Monday, December 12, 2016

BEQ 12:06 (Gareth) 


CS tk (Ade) 


LAT tk (pannonica) 


NYT 3:09 (Amy)  


WSJ untimed (Jim)  


Mark McClain’s New York Times crossword — Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 12 16, no 1212

The theme is LANGUAGE BARRIER, or 41a. [Communication problem … illustrated literally by the black squares before 5-, 19-, 26-, 54-, 65- and 73-Across]. The circled squares spell out the names of languages, with the names interrupted by black squares. We’ve got HINDU, URDU, GERMAN, POLISH, THAI, and LATIN. Kinda cute.

I count 24 proper nouns in the grid—people, places, brand names, and titles. I’m guessing this puzzle played a lot harder than the typical Monday for a great many solvers. (Seems like going over 14 jacks up the trouble quotient.) The propers aren’t all household names, either—MASUR, OLAF II, TOPOL, ETNA, EPSOM, OBIES, LILLE, ERIES

Four more things:

  • 28a. [Brother of Donald Trump Jr.], ERIC. At least one solver quit the puzzle right then and there.
  • I … I … I don’t know. I SHALL plus the partials I LAY and I PRAY?
  • Foreign vocab includes French DIEU and HUIT. Was that a LANGUAGE BARRIER for any of you?
  • 10d. [It goes down a fallopian tube], OVUM. Unembarrassed OB/GYN clue!

3.25 stars from me.

Daniel Hamm’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Whisk Management” — Jim’s review

I don’t recognize today’s byline, and the name doesn’t come up in any search. Could be a debut, but it doesn’t quite feel like it. It feels like the work of editor Mike Shenk, but there’s no obvious anagram of the byline, however.

The title hints that we’re changing Rs to Ws, but that’s not it. It’s a simple synonym theme.

WSJ – Mon, 12.12.16 – “Whisk Management” by Daniel Hamm

  • 20a [Recording studio pro] MIXING ENGINEER
  • 25a [Ellie Goulding song from the “Divergent” soundtrack] BEATING HEART
  • 44a [Old place for punishment] WHIPPING POST
  • 53a [Orator’s delivery] STIRRING SPEECH

Are you doing much cooking for the holidays? If so, I expect you’ll be doing a lot of mixing, beating, whipping, and stirring.

Plenty of good fill today in LET IT BE, TIREMARKS, timely REGIFTING, SPRINGY, EPIGRAMS,IT’S EASY,” and even VIAGRA and PIGLET. I didn’t care so much for the stacked partials I READ and AN END, distasteful SEATERS, nor plural YENS.

All in all, a fairly typical Monday outing, which is to say, a straightforward theme solidly executed with only a few bits of iffiness.

THEMELESS MONDAY #394 – Gareth’s summary


Today we have an over the plate 72-worder. Clean, with a few colourful answers. STAYWOKE/AQUAMAN are the likely top-left seeds; IVANHOE, DAMPDRY asnd SPORTUTE fulfill a similar role in the bottom.

Others: MONDO is high-end vocab; The h of EFHUTTON was difficult for this non-American to infer! That and a few others made it a tough puzzle to close! DIVINYLS had other songs too…

3.5 Stars

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21 Responses to Monday, December 12, 2016

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Definitely misplaced. It was a fast solve but it still felt wrong for a Monday. The theme is clever, but the price was high, smoothness-wise. I think it would have rated higher on Tuesday…

  2. chris says:

    Staid cluing, no grid flow, and too many words one sees too much in crosswords. My bar isn’t terribly high for Monday puzzles, but this came in well under what I would hope for.

  3. Mark McClain says:

    NYT – Chiming in early on this one . . . totally agree that the vocabulary on this one was beyond a Monday level. When I built the puzzle, I certainly didn’t have Monday in mind – though I don’t suggest days-of-the-week on my submissions. In fact, my design was to NOT circle or shade the language names, which would have made the theme a little tougher to puzzle out. But, Monday is where it ended up.

    Back in March when I submitted this puzzle, I would never have dreamed that my clue for ERIC (“Clapton on guitar”) would have been Trumped(!). All the credit goes to Will for that (and the fallopian tube thing, too – was that supposed to make it easier than “Reproductive cell”?). Now I’m gonna lay me back down to sleep, but having already used my “I” quota there will be no praying . . .

    • Huda says:

      I don’t know how puzzles are tested in the NYT. But I think the process lacks theory of mind towards beginning solvers. An expert can do a Monday in record time in spite of crosswordese or even because of it. But it can be insurmountable for inexperienced solvers. I wonder if they’re part of the testing process?

  4. Glenn says:

    I’m not able to download the WSJ puzzle this morning. Is there a problem with the file?

    • Martin says:

      It was there last night and it’s there this morning. Try it again and post again if it’s still not working for you.

  5. PJ Ward says:

    I enjoyed the NYT. I think the theme is clever. It fell in 5:18 – a typical Monday for me. I would have liked it better without the circles but that’s a very minor nit. Some entries were unknown to me but familiar crosses meshed nicely.

    • Paul Coulter says:

      I enjoyed Mark’s NYT very much. It was a typical Monday time for me, in the low three minute range. Admittedly, the circles made it faster than without. The revealer LANGUAGEBARRIER is quite nice. None of the fill troubled me except for OLAFII. Upon completion, I particularly liked seeing that the circles are entirely symmetric. Not an easy feat to pull off as well as Mark’s accomplished here, particularly since all the languages are widely known. 4.5 stars from me.

  6. PJ Ward says:

    Really enjoyed the WSJ as well. With the mini-music theme (20a, 25a, 4d) I would have liked the clue for 44A to have included the Allman Brothers/Fillmore East.

    • Lester says:

      Yeah, that struck me as a lost opportunity. I might have clued it as: Song most requested at Southern rock concerts until “Free Bird” came along.

  7. Bruce N Morton says:

    Has anyone seen a Barry Silk puzzle recently? One of my favorite constructors. We just saw a Doug Peterson, whom I also would have asked about otherwise.

    • Doug P says:

      Barry hasn’t been making new puzzles recently. I think he’s a little burnt out on crosswords. And if I remember correctly, he still has a couple in the NYT queue.

  8. Joe Pancake says:

    NYT: Clever theme, dreadful fill.

    It’s bad to have bad fill on any day of the week, but it’s especially bad on Monday, because Mondays are the easiest puzzles and thus the best “gateway” puzzles. I definitely would not recommend this puzzle to a new solver, which is a shame, because, like I said, the theme is pretty good.

    This one needed a page one rewrite. It’s painful, I know, but it likely would have been worth it, as this could have been a much better puzzle, in my (not so) humble opinion.

  9. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Neat concept for the NYTimes crossword, though yes, some of the entries and clues felt outré for the first puzzle of the workweek . . . Another foreign touch was Greek vowels 14A:ALPHA, 67A:IOTA, and the 14A clue’s omega.


  10. ex says:

    Matt Ginsberg gives us 1599 other ways to clue 28a. Just sayin’

    Too, NEZ PERCE in a Monday puzzle? Really, WSJ/

  11. Joan Tracey says:

    How can I get the LAT puzzle now?

  12. Margaret says:

    Is the link to pannonica’s review of the LAT broken? I would like to get someone else’s opinion of this puzzle! Thanks!

  13. Joan Macon says:

    Add my name to those looking in vain for the LAT. I hate to miss Pannonica’s thoughts on anything!

Comments are closed.