Sunday, June 16, 2024

LAT untimed (Jack)  


NYT 9:32 (Kyle) 


USA Today tk (Darby)  


Universal (Sunday) 9:38 (Jim) 


Universal tk (norah) 


WaPo 7:30 (Matthew) 


Aidan Deshong’s Universal Sunday crossword, “Auto Biographies”—Jim’s review

Traveling this weekend without much time for blogging, so this will be brief.

Theme answers are makes and models of cars clued with familiar phrases of the form “___ car” and relating punnily to each model.

Universal Sunday crossword solution · “Auto Biographies” · Aidan Deshong · 6.16.24

  • 22a. [*Sports car?] VOLKSWAGEN GOLF. Solid.
  • 31a. [*Estate car?] SUBARU LEGACY. Good one, though “estate car” is primarily a British term referring to what we call a station wagon.
  • 50a. [*Town car?] HYUNDAI TUCSON. Good, though I think there are a lot of cars named after cities.
  • 71a. [*Compact car?] HONDA ACCORD. Extra-good wordplay on this one.
  • 90a. [*Sprint car?] CHEVROLET BOLT. Meh. I doubt anyone says anything other than “Chevy Bolt”.
  • 105a. [*Scout car?] FORD EXPLORER. Had to look up “scout car” which had its origins in the military in the 1930s.
  • 120a. [*Hot car?] PORSCHE CAYENNE. Muy caliente!

Good theme, executed well. Now I’m wishing there was a good match for the phrase “stock car”. If only there was a Toyota Heifer.

Plenty of good long fill to sink one’s teeth into: WINE GLASSES, NEAR AND DEAR, OVEREAGER, SWISS ALPS, PAKISTANI, ABHORRENT, SOLAR CELL, CALYPSO, BAY AREA, “I SURE AM!,” and CAME EASY. I’m on the fence with “‘SCUSE ME” but it wasn’t too difficult to plunk in with enough crossings. Needed to check and double-check AROACE [Like someone who experiences little attraction, for short], before I was satisfied it wasn’t erroneous, but I’m always happy to learn new stuff!

Good puzzle. 3.75 stars.

Chandi Deitmer and Wyna Liu’s New York Times crossword “Connections” – Kyle’s write-up

Thanks Chandi and Wyna for today’s puzzle. The theme has a familiar look to it:

The New York Times Crossword solution grid – Chandi Deitmer and Wyna Liu – 06/16/2024


For those not regularly playing New York Times Games, Connections is a game (incidentally, edited by Wyna Liu) where players must figure out the common link between sets of four words. Here, that link is that each of the four words can precede another word: eg app store, convenience store, general store, thrift store. Nice way to play on the many synonyms for beginning/front. The final theme entry, SHOWER HEADS, stands out from the rest because it repurposes the word head from its original connotation, which gave me a satisfying click at the end.

Lots of nice selections in the fill, with strong bonus entries like “SERVES ME RIGHT”, PANCAKE MAKEUP, “HARD PASS”, “I FIGURED”. Clues were overall fairly straightforward. I like the misdirection in the clue for POOL HALL: [Where you might say “That’s my cue!”]. The last letter I entered in the grid was the E at the crossing of EASE/DES–I had to think about how EASE worked as a [Word that sounds like its first and last letters]. I guess the homophone here is E’s and not just E, given that the final E is silent.

Enjoy your Sunday!


LA Times crossword, “Get Cooking” by Katy Steinmetz & Rich Katz — Jack’s write-up

Theme: Common recipe instructions are reinterpreted for comedic effect.

LA Times crossword solution — “Get Cooking” by Katy Steinmetz & Rich Katz

  • 22A. [Instruction for the host of a comedic takedown?] = ROAST UNTIL TENDER
  • 37A. [Meditate ahead of a big tennis match?] = CHILL BEFORE SERVING
  • 56A. [An icy winter?] = SEASON WITH SALT
  • 65A. [Open a joint savings account?] = MIX THE DOUGH
  • 77A. [Toss and turn all night?] = STIR FREQUENTLY
  • 96A. [Defect to the prosecution midtrial?] = FLIP HALFWAY THROUGH
  • 115A. [What the best mystery writers know how to do?] = FINISH WITH A TWIST

It’s a simple idea that works quite well. All of the themers are legitimate instructions you might see in a recipe. The re-imaginings change the meanings significantly and maintain an amusing tone throughout the puzzle. My favorite was probably 56A. [An icy winter?] = SEASON WITH SALT — that’s a tight pun!

The solve was smooth for me. Clean fill and enough colloquial flair to uncover (e.g. “NICE PUTT!” and “STOP THAT!“) 8-Down taught me something new: apparently chins are unique to humans. There’s always something to learn in a crossword.

Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword, “Rising Stars”—Matthew’s review

Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword solution, “Rising Stars” 6/16/2024

Thanks to Matt F for covering for me last week! Circles on a slant catch our eyes quickly in this week’s grid from Evan. It’s a bit of a Chutes and Ladders theme, with the circled strings extending across entries that don’t seem long enough for their clues, and themselves containing show biz names:

  • 25a [Olive-based spread (“Cesar Chavez” actor Michael)] TA PENA DE
  • 33a [Express gratitude (“Big” actor Tom) GIVE T HANKS
  • 63a [Carts full of dirt, maybe (“Luther” actor Idris)] WHE ELBA RROW
  • 65a [Bad place for an idiomatic bull (“Claws” actress Niecy)] CHI NASH OP
  • 99a [Old fair game in which people collect starchy food items as quickly as possible (“Anywhere” singer Rita)] POTAT ORA CE
  • 102a [Facial features with prominent bridges (“Save Me” singer Aimee)] RO MANN OSES
  • 113a [Rising star, and what’s spelled out by the first letter of this puzzle’s rising stars] PHENOM

It’s a surprise when Evan doesn’t spell something with his themers, but I still appreciate it each time. This type of theme can take a while to break into, but the parenthetical secondary clues really made it clear that theme entries needed to somehow extend longer than their standard across entries allowed. It’s also nice that each of the too-short across entries are valid words in their own right.

I did find the grid pretty segmented and difficult to move through smoothly, but the theme was interesting enough that I feel it was worth it.


  • 34a [Pear-shaped fruit] FIG. I guess this is true. Can’t say I’ve ever thought about it before!
  • 45a [Standardised test subject] MATHS. Sneaky – I missed the British spelling in the clue in my first pass through
  • 79a [CCC divided by C] III. If we must have Roman numeral clues, I would like them to be more like this, thanks in advance. (You know who you are)
  • 89d [YouTube CEO Mohan] NEAL. On one hand, this is a deep cut for me – I don’t pay attention to CEOs, and I probably won’t start even if it costs me solving time – and on the other, I never saw this clue, filling it entirely off the crossings.
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26 Responses to Sunday, June 16, 2024

  1. huda says:

    Happy Father’s Day to the dads!
    NYT: I love the game Connections (and sailed through the one today), so the theme was definitely a big plus for me. I enjoyed the additional layer of Connections between FRONTS, OPENERS, LEADERS, PREMIERS, LAUNCHES, STARTS, BEGINNINGS, HEADS.
    The density led to lots of constraints and sometimes the fill in the little nooks suffered a bit, with several partials. But overall, a very fun and satisfying Sunday.

    • Gary R says:

      Thought this was a pretty good Sunday – theme was entertaining enough to keep me interested all the way through.

      Finished with an error at the crossing of SISI and IOLANI (tried a “K”) – but I think I should have known IOLANI.

      Don’t know much French, and couldn’t dredge up K-FED from the recesses of my memory, so that “D” was mostly a guess.

      “Connections” was fast for me today, too. There was one earlier this week that appeared to be all movie titles – I didn’t even try!

      • AmandaB says:

        Those two spots were the two areas of trouble for me, too. Great puzzle!

      • marciem says:

        The one that looked to be about movies was actually not about movies and was pretty fluid. The one that featured No. 2 on one connection last week absolutely brutalized me… I lost with only one row completed :( . (yes I felt beat up over it… LOL!)

        Do you do Strands? Another NYT puzzle in Beta.

        Todays NYT: Sends UP, Shacks UP crossing makeUP… I thought we were on an UPper theme :D. Just nitpicking, I enjoyed the puzzle alot!

        • Eric H says:

          Oops. I should have read your comment about the movie Connections before writing my own.

          The Associated With Number 2 connection was fun.

          I don’t usually notice duplicates in a crossword grid, but all those UPs jumped out at me.

          Appropriately for Father’s Day, SHACKS UP reminds me of my dad, who stopped supporting Nelson Rockefeller when Rockefeller “shacked up” with Happy Murphy while both of them were married to other people. My father also practically disowned my older brother when my brother started living with a woman who was separated from her first husband.

        • Gary R says:

          Interesting about that recent Connections puzzle. Guess I should have given it a chance – I just looked it over and said “No way!” (I’m not much of a movie person.)

          But I might have been lost anyway, based on Eric’s comment below – no clue about Dumbo as a NYC neighborhood.

          I’ve been doing Strands for a month or so, and enjoy it. Today’s was tough – not in my wheelhouse.

