Thursday, June 22, 2023

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 4:23(Gareth) 


NYT 14:17 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker 3:04 (Jenni) 


Universal 4:51 (Sophia) 


USA Today 9:17 (Emily) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


Alexander Liebeskind & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Vowel Play”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar two-word phrases that feature only one kind of vowel in each phrase. But more than that, one of the vowels is long and one is short. The two-part revealer is THE LONG / AND THE SHORT OF IT (51a, [With 63-Across, all that needs to be said, or a hint to what’s found in each starred answer]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Vowel Play” · Alexander Liebeskind & Jeff Chen · Thu., 6.22.23

  • 1a. [*Nighthawks Orchestra leader Vince Giordano’s instrument] BĀSS SĂX.
  • 8a. [*Man cave relative] SHĒ SHĔD.
  • 21a. [*Well-managed organization] TĪGHT SHĬP.
  • 42a. [*Financially sustainable] LŌW CŎST.
  • 44a. [*They’re bad when caught] FLŪ BŬGS.

Nice! At first it seemed like the theme answers were just phrases that featured only one type of vowel, and I was prepared to be underwhelmed. But the revealer provided the aha moment that I wasn’t expecting and added the nice twist. Interesting that in each case, the long vowel comes before the short vowel. Coincidence or design? I like to think the latter. It’s also nice that the vowels are in alphabetical order. That’s by design, I’m sure.

I will pick on the title though. It really should be a little more descriptive of what’s going on here rather than just tell us that vowels are involved. And besides, I’m sure I’ve seen that title used before.

The unusual grid design still allows for some long fill like TUNGSTEN and BOAT SHOE which are both quite nice. I also liked FANTASY, TARHEEL, RUN LATE, and A LITTLE. I needed nearly all of the crossings for ANNULAR [Doughnut-shaped] since I wanted some form of “toroid”. And I’m not sure FIERIER is actually a word…or at least it’s not a word people would actually use. I grudgingly entered ALRIGHT for [Passable, informally]. I was a stickler for the spelled out “all right” until I saw Amy comment that we have a precedent in “already.”

Clues of note:

  • 69a. [Field for N.K. Jemisin]. FANTASY. I’ve had at least one of her books my wish list for some time; I really should get around to reading it. By the way, she’s the first author to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel three years in a row and the first to win it for all three books in a trilogy for her Broken Earth series.
  • 24d. [Georgia feature?]. SERIF. I think that’s a tall order to ask people to realize that Georgia is (1) a font and (2) a font with serifs.

Nifty theme. 3.5 stars.

Michael Baker and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Average (14m17s)

Michael Baker and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword puzzle, 6/21/2023, 0621

Today’s theme: THE BABY IS ASLEEP (New parent’s whispered admonition … or a hint to four squares in this puzzle)


Caught the SHH rebus quickly enough with ROSH HASHANAH and BRITISH HUMOR, but struggled with how that tied in to a sleeping baby.  Tried looking for the letters B-A-B-Y around each (SHH), or some kind of crib/nursery angle that I was missing, and.. I’ve still got nothing.  Although THE BABY IS ASLEEP is certainly an appropriate revealer given the theme, it still feels a little arbitrary.  Could just as easily be I‘M HUNTING WABBITS or THIS IS A LIBRARY.. you get it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m missing another angle.  Lots of longer theme answers to like, though!

One other nit to pick — I was a bit distracted by HUSH HUSH, which I thought was a more on-the-nose revealer than THE BABY IS ASLEEP.  And given that it wasn’t billed as a revealer, does that make it a kind of dupe?  These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Cracking: HAS DIBS.  Called it.  Law of the land.  Predates the Magna Carta!

Slacking: just a reminder that KANYE once said that he was going to go, and I quote, “DEATH CON 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE.”  On the bright side, we did get this Seinfeld deep cut meme as a result.

Sidetracking: speaking of Peep Show…

Hanh Huynh’s Fireball Crossword, “Be My Guest” – Jenni’s write-up

This is a nifty theme! I’ll start with the revealer. 63a [Wedding invitation allowance…or a hint to the symbol appearing three times in this puzzle] is PLUS ONE. As you can see in the grid, there are three sets of black squares that make PLUS signs. If you replace each PLUS with ONE the theme answers magically appear. This works in both directions.

Fireball, June 21, 2023, Hanh Huynh, “Be My Guest,” solution grid

  • 5d [It responds to “Alexa”] is AMAZ{ON E}CHO.
  • 27a [Features on Jack Russell terriers] are BUTT{ON E}ARS.
  • 9d [Make cheesy, as Bruce Lee’s name] is SPO{ONE}RIZE. Reverse the first sounds and you get LOOSE BRIE.
  • 25a [1913 novel whose title comes from a Walt Whitman poem] is O PI{ONE}ERS.
  • 32a [Risk territory in the Australia continent] is IND{ONE}SIA.
  • 49a [Its nickname is “The Biggest Little City in the World”] is REN{ONE}VADA.

The second word in each theme answer is clued normally. This was a very satisfying “aha!” moment. Fun!

