Monday, May 21, 2018

BEQ 8:48 (Laura) 


LAT 4:08 (Nate) 


NYT 2:48 (Amy)  


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


The New Yorker 8:16 (Ben) 


Hannah Slovut’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 21 18, no 0521

This theme takes us through the phases of life, if we are fortunate enough to get through the first five phases:

  • 17a. [Holder of some precious memories], BABY ALBUM. I sucked at compiling printed-out photos of my kid.
  • 22a. [Wunderkind], CHILD PRODIGY.
  • 30a. [Fashion magazine spinoff], TEEN VOGUE. It’s online only, not print now, and it kicks ass. Yes, it has pop culture and fashion and makeup stories, but it also covers news/current events—today’s teens and young adults are not mindless, you know. Check it out:
  • 41a. [Popular Cartoon Network programming block], ADULT SWIM.
  • 47a. [Temporary mental lapse], SENIOR MOMENT.
  • 59a. [Place where no one lives anymore], GHOST TOWN. *dead*

The theme entries progress from BABY through GHOST, using lively two-word phrases. Thumbs up.

Highlights in the fill: HOTFOOT IT, the ABBA/’N SYNC pop pairing, VERMONTERPILE IT ON, and what I did today, SLEEPS IN.

There are some rough spots in the fill. In the top middle, there’s IPSO crossing two abbrevs, APB and LSU. (Anyone prefer PLED and partial “I AM A Rock” crossing LAB EMU DAM? I know a lot of folks are fervently anti-partials, but I say they have their place in easy puzzles.) BERM may or may not be hard for a Monday puzzle—I learned it as a kid, but from my mom rather than from school. NO TAX feels awkward to me. ULM is probably beyond Monday-easy. And while I had an AIWA boom box, brand names that vanished from the market can be hard fill.

Worst crosswordese: 21d. [Prince Valiant’s son], ARN. Tight spot in the grid, with theme entries in every other row and 6-letter answers separating them.

3.75 stars from me.

Edith Tremio’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sew What?” — Jim’s review

If you don’t recognize the byline that’s because it’s one of editor Mike Shenk’s rarely used pseudonyms. This one equates to “I’m the editor.” It also features the vowel pattern EIEIO which was thematic in a puzzle from sometime last year.

I was really enjoying this puzzle until I got to the last theme entry and then sussed out the theme. Each theme phrase ends with a word that has something to do with sewing.

WSJ – Mon, 5.21.18 – “Sew What?” by Edith Tremio (Mike Shenk)

  • 16a [Old late-night broadcastTEST PATTERN
  • 27a [Targets in an alleyBOWLING PINS
  • 42a [Seattle landmarkSPACE NEEDLE
  • 57a [Message that includes the original message and all succeeding repliesEMAIL THREAD. This phrase doesn’t feel as in-the-language as the others, and the clue is cumbersome.

The theme is okay, but it didn’t really do it for me…but the fill did. There’s a lot of really good stuff here: “HAVE A HEART,” PANDEMIC, HERRINGS (red or otherwise), SUPINE, EATERIES, and SVELTE are all quite nice. LISTEN TO is fine but NO VISITORS [Inmate’s punishment, at times] is…odd and maybe a little depressing.

Byron PITTS and Martin Short. Switched at birth?

But even the short fill felt clean. I see an IT ON…oh, and a SCH, but really that’s it for crosswordese, so solving this as a themeless was silky smooth.

The only slowdown for me was in the dead center: PITTS [Byron of ABC’s “Nightline”]. I haven’t watched the show since the Ted Koppel days, and I had never heard of any of the new hosts. (Is it just me, or does he look like a black Martin Short?) Interesting to learn that he started life with a stutter but went on to major in Journalism and Speech Communication at Wesleyan then later became a television host. Very impressive. I have a friend who grew up with a debilitating stutter who wasn’t able to overcome it until adulthood but now he has a successful career and familial happiness.

Not much else to say on this one. I enjoyed the smooth fill more than the theme, but for newcomers to puzzling, this would be a good one to start with. 3.25 stars.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Ben’s write-up

Boy howdy, am I enjoying the New Yorker’s crossword in the short time it’s been around.  There’s a nice high/low blend of fill (both things I’d expect to read in the New Yorker and plenty that feels more contemporary), which makes for a pleasantly chewy start to the week.  Helping this is a constructor lineup to die for – this week’s puzzle from Elizabeth Gorski included.

The themeless nature of these means I get to jump around a lot as to what the puzzle made me think of as I was solving it, so, in the spirit of 1ALET’S DO THIS!

