Monday, October 15, 2018

BEQ 8:33 (GRAB) 


LAT 4:56 (Nate) 


NYT 3:23 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


The New Yorker 5:36 (Jenni) 


Amanda Chung and Karl Ni’s New York Times crossword — Jenni’s review

It’s unusual for me to need crossings for 1a in a Monday puzzle. Did everyone else know that an INCUBUS  is a “night demon?” Plus there are circles, so I was not predisposed to like this puzzle. It kind of won me over.

Every theme answer has circles in the center: 

  • 1a [Night demon] is INCUBUS.
  • 8a [Japanese dog] is AKITA.
  • 22a [Cable material that transmits data using light] is OPTICAL FIBER.
  • 39a [“Really?!”] is ARE YOU KIDDING ME? My favorite theme answer.
  • 49a [Legendary jazz saxophonist] is JOHN COLTRANE.

I saw the connection, and I still enjoyed the revealer. 67a [With 68-Across, still feeling like a teenager, say …or a hint to the circled answers] gives us YOUNG AT HEART. Cute. I think four theme answers might have been enough and I still don’t like INCUBUS, especially at 1a, but the theme is cute.

A few other things:

  • 13a [Romantically daydreaming of, with “over”] is MOONING. I guess the less romantic definition doesn’t pass the NYT breakfast test.
  • 18a [French novelist ___ France] is ANATOLE, and I guess it’s not a dupe to have a version of the same word twice in the clue.
  • Infelicitous partial alert: 24d [“May ___ your coat?”] is I TAKE, which just looks odd in the grid.
  • 49d [Movie with an iconic theme that starts with two alternating notes] took me a minute. It’s JAWS.
  • 60a [Question ending many a riddle] is WHAT AM I?

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: INCUBUS.

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

Our queen of Monday puzzles is back with another offering to make us feel welcome and at home:

LAT 10.19.18

LAT 10.19.18

17A: BLANKET FORT [Bedding structure for kids]
24A: NUDIST CAMP [Place for people with nothing to hide?]
46A: STOLEN BASE [“Theft” on a diamond]
55A: CABINET POST [Secretary of Defense, for one]
33A: PRIVATE HOUSES [Most suburban residences … or, in a military sense, the ends of 17-, 24-, 46-, and 55-Across]

I grew up as the kid of an Air Force parent, so I liked this theme and appreciated the lively, everyday, in-the-language themers Burnikel chose. I also admired the symmetry of the themers – they’re all modified nouns in a 6/4 or 7/4 enumeration. Those small details matter! My only question about the theme is whether FORT, CAMP, BASE, and POST are the HOUSES themselves in which each PRIVATE might stay – in my experience, terms like FORT or BASE tend to indicate the larger township-like communities in which there are HOUSES, stores, etc. (unless, of course, Burnikel is meaning HOUSES in a larger, more metaphorical sense). Nitpicking aside, a fun and solid Monday offering.

ETTA James

ETTA James

I enjoyed ULTA, EERO Saarinen, ALLEYOOP, HOTTIP, BUBBA, POORME, and ESCAROLE a lot. I was less keen on STOLID and UNFED, but if those are my only real complaints, I’ll take the small lumps for the larger fun of the overall Monday puzzle.

Zora NEALE Hurston

Zora NEALE Hurston

#includemorewomen: In today’s puzzle, we have Jessica ALBA, Tea LEONI, clued Bacall, Zora NEALE Hurston, and ETTA Jones. I just got back from a long weekend in DC so I don’t have much time for tonight’s post, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t celebrate the women of color in the puzzle today! Yaaas!

Harold Jones’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “All Wet” — Jim’s review

WATER is the word of the day. It is the [Word that can precede each word of each starred answer], per 62a.

WSJ – Mon, 10.15.18 – “All Wet” by Harold Jones (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [*”Leaf peeping” attraction] FALL COLORS. Waterfall, water colors. Nice, evocative entry. I just spent the weekend in the Twin Cities where we got to enjoy some of the lovely foliage (when we weren’t dodging snowflakes).
  • 27a [*Cars driven by them get better traction] FRONT WHEELS. Waterfront, water wheels. This would work much better in the singular, as in “Front-wheel drive.” But then it couldn’t be the symmetrical partner to…
  • 44a [*Army scout with a Wild West show] BUFFALO BILL. Water buffalo, water bill.
  • 58a [*Appetizer follower] MAIN COURSE. Water main, watercourse.

