Wednesday, June 19, 2024

AV Club 5:03 (Amy) 


LAT 4:01 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker n/a (Kyle) 


NYT 4:43 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 10:30 (Emily) 


Note: No WSJ puzzle due to the Juneteenth holiday.

Brad Wiegmann’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 6/19/242 – no. 0619

I like the theme. X + Y = a compound word or phrase that’s more than its parts. Each “X + Y” clue is a familiar “X and Y” verb phrase unto itself.

  • 16a. [Wait + see], STOPWATCH.
  • 25a. [Give + take], HANDHOLD.
  • 36a. [Kiss + tell], SMACK TALK. This one’s particularly good.
  • 51a. [Hit + run], SLAPDASH.
  • 60a. [Cut + paste], CHOPSTICK. Ooh, this one’s great!

Did not know: 31a. [Abolitionist senator Charles], SUMNER. Unless … yep, he’s that guy. So back in 1856, the Senate and House floors were even less decorous than they are now. A slaveholder yobbo in the House named Brooks came into the Senate chamber and beat the crap out of Sen. Sumner with a cane. I learned this when I looked up the history of Brooksville, Florida while lunching there. That’s right: In the South, a guy like Brooks could be reelected and honored with city and county names in states other than the one he represented. As for Sen. Sumner of Massachusetts, Wikipedia notes, “Sumner suffered head trauma that would cause him chronic pain and symptoms consistent with what would now be called traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and spent three years convalescing before returning to his Senate seat. He suffered chronic pain and debilitation for the rest of his life.”

Fave fill: SEA SERPENTS and SPACKLE. Least favorite: FANDUEL and all the other sports gambling sites/apps that have commandeered way too much sports broadcasting, venues, etc.

Gen X fact-check: Uh, no. An ASTRO POP was/is not a [Rocket-shaped frozen treat]. The Astro Pop was a 1970s conical sucker that you can still buy today. The roughly rocket-shaped ice pop is called Bomb Pop.

Four stars from me, plus a big demerit for the ASTRO POP thing.

Dylan Schiff’s Universal crossword, “So to Speak” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 6/19/24 • Wed • “So To Speak” • Schiff • solution • 20240619

Demonymic language puns.

  • 20a. [Repeat oneself while touring The Hague?] DOUBLE DUTCH.
  • 39a. [Talk like the locals while staying in Thessaloniki?] GO GREEK. Not quite sure what the straight version of this phrase means.
  • 41a. [Add “um” and “er” while visiting Chiang Mai?] PAD THAI. Even though all of these theme answers are good, my sense is that this was the seed entry. (70a [Had a gut feeling] KNEW.)
  • 57a. [Cut out excess vocabulary while vacationing in Odense?] PRUNE DANISH. Pruning is kind of poetic here.

A solid theme and smooth flowing grid.

  • 6d [Oh of “Grey’s Anatomy”] SANDRA. Last night I watched the excellent Anatomy of a Fall, with Sandra Hüller playing a character named Sandra Voyter.
  • 7d [Intro to bio?] ABOUT ME. Neither a prefix nor having to do with life sciences.
  • Nice paired stack here: 28d [Far from innovative] UNORIGINAL, 29d [Means of improving workplace efficiency] ERGONOMICS.
  • 42d [Long-__ relationship] DISTANCE.
  • 48d [Take in a sea breeze?] SIP. Vodka with cranberry juice and grapefruit juice.
  • 56d [Be totally awesome] RULE. The other night I watched a 1966 all-star film that I’d never heard of: The Chase. It’s a rather flawed film, despite the luminaries in front of and behind the cameras. One of the roles, a femme-fatale-type, was played by Janice RULE.
  • 63d [Summertime top] TEE.
  • 18a [Onigiri wrapper] NORIOnigiri are Japanese rice balls, and the seaweed provides an easy way to pick one up, as well as delivering a contrasting crispness. In their simplest form they are a kid-friendly food and as such are often presented in cute ways.
  • 25a [“Expect great things” retailer] KOHLS. Tried KMART first.
  • 46a [Cut in half] BISECT. Pet peeve: dissect does not rhyme with this, and when I hear people do so it puts me on edge.

(little more mainstream than my usual picks, but I couldn’t come up with anything else to close)

Shannon Rapp & Will Eisenberg’s USA Today Crossword, “Key West” — Emily’s write-up

Enjoy this collab getaway!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday June 19, 2024

USA Today, June 19, 2024, “Key West” by Shannon Rapp & Will Eisenberg

Theme: adding “key” before the first word (or to the “west”) of each themer forms a new phrase


  • 20a. [Chef’s iconic creation], SIGNATUREDISH
  • 36a. [Bright-green rental for urban riders], LIMESCOOTER
  • 55a. [Domino effect], CHAINREACTION

A fun themer set today, starting with a delish SIGNATUREDISH, catching a ride on a LIMESCOOTER, and triggering a CHAINREACTION. With the theme, the set becomes: KEY SIGNATURE, KEY LIME, and KEY CHAIN.

