Wednesday, May 29, 2024

AV Club 7:14 (Amy) 


LAT untimed (Gareth) 


The New Yorker tk (Kyle) 


NYT 4:02 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 10:58 (Emily) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Adam Levav’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Read ‘Em and Weep”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are puns on familiar phrases whose first words were rough synonyms of “cry.”

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Read ‘Em and Weep” · Adam Levav · Wed., 5.29.24

  • 17a. [Tale concerning an old Swedish car?] SAAB STORY. Sob story. Good first entry.
  • 26a. [Protection while harpooning?] WHALING WALL. Wailing Wall. Hmm. Not a lot of surface sense with this.
  • 42a. [Early bird?] MORNING DOVE. Mourning dove. Nice one. I do love the mourning dove’s call, but do most people realize that the bird is actually not a MORNING DOVE? The dove is known for its mournful song, and I associate the sound with quiet, peaceful, lazy days.
  • 57a. [Do a tour of Napa and Sonoma?] WINE ABOUT. Whine about. Oof. This one sticks out since it’s not a solid in-the-language phrase like the others, and I don’t associate whining with the shedding of tears as I do the other words.

I would have liked this better if the crying words were all of the same form. As it is, we have sob, wailing, mourning, and whine—two present-tense verbs and two gerunds (with three acting as adjectives and one a verb). The changing of form ruins the flow for me. Add to that the jarring change with the last entry, and I’m afraid this set is simply inconsistent. There’s a good basis for a theme here, but I wonder if a better set can be found.

Fill highlights include NEW NORMAL, USER GUIDE, and IN THE AREA. I’m on the fence with GUEST WIFI but I’m leaning toward giving it the thumbs up.

Clues of note:

  • 7d. [Reduce the efficacy of, in gaming slang]. NERF. I play video games, but not enough to know this one. Example from Wikipedia: “Game developers have been known to promise to tweak games rather than specifically nerf aspects of them, in order to appease critics and fans alike.”
  • 44d. [Sinister serpents]. VIPERS. *Grumble.* Just because a critter is venomous doesn’t make it sinister. I suppose if you’re speaking metaphorically, then maybe…
  • 52d. [Go to ground, in a way]. TRIP. Good, tricky clue.

There’s some good stuff here, and kudos to our constructor on the debut, but I wanted more consistency from the theme. Three stars.

Jeanne Breen & Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 5/29/24 – no. 0529

Fun theme! The two-piece revealer is RECIPE / FOR DISASTER, and the themers are cocktails with disastrous names: MUDSLIDE, HURRICANE, and FLAMING / VOLCANO. Never heard of that last one! I guess I haven’t sought out flambéed cocktails. Fire, it just doesn’t quench my thirst. At any rate, it’s a terrific theme.

Fave fill: CHARMS, MEN’S HEALTH, CAMERA ROLL, SMOLDER, and BADMINTON. I didn’t notice any fill that felt out of place. Nice and smooth!

Three more things:

  • 50a. [Losing tic-tac-toe line], OXO. It’s also a housewares brand. I ordered some items from them a week and a half ago and they haven’t shipped my stuff yet. “Due to improvements we’re making to our system, your order may arrive later than expected.” I love improvements! But that is a BS excuse.
  • 30d. [Magazine with cover exclamations like “Bigger Biceps!”], MEN’S HEALTH. You know what I ran across today? The local Alpha Male Plastic Surgery office (I am not joking). Why work out to get bigger pecs(!) when you can just get implants?
  • 24d. [“Ungula” is Latin for this word, hence “ungulate”], HOOF. Your Latin lesson for Wednesday!

4.25 stars from me.

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s AV Club Classic crossword, “Food Travel Series”—Amy’s recap

AV Club Classic crossword solution, ‘Food Travel Series” – 5/29/24

This 19×17 grid has a fun theme: dishes whose names begin with demonyms but the food’s not actually from that place.

  • 21a. [Baked breakfast treat … that actually comes from Seattle], DUTCH BABY.
  • 32a. [Stir-fried dish … that actually comes from Taipei], MONGOLIAN BARBECUE.
  • 50a. [Rich dessert … that actually comes from Dallas], GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE. Named after chocolatier Samuel German and not Germany.
  • 63a. [Sweet-and-savory pie … that actually comes from Ontario], HAWAIIAN PIZZA. I don’t eat pork, but I did have a pizza with pineapple on it tonight. I love having fruit in a savory dish!
  • 82a. [Hot sandwich … that actually comes from Los Angeles], FRENCH DIP. Be sure to eat it “with au jus.”

I only knew about two of these misleadingly named foods. Enjoyable and informative!

Lots of cool longish fill (UMA THURMAN, SCUBA DIVER, a LONG NIGHT, MINIMUM WAGE) and smooth shorter fill.

Four stars from me.

Amie Walker’s Universal crossword, “AWOL” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 5/29/24 • Wed • “AWOL” • Walker • solution • 20240529

  • 36dR [Assert authority, or a theme hint] PULL RANK. The circled squares represent abbrevs. for military ranks, and those letters are to be ignored to agree with the clues. (The clues explicitly direct the solver to do this.)
  • 19a. [*Preparing, as apples for a pie] CORING (+ ENS (ensign) = CENSORING).
  • 50a. [*High on weed] STONED (+ COL (colonel) = STONE COLD).
  • 8d. [*Dangles] HANGS (+ PFC (private first class) = PF CHANG’S). This one is my guess for the seed entry.
  • 9d. [*Signs in a stadium] BANNERS (+ ADM (admiral) = BAD MANNERS).
  • 26d. [*Change the function of, as a room] CONVERT (+ GEN (general) = CONVERGENT).