          • marciem says:

            I don’t know if a lot of non-NY’ers know DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) but it is apparently a thriving little area in Brooklyn. I learned of it from some NYC based crime show, where someone confused Dumbo the movie with DUMBO the neighborhood . If you want to try past Connections that you missed,

          • Eric H says:

            In today’s Strands, I found eight or nine words that weren’t part of the theme before I reinterpreted the title and came up with the theme. It’s definitely not something I care about , though I knew all the words in that context.

            I find the game varies wildly in terms of difficulty. Sometimes, it’s so easy that I wonder why I am playing it. Others, I struggle for several minutes to find the theme and then all of the answers. (I hate using the hints, so I only do it if I am really stuck.)

            • Gary R says:

              I also came up with a bunch of answers that weren’t part of the them. Today was the first time I have used a “hint” – I had been curious about how that would work. So, it basically gave me one of the answers, which made the theme pretty obvious (but it still took me some time to come up with all the answers).

              Marcie – thanks for the link to past Connections puzzles. I went back to the movie titles puzzle and was able to solve it in four tries (with my newfound knowledge of DUMBO).

      • Eric H says:

        Spoiler: The movie-themed Connections was great fun. None of the actual Connections had anything to do with movies (e.g. DUMBO and CHINATOWN were in a group of NYC neighborhoods).

        I think knowing some movie trivia (which I do) was actually unhelpful.

  2. David L says:

    NYT was entertaining, although that SISI/IOLANI cross was a bit rude. I knew the latter (from crosswords, of course) and I’ve seen the former because PBS is currently showing a TV series about her with that title (which I haven’t watched).

  3. Eric H says:

    NYT: I’m a fan of Connections, so it was easy to figure out the theme. I got several theme answers without many crosses. But I kept running into little snags where things didn’t fit as expected (For example, I knew 85A would be FRESH STARTS, but some mistake in one of the crosses kept FRESH from fitting.)

    Then, I got very stuck around K-FED (a name vaguely familiar from some previous puzzle), EASE, and the “could be anything” “Delivery abbr.” (I’m still not sure how EST. fits the clue). Even worse, I had mispelled the should-have-been-a-gimme AMADOU and made a bazillion typos.

    I ended up clearing the grid and retyping everything twice. Now I have my fastest Sunday time, since by the third time through, I knew the answers pretty well.

    • Gary R says:

      I assumed that EST was just “estimated” (delivery date) – which struck me as pretty weak. And there are plenty of other ways to clue it.

      • Eric H says:

        Thanks, Gary.

        That’s what I came up with, too. With the K-FED cross and the adjoining French word (which threw me despite two years of French in high school), I would have liked a less ambiguous clue for EST.

    • huda says:

      (re retyping).

    • PJ says:

      I thought the clue for EASE was very good. I got sucked in to the misdirection and started running the alphabet trying to find a phonetic match for E-_ that could be retrofitted to a word. I came up empty but tried again. Nothing. Then I dug deep and guessed KFED and EST. AHA! It’s not E-_, it’s two Es.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      That 2 x 2 square at the crossings of KFED(?) and EASE with EST and DES killed my solve. I can’t remember the last time I couldn’t finish a Sunday NYT puzzle (according to my solving spreadsheet, it was in 2016). There’s very little in this pastime that aggravates me more than toiling through a large grid puzzle, only to be completely stymied by just a few adjoining crosses like these. I couldn’t get off of ‘EAch’ where EASE belonged. I really thought that was the correct answer. It fits the clue pretty well, no? E-H? The clue for EST really vexed me once I saw what the answer was. Boo-hiss to that one.

      • Eric H says:

        Yep, that spot is where I got stuck. I was frustrated enough to look at Ms Spears’s Wikipedia entry, which mentioned Kevin FEDerline, and I guessed at his tabloid name. But I must have run into K-FED in a previous puzzle, because it sounds vaguely familiar.

        I too really dislike getting through a Sunday puzzle with a mediocre theme (which this was), only to be brought to a screeching halt elsewhere.

  4. RCook says:

    NYT: SISI crossing ORRIS and IOLANI was a natick for me. I was missing the vowels in SISI and had to brute force which ones worked.

  5. Mary says:

    Auto Biographies Ford Explorer is probably a reference to Boy Scout Explorer.

  6. Lester says:

    Matthew, did you miss the feature that the first letters of the names within the WaPo theme answers spell out PHENOM (113A)?

  7. Katie says:

    NYT: I enjoyed the timely discussions yesterday/Sunday about STRANDS and CONNECTIONS. :-)

    But – did anyone else notice/mention the connection to strands, i.e. that 14-Down used the same clue? i.e., [It’s in the bag]

    Just a quick mention, for the record. (Anyway, I found that to be a fun tie-in. Others in the past have noticed apparent/likely tie-ins to, say, the mini. I like this aspect and think it’s clever to do – when kept at the occasional/discrete/minimal level.)

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