Monday, June 12, 2023

BEQ 3:58 (Matthew) 


LAT 2:17 (Stella) 


NYT 2:38 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:58 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Alice Liang’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Each theme answer ends in a word that is also a part of the mouth.

New York Times, 06 12 2023, By Alice Liang

  • 16a [Explodes in anger] – HITS THE ROOF
  • 29a [Tech for connecting wireless speakers] – BLUETOOTH
  • 35a/37a [With 37-Across, native language] – MOTHER/TONGUE
  • 45a [Chew on this!] – BUBBLEGUM
  • 60a [What rumors are spread by … or a hint to the ends of 16-, 29-, 35-/37- and 45-Across] – WORD OF MOUTH

This is a classic Monday theme type – words that fall into a similar category – but it’s executed to perfection. I never realized how many mouth parts were words that could also mean other things! BLUETOOTH especially disguises the original word, but all four of the answers are solid. I like how MOTHER and TONGUE are right next to each other so reading across it looks like a single answer – I find that to be the most aesthetically pleasing way to split answers when need be. My only minor issue is with the revealer itself – I feel like WORD OF MOUTH can refer to news/reviews/general information and facts more than just rumors, like how you might hear about a good new coffeeshop. But maybe that’s just a positive rumor?

The fill overall is incredibly smooth, which I think led to my faster than usual time (that, and the 3-letter answer filled corners). There are a fair amount of middling two-word answers (OF NOTE, SEE TO, SELL BY), but nothing egregious. POT ROAST and GO FIGURE are standout answers, along with COOL IT. I didn’t know Buck ONEIL, or that the OPOSSUM is the only North American marsupial.

Congrats to Alice on a great NYT debut!

Guilherme Gilioli’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Total Defeat”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are 3-word phrases where each word starts with D. The revealer is DEES (65a, [Low grades, and the initials of the long Across answers]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Total Defeat” · Guilherme Gilioli · Mon., 6.12.23

  • 19a. [Prank that rings a bell] DING DONG DITCH. Fun one.
  • 27a. [Time to go casual] DRESS DOWN DAY. New to me. I’ve heard “Casual Friday,” but not this.
  • 43a. [Strict time limit] DROP DEAD DATE. Another good one.
  • 53a. [It’s quite the challenge] DOUBLE-DOG DARE. And yet another goodie.

Mostly good, yeah? Especially if you’re familiar with that second one.

However, the revealer is of no help here. In fact, I think it detracts from the theme since it’s not addressing the triple nature of the theme answers. Why does DEES imply three? Answer: It doesn’t. I googled “Triple D” and aside from being a bra size, I found that #DDD is the hashtag for Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. That would have been a perfectly fine revealer in my book.

I’ve seen ARACHNE more than once recently, but the name makes for fun fill (though maybe not Monday-level). “OMIGOSH,” CATHEDRAL, PUB ORDERS, and SUN GODS are other highlights. Not so keen on DIALER and SSRS.

Clue of note: 22a. [Really enjoying an activity]. INTO IT. I can’t not think of that Seinfeld episode where George urges Jerry to suggest a menage a trois to his current girlfriend so that she’ll dump him. It doesn’t work out that way because it turns out, she’s INTO IT.

Nice puzzle but I’d prefer a different revealer. 3.25 stars.

Angela Kinsella Olson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 6/12/23 by Angela Kinsella Olson

Los Angeles Times 6/12/23 by Angela Kinsella Olson

This puzzle is en fuego! The revealer at 63A [1980 Stephen King novel, and what the answer to each starred clue literally has?] is FIRESTARTER. One quibble and one personal-taste comment here: “what the answer to each starred clue literally has” would indicate that each theme entry should start with a synonym for FIRE, which is not actually what’s going on. Instead, each themer starts with a gerund verb that can be used to describe a fire. Personal-taste comment: When I think FIRESTARTER, I’m going to think of the 1997 song from The Prodigy.

  • 17A [“She Don’t Use Jelly” band, with “The”] is FLAMING LIPS. I admit to having done this “with ‘The'” thing in clues myself a time or six, but I’m trying to quit — it feels inelegant to me as a solver.
  • 26A [Mel Brooks Western starring Cleavon Little] is BLAZING SADDLES.
  • 46A [Enthusiastic praise] is a GLOWING TRIBUTE. I thought this might be a little green-painty at first, but Brits actually have it in their dictionary so I’m going to shut my face now.

I enjoyed seeing LEO TOLSTOY, STUBHUB, and NIGHT LIGHT among the longer entries; having to remember the Bobbsey Twins with FLOSSIE was fine, but perhaps more appropriate to a midweek puzzle. (Especially since FLOSSIE‘s twin was FREDDIE, meaning that even a solver who knows old kiddie lit that well would need a crossing or two to rule him out!)

