Sunday, July 24, 2022

LAT untimed (Gareth) 


NYT untimed (Nate) 


Universal tk (Jim Q)  


Universal (Sunday) untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today 5:00(Darby) 


WaPo  untimed (Jim Q) 


Jessie Trudeau and Ross Trudeau’s New York Times crossword, “Going Somewhere?” —Nate’s write-up

First of all, congrats to the newly married couple who authored this puzzle! This is the first byline for Jessie Trudeau, though you’ve certainly seen a few puzzles from her before this as Jessie Bullock (so I’ll tag this puzzle by both of her names). Extra congrats to Jessie, who also recently completed her PhD at Harvard to become Dr. Jessie! Wow. Wish all the absolute best to both of today’s constructors! Now, let’s tackle their puzzle, which has us wondering where we might be going…

07.24.22 Sunday New York Times Puzzle

07.24.22 Sunday New York Times Puzzle

7D: MASS PIKE [Easternmost leg of I-90, familiarly] leads to 51A: BICHROME [Two-colored]

24D: PENNY LANE [Where all the people that come and go stop and say “hello,” in a 1967 hit] leads to 68A: AERODROME [English landing spot]

37D: RODEO DRIVE [Noted shopping mecca] leads to 88A: ETHAN FROME [Edith Wharton’s “ruin of a man”]

13D: EVERGREEN TERRACE [Home of the Simpson and Flanders households] leads to 98A: IMPOSTER SYNDROME [Habitual fear of being exposed as a fraud]

20D: PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE [One side of D.C.’s Federal Triangle] leads to 115A: ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME [Aphorism that’s visually depicted five times in this puzzle’s grid]

I’ll admit that I had to visit the puzzle’s write up at because I couldn’t figure out the full theme myself. I saw the five instances of -ROME in the thematic acrosses of the puzzle, but couldn’t figure out how ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME. I was overthinking things!  It turns out that each across -ROME entry has an intersecting down entry which is a literal road… and it ends at (leads to) -ROME. Neat!

I think this only could have been pulled off by expert constructors who saw the merits of using diagonal (instead of rotational) symmetry. What I also appreciated about this puzzle was how clean it felt and how fun many of the clues came across – for me, it was a joyful solve, even if I wasn’t keen enough to figure out the theme! Hilariously and possibly relatedly, I had no problem plunking in IMPOSTER SYNDROME instantly and with no crossings. Read into that about me what you will. :)

Random note: 1D APHID [Rosebud ravager] – Let me tell you how much I blushed at reading this clue! How did that make it through the editing process?  Or is this just a crossword clue version of RORSCHACH CARDS for me? 0:)

That’s all for now. Congrats again to the wonderful couple! What did you enjoy about their puzzle? Let us know (and send them your best wishes, too) in the comments below.

Hanh Huynh’s Universal Sunday crossword, “Spread Happiness”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Synonyms for “happiness” are spread out across pairs of entries.

Universal Sunday crossword solution · “Spread Happiness” · Hanh Huynh · 7.24.22

  • COP A PLEA / SURE-FIRE HITS. Pleasure.
  • THE BOOK OF ELI / CITY LINE. Felicity.

Putting entries together to spell out words doesn’t do a whole lot for my wordplay itch, but these are fun entries, and I enjoyed their length and variety. Notably, OSCAR WILDE and LIGHT SABER make for a good combo.


I especially enjoyed seeing DANNY TREJO in the grid. His story, from drug dealer, armed robber, and convict to leading man, author, and restaurateur is fascinating and compelling. He generally plays a badass in all his films (that’s because he is one; the scars on his face are from various fights and boxing matches while in prison), but I’ll remember him for his tour of his Animal Crossing island in the early days of the pandemic.

Not a whole lot of sparkle in the fill, probably due to the fact that we have six grid-spanning theme rows, but it’s solid nonetheless. Likes: KABUKI, “WE’LL SEE,” MELINDA French Gates (though I had never seen her referenced with her maiden name in there; maybe it’s new since the divorce?), BEAN DIP, PALE ALE, DATA MINE, and a cocker SPANIEL. Questionable: AMPLER? Can something really be more sufficient than something else?

Clues of note:

  • 13d. [Tony alternative]. ANT. I’ve never heard of anyone named Anthony being called ANT, but YMMV.
  • 82d. [Animals with antlers]. ELKS. Usually the plural of “elk” is “elk,” but dictionaries do list ELKS as an alternative. This entry is usually clued with respect to the Lodge.

