Wednesday, May 31, 2023

LAT 4:44 (GRAB) 


The New Yorker tk (Amy) 


NYT 5:22 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 6:44 (Emily) 


AVCX tk (Amy) 


Dave Rus’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Before…”—Jim’s review

Theme: The letter B is added to the beginning of familiar phrases causing crossword wackiness. The revealer is B-PLUS (71a, [Pretty good grade, and a hint to the theme answers]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Before…” · Dave Rus · Wed., 5.31.23

  • 17a. [Dustpan?] BROOM MATE.
  • 26a. [Polyandrous marriage?] BRIDESHARE.
  • 40a. [Result of getting too close to the campfire?] BRAISED EYEBROWS.
  • 52a. [Symptom of an aging memory?] BRAIN DELAY.
  • 63a. [Period allotted to manage waist-length hair?] BRUSH HOUR.

Not bad. There are a great many possible theme answers, though, so it feels quite loose. Even with having R as the second letter there still seems to be a lot of possibilities. I think it was Merle Reagle who said that a good theme is exhaustive, i.e. the theme is sufficiently tight that there are few other potential theme answers. I can think of any number of other potential answers here, though. Still, what we have is nice. I liked the BRAISED EYEBROWS entry especially.

LOANED OUT and CLOCK DIAL are our marquee entries today. I usually hear “clock face” before CLOCK DIAL, though. INTENSE and AND MORE are nice. IERI [Yesterday, in Italy] is quite not-nice, and crossing it with French RUE may prove difficult for some solvers, especially as clued [Saint-Honoré, in Paris].

Clues of note:

  • 46a. [ChatGPT and Bard, e.g.]. AIS. I suppose we’ll be seeing this entry more often now. Never heard of Bard, though.
  • 73a. [It’s game]. TAG. This really needs a question mark, IMO, since the meaning of the phrase is completely changed when referring to the player “it.”
  • 42d. [Wee]. EENY. Hmm. I’ve never seen this word used this way. There’s eeensy-weensy and itsy-bitsy, but I’ve only ever heard EENY as used at the start of the choosing rhyme “EENY meeny miney moe” (and spelled “eenie,” if you asked me).

Nice puzzle though the theme is quite broad. 3.25 stars.

Brandon Koppy’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 5 31 23, no. 0531

Theme revealer is the BEASTIE BOYS, and the four themers relate to that by being names (or nicknames) of men with mammal nicknames: WOLF BLITZER, TIGER WOODS, BEAR GRYLLS, BUFFALO BILL. Cute to tie them together with the Beastie Boys.

Some interesting fill, like “HATED IT,” and some neat clues, such as [They’re roasted at a roast] for WIENERS. Four stars for me, and it’s past my bedtime so that’s all for tonight.

Geoff Brown’s Universal crossword, “You Name It” — pannonica’s précis

Universal • 5/31/23 • Wed • Brown • “You Name It” • solution • 20230531

Briefly, as my time this morning is limited.

  • 60dR [Elementary particle, and a two-part hint to the starts of 17-, 28-, 45- and 62-Across] ATOM, or a Tom.
  • 17a. [Pony car since 1964] FORD MUSTANGTom Ford.
  • 28a. [Sarcastic response to a dad joke] HARDY HAR HARTom Hardy. {6a [Parents celebrated in June] PAPAS.}
  • 45a. [Celebrity and Carnival, e.g.] CRUISE LINESTom Cruise.
  • 62a. [Unpopular low-level boss, say] PETTY TYRANTTom Petty. I’ve been spelling it petit tyrant all these years, but I see now that there’s a lack of dictionary support for that.

My overriding sense of the puzzle was that the cluing was exceptionally straightforward and that the ballast fill was rather bland.

  • 11d [Goggle-eyed and wise] OWLISH. This is referring to person, as owls per se are not among the smartest species of birds.
  • 49d [Polish language?] EDIT. Ha, haven’t seen that clue in a while.
  • 51a [One may have just desserts] MENU. That’d be a dessert menu, yep.

Okay, that’s it.

Bruce Haight’s USA Today Crossword, “Making Repairs” — Emily’s write-up

Short and sweet post today for a delightful, quick puzzle!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday May 31, 2023

USA Today, May 31 2023, “Making Repairs” by Bruce Haight

Theme: each themer contains “RERE” in the phrase, giving us pairs of “RE” (or “repairs”)


  • 20a. [Public transportation discount], FAREREDUCTION
  • 38a. [Start of a romantic rhyme], ROSESARERED
  • 56a. [Protected area for animals and/or plants], NATURERESERVE

Fun theme with a wordplay title. An otherwise unlikely trio of FAREREDUCTION, ROSESARERED, and NATURERESERVE are brought together as the themer set with this creative repetitive “RERE” occurrence.

Favorite fill: EGAD, GOBIG, and LIU

Stumpers: LARIAT (needed crossings as I was stuck on “lasso”) and PLOP (“drip” and “splash” came to mind first)

A solid puzzle with lots of fair crossings made for a nice and breezy solve today. Great for the middle of a busy week!

