Monday, November 19, 2018

BEQ untimed (Vic) 


LAT 5:00 (Nate) 


NYT 2:58 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


The New Yorker 14:52 (joon—do) 


Jim Hilger’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

I like this theme. It seemed a bit harder than a typical Monday to me; I was surprised to see that my time was under three minutes (barely, but still).

We have three grid-spanning movies with clues that pun on the titles.

NYT 11/19, solution grid

  • 20a [“Green” 1986 film?] is THE COLOR OF MONEY.
  • 36a [“Fluid” 2017 film?] is THE SHAPE OF WATER.
  • 47a [“Noted” 1965 film?]is THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

It’s possible it felt harder because I am completely exhausted.

A few other things:

  • Nice juxtaposition of BRIE and BIG CHEESE at 3d and 4d.
  • Oh, please. No one actually uses the word ECIG. They’re vapes or Juuls or probably now something else – my kid is away at school so I’m behind on my teenage slang.
  • I don’t like bullies, but I liked the answer to 25a [Defiant challenge to a bully]: MAKE ME.
  • Not crazy about the crossing of AD REP and AD HOC.
  • BABY BUGGY reminded me of the tongue twister. Rubber baby buggy bumpers….

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that anyone actually used the word WHELM. Obligatory link to this.

Harold Jones’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Cabinet Members” — Jim P’s review

I’m fighting off a cold, so I’m going to make this quick. Thankfully, the puzzle is a straight-over-the-plate kind of Monday.

Our theme is well-known phrases that include a word which is also a part of a dinner set.

WSJ – Mon, 11.19.18 – “Cabinet Members” by Harold Jones (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [Part of Tom Brady’s dinnerware?] SUPER BOWL
  • 26a [Part of Christian Dior’s dinnerware?] FASHION PLATE. Couldn’t at least one of these been clued with respect to a woman? This one would have been a good candidate. Also, I don’t know this term.
  • 42a [Part of Fox Mulder’s dinnerware?] FLYING SAUCER
  • 55a [Part of Jonas Salk’s dinnerware?] PETRI DISH

Goodies: STARDATES, THE FIFTH, STAY AWAKE. Iffies: ROPER, SALTERS, RESAY, UTILE. The jury is out: TOFF [Upper-class dandy].

I don’t mind MISSA [“You don’t ___ trick!”] since my daughter, Marisa, has been called this ever since her kid sister learned to talk.

A fine-for-a-Monday theme and grid. 3.4 stars.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—joon’s review

New Yorker, 11.19.18

New Yorker, 11.19.18

joon here with the review of natan last’s new yorker themeless. i’ve taken to doing the weekly new yorker (and some other puzzles) using only the down clues, and boy was this one tough. i was worried at times that i just wouldn’t finish, as there were several long downs i knew i would need to piece together from crossings, which is a lot tougher without, you know, any of the crossing clues. but i managed.

on the first pass of the clues, i managed these:

  • {Watson’s creator} IBM.
  • {Settlers of Catan resource} ORE.
  • {Bagel shape, in math-speak} TOROID.
  • {Confucian text also known as the “Book of Changes”} I CHING.
  • {Connections} INS.
  • {Liberated} FREE.
  • {Locked pinkies, say} SWORE.
  • {“Harry Potter” spell useful for those constantly losing their keys} ACCIO. luckily, i have read the harry potter books and even more luckily, i almost never lose my keys.
  • {Vaca’s mate} TORO.
  • {It flows past Pisa} ARNO.
  • {Politician with a doctorate in quantum chemistry} MERKEL.
  • {Mechanical solar-system model} ORRERY.
  • {Debate} ARGUE.
  • {“If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller” writer Calvino} ITALO. one of my very favorite novels, although it’s hardly necessary to have read this book, even heard of it, to answer the clue given “calvino”.
  • {According to} PER. i tried both À LA and PER and thought PER looked a little more likely.
  • {“___ is no love child of jazz”: Charlie Parker} BOP.