Solid theme. Pleasant grid. 3.5 stars.

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Change of Address”— Jim Q’s write-up

Today’s puzzle is a repeat of a very memorable puzzle that Evan first published in 2019. Even then it had a lot of meaning (in addition to its multi-tiered construction).

Now it has even more meaning. It originally paid homage to where Evan had grown up, in Highland Park, Illinois. That locale, of course, is where the recent July 4 mass shooting took place. Today, it is being published again to honor the victims.

You can read Evan’s take on the puzzle here. It is worth the read.

The following is my write-up that I posted on the original day it was published in January of 2019:

This week’s WaPo comes with a note from Evan: My parents moved out of the house in Highland Park, Illinois, where I grew up. I wrote this puzzle while visiting that house for the last time.

This personal touch is very… touching… for this multi-layered puzzle. And it’s a super cool tribute with which many of us can relate.

Also, I’m a sucker for a well-crafted Schrödinger puzzle, so this one had me at hello. Or “goodbye” I s’pose is more appropriate.

WaPo crossword solution * 1 27 19 * “Change of Address” * Birnholz

THEME: Each of the three Across entries containing circled letters contains a type of house, yet the letters H-E-A-R-T can be substituted for the down answers in those circled letters and still make sense. 

REVEALER: I was able to figure out this answer without reading the clue (I was worried that the clue would be too revealing). I felt something cool was happening and I didn’t want a spoiler. For once, I was glad I did that, because the AHA was more satisfying IMO.

  • 125A [Phrase about feeling a strong connection to a particular place, and a hint for substituting letters in this puzzle’s circled squares] HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS


  • 45A [Thunder and Lightning, e.g.] FRANCHISES. As in sports teams, I’m assuming. But RANCH is certainly a type of house. And a guilty pleasure, when it comes to sauce.
  • 50A [Poison Ivy of the Batman universe, e.g.] VILLAINESS. Contains VILLA
  • 98A [Obtained another doctor’s diagnosis] GOT A SECOND OPINION. And there’s CONDO.


First Set: This was the last area of the puzzle I solved, and while it helped me to figure out the theme, it was the spot that caused the most confusion.

  • 31D [*Sound of laughter] HAR / HAH
  • 3D [*Result of two people with incompatible values exchanging numbers, perhaps] BAD DATA / BAD DATE
  • 46D [*Hoops org.] NBA / ABA
  • 47D [*Angler’s acquisition] COD / ROD
  • 48D [*Something in the end of a shoe] HOE / TOE

Second Set: Seems pretty clean both ways!

  • 50D [*Certain spiritual practice] VOODOO / HOODOO 
  • 36D [*Where Marco Polo went] ASIA / ASEA
  • 37D [*Strike] BELT / BEAT
  • 29D [*”No ___” (words of refusal)] DEAL / DEAR (Love this pair)
  • 51D [*Letters associated with watching films] AMC / TMC 

Third Set: Super clean both ways!

  • 100D [*Monopoly token] CAT / HAT. Even if the CAT weren’t a relatively recent Monopoly token addition, I’m sure Evan would’ve found an easy way to clue that Schrödinger-style.
  • 90D [*Necessity for a stage actor, often] PROP / PREP. Yup.
  • 91D [*Take ___] TEN / TEA. I prefer TEN. And coffee in that TEN.
  • 92D [*It’s built for computers] CODE / CORE.
  • 101D [*Crew member] OAR / TAR.

Circled Squares + Left-Right Symmetry + *Only Four Theme Answers = There’s something about this puzzle that is tricky. *There’s a helluva lot more than four theme answers…

Even as I solved the starred downs, I innately went with the answers that fit the clues for the houses. It’s only when I (lastly) tackled the first set of starred down answers that I realized there was something funky going on. Then, with the revealer in mind, I figured it out. My favorite kind of puzzle… when the revealer helps me to figure out the rest. Although I found the bulk of this easy to solve, there was a tension building as I didn’t realize the theme, and that pesky area that I couldn’t grasp.

I love Schrödinger puzzles. And there’s always going to be some give in the clues in order to make it work. Most of the answers here fit great either way. I loved DEAR/DEAL, COD/ROD, OAR/TAR, CAT/HAT.

