Sunday, April 28, 2024

LAT tk (Gareth)  


NYT 12:18 (Amy subbing for Nate) 


USA Today tk (Darby)  


Universal (Sunday) 13:24 (Jim) 


Universal tk (norah) 


WaPo 5:54 (Matthew) 


Mike Ellison’s New York Times crossword, “The Sounds of Music”–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 4/28/24 – “The Sounds of Music”

We’ve got two 9-letter revealers and eight two-letter musical notes. The revealers:

  • 42d. [Cut back … or an alternative title for this puzzle?], SCALE DOWN
  • 52d. [Autumn colors … or an alternative title for this puzzle?], FALL TONES

Then we have, from top to bottom in the shaded letters within longer entries: DO, TI, LA, SO (not sol), FA, MI, RE, and DO again. Each one is at the end of an Across answer that drops downward, as in TUXED{O) and I TOLD YOU {SO}. Question: Looking at TUXEDO, PAVAROTTI, CINDERELLA, I TOLD YOU SO, WIZ KHALIFA, WHO AM I, THAT’S AMORE, and GLISSANDO, is it fair to say that the falling syllables are all “falling tones”? I am not so hip to musical terminology. I was looking for the notes to be in DO RE MI (etc.) order in the grid.

Overall, given the flexibility in placement of the two-letter notes, the grid isn’t too constrained. Fave fill: ONE SCOOP of ice cream, HOME MOVIE, ADORING FANS (I see that the note syllables can be stressed in the Down crossers), THE PIPS, CRESCENDO, HOUDINI ([Whose performances were as astonishing as all get-out?], fun), and BOTTOM-HEAVY.

Surprised to find I didn’t know 89a. [Sweetened cornmeal in Mexican cuisine], PINOLE. Interesting history and culture.

3.5 stars from me.

Adam Simpson’s Universal Sunday crossword, “Beauty Treatment”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose first words form a word ladder changing from a DUCK to a SWAN. The swan-like grid art comprised of black squares provides an asymmetrical hint to the theme.

Universal Sunday crossword solution · “Beauty Treatment” · Adam Simpson · 4.28.24

  • 25a. [*Earthquake drill instruction] DUCK AND COVER.
  • 38a. [*”Quit complaining and get things done!”] SUCK IT UP.
  • 54a. [*Lamb Chop, e.g.] SOCK PUPPET.
  • 70a. [*Sheryl Crow hit about optimism] SOAK UP THE SUN.
  • 97a. [*Telenovelas] SOAP OPERAS.
  • 115a. [*Dish the dirt] SWAP STORIES.
  • 122a. [Ultimate act … and a hint to the transformation in the answers to the starred clues] SWAN SONG.

Nice theme! I understand a word ladder is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I don’t mind one when it’s done well. To be honest, I solved this as a themeless and didn’t realize this was a word ladder until well after completion.

One good thing about this word ladder is that a metaphorical change from a duck to a swan is already well-known in our culture. Sure, the original story is about an ugly duckling, but I view that as semantics. For the purposes of a light, engaging crossword puzzle, the difference doesn’t bother me.

Another thing that doesn’t bother me is the asymmetry. Before I even started the solve, the grid art evoked a swan in my mind, so having that hint was a nice bonus. If it means asymmetry in the puzzle, so be it.

The one thing I will ding the grid for is that there’s no way into the right side of the grid except through the top. I wish there was just one opening at the bottom, perhaps at the block before KIP at 113a.

If you weren’t solving with the word ladder in mind, there’s plenty of fun long fill to keep you engaged: LIVES LARGE, ANACONDA, CENTAUR, ORNAMENTS, TANGELO, WOOD PULP, the game ASTEROIDS, BOOKKEEPING (which IIRC is the only common English word with three doubled letters in a row), Jimmy NEUTRON, PORTENT, ESTONIA, and ANTIHERO.

Clues of note:

  • 113a. [___-up (acrobatic handspring)]. KIP. New to me. Here’s a tutorial.
  • 123a. [Graceful curve]. BEND. Theme-adjacent clue.

Good puzzle. Four stars from me.

Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword, “Closing Time”–Matt’s recap

Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword, “Closing Time” solution, 4/28/2024

Seven themers each end in common abbreviations for the days of the week, with a timely revealer tying things together:

  • 22a [*Norwegian author who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920] KNUT HAMSUN
  • 37a [*Rare creatures of video games and trading cards] LEGENDARY POKEMON
  • 44a [*Some classical sculptures] GREEK STATUES
  • 66a [*Like a draft in a house, maybe?] HOMEBREWED. Tricky – a draft of beer, rather than air.
  • 69a [*He threw the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”] KING ARTHUR
  • 86a [*”What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine” author] DANIELLE OFRI
  • 96a [*Car whose model name is derived from the German for “trade winds”] VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT
  • 114a [Period for taking exams … or a hint to the pattern shown in the last three or four letters of the asterisked answers] FINALS WEEK

I enjoyed this. A few themers were new to me, but the added layer of the days of the week locked them in. And while I was confident in the theme early on, the revealer was a pleasant little moment.

