Monday, October 1, 2018

BEQ untimed (Laura) 


LAT 4:30 (Nate) 


NYT 3:25 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


The New Yorker 11:44 (joon—d.o.) 


Chuck Deodene’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 1 18, no 1001

It’s Amy covering for Jenni, who’s off for a holiday. The theme revealer is split in the middle: THE END / IS NIGH. The other four theme answers end with the “nigh” sound,” but spelled four different ways: the Latin DRAMATIS PERSONAE, the SULTAN OF BRUNEI, the FIGHTING ILLINI (I’d have capitalized the first L in “land of Lincoln,” as Land of Lincoln is Illinois’s slogan), and BATTLE OF THE SINAI (not a military engagement I think I’d heard of). May I just say that it’s weird that SINAI has two long-I sounds spelled two different ways? I don’t know how it comes out in Hebrew.

There is a blatant grid dupe, 55d NEARS and 35d NEAR-FATAL. This is the same damn word appearing twice in the same grid! Plural NEAPS is ugly, but it could cross SOAPS and get rid of that dupe. It feels so, so careless to have this 55d and 35d overlap.

Probably this is too much thematic material for an easy Monday grid. Two 16s, two 14s, and the 6/6—that’s 72 theme squares. And so it comes to pass that your crossword beginners are expected to know Claudio ARRAU; 8d. [Soul: Fr.], AME; GORP; awkward phrase AS A SET; Japanese OBI crossing Japanese SOBA; and sort-of-contrived UH NO. A dear friend of mine and her 14-year-old twins have recently waded into solving the NYT crossword, and they hit the skids by the time the Wednesday puzzle rolls around. Are all of these entries perfectly fair and reasonable for a beginning solver? I would say no.

I think this one is a regionalism: 6d. [Popular Friday feast], FISH FRY. This wasn’t a term I’ve ever encountered in Chicagoland, or in small-town Minnesota during my college years. I know it only because I married a cheesehead, and the Milwaukee area, perhaps all of Wisconsin, is big on Friday-night FISH FRY (not sure if this was a Catholic thing, or if the Lutherans et al were also big on no-red-meat Fridays). I recall going to an Italian restaurant that shunted most of the pasta, etc., to the side on the Friday menu, because it was fish fry day. Do those of you out east, west, and south and in non-Wisconsin parts of the Midwest know of FISH FRY as an established thing, or is it exotica?

2.9 stars from me.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Gone Phishing” — Jim’s review

As many times as I’ve typed Zhouqin Burnikel’s name in these pages, I’ve just now realized that her first name is the only example I can think of that has the “u” and the “q” in the wrong order. Can you think of any others?

Anyhoo, she brings us a nice Monday grid with synonyms of the word “scam.” The central revealer, SCAM ALERT, is clued [Warning to consumers, or what might be triggered by the starred answers].

WSJ – Mon, 10.1.18 – “Gone Phishing” by Zhouqin Burnikel

  • 17a [*Ignored a noise ordinance, sayMADE A RACKET
  • 23a [*Annual pop culture gathering noted for cosplayCOMIC CON
  • 53a [*Flower garden hazardBEE STING. I don’t usually think of a sting as being perpetrated by the scammers, but rather by law enforcement in an attempt to catch the scammers.
  • 58a [*Repeated lyric of a 1975 #1 disco hitDO THE HUSTLE. Any puzzle that has this as a theme answer is a winner in my book.

Simple theme, but clean and fun, despite my quibble with “sting.”

The rest of the grid is loaded with fun, too: TEE TIME, CROATIA, VINTAGE, LINCOLN, “I’M SO MAD,” Lewis CARROLL, INERTIA, etc. SOLACE as a verb seems weird; why not clue it as the more common noun? SLAMS ON also gets a frowny face from me.

But for the most part, this was smooth and clean. An easy, breezy way to get the week started.

You know I’m gonna do it, so don’t fight it. I challenge you to look away, but it’s irresistible. You can’t not watch it, especially those pants at 0:53 (and again later on, since the video repeats itself after so long). You must DO THE HUSTLE!

C. C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

Z is for Zhouqin (aka C. C.) and T is for terrific! It’s always a great Monday when there’s a C. C. Burnikel puzzle cued up for us.

LAT 10.01.18

LAT 10.01.18

17A: ZIP THROUGH [Complete quickly, as a test] – Like I was able to do with this puzzle (though not as fast as some crossword solving beasts I know!)
23A: ZACHARY TAYLOR [Predecessor to Millard Fillmore] – Sadly for this 90s kid, not Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
51A: ZERO TOLERANCE [Strict rule-enforcement policy] – An approach demonstrated to actually make things worse and less equitable for people of color.
60A: ZEN TEMPLES [Buddhist meditation sites] – I think we could all use some meditation these days!
64A: ZITI [Tubular pasta … and a phonetic hint to 17-, 23-, 51-, and 60-Across]

A smooth Monday puzzle. I really enjoyed NOW WHAT, TIME ZONES, and IBUPROFEN. The only crud was TASM and SLRS, which is impressive considering how tricky it might be to work around all those Zs. In fact, I was impressed how the constructor used those Zs in the crossings: SPITZ TMZ TIME ZONES and CZAR. It can’t get much CUTER than that!