It felt as if the clue for BAD DATA /BAD DATE was doing acrobatics in order to fit, and I’m still unsure if I understand the clue for HOE / TOE[*Something in the end of a shoe]? I’m ready to say that HOE is the end of the actual word SHOE, but I’m also prepared for someone to mock my ignorance and tell me that the actual tool called a “hoe” has a part called a “shoe.” But if my initial instinct is correct, it feels like a ? at the end of the clue would’ve been appropriate.

Overall, this was really a fantastic puzzle. I loved it. I’m an occasional constructor, and I rarely talk about it in real life. But people inevitably find out, and I get these sorts of comments: “So I hear you make word searches…” “My biology teacher makes crosswords too for homework assignments!” “I know a website that can help you with that!”

In other words, the human element is lost on people. Or at least casual solvers.

Not here.

I loved the note that accompanied this week’s puzzle. For once (really, for once), the embedded note wasn’t about how to figure out a trick. It was about a human experience.

And it was a puzzle made by a human.

And while I’m still unsure what DECKS has to do with [Diamond settings?], I know that I have wasabi and hot chicken wing flavored Oreos in my pantry ready for a drunken dare because a human mentioned their existence in a crossword puzzle. 

The shipment of the Oreos from Asia took 3 months. The plant by my sink I grew from a cutting in 3 weeks. And the Four Roses Bourbon was gone in 3 days (kidding on that last one… had to continue with the 3 motif… it was at least 5 days).

4.5/5 Stars from me. 4.5 because I felt the first “down section” was a stretch. 5 because it helped me.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today crossword, “In It Together” —Darby’s write-up

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme: Each theme answer contains IN IT.

Theme Answers

Zhouqin Burnikel's USA Today crossword, "In It Together" solution for 7/24/2022

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today crossword, “In It Together” solution for 7/24/2022

  • 15a [“Parts of two-piece swimsuits”] BIKINI TOPS
  • 28a [“Agenda centerpiece”] MAIN ITEM
  • 42a [“Snack in a small shell”] MINI TACO
  • 55a [“Holy Shroud city”] TURIN ITALY

MINI TACOs are so cute, and I definitely would like to eat more of them, so I was excited to see them appear within this puzzle. I have not seen an agenda with an explicitly stated MAIN ITEM, but it felt logical and relatively easy to fill in, especially with the M from 28d [“Fruit paired with sticky rice”] MANGO. TURIN ITALY was also relatively easy to figure out, even if one isn’t familiar with the Holy Shroud.

I loved that this puzzle started with 1a [“Language in which ‘please’ is ‘os gwelwch yn dda’”]. I switched to the Down clues so fast, but I was almost as quick to switch back once I realized that this consonant-heavy language was WELSH. It set such a good tone for the rest of my solve. Also, it was fun to see 27d [“Pretend”] PUT ON AN ACT and the hilarious 9d [“Person who might bring a fork to work”] PIANO TUNER. I truly scratched my head thinking about how to concisely fill in “someone who brings their lunch” before I caught the IAN through BILE EAST PANES that made me immediately realize I was barking down the path.

That’s all from me for today!

Gary Larson & Amy Ensz’s LA Times crossword, “The Old Switcheroo” – Gareth’s theme summary

If you didn’t work out what was happening by the end, [Both sides of an argument, and what have been switched to create the answers to the starred clues], PROSANDCONS should have explained it. “Wacky” answers today are formed by swapping PRO and CON in a variety of words and phrases. Thus:

  • [*Truly unappetizing French dish?], GROSSCONFIT
  • [*In favor of monetary penalties?], PROFINING.
  • [*Proposed bill?], AWORKINCONGRESS.
  • [*Source of talent for a major-league franchise?], PROSTABLE
  • [*Opposed to medical treatment?], CONCURING
  • [*Stall selling souvenirs on graduation day?], PROCESSIONSTAND
  • [*Appeal from a jailhouse lawyer?], CONFILING

Five best of the rest:

  • [Some tribute pieces], FANART
  • [Cowardly Lion portrayer], BERTLAHR. Full name!
  • [QB-to-receiver successes], TDPASSES. Curiously abbreviated.
  • [Wife, in Spanish], ESPOSA. Not often we get such a large chunk of a foreign language. The opposite is ESPOSO or MARIDO.
  • [Big name in smooth jazz], KENNYG. As an answer, at least. Don’t understand why he dropped the surname Gorelick.


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47 Responses to Sunday, July 24, 2022

  1. huda says:

    NYT: IMPOSTOR SYNDROME was by far my favorite entry.
    And it took me embarrassingly long to enter PROF as university VIP. I entered PRES and nothing worked, and I was truly stuck! I never think of this title as making me a VIP…
    I had a hypothesis about the theme being roads intersecting with ROME but TERRACE threw me. Does it mean road?

