Monday, June 13, 2022

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 2:23 (Stella) 


NYT 4:46 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 6:39 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today untimed (malaika) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Hoang-Kim Vu and Jessica Zetzman’s New York Times puzzle– Sophia’s write-up

New York Times, 06 13 2022, By Hoang-Kim Vu and Jessica Zetzman

Theme: Today’s puzzle involves JUMPSUITS – that is, each of the four suits in a deck of cards (hearts, clubs, spades, diamonds) is embedded into this puzzle, with the second half of the suit a row higher than the first. Thus, the suit is “jumping” up to the next row.

I really liked this theme! I’m a serious card player so anything card-related will make me happy, and the wordplay is solidly amusing. While I was solving, I noticed that the shaded letters contained the suits, but I didn’t guess the revealer until I got to it. Thus, I was able to use the theme to put in some answers, but I still got an aha moment at the end.

The only thing I didn’t love about the theme was that most of the “suit” entries were a little boring (with the exception being PIE CHARTS). I think this is because the amount of thematic material forced the constructors to use shorter words, which are oftentimes difficult to make stand out. Almost all of the “suit” entries have the suit in the beginning or the end of the word, with the exception of the HE in BEACHED. I wonder if allowing the suits to be anywhere in their respective words could have allowed more interesting options? Either way, if the fill had been a touch more exciting, I think this puzzle would have been elevated from “very good” to “truly amazing”.

Other notes:

  • Maybe this is me, but I 100% would go with the “ufc/uturn” cross over KFC/KTURN. I was certain I had something wrong in the SE corner, especially when FETID also showed up! Given how isolated that corner is, I feel like there’s got to be more Monday-level fill.
  • Besides the KTURN debacle, my biggest hold up today was “radio” over RADAR for [Air traffic control equipment]. Oh, and I also lost about a minute of time searching for an error, which turned out to be me mistyping OCELOTS.
  • My favorite clues today: the meta [You’re reading one right now] for CLUE, and [Kings of Leon or Queens of the Stone Age] for BAND, which felt appropriate in a playing card related puzzle!
  • I now have “My Heart Will Go On” stuck in my head, and I blame this puzzle. “NEAR, far, whereeeeeeeever you are…..”

Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend!

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Remote Learning”—Jim P’s review

The revealer is FINISHING SCHOOL (62a, [Where a young woman once learned social skills, and what each starred answer has]). The theme answers are familiar two-word phrases which end in (or “finish” with) a word that is also the name of an American university.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Remote Learning” · Mike Shenk · Mon., 6.13.22

  • 17a. [*Victoria’s place] BRITISH COLUMBIA.
  • 24a. [*Door worker] LOCKSMITH.
  • 52a. [*Luxembourg’s monarch Henri, e.g.] GRAND DUKE.
  • 3d. [*Chinese restaurant offering] FRIED RICE.
  • 35d. [*Mocha] DARK BROWN.

Nice straightforward theme for a Monday with just a smidge of wordplay. I caught sight of the school names after getting the top three theme answers but needed the revealer to tie it together. And that it did. My only nit is the title which I can’t seem to make work with the theme. “Remote Learning” implies something is separated or distanced, and that’s not a feature of this theme.

Not a lot of flash in the grid since we have a couple of theme answers in the Down direction, but the fill is smooth all around.

Clue of note: 4d. [David or Moses]. PAINTER. Not a Monday-level clue. Grandma Moses I sussed out, but the other…Jacque-Louis David, I gather? Not a name in the forefront of my mind, but I do recognize Napoleon Crossing the Alps.

Other than that tough clue, we have a smooth grid and quick solve with an accessible Monday theme. 3.5 stars.

John Lieb’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 6/13/22 by John Lieb

Los Angeles Times 6/13/22 by John Lieb

I’ve worked with John Lieb for a couple of years now as a test solver for the various Boswords tournaments, so it’s a pleasure to see his byline on a puzzle. This one, I think, might have been better suited to a Tuesday or even a Wednesday than a Monday, but that’s not on him!