#includemorewomen: Aside from KESHA (no $ in her name anymore) and [Beatles’ meter maid] RITA, we have the lovely queer comedian of color, Margaret CHO.

Margaret CHO

Margaret CHO

CHO has fought critics and Hollywood’s image expectations to become a role model and icon for many in the LGBTQ+ and Asian-American communities. While it wasn’t always well-received, I remember being impacted by her groundbreaking 90s sitcom, All-American Girl – a show based on her family, comedy, and experiences. It was short-lived, but impactful!

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—joon’s review

The New Yorker 10.01.18 solutionhello! joon here with a review of this week’s new yorker themeless by patrick berry. i’ve recently taken to doing a lot of themeless puzzles with only the down clues, and that’s how i tackled this one. but enough about me.

good lord, this is a great grid. wiiiiide open, only 62 words, and yet somehow still as junk-free as you would expect from a patrick berry grid. let’s hit some of the highlights:

  • {___ Slam (winning four Grand Slam events in a row)} SERENA. at 1-down, this was the clue i saw and the first thing i entered. i was grateful for the foothold. as a big tennis fan, i would have had this anyway, but it helps that i recently saw SERENA SLAM as a grid entry in its own right, i think in an indie puzzle by either erik agard or will nediger.
  • {Hall near some doors?} MONTY. this took me a second, but ultimately it was another foothold. terrific clue.
  • {Johnny, the “King of Rock and Roll”} OTIS. not a highlight exactly, but an interesting name i was not familiar with. apparently he was the first, if not ultimately the most famous, to be widely known by this particular nickname.
  • {Not merely dangerous} DEADLY. i had LETHAL here at first. it did help me 14a SO THERE, but obscured the rest of the corner because that E was the only correct letter.
  • {Winter exchange program?} SECRET SANTA. one of the things i enjoy about solving downs-only is that in order to make progress, i need to stop and think about some of these clever clues until i figure them out, instead of just waiting for the crossings to uncover the answer. this one was a very satisfying aha.
  • {Social worker?} CATERER. so, so good. i’ve seen this clue used for different kinds of hymenoptera (social insects, e.g. bees & ants), but this was a different take entirely, with the very well disguised noun sense of “social”.
  • {Mike Myers described it as “the essence of not being”} CANADA. i tried ACTING first. kinda makes sense, right? i don’t really understand the actual quote. i mean, i know myers is canadian, and i guess it’s a joke about canada being boring? not sure. anyway, the clue definitely put me in mind of this scene from rosencrantz & guildenstern are dead.

glancing over some of the across clues i didn’t look at while solving, these jumped out at me:

  • {Concentrates on a stove} DECOCTS. that’s a nice misdirection—nothing about the clue suggests a transitive verb.
  • {Mt. ___ (highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains)} BALDY. didn’t know this one at all. apparently it is the nickname of mount san antonio, a nickname which is used much more commonly by locals than the actual name. this is certainly a kinder way of cluing BALDY than as a nickname for a person.
  • {Items you might travel with} BASKETBALLS. a gentle misdirection. good clue.
  • {Record collection} ARCHIVES. ditto.
  • {World Cup constructions} ARENAS. for a straightforward factual clue, this one is surprisingly poignant. there is a significant track record of arenas constructed specifically for a world cup ending up as bloated, costly wastes of taxpayer money. the estadio nacional in brasilia is a recent example; for a while, it was a $1 billion facility being used mostly as a bus terminal. it turns out you don’t need a 70,000-seat stadium in a city with no major professional team. who’d have guessed?

that’s all i’ve got this week. this puzzle was 5 stars—it could be my favorite new yorker puzzle yet.

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

BEQ - 10.1.18 - Solution

BEQ – 10.1.18 – Solution

Five quick things today for you, my listeners; this’ll be a short post:

  • First off, total Natick at 3d/22a. Had to look up the solution. And guess what? There’s no shame in that, and I learned something.
    [22a: ASU football coach Edwards]: HERM is a useful combo of letters for a grid, and I’m glad I know it.
  • [4d: Comic who said “I’m like an iPhone, it’s going to be worse versions of this every year, plus I get super hot in the middle of the afternoon for no reason.”]: JOHN MULANEY. People whom I know and respect for their taste in comedy like his work very much, but I don’t know what to start with. YouTube videos? Did he do a thing on a show? Write stuff? Lemme know, and perhaps I’ll become a DEVOTEE.
  • [30a: Wimp’s “guns”]: SPAGHETTI ARMS. Guns as in arms, such as you’d read on the classy tank top often sported at amusement parks and other warm-weather diversions that reads “Sun’s out, guns out.” Reminds me of those old Charles Atlas ads from comic books.
  • [29a: Old-school rapper whose hits wouldn’t stand today?]: FERULE. Wiktionary tells us that a ferule is a “ruler-shaped instrument, generally used to slap naughty children on the hand.” Cheers to a punny clue; jeers to corporal punishment.
  • [24d: First musician to have an ice cream brand named after him]: JERRY GARCIA. As the crossword community’s resident Deadhead (and as the current Fiend blogger who lives closest to Vermont [Fiend’s Evad lives in Vermont not far from me, but he has stepped down from regular blogging]), I can attest that there is an error in this clue. The Jerry in the ice cream brand, Ben & Jerry’s, is named after Jerry Greenfield, who opened an ice cream shop with Ben Cohen in Burlington, Vermont, in the 1970s. The ice cream flavor Cherry Garcia is named after JERRY GARCIA (1942-1995), lead singer of the Grateful Dead. If you get confused just listen to the music play.