I don’t know what our WEB-FOOTED (51A) friends have to do with the metaphor in this song, but “You got me pelican fly-fly-flyin'” is too good a lyrical line to pass up in a Eurovision song.
  • “Mobile home owners” makes excellent use of start-of-clue capitalization to misdirect from the answer of ALABAMANS.
  • Love to see GUCCI in reference to rapper Gucci Mane rather than the luxury brand he derived his name from – it gives this puzzle a freshness.
  • “Bum wrap?” is a lovely clue for CLOTH DIAPER
  • CHERI without some sort of clue pointing to SNL’s Oteri feels weird, but I’ll take “Darling of the Sorbonne?” too.
  • A surface “Good for sledding” needs to be SNOWY, but it also needs to be HILLY (the correct answer here)
  • Former SeaWorld headliner: SHAMU (heads up: it looks like SeaWorld has discontinued its breeding program post-Blackfish, but they still have their current ORCAs in captivity, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
  • I wasn’t in love with either “Lance on the bench” for ITO (even with American Crime Story a few years ago, I’d much prefer a reference to figure skating champion Midori) or “One-third of DCVI” for CCII (roman numeral math has no place except for a math worksheet, and even then)
  • I’ve lived in New England for almost a decade and have never been to a CLAMBAKE.  Someone please fix this.
  • Another bit-o-fill I didn’t love was TAM-O, as in “Tam-O-Shanter”, the Robert Burns poem.  Other New Yorker puzzles have managed to evade this sort of fill for the most part, and it’s a trend I’d love to see continue.

Solid throughout, with a few less-than-great pieces of fill. 3.75/5 stars from me.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s themeless Monday crossword — Laura’s Review

BEQ - 5.21.18 - Solution

BEQ – 5.21.18 – Solution

Five things:

  • [8d: Putting off work to get work done in the kitchen instead]: PROCRASTIBAKING. I was very proud of myself for not doing any of this over the weekend, but that’s a rarity for me. Here’s one of my favorite recipes, though, for when I procrastibake.
  • [63a: Name heard in a hearing test]: YANNY. YMMV.
  • [26a: Leave a game melodramatically]: RAGE QUIT. Is Brendan reading my mind? This is something else I almost just did, on a project that’s been frustrating me. Take it from me, friends, wait 24-48 hours before sending that email.
  • [28a: Luxury watch brand from Detroit]: SHINOLA. These are lovely watches, and the brand name really does come from that classic idiom, to tell shit from Shinola — Shinola being a brand of shoe polish popular in the last century.
  • [43a: Like some wonders]: ONE-HIT. Herewith, and don’t @ me, the greatest ONE-HIT wonder of all time (and yeah, I know it was their second number-one in the UK; I admit to being Billboardocentric):

Jake Braun’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

LAT 5.21.18

LAT 5.21.18

Jake Braun treats us to a relatively smooth Monday puzzle with a cute theme:

  • 17a: TOP RANKING [Like #1 hits]
  • 29a: MUSIC RACKS [Stands for sheets with notes]
  • 44a: DRIVING AGE [For a full license, it’s 17 or 18 in most states]
  • 61a: INSIDE JOKE [Humor shared by a select few … and by this puzzle’s circles]

40 theme-related squares feels a bit low for a 15×15, but the constructor makes up for it with relatively clean fill (except for tiny bits like E MIN, ENID, and ONE LB, though it’s nothing you can’t get from the crossings.) I appreciate that each joke synonym span two words per themer (with the first letter at the end of the first word and the remaining letters in the second word – that degree of parallelism goes far with me!) and that the themers themselves are all in-the-language phrases. Add in the clean, satisfying revealer, and I’m sold (except for one thing – see below).

Random thoughts:

  • How was 56a (IN ON IT) not clued with respect to the theme?
  • How were 9d (YOGI) and 28d (PICNIC AREA) not clued with respect to each other, especially when both 31d (ID TAGS) and 34d (SEATS) were more tenuously clued with respect to 4d (CARRY-ONS)?
  • I get a tiny bit of an icky feeling when religious stories are treated as literal fact, especially since it’s frequently Christianity that gets to be the Gospel truth (zing!) in CrossWorld. I’d like to see the medical results of the LEPER [Sufferer healed by Jesus], or I’d at least prefer that the cluing include something like, “according to the Bible” to indicate that the event derives from a story and not plain-as-day fact.

Peter Pan

Finally, as always, #publishmorewomen … and certainly #includemorewomen. I usually like to include a picture in my write-ups that has to do with a woman who was clued in the puzzle … but not a single woman features anywhere in the clues or fill. YIPE! MEN’S, indeed! I guess PAN (a male character usually played on stage by a woman) is going to be the closest I’ll get. Maybe that’s the real INSIDE JOKE?

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Monday, May 21, 2018

  1. MattG says:

    Seconding the praise of Teen Vogue!

  2. Greg Johnson says:

    Why not DEATH CARD or something similar as the last theme entry? After all, death is the ‘final stage of growth’. Besides, there are no such things as ghosts.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Because that’s grim rather than funny?