    • Eric H says:

      Residential streets are sometimes named Something Terrace. Not far from my house, there’s a Rosedale Terrace and a Reagan Terrace (which is not named for the former president).

      I got stuck on 1D because all I could think of was the sled in “Citizen Kane” (and yes, I know why Orson Welles called it “Rosebud.”)

    • pannonica says:

      I had PROV for a time.

    • Gary R says:

      Hah! I’m retired but, like Huda, was a PROF for many years, and I had a hard time filling that in for “VIP.” The P and R were already in place, and neither PRes nor PRez seemed to work. Like @pannonica, I briefly considered PRov, but I’ve never seen Provost abbreviated that way.

      I also held off for a while on IMPOSTER SYNDROME because the first E was already in place, and my default spelling is IMPOSToR. I run into a similar issue from time to time with “adviser” and “advisor.” Is there any rule that governs the choice of “e” vs. “o”? In the latter case, it has seemed to me that “advisor” is more of a formal role or position – I was Academic Advisor for a number of students – while “adviser” is just someone who offers advice. But even if that’s true, it doesn’t work for impostor/imposter.

      • pannonica says:

        I believe the latter-day rule is that if the verb ends in an ‘e’ then the noun form should do the same. So, adviseadviser.

        Without the terminal ‘e’ I don’t know if there’s a cut-and-dried method.

        • pannonica says:

          However, this is a much more comprehensive and authoritative answer.

          • Mister [Not At All] Grumpy says:

            If you Google imposter v impostor specifically, there are a number of very interesting posts. Bottom line is that both are correct, although which is preferred or more common varies around the world.

        • Gary R says:

          @pannonica, thanks for the feedback. Fiddling around with ngram viewer, I see:*

          By itself “adviser” was far more common than “advisor” until recently, when “advisor” has taken a slight lead.

          “Academic advisor” took over from “academic adviser” in the late 70’s – that has probably influenced my view of things.

          “Financial advisor” took over from “financial adviser” in the early 80’s.

          I was surprised to find that “presidential advisor” is less common than “presidential adviser,” although less-so than it was in the recent past.

          Without a modifier, “impostor” still holds a slight lead over “imposter,” but by a much smaller margin than in years past.

          * Limitations of ngram viewer noted.

  2. Gary R says:

    NYT: Very nice puzzle, and a clever theme. I noticed a bunch of ROMEs before seeing the revealer, but even after the revealer, I couldn’t get the “All roads lead to” part. Because the revealer said “visually depicted,” I got stuck on looking for something in the grid art – were there “arrows” leading to ROME? Fun to see how it actually worked.

    Minor complaint: How often has anyone here heard 57-A ASH used as a verb? This feels like somebody wanted a “cute” clue for a common three-letter entry, scrolled all the way down in the on-line dictionary entry and shouted “aha!”

    • Eric H says:

      I’ve seen ASH as a verb in crossword puzzles, but never heard it in real life (not even when I was still a smoker 35 years ago). However, my dictionary (American Heritage) notes the “informal” sense of “drop ashes from a cigar or cigarette.”

      Related but off-topic: I’ve also never heard anyone say “Beer me.”

      • placematfan says:

        “Ash” as a verb is totally legit in my world. I’m a smoker, and when I look down and the ashy end of my cigarette is too long and wanting to break free, and I can’t find an ashtray, I will think, “Oompf, I need to ash somewhere.”

        • Gary R says:

          “Oompf, I need to ash somewhere.”

          That’s why they used to put cuffs on pants, right?

  3. JohnH says:

    In the NYT, is the first long entry, then, not part of the theme? That had me scratching my head forever. And yeah, I must admit I was reluctant to see the downs as all ROADS (and thus leading to Rome), while wondering if something else united the across themers that concerned roads. But oh, well.

    The near dupe of STEAL and STOLEN could only have been a Shortz inclusion, I bet. I don’t let those bother me, although maybe this one pushed the envelope.

    • JohnH says:

      From the lack of response, I assume everyone figured my question about the first long entry was rhetorical. It was genuine, as I was genuinely puzzled. I assume from the silence, too, that no, it is not part of the theme.

      So by all put it down to overly rigid thinking if I never did make sense of Sunday. If I didn’t enjoy it, so it goes.

