Friday, April 28, 2023

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker tk (Matt) 


NYT 9:36! (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim) 


USA Today 4:27 (Darby) 


Malaika Handa & Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 4 28 23, no. 0428

Another themeless with the basic layout I prefer: stacks of longish fill in the corners. Good gravy, I don’t know why it took me twice as long as a typical Friday puzzle. Was it extra-challenging for you, or am I tireder than I thought?

Fave fill: Sitcom’s CUTAWAY GAG is interesting. LIMONCELLO and WINTER MELON bring the flavor. It’s National Poetry Month so why not spotlight Gil Scott-Heron’s spoken word poem, “WHITEY ON THE MOON“? (And wow, do the socioeconomic issues in there still feel current.) Head north for MOSCOW, ESTONIA, and OSLO, NORWAY. Instagram-friendly THIRST TRAP is still a thing. One might look askance at “I CHOOSE YOU” as not really being an idiomatic, dictionaryable phrase, but when I see those words, I see Lisa Simpson and Ralphie on Valentine’s Day; “You choo-choo choose me?!WINONA Duke’s a notable, of course, as is AGNES Varda.

Time to get back to the old movie Clue, which I’ve never seen till now. It’s fun!

Four stars from me.





Jake Halperin’s Universal crossword, “Collective Consciousness”—Jim’s review

Theme: Things that are “GOOD TO KNOW” (58a, [“Interesting fact!” … and a hint for the ends of 18-, 31- and 46-Across]). The other theme answers end in words that can follow the words “Know the ___”.

Universal crossword solution · “Collective Consciousness” · Jake Halperin · Fri., 4.28.23

  • 18a. [Electric carpentry tool] POWER DRILL. Know the drill.
  • 31a. [VIP event barriers] VELVET ROPES. Know the ropes.
  • 46a. [Loan worthiness ranking] CREDIT SCORE. Know the score.

Nice. Before I grokked the theme I kept seeing TROPES in the second answer and was wondering if that was part of it. Of course, I was stymied by the other theme answers, so I was glad to get the aha moment from the revealer. Fun phrases all around.

Theme material is on the lighter side, but that’s okay because it leaves room for long fill. DOODADS is my choice for fave fill, but the other long entries are good as well: PROSELYTIZE (I can never spell that word, so needed to get it piecemeal), THERMOMETER, PARASOLS, and KEROSENE.

I’m giving “ALL OK?” [“Everything in order?”] the side-eye, and LINE A [First blank on a form] isn’t a ton better.


Clues of note:

  • 14a. [Donned draper]. SARI. Ha! I never watched Mad Men, but I know the main character’s name.
  • 50a. [“The Woman King” actress Atim]. SHEILA. She’s collecting a number of acting awards, and with a last name like that, solvers would be wise to make a note of her.
  • 7d. [Fish-throwing Muppet Zealand]. LEW. I could picture him immediately, but I admit I put NEW here at first.
  • 25d. [Place to play “DDR”]. ARCADE. My brain wouldn’t come up with Dance Dance Revolution before I filled in the entry via crosses.
  • 28d. [“Am I hot or not?” device]. THERMOMETER. This got an audible chuckle out of me.
  • 39d. [Person with a famous story ark?]. NOAH. Cute.

Good puzzle. Four stars.

Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 4/28/23 • Fri • Klawitter • solution • 20230428

In which the letter Y is suffixed to a word in each of the theme phrases to make them wack.

  • 63aR [“Allow me to explain,” and a phonetic hint to this puzzle’s theme] HERE’S WHY.
  • 18d. [Forged painting?] ART DECOY (art deco).
  • 23a. [When kids start rolling their eyes at everything their parents say?] THE IRONY AGE (the iron age).
  • 40a. [School newspaper entries from its youngest reporters?] KINDERGARTEN COPY (Kindergarten Cop).
  • 49a. [Sign that it’s time to clean the closet?] DUSTY JACKET (dust jacket).

I’m underwhelmed here. The theme doesn’t feel particularly interesting. I don’t think the revealer is all that. Don’t agree that the marquee entry, spanning the entire grid, is exceptional enough to merit an expanded 16×15 matrix. Lastly, the theme answers collectively just aren’t that entertaining. These all add up to—as I said—a generally underwhelming experience.

  • 17d [Mournful] ELEGIAC. Such a poetic word.
  • 47d [Sack dress?] PJS. Favorite clue, quite fun.
  • 43a [“No need to explain further”] YES I SEE. Dimly reminded of the revealer and theme.

Bruce Haight’s USA Today crossword, “Electrical Grid”—Darby’s recap

Editor: Anna Gundlach

Theme: Each of the themers’ first words is an electrical term, making this puzzle an Electrical Grid.

