Wednesday, July 3, 2024

AV Club 5:01 (Amy) 


LAT 3:42 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 2:21 (Kyle) 


NYT 4:13 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 10:16 (Emily) 


WSJ 5:39 (Jim) 


Jess Shulman’s AV Club Classic crossword, “#MakingFetchHappen”—Amy’s recap

AV Club Classic crossword solution, 7/3/24 – “#MakingFetchHappen”

The puzzle title relates to a scene in the movie Mean Girls, where alpha girl Gretchen says “Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen.” It’s here because the theme involves dogs (who might play fetch) and not (as far as I can tell) because of a connection to “fetch” as a doomed slang attempt. Hashtags that a dog might include in an Instagram post, if a dog could type?

  • 16a. [Yes, I dug up yr garden and fell asleep but doesn’t my corner smell nicer now? #___] BED OF ROSES.
  • 26a. [I’m currently being taken by the leash I guess just because I chewed some slippers? #___] WALK OF SHAME. Hey! Where there are leash laws, only jackasses have their dogs trotting around off-leash. There are rules for a reason! (Not entirely sure if “taken by the leash” means “taken over there next to where the leash is” or “on a leash that’s clipped to the collar.”)
  • 43a. [Fanciest. Backyard shelter. Ever. #___] HOUSE OF GUCCI. A doghouse? Sure.
  • 59a. [I am like the literal Westminster Jedi #___] SHOW OF FORCE. I don’t quite get this one.
  • The revealer is 24d. [Certain IDs, or what to interpret 16-, 26-, 43-, and 59-Across as (with the first word of this answer appended to their beginnings)], DOG TAGS. So dog bed, dog walk, doghouse, and dog show are things, and those are hashtags … but they don’t quite cohere for me.


Three clues:

  • 34a. [Film in which Will Ferrell reportedly vomited while filming the spaghetti scene], ELF. Oh, no! Having seen the movie a couple-three times, it’s entirely understandable but so unfortunate.
  • 7d. [Currency for buying chicharon bulaklak, perhaps], PESO. Sounds Filipino, is it? Looking that up … yep. Crispy fried pork mesentery. You can look up recipes if you’re interested.
  • 8d. [Donde se ubica Sevilla, if your keyboard doesn’t have an ñ], ESPANA. Where Sevilla is located is España.

3.25 stars from me.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Back Country”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases with an added US at the end causing crossword wackiness.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Back Country” · Mike Shenk · Wed., 7.3.24

  • 16a. [Waterlily that’s turned rotten?] AWFUL LOTUS. Awful lot.
  • 20a. [The burden of being morally good?] RIGHT ONUS. Right on.
  • 36a. [Body cavity that preceded all others?] ORIGINAL SINUS. Original sin.
  • 55a. [Costumes for monarchs in a drag ballet?] KING TUTUS. King Tut.
  • 60a. [Farm-to-table restaurant offerings?] FRESH MENUS. Freshmen.

I was thinking the theme revealer was going to be based on the pronoun “us” (perhaps The Last of Us?) but then I glanced at the title, and I’m guessing this is in honor of Independence Day. So, here’s to U.S. (FYI, no WSJ puzzle on the Fourth.)

The theme didn’t really tickle any funny bones, but it’s solid enough. The clue for ORIGINAL SINUS doesn’t have much surface sense, but the one for FRESH MENUS felt on target. Your mileage may vary.

In the fill, I liked seeing IT FACTOR, Stanley TUCCI, and Miriam MAKEBA (even if I have trouble figuring out which vowel goes where). The rest of the grid was quite smooth without any eyebrow-raisers.

Clues of note:

3.25 stars.

Juliana Tringali Golden’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 7/3/24 – no. 0703

The theme is fortunetelling doodads clued via phrases that have a different meaning:

  • 17a. [Observation deck?], a deck of cards used to make “observations,” TAROT CARDS. Not the high floor in a skyscraper where you can take in the vista.
  • 33a. [Glass eye?] to the future, CRYSTAL BALL.
  • 41a. [Metal detectors?], I CHING COINS. This one I know next to nothing about.
  • 61a. [Predictive text?], OUIJA BOARD.

