Monday, September 3, 2018

BEQ  untimed (Jenni) 


LAT 4:27 (Nate) 


NYT 3:57 (Laura) 


The New Yorker  10:21 (Jenni) 


No WSJ puzzle due to the holiday. Happy Labor Day to those who celebrate.

Trent H. Evans’s New York Times crossword — Laura’s review

We’ve got a name that isn’t in our tag library, so my bet is that this is a debut. <checks another crossword site> Why yes indeed! Welcome to CrossWorld, Trent!

NYT - 9.3.18 - Solution

NYT – 9.3.18 – Solution

  • [17a: Defenseless target]: SITTING DUCK
  • [26a: Directive that’s in force until canceled]: STANDING ORDER
  • [44a: Notice when getting fired]: WALKING PAPERS
  • [57a: Repeated comical reference]: RUNNING JOKE

Theme has some get-up-and-go, in that the entries progress from SITTING to STANDING to WALKING to RUNNING. A very accessible and very Monday theme — if you have friends and family who are all, I could never solve a crossword puzzle!, this would be a good one to start them on.

ASTA, main character of the manga series Black Clover

Fill-wise, some freshness with AWKWARD AGE, clued in relation to middle school, the awkardest age of all, rather than the 1899 Henry James novel, PARAGON, which is a fave word o’ mine, eye-rhymes IONIA and SONIA, plus a bunch of AE ligatures what with AERIES and AESOP and PAEAN. I’m not convinced that URI Geller is well-known to anyone anymore, nor ASTA; both have gone the way of NEHIS (don’t get me wrong; I love me some Thin Man movies, but let’s acknowledge that cultural references change).

Department of YIPES! [42d: Eskimo home]: IGLOO. Let’s erase the word Eskimo from our grids and clue libraries; it is generally considered derogatory among First Nations peoples. If there’s something in your grid or clues that is potentially offensive or outdated, why not take the side of care and compassion? (That’s not a rhetorical question; I would really like to know why not? Does insensitivity save printing costs?) It should be mentioned, as well, that while the [28d: Images on Kansas City Chiefs’ helmets]: ARROWHEADS aren’t as racist and offensive as the name and associated mascotery of the Washington DC pro football team, they’re still an example of cultural appropriation. How about animals? Animals are cool; they make appropriate mascots; they have teeth and fur and make scary roaring noises and stuff. Let’s switch all the mascots and team names to animals, or to personifications of weather and other paranormal phenomena.

Victor Barocas’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

It’s time for Hands Across Amer…, I mean, Hands Across Themers in today’s LAT puzzle:

LAT 9.2.18

LAT 9.2.18

17A: WASH AND WEAR [Not in need of drying or ironing]
25A: FINDS A HOME [Gets settled]
40A: GREEN EGGS AND HAM [“I do not like them with a fox” Seuss poem]
50A: FLASHDANCE [“… What a Feeling” movie]
61A: CHANGE HANDS [Be sold, as property … and a hint to each set of circled letters]

Overall, this was a pretty straightforward ‘scrambled word hidden among themers’ puzzle, but I appreciated that the theme entries were mostly fresh and interesting. There’s a small ding for the word AND being part of the HANDS anagram in two of the four circle theme entries, but I imagine that coming up with a lot of other interesting combinations to fit this puzzle would be a CHALLENGE.

I was thankful for my knowledge of geography when solving this puzzle. We have ZAIRE, EUROPE, KOREA, ATHENS, NIGER, and the seven SEAS all on the MAP!

Where things went wrong for me (and where 3D accurately described me: HAS NO IDEA) was the near double-Natick in the center of the grid at the end of my solve (see shaded squares). I had no clue about IMARET or SETAE … and aren’t LGS just as viable as RGS in terms of being [Some QB protectors]? I had to run the alphabet at the end of IMALE_ and then, when that didn’t work, run the alphabet at the end of IMARE_ to finish the puzzle. That’s pretty gnarly for a Monday.

AVA DuVernay

AVA DuVernay

#includemorewomen: One of the most joyful moments of my teaching career happened last year, when I got to see my students – and especially my female students of color – transform as they listened to AVA DuVernay speak about her life, her work, and her impact on Hollywood – all during a school assembly. So many of my students saw themselves reflected and represented in a way that made them feel seen, that made them feel that their goals were possible and right. AVA, thank you for bringing your mastery to the screen and to the young people you’ve inspired!

