Monday, May 15, 2017

BEQ 2:54 (Andy) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT untimed (pannonica)  


WSJ untimed (Jim)  


Peter Gordon’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 5/15/17 • Mon • Gordon • № 0515 • solution

16 × 15 grid this time.

  • 58aR [Part of a person’s psyche … or a hidden part of 18-, 23-, 39- or 48-Across?] INNER CHILD.
  • 18a. [Historic California route, with “El”] CAMINO REAL.
  • 23a. [Desirable feature of a rented room] PRIVATE ENTRANCE.
  • 39a. [2016 film for which Viggo Mortensen earned an Oscar nomination] CAPTAIN FANTASTIC.
  • 48a. [Common computer peripherals] QWERTY KEYBOARDS.

Minor, teen, infant, tyke. Can’t tell which was the seed entry, but it’s certainly one or both of the last two.

Consistency. All four are two-word phrases, the ‘hidden’ words span the gap.

This was a very fast, very smooth solve. No tricks, no ambiguities, no obscurities, no awkward entries. Wriggliest clue is probably 52d [Got into a row?] OARED.

Longest non-theme fill is a pair of vertical entries, modest at eight letters each. 4d [Chocolate-covered morsel often eaten at the movies] RAISINET, 41d [The Eterprise, for example] STARSHIP

MAY | DAY clued as a cross-referenced ‘with’ clue (10d, 62d). 38d [Divisions of a play] ACTS, 64a [Division of a play] SCENE.

“… and scene.”

Very nice Monday.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Support Group” — Jim’s review

Our revealer, STEM,  is at 66a with the clue [Check, or what the starred answers all have].

WSJ – Mon, 5.15.17 – “Support Group” by Zhouqin Burnikel

  • 17a [*Dark red fruit] BING CHERRY
  • 23a [*Score symbol] MUSICAL NOTE
  • 35a [*Sherlock Holmes prop] TOBACCO PIPE
  • 49a [*Heirloom timepiece, perhaps] POCKET WATCH
  • 56a [*Where ideas come from] HUMAN BRAIN

I had several issues with this puzzle. First and foremost, I solved it immediately after it was published on the WSJ website, and the online version was missing about 30% of the clues—they were just blank. I took this as a challenge to see if I could still solve it. It was close, but I managed it. Hopefully this problem will be corrected before most people get to solving it.

Second, once I did solve it, I still didn’t know what the theme was (especially since all of the theme clues were missing). I was convinced I had to look at the words in the theme answers themselves to find something to do with the letters in STEM. When that failed, I couldn’t get how “check” and STEM could be synonymous. Finally I realized they are used in the sense to staunch or limit.

Lastly, I went back to basics and finally got the theme: they are all things with STEMs. In an elegant touch, each theme entry has a different type of STEM.

However, I wish the revealer clue was not a verb but a noun like the STEM in each theme answer. This would have eliminated some of my confusion.

And of course, it would have been a much quicker solve if I had all the clues in front of me.

But the corners are all very nice with colorful entries like WAR CRIME, PEYOTES, TSUNAMIS, ARUGULA, and PHENOM and there’s very little sub-par fill of the kind that AGA is.

The bottom line is that this is a good, clean, simple puzzle with a solid theme.

Mark McClain’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 5/15/17 • Mon • McClain • solution

  • 60aR [Game one for season ticket holders … or, literally, what each word in the answers to the starred clues can have] HOME OPENER. Before seeing the clue or speculating about the theme, this looked as if it was going to be HOMEOPathy.
  • 17a. [*Handyman’s forte] REPAIR WORK.
  • 22a. [*Sports industry mogul] TEAM OWNER.
  • 37a. [*Frolic unrestrained] RUN FREE.
  • 50a. [*Where the biggest headlines are]  FRONT PAGE.

Home repair, home team, home run, home front. Solid enough, but not particularly dynamic because most of the HOME ——— phrases employ the same or very similar sense as the original entries. [Addendum: The second halves of the phrases also pair with a ‘home opener’: homework, homeowner, home free, home page. The revealer clearly specifies “each word in the answers”. That certainly mollifies my criticism. Thanks to Argyle for pointing this out.]

  • Long downs: 10d [Colorful aquarium fish] NEON TETRA, 31d [“Holiday Inn” holiday] CHRISTMAS.
  • Some stuff that doesn’t look comfortable in a Monday grid, including (among acrosses) GEST, UNCA, NEOS, -AIRE, ORAN, DREAR, HAST.
  • 14d [Ship fronts] PROWS, 33d [Back at sea?] AFT.
  • 68a [Ball-balancing circus animal] SEAL. The referent is still a sea lion, oh and maybe we can move away from “performing circus animal” clues?