Josh M Kaufmann’s Universal crossword, “Take the Leap” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 6/12/23 • Mon • “Take the Leap” • Kaufmann • solution • 20230612


  • 62aR [Get right to work, or a hint to 16-, 22-, 36- or 51-Across] JUMP ON IT. Id est, they are things one either literally or figuratively jumps on.
  • 16a. [Modern meeting] ZOOM CALL. Unlike the other theme entries, this one is explicitly couched in work terms.
  • 22a. [What only “knocks once”] OPPORTUNITY. Arguably, but not explicitly, work-related.
  • 36a. [Cause whose support is growing] BANDWAGON.
  • 51a. [Plank at a pirate-themed pool party, perhaps] DIVING BOARD.

Works for me.

  • 2 [How satellites travel] IN ORBIT.
  • 9d [Where hybrid classes are partially taught] ONLINE. Via a ZOOM CALL, perhaps?
  • 14d [Shoe company founded in Denmark] ECCO. 15a [Breakfast pastry] DANISH. This feels like duplication, but I’m not 100% positive.
  • 23d [“__ into the wild blue yonder …”] OFF WE GO. 13a [At large] ON THE RUN.
  • 27d [Turned bad?] DAB. A straight-up reversal of bad. Cryptic-influenced clue.
  • 29a [“The Killing” actress Mireille] ENOS. New ENOS clue to me.
  • 66a [Wavers?] FLAGS. This would be a good, tough clue without the question mark.

Overall, the experience felt a bit choppy, due to the preponderance of three- and four-letter entries.

Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 6/12/23 – Shechtman

As is often the case in one of Anna’s puzzles, there’s a good deal of literature: 50a TIGGER, 59a Eckhart TOLLE, 60a DAVE Eggers, 62a John Kennedy TOOLE, 1d publisher FSG (Farrar Straus Giroux), 2d “Elle et LUI“). And art: NEODADA, NAN Goldin, EOSIN dye in Van Gogh’s red paint, UNE in the title of a Magritte. Also film: NOAH Baumbach, Diana SPENCER, Pam GRIER, Norman BATES, RUBY DEE. And music, for good measure: GIRL GROUP (clue was unhelpful for me, [3LW or SWV, e.g.]–SWV is 1990s R&B, Sisters with Voices, and 3LW is 2000s R&B, 3 Lil Women), Bonnie RAITT, Edwin STARR, Lou Reed’s song mentioning the Warhol crowd’s transgender icon CANDY DARLING (props to Reed for respecting trans people’s pronouns way back in 1972), Mary J. Blige’s “REAL / LOVE,” and Jill SCOTT. The puzzle is one-fourth arts!

Did not know that sea goddess Sedna is INUIT.

Fave fill: COPAGANDA (see below for John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight about the Law & Order franchise fluffing up cops), SWAG BAG, CROWDFUNDING, CANDY DARLING, and cosmetic LIP FILLER with a cautionary clue, [It may cause “trout pout” if used in excess].

New Yorker annoyance: using the spelling extoll in the clue for LAUD. I am so over the magazine’s fetishization of using British spellings in an American publication. Be proud that you’re in New York and not York!

Four stars from me.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — Matthew’s write-up

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 6/12/2023

This grid felt more segmented mid-solve than I thought it would on first blush – the middle stairstack is particularly connected, but each corner quickly becomes a dead-end.

That said, there’s a lot to like in here – I keep seeing another entry upon this review that I liked. The CREEPYPASTA, SWEETHEARTS, REACTION GIFS stack is delightfully internet-ty: CREEPYPASTA is a trope, kind of like an old campfire tale about a hitchhiker or an evening walk past a cemetery, while REACTION GIF(S) lends itself to all sorts of fun wordplay, and to my knowledge has only appeared in the New Yorker, as major, major puzzle outlets go. (Brooke Husic did have REACTION VIDEO in a USA Today puzzle, as well).

WE COOL, PLASTICWARE, PLEASE STOP, END OF AN ERA, the maybe-slightly-forced DO IN A PINCH were all highlights to the grid as well. And hey! A non-AHAB Moby-Dick reference at 11d [“The Spouter-___ (“Moby-Dick” setting)] INN. I love the AHAB references too, but especially the non-AHAB ones.

Bobby Orr scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1970. If you were wondering, this picture *was* already in the Fiend library.

Wide mix of source material fitting into this puzzle: Carmen, The Hunger Games, a famous moment in sports history ([He scored “The Goal” during the 1970 Stanley Cup finals] for Bobby ORR), weird biology (SEA OWLS). I’m looking for something that didn’t quite land for me, and it’s not really there — you all know I have a bit more tolerance for the BEQ-maybe-not-a-word thing; in this puzzle ROOMILY and RESWAP.

[20d Private practice?] for SECRECY had me leaning something Army for quite awhile – that misdirection might be more on me than BEQ but satisfying to push through anyway.

All in all a particularly pleasant puzzle, for my money!

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15 Responses to Monday, June 12, 2023

  1. JohnH says:

    In the WSJ, I didn’t know the crossing of DOUBLE DOG DARE and TIG. My first guesses were wrong.

  2. dh says:

    The only time I have ever heard “Double Dog Dare” is in the classic Christmas movie. I knew Tig Notaro from listening to Conan O’Brien’s podcast. It always raises an eyebrow when I hear of “dialing” a phone, which I don’t think I’ve done since the 1970’s. It no longer has any connection to the actual activity – but I can’t think of an appropriately meaningful alternative. What word can be used to describe telling Siri to “Call Mom”? or pressing an icon next to the name of a contact?
    I sometimes wonder about the changing meanings of words – if a word once meant something offensive, changes in meaning in current lexicon are often still unacceptable.

