Friday, June 30, 2023

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 2:37 (Matt) 


NYT 9:04(norah) 


Universal 3:06 (Jim) 


USA Today 3:22 (Darby) 


New York Times Crossword by Carly Schuna – norah’s review



What a fun and fresh puzzle from Carly! This is only her second for the NYT, but she can be seen just about anywhere you get your crosswords.

This one played a little on the hard side for me for a Friday, due mostly to somewhat more ambiguous cluing for entries such as DITCH [Abandon], RECTOR [Service provider?], ATBAT [Up], LOWEST [Bottom], and so on.

The long fill here is great. Starting with the spanner THATISSUCHAMOOD [“I can relate,” in Gen Z slang], then with HELLTOTHENO [“As frickin’ if!”] (both debut entries!) and IMEANREALLY [“Surely you know that’s ludicrous”], this puzzle is really giving us some attitude. This is only the second appearance for IDLI; glad to see it’s finally gained acceptance at the Times. We’ve also got TORTILLA [Mexican wrap] and SMORE [The first recipe for one was published in “Tramping and Trailing With the Girl Scouts” (1927)]. Yum.

Favorite clue of the puzzle: [Dining option where bow ties might be expected] for PASTABAR.

By the way, Carly’s puzzle was the first used for the New York Times “Easy Mode” themeless puzzles, which uses the same grids published on Fridays, but with all new easier clues written by associate editor Christina Iverson. NYT subscribers can access the easy mode for this puzzle here.

Wonderful puzzle. Thanks Carly and the NYT team. Come back tomorrow for another excellent themeless puzzle review from me, this time for Universal.

Spencer Leach’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 6/30/23 • Fri • Leach • solution • 20230630

  • 16a. [Loudness of a kiss?] PECK VOLUME. From this entry, I thought we were dealing with puns and that the base phrase was peak volume. But that turned out not to be the case.
  • 27a. [Attraction to certain electric cars?] TESLA MAGENTISM.
  • 44a. [Number of times one rents a car?] HERTZ FREQUENCY.
  • 60a. [Quantity of dirt displaced by a burrowing garden pest?] MOLE AMOUNT.

So the theme turns out to be: roundabout ways of getting to a result of listing a measurement unit followed by the quality being measured. I feel kind of meh about this.

  • 11d [“You’ll get a kick out of this …”] FUNNY STORY. Nicely colloquial.
  • 26d [ACLU focus] RTS. That is, rights.
  • 45d [Serene] ZEN. 46d [Serene] QUIET.
  • 14a [Minor disruption] BLIP. 15a [Secure] SNUG. I wonder if there was an early iteration of the grid when the latter entry was SNAG, with the preceding clue repeated.
  • 32a [Dated communication request] FAX ME. Whew, yes it is.
  • 36a [Omega-shaped curve in a river] OXBOW. 62a [36-Across, e.g.] BEND. Unusual cross-reference, that.
  • 48a [Member of the underground economy?] MINER. Kind of cute.
  • 37d [Gen __ ] XER.

Here’s a track for the Gen Xers:

Chandi Deitmer’s New Yorker Crossword – Matthew’s review

Chandi Deitmer’s New Yorker crossword solution, 6/30/2023

Our themers are phrases beginning with common literary or film genres. I like it:

  • 17a [Artificial intelligence gone rogue or a time-travel snafu, e.g.] SCI FI CONVENTION
  • 20a [Flagon of ale at a goblin’s tavern, e.g.] FANTASY DRAFT
  • 35a [Searching for clues and interviewing suspects, e.g.] MYSTERY MEAT
  • 52a [Wedding of a cowboy and a saloon girl, e.g.] WESTERN UNION
  • 56a [“I’ve never felt this way before” or “You complete me,” e.g.] ROMANCE LANGUAGE

Fun, in-the-language phrases. MYSTERY MEAT doesn’t land quite as solidly as the rest for me; I suppose “searching for clues” and “interviewing suspects” are the metaphorical “meat” of a mystery plot.


  • 26a [“____ or Leave It” (political podcast hosted by a former Obama speechwriter] LOVETT. I don’t listen to either, but I more often hear about Jon Lovett’s other political podcast, Pod Save America.
  • 61a [Lit] TURNT. I’m surprised we don’t see this more often. The letters are common, and it’s been around a minute.
  • 64a [Parts of some Hulk Hogan costumes] BOAS. This took me a moment — I’m both not a wrestling fan and a little young for Hogan’s heydey. But with some crossings, the image snapped right in my brain.
  • 8d [Some transports for wadi tours, for short] ATVS. This made me smile, because 10-15 years ago, I learned the word WADI, a usually-dry channel (except in rainy season), from crossword puzzles.
  • 21d [Starts to live, laugh, and love] ELS. Oh, the challenge for a constructor, to pick between a golf name and a quasi-cryptic clue.
  • 33d [Magazine that gave each member of One Direction his own cover, in 2012] TEEN VOGUE. Teen Vogue no longer publishes print edition, but they have increased political and social commentary, recognizing that young people also grapple with these issues, and I applaud them for it.
  • 44d [Sea colloquially called “the Ditch” by Kiwis and Aussies] TASMAN. Today I learned!