Liz Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Jenni’s write-up

New Yorker 9/3, solution grid

Liz Gorski is up for the New Yorker puzzle today. I love Liz’s puzzles, and I love hard puzzles, and…I did not totally love this puzzle. My solving time reflects the time spent running the alphabet in one square, plus the time it took to figure out which square it was. I didn’t resort to the “check” function or to Google, so I’ll take that as a moral victory.

My Waterloo (or Natick) was 17a crossing 7d. [Renaissance madrigal master who murdered his wife and her lover] is probably someone music-loving Liz knows all about. Wikipedia filled in the gaps for me about GESUALDO. Apparently the woman he murdered was his first wife. I’ll just leave that there.

The crossing, [Top chef LeFebvre, author of “Crave”] didn’t help me either. His name is LUDO. I started with LUCO and changed it to LUGO and then just put in letters until I found the right one. I made the NE more problematic than it needed to be by dropping in ESTATE for 1d, [It’s passed on by one who’s passed on]. The correct answer is LEGACY.

There is a lot of good stuff in this puzzle as well.

  • Music I know well spans the grid at 8d. [Rolling Stones hit with the lyric “I’ll be your savior”] is EMOTIONAL RESCUE.
  • Another grid-spanner crosses at 35a: [Self-description of a C-SPAN addict] is POLITICAL JUNKIE. Both nice, solid 15s that I don’t remember seeing before (doesn’t mean they haven’t appeared before. My memory is not a reliable database).
  • There was another crossing of proper names in the SE, but I know CAROLINE Wozniacki and I’ve heard of HELIO Castroneves, so that one didn’t stump me.
  • I enjoyed ONE-HORSE at 36d for [Really small, as towns go] and also liked [Reading class?] next door – LITERATI.
  • I misread 61a as [Meddlesome] when it’s really [Mettlesome]. FEISTY makes much more sense for the latter.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that John CLEESE voiced King Gristle, Sr, in “Trolls.”

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s themeless Monday crossword — Jenni’s review

I enjoy BEQ’s edginess, profanity, obscure music references and sidewise cluing. You don’t hear me grumbling about “puzzles these days.” I say that so you know the context when I tell you that this puzzle is awful. This goes beyond “edgy” into “contemptible.” You’ll find the solution grid below containing a terrible clue/answer pair. The use of [Teasing girls] as a clue for LOLITAS is beyond poor taste. It’s horrifyingly misogynist nudge-nudge-wink-wink at men who prey on young girls – and it blames the girls.

The logical conclusion of this disgusting train of thought is this story of a Montana judge who said that a 14-year-old girl was “as much in control of the situation” as the 54-year-old teacher who raped her.

I’d never heard about the case before. You know how I found it? I googled “Judge excuses rape of teenage girl” and I chose that link from the fifteen or twenty available.

Go ahead. Tell me you don’t come to this blog to hear me rant. Tell me feminism has no place in this discussion. Tell me about Nabokov’s literary gifts and his exquisite use of wordplay. Tell me that I’m taking the crossword too seriously and I should “lighten up.”

Or read the story I linked to and realize the girl in question killed herself.

This is not fun and games. This shit is deadly and has no place in a civilized society, let along in a crossword puzzle.

The solution grid:

BEQ 9/3, solution grid


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20 Responses to Monday, September 3, 2018

  1. Trent H Evans says:

    Thank you Laura. If you read my comments on xword or Wordplay, you will notice I vaguely referenced some fill I’d like to have another crack it. You nailed what I meant. You won’t see it again. Add SOT to that list. I’m learning, and I appreciate your kind words and honest criticism. This was a thrill for me, and I hope my future entries are free of the objectionable and obscure things I now can see with the benefit of more experience and consciousness-raising. I love that crossword puzzles are are a part of the (perhaps too slow) changing zeitgeist of what is acceptable to the masses. Enjoy your Labor Day CrossWorld!


  2. Trent H Evans says:

    Ugh. *crack it = crack at

  3. RSP64 says:

    I always thought it was a baldfaced lie, not a boldfaced lie. I’m a west coaster. Is that a regional difference or have I always said it wrong (wouldn’t be the first time)?

  4. Greg says:

    Nice debut. My only tiny demurral is in not qualifying Uri Geller’s so-called talent in spoon-bending. He claimed he did it through telekinetic powers — and he was hugely famous a few decades ago.