    BTS again … I wonder how many crossword fans never heard of BTS before they began their journey to ubiquity in this world – and how many of them have begun listening to them? Are we headed in the direction of YouTube, and will soon find these entries monetized?

    • JohnH says:

      I can see how double dog dare could evolve easily from double dare, although even that exists less standalone (where dare is definitely a real-life noun) than in “I double dare you.” I’m probably at fault from not having recent experience with with K-6 children.

      I’m afraid there are lots of things, like BTS, that may have a greater popularity and importance in crosswords than in life (and yeah, I know they’re widely successful). I’ve never once seen Neo-Dada in the art world or in textbooks on modern apart, only in puzzles like TNY today. Rauschenberg was never horrified by anything (a really nice guy, I hear), but I still imagine him as horrified by the term applied to him. His stuffed goat might have been anti a lot of things, but never anti-art. His work was always a wildly creative act. That may be why his late silkscreen collage can be a little bland. They affirm darn near anything.

  3. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni … DRABS {37D: Tiny amounts}? Before this puzzle, I only knew of this word as meaning dull, an article of dull-colored clothing or as slang for a prostitute. I also know it from the phrase “dribs and DRABS”, but not as a stand-alone word meaning “tiny amounts”. It’s close enough for crosswords, I suppose, but I’m wondering if others are familiar with this meaning?

    • Eric H says:

      My American Heritage Dictionary has a definition of DRAB as “a negligible amount” and notes that it’s probably an alteration of DRiB. But I can’t say that I have ever heard anyone use it that way except as part of the phrase.

      Thanks for your kind words yesterday.

  4. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: A lot of gimmes everywhere but the NW corner — Bonnie RAITT, DAVE Eggers, CANDY DARLING, Edwin STARR, NOAH Baumbach, et al.

    I was slowed down by having Israel as the “target of some campus divestment campaigns.” (I put it in, took it out, then put it back in when STROLL IN seemed to confirm the L.)

    When I got the cleverly-clued CROWDFUNDING, I thought that would break the upper part of the puzzle open, but no such luck.

    On the other hand, I didn’t get completely stuck for long anywhere, and a few lucky guesses here and there revealed other answers to me. That’s the kind of crossword puzzle I like.

    COPAGANDA may be my favorite new portmanteau. It’s one of those that you understand immediately, without having seen it before.

    • JohnH says:

      You know, you always say this about TNY: tough but fair. And it’s always so far from my experience (and the wide majority of negative ratings) that I can’t believe it. More power to you, but still.

      I too had an unusual number of gimmes, including DAVE, NOAH, and RAITT but not STARR, enough to breeze more or less through the SE and SW. I also guessed NEODADA easily from past puzzles, although I was still stuck in the NE. But still, a lot of us keep saying, no, it’s not that we want puzzles that ask about our overaged male experience. We just want less of a quiz, more ingenuity, and fairer crossings.

      That came home to me this time in actually knowing stuff. Did I like it more? No way. All I could think of just confirmed my usual reaction, because what if I didn’t know that, especially given crossings like SCOTT and TOLLE? Would that be so great? Even CANDY DARLING (and I’m really into Warhol) was something I knew only by coincidence. I’d have known by heart only the chorus until just a couple a days ago I heard the song again at a bar and marveled again at the bass line. Who played that? So I went online, and Wiki couldn’t help telling me more than I had asked, about who is in each verse.

      Besides, that still left me staring at seas of white in the top half and center, where sheer guesswork took me only so far. So yet again, for Anna S. and too many others with TNY, it’s always what you know, no more, no less. You call that crossword solving? I don’t.

      • David L says:

        I finished the NYer without too much trouble, but it was definitely heavy on the names, especially in the SW corner. I knew most of them, and others at least rang a bell, but I understand your frustration with puzzles of this sort.

        The one I didn’t know at all was CANDYDARLING, but I got enough crosses that it wasn’t too hard to infer.

      • Greg A. says:

        The three main constructors for the New Yorker difficult puzzles are Nathan Last, Anna Shechtman, and Brooke Husic. All three are incredible at their craft and amazingly prolific. But as a solver, I rarely enjoy their New Yorker puzzles because they rely so heavily on proper names that even most crossword nerds are unfamiliar with, and supposedly current lingo like “copaganda” that no one on planet Earth aside from constructors would be aware of. Those kinds of puzzles just feel like a slog even after finishing them successfully. That said, I get why drawing from wordlists with that kind of stuff is the only way to keep the pipeline flowing. Hard puzzles can be really fun, but I bet the reliance especially on tons of obscure names is the main reason why those early week New Yorker ratings are pretty consistently low. Making great difficult but satisfying puzzles without lots of obscure names and lingo is exceedingly hard.

      • PJ says:

        I have been known to mock people who have said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” yet this repeated solve the puzzle, not like the puzzle, go to CrosswordFiend to complain about the puzzle has got me wondering what we should call it.

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