Fresh theme.

Fave clue: 10d. [Vehicles with a redundant name], TAXICABS.

Looking askance at: 56a. [Pass up, using a less common spelling], FOREGO. Yes, it’s now documented as a spelling people use when they intend the meaning forgo. FOREGO historically meant “to go before.” I don’t care for this clue angle, and I also do not like seeing WOAH in a grid.

3.5 stars from me.

Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker crossword – Kyle’s write-up

Thanks Robyn for today’s puzzle. The standout feature in this grid is the set of seven (!) conversational entries of 8+ letters, a hallmark of Robyn’s style:

The New Yorker solution grid – Robyn Weintraub – Wednesday 07/03/2024

  • 6D [“Already thought of that and adjusted the plan accordingly”] “I’M WAY AHEAD OF YOU”
  • 25D [“Everything comes down to this crucial moment!”] “IT’S DO OR DIE!”
  • 13A [“I thought you were never going to show up”] “ABOUT TIME”
  • 21A [“I’m fine with that”] “OKAY BY ME”
  • 29A [“Have you ever seen anything like it before?”] “WHAT IS THIS?”
  • 37A [“Would’ve been nice if you’d told me up front”] “GLAD I ASKED”
  • 42A [“Stop acting like a baby!”] “OH GROW UP!”

Among the clues I liked:

  • 41A [Birch, beech and peach, for example] TREES. A poetic clue.
  • 20D [Businesses that often see an uptick in membership after the New Year] GYMS
  • 43D [Got the last of the Windex off, maybe] WIPED
  • 58A [“Getting an ___ Hurts. Why Aren’t More Women Offered Relief?”] IUD. Nice example of fill-in-the-blank by way of a contemporary news headline, a cluing style that’s more typical of indie crossword venues.

Glenn Cook’s Universal crossword, “Ideas Worth Spreading” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 7/3/24 • Wed “Ideas Worth Spreading” • Cook • solution • 20240703

This is quite possibly the easiest mainstream crossword I’ve solved in more than a decade. The clues were straightforward to a fault, there was barely anything obscure, and the theme was more or less incidental.

The theme, which I didn’t bother myself about until after the crossword was complete, builds off the title, which is the slogan for TED Talks. The circled letters in each theme entry spell T-E-D, and as we progress down the grid, they are located farther and farther apart, regularly so.

Fine enough, but it strikes me that “TED” isn’t an idea that’s spreading here. However, TED itself is an acronym for ‘technology, entertainment, design’. In that light does it qualify as ideas? I guess so. In any case, well enough for this divertissement.

  • 17a. [Put on paper] WRITE DOWN.
  • 27a. [Second-largest Dutch city] ROTTERDAM.
  • 42a. [Like a sale that encompasses an entire shop] STOREWIDE.
  • 57a. [Shape found behind a hockey goal] TRAPEZOID. It isn’t explicitly delineated though?

  • 2d [“I’m all __!” (“Talk to me!”)] EARS.
  • 6d [Moon mission program] APOLLO. This time around they’ve got it right name.
  • Oh! I just found the revealer: 57a. [Org. whose letters’ first occurrences become progressively farther apart in 17-, 27-, 42- and 57-Across] TED.
  • 9a [Terra __ (solid ground)] FIRMA.
  • 20a [How a snorer sleeps?] SOUNDLY. Smidgen of playfulness.
  • 24a [Minnesota hockey team] WILD.
  • Theme adjacent, but also directly duping the title: 31a [Brainchild] IDEA.
  • 56a [Putting the finishing touches on, as a cake] ICING. What, no hockey clue?