Average Monday.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s crossword, “Themeless Monday #414″—Andy’s review

Themeless Monday #414 by Brendan Emmett Quigley

Hi all! I’m filling in for Jenni on today’s BEQ Monday. It’s hard to find new ways to gush about BEQ, since he’s consistently delivered a quality themeless puzzle every week for about 8 years. Still, this week we have a lovely 68-word puzzle with a 12-13-12 stairstep stack in the center, all of which is new material to me:

  • 33a, FOSTER MOTHER [Petunia Dursley, to Harry Potter]. I’m a big HP fan, but I understand it can be tiresome to see so many HP clues if you’ve never read the books or seen the movies. That said, this clue requires only the barest of HP knowledge, and it’s inferable from crossings and context. As a bonus, it’s not a huge spoiler, since we find this out in Chapter 2 of HP and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone (but let’s be real, you’ve had 20 years to read the first book).
  • 35a, “LET THAT SINK IN” [“Savor what I just said”]. As common as this phrase is, I can’t remember seeing it in a puzzle before. Let that sink in.
  • 37a, HEAD OUT TO SEA [Set sail]. Nice.


Five other notes:

  • 43a, DREXEL [Alma mater of “The Gong Show” host Chuck Barris]. I somehow misread “Alma mater” as “Alter ego.” Needless to say, I was confused that anyone would call him Dr. Exel.
  • 1a, SCUBA MASKS [Tools that may help you examine a sole]. I guessed pretty quickly that the “sole” in question was going to be a fish rather than the underside of a shoe, but I wanted something like FISH KNIVES.
  • 15a, HAS A GO AT IT [Attempts something]. I always, always, always misread this entry as HAS A GOAT (IT).
  • 27a, KOLATA [Science journalist Gina for the 29-Across (NYT)].  If you like Gina Kolata… ♫
  • 60a, SPEED CHESS [Quick board meeting?] SPEED CHESS and BLITZ CHESS are lovely 10s with a ton of fun clue possibilities. This clue was no exception.

4 stars from me. Another humdinger!

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21 Responses to Monday, May 15, 2017

  1. Trenton Charlson says:

    Accidentally rated this 3 instead of 4.5 stars.

    Very nice Monday puzzle. Had no idea what the theme was until the end, and TYKE hidden in QWERTY KEYBOARDS is a pretty cool find.

  2. Jenni Levy says:

    I also had no idea what the theme was until the end and had to look twice to find MINOR. Really nice Monday.

  3. Katie M. says:

    Is anyone else having trouble with the AcrossLite file for the WSJ puzzle? We’re getting the error message:
    “Sorry, having trouble reading this file. This may not be a valid Across crossword or it may be corrupted”

  4. GlennP says:

    I was able to download the .puz (AcrossLite) version but it did not behave correctly. Many clues was missing in the grid view and,if you used the clues view, the clues kept shifting around. The file must be seriously messed up.

  5. Argyle says:

    Re LAT: homework, home owner, home free, and home page, too.

  6. pannonica says:

    WSJ: My puz file was also missing the clues, but it was fairly easy to finish without them. Was for a time wondering if the intersecting letters would end up spelling a message. Had it been the NYT or LAT—daily puzzles for which there is a well-known difficulty progression—I would have been certain it was a technical issue.

    Staunch vs stanch:

    The verb “stanch” has a lot in common with the adjective staunch, meaning “steadfast.” Not only do both words derive from the Anglo-French word estancher (which has the same meaning as “stanch”), but the spelling “s-t-a-n-c-h” is sometimes used for the adjective, and the spelling “s-t-a-u-n-c-h” is sometimes used for the verb. Although both spelling variants have been in reputable use for centuries and both are perfectly standard for either the verb or adjective, “stanch” is the form used most often for the verb and “staunch” is the most common variant for the adjective. (

  7. Susan Hoffman says:

    I was unable to load the Across Lite version of WSJ so solved on the website, with the missing clues. I also was able to figure it out (with a bit of a hitch at the top center, where my first attempt at computer link was HUB rather than USB). Hopefully the problem will be fixed tomorrow. I liked the stem theme but the missing clues just made it a chore.

  8. Paul Coulter says:

    BEQ – Good puzzle, but “Trenton base: abbr.” for FTDIX is off. Fort Dix is about as close to Trenton as Fort Devens is to Boston, some 25 miles away and in a different county.

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