  • 21a [Standard stuff that’s considered valuable?] GOLD. As in the “Gold Standard” of idiom and sometimes-real life.
  • 113a [Kilt pattern] PLAID. This sent me on a rabbit hole of PLAIDs and tartans. Checks and ginghams also made an appearance.
  • 3d [Founder of the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute in the 1960s] BRUCE LEE. This is a good reminder to me that I generally know all the entries in a grid, even if a clue seems to be something new to me.
  • 28d [Where a naked terminator says “I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle” in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”] BIKER BAR. I haven’t seen the movie, but the quote sets the scene well.
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22 Responses to Sunday, April 28, 2024

  1. Mike H says:

    NYT – the notes ARE in DO, RE, MI, etc. order. They go from the bottom to the top (from low to high pitch).

    • huda says:

      Oh, cool. I missed that.

    • Katie says:

      Well, I think the constructor meant the idea to be “top to bottom” – like a staff – (falling tones; a scale that goes down).

      But yes. (do ti la so[l] fa mi re do – are of course put into order here, which clearly took much care! Nice work!)

      • Katie says:

        Also (wow!) – first NYT to use HINKY, according the xwordinfo…

        • Papa John says:

          And, hopefully, the last.

        • David L says:

          HINKY is a great word!

          • sanfranman59 says:

            If you’ve ever seen or heard it before, I suppose. says its coinage predates my birth by a few years, but I’m pretty sure that it’s new to me.

            • huda says:

              LOL, that HINKY clip is perfect

            • Katie says:

              Agree with huda: perfect clip.

              I think I was/am a bit in the mood to sidetrack (in search of fun), after somewhat of a rollercoaster week of NYT ratings here. I like hinky (as fill). I also enjoy/appreciate learning that others don’t, too.

              Final food for thought is to wonder about the etymology of words relating to [“A bit off from normal”] such as: janky, hinky, funky, jinky, wonky, etc. Relatedly, Velma’s “jinkies” is an attention-getting non-sense word, perhaps – but has some “hey, that’s a bit off!” vibe, too.

              Yes, yes: All those “words”/slang each have different, distinct meanings, I know. But they all vaguely remind me of an old back porch door that’s not quite swinging on its hinges right, too.

          • Gerald A. Connell says:

            I’m all in for HINKY.

    • Dallas says:

      Yep—very nice, with lots of other musical terminology in the fill. Fast, smooth NYT!

  2. Barnyard says:

    Hence the revealer FALLING TONES: Down the scale. Lots of musical clues across all genres. Clever Sunday offering.

  3. JohnH says:

    I’m a musical person but still just didn’t like this NYT. The descending scale is nice, and it’s nice that its descent has a visual echo in the turn-down across entries ending there. But then things, well, turned down.

    A huge chunk of the puzzle, W, SW, and center, was thus left with no themers at all apart from the leftmost of two revealers (which was in my last section to fall, in part because of no themers to get me there). It’s nice enough, but I’d never heard anyone describe autumn leaves or maybe even fall colors as “fall tones,” and I cycled mentally through other synonyms no none uses, like “fall tints,” as well.

    It helped that there were lots of bonus musical references, but still it was a type of fill that always weighs on me — way too many gimmes combined with way too many names and other trivia. I circled a record number of clues as uncertain. It didn’t help me get HINKY (new to me) that I first had CTO for tech exec or to decide between SLAP and SLAM with a fine (I went with the latter) that I didn’t remember the Steely Dan song (never cared for them, too slick), and MEG sounded possible, also a name. But just so many other names. And AGLARE. Not at all impossible to finish, just fine in that regard, but just no fun.

  4. H says:

    Wednesday of the next week and 3 puzzles are still “tk”?

    Maybe time for some new bloggers?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      You want to know how many people have burned out or lost interest in blogging after starting? It pays nothing, and not everyone has the time and energy to commit. Are you volunteering to take on a regular assignment and remember to do it on a timely basis, week after week? No?

      • Eric H says:

        I’ve thought about offering my services—I have a lot of writing experience, and like to think I’m pretty good at it—but the idea of committing to something that has to be done on someone else’s schedule is a big deterrent. (If you’re wondering, I’ve been retired for almost six years and don’t miss it at all.)

        Thanks again to you and everyone who blogs about these puzzles. Having forums like this one adds so much to a solitary pastime, particularly for those of us who don’t have anyone else to discuss it with. My husband tolerates the occasional comments about puzzles and will even look at a grid when there’s something I think is really interesting. But I can’t even get him to solve the few puzzles I’ve had published.

      • pannonica says:

        Wednesdays (Universal) are a little tough for me to manage for the next couple of months, but I’m trying.

  5. John+F.+Ervin says:

    NYT, Late again but I have a query; 111A -classic tune inspiring a joke about eels. Just read all the comments here and RP’s site and no one commented on this, unless I missed it. What does the song allude to that makes the clue relevant?

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