  4. Kelly says:

    anyone know where I can print out the Universal Sunday puzzles?

    • Matt Gritzmacher says:

      if I recall correctly, we’ve had access through Martin because the Fiend community appealed to David Steinberg when it was announced. I’ve never found another online home for it, unlike the daily Universals. But perhaps someone knows.

      • Jim Peredo says:

        There is no online home for the Universal Sunday 21x, but I have a .puz copy for blogging purposes from before the server went down. I put it on my Dropbox here. Let me know if it works or doesn’t.

        • Matt Gritzmacher says:

          Worked for me. Thank you :)

        • Jim Quinlan says:

          I was always confused about this. It advertises the 21x on Andrews McMeel’s website. Here’s what it says:

          The original hit puzzle from Andrews McMeel Syndication sets the standard for all daily crosswords. Clues and themes are served up fresh daily in this classic puzzle, which also has a 21×21 Sunday version for the more intense cruciverbalists in your audience!

          The Sunday 15x is also missing. Instead they run the Saturday 15x two days in a row. I’ve seen the 21x published in print, but not the 15x.

          • Jim Peredo says:

            The Sunday 15x seems to be there now. I had to press the little Puzzles icon to see it tho.

            The word “audience” in that blurb makes me think there might be some publication out there that takes the Sunday 21x from AMS and puts it online, but I don’t know that for a fact. I also don’t know why AMS doesn’t just post the 21x on their site.

            • Mr. [Not] Grumpy says:

              Can’t open the puzzle from the Dropbox. Error message says it’s either not an Across puzzle or the file is corrupt. I guess I’ll just have to go without today.

            • I’ve learned that that page is AM’s sales site for their syndicated customers – a few months back they asked me to switch the link in Daily Crossword Links for the daily puzzle to a Puzzle Society site. But I don’t know the reasoning behind the weekly 21x not being available in the same ways as the daily 15x. I also haven’t yet found an outlet that purchases the 21x and also puts it online, unfortunately.

  5. marciem says:

    WaPo: Diamond settings/Decks. Decks of cards :) . Just now figured that out myself :D :D.

    the hoe at the end of the word shoe is the only thing I know… but I’m not that much of a gardener to know if hoes have parts called shoes.

  6. Tony says:

    Hi. I’m unable to download the PUZ versions WaPo or Universal Sunday puzzles for today. Anyone else having an issue?

  7. Jim Peredo says:

    Universal Sunday 21x: If you’re looking for a .puz version of this puzzle, I’ve put one in my Dropbox here. It’s worked for some people, but not for others.

    As has been stated in the past few days, Martin’s hosting site for Universal, WSJ, and WaPo .puz files is down until the end of the month.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Thanks Jim! (and to everyone else here who makes it possible for me to satisfy my crossword hunger)

  8. Mr. [Not At All] Grumpy says:

    A very sweet and heartfelt [no pun intended] WaPo.

    • m says:

      Loved that puzzle Evan. Hearts out to you.

      I solved online as well.

      Can’t wait till the PUZ links are back. these workarounds are a pain.

  9. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni … This lifelong baseball fanatic must object to the clue for NO HIT (“Like a pitcher’s ideal inning”). I’d argue that an “ideal” inning is one in which a pitcher gives up no runs and so that was my initial answer (‘NO run’). In general, if a pitcher wants to give his team the best chance to win, it’s more important that he give up no runs than no hits. It’s not all that uncommon for a team to score a run (or even more) without the benefit of a hit because of walks, wild pitches, passed balls, errors and/or other defensive mistakes that might not be scored as errors.

  10. pannonica says:

    WaPo: I was misled by the first theme answer I encountered because HEARTINESS works as well as VILLAINESS.

    • That was something I never even intended to do when I first wrote it. I’d assumed from the start that it’d be impossible to find longer phrases that contain five-letter houses and could change the house to HEART and get something valid (besides boring ones like CONDOS –> HEARTS). But then VILLAINESS –> HEARTINESS happened and I sorta rued not spending more time looking, even though it may have still been impossible.

  11. yrmother says:

    Re Nate’s comment on the NYTimes x-word: “Random note: 1D APHID [Rosebud ravager] – Let me tell you how much I blushed at reading this clue! How did that make it through the editing process? Or is this just a crossword clue version of RORSCHACH CARDS for me? 0:)”
    I’m curious as to why he blushed — I don’t see anything embarrassing about it. But then my RORSCHACH CARD results would be different from his anyway.

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