Pretty neat theme! (18a [Really like] DIG.)

  • 31a [Marathoner or lecturer’s concern] PACING. Interesting juxtaposition.
  • 2d [Game where you might guess “Mrs. Peacock, with the rope, in the study”] CLUE. But not Colonel Mustard, at least not today.
  • 6d [Yin’s opposite] YANG. Complement is more accurate.
  • 13d [“Don’t rush!”] GO SLOW.
  • 33d [ __ State Northridge] CAL. Is this something that a lot of people know?
  • 46d [“Bear” whose joey is initially the size of a jelly bean] KOALA. The quotes and use of joey should have signalled this more immediately for me, but it was a case of perhaps being overinformed. True bears have proportionally small neonates, especially pandas—but not nearly as extreme as the premature offspring of marsupials.

Sam Cordes’s USA Today Crossword, “Steak Tips” — Emily’s write-up

Ready for some fun?

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday May 29, 2024

USA Today, May 29, 2024, “Steak Tips” by Sam Cordes

Theme: each themer ends with a type of steak


  • 18a. [Hollywood area home to The Comedy Story and Whisky a], SUNSETSTRIP
  • 35a. [Luau dancing garment], HULASKIRT
  • 54a. [Carnival ride also known as a carousel], MERRYGOROUND

A tasty themer set today! Starting with SUNSETSTRIP, though I wonder if my mobile app cluing got cut-off. Next up, a lively HULASKIRT, with a final ride on the MERRYGOROUND. The first themer I a few needed crossings but the next two filled in easily. A fun set indeed!

Favorite fill: SAMOA, SCENTED, GEE, and ROSS

Stumpers: ARI (new to me), TALLORDER (needed crossings), and DOIN (certainly did me in today and was the last entry filled)

Overall, crossings were fair but I found some cluing to be too tricky for me so some took me longer and a few of the crossing in the bottom half of the puzzle tripped me up, including two of the stumpers that got me today. So my time is not nearly as fast. How did you all do?

3.75 stars


Matthew Stock’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Matthew Stock’s puzzle today features two part answers whose first word ends with the letter the second word starts with. This is concluded with BONDEDPAIR. The clue, [Kittens who should be adopted together], is news to me; sounds like a welfare conning someone to me…

My PC crashed twice while solving, losing my progress, so no meaningful time. The most mysterious answer for me was [High-ABV hoppy beer], DOUBLEIPA. I’m not sure what makes a beer “double”, but assume that it’s “high-ABV”?


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14 Responses to Wednesday, May 29, 2024

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Yes, agree fun theme and fun puzzle! I don’t drink cocktails but I’m now thinking I should try some of these (although the idea of mixing alcohol with heavy cream does seem to spell disaster).
    So proud to have pulled DUHAMEL out of thin air… STYNE and SMITS needed the crosses…
    I love the word COPSE.

    • Eric H says:

      I came up with DUHAMEL easily, too, though I don’t think I have seen him in anything. I’m lucky that Brolin and O’Connor didn’t fit, though I guess Charles would have fit. (Now that I have looked, I know more actors named Josh than I thought I did.)

      COPSE is a fun word that reminds me of “Winnie the Pooh.”

      My only complaint about the puzzle was the unfortunate timing given the landslide in Papua New Guinea. The NYT should have delayed this one for a few weeks at least.

    • JohnH says:

      I didn’t know DUHAMEL, SMITS, BILES, the HDTV maker, or CAMERA ROLL. I did know STYNE well enough to get it once I had the S.

  2. David L says:

    I thought the NYT was just going to have a random selection of cocktails, so the ‘disaster’ theme took it up a notch.

    I’ve never heard of CAMERAROLL — is this one of those iPhone things that those of us who are not in the Apple universe don’t know about?

    • Eric H says:

      Yes, CAMERA ROLL is (maybe was) an iOS thing.

      It inspired a wonderful song by Kacey Musgraves. This is the first time I have seen the video, which is pretty creepy.

      • DougC says:

        My Windows 10 laptop has a CAMERA ROLL file. It’s a sub-folder under “Pictures” and it’s the default destination for pictures taken with the onboard camera app.

        Most people probably don’t know it’s there, because how many people snap photos with their laptop camera? It might be useful, I guess, when you need to add a mugshot to a document you’re working on, but how often does that happen?

  3. JohnH says:

    I thought Patrick Berry’s TNY puzzle was on the hard side for a “beginner’s puzzle,” owing to the layout and placement of longer entries. Very nice.

    I’ll cut the WSJ a break on W(H)INE as not sufficiently tear soaked. Thing of it as crocodile tears.

    • Eric H says:

      The New Yorker is a smooth-solving puzzle.

      The music choices, which are two of the longest answers, are from boomer territory. Fortunately, I’m old enough to know them both. (Though I’d be happy to forget that I ever heard “MONSTER MASH.”)

      • JohnH says:

        I promise I didn’t rely on boomer memories for either one, although I knew the tunes once I got them from crossings. And, as I say, I was glad for the unexpected difficulty, nicely earned.

    • Gary R says:

      TNY: Solved in about a typical Monday NYT time. I thought it was smooth, and didn’t notice anything that wasn’t beginner-friendly.

      Was there something in particular that struck you as beyond a beginner?

  4. Jim says:


    A peeve of mine, most multiword answers that start with THE

  5. Seattle DB says:

    LAT: the write-up didn’t mention the circled pairs of letters spell “atom”, which can be a “bonded pair” at times.

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