.PUZ UPDATE: Alas, the server that hosts the puzzle files you can access via Fiend’s “Today’s Puzzles” links (for the Wall Street Journal, Universal, and Jonesin’ crosswords) will be down through the end of July. The crossword community is grateful to Martin for the work and expense he puts into running that server. Meantime, you can use Crossword Scraper to “scrape” data into .puz or .jpz format from a crossword’s web page. Here’s where you can download Scraper for the Chrome or Firefox browser, and here’s more information about using Scraper.
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Primary Win”—Jim P’s review
As time goes on, I seem to be less and less enamored of tortured titles requiring awkward re-parsing as a basis for a puzzle. In this case, the title should be read as “Primary W In.” That is, the letter W is inserted at the primary position (the beginning of the entry) in familiar phrases to make new wacky sayings.
- 17a. [Forcefully remove, as an angler’s catch?] WRING OFF THE HOOK. But doesn’t wringing imply twisting? You’re going to twist that fish off the hook?
- 26a. [Spa treatment featuring seaweed?] WRAP SESSION.
- 45a. [Penned a popular “Cats” song?] WROTE “MEMORY.”
- 58a [Low auto insurance risk?] WRECKLESS DRIVER. This one is inspired, and I like it a lot, mainly because the clue is the exact opposite of what it would be without the added W.
I don’t mind an added-letter theme, and these are fine (especially that last one). It’s just the title that I’m soured on.
The fill is solid enough though not especially sparkly. All the longest entries are in the Across direction, which is quite uncommon. We have ANDERSON Cooper, MASSEUR, WHAM-O, “EUREKA!,” and a MURDER of crows as highlights. At the other end we have old standbys I TO and ETRE, and the wince-worthy entries HAREM and RESALT.
Clues of note:
- 1a. [Lender’s offerings]. BAGELS. Nice trickeration right off the bat at 1a. That was a fun way to start the grid.
- 58d. [Question not asked on “Jeopardy!”]. WHY. Of course, that begs the question, are there other questions not asked? I’m having trouble imagining a player asking a “when” question.
3.5 stars for the puzzle. 2.5 for the title.
Josh Kindler’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
It wasn’t till I got down to PICK A COD, ANY COD (pick a card, any card) that I grasped the Boston-accent angle of the theme and was able to piece together the end of MISSING THE MOCK (missing the mark). So we have:
- 17a. [Jokes at Massachusetts General Hospital?], DOC COMEDY instead of dark comedy.
- 28a. [Late to a Harvard Lampoon meeting?, MISSING THE MOCK. In the debit column is the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever encountered MOCK as a noun. Believe it or not, though, Merriam-Webster lists several noun definitions of the word!
- 44a. [Invitation at Beantown fish markets?], PICK A COD, ANY COD. Now I’m in the mood for fish & chips.
- 58a. [Unexpectedly high interest rate for a borrower from a Boston bank?], LOAN SHOCK, for loan shark.
I like the variations of place in the clues—all in the Boston area, all different.
Trouble spot: Where 25a. [___ jure (by the law itself: Lat.)], IPSO crosses the contrivance “OK, BYE” (27d. [“Well, see you later then!”]), which in turn crosses the uncommon word FERNERY (38a. [Part of a botanical garden]). There’s also the Latin phrase ipse dixit, so it might have been better to stick with IPSO facto here. I tried NURSERY for the botanical garden and wondered if HERBERY might be a thing.
Three more things:
- 45d. [King of the Titans, in Greek mythology], KRONOS. Also spelled Cronus. I use Kronos for the brand of pita bread (which my husband has declared subpar).
- 29d. [1990 #1 rap hit that ends “too cold, too cold”], “ICE ICE BABY” / 55d. [“Law & Order: SVU” co-star], ICE-T. Too cold! Although in a hot July week in the Northern Hemisphere …
- 61a. [Herky-jerky dance, with “the”], ROBOT. I’m inordinately fond of the term herky-jerky.
3.25 stars from me.
May Huang’s Universal crossword, “Workspace Notifications” — pannonica’s write-up
Each of the theme answers is couched in a description of the Slack app, which I’ve never used. All you need to know, however, is that it’s a messaging/communication platform.
- 20a. [Slack conversation space with messages like “It’s sunny”?] WEATHER CHANNEL. So I infer that Slack has channels.
- 32a. [Deletes a string of Slack messages by accident?] LOSES THE THREAD.
- 41a. [Slack’s muscle emoji, for one] STRONG REACTION. I seem to always misread that emoji as a chicken wing: 💪
- 56a. [Meaningful shout-out on Slack?] SPECIAL MENTION.
I’m never a fan of brand-heavy themes, so am holding this one at arm’s length. With the exception of channel, these are generic digital communication terms, and I suspect that channel is found in more than a few apps—but I am supposing Slack is the most prominent or recognizable of them.
- 61a [One attracted to attractions] SIGHTSEER.
- 26d [Rumors and such, informally] GOSS. With the G in place, I wondered if it might be GOSS, but I have never, ever heard the term.
- 35d [Philosopher who described friendship as “a single soul dwelling in two bodies”] ARISTOTLE. Sounds like a deep friendship.