Solid, clean theme with mostly good entries. You don’t see this type of theme as much anymore, but it seems perfectly fine to me for a Monday. Maybe it’s been done before, but I’m not going to go check the database at the moment.

We have sparkly non-theme fill in BARN OWLS, CHEESE BALL, FILE FORMAT, HALFBACK, ALAN BEAN, and TAKE A CAB. On the shorter side, I liked seeing OH GOD, SALOON, BARNEY, and of course GUAM [U.S. territory in the Mariana Islands] and my ancestral home.

On the other hand, there were these hard-for-Monday entries: ORFF and BARA, and this hard-for-any-day-of-the-week entry: BAKU [Capital of Azerbaijan]. BEERY also gets the side-eye from me, and ASSAD is a real downer of a way to start off your grid at 1a. Lastly, I’m far more used to seeing theater popcorn in a bag than in a TUB, which I’m assuming is way less cost-effective for the theater.

Those hiccups aside, this was a really nice start to the week. 3.6 stars.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—Jenni’s write-up

Good morning! Happy Monday! My Mondays are much happier now that we have this excellent puzzle available each week.

Today’s installment went more smoothly and quickly than I expected when I saw 1a, which was completely mysterious to me. I like the grid – the stacks of 12/13/14 at the top and bottom play like a triple stack with the chance for fresher entries. I also liked the mix of up-to-the-minute entries and interesting twists on old chestnuts. Overall, a fine entry in this series, although not as difficult as I would prefer.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

New Yorker Puzzle 10/15, solution grid

  • 1a [Her 2009 book opens, “Suppose I were to begin by saying I had fallen in love with a color”]. The New Yorker offered a link to an article about MAGGIE NELSON by Hilton Als. I read it and I am both intrigued by and frightened of her work.
  • Natan continued to educate me with 13a [Forebear of Brazilian Tropicalia]. I’ve heard of CARMEN MIRANDA, but not the movement referenced in the clue. This time I consulted Wikipedia and discovered I am familiar with some of the artists who’ve been influenced by Tropicalia. Now I’m listening to this album. Thanks, Natan.
  • Completing the top stack, we have 14a [It has pages for “M” and “Z”] The upper-case letters and formatting suggest we are not looking for a dictionary. The answer is ROTTEN TOMATOES, because “M” and “Z” are both movies.
  • More music at 11a [Martin Luther King, Jr., called her the “Queen of American Folk Music”] This one I knew: ODETTA.
  • Knowing Yiddish will make you smarter! 26a [What nudniks do] is PESTER.
  • The fresh look at an old chestnut that I mentioned is at 47d [For a limited time, they came in Swedish Fish flavor]. That would be OREOS.
  • Answers I don’t understand department: 52a [Its first item is sometimes jokingly meta] is TO DO LIST. I love to learn the lingo you kids use. Please enlighten me.
  • I appreciate the correct attribution in 57a [Movement sparked by Tarana Burke]. The answer is ME TOO MOVEMENT. Burke started using the phrase in 2006.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Cyndi Lauper’s SHE BOP is about masturbation. Plus everything up above.

I leave you with Odetta.

“THEMELESS MONDAY #486” by Brendan Emmett Quigley – Gareth’s summary


My favourite stack (though also the last to fall) was the one with BIGFATLIAR and THISOLDMAN. Not sure if either of those was the “seed”, I suspect something nearer the bottom left.

It felt like I was wading through a lot more unfamiliar names than usual. Let’s see: KAT, [Timpf…]; ERICAMBLER; GAYBORHOOD is not a name but [The Castro] is; Portugal’s BRAGA; the particular ALAN [Hollinghurst] and RENE [Furterer]; LEHRER; TYRONE [Slothrop]; and NYS clued with [Kirsten Gillibrand]. This puzzle’s names and my world were not in sync!

I guessed that the […ladies’ cocktail party outfits] were little black dresses, but I’ve never seen it abbreviated. That feels very People magazine.

3 Stars

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19 Responses to Monday, October 15, 2018

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: It’s fine puzzle that I believe is misplaced for a Monday. INCUBUS in 1A (esp. as clued) says it all.
    The revealer is excellent.

