Chandi Deitmer and Taylor Johnson’s New York Times crossword, “U-Haul” — Nate’s write-up
– 24A: LEISURE SIT [Enjoy a La-Z-Boy recliner?]
– 26A: SUIT UP FRONT [Head exec?]
– 46A: ITS A LOST CASE [“My luggage has gone missing!”?]
– 49A: COLD CAUSE [Germs from day care, e.g.?]
– 90A: CAKE DONTS [Things to avoid when baking desserts?]
– 92A: DONUT DESPAIR [Sadness at the last Boston cream being taken, e.g.?]
– 116A: THIS OLD HOSE [My garden waterer that’s seen better days?]
– 119A: PANTY HOUSE [Shopping destination for your underwear needs?]
– 70A: CAN I STEAL YOU FOR A SECOND [Request for one-on-one time in the “Bachelor” TV franchise … or a phonetic hint to four pairs of answers in this puzzle]
What a fun, modern revealer! I think that elevated this theme from what could have been more ordinary. In each pair of theme entries, a U is hauled from one of the words (creating a new phrase) and donated to that same word in a subsequent themer (also creating a new phrase).
I’m torn on whether I liked the modified word in both themers being the same, since it seems like those words were being swapped rather than that a U alone was being hauled from one themer to the next (as the “U-Haul” title suggests), but figuring out that trick made plunking in the pairs of themers go much faster.
That was a blessing, it turns out, because I couldn’t get on the clues’ wavelengths in this puzzle to save my life. It took me about 1.5x my normal Sunday solve time to tackle this puzzle – there wasn’t anything inherently off about the clues; instead, I just had a lot of trouble picking up what those clues were putting down. Even still, it was a fun solve with a wonderfully modern touch. Bravo to the constructors!
What did you enjoy about the puzzle? Let us know in the comments below – and have a great weekend!
Adrian Johnson’s Universal Sunday crossword, “Jumbo Freestyle 7”—Jim’s review
Hey! It’s another big freestyle grid! These are usually quite nice and…this one is too!
Early in the solve we get the grid-spanner THE LESS I KNOW THE BETTER. I feel like “The less said the better” is a bit more colloquial, but this ain’t bad. Similarly, “IS THIS A TRAP?” feels like a less popular cousin to “Is this a trick?” but again, I’m cool with it.
Elsewhere, though, we get unquestionable goodness in the likes of ECHO CHAMBER, PIECE OF CAKE, FENWAY PARK, SLEEPER CARS, CAMP STOOL, OLD NAVY, “I DIDN’T THINK SO,” MISTY COPELAND, “TOO SOON,” “PARTY ON!,” YANKEES, STREET TACOS, “TAKE ME HOME,” SO-CALLED, “OH BOTHER,” and RENT STRIKE.
On the tougher side, LISLE [21a. Strong cotton thread] needed some unraveling (I wanted LINEN), and I needed pretty much all of the crossings for TRISTAN [___ da Cunha (British Overseas Territory)] (more info below). ROOTS ON is ungainly.
- 39a. [Some casino giveaways]. TELLS. Tricksy. Not “giveaways” as in prizes, but as in, well, TELLS.
- 91a. [Roadside Mexican treats]. STREET TACOS. I lost a tooth to a taco which must’ve had a rock in it (the taco was leftovers from a food truck-catered party). That was a painful weekend as I waited to go to the dentist until Monday. But now I get to use the line, “Enjoy your STREET TACOS, just make sure there’s no street in your taco.”
- 104a. [___ da Cunha (British Overseas Territory)]. TRISTAN. Never heard of this place, and I can see why. Wikipedia says it’s the “most remote inhabited archipelago in the world” smack dab in the middle of the South Atlantic between Africa and South America. Apparently the fastest way to get there is a six-day boat trip from South Africa. Imagine what those grocery store runs are like!
- 31d. [Confused Nick Young, e.g.]. MEME. I didn’t know this MEME nor did I know who Nick Young is, so this took a while. But Know Your Meme here.
