonica) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Pamela F. Davis’s New York Times puzzle —Jenni’s write-up

This is Pamela Davis’s debut puzzle for the NYT and it has me hungry for more! I love a wordplay theme. Each entry is a food-based pun.

New York Times, June 28, 2021, #0628, Pamela F. Davis, solution grid

    • 17a [“So, this red thing, Mom? This is not good.”] is the BEET REPORT (beat report). BEAT REPORTER is more common and I don’t even care, because the clue is just as funny as the answer.
    • 27a [“The French one is my favorite. Wait, no, the pretzel one.”] is a ROLL REVERSAL (role reversal).
    • 48a [“Ewww, mollusks…I don’t know, didn’t this make me sick last time?”] is an unpleasant MUSSEL MEMORY (muscle memory).
    • 63a [“Wow, Mom, this is like at a restaurant! Dibs on the chocolate pudding!”] is a MOUSSE CALL  (moose call).

And a bonus entry at 39d [Popular meal kit (or the mother of the food critic featured in this puzzle)] is HOME CHEF. I don’t think it’s a revealer because it doesn’t really explain the theme. It’s a nice little addition, though. This theme made me giggle. It’s Monday-accessible and lots of fun. Take a look at the constructor’s notes on Wordplay for an interesting glimpse into the process.

A few other things:

  • Extra food content: SPUD and ADOBO. Also lamb in the clue for EWE.
  • Does anyone say MEGAFLOP for [Epic failure?] It was easily inferrable so I don’t mind it too much.
  • I always thought that SPOOR was animal poop, not scent. Apparently I was wrong.
  • Happy to see Phillipa SOO instead of the eponymous canals.
  • Appropriately enough, the last entry is SUPS (and the first one is SPUD).

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Meryl STREEP has won nine Golden Globe awards. So far.

Susan Gelfand’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

LAT 6/28/21 by Susan Gelfand

LAT 6/28/21 by Susan Gelfand

My 2:05 solve time notwithstanding, boy, do I find this puzzle an odd choice for a Monday. Note: This is not a dig on the constructor in the least, as it wasn’t her choice what day of the week this is for. I think Wednesday or even Thursday, with correspondingly tougher cluing, would be more appropriate.

That’s because the theme is not nearly as straightforward as one expects on Monday. Going down to the revealer at 62A [Three-goals-in-one-game hockey scoring feats … or what the ends of 17-, 28-, and 46-Across are when they’re rearranged?], we get HAT TRICKS, and boy is that revealer clue almost a paragraph. I bet it could have been a bit shorter on a later day of the week. In any case: The “trick” is that the second word in each of the theme entries can be anagrammed into a type of hat.

  • 17A [Auto on-off baking gadget] is an OVEN TIMER. Not sure I buy that definition of an OVEN TIMER. Every oven I’ve ever used merely beeps when the time is up, it doesn’t turn the oven on or off. Not saying that no OVEN TIMER does this, just that for sure not all of them do, and the clue ought to reflect that. Anyway, anagram TIMER into MITER (or MITRE if you’re a Brit), a hat that abbots and bishops wear in some Christian denominations.
  • 28A [Artisan who makes delicate items] is a GLASS BLOWER. If you’re in upstate New York, the Corning Glass Museum is worth a visit, and the live glassblowing demo is pretty damn cool. Anagram BLOWER to get BOWLER, a hat a la Charlie Chaplin.
  • 46A [Exact repetition of what was said] is a DIRECT QUOTE. Anagram QUOTE to get TOQUE. Today I learned that a TOQUE, which I most think of as those white chef’s hats, can also mean other types of brimless hats.

Which is to say: This is a fine, well-executed theme that should have run later in the week. I’m not sure that inexperienced solvers are going to pick up on “rearranged” in the revealer clue meaning “anagrammed,” or that the three hats that the words are anagrammed into are extremely well-known. MITER and TOQUE do appear in fill from time to time, but for a new or Monday-only solver, I think they’re on the tough side.

