Monday, November 5, 2018

BEQ untimed (Laura) 


LAT 5:00 (Nate) 


NYT  3:06 (Jenni) 


WSJ  untimed (Jim P) 


The New Yorker 9:50 (Ben) 


Roland Huget’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

I finished this puzzle and had to go back and suss out the theme, even with the revealer. It’s not difficult; I think I just went too fast and the theme didn’t register. Once I got it, I liked it.

We have three theme entries and a revealer:

NYT 11/5, solution grid

  • 17a [Chocolaty candy on a stick] is a TOOTSIE POP. How many of you thought of this? Back in the days when commercials ran a full minute….
  • 28a [Breakfast cereal with a naval officer on its box] is CAP’N CRUNCH.
  • 46a [Brittle, spicy cookie] is a GINGERSNAP. Mmm.

And the revealer: 59a [Broadcast news snippets … or an apt description for 17-, 28- and 46-Across?]. Those would be SOUND BITES. Each theme answer is a food that contains a kind of sound: POPCRUNCH, and SNAP. Not quite the Rice Krispies sounds, but close!

A few other things:

  • Raise your hand if you put ON THE QT at 4d first instead of ON THE DL.
  • Music flashback at 6d: [“For Your Eyes Only” singer Easton] is SHEENA.
  • I liked 9d [Slice from a book?] for PAPER CUT. Not that I actually like paper cuts, you understand.
  • I ran into GASBAG in another puzzle in the past few days. Does anyone actually use this word?
  • Speaking of words people don’t actually use, we also have ETERNE. I think the clue should reference old poetry. We also have ERE, clued as [Before, poetically] but that’s a word I have at least seen occasionally outside of crosswords.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Danny KAYE co-starred in “White Christmas.” We didn’t watch Christmas movies when I was a kid. I didn’t see “It’s a Wonderful Life” until I was in college.

Frank Virzi’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

I’m surprised this isn’t a sports-themed puzzle based on all the throws and stretching! :D

LAT 11.5.18

LAT 11.5.18

17A: BOATSWAIN [What “bosun” is short for] (Circled letters spell TWIN) – I have legitimately never heard of either of these terms!
24A: REQUIREMENTS [Necessities] (Circled letters spell QUEEN) – Yaaas QUEEN!
40A: WOULD YOU BELIEVE [Maxwell Smart catchphrase] (Circled letters spell DOUBLE)
52A: THANKSGIVING [October holiday in Canada] – (Circled letters spell KING) Nice nod to our non-domestic solvers!
66A: BEDSPREAD [Quilt, e.g. … and a hint to the circled letters]

This was a cute theme! The circled letters in each themer are spread out and spell out a different bed/quilt size. The revealer made me smile, which is one of the points of solving, right? This is also quite a lot of theme real estate, so it makes sense that the rest of the puzzle suffers a bit. Not to throw SHADE on this puzzle, but ATRA ORBED SETI NSEC DSOS (especially when crossed with SAS) OBI AMATI felt a bit tough for a Monday. It’s always a tough balance of how much theme content to include vs. how rough does that make the rest of the fill, and I know I rarely get it right myself. In all, I’ll remember this puzzle more for the theme than the less-than-ideal fill, so I’d chalk that up as a win.

#includemorewomen: We have a nice slate of women represented in the grid today: KATEY Sagal, Christina ROSSETTI, TESS of the D’Urbervilles, and EVIE Sands. But, compare those with all the men in the grid and it’s not quite on balance: LORNE Michaels, “Sloop John B”, Maxwell Smart, OTIS, R.L. STINE, STAN Beeman, KEANU Reeves, Monty Python and his Life of BRIAN, Mr. Met, NEWT Gingrich, Hardy, Simba, and ESAI Morales. 4 women vs. 13 men.

I guess my call each week is for constructors to expand their word lists and/or clue more readily with respect to women. Can we? I know one group of constructors who can – the amazing women over at The Inkubator, who will soon be delivering “crossword puzzles by women — cis women, trans women, and woman-aligned constructors” on a regular basis! Check out their Kickstarter, which has already been wildly successful to hop on this important and groundbreaking project!

Martin Leechman’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Rush Jobs” — Jim P’s review

Our central revealer today is MAKING A RUN FOR IT and it’s clued [Fleeing, and activity by 17-, 21-, 55- and 64-Across]. Each of the people at those locations is making a run for something.

WSJ – Mon, 11.5.18 – “Rush Jobs” by Martin Leechman (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [Office gofer] ERRAND BOY. Running to do a task.
  • 21a [Track competitor] SPRINTER. Running for the finish line.
  • 55a [Ballcarrier] TAILBACK. Running for the endzone.
  • 64a [Seat seeker] CANDIDATE. Running for office. (Don’t forget to vote tomorrow!)

In this kind of theme, it’s considered to be more elegant when the theme answers use the word in question all in the same way or all in different ways. My first take was that the middle two used “running” in the same sense (i.e. physically), but when I really applied the revealer, (i.e. looking at the “it” they were running for), they had just enough difference to make it all work.

The grid is really beautiful with loads of long goodies: UNDERDOG, COUNSELOR, DISSOLUTE, NEAR BEER, NO WONDER, and SPLIT OFF as well as POETIC, NASSAU, DAPHNE, MINNIE, and NANTES.

The usual suspects can be found here and there (ANON, OR SO, ABED, etc.), but on the whole, I was enamored with all the lovely fill to be too bothered with them.

3.7 stars from me.