The revealer, which I had to hunt for, is the final Across answer, 69A [Superlative acronym spelled out by the starts of the answers to the starred clues], GOAT. Which in this case does not mean an animal with beards and a horn, but rather the acronym that’s short for GREATEST OF ALL TIME. And when you look at the starred clues — 20-, 34-, 42-, and 54-Across — the first word in each of the theme answers is GREATEST, OF, ALL, and TIME respectively:

  • 20A [*Title of many compilation albums] is GREATEST HITS.
  • 34A [*Not at all talkative] is OF FEW WORDS.
  • 42A [*Taylor Swift song with the lyrics “You can’t get rid of it / ‘Cause you remember it …”] is ALL TOO WELL.
  • 54A [*”There’s no way to know yet”] is TIME WILL TELL.

I think the not-so-typical theme trope, plus some tougher answers in the grid like SOLFA, DOTH (which could easily be HATH as clued), PYRITE, OREM, and ECCO mean this puzzle would make more sense on a later day of the week. But again, that’s no fault of the puzzle itself.

Sara Nies and Ross Trudeau’s Universal crossword, “Gallic Travels” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 6/13/22 • Mon • Nies, Trudeau • “Gallic Travels” • solution • 20220613

No wordplay in the title, FAR (64d) as I can tell.

  • 60aR [Annual bike race, and a theme hint] THE TOUR DE FRANCE.
  • 17a. [Trip to a celebrated wine region?] CHAMPAGNE FLIGHT.
  • 29a. [Clothes to pack for the Riviera?] NICE THREADS.
  • 49a. [Luxury hotel in the City of Light?] PARIS HILTON, which pretty much recapitulates the ‘joke’ of the socialite’s name, right?

Theme feels kind of insubstantial to me.

  • 1a [Like a recently robbed bank vault’s door, say] AJAR. I was so confident it was simply OPEN.
  • 28a [Jiro of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi“] ONO. I liked the documentary, but ironically found the aesthetics (of the film, not the sushi) somewhat wanting.
  • 44a [College app letters] RECS. Not software, just the letters of recommendation for the entrance application.
  • 11d [Bones and tennis balls, e.g.] DOG TOYS. Strangely, it took a while for this one to register for me.
  • 31d [Cal Poly city, for short] SLO. This must be San Luis Obispo.
  • 46d [Ludicrous] COMICAL.

Erik Agard & Neville Fogarty’s USA Today puzzle, “SLRs”– malaika’s write-up

USA Today– SLRs

Good morning, squad! I feel like this puzzle has bonded me and Neville bc now we have both collaborated with Erik on a USA Today puzzle that features an “Abbott Elementary” actress as a theme answer. In this one, we’ve got SHERYL LEE RALPH, who (as the title suggests) has the initials SLR. The other theme answers are STATE LINE ROAD, SRI LANKAN RUPEE, and ST. LOUIS RAMS which were new-ish to me (e.g., I didn’t know they used rupees in Sri Lanka) but easy enough. (I did try “lane” and “land” before LINE, the latter makes much more sense.) I am wowed at how they crossed the central theme answers while maintaining symmetry and clean fill.

Other fun stuff in here were some repeat clues (“Name that sounds like two letters” for KATY and ELLEN, and “Word in two / four U.S. state names” for CAROLINA and NEW) and mid-length fill like CAMERA and SUNBATHE. That last one was a nice reminder that I will be on vacation in three short days.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up

New Yorker crossword solution, 6 13 22, Natan Last

What have we here? A 66-worder from Natan.

New to me: 36a. [Figure in Greek mythology whose name roughly means “manifestation of God” and who gave birth to the ram with the golden fleece], THEOPHANE. The THEO- part was inferrable but no, I don’t know the Greek root pertaining to “manifestation.”

Fave fill: GALADRIEL, BOOT CAMPS (clever clue, [Military trials?]), KALE CHIPS, QUARRIES, CATCHES AIR, GOTCHAS, TABLE-HOPS, AMANITA mushrooms.

Not keen on “I’M A FOOL,” “NO TIME,” KHANATE.

Three more things:

  • 16a. [“I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false ___ in the windowpane”: “Pale Fire”], AZURE. Clearly I’ve never read this Nabokov novel, because I had no idea it was written in verse (as a 999-line poem written by a core character).
  • 1a. [Owning the ___ (conservative strategy of performatively inflaming Democratic outrage)], LIBS. One of my favorite examples of owning the libs is when there was a Nike ad or statement that riled the right-wingers, who proceeded to burn the Nike merchandise they had already paid Nike for.
  • 3d. [Frequent accessory for Isaac Asimov], BOLO TIE. Yuck. Asimov deterred so many women from participating in science fiction via his groping.