A few other things:

  • Don’t really like TEEHEED for [Giggled]. If that’s the worst thing I can say about the puzzle, we’re doing fine.
  • 18d [Had a sense of connection and acknowledgement] is a perfect clue for FELT SEEN.
  • 38d [It’s held in limbo] is a BAR. The dance, not the Dante’s Inferno location.
  • 57a [Multiplication by division] is MITOSIS. This made me laugh.
  • 59a [The “E” of T&E] is ESTATES. The “T” is Trusts.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of the David LaChapelle documentary RIZE about the clowning and krumping dance subcultures. And I did not know that SIA directed the film “Music.”

Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I don’t always do the Thursday New Yorker puzzle, but when it’s a Robyn Weintraub byline, I do. OK, that’s not quite the right format. It’s still true. I love, love, love Robyn’s puzzles. I like them better when they’re harder because the easy ones go by too fast. I don’t know if I can put my finger on what exactly it is about Robyn’s puzzles that I like so much. They’re just – good. Really good. This one is no exception. It’s squarely in the Thursday New Yorker “beginner-friendly” mode (also know as We Are Not The New York Times And We Want You To Know That). Still lots of fun.

New Yorker, June 22, 2023, Robyn Weintraub, solution grid


  • I loved the TEEN TITANS back when my brother collected comic books and I read them on the sly.
  • You can grab a bite in a DINING CAR on a US train. They are more common in Europe, I’m sure.
  • 15a [Parting words addressed to an alligator] are SEE YA LATER. I half-expected to find the “in a while” crocodile somewhere else in the puzzle.
  • The central 15-letter entry in my beloved conversational style. 33a [“I’m confused…does that mean you like the idea?”] is IS THAT A YES OR A NO. It’s a solid YES for me.
  • RETIREMENT is definitely [Not working anymore]. 10/10 would definitely recommend.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of the book “Mean Girl: AYN Rand and the Culture of Greed” by Lisa Duggan. Off to see if our library has it because it sounds fascinating.

Rebecca Goldstein’s Universal crossword, “Cracked Screen” — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Three times in the puzzle, types of cell phones are split by a black square.

Universal Crossword, 06 22 2023, “Cracked Screen”

  • 14a/15a [What melting icicles do (Note the last 2 letters of this answer + …)]/[Sweet melon (… the first 4 of this one)] : DRIP/HONEYDEW
  • 30a/32a [Costume Institute Benefit, familiarly (Last 4 letters + …)]/[Common 2D surface (… first 2)] : MET GALA/XY PLANE
  • 37a/41a [Hexagonal cereal (Last 3 letters + …)]/[Nickname of a Cretan artist (… first 2)] – CRISPIX/EL GRECO
  • 56a/58a [With 58-Across, mitosis … or what each set of indicated letters depicts?]: CELL/DIVISION

This was a very cute theme! I’m a Pixel user and was very happy to see the inclusion. META GALA/XY PLANE is an incredible way to conceal GALAXY, and is the high point of the puzzle for me. This is the second Universal puzzle in a row that I’ve blogged with up/down symmetry: I know some folks don’t like the aesthetic, but I think it looks great. The title is perfect too.

The theme doesn’t allow for too many long works, but I love how Rebecca made the 7-letter slots shine. RED WINE, TCHALLA, CRANK UP, I HATE IT, XS AND OS are all great. I did not love PIX – does anyone actually use this word? I only see “pics”. New to me but very apt: author REBECCA Traister.

Taylor Johnson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Taylor Johnson’s theme today is very creative. It features for jobs involved with rolls, though each is of a distinct kind. The theme is wrapped together with LETSROLL as a cry said, with varying levels of plausibility, by any of said workers: a {MOVIE}DIRECTOR, a CRAPSDEALER, a SUSHICHEF and a JAZZDRUMMER.

The inclusion of JAZZDRUMMER was tricky, and well managed with the crossing answers including PBJ and LAZBOYS. I also enjoyed the very US MODELUN and EMDASH with its very literary in-joke clue.


Rebecca Goldstein’s USA Today Crossword, “Nosedive” — Emily’s write-up


Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday June 22, 2023

USA Today, June 22 2023, “Nosedive” by Rebecca Goldstein

Theme: themer in downs today so each themer contains -NOSE- vertically


  • 3d. [“Everybody knows that!”], ITSNOSECRET
  • 7d. [Some Lambda Legal resources], PROBONOSERVICES
  • 25d. [There are 60 billion in one minute], NANOSECONDS

Such a unique themer set today. All of these were new entries for me, along with much of the overall fill. ITSNOSECRET that Rebecca made this awesome puzzle. Lambda Legal includes PROBONOSERVICES and has a detailed timeline history on their About page. When you count in NANOSECONDS, it sure makes it sound like you have way more time.


Stumpers: TOES (misdirected—fantastic cluing!), CORTADO (needed crossings), and SHOWERBEER (needed crossings, kept thinking Capri-Sun or wine/juice boxes)

Solid puzzle with fun bonus fill and great cluing.