      • Greg Johnson says:

        I was entertained right up until ghost let me down big time…should have just used five theme entries.

        • Matthew G. says:

          Are you serious? GHOST is what makes this whole puzzle work — a delighted macabre laugh instead of just another Monday progression theme.

    • GLR says:

      DEATH doesn’t really work with the rest of the themers. They aren’t so much phases/stages as they are something we were/are/will be – a BABY, a CHILD, a TEEN, an ADULT, a SENIOR and (maybe) a GHOST. We don’t become DEATH. I suppose CORPSE POSE, which we saw a few days ago might have worked, but I’m with Amy – that would be a bit of a downer.

  3. David and Heather says:

    Maybe SPIRIT OIL for the last entry?

  4. john farmer says:

    If you want subs for the top abbrs., why not PSST and IOTA? Neither has a lot of pizzazz but better than IAMA, imo.

    No one’s mentioned it so I may be in the minority, but I never think of JEAN as material. I think of jeans as a type of pants that’s made of denim fabric. (Acceptable exceptions for dropping the s: jean jacket, Elton John’s “blue jean baby.”)

    For reasons stated above: Definitely GHOST, not DEATH. GHOST TOWN made the puzzle.

    In Spelling Bee news, I got to see the Queen Bee today after giving up and typing random combinations of letters. Here was the answer that somehow worked (the 4-letter word, though its 5-letter adjectival form wasn’t accepted), which got me to 31/106 and the finish line. A tough one.

    • huda says:

      Agree re JEAN– It was an odd start…

    • arthur118 says:

      JEAN definition from Merriam-Webster:

      Definition of jean

      1 : a durable twilled cotton cloth used especially for sportswear and work clothes
      2 : pants usually made of jean or denim —usually used in plural

      • john farmer says:

        Normally M-W is a reliable authority. But in this case, I’d go with Levi’s (from the clue). I doubt you’ll ever see them use definition 1.


        Blue jeans are pants made of denim, typically featuring riveted reinforcements. In 1873, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis combined quality denim and patented copper rivet reinforcements, creating the first-ever pair of Levi’s® jeans.

        • Norm says:

          I owned a jean jacket in my college days. It was not known as a jeans jacket or even a denim jacket. Clue did not bother me at all.

  5. Jenni says:

    What John said about “jean,” and I found the theme depressing rather than funny.

    • huda says:

      I don’t know about the GHOST part. But I have enjoyed the various stages in real life, SENIOR MOMENTs notwithstanding. I feel about old age the way I felt right after having a baby– everyone complains and nobody tells you about the awesome parts. There really are some, including caring less about being judged and not trying to prove anything. Definitely worth the wait!

  6. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: The GHOST is what made me laugh out loud; thumbs-up from me!

    I’m reminded of Weird Al’s parody of “American Pie” as sung by a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. Regarding Qui-Gon Jinn he sings:

    “And the Jedi I admire most
    Met up with Darth Maul and now he’s toast
    Well I’m still here and he’s a ghost
    I guess I’ll train this boy…”

  7. Ethan Friedman says:

    That was a cute Monday. Loved the addition of GHOST — why not? It’s not grim, it’s funny.

    And yes some crosswordese but aside from ARN who should die already (has anyone under 50 ever read that cartoon?) I thought not too much — we need to introduce Monday solvers to some of those terms after all so they can get a foothold in harder puzzles. (And I can’t see a way to get ARN out — that’s a super-tight spot.)

  8. Art Shapiro says:

    LAT 11D: “HIGHOCTANE” more efficient gas? Can that clue possibly be justified?

    • Steve Manion. says:

      My wife drives a Mini Cooper S. It has a high compression engine and she has to use high octane fuel. One website was dedicated essentially to answering questions whether this was a valid recommendation. The most liked comment said this:

      If you put regular gas in a high compression car that requires premium, the anti-knock circuits will retard the timing, giving you less performance. So you may push the accelerator harder to get the same performance, at the cost of lower gas mileage. But if you’re planning a long trip at highway speed, you can use regular and will get essentially the same gas mileage.


  9. Richard says:

    ARN is such annoying crosswordese that my brain has refused to learn it and I always rely on crosses.

  10. Burak says:

    GHOST was a really good twist on that potentially trite theme. That saved it and made it fresh! Unfortunately the same praise cannot be extolled on the grid. Some cool answers, yes, but too much glue. I liked the effort, and it wasn’t not fun to solve, but I found the puzzle mediocre overall. 3.05 stars.

  11. David Steere says:

    NEW YORKER: Generally enjoyable puzzle today. But…that northeast quadrant! SHEM and AMIS (for an early, lesser-known novel) and GUCCI MANE the rapper (no idea at all), HODA (who? never watch the Today Show) and Messina (one of several Sicilian cathedral cities). Just too much.

Comments are closed.