Monday, May 1, 2017

BEQ 7:12 (Gareth) 


LAT 2:59 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:34 (Ben)  


WSJ untimed (Jim)  


Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword — Ben’s write-up

Hey everyone! Hope you had a good weekend and are ready to dig into the week ahead.  I’m your substitute Monday NYT reviewer, and this puzzle was not my favorite NYT Monday.  I like the thought of this tribute, but it was a little bit fussy, clue-wise:

  • 20A: Words attributed to 41ALET THEM EAT CAKE
  • 24A: Apt cry for 41AOFF WITH HER HEAD
  • 41A: Famous queen, depicted literally — ARIE ANTOINETTE
  • 47A: Something committed by 41A…or by this puzzle’s creator? — CAPITAL OFFENSE

I’m going to start off by admitting that I don’t get either interpretation of what’s meant by 47A.  I know what a CAPITAL OFFENSE is, sure, but how it relates to what Marie Antoinette or Ed Sessa’s done (other than the very literal beheading of 41A), I’m all ears.  Overall, though, this felt a little overwrought for a Monday – I found myself thinking I was on track for a potential 3:30 time only to look up once I was done and see I was actually a few minutes past that by the time this was over.

Fill I liked: PEPE le Pew (one of my favorite Looney Tunes growing up), UHAUL, SALESROOM

Stuff that tripped me up: PETER I (I had PETER, but wasn’t sure it there was some complicated PETEYR spelling that needed to fit the grid), HATTERAS, how to spell Madeline Murray OHAIR‘s last name.

3.25/5 stars

Melina Merchant’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Mayday!” — Jim’s review

WSJ – Mon, 5.1.17 – “Mayday!” by Melina Merchant (Mike Shenk)

  • 18a [*Diversions for GIs] USO SHOWS. This feels a little weak idiomatically.
  • 20a [*Longtime host of “CBS News Sunday Morning”] CHARLES OSGOOD. Anyone else go with CHARLES KURALT first?
  • 35a [*1966 novel by Jean Rhys] WIDE SARGASSO SEA. I haven’t read this, but I know the title.
  • 50a [*Children’s collection by Rudyard Kipling] JUST SO STORIES. Don’t know this one at all.
  • 57a [*Japanese bowlful] MISO SOUP. This I know and like!

By now, you’ve figured out the theme, but just in case, 59d tells us that SOS is the [Mayday call found in the starred answers].

Nothing new here, but the theme entries are mostly solid.

Frankly, though, I’m not finding a lot to talk about. The sparkliest long Down is [1957 Gene Kelly musical] LES GIRLS. But beyond that, the puzzle just gets the job done without a lot of fanfare.

Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

THATSTHETICKET is the revealer and the other three themers have section, row and seat in order. There isn’t a lot of (or any, in fact) distance between their TICKET usage and how they’re used in the theme entries. I don’t think that was easily avoided, though. We have SMOKINGSECTION, STANDINAROW and DRIVERSSEAT.

Not a lot to say, a pretty straightforward theme, mostly straightforward Monday fill, with a few bits of glue here and there and not too much pizzazz. EVAGABOR is a full name, though she feels like she is known for being known mostly, even though she was the voice of Miss Bianca…

2.5 Stars

THEMELESS MONDAY #412 by Brendan Emmett Quigley – Gareth’s summary


In general this felt clued at midweek level, but with a few more unknowns. There is more current events and neologisms than you typically see in a newspaper crossword, which is a BEQ hallmark. Today includes cut up NEIL/GORSUCH, DUTERTE and mystery portmanteau GLAMPING… […New Orleans Bay Cakes] sounds fake, but is not, and it took me a while to parse TRI-PLEA

3.75 Stars

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15 Responses to Monday, May 1, 2017

  1. JohnV says:

    NYT Not a Monday, maybe Wednesday. Too tricksy for a Monday.

  2. arthur118 says:

    The constructor was Ed Sessa, not Gary Cee.

    • Ben Smith says:

      Good eye – I copied over last week’s post when making this week’s and didn’t clear that up. This has been fixed.

  3. Philippe says:

    Several possible meanings to capital offense :
    – first coming to mind is the Latin root: capita meaning head
    – MA reported behavior during her tenure as queen
    – general meaning, apt for the puzzle ´s author, of a significant wrongdoing.
    For me, being French, was pretty easy to fill in with some cross letters

    • Tim H. says:

      I figured it had to do with the capital M being removed, but the Latin explanation is far better.

  4. artlvr says:

    Loved both the NYT and WSJ…. No nits from me! Both were my cup of tea.

  5. Ethan says:

    I’ve seen this beheading theme used in a construction tutorial somewhere — that book “Crossword Obsession”, maybe? — as an example of a theme that’s too tasteless to sell anywhere. I never thought so. I’m glad it’s finally gotten some use! (Although in the tutorial I saw, the M from MARIE appears underneath the A, as the head is still there, just “severed.”)

  6. Bruce N Morton says:

    What Marie Antoinette was actually supposed to have said was Qu’ils mangent de la broche, as I imagine Philippe will confirm. And I suppose you could say that the “head” fell all the way through two black squares to become the first letter of “Mourn”. But this is all getting pretty far-fetched.

    • Ethan Friedman says:

      She never said it. As queens of the era go, she was actually relatively (very much relatively) populist. Last I heard, the best attribution was that it was originally said by (or originally attributed to, at any rate) Maria-Theresa of Spain and retroactively applied to Marie Antoinette.

    • Ben Smith says:

      QUILSMANGENTDELABRIOCHE is a little harder to fit into a Monday crossword :D

  7. Gareth says:

    JAGS of tears. Who says that???

    • PhilR says:

      No one. But one does ‘go on a crying jag’, at least if you’re old and an American.

  8. Len Elliott says:

    Steer on the loose in the LAT: “steering wheel” in the 43-Across clue/56-Down clue — “Take the wheel” for the entry STEER.

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