Four stars from me.

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13 Responses to Monday, June 13, 2022

  1. David L says:

    Very nice Monday theme and puzzle.

    (except for KTURN)

    • Gary R says:

      I didn’t care for K-TURN either – have never heard the term. I know it as a Y-turn – maybe it’s regional.

  2. dh says:

    I don’t understand 37A of the UC – “Colors after a breakup, maybe”. DYES? If a corporation gets broken up, do the execs dye their hair? Or does that happen after the breakup of a relationship? Did all of the SSRs dye their flags after the breakup of the Soviet Union? What am I missing?

    I didn’t like “Paris Hilton” either; just seemed like a recapitulation of the “joke” of her name.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I didn’t understand the clue for DYES either. Do people dye their hair after a romantic break-up these days?

  3. PJ says:

    WSJ – kind of an elitist puzzle from the revealer to the theme entries. I concede the theme lends itself to private schools. The tuition for these schools begins north of $50,000/year. A good chunk of these are named for wealthy 18th and 19th century Americans, a notoriously suspect lot that includes a slave trader and a sailor from the Confederate Navy. Probably a robber baron or two. And Columbus.

  4. sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ … Even musty ol’ me noticed how musty the references were in this puzzle. It’s no wonder that I zipped right through it. IAN {21A: McKellen of “X-Men”} first played Magneto in 2000. The TODDS {44D: Baseball’s Stottlemyre and Zeile} last played Major League Baseball in 2002 and 2004, respectively. DDT {23A: Banned pesticide} was banned in 2004. I’m not sure about this one, but as best as I can determine, the latest generation of the UNSER family {19D: Racing family surname} hasn’t raced professionally since 2008. DAN {58A: Quarterback Marino} retired in 1999. “Reservoir Dogs” came out in 1992 (ROTH {51D: Tim of “Reservoir Dogs”}). REM {47A: Band from Athens, Georgia} disbanded in 2011. KERN {39D: “Show Boat” composer}, LORNE {33D: “SNL” producer Michaels}, ARNIE {54D: Golf’s Palmer, to his fans}, O’TOOLE {68A: Peter of “The Lion in Winter”}, NASH {42A: Punny poet Ogden} … all musty. This puzzle might very well have been constructed 20 years ago with exactly the same cluing. I’d be very surprised if MS didn’t pull this one out of his deep archives. At least he could have updated the cluing a little bit.

    • David Roll says:

      I think it was fine. The Greek God of War is a lot older but gets no complaints.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I’d put ARES in a different category of answer the the ones I mention. At this point, I’d say that KERN, NASH and even ARNIE kind of straddle the line between pop culture and historic references. I’m a huge sports fan, so I don’t mind sports references in my puzzles (I would have known this one without crosses), but I have to say that expecting even sports-knowledgeable solvers to recognize Stottlemyre and Zeile is a stretch in 2022, especially in a Monday puzzle.

        • marciem says:

          Seems like in the past couple days we’ve had more than one reference to Sam Snead, who was old news before I ever did a crossword. I haven’t seen any complaints.

  5. PJ says:

    TNY – Learning of Asimov’s history of sexual assault is one of the most disappointing things I’ve learned. “Asimov on Numbers” was one of my favorites. The concept of psychohistory found in the Foundation trilogy made a lot of sense. At least in the large numbers associated with a galaxy size civilization with excellent communication. But I haven’t been able to enjoy them for some time.

  6. JohnH says:

    I really have read Pale Fire, which is not to say that I learned it by heart or think an obscure quote from it is fair, especially in a corner that also had TUBBS, UXO, the wildly punning definition of BOTOX, and more, but then the whole TNY was filled with such stuff. At least I eventually got NO TIME and I’M A FOOL, which Amy found (not unreasonably) bad fill, whereas I had no recognition at all of EOIN and GALADRIEL, which were faves for her, or the fact that horseshoes are played in a HORSESHOE PIT also in that quadrant. I could go on listing pointless obscurities to me, but then I’d be replicating the puzzle.

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