Bruce Haight’s USA Today crossword, “Start with a Bang”–Darby’s review

Editors: Kelsey Dixon & Amanda Rafkin

Theme: Each theme answer starts with a synonym for BANG.

Theme Answers

Bruce Haight's USA Today crossword, "Start with a Bang" solution for 6/30/2023

Bruce Haight’s USA Today crossword, “Start with a Bang” solution for 6/30/2023

  • 16a [“Fluffy makeup applicator”] POWDER PUFF
  • 36a [“Instagram video that, aptly, plays forward and backward”] BOOMERANG
  • 61a [“Hard stick used for building material”] BAMBOO POLE

I loved the comic book feel of this theme! POW and BAM have particular resonance for me as a cartoonish sounds so parsing out the theme was really fun. I filled in POWDER PUFF pretty quickly and BOOMERANG came together by happenstance on the crosses. I didn’t even see what its clue was until I finished the puzzle (and it’s a great cluing angle!). BAMBOO POLE was the hardest, but once I got its beginning, everything fell into place.

This puzzle’s corner’s felt really open. 38d [“Ability to suss out lies, casually”] BS METER was very fun and made me laugh. Generally, I just enjoyed a lot of the fill, like EGO TRIP, WOBBLE, NO CAN DO, and CLEANSE. 42d [“Harrison Ford role in ‘Star Wars’”] HAN SOLO felt pretty apt with the release of the new Indiana Jones film. I loved the simplicity and message of 34d [“___ rights are human rights”] TRANS as well.

Overall, this was TOPs, that’s PLAIN as day.

Joe Rodini’s Universal crossword, “Jack of All Trades”—Jim’s review

Near as I can tell, the theme answers consist of famous people whose last names are also occupations. The revealer is STEVE JOBS (55a, [Former Apple CEO who could aptly supervise 19-, 28- and 46-Across, based on his and their last names?]).

Universal crossword solution · “Jack of All Trades” · Joe Rodini · Fri., 6.30.23

  • 19a. [“Rebel Without a Cause” star] JAMES DEAN.
  • 28a. [Eight-time Grammy winner who sang “Sweet Love”] ANITA BAKER.
  • 46a. [Yankee who hit 62 home runs in 2022] AARON JUDGE.

Hmm. Well, for one thing, I’m not sure how having the last name of JOBS means you get to be the supervisor. Maybe the revealer should’ve been HUGO BOSS (except he was a Nazi). So I thought that cluing approach was odd. Maybe this might work better?: [Former Apple CEO whose last name describes the last names of …].

Another thing is that there are so many last names based on occupations that I’m trying to figure out why these three were chosen. Is there some connection that I’m missing? If there is, please let us know. If not, well, I wish there was.

The fill is quite pleasant though with BIG DEALS, WINE SNOB, SAYONARA, KANJI, UPSIZE, a MOJITO with MINT, and ENORMOUS.

Flag of NEPAL

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [Many an email from a Nigerian prince]. SCAM. Are there actual Nigerian princes? Because if there are, is email just ruined for them? According to this, there are “princes” in localities but not in the whole of the country.
  • 51d. [Asian country whose flag has five sides]. NEPAL. Let’s have a look, shall we?
  • 52d. [Command for Fido that bookends this clue]. COME. Noted.

A smooth and clean puzzle, but I wanted something else to tie the theme entries together. 3.25 stars.

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21 Responses to Friday, June 30, 2023

  1. Nino says:

    NYT: Greatly enjoyed it! The grid feels super fresh and up to date, which is a genuine shock for the NYT, though I can’t say that I’ve ever heard anyone not use the contraction with THAT'(I)S SUCH A MOOD. Oh well. Great puzzle!

    • Papa John says:

      Too “fresh and up to date” for this old-timer. I’ve never heard anyone say THAT_IS_SUCH_A_MOOD or HELL_TO_THE_NO. I don’t run with any Gen Zers. I guess I’ll have to live with the fact that it’s only going to get worse as Shortz tries to stay current.

      • Mark says:

        I’m a boomer and I’ve never heard THAT IS SUCH A MOOD, but definitely heard HELL TO THE NO. I kind of love that expression.