Michael B. Berg’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

Michael B. Berg’s puzzle seems to be built around its revealer: FOUNDFAMILY. I’ve not heard the phrase, so that went a bit past me. The actual theme type is a common one: long two-part across answers contain central words between them, in this case synonyms for FAMILY. So CLAN, KIN, CREW and KITH. We have:

  • [Road division], TRAFFICLANE. That sounds dreadfully stiff as a phrase.
  • [Task that’s a piece of cake], WALKINTHEPARK
  • [Home of Christopher Robin’s friends], HUNDREDACREWOOD. Is that a found family?
  • [Japanese dramatic form with elaborate costumes], KABUKITHEATER


  • [Reed of the Velvet Underground], LOU. Is “Walk on the Wild Side” about a FOUNDFAMILY, then?
  • [Apple on a teacher’s desk, perhaps], MAC. Are there teachers who can afford that??
  • [Pokémon trainer Ketchum], ASH. I was way too old when I realised that KETCHUM was a reference to “catch ’em”…
  • [Salsa choice], MELON. Had no idea.
  • [Pictures that don’t need to be shaken], POLAROIDS. I’ll go tell Andre then…


Jess Rucks’s USA Today Crossword, “Calm Down” — Emily’s write-up

On a holiday eve, this puzzle is a good reminder to relax before the hustle and bustle tomorrow (at least for our US solvers)!

alt=”Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday July 03, 2024”
USA Today, July 03, 2024, “Calm Down” by Jess Rucks[/caption]

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday July 03, 2024

USA Today, July 03, 2024, “Calm Down” by Jess Rucks

Theme: each themer contains —CALM— in the downs


  • 3d. [Philharmonics perform it], CLASSICALMUSIC
  • 5d. [Symbol that helps guide pronunciation], DIACRITICALMARK
  • 14d. [1998 film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman], PRACTICALMAGIC

What a fun themer set! I needed a couple crossings for CLASSICALMUSIC, in my work as a librarian a DIACRITICALMARK in metadata is often a concern of mine so that one filled the easiest, and I haven’t seen PRACTICALMAGIC since around the time of its release but I’ve been meaning to read the novel that it’s based on—maybe this fall finally.


Stumpers: CASSEROLE (being from MN I first wanted to put “tater tot” since that’s the classic so needed a couple crossings to get started), TALC (needed crossings), and CIAO (new cluing to me)

All that beautiful bonus fill! In addition to my fave fill, there’s also LOOPHOLES, ATHLETIC, SCHOLARLY, and of course CHRISTMAS in July (which is not usually my jam but it’s been extra hot this summer already and so I’m feeling it this year!). Also, love that grid design and it was so fun to solve!

4.25 stars


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40 Responses to Wednesday, July 3, 2024

  1. Dan says:

    NYT: I confess that I cannot see the point of clueing FOREGO as a misspelling (OK, variant) of FORGO, when FOREGO is a perfectly good word in its own right having a different meaning. (FORGO means to go without, while FOREGO means to precede.)

    • Martin says:

      Perfectly good archaic word. I suspect the editor thought he was doing the solver a favor by avoiding the obscure meaning.

      • huda says:

        “Go Ahead” would have been a good clue for it.
        The solve experience was uneven… sailed through some areas and was stuck in others.
        Starting with an abbreviation in 1A always feels like a missed opportunity to set the right tone for the puzzle. It’s like walking into a house for a dinner party and seeing junk in the entryway, before you get to appreciate a nicely set table.

        • huda says:

          Haha, it’s a good thing I’m not an editor. Go ahead would have been terrible, since it has Go in it…

        • pannonica says:

          Nicely conveyed.

        • Eric H. says:

          OSHA doesn’t thrill me (at 1A or anywhere else), but I think you have to admit that it’s infinitely more common than “Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”

          What irked me about 1A was that I misinterpreted the clue and thought it asked for the former name of the Bureau of Labor Standards. OSHA came immediately to mind, but since it didn’t fit the clue, I rejected it.

          You made a vivid analogy, though. (Even if it hits a little close to home; we’re moving soon and our living room is filling up with boxes.)