    He had an epic comeuppance on the Tonight Show in ‘73. Johnny Carson had been a skillfull magician as a boy and was highly skeptical of Geller’s supposed gift. Unlike other credulous TV hosts, Carson made Geller use spoons and other props that he (Carson) had supplied and took other precautions to prevent any backstage tampering.

    The result was delightful. Geller completely failed, stammering, in effect, that he wasn’t feeling “strong” that night. It’s one of Johnny‘s finest moments, as he makes the charlatan squirm for 20 minutes. Here’s the link:

  5. Hal Tepfer says:

    LAT: In addition to the main theme, I see a mini-theme of A_A: “V” (as noted in the write-up), “N”, “L”, “B”, “R” are all in the puzzle. “D” came close (ADD). Intentional?

  6. Papa John says:

    “… both have gone the way of NEHIS…”

    Laura, Nehis haven’t gone anywhere, except to the shelves in Walmart. Your claim provoked me to do some reseach. Nehi has quite a history, being around since 1924, in one form or another, losing money in only one year.

    “In the early 20th century, the national advertising logo of Nehi was typically a picture of a seated woman’s legs, in which the skirt was high enough to show the stockings up to the knee, suggesting the phrase “knee-high”, to illustrate the correct pronunciation of the company name. This logo was seen in the movie Paper Moon in a diner where Ryan O’Neal buys Tatum O’Neal a Nehi. A more provocative, Midwestern version of the logo—one showing a single, thigh-high disembodied leg without a skirt—was referenced in Jean Shepherd’s story “My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award That Heralded the Birth of Pop Art” in the book “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash”, as well as in the film A Christmas Story, which was adapted from the book. Shepherd’s invention of the now-famous Leg Lamp in his stories of the Depression Era was derived from the Midwestern Nehi logo.”

  7. Christopher Smith says:

    New Yorker GESUALDO & LUDO was a total natick. A lot of nice things in the puzzle but that was not one of them.

    • David L says:

      I thought the puzzle was significantly easier than many of the New Yorkers, although it certainly helped that I knew GESUALDO (not that he was a wife-killer, only that he was composer). I had no idea about LUDO but I agree it was an iffy cross.

  8. kristin g says:

    New Yorker: Per the Monarch Lab at U. of Minnesota, “Many moth caterpillars (but not all) spin a silken cocoon to protect them as pupae. Butterflies do not do this, and their pupa stage is often called a chrysalis…it is not correct to call a butterfly pupa a cocoon, since it does not have a silken covering.” This is regarding the clue, “Origin of some colorful monarchs,” answer being COCOON. I may be missing something, but it seems at first glance like an inaccurate clue. Loved the puzzle otherwise!

  9. PJ Ward says:

    Laura – I agree with you completely. I’ve always been disturbed by the acceptance of Lolita and I consider the movie a sad asterisk on the career of Kubrick.

    As for BEQ, I’ve been souring on him recently. Some things seem under researched. As for profanity, I consider it a lazy way of speaking. Too lazy to pick a better word than shit or fuckin’. Much lazier than say, a drawl. And I have quite the potty mouth.

  10. Jenni Levy says:

    Sorry you objected to my lazy profanity, but blame me for that, not Laura. Seems like laziness can also infect reading.

    • PJ Ward says:

      I’m so sorry, Jenni! I got so caught up in the review that your name got blurred in my mind. And I wasn’t referring to your use of shit, either. It was referring to the clue for DRAWLER. A quick google of drawl will give the lazy definition. It seems that I’m seeing this level of research in some of BEQ’s clues.

    • Lise says:

      Thank you, Jenni. I read that whole disgusting story. So sad.

      Crosswords can be challenging, entertaining, informative, funny, and edgy, and most of them are some or all of those things; but they should not be pejorative or demeaning or misogynistic.

  11. Lise says:

    Today, I had the same New Yorker Natick as did others, and I had yesterday’s LAT Natick (DEBI/BIORE) also. Got a 2-day Natick streak going! Who will it be tomorrow?

  12. Ellen Nichols says:

    Laura, I’m with you, IGLOO is a word and a structure of Inuit origin.
    And Jenni, I gagged on the clue/answer you referenced as well. Better clue: Pedophiles’ targets.

  13. Judy Pozar says:

    Jenni, I had the same response to BEQ’s horrible clue for LOLITAS. Brendan should know better. I hope he will acknowledge that this was a judgment error and that he will not use that clue again. Other than that major misstep, I thought it was a tough and enjoyable puzzle, and I learned few things from it.

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