Favorite fill entry: ARAM Khachaturian at 10D, because I’ve been on a piano concerto listening kick of his lately.

Prasanna Keshava’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bound by Law”—Jim P’s review

Today’s theme entries are familiar phrases whose outer letters (the “bounds” that the title refers to) spell out a synonym for “law.”

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Bound by Law” · Prasanna Keshava · Mon., 6.28.21

  • 17a. [Taking advantage of] CASHING IN ON. Canon.
  • 28a. [Radio address from FDR] FIRESIDE CHAT. Fiat.
  • 36a. [War] ARMED CONFLICT. Act.
  • 44a. [Graph used to determine the best course to take] DECISION TREE. Decree. Nice 6-letter find.
  • 59a. [Charity fundraiser, of a sort] RUMMAGE SALE. Rule.

That works, and it’s straightforward enough for a Monday. I wouldn’t call it especially fun or exciting, but it does the job and aids the solver in filling the grid.

Top fill: SPOT CHECKS and SAFE HAVEN. I’ve never heard of REDSTARTS [Colorful warblers], so I checked and double-checked all those crossings. I’m glad to learn it though. You can listen to one here.

Tire Man, the NASCAR fan

Clues of note:

  • 54a. [Court legend Arthur]. ASHE. I got this right immediately, but that clue looks like it could almost work for King Arthur.
  • 25d. [It has belts and can be worn]. TIRE. I was now years old when I realized “worn” here means “eroded.” Good misdirection. Of course, some people do actually wear tires.

Solid grid. 3.5 stars.

Emet Ozar’s Universal crossword, “I Want the World to Know” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 6/28/21 • Mon • Ozar • “I Want the World to Know” • solution • 20210628

This puzzle is part of the Universal Pride Month series.

Between the first theme clue, its answer, and the title, I was easily able to deduce the theme, and made a correct guess on what the revealer would be.

  • 65aR [Phrase often said on October 11, or a hint to 17-, 31- and 47-Across] I’M COMING OUT. 11 October is National Coming Out Day. The crossword’s title is the second line of Donna Summer’s big disco hit and unofficial gay anthem, “I’m Coming Out“.
  • 17a. [(Birth canal)] NEWBORN BABY.
  • 31a. [(Burrow)] GROUNDHOG.
  • 47a. [(Formal ball)] DEBUTANTE. Probably the closest to the ostensible original sense of the song.

Solid stuff.

  • 4d [“Broad City” comedian Jacobson] ABBI. This seems like prime crossword fodder.
  • 32d [Thick Japanese noodle] UDON, 1d [Thin Japanese noodle] SOBA.
  • 48d [Breathe out] EXHALE. Clue reads as a bit of a duplication regarding the theme.
  • 55d [Like an indirect insult] SNIDE. I’m just going to point out to the crossword community that there’s an acclaimed if not very well known band named CLEM Snide led by EEF Barzelay.

  • 60d [People of southern Nigeria] IGBO. Another useful crossword word.
  • 19a [Slow motion in a sports video game, say?] LAG. Cute.
  • 66d [Word after “fat” or “cool”] CAT.

Liked this one. Straightforward theme (so to speak), done well, and apropos to the month’s celebration.

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20 Responses to Monday, June 28, 2021

  1. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: I, too, enjoyed the theme with its fun clues. Clearly it’s not to everyone’s taste based on the ratings, but I thought it was cute.

    One thing, though. A MEGAFLOP is an actual thing. It’s a unit of computing speed “equal to one million floating-point operations per second.” (See this site.) I tried MEGAFAIL first.

    Oh, wait. Scratch that. The actual unit is “megaflops.” The S doesn’t make it plural, it’s the “per second” part of the definition. So 1 megaflops means one million floating-point operations per second. There is no meaning of MEGAFLOP in the computing sense, so I guess the clue is okay (though I still think MEGAFAIL sounds better).

