Sunday, June 23, 2024

LAT tk (Gareth)  


NYT 17:27 (Derek) 


USA Today tk (Darby)  


Universal (Sunday) 14:12 (Jim) 


Universal tk (norah) 


WaPo 6:33 (Matthew) 


Daniel Hrynick and Jeff Chen’s Universal Sunday crossword, “Inclined Not to Believe You”—Jim’s review

Today’s theme consists of commonly-told lies in the circled squares proceeding down and to the right. The revealer is DOWNRIGHT LIE (99a, [Utter fabrication … or any of five lines in this puzzle]). Clues for each lie are found at the top-leftmost circled square after the forward slash. (For the purposes of this review, I’ll ignore the part of the clue before the forward slash.)

Universal Sunday crossword solution · “Inclined Not to Believe You” · Daniel Hrynick and Jeff Chen · 6.23.24

  • 1a. [*Yank / Classic rent line] “THE CHECK IS IN THE MAIL.”
  • 20a. [*Clinch a win / Classic car trouble line] “I HAD A FLAT.” Not so iconic a phrase as the other three main entries, IMO.
  • 56a. [*Got together / Classic homework line] “MY DOG ATE IT.”
  • 79a. [*Siege ___ / Classic fault line] “WASN’T ME.”
  • 112a. [*Ark man / Classic “Is that a 99-Across?” line]. NO. Oof. What? Show me where “Is that a DOWNRIGHT LIE?” is a classic line. This entry feels like an afterthought, and I found that it detracted from the theme. (Unless I’m mistaken and the line is famous somewhere.)

I’m cool with this theme and the punny revealer. The title’s a bit cumbersome though and that last entry could’ve been left out entirely, but on the whole, it’s a solid theme which helped me fill in some squares, which is what a good theme should do.

With all the theme entries on the diagonals, we look to the long Across and Down entries for meaty sparkle (that just sounds gross, eh?). Highlights: GOES ALL IN, COATTAIL, “AFRAID SO,” “CALL ME” (though not clued as the classic Blondie song), OAK RIDGE (though not clued as the “Boys” of country music), “WHO IS IT?,” “SO SOON?,” “OH, I BET,” PIONEERS, TOADIES, and LOOKIE-LOO. However, entries such as MILKEN and “I’M AWAY” get my side-eye.

Clues of note:

  • 69a. [Brian of 1984’s “Dune” soundtrack]. ENO. I’ve never seen this cluing angle for crossword staple Brian ENO. Maybe that’s why the film felt so sleepy.
  • 105a. [It gives Mario invincibility]. STAR. And now you’re hearing the accompanying music and feeling stressed, right? Hurry! Before it runs out! (Here’s 30 minutes of it for your enjoyment.)
  • 59d. [___ Meg (family member in “Twister”)]. AUNT. Really? What a bizarre deep dive for this common word. See also 77d. Sue ___ Mischke (“Seinfeld” character) for ELLEN.

3.5 stars.

Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword, “Themeless No. 24”—Matthew’s review

Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword puzzle, “Themeless No. 24” solution, 6/23/24

Themeless week from Evan here. I’ve seen folks fall into two camps with 21×21 themelesses: some find joy in the flavorful entries and increased average length afforded with no theme constraint, and others find those more open spaces difficult to fill with a Sunday’s worth of attention grabbers.

I’m usually in the former, but find myself in the latter with this one. I enjoyed entries like FORK IT OVER, NO RELATION, and ZOMBIE MOVIE. A central stagger stack is certainly more impressive when the entries are 15 letters long instead of 11 or 13 in a smaller grid, but one of my favorite things about a stack like this is the connectivity it allows into the rest of the grid. Here, the longest entries intersecting the middle are CONSTRAINS and GOVERNMENT, I found the areas immediately above and below a bit choppy, and few of the longer entries in the corners really sang to me.

Entirely possible it’s an off day for me.

  • 29a [Banish, as a roommate, in order to hook up with someone] SEXILE. I do not miss having roommates. Haven’t heard this portmanteau in a long while.
  • 32a [What a book adapted for the screen is made for] E READER. A play on ‘screen’ that I got a chuckle out of.
  • 34a [Unsharpens] DULLS. “Unsharpen” is a new one for me, but the meaning was clear.
  • 85a [Giants … or some opponents of the Giants] TITANS. The Titans and Giants being NFL teams.
  • 49d [Experience all the seasons in a week, say] BINGE. A nice play on (television) ‘seasons.’
  • 73d [“Drinkers of the wind,” in horse racing circles] ARABIANS. This phrase is new to me. It comes to us – naturally – from the Bedouin.

Michael Schlossbergs’ New York Times crossword, “Picture Day”—Derek’s review

NYT 06/23/2024

NYT 06/23/2024

I forgot to post this review!! This was a weird puzzle, until the revealer at the end:

  • 23A [Two Iowans (1930)] – AMERICAN GOTHIC
  • 37A [Six Basque villagers (1937)] – GUERNICA
  • 42A [12 orbs (1889)] – THE STARRY NIGHT
  • 68A [One gemstone (1665)] – GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING
  • 86A & 99A [Four timepieces (1931)]  –THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY
  • 113A [Kind of craft store kit … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme] – PAINT BY NUMBERS

Clever? Perhaps. Different? Very. Underwhelming? Possibly. I know how hard it is to make these puzzles, so I will say, theme issues aside, this was a fun solve. Lots of interesting entries in the fill. But there seems to be something missing; perhaps a reference to the actual artists somewhere? Would that be too much? Maybe my review skills are just rusty! 3.5 stars from me.