        • Papa John says:

          Having been born in 1945, I belong to the Silent Generation as per this Wikipedia entry: “Baby boomers, sometimes shortened to boomers, are the demographic cohort following the Silent Generation and preceding Generation X. The generation is often defined as people born from 1946 to 1964 during the mid-20th century baby boom.”

        • Jenni says:

          I’m a late boomer and I’ve heard both of them. Loved seeing them in the puzzle.

      • David L says:

        Me neither, but the crossings were fair and the phrases more or less inferrable. (Spell check wants that to be infertile or infernal). No objection to such things as long as they’re done in a way that’s accessible to us geezers.

        • Eric H says:

          I’m 64 and I didn’t know either of those phrases, either. But as you say, they were easy enough to get from the crosses. It ended up being one of my faster Fridays. Enjoyable, too.

        • Lois says:

          It should be “inferable” with one “r,” as in “transferable,” despite the fact that people on this page usually double the “r.” But what do you know, I’ve got the red dots under the correct spelling in this draft.

      • JohnH says:

        They were new to me, but interesting to come upon. I had more trouble with crossings than others, I must admit. In part I was just slow, in part I was looking for a synonym to “sassy retort,” not an example, and in part I’d entered My WORD. But glad it’s done.

      • marciem says:

        Whitney Houston popularized “hell to the no” in the reality series she did with Bobby Brown, back in 2005. At least that’s the first I heard it, I’m sure she was responsible for the spread.

      • Lois says:

        Yes, the easy version made the puzzle easy to complete with the crosses and to learn these two phrases, but with little satisfaction. Maybe the knowledge of the phrases will pay off in the future in the outside world, as has happened in the past. I couldn’t rate the puzzle, despite all the work that went into the two versions. I don’t mind that younger people want fresh phrases and some older people want to learn them. I do mind the lack of respect for clues referring to things that older people know and that younger people can learn.

    • Dallas says:

      Really liked HELL TO THE NO… I started to put it in, thought better of it, then was pleasantly surprised when the crossings proved it right :-) I also loved the little factoid about IDAHO… definitely a TIL!

      I made the mistake of googling IDLI before lunch… now I’m even more hungry.

  2. JohnH says:

    The last few days, a few lines of TNY, always in the same place, were obscured by overprinting. Overprinting with what? That I can’t tell you, as it produced a mess. I’m guessing that something isn’t compatible with Crossword Scraper, but what? On the puzzle page, it looks ok, but I can’t be sure. After all, I turned to Crossword Scraper as a suggestion from you all, since the page’s own print function was cutting things off. TNY has a dogged resistance to pdf, although oddly the URL for the print puzzle contains the letters “pdf.”

    Today I had to go back to the puzzle page to decipher the title line, 60A, and 43D.

    • PJ says:

      I use Crossword Scraper for NYT, TNY, and Stumper and haven’t encountered this or any other problem. I’m not sure what to tell you. Good luck!

    • marciem says:

      Same as PJ… I use Chrome browser, and have no problems with TNY, NYT, LAT etc. using Crossword Scraper. Maybe corrupt AL file?

      • JohnH says:

        Couldn’t tell you. But what’s an AL file? Across Lite (as in .puz)? I’m opening it as pdf, in a pdf reader other than Acrobat, which doesn’t otherwise give me problems with pdf files. Since it’s not opening in the browser, it also can’t be a browser-specific problem. So couldn’t tell you what’s going on. FWIW, I don’t use Crossword Scraper for the NYT or indeed anything else. The Times let’s one open in pdf.

        • marciem says:

          ok, yes AL is Across Lite (.puz). I have no idea about the PDF function in Crossword Scraper, nor any of the other options it has. I prefer to do the puzzles in AL.

    • AndyHat says:

      I just solved this in print, and I’ll note that the subtitle and the two clues you mention all contain italics, and are the only italics on the page. So I’d bet the problem has something to do with how italic text is indicated.

  3. Mark says:

    Nepal’s flag is very cool!
    It sort of reminds me of my favorite country flag – Greenland.

  4. Zev Farkas says:

    Jim’s review of Universal –

    I agree with Jim about the presentation of the revealer, and like his suggestion. I had not known about Hugo Boss – thanks for pointing me toward an interesting, if sad, bit of history.

    Is someone or something being vile a disqualification for use in a crossword?

    • Eric H says:

      “Is someone or something being vile a disqualification for use in a crossword?”

      Every constructor and editor has to answer that for themselves.

      Some people — Adolf Hitler, for example —. will probably never be in a mainstream crossword puzzle. But I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve filled in Idi or Amin as an answer.

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