Friday, July 28, 2023

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 2:30 (Matt) 


NYT 6:17 (Amy) 


Universal 4:06 (Jim) 


USA Today tk (Darby) 


Rafael Musa & Hoang-Kim Vu’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 7/28/23 – no. 0728

You ever notice that BADMinTon and BAD-MOUTHS have a lot of letters in common? If you’re a themeless constructor, you probably knew this.

Fave fill: OVERDRAW, GO COLD, ENGAGEMENT PARTY (fun clue: [Gathering to show off a new rock band?]), GORDITAS, TIC TACS instead of just a TIC or TAC, THROUPLE, “NO WONDER,” Gretzky the “GREAT ONE,” “WHO DOES THAT?”, TELEPORT, and the PAD and TAMPON combo (not a one of us would exist without menstruation so let’s not be squeamish).

Not so familiar to me: LAND ART as a term for an [Outdoor installation using earth, rocks, vegetation, etc.]; SAKE BOMBS, [Some beer cocktails].

I’m beat! Four stars from me. Good night!

Samantha Podos Nowak and Katie Hale’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 7/28/23 • Fri • Nowak, Hale • solution • 20230728

For this 16×15 grid, the letters T-R-Y have been inserted into various phrases, to wacky effect.

  • 60aR [“Go on, take a taste!” … or an apt title for this puzzle?] GIVE IT A TRY.
  • 17a. [Feature of a jean jacket with a snowflake design?] WINTRY BACK (win back).
  • 24a. [French dessert for a romantic date?] PASTRY DE DEUX (pas de deux).
  • 37a. [Handwoven textile that’s a big source of comfort?] SECURITY TAPESTRY (security tapes). Yes, in the news.
  • 48a. [Group that oversees tablets?] IPAD MINISTRY (iPad Mini).

A fairly standard-type theme.

  • 1d [Beach blanket, often] TOWEL. Well, no. A beach towel is one thing and a beach blanket is another.
  • 6d [Wayfarer maker] RAY-BAN. Was going to observe that this should be Wayfarers, but then I realized that that’s probably just the colloquial way of referring to the model name.
  • 18d [ __ sax] BASS. I really wanted this to be BARI, because I firmly believe that almost any song can be improved by including a baritone saxophone.
  • 27d [“Eh, this happens a lot”] I’M USED TO IT. Nice.
  • 38d [Monte of the 1950s Giants] IRVIN. Who?
  • 47d [Brand named for two states] ORE-IDA. Oregon, Idaho.
  • 61d [Sun shade] TAN. Okay, how does this clue work?
  • 10a [Menu item] FILE. 52d [Hit Ctrl-S] SAVED.
  • 31a [Introductory offer?] NAME. Good clue.
  • 62a [Highlander’s pattern] PLAID. Technically a tartan, whereas a PLAID is a certain woven product.
  • 66a [Part of a bridal quartet?] OLD. Plus new, borrowed, and blue.

Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “What’s What?”—Jim’s review

Theme clues are familiar phrases of the form “What’s ___?” Theme answers are definitions of the FITB word.

Universal crossword solution · “What’s What?” · Paul Coulter · Fri., 7.28.23

  • 16a. [What’s new?] NEVER BEFORE SEEN.
  • 26a. [What’s happening?] ALL THE RAGE.
  • 37a. [What’s up?] AWAKE.
  • 43a. [What’s good?] BENEVOLENT.
  • 58a. [What’s cooking?] FOOD PREPARATION.

Nice theme. I got it in my head that the person asking the questions is an English learner trying to make sense of these new words they’re learning. I wasn’t sure about the “happening” one at first, but it works if you consider the slangy meaning of the word.

We’ve seen IT’S A TRAP not infrequently in crosswords, but it’s still fun. And for me I always hear it in Admiral Ackbar’s voice from Return of the Jedi. Other goodies include CAR PARTS and HOMESICK. My daughter went on a 2-week school trip to Mexico earlier this summer, and it was a rough first few days, let me tell you.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [Zimmer of film scoring]. HANS. Well, linguist and sometimes-crossword-constructor Ben didn’t fit.
  • 57d. [Singer with a musical “Gang”]. KOOL. I never thought about who “KOOL” was. Turns out that’s the self-appointed nickname of Robert Bell, bassist for the group. Fun fact: His godfather was Thelonious Monk. Here’s an interesting interview from The Guardian.

Nice puzzle. 3.75 stars.

Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s recap

Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword solution, 7/28/23

Hoo boy, I really liked this! I found this on the tough side for a New Yorker Friday, and tough in a different way, in that I clocked the theme early, with a revealer in the NE corner, and still even knowing the them had to parse the affected entries out. Really a pleasure.

I only encountered one theme entry before reaching the revealer, but let’s start with those:

  • 5d [Ceremonial celebration of the savory?] UMAMI RITE
  • 18d [Sets of harpoon throws and peg-leg lifts aboard the Pequod?] AHAB WORKOUT
  • 25d [Macrame for mustelids?] ERMINE CRAFT
  • 37d [Medicare for All Who Are North of the Forty-ninth Parallel?] HMO CANADA

And the revealer: 11d [Something to put on when solving a problem … and what 5-, 18-, 25-, and 37-Down each feature?] THINKING CAP.

So reparse the themers to start with a short word than indicates thinking: UM, AM I RITE?; AH, AB WORKOUT; ER, MINECRAFT; and HM, O CANADA.