Theme Answers

Bruce Haight's USA Today crossword, "Electrical Grid" solution for 4/28/2023

Bruce Haight’s USA Today crossword, “Electrical Grid” solution for 4/28/2023

  • 20a [“Regional justice system”] CIRCUIT COURT
  • 37a [“Recent news items”] CURRENT EVENTS
  • 55a [“Bargain-hunters’ destinations”] OUTLET STORES

What a cute theme! I love the way in which it builds off of the notion of the grid as a grid. Each of the themers were different but long enough to provide a solid amount of theme fill. I expected OUTLET STORES to have more to do with thrifting based on the clue, but once I realized OUTLET was the electrical term, it was easy to fill. Likewise, I couldn’t remember what a CIRCUIT COURT was until I had SAUCE, UNDER, and ANTIDOTE.

Altogether, this puzzle really JIBES. I loved the reference to the ALOU brothers in 17a [“Fraternal outfielders’ name hidden in this clue”], as well as the fun fact about PANDAS in 58a [“Animal that can eat about 50-100 pounds of bamboo a day”]. Highlighting Billie EILISH, SELA Ward, and Erica JONG (whose Fear of Flying I’m adding to my To Be Read list).

The grid also just had some fun words like SCORCH, HOBNOB, and GALAXY.

Overall, this was a SMASH!

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22 Responses to Friday, April 28, 2023

  1. MattF says:

    NYT was certainly a very tough one for me, particularly the NW quadrant. Had to look up a few entries.

    • Mutman says:

      I finally cracked the NW. But MANGA/RHEA/SHAY/AGNES got me. Not in my wheelhouse. Nice Friday otherwise!

    • Art Shapiro says:

      Ditto for me. I thought Maleska had been reincarnated.

    • DougC says:

      And ditto again. Although I had the hardest time in the NE. Kind of a trivia-fest, something to stump everybody.

    • JohnH says:

      I sailed through the SE, well into the center, thinking this was an easy Friday. And then, oops. I never came close to finishing the NW, and I didn’t recognize, at least right away, the drink or the gag. Didn’t help that I had “oh uh” instead of GULP. and I should have remembered that literature to Shortz doesn’t mean what I always thought it meant, but rather sci-fi.

  2. David L says:

    DNF because I didn’t remember the song correctly. I had WHITE/MON/ON/THE/MOON, which gave me SHAM Mitchell. I suppose the later should have made me think again but I don’t know the person in question.

    Oddly enough, ESTONIA was a gimme, because I know a little Finnish and Estonian is closely related. But most of the puzzle was a struggle.

  3. pannonica says:

    NYT: “One might look askance at “I CHOOSE YOU” as not really being an idiomatic, dictionaryable phrase …”

  4. Seth Cohen says:

    NYT: Anyone else have SHAw and WHITE wON THE MOON? I’d never heard of that person or that poem, and W seemed perfectly plausible there.

    (Also lol that 9:36 is DOUBLE your normal time. When I saw the exclamantion point after your time, I thought it meant that you were excited to finish so quickly! That was HALF of my time! So impressed!)

  5. RCook says:

    NYT: I mostly breezed through it, but I was hung up in the NE corner for several minutes. The clues felt too vague to lay down a specific answer,

  6. comingacrosswords says:

    In the context of what “Whitey” means in “Whitey on the Moon”, I wonder how Shortz would clue that one on its own? Perhaps with reference to NWA (another entry he has no problem working with).

    PLZ retire SHORTZ!

  7. Eric H says:

    NYT: A bit tough in the midday, as my knowledge of Gil Scott-Heron is limited to “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and “We Almost Lost Detroit.” The “Pretty Little Liars” actress was new to me (I’m still not sure if that’s a movie or a TV show).

    I was a bit surprised to finish about a minute under my Friday average. Enjoyed it.

  8. Mr. [not at all] Grumpy says:

    Contra the review, I thought the LAT was very funny and the revealer spot on.

  9. DougC says:

    The LAT was the exact opposite of the NYT in every way. :-)

    • Eric H says:

      That’s true.

      But are you making a simple statement of fact or are you criticizing one of the puzzles? I doubt Malaika Handa and Erik Agard had any intent in making a puzzle like the LAT puzzle. Nor do I think that Pam Amick Klawitter was trying to make a challenging end-of-the-week puzzle.

  10. Eric H says:

    LAT: It would have been a perfectly fine Monday or Tuesday puzzle. After the second theme answer, the Y gimmick was obvious, and the only question was where it would go in the remaining themers.

    DUSTY JACKET did generate a mild chuckle. If I weren’t so lazy, I’d have cleaned our closet of all the office attire I haven’t worn since retiring almost five years ago.

    The base phrases used for the themers seem like a motley collection. When I filled in KINDERGARTEN COPY, I thought the theme would have been much tighter if the base phrases had all been movie titles. (That thought led me to look up “The Iron Age” in IMDb. There was a mid-1960’s TV documentary by that name, narrated by Roberto Rossellini. And he reminds me of his daughter Isabella . . . So that’s a plus for this puzzle in my book.)

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