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

Ben here, on New Yorker duty for the first week of November.  It’s Patrick Berry week over at the New Yorker, which means I get to solve Patrick Berry themelesses TWO days in a row.  What a delight.

This lacked a little bit of the more modern references I tend to like in the New Yorker puzzles, but that’s fine, because this was a solve that felt both super-smooth in terms of moving through the grid AND super crunchy in terms of cluing that made me think for a second.  Truly a peanut butter Snickers bar crossword puzzle that satisfied.

The long horizontal fill had a nice mix of proper names and phrases – ALAN PARKER (Director of “Fame” and “Pink Floyd’s The Wall”), MARTIN AMIS, and Clint Eastwood’s GRAN TORINO for the former, and KINDA SORTA, ENOUGH SAID, and AFTER A TIME for the latter.  I’d throw PINECONES in there as well – the official state flower of Maine, it turns out.  Other horizontal fill I liked: DE NADA, RHINO (per its clue, a bloat is a group of hippos, and a crash is the name for a group of rhinos – love a fun fact like that!), PICARD (who likes his Earl Grey hot, much like I do), and Duane READE, a chain of drugstores we don’t have up here in MA.

On the downward side of things, more nice fill like ALIEN LIFE (today’s featured clue, per the little pop-up you get after the puzzle’s done), ROB REINER, and DUST STORMS in the upper right, and DEEP-WATER (oil drilling), INVIOLATE, and STEEL TRAP in the lower left.  HARPO Marx is the horn-blowing member of the Marx Brothers (the vaguely-hinted “old vaudeville troupe” of that particular clue), and GRR is the appropriate frustrated noise to make in the puzzle, rather than UGH or GAH as I initially thought.

All in all, I missed the usual high/low pull from recent culture I look for from other New Yorker constructors in this one – this was well-constructed and a fun solve, but feels like it could have safely run 4 or 5 years ago in the NYT without too much issue.

4/5 stars



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

BEQ - 11.5.18 - Solution

BEQ – 11.5.18 – Solution

Wow was this ever a [9a: Monstrosity]: BEAST. Not even going to post my time. But I will post five things:

  • [1a: Event when everything isn’t going to be all right]: BLUE WAVE. Can we even hope? To give you a sense of where my mind is now, I had SHIT SHOW here for a while, and that made the NW the last to fall in the grid.
  • [30a: “Le Mépris” actress]: Brigitte BARDOT. Le Mépris, or Contempt, is a 1963 French New Wave film by Jean-Luc Godard.
  • [47a: Star of the sports special “The Decision”]: LEBRON James, who left the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat in the 2010-11 NBA season. He may have been forgiven when he led Cleveland to the NBA championship in 2016.
  • [4d: Military campsite]: ETAPE. I only knew this from all the WWI memoirs I’ve read. The 100th anniversary of the Armistice is coming up next Sunday.
  • [13d: Bikini, famously]: TEST SITE. Did you know that they used to test nuclear devices aboveground at the Nevada Test Side, about 60 miles away from the Las Vegas strip? Visitors to the casinos who were up that early could see, hear, and feel the mushroom clouds. Atmospheric tests ended in the early 1960s and they were moved underground, until 1992, when the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty went into effect.
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16 Responses to Monday, November 5, 2018

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: I love food-themed puzzles on a Monday. And this one had a cute little twist to it. Very quick solve, with a smile. Well done!

  2. Brian says:

    55-down to 13-down’s clue

    • Ethan says:

      Is there a clue for LAME that actually works for everyone (other than making it about lamé fabric, which is not ideal for Monday)? I just feel like the word is so outdated as it pertains to physical disability. I wouldn’t be surprised if the high-schoolers I teach knew the word *exclusively* in the sense of 13-D and had no idea it ever meant anything else.

      tl;dr – I don’t know if “Disabled” as a clue for LAME is any better.

      • Brian says:

        I disagree. I’d rather have a clue for LAME that works for actual disabled people over one that teenagers would understand.

        • Ethan says:

          Do you know many disabled people who self-identify as “lame”? I don’t. It’s an old-fashioned word. If you’re saying that LAME should be taken out of word lists entirely, or reserved only as a last resort in later-week puzzles when it can be clued as a fabric, that’s a perfectly reasonable position. If you’re saying that you wouldn’t find it at all jarring to see LAME clued as “Needing a cane, say,” then I disagree. I would find that quite jarring.

    • Ellen Nichols says:

      I don’t know where this sentence came from, and I do not have any ideas for cluing this usage, but stuck in my brain is: “My horse came up lame.”

  3. Trent H Evans says:

    Solid Monday puzzle. Just exactly what a Monday should be. Mondays are hard to construct. The theme needs to be interesting yet straightforward. The fill choices are restricted by what is fair for novices but also should contain at least a couple of juicy bits (ONTHEDL and PAPERCUT for example). It’s not easy to check all those boxes. Good craftsmanship and well done! Four stars from me!

  4. paul coulter says:

    The LAT has a very cute theme, well disguised until the revealer, which gave me a chuckle. It would have been even better had the double and queen one changed places, so they would have been in order. Though given the theme density, this may have been something that Frank aimed to do originally, but it didn’t work out to his and Rich’s satisfaction.

  5. Sheik Yerbouti says:

    NYT theme seeems inconsistent to me. Crunch in Cap’n Crunch refers to a sound. Snap might be based on a sound. The Pop in Tootsie Pop does not refer to a sound.

  6. Mike says:

    Hand raised. Never heard of on the DL

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