          • Katie says:

            “Vivid analogy”, yep! Makes me imagine some whole “feng shui for crosswords”…

            Anyway, I was fine with OSHA. Common acronym, I enjoyed the educational clue, and it was the start to some fast/nice fill, for me.

            My confusion/surprise was on why SKAT was there (2-Down), b/c it seemed easy to avoid — e.g., could replace AKIN (14-Across) with PLAN.

      • David L says:

        I don’t think of FOREGO, meaning precede, as a particularly archaic word. A bit hoity-toity, perhaps. ‘Foregoing’ is not that uncommon, I would say.

        • Martin says:

          “Foregone conclusion” appears in modern usage. Other than this cliché, I think all forms of the word are relegated to legal speech today.

          In any case, my uninformed guess is that the editor feels the same way.

        • PJ says:

          I see forego used in college sports as in, “Player X has to decided to turn pro and forego his senior season”

          • Martin says:

            That’s the clued usage, variant of “forgo.” The senior season is being skipped. It’s not the controversial meaning, to precede. A foregone conclusion is obvious before the question is posed. But it’s pretty rare to find “forego” with that meaning in the wild. It might be seen as “the board discussion will forego the vote,” but that would be pretty stilted.

    • Dan says:

      This has been for 30+ years my biggest disappointment with the editing of NYT crosswords: A fundamental lack of interest in words per se.

      Almost never do we encounter a word that might be part of a 12th grader’s vocabulary list to study for the SAT, say.

      So we virtually never learn any new words, even after doing crosswords for years and years.

      • Eric H. says:

        I’ve got a solid vocabulary and don’t learn many new words from the NYT crossword.

        I recently started keeping track of words that I have learned or relearned from the various word games I play. From the NYT crossword, in the past month, I’ve learned goss, rissole, tucket, wigwag and Yama. That’s something.

        And of course, people with less extensive vocabularies are learning new words almost every day. (One look at the Wordplay comments makes that evident.)

        You might try keeping your own list of “new to you” words. It might surprise you.

      • Martin says:

        I’m certain the editor feels this to be a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation. I’m with you and love learning new words. But some (the majority?) of solvers complain about any word they don’t know as obscure. If the crossings aren’t easy, they’re Naticks. If the crossing are fair, it still slows the solve down do the speed-solvers are unhappy.

        Some solvers enjoy learning obscure words so long as they’re not proper nouns. But pop stars or athletes or actors they don’t know drive them crazy. Why anyone would want to edit crosswords is beyond me.

    • JohnH says:

      I’m ok with the clue for FOREGO, since, neologism or not, it serves a more common purpose than going in front can, as Martin says. I also don’t mind starting the puzzle with OSHA one bit. If we dismiss that abbreviation, we’d have to dismiss an awful lot of puzzles. In fact, it’d be hard to do so without dismissing short forms and thus many more puzzles as well.

      Besides, like the ACLU and NASA, it’s a legit usage and is also surely more common than spelled out. It’s also a real thing and, I like to think, a good thing, at least until Trump dismantles it along with anything remotely in support of worker health and safety.

      I’m among those who didn’t connect the I Ching to coins. The BOARD in Ouija board also didn’t pop out at me as text, although I guess that refers to online message boards. I also couldn’t make sense of 20-sided dice or RPG until I looked it up. And I’d never think that eaves would extend far enough to provide even a standing pedestrian, much less a sidewalk cafe.

  2. Dallas says:

    NYT: I had to look up I CHING COINGS (after trying ACHING COINS, which aren’t a thing that I know of … ). I was not too thrilled with XD IN … I know we’ve had XED as the past tense of marking a box with an X, but the XD required the crossings for me to really be sure.

    Cute theme with clever cluing.

    • David L says:

      ICHINGCOINS stood out to me, not in a good way. I remember a vogue for the I Ching back in the 70s, but the way I remember it, you would throw a bunch of short straws into the air then attempt to discern I Ching patterns in the way they landed. Or something like that.

      • Dan says:

        The prevailing wisdom, when I was using the I Ching occasionally 50+ years ago, was that the optimum method for randomly choosing a hexagram involved casting yarrow stalks.