A few of those interesting entries:

  • 9A [Mechanical catch] – PAWL – I learned a new word! I actually have NEVER heard of this term before.
  • 39A [“Real Time with Bill ___”] MAHER – If you haven’t seen the segment from last week with Jiminy Glick (Martin Short!), you’re missing out!
  • 74A [Sauce in Philippine cuisine] – ADOBO – I mainly know this in powder form, which may be the Hispanic version? I am not a cook.
  • 102A [Instrument “played” in the “Bill & Ted” movies] – AIR GUITAR – Great clue! Didn’t notice “played” was in quotes early enough!
  • 120A [They’re comfortable alone or in a crowd] – AMBIVERTS – Another kinda new word, or at least one I don’t use much!
  • 3D [Shin armor] – GREAVES – This word I DO know, but only from puzzles!
  • 46D [One of two openings under a bridge] – NOSTRIL – Oh, THAT bridge! Nicely done.

Apologies for the late post! It is in here for the archives!


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18 Responses to Sunday, June 23, 2024

  1. Eric H. says:

    NYT: My husband was an art major, so we have spent many hours in big museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA and the Art Institute of Chicago. I’ve seen at least a couple of these paintings and recognize the titles of the others.

    But for a typo in PAWL and the perpetual question of whether one says AhH or AAH at the doctor’s office, I breezed through this one and enjoyed the ride.

    • JohnH says:

      I’m not a fan of this one, but then I’ve had mixed feelings at best about a lot of recent Sundays. The fill felt forced, and so did the theme. It took the most predictable selection of paintings imaginable and gave them awkward clues. Then, too, I can never get used to fill with THE, although for once it has a justification (in the painting’s actual title).

      Still, it improved once I finally got the revealer. The awkward clues fell right into place, and I could only berate myself for not having noticed the numbers game sooner.

      • Eric H. says:

        I would call the paintings “iconic” rather than “the most predictable selection.” Yes, the constructor could have chosen some paintings that aren’t so well known, but then, only art history majors would have known the titles.

        • JohnH says:

          Surely it can’t be that black and white. I’d have said that one could guess the likely ones, at least in retrospect once one knows it’ll be like this, with no regard to the clues and all, fitting them in by length alone. Surely there must be some middle ground between “art history majors only” and this. It’s like a music theme that takes just the top 5 on the Rolling Stone list of greatest of all time.

    • Gary R says:

      I thought this was fun, and it held my interest enough that I finished the whole thing (somewhat unusual for a Sunday). I recognized fairly early on that we were creatively renaming famous paintings, but not really attempting to be funny/punny. And I was vaguely aware that there were numbers involved, but I didn’t give it a lot of thought – so the revealer was a nice “aha” moment.

      All the paintings are familiar (though I didn’t recall the name of GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING), and I’ve seen three of them in-person, so that was nice. I also thought it was nice that the paintings chosen represent a variety of styles.

  2. Papa John says:

    Am I the only one who does not find most of today’s puzzles available for download? What’s happening?

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I didn’t have a problem, but I only either download the .PUZ files available on the “Today’s Puzzles” page here or, in the case of the NYT puzzle, convert it to a .PUZ file with Crossword Scraper from their website. Are you not able to get to the websites?

      • Papa John says:

        Universal and WAPO are the only ones I can download. All the others are labeled TK. I rebooted my machine.

        • Martin says:

          Are you talking about the reviews? Puzzles downloads don’t say “tk.” Reviews do. And yes, those are the only two reviews that have been posted.

          • Papa John says:

            I don’t know. I’m having a horrible day with my computer, especially Across Lite. I run into this issue with regularity. When I finally resolve the issue, I don’t know how I did it. It’s frustrating.

        • sanfranman59 says:

          I don’t understand, PJ. As Martin says, the only place I’ve seen the TK notation here is in the links to the reviews at the top of this page. But that has nothing to do with downloading puzzles, which you can do from the “Today’s Puzzles” page on this site. When you said “download” in your original message, I assumed you talking about the links on that page. Where are you seeing TK?

  3. huda says:

    NYT: I liked it!!! These paintings are, indeed, iconic. and I like the idea of the theme.
    No idea re PAWL… Live and learn from the puzzle page…

    • Eric H. says:

      We used to have a sailboat trailer that had a line for hauling the boat out of the water. You cranked a gear to pull in the line. The gear had a PAWL to keep it from rotating in the opposite direction. To launch the boat, you disengaged the pawl so that the haul line could unreel.

      Absolutely a gimme for me, which made it annoying that I mistyped the P.

  4. Barbara Hampsey Calhoun says:

    WaPo – I believe 5 across is HEARD, and 5 down is HAZED

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