Monday, June 18, 2018

BEQ untimed (Laura) 


LAT untimed (Nate) 


NYT 4:00 (Jim) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


The New Yorker 3:46 (joon) 


Dan Fisher’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Norse Poll” — Jim’s review

Theme: The names of four major Norse gods are hidden in well-known phrases. Elsewhere, the gods are identified by name in the grid.

WSJ – Mon, 6.18.18 – “Norse Poll” by Dan Fisher (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [Harmonica] MOUTH ORGAN with 48d THOR. God of Thunder.
  • 26a [What the road to hell is paved with, supposedly] GOOD INTENTIONS with 60a ODIN. The Allfather.
  • 43a [What squatters lack] PROPERTY RIGHTS with 6d TYR. The god of War, Law, and Justice. This guy doesn’t get near the amount of screen time as the others.
  • 56a [Popular Japanese character with a red bow] HELLO KITTY with 12d LOKI. The Trickster. I love this juxtaposition of cute, cuddly HELLO KITTY hiding mischievous, sometimes-evil LOKI. Fun fact, LOKI is the mother of Odin’s eight-legged horse. Those crazy gods!

As is often the case, we’re not given a reason as to why the Norse gods are hiding out in these phrases. They just are. But that said, these are all strong, evocative phrases that make for a good theme set.

Note also that HERA (55a, [Wife of Zeus]) makes an appearance in the grid, crossing THOR and stacked on top of ODIN. Hey…no judgments here!

If you haven’t yet read Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, I highly recommend it. Even better is the audiobook read by the author who has a wonderful voice for reading his own work.

Heart-shaped leaves of the linden tree (photo by Getty Images)

Back to the grid. There aren’t any marquee long Down entries, but we’re given a clutch of 10 seven-letter answers, most of which are nice: SCOTTIE, POLARIS, SPOKANE, GRISHAM, LINDENS, etc. The one I didn’t know was THE TIME (42d, [Morris Day’s band that appeared in “Purple Rain”]). Apparently they were (and still are) a long-time Minneapolis group who associated with Prince often.

The rest of the fill is pretty standard fare with the exception of DRAT IT (21a, [“Aw, heck!”]). Did anyone ever really say that? And the partial IT UP is about as bad as partials get. The clue [“You could look ___”] is similarly awkward.

But other than those nits, this is a solid Monday outing with a straightforward theme and clean fill. 3.4 stars.

Ross Trudeau’s New York Times crossword — Jim’s review

It’s late Sunday night and some miscommunication on our part here at the Fiend meant no one was covering this puzzle. So I will make this brief.

BUZZWORDS is our revealer at 59a with the clue [Trendy, much-used lingo … or a hint to the starts of 16-, 23-, 35- and 48-Across]. Each of those answers starts with a synonym for “call someone on the phone.”

  • NYT – Mon, 6.18.18 – Ross Trudeau

    17a [Wall fixture for a landline] PHONE JACK (and tell him to get over here?). What percentage of us have ditched the landline? Since our family’s last move two years ago, we have gone solely mobile.

  • 23a [Bathroom bar offering so-called “round-the-clock” protection] DIAL SOAP (and tell them we’re going to remake their 1970s sitcom?). The phrase “bathroom bar” sounds all kinds of wrong. Call the health inspector.
  • 35a [Start, as a meeting] CALL TO ORDER (because I’m getting hangry and don’t feel like cooking?)
  • 48a [Candy suckers in the form of jewelry] RING POPS (and tell him Happy Father’s Day?)

I guess since it’s Monday the clues are straight over the plate. I think I would have enjoyed it more if they were allowed to get a little more fanciful, but newcomers to crosswords probably appreciate the straight cluing.

It’s a nice grid with big, open corners. I like the MACADAMIA / WAIKIKI combo as well as SNAIL MAIL, SCRIBES, PASTIME, and PAELLA (which is fun to hear Brits pronounce as “pie-ella”).

Not so keen on AS SOON and CANNED IT in the past tense. I guess you could use the latter jocularly, and the clue itself does this [Stopped all that yapping], but it still sounds odd.

Let’s see a show of hands, who had SOUR for [Mouth-puckering] vs. the eventual right answer of TART? I am in the former camp.

That’s all I have. A fun and lively grid to start your work week. 3.5 stars from me.

Peter A. Collins’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

LAT 6.18.18

LAT 6.18.18

Hello from Krakow, Poland! I’m on a World War II retrospective trip across Europe, so this puzzle’s navigation of multiple languages is quite timely for me!