4.0 stars


Katie Hale’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Katie Hale’s puzzle this Wednesday features a typical mid-week theme trope. BEARHUGS indicates that four answers start with BE and end in AR, creating a BEAR that hugs each answer:

  • [*Not so great], BELOWPAR
  • [*Roe delicacy], BELUGACAVIAR
  • [*Laboratory vessel], BELLJAR
  • [*Currency in San Ignacio], BELIZEDOLLAR

It felt like there were several creative/unusual short answers and associated clues today:

  • [Abbreviation with a suggested price], OBO I’m guessing is “or best offer”?
  • [“Hey, bro”], YODUDE sees a tad arbitrary.
  • [Pokémon species that evolves into Kadabra and Alakazam], ABRA is a rarely used angle for this answer; I think it’s fun, but should perhaps been seen sparingly.
  • [Morehouse, for one: Abbr.], HBCU appears to be an abbreviation for Historically Black College or University?


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11 Responses to Wednesday, May 31, 2023

  1. Barry says:

    WSJ puzzle was delightful.

    • Mark says:

      I agree – I loved it!

      • Mr. [not really] Grumpy says:

        I especially liked BRAIN DELAY [as a 70-yea-old baseball fan], but I have to say that BRIDE SHARE sounded more like a porn movie than a polyandrous relationship.

    • Eric H says:

      I started solving it and got BRIDESHARE without fully understanding the theme. It hit me a few minutes later, as I was rushing my teeth.

      It was a fun puzzle — BRAISED EYEBROWS was my favorite. It’s just the right kind of wacky that I’m willing to overlook that braising involves a liquid, so from that perspective, the joke doesn’t work.

      Jim makes a point that there are probably lots more phrases that the constructor could have used. But the ones in the puzzle are all pretty good.

  2. Jacob T says:

    TNY – This is in regards to the discussion on yesterday’s puzzle. I didn’t have a chance to comment. It seems to me that Monday and Tuesday New Yorker grids typically contain a lot of Twitterisms (Twitter speak?), which makes sense since the constructors are quite active on that platform from what I can tell. I wonder if these hyper-current/obsolete-next-month entries water down the integrity of the puzzle, making it more of a novelty. Probably not, but still I wonder. I think the New Yorker is solid, but some of these terms just seem like party tricks as I’m not sure they are ever used in real life.

    Using yesterday’s entries as an example: someone entering their “villain arc” (never ever seen VILLAINERA ever, if that’s a thing then it must be exclusive to Twitter or TikTok?), and “going Goblin Mode” (GOBLINCORE, as was clued), are terms I have never heard anyone use outside of Twitter. Of course, that’s just me and maybe I’m not connected with people who do use these terms, but I’m in a rather young age bracket so I wonder if anyone else has had a different experience with such things.

    • DougC says:

      That puzzle had the highest proportion of fill that I did not know and could not infer, of any puzzle, anywhere, any time. I was obviously way outside the target demographic. I don’t do Twitter and don’t care to, so maybe that was a factor.

    • Eric H says:

      I liked yesterday’s New Yorker puzzle, though there were many things that I hadn’t heard of.

      GOBLINCORE turns out to be an aesthetic choice involving second-hand clothing, a palette of mostly mute colors, and an overall anti-consumerist outlook. All of that sounds fine to me.

      Regarding today’s “lightly challenging” New Yorker puzzle, the only sticky spot was NIKYATU JUSU. “Nanny” didn’t sound familiar, but on looking it up, I decided I probably did read about it when it came out.

      But the crosses for Ms. JUSU were easily solved, which makes a vast difference when you’re trying to come up with a potentially unfamiliar and uncommon name.

      As for the ephemeralness of some of those New Yorker entries — I wonder what sort of afterlife the New Yorker thinks their puzzles might have. I’ve read that the NYT made a fair amount of money from the sale of books of previously-published puzzles, so it makes sense that they might want their puzzles to be a bit more timeless. (But even old NYT puzzles have plenty of names of people who are mostly now forgotten.)

    • JohnH says:

      All these are good comments. Personally, I’m more worried about whether it limits solvers to a very few, not whether it’s ephemeral. I’m more concerned, that is, with whether it vanishes before it reaches me! Anyhow, I’d be rude to rant again about yesterday’s puzzle, but fwiw I do use Twitter. Just bear in mind that many do so within a community of shared interests, so there’s no reason I should have seen phrases that appear elsewhere.

      I was impressed with the construction today that I could get the social-networking site, Nanny’s writer, and the consulting firm entirely from crossings. I do have a mistake, crossing LUMP IN and GO WELL, with obviously different first letters, but I can wait to see the answer from Amy’s write-up.

    • pannonica says:

      goblin mode was Oxford Dictionaries’ 2022 word of the year.

  3. Jenifer E says:

    Agree with Jacob T and Eric H regarding the New Yorker’s use of Twitter speak. As an avid Twitter user, if it doesn’t come somewhat familiar to me, it’s a bit of a surprise. I like learning something new but if it’s a ‘so what’, it just annoying.

  4. rob says:

    I would like to add my two cents to the New Yorker Monday and Tuesday puzzle discussion. For me, the issue has more to do with the placement of the puzzle than with the constructors of these puzzles. I expect a Monday puzzle to be challenging, and if I see that the author is Natan, Brooke, or Kameron on a Monday, I generally skip the puzzles. I know my limitations. However, the Tuesday puzzle is advertised as “moderately challenging “ so I always try to solve a Tuesday puzzle, even if constructed by any of the three aforementioned authors. Yesterday’s puzzle was way too difficult for a Tuesday IMHO. This was not Brooke’s fault; the puzzle should have been run on a Monday.

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