      • Papa John says:

        Coins were also used in this manner.

    • Jim says:

      I agree – I call “foul” on XDIN.

    • Eric H. says:

      I wouldn’t call XD IN great fill, but it’s been in the NYT puzzle six previous times in the past 21 years, from an impressive list of constructors including Rich Norris and David Steinberg (both of whom also have extensive crossword editing experience).

  3. Pamela+Kelly says:

    I didn’t like having oui in the puzzle twice, once as the French opposite of non and once as the French part of Oui -ja.

    • pannonica says:

      I felt that as well. However:

      “The popular belief that the word Ouija comes from the French (oui) and German (ja) words for yes is a misconception. In fact, the name was given from a word spelled out on the board when medium Helen Peters Nosworthy asked the board to name itself. When asked what the word meant, it responded ‘Good Luck’.” (Wikipedia)

      Still seems kinda fishy.

    • JohnH says:

      The objection never occurred to me, because I never dreamed that Ouija was based on French and German for yes.

  4. Ed says:

    I got stuck on 23A, 25D crossing

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      SUS, basically short for “suspicious” or “suspect.” What other letter would have made sense in the name ALYS*A, though? In recent years, Alyssa has been a much more popular baby name than Elissa.

      • Eric H. says:

        Thanks, Amy, for writing what I was thinking. I don’t recognize ALYSSA Thompson’s name (I don’t really follow sportsball), but the other crosses were all gentle.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I managed to get this cross because I remembered seeing SUS clued this way in previous puzzles, but ALYShA (even ALYSiA maybe?) seems like a possibility if you don’t know the name ALYSSA Thompson, no? The difficulty with names is that they can be spelled a lot of different ways and sometimes, they’re not even recognizable as names (at least to me).

        • Eric H. says:

          Fair enough. The Wikipedia entry for the name Alisha includes several Alysha’s.

          I used to work with an ALYSSA, so that was the first name that came to mind.

      • JohnH says:

        I, too, didn’t recognize ALYSSA and thought of an SH sound right off. It took me a while to dismiss it. I did know SUS, but only from recent crossword puzzles.

        Maybe I just had a sound like Alysha on my mind, I’m reading Maylis de Kerangal’s Eastbound right now, a NY Times best book of 2023, and its protagonist is Aliosha, much as the character whose virtues conclude The Brothers Karamazov is informally Alyosha.

  5. Brenda Rose says:

    Back in the day I used 6 pennies, shook them up & tossed them randomly. Each head & tail denoted a sign leading to a sign you would look up in the I ching book. Thus an answer to the future of….?

  6. Katie says:

    TNY: Loved Robyn’s “beginner-friendly” puzzle today! Fun to just binge on a super-smooth themeless, sometimes. Filling in 6-Down (especially) and other long entries often felt like – playing PacMan.

  7. Lois says:

    The New Yorker: Thanks, Kyle, for pointing out that there were so many good conversational entries. I usually don’t like that type of clue in a puzzle. I didn’t notice that there were so many in this great puzzle because it was so smooth and the clues and answers fit each other so well.

    • Eric H. says:

      I enjoy the colloquial answers, even though I sometimes struggle with them because the answer is not what I would say if I wanted to convey the meaning of the clue. But Robyn Weintraub pulls them off really well. For an easy themeless, this one was nice.

  8. Seattle DB says:

    LAT: I agree with Gareth’s review that this puzzle could have been better if the revealer was something other than “Found Family”. (I’ve heard of “founding fathers”, but “found family” is not in most typical crossword solvers vocabulary.)

  9. Seattle DB says:

    Universal: I thought this puzzle was pretty good, but Pannonica’s review with the inclusion of Van Morrison’s live-concert YouTube link made me bump it up to a “4”!

    • pannonica says:

      The whole concert is really great. I prefer these more lively versions than the studio takes on Beautiful Vision, the 1982 album he was ostensibly touring in support of.

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