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25 Responses to Monday, October 1, 2018

  1. aries says:

    Friday fish fries were definitely prominent in Minnesota. I would hypothesize there’s a high positive correlation with Catholic-majority areas and an abundance of fish fries. During Lent they’re unavoidable even in secular establishments.

    Now, Wisconsin I singularly associate with the Friday fish *boil*, but even this is regional within the state – they’re mainly a thing in the Green Bay/Door County corner of the state. If that has spread elsewhere, I’d be interested to know.

    • GLR says:

      I think you’re probably right about the link between Friday fish fries and Catholics. And, if you go back a few years (to when I was a kid), meatless Fridays were not just during Lent, but year-round.

      I grew up in a predominantly Catholic area in Wisconsin. Fish sticks were on the hot lunch menu at school every Friday, and lots of restaurants offered a Friday night all-you-can-eat fish fry, served family style. We used to go about once a month, because Mom didn’t like cooking fish at home.

    • Joe Mauer's Wife says:

      Fish fries are big in *northern* Minnesota where there are lakes and fresh fish. While I’m sure the Catholics were the root of it, I knew plenty of Lutherans who enjoyed the local fish fry. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that Amy’s small college town was Northfield. Being in southern Minnesota, she may have missed out on the fish fry experience.

  2. anna says:

    FISH FRY was definitely 100% new to me, out here in the PNW.
    also new was that ILLINI is not pronounced “ill-in-knee” since I’ve only ever seen that word in puzzles, and never heard it spoken aloud

  3. Zulema says:

    Claudio ARRAU is probably known to anyone who follows classical music, though you may be right that he doesn’t belong in a Monday puzzle, though he was familiar to me decades before I attempted to solve crosswords.

  4. e.a. says:

    re: NYT – if we’re catering to beginning solvers here, wouldn’t the common word NEARS, in all its duplicative glory (do people outside the crossword blog community know that words aren’t supposed to show up twice in a grid?), be preferable to the lesser-known NEAPS?

  5. Michael Tong says:

    is that how pig latin works..? No becomes ixnay? In my head no becomes “Ohnay” and wikipedia seems to agree

    • Lise says:

      Ixnay arises from using “nix” as slang for “no”. I’ve heard people say “ixnay on atthay” or something like that. I remember Pig Latin (why is it called that, anyway?) (I didn’t google it, sorry) as being kind of fun when I was in high school in the Dark Ages.

      • Nina says:

        I took one semester of Latin in high school, and that’s when I realized Pig Latin came from the real thing. There are many words that have that “ay” ending sound.

    • Nina says:

      Ixnay is a the most basic pig latin word, but it definitely comes from the 1940s if not earlier. It’s something Mickey Rooney would say in an Andy Hardy movie. Now you’ll probably ask me who Mickey Rooney is.

    • Nina says:

      Another favorite 40s expression in pig latin is “amscray.”

  6. Michael Tong says:

    Also, a monday puzzle where every single themers gives me the reaction of “never heard of it but I guess that’s a thing” is not a good look

  7. Huda says:

    NYT: Amy, re the comment about SINAI having two “I” sounds spelled differently– I believe that is purely an artifact of English spelling and pronunciation of the word. I too would be curious about it in Hebrew. But at least in Arabic, the word سِينَاء is pronounced SEE NA’ with a little guttural stop at the end and the two syllables sound nothing alike…

  8. Lise says:

    We had Fish Stick Friday when I was growing up in Arizona and Virginia. It was probably an excuse to eat fish sticks and consume large amounts of tartar sauce rather than for any religious reason.

  9. Judith Speer says:

    Jim, you might consider this:
    The Sting – Wikipedia
    The Sting is a 1973 American caper film set in September 1936, involving a complicated plot by two professional grifters to con a mob boss (Robert Shaw).


  10. ArtLvr says:

    Growing up in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, we never had fish unless out for dinner, when my mother sometimes ordered scallops! Going east to college was an eye-0pener…

  11. Ben says:

    I grew up in Northeast Ohio, and “fish fry” was a common term. I never thought of it as a regional thing until this column!

    Fun fact: Over in the other end of the state, Cincinnati, is where McDonald’s originated the Filet-O-Fish – since, in that heavily Catholic city, their sales would drop significantly on Fridays.

    • Nina says:

      All this talk about fried fish may send me to McDonald’s. I once sat through a class on trademark law where we discussed a case about Zatarain’s Fish Fry batter for half an hour. After class I had to run to the local diner to order fried shrimp.

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