  2. Ethan says:

    I have to disagree with Jenni on the caliber of ARE YOU KIDDING ME as a theme entry. For me, part of the fun of hidden word themes is that the words are actually hidden. KID is scarcely more hidden in KIDDING than PUPPY would be in PUPPY LOVE or JOEY would be in JOEY LAWRENCE.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      In general I would agree with this, but there is another element that hasn’t been mentioned yet, and that is that each animal lies in the exact center of each phrase (or word). That’s a little harder to pull off, so my tendency is to give the puzzle a little more leeway.

      Edited to add: My mistake. Jenni did mention the central aspect of the animals, but it’s still worth pointing out again.

  3. RSP64 says:

    Definitely not a Monday puzzle in my opinion. I had a DNF because of ANATOLE crossing ASANA and ELIE. Those were not in my knowledge base and I wouldn’t like those crossings on any day of the week. I hadn’t ever heard of INCUBUS either, but at least the crossings were reasonable on that one.

  4. Steve Manion says:

    I was surprised at the choice of a generalized clue for INCUBUS. An incubus is always a male demon albeit one that is usually portrayed as preying on sleeping females. A SUCCUBUS is always a female demon that is portrayed as seducing a male.

    Fun puzzle.


  5. Will Nediger says:

    Loved the beautiful gimme at 1-Across in the New Yorker crossword. I highly recommend Bluets to anyone who hasn’t read it.

  6. Jim Peredo says:

    LAT: Nate, I agree that PRIVATE HOUSES is not an apt revealer for that theme; there’s more to a POST, BASE, etc. than just HOUSES. Further, I don’t think it’s a very in-the-language phrase. PRIVATE SECTOR would work better, imo.

  7. Ethan Friedman says:

    I don’t know, I disagree with everyone that this was misplaced on Monday. Monday puzzles don’t need to have simple vocabulary; they just need to avoid ridiculous obscurity. INCUBUS was familiar enough — it’s not something like “Minor devil mentioned only in an apocryphal text from the 4th C that a Biblical scholar would know”.

    I think it’s ok to put words in on Monday that stretch one’s vocab a bit.

    Cute puzzle, for me at least definitely above-average for a Monday.

    • Elise says:

      I agree that INCUBUS is an interesting word for people to learn and ponder on sleepless nights. The crossings were easy, and the theme was fun. I’m dim about sports, so this puzzle was a delight.

  8. Ben says:

    Re: New Yorker

    Jenni, sometimes a joking entry on a TO-DO LIST is something like “finish to-do list.” Hence, meta.

    Overall, I found this one of the harder New Yorkers to date — some entries I just no knowledge of (like 1A), while some of the other long acrosses just weren’t coming to me until I hacked at the crosses for a while.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Thanks. I thought of that but didn’t realize it was a thing.

    • wobbit says:

      I have a to-do list pad that has “#1 – find the list” printed at the top of each page.

      • Norm says:

        I thought the meta would be “Make a list” — and then you can quickly check it off and say, “That’s enough for today.” I’m sure that was a bad cartoon joke sometime in the last 50 years or so.

  9. Jim Hale says:

    In general I liked the NYT Monday puzzle. The word learned was Deva, which I’ll now add to my Vedic vocabulary. I’m afraid I may have brought shame on my angkor wat guide who went into lengthy explanations of God battles with Demons in the wall sculptures.

  10. Penguins says:

    found the BEQ tough but good

    TNY had a bit too many names but also a goof one

  11. JohnH says:

    When I saw that people found the puzzle too hard for Monday, I had to run to the library to get a copy, and I much enjoyed it. I agree with those who did find it on the wrong day, but I felt in my element.

    Instead of that contemporary sound of female voices in an echo chamber, there was Coltraine, and in a long theme fill at that. ELIE and ANATOLE instead of scifi as lit were also gimmes for me, although I’ve never read a word by the latter. But if you’ve never read the first’s classic about the Holocaust, “Night,” you’re life is way the poorer for me. Give it a try. (INCUBUS to me was hard but not a new word.)

  12. Wren says:

    I thought the LAT crossword was charming! The revealer made me laugh when I figured it out, as did the additional “sir, no sir” crossing.

  13. Harry says:

    So now New Yorker puzzles are ads to read the magazine? I’ve been a loyal subscriber for decades but I find this insulting.

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