- 53d [Hypnotist’s instruction] SLEEP. 47a [Artist Ono] YOKO. I watched a film yesterday that involved both a hypnotist and a character named YOKO.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Wise Guise” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer contains the word SAGE.
- 17a [Press organization] – NEWS AGENCY
- 28a [American artist known for her power figures] – VANESSA GERMAN
- 57a [By and large] – AS A GENERAL RULE
Well, I finished this puzzle in a little over three minutes, and then spent the next two hunting for an error, which ironically ended up being “este/type” instead of ESTO/TYPO. Good to know the universe has a sense of humor this morning.
Loved the title of the crossword! It took me a little bit to find the theme of this puzzle – I at first thought it might have something to do with theme answers starting with GE, even though NEWS AGENCY didn’t fit that rule. VANESSA GERMAN was new to me, and Google tells me that she’s an “American sculptor, painter, writer, activist, performer, and poet”. A very impressive resume and I’m happy to learn her name! (The “power figures” in the clue immediately made me think of action figures, which is, uh, not what she does). She’s by far the most interesting theme answer – NEWS AGENCY and AS A GENERAL RULE are fine, but neither one stands out to me.
Favorite fill: GOSSIPY, NOW OR NEVER, TUNA ROLL.
Favorite clues: 46d [Curled part of an akita] TAIL, 51d [Part of the Sagittarius symbol] ARROW, 40d [Went live on Twitch] STREAMED
New people to me: Country singer Jake OWEN, actress Ebonee NOEL
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
Pretty easy for a themeless, even with 1-Across being musical terminology that slowed me down.
Fave fill: HAVE A HEART, TATTOO PARLORS, BUSTER SCRUGGS, CAREER MOVE.
- 21d. [___ fatigue (doomscroller’s feeling)], OUTRAGE. There was a lot of this among Dems and other progressives during the Trump years. The news cycle was exhausting.
- 40a. [___ Tour (sports org. that has banned members playing in events run by the Saudi-backed LIV tour)], PGA. And then President Biden goes and plays nice in Saudi Arabia, fist-bumping MBS? Pfft. No idea what LIV stands for, but it’s sports so I imagine it’s the 54 tour in Super Bowlesque Roman numerals.
- 20a. [Lead-in to typical or divergent], NEURO-. Lots of neurodivergent folks in puzzle circles, and the community is richer for it.
Four stars from me.
Richard D. Allen’s AVCX, “Bit Flipping” — Jenni’s Review
Here I am dashing in a bit late. This whole working thing really screws up your day, doesn’t it? Not used to it anymore. And when I finally found time to solve this puzzle, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. There are numbers in each theme clue. The title had me wondering if it had something to do with computers and binary code, but the numbers aren’t all 1s and 0s.
- 17a [*Winter conveyances with 57738] are BOBSLEIGHS. The spelling really threw me off. The Google Ngram viewer confirms that BOBSLED is far, far more common. I wondered if that had something to do with the theme. It does not.
- 32a [*53704 in a box score] is GOOSE EGGS, which are zeros. Some sort of cryptogram? ZEROS has five letters, and 53704 has five digits…
- 48a [*53045 with spikes, sometimes] are HIGH HEELS. I had no clue. So to speak.
Luckily, there’s a revealer at 62a [Device one might turn upside down to decode the starred clues (or to enter their answers)] is a CALCULATOR. Ohhhh. Back in the day, we had handheld calculators, and some of the numbers look like letters if you turn them upside down. Letters, of course, can make words. Since we don’t have a calculator in the house, I turned to the internet and quickly found out that 57738 = bells. Maybe SLEIGHS was supposed to evoke “Jingle Bells” since Olympic bobsleds don’t have bells. 53704 = holes. This doesn’t quite work for me. Holes and zeros aren’t the same thing. 53405 = shoes and that one works!
This is a good idea for a theme that suffered somewhat in the execution, at least for me. And even the idea relies on knowledge of an obsolete piece of equipment. Well, it should be obsolete, although as recently as 2018 my daughter’s high school required specific TI calculators for math classes and would not allow them to use their phones. Anyway.
Since this writeup is already late, I’ll skip to what I didn’t know before I did this puzzle. I had no idea that most pecorino ROMANO cheese is now made in Sardinia. I also didn’t know that Myanmar is second only to Afghanistan in OPIUM production.
Dan Caprera’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
I like the concept of Dan Caprera’s puzzle theme. Each of a number of people or things are the “Queen of X” and clued as such. However, I can see several clues/answers in the collection being problematic though. So:
- [Religious figure known as the “Queen of Heaven”], VIRGINMARY. Veneration of the virgin Mary is a touchy subject for a lot of Christians…
- [Novelist known as the “Queen of Crime”], AGATHACHRISTIE.
- [Military division known as the “Queen of Battle”], INFANTRY
- [Field of study known as the “Queen of the Sciences”], THEOLOGY. I’d have prefaced this with “by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th Century”, because this will irk a lot of people.
- [Singer known as the “Queen of Jazz”], ELLAFITZGERALD
[City known as the “Queen of the West”], CINCINNATI
As usual, be aware for some updated clues for common names: [Fashion journalist García], NINA; [Gospel singer Campbell], ERICA; [“Jeopardy!” champion Schneider], AMY