Monday, June 17, 2024

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 2:18 (Stella) 


NYT 2:50 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 6:51 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Kiran Pandey’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Hi folks! Thanks for bearing with me as this write up is published a little later than usual – I’ve been traveling for a wedding this weekend.

New York Times, 06 17 2024, By Kiran Pandey

Today’s theme is AYE AYE CAPTAIN, taken literally – the theme answers are phrases where the final word is the name of a famous fictional captain, and there are two “I”‘s earlier in the phrase. The I’s are circled in the puzzle to make this even clearer. We’ve got:

  • 20a [2018 Childish Gambino hit that won the Grammy for Song of the Year] – THIS IS AMERICA
  • 31a [Pixar film that takes place mostly underwater] – FINDING NEMO
  • 41a [Holder of bait] – FISHING HOOK
  • 55a [Affirmative at sea … or a phonetic hint to what’s found sequentially in 20-, 31- and 41-Across] – AYE AYE CAPTAIN

I am kind of stunned that this theme set exists – it’s just perfect. The added level of the AYE AYE really brings it a cut above a standard “all these words have something in common” theme. All three CAPTAINs – Captain America, Captain Nemo, and Captain Hook – are well known characters in pop culture. As for the theme answers themselves, FINDING NEMO is a classic and I loved seeing it in the grid. THIS IS AMERICA is an incredibly important song with a very powerful video (check it out, but content warning for gun violence).

The rest of the grid is great too, very Monday smooth. NICE CATCH, TOMATILLO, OY VEY, GAY PROM, and I MEAN IT were standouts to me. There were some answers that felt a little repetitive to me – I CARE and I CALL, ON TOP and ON TV – but that’s a very nitpicky complaint. I also liked that ON TOP was literally ON TOP of the grid. Some clues that were tricky for me: [Telemachus, to Odysseus] for SON, and [What fits the Venn diagram of “Computers” and “Pastas”?] for MAC (although that was just due to not understanding what this clue was going for more than the actual difficulty).

Happy Monday all!

Geoff Brown’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Perfect Pitch”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that answer to the clue [Pitch].

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Perfect Pitch” · Geoff Brown · Mon., 6.17.24

  • 36a. CAST ASIDE
  • 61a. ROCK AND ROLL

Haven’t seen a theme like this in quite a while. What I look for in one of these puzzles is for the theme answers to all be in-the-language phrases. SALES PATTER is a bit iffy in this regard, but it’s close.

But the biggest outlier is ROCK AND ROLL. While it’s certainly an in-the-language phrase, there’s some additional wordplay going on here that’s different than the others. I’m interpreting the entry to mean the physical motions of rocking and rolling, like a ship pitching back and forth on rough seas. Normally I would question whether having an entry this different is suitable, but since it’s placed last it almost turns into a punchline or a zinger at the end of the puzzle, so I think it works.

Fill-wise, some tough-for-Monday entries make themselves known in that NE corner: ORT and MOA. Also, INK MARK looks a little suspect to me since “ink spot” seems like the far more common phrase. Nothing stands out as especially sparkly, but it all gets the job done.

3.5 stars.

Renee Thomason & Zhouqin Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 6/17/24 by Renee Thomason & Zhouqin Burnikel

Los Angeles Times 6/17/24 by Renee Thomason & Zhouqin Burnikel

As the most recent winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race and a queen who often includes banana motifs in her costumes, Nymphia Wind would probably dig this puzzle. The revealer at 37A [Head honcho, and a hint to the first word of 3-, 8-, 21-, or 24-Down] is TOP BANANA, because a word that can follow BANANA to make a new word or phrase appears at the TOP of each theme entry. (The themers need to be Downs, not Acrosses, for the theme to work.)