Favorite fill: MOCHAS, ADEPT, UNO, and KART

Stumpers: TRIS (needed crossings), NAMELY (needed crossings), and GETSREAL (needed crossings)

Loved the grid, though it took me longer than usual to break into much of this puzzle. I found the cluing a bit trickier than usual but everything was fairly crossed so once I had some footholds, I was able to start filling in and complete the solve. Nothing was too difficult for an entry, so perhaps others found this easier to solve. Still, I loved this collab, with its excellent theme and themer set. And now I want a huge slice of neon pie!

4.5 stars


Daniel Hrynick’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Daniel Hrynick gives us an offbeat kind of theme: five two-part foodstuff names’ first parts are one-word movie titles. They are imagined to be being eaten in the cinema while watching the film:

  • [Wrapped movie snack for a Rowan Atkinson comedy?], BEANBURRITO. Terrible choice of movie edible.
  • [Spicy movie snack for a Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze fantasy romance?], GHOSTPEPPERS. Just plain. Yikes.
  • [Roasted movie snack for a Leslie Nielsen disaster comedy?], AIRPLANEPEANUTS. So how do those differ from peanuts, other than where they’re served?
  • [Cold movie snack for a Disney princess musical?], FROZENYOGURT
  • [Sweet movie snack for an Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy?], JUNIORMINTS

Quite a lot of weird short bits today: partials CANI, ATEE, ASIN; obsolete plural abbr. SSTS. On the other hand YONCE was a pleasant surprise – Y?N?? is not the friendliest pattern to start with! It’s sort of a double-A side single? Something like that?


Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker crossword – solution grid

The New Yorker solution grid – Robyn Weintraub – Wednesday 06/19/2024

Hi folks – my 1-year-old woke up very early this morning, during my usual blogging time, so there will be no write-up of Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker today. The solution grid is posted here – feel free to discuss in the comments. Happy Juneteenth!




Elise Corbin’s AV Club Classic crossword, “Task Failed Successfully”–Amy’s recap

AV Club Classic crossword solution, 6/19/24 – “Task Failed Successfully”

Forgot to do this puzzle on Wednesday. Better late than never.

The AV Club email with each week’s new puzzle includes a difficulty rating. This one did not strike me as a 1.5/5!

Theme is phrases that are usually negative, clued with contexts in which they’re positive. HORROR SHOW for a Saw musical wouldn’t be a criticism, for example. DREW A BLANK for an artist who focuses on negative space, a LEAD BALLOON for a successful science class lesson on density–these work. I’m not clear how CAME UP SHORT would be a good thing in a diving competition. This puzzle should’ve been scheduled for after the Summer Olympics!

Fave fill: TAKES THE L (meaning accepting a loss, not taking the train in Chicago), ART DECO, PASTA SALADS (which I hate), and AREA CODES with a fresh clue, [Number-heavy Ludacris song].

3.25 stars from me.

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33 Responses to Wednesday, June 19, 2024

  1. Dan says:

    NYT: Loved this puzzle just because the answers were not shoo-ins for the most part and the thene was cute without trying too hard.

    • JohnH says:

      I liked it because it felt harder than usual for a Friday. I’m sure it’s just me, but SMACK TALK and FANDUEL were new to me, and I stupidly entered “tinge” for TINCT, so the NE was the hardest. I have never seen an ASTRO POP in real life, so the clue couldn’t bother me one way or other.

      • Eric H. says:

        NYT: I typically solve the puzzle the night it drops, finishing in one sitting (if laying in bed can be considered sitting).

        Last night, I had only about a quarter of the grid filled in when I started nodding off. I put my iPad down and turned out the light having not yet figured out the theme.

        This morning, I found some random letters scattered throughout the grid. Unfortunately, I didn’t then notice my typo of gUANA that I eventually spent a few minutes looking for at the end.

        Once I figured out the theme, I tried to get the theme answers with as few crosses as possible. That was fairly easy, given how common the theme answers are.

        I’m still not sure how I ended up with a time that’s almost twice my Wednesday average (not that it matters). Was it because I couldn’t come up with SUMNER? (The whole NE was challenging for me, between my typo and my inability to come up with answers like SUMNER and FANDUEL. Or was it because I had the first part of SEA SERPENTS and dooked it? (SEAS- whats?)

        Fun puzzle despite a bit more struggle than usual for a Wednesday.