  2. Anne says:

    NYT: at this time there are 35 ratings and 10 of them are 1-star. 10! Yet not one of these critics has written anything here. If it was so bad, why be silent?

    I enjoyed the puzzle, a nice Monday.

    • huda says:

      NYT: Late in the day. But by way of hopefully constructive feedback…
      I think punny themes are tricky in general, and rather hard to pull off– some percent of the solvers will just not think they’re funny.
      Personally, I liked the answers (e.g. MUSSEL MEMORY) but did not like the clues.. French vs. Pretzel evoking ROLL was not obvious to me (Esp. on a Monday). I think the clues feel contrived because there’s supposed be this additional layer of talking to a HOME CHEF, or Mom, who is mentioned in only 2 of the clues, but hinted at in others (this is just like at a restaurant)
      But I also felt the puzzle was misplaced . Mondays are supposed to be straightforward but with a theme that’s amusing enough that it elevates the puzzle from being blah. This was certainly not blah, but it had too many layers.

  3. Billy Boy says:


    Tedious, plodding and I don’t like the specific wordplay used, one reason I don’t like the large format puzzles.

    This was like a smaller Sunday.

    I thought it Wednesday-ish.

  4. Lester says:

    TNY: I’m left with two blank squares from crossings that I can’t infer, and I don’t care what the answers are.

    • marciem says:

      I’m not sure why you posted this? Care to elaborate which squares were a problem for you?

    • JohnH says:

      I’m finding it less overbearing in its trivia than usual with Natan, although unfortunately such things include the four spanners. Mostly, though, it’s been fair and a decent challenge. I didn’t recognize FLEEK and entered it only reluctantly, but I can always blame that on me. I don’t thing I’ve ever heard of the baby deer tag and don’t really get it, but it worked out from crossings.

      I do have one blank, the crossing of Norwegian and Peggy Parish. I’ll have to look up who Parish is and where this arises.

      • Mr. Grumpy says:

        Not one but two [6A and 12D] musical things?
        I do not accept OPUSES as parts of a repertoire.
        And crossing with TARTETATIN as well?
        This may be the last LAST puzzle I bother to even look at. He gave enough decent crosses for the other junk — see FLEEK — that he put in, but I’m just plain tired of his shtick.

      • marciem says:

        Amelia Bedelia (by Peggy Parish) was a delightful housekeeper who followed instructions literally. “Bake a date cake” ended with calendar parts baked into cake batter. “Dust the furniture” ended with talcum (dusting powder) all over the place. “Draw the curtains” ended with pictures of curtains drawn by Amelia. And so on :) .

        Ya had to be there with kids :) .

        • Christopher Smith says:

          This apparently coincided directly with my childhood, yet I’ve never heard of it at all. Defnitely A Thing just, like most of this puzzle, not A Thing I know and/or care about.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      It’s probably because I got through this one in a good TNY Monday solve time (particularly since it was a Natan Last construction), but I rather enjoyed this one in spite a heavy dose of arcane-to-me answers. The stuff I didn’t have a clue about was crossed by just enough stuff that I know that I could piece it together and that’s just fine by me. After all, it’s called a crossword puzzle for a reason and I know I’m going to have to work a little to get through one that’s labeled as challenging.