  • 3D [Features of dress slacks] is BELT LOOPS. I had not heard the term BANANA BELT before, but Wikipedia tells me it’s a geography/weather term.
  • 8D [Disney pair who live in a big oak tree] is CHIP AND DALE. BANANA CHIPs are a carb you can eat a lot of if you’re not careful.
  • 21D [Fight to the finish] is SLUG IT OUT. I will never not be amused by UC Santa Cruz’s choice of the BANANA SLUG as their mascot.
  • 24D [Blink of an eye] is SPLIT SECOND. BANANA SPLITs are kinda retro, I think? I can’t remember the last time I saw one on offer at an ice cream shop, but then Brooklyn ice cream shops are kinda bougie.

I pedantically don’t love this theme, because TOP BANANA to me implies that the top word will be a type of BANANA, not a word that can follow BANANA. I did like the unusual grid shape, which felt like it had more 6s and 7s than usual for a Monday. Nice evocative ones too, like OREGANOPEACOATDAHLIAS, and ERSATZ.

Susan Gelfand’s Universal crossword, “Laugh Lines” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 6/17/24 • Mon • “Laugh Lines” • Gelfand • solution • 20240617

Super-smooth and super-easy. The grid practically filled itself like spreading water, or perhaps like fast-flowing 2d LAVA.

The theme entails comedians’ surnames.

  • 20a. [Former hospital volunteer gig for comedian John] CANDY STRIPER.
  • 31a. [Former baseball infield gig for comedian Martin?] SHORTSTOP.
  • 43a. [Former apiarian gig for comedian Samantha] BEEKEEPER.
  • 49a. [Former fortunetelling gig for comedian Billy?] CRYSTAL GAZER.

Not too exciting, but it all works.

  • 39d [Spotted wildcats] LEOPARDSWildcats, to me, indicates more diminutive species.
  • 50d [Scatters seeds] SOWS. 42a [Hemmed a skirt, say] SEWED.
  • 51d [Moderate horse gait] TROT. 12d [Little kid] TOT.
  • 1a [Modeling material] CLAY. Yep, I put this one in first, right away, and never looked back.
  • 66a [Vague quantity] SOME. I must have misread it during the solve because I hesitated and considered AURA.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 6/17/24 – Natan Last

When I see a Fiend comment complaining about one of Natan’s New Yorker puzzles before I’ve solved the puzzle, I know I’m in for a treat. Today’s was no exception—a complaint about the names in the grid translated to a smooth solve for me. I didn’t know a couple of the short names, but the crossings did the heavy lifting and the puzzle was in the easier half of Monday New Yorker themelesses.

Things I learned:

  • 34a. [Italian political tendency known as “workerism” in English], OPERAISMO. Figured the first letters would relate to opus and I’ve seen the -ismo ending before, came together just fine.
  • 48a. [“The Legend of Korra” character ___ Beifong], LIN. The show aired 2012-2014 on Nickelodeon, when my kid was 12 to 14 years old and watching little Nickelodeon anymore.
  • 49a. [“Siluetas” artist Mendieta], ANA. Her Wikipedia page outlines her body of work.
  • 20a. [Tribe whose community was centered around a lake in New Hampshire], OSSIPEE.

Fave  fill: EMBASSY ROW, “OH SNAP,” LATE RISERS, GO HARD, John MULANEY, “LET’S BE REAL,” “I’M SO OLD” (it really snuck up on me, this age thing), “FREE PALESTINE” (regardless of your stance, you can’t argue this hasn’t been a term of global significance this year), SERIES REGULAR.

Four stars from me.

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16 Responses to Monday, June 17, 2024

  1. PJ says:

    That felt like The New Yorker I know and love. My first trip around the grid was not very productive. Got a toehold in the SE and went from there. The N went next and 8d really got me going. Nice workout!

    • David L says:

      Hmm. It’s apparent that some people like Natan Last’s puzzles, although I don’t understand why. I won’t bore you with why I didn’t like this one, because my reasons are the same as always.

      • JohnH says:

        Me, too. But it’s not a real mystery. They just don’t understand why we don’t live in their social circle with its references, and they assume those who don’t just want MORE names and obscure idioms, provided they’re all related to the Beatles. We just have an axe to grind, whereas they are objective.