  2. Pedant says:

    Fiddler on the Roof was set in Ukraine not Russia!

  3. Goober says:

    Fiddler on the roof was set in Ukraine, not Russia.

  4. Martin says:

    The cone shape of Astro Pops was intended to represent a three-stage rocket. Apparently the rocket scientists who designed them were a bit abstract when it came to candy.

  5. Ethan says:

    Another interesting thing about Charles Sumner is that the elementary school in Topeka that Linda Brown was denied entry to, leading to Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, was named for him.

  6. David L says:

    Maybe I’m denser than usual this morning, but I don’t understand how ‘take’ means HOLD.

    • Gary R says:

      There might be other ways to interpret it, but I thought you might take/hold someone’s hand.

    • marciem says:

      What Gary said, or if you give someone a thing, you ‘hand’ it to them.

      Re: Astropop.. I had the same misgiving as Amy, but didn’t think beyond, “ok, maybe a popsicle also had that name”.

      • David L says:

        Thanks. I can see ‘give’ = HAND, but it still seems to me that to ‘take’ someone’s hand and ‘hold’ it are distinct actions. Perhaps I’m being too nitpicky (not for the first time…)

        • marciem says:

          other than “take hold (of)” [grasp] as in Gary’s description, I’m not real clear either. Apparently there is a game called “take and hold”, but I’m unfamiliar with that also.

        • Gary R says:

          I see your point. Arguably, “take” is the act of initially grasping someone’s hand and to “hold” it is what follows. But I can also imagine an attractive young woman inviting me (when I was a much younger man) to either “take my hand” or “hold my hand.”

          If it were a standalone clue, “take”=HOLD, I’d be more critical – but as part of a themer, I’ll cut it some slack.

    • pannonica says:

      No hands necessary. It’s an elision: when something takes hold, it takes.

  7. Cassandra says:

    Tinct is not a word in my dictionary, aside from being an abbreviation for tincture.

    • Eric H. says:

      Maybe it’s time for a new dictionary. I like the American Heritage Dictionary, which defines “tinct” as “a color or tint.”

      I agree it’s a bit uncommon, but it’s been in the NYT crossword many times.

    • JohnH says:

      Both dictionaries I usually check and use as reference, MW and Random House (the first the source of house-style spelling for most publishers), list it. Collins, which I believe is British, lists it as American English.

  8. DougC says:

    NYT: My slowest Wednesday in a very, very long time.

    No idea about ASTROPOP (which I gather is actually a room-temperature lollipop, rather than a “frozen treat”), FANDUEL, the SEA SERPENTS from the Aeneid (which I haven’t read since college, multiple decades ago) or Hop-o’-My-Thumb, whoever that is. Knew the Sen. SUMNER story but couldn’t recall his name. Surprised myself by knowing the MMA/UFC pairing, which testifies to its cultural ubiquity, since I’ve never watched it or paid any attention to it at all. This all strikes me as some pretty wide-ranging and mostly obscure PPP trivia for a Wednesday puzzle.

    Also: “tinge” before TINCT (and I still think the former was a better answer). CHOPSTICK was far and away the best of the theme answers.

  9. Margaret says:

    LAT: I have a quibble with the first theme answer, is the Rowan Atkinson character ever just BEAN? He’s always Mr. Bean I thought.

    • sorry after after says:

      Guess you missed the 1997 feature film starring Atkinson, simply titled “Bean.” Comedy gold!

  10. David L says:

    Didn’t do the Universal but, man, I love Lowell George’s singing.

  11. Wayne says:

    AVCX: The double-pun clue for EAT at 30a was :chefs-kiss: [Scarf, as a wrap].

  12. Seattle DB says:

    NYT: Is it just me or do some of us older people with failing eyesight can’t read the small font of the MON-SAT puzzles w/o putting on our magnifiers? If someone has an “in” with the editors, maybe they can ask if the font-size can be increased a notch or two? Thank you.

    • marciem says:

      That’s one of several reasons I much prefer to continue to use Across Lite to solve the NYT. It isn’t worth the struggle for me most times, no matter how cleverly the constructor uses the app software (colors, pictures, etc.). You can use Across Lite by installing CrosswordScraper, there are versions for Chrome and Firefox, probably Mac too. I do not know if it works on phones or tablets.

    • Martin says:

      If you’re doing it online, browsers let you increase the font size. With Chrome, it’s CTRL-+ (hold down the CTRL key and press +). Successive pressing magnifies the screen view each time. CTRL– (CTRL and – or hyphen) reverses.

    • Seattle DB says:

      I forgot to mention that I print out the PDF and then solve with pencil (and a huge eraser, lol!).

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