      My stumbling blocks:
      KNIGHT OF LABOR {14A: Nineteenth-century industrial union} … I appreciate learning new things from crosswords
      CMT {18A: Broadcaster of “Racing Wives” and “Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team} … off my pop culture wavelength, but pretty predictable
      TARTE TATIN {24A: French fruit pastry supposedly created by accident at a hotel in Lamotte-Beuvron} … I don’t mind a little trivia in my puzzle
      FLEEK {31A: On ___} … not the first time this one has flummoxed me
      PASSES {38A: Is regarded as a member of a different identity group than one’s own} … one of those answers that makes me worry about my ability to understand my own native tongue
      POWER PUFF GIRLS {48A: With “the”, animated crime-fighting trio consisting of Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup} … if you say so
      AMELIA BEDELIA {51A: Literal-minded Peggy Parish protagonist} … I have no idea how, but I managed to fill in BEDELIA after I realized the first name was AMELIA
      NO FEE {42D: Like some real-estate listing} … if you say so
      UFFDA {43D: “Oh no!” in Norwegian-American patois} … hmm
      CIARA {8D: Collaborator with Missy Elliot on “1, 2 Step” and “Lose Control”} … another one that’s off my pop culture wavelength

      How about you, Lester? Why not expand on your solving experience for us?

      • marciem says:

        I enjoyed the new stuff I learned from Natan. My one big gripe is his non-helpful clue for FLEEK. I’ve heard this before and know it means stylish, but there are other five letter words that will fit to follow “on” , so a definition of sorts would have been more fair.

      • Billy Boy says:

        I will grudgingly admire today’s NYER as Monday is the toughest puzzle of the week I do, but this was out of my wheelhouse in a couple of spots.

        FLEEK & CIARA just had to guess, eh about as expected.

        No real complaints.

        NYT 1* up to 20, so that was thought pretty poorly received

  5. Anya Girdwood says:

    Trying not to be gratuitously mean but this is legitimately the worst NYT in recent memory, for a variety of reasons:

    — MOOSE CALL is idiomatic enough to be punned as a themer?
    — Random “Mom” angle with awkward, drawn out clues
    — Quasi revealer/plug for second tier meal prep service
    — This is not a Monday puzzle on this or any other planet in the known universe (not the constructor’s fault)

  6. Toxteth says:

    How much did HOMECHEF pay to be the puzzle theme?

  7. M483 says:

    NYT: Jenni’s review: Thinking spoor is pooh isn’t wrong. That’s about the strongest scent an animal could leave! Spoor is anything one might smell or see to track an animal.

  8. Gary R says:

    I liked the NYT. My only complaint about the theme, Jenni already mentioned – BEET REPORTer is a much more familiar phrase. Otherwise, it seemed solid. None of the homophones seemed to be of the “well, it depends on where you’re from” variety – no “bean” for “been” or “berry” for “bury.” And we got a full meal – veggie, starch, entree and dessert.

    Some of the fill was a little more challenging than the typical Monday, but after solving a typical Monday, filled with names and 10th grade vocabulary, I often ask myself why I bothered with it at all. Today was a refreshing change – I liked seeing AGAVE, ADOBO, SPOOR, and SPUMES on a Monday.

    And only six (if I counted correctly) 3-letter entries – yay!

  9. Me says:

    LAT: I agree with Stella. I wouldn’t have used that clue for OVENTIMER. If I Google OVEN TIMER, none of the hits on the first page are about ones that are auto-on/off.

    • Gary R says:

      Respectfully, I think the clue for OVEN TIMER is just fine. I cook a lot, and the OVEN TIMER is the thing built into every range I’ve ever owned that will turn the oven on/off when I set it to. I’m 64 years old, and I can count the number of times I’ve used an oven timer on the fingers of one hand. What I use almost every time I make dinner is a “kitchen timer” or just a “timer.”

      The vagaries of Google are interesting – different people get different results (I presume, based on what Google already knows about each of us). When I Google “oven timer,” most of the results on the first page relate to the auto on/off type of timer – how to set one, how to replace one on various types of ovens, etc. The rest of the results are for sites selling “kitchen timers” that they don’t actually call “oven timers.”

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        What Gary calls a “kitchen timer” is a component of my range. It doesn’t turn the oven on or off, it just chimes to tell us to check if something is done and turn the oven off if appropriate. You *could* use it to time something else and not food you’re cooking in the oven or on the stove, but that’s what cell phones are for!

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