        I ended up guessing more correctly than I expected, but that didn’t make it any more pleasant.

        • PJ says:

          How did my post draw out such hostility? I enjoyed the puzzle. That is all. Why do y’all think that means you should trot out your objections that you concede are repeats of things said many times before?

    • Mr. [very] Grumpy says:

      Stupid puzzle full of names and trivia. I tend to hate Natan’s puzzles — and this was a perfect example of why. If The New Yorker wants to drive me away from renewing my subscription, they are doing an excellent job.

    • Flinty Steve says:

      I agree with PJ entirely, and I am completely unsurprised to see the start of the usual chorus of complaints from some of the usual suspects. I like Natan Last’s puzzles because they are difficult but not impossible, witty, interesting, illuminating, and very fun to solve. The endless carping about names and trivia on this site is simply code for “he knows things that I don’t know and expects that some solvers will too.” For me that’s not a problem.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Right, Flinty Steve. It is good to know things! Learning new things is good, too.

      • marciem says:

        He had me when I saw photos of that Scarlet Ibis… tough solve but worth the work for me. :) I can (almost) always learn something new from NL and EA and KAC. I carry no shame in googling for those guys, IMO. I may not (prolly won’t) recall all the names, though.

        Loved “I’m so old” (several decades ago when this feeling hit me), “Lets be real” and “Oh Snap”.

      • David L says:

        Since you didn’t ask … I stand by my opinion of Last’s puzzles. I fail to see what is ‘witty’ or ‘interesting’ or ‘illuminating’ about larding a puzzle with obscure names, obscure food items, and so on. There’s nothing clever about the clues — they’re straightforward definitions.

        As for learning new things — well, I’m generally in favor, but when the new things are the aforementioned obscurities that I have already forgotten — no thanks.

        My idea of a challenging puzzle is a good Saturday NYT or the Stumper — which can be infuriating to an extreme, but at its best relies on artfully twisted meanings and genuinely clever wordplay.

        • Flinty Steve says:

          Yeah, fine, whatever – but hate-solving is such a waste of time, and reporting on your hate-solves, well, not beneficial. There’s nothing wrong, I guess, with doing a puzzle you know you won’t like, but why share your self-inflicted wounds, Natan Last puzzle after Natan Last puzzle? Mystifying.

    • Gary R says:

      I filled the top half (except for LATTE ART) fairly quickly, but the bottom half put up quite a fight. For a long time I had only a few entries I was confident in – O CANADA, SOL, EDEN, D-DAY and STIR. Had to set it aside and come back to it a few times, but eventually finished with no errors. Last letter in was the cross of TETANIC and OPERAISMO – didn’t know either term, and neither looked quite right.

      • Eric H says:

        That crossing was my last square, too. I had never heard of tetanus in the sense of “a state of continuous muscular contraction.” My knowledge of Italian isn’t very good, and it’s only now that I am seeing the OPERA (which I know means “work”) in the new-to-me OPERAISMO.

        The rest of the grid was the kind of challenge I like from the New Yorker Monday puzzles: a mix of stuff that I didn’t know (OSSIPEE), gimmes (RAMI and DANA), stuff I sort of remembered (PRISONER, MULANEY), and things I could figure out from cross (TOFU, SNAIL).

        • JohnH says:

          My last was the whole bottom, with MULANEY, RAMI, DANA, LIN, THE FRIEND, Sundubu, and the idioms GO HARD and LET’S BE REAL.

        • Gary R says:

          I didn’t make the connection between TETANIC and tetanus (and hadn’t gotten around to looking up tetanic), but I guess it makes sense. They used to call tetanus “lockjaw” for the uncontrollable clenching of the jaw it can cause.

        • Frogger says:

          That crossing was my last square as well. Figured it had to be OPERA, never heard of either word but you learn something new every day. I find Natan’s puzzles to be a challenge and that’s what I look for in a puzzle. No beefs from me.

  2. Fred Smith says:

    WSJ was challenging for a Monday.

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