Really delightful. I was expecting all themers to use UM, and they don’t, and all four are fresh in their base phrase and humourous in their theme-altered state. Just good for my money. The log horizontals EGOMANIACAL and JUST IMAGINE were each highlights to the solve, and MASHUPS and AVATARS are also colorful entries. Between that non-theme architecture and the excellent theme set, I truly barely noticed perhaps more short stuff and abbreviations than is typical. For me, a worthy tradeoff to make this work.

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26 Responses to Friday, July 28, 2023

  1. Ethan says:

    Clueing was absolutely on point in the NYT today and I loved PAD/TAMPON. Thank goodness the Gray Lady has moved past the squeamishness of old

    • Dallas says:

      Agreed—all worked really well. I liked BOAS clued as “Camp accoutrements” and the TAMPON / PAD combo was really nice. Great Friday; a bit faster than my average, but I think that’s more me getting faster than it being “too easy.”

  2. Nino H. says:

    NYT: One of the better themeless puzzles in recent memory. Happy that NYT is finally including slightly more up to date vocab like THROUPLE in the grid. (Had POLYCULE in there for a while without noticing the duplication. C’est la vie.)

  3. PJ says:

    LAT – 61d [Sun shade] TAN. Okay, how does this clue work?

    I took it as the shade (color) many people get when they spend time in the sun. I say many people because I get red, not tan. It’s also Eurocentric.

  4. Philip says:

    I confidently dropped in AHI/TARPON as the cross-referenced NYT clues. Oops.

    • Eric H says:

      I got TAMPON from a few crosses and confidently put “cup” in the PAD slot. It’s only because of crossword puzzles that I even know that menstrual cups exist.

  5. Mutman says:

    NYT: solid themeless!

    Got burned on THROUPLE. That was new to me!

    • Eric H says:

      I must’ve learned THROUPLE from some indie-ish crossword, because I definitely haven’t heard it used in real life. But it was almost a gimme.

      • Gary R says:

        I think it showed up in TNY puzzles a couple of times earlier this year.

        • Eric H says:


          I’ve been doing the New Yorker puzzles regularly for a few months now, so that’s probably where I saw THROUPLE.

  6. Jim says:

    NYT: in the Android app, for me the NW corner had black letters and everywhere else was gray. Anyone else?

    • Ethan says:

      Maybe you accidentally turned on the “pencil” feature that lets you put letters you’re unsure of in a lighter (gray) color

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    TNY … I was a little surprised to see STARLET in the usually gender-neutral TNY puzzle today, especially as clued. Isn’t the way this word is typically used condescending (given that -let means “lesser”) and passé? It sure seems that way to me. I can’t imagine that an up-and-coming male actor would ever be referred to as a STARLET (by implication, a lesser star).

    • pannonica says:

      Just indicates youth, as far as I know.

    • JohnH says:

      I must be sloppy, but I’m not seeing it in either clues or answers. I’m also not convinced that the word is negative and should be replaced by a more gender neutral term. I think of it as more to do with publicity status, as up-and-coming while heavily promoted. I’m not sure what to call an up-and-coming male actor who may not stand up to time, but it wouldn’t be a neutral or positive “star.” But maybe that’s just me.

      I found the puzzle better than usual for a Friday. As ever, TNY had its vocabulary that’s foreign to me, like Essie, OnlyFans, triple-double, and Ican’thearyou. I’m also not convinced that eves are sleepless, and I’d heard BEMUSE only in the sense of wry or tolerant amusement. But I see that dictionaries lead with confusion, and the rest was gettable.

      I also appreciate that this week’s at last had a real theme, although I didn’t get it right away. I connected AHAB WORK OUT to the working out of a problem, requiring that thinking cap, and couldn’t see what was going on. And I’m still not sure about HM as a two-letter sign of pause. Not a fave, but it all, well, worked out.

    • Hi. says:

      STARLETS was in USA Today. I’m not seeing it in TNY.

  8. Danny says:

    Can someone explain the New Yorker theme?

    • pannonica says:

      TNY: The thematic vertical answers are ‘capped’ by utterances that could indicate thinking. The original words/phrases are AMIRITE, MINECRAFT, AB WORKOUT, and O CANADA.

    • Eric H says:

      It took me a minute or two of staring at the finished grid to see how the theme answers related to the revealer.

  9. Pavel says:

    NYT: Got stung by a factual error in the clue for 53D: EROS is an asteroid, not any kind of planet (it’s too small to have its gravity force a spherical shape). I suspect that they got it confused with ERiS, which *is* a dwarf planet, but SiLDOUT isn’t a thing. Sigh.

  10. JohnH says:

    Almost everything in the NYT SE was hard for me. Didn’t help that I wasn’t familiar enough with GORDITAS to get PAD and so couldn’t easily word the cross ref. But an awfully creative puzzle. Nice one.

    • Eric H says:

      GORDITAS are tasty. I haven’t had one in years. They’re hard to find even in a town with a lot of Mexican restaurants.

      We’ve made them at home, but I really prefer to leave frying to someone else.

  11. chris says:

    I really enjoyed the Universal today. It was just fun.

  12. Zev Farkas says:

    Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “What’s What?”—Jim’s review

    33A: Denver-to-Kansas City dir. – According to Google maps, it’s not ESE, but almost exactly due East. So much for the nit-picking… 63A ( ;-) ), I really liked 6D, “Rapid transit vehicle?” RAFT.

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