4.0 stars


This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Thursday, June 22, 2023

  1. David L says:

    NYT: ROSHHASHAHAH is one of those phrases I always have trouble spelling, so that slowed me down, but not too much.

    I don’t believe Norm ABRAM was ever the host of This Old House (he was the lead carpenter back in the Bob Vila days). Would’ve been cute to have BRITISHHUMOUR…

    I’m perplexed by INAREA (that R was my last square, after running the alphabet). I’ve heard of mobile phone companies referring to a customer being in area or not, but insurance companies?

    • Jenni Levy says:

      “In network” is more common. Most providers in network are also in area, and I’ve seen the phrase. It raised my eyebrow, though – it’s not particularly common.

      I enjoyed the “baby is asleep” revealer. We used to have a sign we’d put in the door to stop people ringing the bell during naptime. The bell wouldn’t wake the baby but the subsequent barking and whining from the dogs sure would.

    • RCook says:

      You are correct. Steve Thomas and Kevin O’Connor followed Bob Vila. Norm was always just the show’s master carpenter.

      • Gary R says:

        Norm WAS the host of his own PBS show, “The New Yankee Workshop,” for about 20 years.

        • DougC says:

          I used to love watching Norm on The New Yankee Workshop! It was like ASMR for woodworkers! Too bad that today’s clue was wrong, though.

      • Eric H says:

        My woodworking brother-in-law always called Norm ABRAM “the wood butcher.”

  2. GlennG says:

    BEQ: Nice breezy little outing. Nothing too filling but a fun little jaunt.

    LAT: Found the theme a little trite, plus not sure the first one (DIRECTOR) fits too well at all in association, to the point I about had to consult Dr. G on some of the obscurity crossing it. I ended up spending more time trying to suss that out than I did solving the entire rest of the puzzle.

    New Yorker: Nice enough puzzle, but still have to have a definition on what “Beginner” is exactly to them, as they rarely ever hit my idea of this (this one was about an average Wednesday NYT difficulty, about as hard as today’s WSJ). But I’ll have to say Weintraub is one of their staff that learned to hit closer to the “Beginner” mark than some of their others.

    WSJ: Nice execution, but underwhelming on the theme overall and not as much there as I’d expect a “hardest of the week” puzzle to be, especially compared to some of these in the past. “OK? Meh.” is kind of my short reaction to this one.

  3. Mark says:

    NYer – It was fine. Pleasant enough to solve but not really fun. The NYer puzzles are rarely fun.

    WSJ – agree with the above that it wasn’t the challenge level I hope for in a Thursday. But I thought it was clever. Theme was ok.

    NYT – I really liked it. I thought the top third was challenging but I really enjoyed solving it. Fun theme!

    • JohnH says:

      I’d agree on those. I found the NYT really challenging, at least down in the SW and S central, where I didn’t remember Norm, the Air BNB competitor, Peep Show, the diet term, or for a long time even RENU. I also had “hidden” for secret for the longest time and tried squeezing SHH elsewhere without success.

      But also a very nice challenge with a clever revealer. (So what if it could have been a different motive for silence?) I imagine the slight preponderance of negative ratings reflects the usual reflective hatred of any squeezing more than one letter in a Thursday square. Others like me love it, but I wouldn’t upgrade a puzzle if it weren’t also good.

  4. sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ … It’s been many years since grade school English class for this Boomer, but unless I’ve been mispronouncing FLU all my life, I don’t think of it as having a long-U sound. Isn’t that descriptor for words like music, Cuba and bugle? A long-OO digraph sound isn’t the same as a long-U, is it?

    • Zach says:

      That is such a good point. Now I am imagining British royals saying “I’ve come down with a fl-ewe.” 😂 Probably the only group of people who would pronounce it like that.

    • JohnH says:

      Could it be, though, simply that there are two long U sounds in English. Plenty of rhymes out there for FLU that involve a U rather than an EW.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I kinda remember being taught that long-OO and long-U are two different vowel sounds. They’re certainly formed differently in the mouth. But maybe that’s not the way they teach it anymore. After all, it’s been about 55 years since I had a grade school English lesson.

  5. C. Y. Hollander says:

    I didn’t like the NYT’s equation of IMHO with “expression of false modesty”, as if qualifying one’s opinion as “humble” were ipso facto false. By this reasoning, is there any way to express true humility about one’s opinion? There should be!

    It’s all too natural for listeners to make assumptions about a speaker’s unexpressed state of mind, but such assumptions, IMHO, are inherently unreliable and rarely helpful in any case. Treating such assumptions as inherent to the expression is worse yet.

  6. Martin says:

    I believe the only way to express true humility about one’s opinion is to keep it to oneself.

  7. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Definitely beginner level. I’m not sure how I feel about these easy themeless puzzles the New Yorker runs.

    The NYT Monday puzzle is the only “easy” puzzle that I regularly solve. To make them more than just a typing exercise, I try to focus on the theme.

    I have to take issue with 31D. I’ve been called ANAL (and sometimes it’s true), but I doubt anyone has ever thought of me as Type A. At least, I hope no one’s ever thought that about me.

    I concur on RETIREMENT. I don’t miss working one bit.

Comments are closed.