  • 20a: PURDUE [Indiana university] – URDU
  • 22a: PLATING [Thin metallic layer] – LATIN
  • 53a: SHINDIG [Raucous party] – HINDI
  • 56a: JERSEY [Uniform top] – ERSE
  • 37a: FOREIGN LANGUAGE [What’s left when you remove the first and last letters of the answers to starred clues]

I enjoyed this idea for a theme, though it seemed a bit sparse when you consider that the revealer uses almost as many squares in the grid as all of the theme entries combined. It could be that there aren’t many other (or better) workable entries/languages, but 33 total theme squares in a 15×15 is really low.

I also have a tiny bone to pick with the revealer itself. Many schools have replaced a “Foreign Language” department with a “World Languages” department or something similar because the word foreign implies English as the default and any other language as an “other” (and, perhaps, an implied less than). I’m guessing that the many, many people who speak Hindi, for example, wouldn’t consider their language foreign. I bring this up because it’s important in any medium – including crosswords – to consider who we’re assuming our audience to be and, in that process, who we’re including or leaving out.



#includemorewomen watch: DIAN FOSSEY (1932-1985) was a foremost primatologist who discovered a tremendous amount about gorilla communication and heirerarchies, chronicling her time and work into her blockbuster 1983 book, Gorillas in the Mist.  According to Wikipedia, this book “remains the best-selling book about gorillas.”  It’s important to also note that while she made truly groundbreaking findings in her work with gorillas in the Congo and Rwanda, her purportedly racist treatment of the people of those countries is not something to be commended.  History is complicated, and it’s certainly important to take in the full picture of a person instead of only considering their highlights.  Let’s keep working at it!

Ok, off to board my flight to Amsterdam.  Tot ziens!  #happypride

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

BEQ - 6.18.18 - Solution

BEQ – 6.18.18 – Solution

Five things:

  • [8a: Australian folk hero Breaker ___]: MORANT. During the Boer War, a group of Australian commandos killed several POWs and Afrikaner civilians, ostensibly in retaliation for the death of their commanding officer in combat. Whether Lt Harry “Breaker” Morant was responsible, or if he was a scapegoat, is still controversial. Why did I know this? In college, when I was director of our film society, we did a retrospective on the Australian New Wave, so we showed Breaker Morant (1980). Gallipoli (1981), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975; a remake starring Natalie Dormer of Game of Thrones will be released soon on Amazon Video), The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), and of course, Mad Max (1979).

    Haudenosaunee flag

  • [36a: Founder of the Iroquois Confederacy]: HIAWATHA. The Iroquois Confederacy, now known as the Haudenosaunee people or the Six Nations of the Iroquois, includes about 125,000 members in the US and Canada. These days, if people know about Hiawatha, it’s from the Longfellow poem.
  • [41a: Recently pardoned boxer Johnson]: JACK. Johnson, who died in 1946, was convicted in 1913 of “transporting a white woman across state lines.”
  • [42a: Company with a big turnover?]: IHOB. They used to be IHOP, remember? It’s too bad there were, apparently, no women on the marketing team.
  • [4d: Old office cover-up]: CORRECTION FLUID. Also known by its brand names, Wite-Out and Liquid Paper, which was invented by Bette Nesmith, mother of Mike Nesmith of the Monkees. I used to paint it on my nails during boring temp jobs.

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—joon’s write-up

joon here with this week’s new yorker review. this was a relatively breezy themeless from patrick berry. the grid is constructed around 3×11 stacks across and down, interlocking in the center. of those, answers, i liked WREAKS HAVOC and THE LAST WORD (terrific clue on that one, {Prized part of a beef?}), while SHOPKEEPERS, BROADSHEETS, YOUTH PASTOR, and DELETERIOUS were just so-so. overall, though, the grid is quite pretty, with four-way (90°) symmetry instead of the usual 180°. as usual with a patrick berry puzzle, there is hardly anything to frown at in the grid—the “worst” entries are extremely familiar abbreviations like EPA, CIA, DNA.

other bits:

  • {Where the Marathon des Sables (“Marathon of the Sands”) is run} SAHARA. i didn’t know this. it makes sense, but i was expecting a somewhat more specific answer. apparently “marathon” is an understatement—it’s actually a 156-mile ultramarathon across southern morocco. that’s pretty interesting, although i don’t know how much appeal such a competition has to either competitors or spectators.
  • speaking of dry geography, the {Sea that now produces dust storms} is the ARAL. sad story.
  • {Eliot : Evans :: Bell : ___} BRONTË. this was where i started. analogy clues are fairly uncommon, but this one was right in my trivia wheelhouse. george eliot was the pen name of mary ann evans; bell was the pen name of all three BRONTË sisters (anne was acton bell, charlotte was currer bell, and emily was ellis bell).
  • {Fish with the biggest brain} MANTA. i did not know that! and i was surprised, because the biggest sharks are a lot bigger than manta rays.
  • {Pass the jamb} ENTER. that’s a nice clue. not really deceptive, but a fun way to add some interest to a clue for a rather pedestrian entry.
  • {Strands in your hair} DNA. now this one is deceptive, and i also think it’s just on the borderline of factual accuracy. there’s DNA in hair follicles, yes, but the hair itself is almost entirely made of protein. there is dead cellular material in the cuticle of the hair—generally not enough to do any kind of forensic testing, but enough to make the clue not wrong.
  • {Discouraging response to a knock} GO AWAY. this is another nice clue, in the sense that it’s very evocative. the clue feels like the first line of a short story i wouldn’t mind reading.
  • {Missing nothing} RAPT. this clue is definitely trying to steer you towards something like ENTIRE or COMPLETE or, in four letters, A TO Z.
  • {Odysseus, to Laertes} SON. SON is also the name of son heung-min, the star player on south korea’s team at the men’s world cup. you probably didn’t watch korea play sweden this morning, and i congratulate you on your decision.

that’s all for me. have a great monday!

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12 Responses to Monday, June 18, 2018

  1. Jenni Levy says:

    We still have a landline. I can’t bring myself to give it up. I don’t trust cellphones to accurately deliver location info to 911, and we lost cell service in our house during the outage after Sandy because local towers went down. So we have one old-fashioned phone with a corded handset. If/when we move, I suspect David will try to talk me into not connecting a landline. We’ll see.

    • arthur118 says:

      We have no choice but to keep a landline connection in order to maintain contact with our alarm company. I suspect others with alarm systems have the same problem.

    • Lise says:

      Those are all good reasons to keep a landline. We have one too, upstairs, and it was the best choice when I recently had to do a phone interview that took around an hour. The connection was better; I could hear clearly, which was crucial to the interview; and I knew I didn’t have to worry about battery life.

      Not ready to give it up just yet :)

      • Huda says:

        We too kept one for all the above reasons. But in the process of making a change to a combo cable/landline deal we had, our landline phone number, which we’ve had for ages, got messed up, and we have a temporary number. No one knows it although of course it’s easily figured out if we call someone from it… But I discovered that I like it that way.
        We have way fewer robot calls, surveys, etc. And, you can just turn your cell phone off and the world leaves you alone. In the olden days we took the landline phone of the hook, but something was changed that made it keep beeping for hours on end.
        Anyhow, I discovered the value of having a landline for only outbound calls–

      • Zulema says:

        My landline is connected to my modem and it’s my favorite over any cell connection. I also thought the 1% are not elite, they are just rich.

  2. Burak says:

    I agree with Jim on the cluing. I have solved Monday puzzles with clues that kept things interesting, it is possible. This one didn’t do it for me.

    That being said, this is Ross Trudeau’s best puzzle to date, I think. This is a very good fill for a Monday, with interesting answers all around. The revealer also got an aha laugh out of me, which is a rare occasion on a Monday. Solid work.

    3.75 stars.

  3. Norm says:

    I have a different bone to pick with the LAT revealer: grammar. “What’s left when you remove the first and last letters of the answerS to starred clueS” are languageS; language is the answer to “what’s left when you remove the first and last letters of the answer[] to [each] starred clue[].” Apart from that, I enjoyed the play.

    Oh, BEQ and the New Yorker were marvelous this morning.

  4. Lise says:

    NYT: CANNED IT was fine, but the clue (35D Stopped all that yapping) was gold.

    WSJ: Neil Gaiman is a genius and his Norse Mythology is a wonderful listen. He also reads his Graveyard Book which also is wonderful. He knows just how to make his characters sound as he meant them.

  5. Gareth says:

    CALL in PHONEJACK is in the same sense of phoning – seems a bit cheap. Also UNICOLOR!?

  6. Penguins says:

    TNY played like a quiz intermingled with some clever/hard clues. Not very enjoyable with all the “trivia”.

  7. alex says:

    Late again but thought New Yorker was fantastic. Every clue was delightful.

Comments are closed.