- 36d. [Not prone to crushes, for short]. ARO. I was trying to get ACE (asexual) in here, but then I remembered ARO is short for aromantic.
Fun themeless grid. Four stars.
Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword, “Switch on the TV!” — Matthew’s write-up
Themers this week spoonerize TV show titles:
- 21a [Comedy series about Charlie Brown’s sister, when she’s a felon living in a fancy house?] VILLA CON SALLY. “Silicon Valley”
- 34a [Drama series about country singer Paisley becoming a pastry chef?] BAKING BRAD. “Breaking Bad”
- 38a [Mystery drama series about making small adjustments to one’s ATM code?] PIN TWEAKS. “Twin Peaks”
- 55a [Animated series about addint the birds on $1 Canadian coins to $2 Canadian coins?] TOONIE LOONS. “Loonie Toons”
- 65a [Dramedy series about everything that’s been swallowed by a dog like Snoopy?] LOST IN BEAGLE. “Boston Legal”
- 77a [Reality series about a medical situation involving soreness] CASE OF ACHES. “Ace of Cakes”
- 95a [Animated series about a legendary friar’s lowlands?] TUCK DALES. “Duck Tales”
- 99a [Manga series about an advertising leaflet that should arrive any minute?] MAILER SOON. “Sailor Moon”
And a revealer:
116a [Reality series whose title describes what the starting sounds of eight TV titles in this puzzle are doing] TRADING SPACES
Straightforward theme, with Evan’s typical humor. I quite liked LOST IN BEAGLE and MAILER SOON.
19a [One earning a living from high-stakes poker] ROUNDER. I only got this from the film “Rounders,” which I haven’t seen. I guess the etymology is related to “making the rounds” as a poker player travels from game to game.
57a [Old Brown Dog from Smuttynose Brewing Co., e.g.] ALE. Someday I’ll get tired of cluing ALE and IPA to creative names for brews, but it won’t be soon.
5d [“Wedding Crashers” actress Fisher] ISLA. I don’t know many quotes from this film, but I do know Fishers “I will find you.”
8d [Lipetsk locals] RUSSIANS. Lipetsk is about six hours’ drive south of Moscow, and more importantly, alliterative with “locals.”
34d [Namesake of a physics institute at the University of Copenhagen] BOHR. Nobelist Niels Bohr was an early director of CERN from the University of Copenhagen.
62d [Paths of water balloons in a water balloon fight] ARCS. I chuckle every time ARC or ARCS is clued as some piece of ammo or whatever. All projectiles travel in ARCS.
83d [Perform as expected] DO SO. This one rings a bit odd to me. IF someone has a parsing in the comments, I welcome it.
Rachel Fabi’s USA Today crossword, “Dog Day (Freestyle)” — Darby’s write-up
Editor: Erik Agard
I really enjoyed this themeless puzzle, especially in knowing that there would be some fun creature content based on its title. Sure enough, I was not disappointed. Starting off with 1a [“Rapid”] SWIFT was great because I felt like it wasn’t a word I don’t see regularly. Likewise, the stacking of FANATIC-AVOCADO-CASINOS was fun. 4d [“Final stroke in an individual medley”] FREESTYLE was also a nice tie to the puzzle’s themelessness right off the bat, almost signposting that I shouldn’t be looking for theme content.
Some of my favourites from the grid included:
- 39a [“‘Noodle and the ___ Day’ (book about a floppy pug)”] – I love that NO BONES has made it into puzzles, and so this homage to the canine TikTok star is really lovely.
- 40a [“Container that Winnie the Pooh gets his head stuck in”] – Oh bother! I remember spending many hours reading about and watching Pooh find himself in a HONEY POT.
- 28d [“It might be pulled during finals week”] – ALL-NIGHTERs always make me worry about my students, and so for those who did pull one and are now on summer break: get some rest!
- 38d [“Cat’s paw pads”] – Who doesn’t love an adorable picture of cats’ TOE BEANS? They’re so cute; I’m always SWOONING over them.
Overall, I’ve got NO REGRETS.