(i probably should’ve also put in {Lincoln-era topper} STOVEPIPE, but i was thinking it might also be some kind of ______HAT.) anyway, this isn’t the least promising start, but i was definitely worried about some very long answers that i just had no idea about: {“Redbone” Grammy winner} (15 letters) and {2008 Madonna album} (9 letters) could be basically anything, including including things i’d never heard of.

but, okay, i started chipping away at some of the acrosses. OI_ pretty much had to be OIL. that didn’t really help, but getting from B_KE__A__ to BIKE SHARE did. that gave me HEM for {Jumper’s line} and SEA for {“It was considered a virtue not to talk unnecessarily at ___ … “: Hemingway}, which quickly produced ONE-REELER and POLYAMORY and the whole SE fell.

the next break was getting OSCAR ROMERO from O__A__O_ERO. i wasn’t certain about this, of course, as it’s a name i’ve never seen in a crossword, but it’s a name in the news (although was martyred in 1980, he was canonized by pope francis just last month) and i tried it out. many good things happened then: i got {Many a wedding invite, these days} ECARD and {Gets} GRASPS and then the font GARAMOND and then actually CHILDISH GAMBINO for the grammy winner. that’s a name i have heard of, fortunately, but really knew nothing about. (apparently it’s the name donald glover performs music under! that feels like something i should have known.) that was enough to get me the NW corner, although i had to kind of guess my way into {“Crazy Blues” vocalist Smith} MAMIE from MAM__ crossing SD_ and YE_.

the next domino to fall was the crossing 15, CHANCE THE RAPPER, and then BAD GIRLS. after that, it was pretty straightforward except for that madonna album alongside {“Sure, go for it”}. based on _H__S___ i tried THAT’S COOL (with CURAD at 49a) and then THAT’S NICE (with NORAD) and finally THAT’S FINE (and FARAD), which worked much better. so then the madonna album was something _A__CANDY, with HARD CANDY looking like a good bet. everything worked out, and i finished in just under 15 minutes.

so, i had a lot of fun with this. looking at the puzzle overall, there are so many now answers that i’m (as usual) jealous of natan’s construction. i know that fresh isn’t everybody’s preference, but boy does this kind of grid tickle my fancy. in addition to CHILDISH GAMBINO crossing CHANCE THE RAPPER to anchor the grid, BIKE SHARE, POLYAMORY, and OSCAR ROMERO are all very au courant. i like the typeface GARAMOND, and MINDFULNESS feels very modern although it’s of course not a new word. {Fond of the side-eye or upside-down-smiley emoji, perhaps} is a very contemporary way to clue SASSY.

i also appreciate natan’s inclusiveness. the two 15s, plus MAMIE smith, debbie ALLEN, and della REESE are all african-americans. salvadorean bishop OSCAR ROMERO is a hero to many latin americans. sexual minorities are also represented by {Type on Grindr, maybe} MASC and POLYAMORY. ({Love going to a few different parties?} is a fun clue for that one, by the way, that i didn’t see while solving downs-only.) and you’re not going to see {___ work, topic in the feminist economist Nancy Folbre’s research} as a clue for CARE in any other puzzle.

so that’s a stylistic preference, but count me as very much in favor of natan’s style. from a purely technical standpoint, the grid is excellent. there is really no garbage. the closest thing to an undesirable entry is probably YEE. this is a really tight construction, and should be applauded on its merits.

that’s all i’ve got. have a lovely monday!

Jerry Edelstein’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

LAT 11.19.18

LAT 11.19.18

17A: PLAY CLOTHES [Kids’ recreational garb]
23A: WHIP SAW [Two-person log cutter]
36A: FLY HIGH [Soar]
49A: CAR RACE [Daytona 500, e.g.]
59A: HORSE AROUND [Engage in tomfoolery … and a hint to what goes with each part of the answers to the starred clues, but not in the same way]

So, a confusing revealer explanation that took a bit to grok, but I enjoyed the theme when it did become clear to me: each themer could have the word HORSE at the front of the first word or the back of the second word. So HORSE is going AROUND the themers: HORSE PLAY + CLOTHES HORSE, HORSE WHIP + SAW HORSE, etc. Not bad! I’m not as excited about HORSECAR (?), but all of the other themer word + HORSE combinations are strong.

#includemorewomen: What I wasn’t excited about in this puzzle was the “women are property of men” clues/answers: [Sultan’s group] for HAREM and [Beatle bride] for ONO. Yikes! I was pleased, at least, to see that [Actress Longoria] and [“Curious George” creator … Margaret] were allowed to be clued with respect to their own accomplishments. Even still, there are way more men than women in the grid or clues: John CLEESE, Dickens / BOZ, Michael CHE, “Papa Bear” HALAS, Ray Charles, Hans REYS, ARI Shapiro, NEHRU, Steven CHU, FRERES, and Arthur ASHE. Some nice diversity amongst those men, but the stark contrast in men vs. women in the grid can’t not be mentioned.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday #491″—Judge Vic’s write-up

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword solution,11 19 18, “Themeless Monday #491”

What a cool indie puzzle! Took me close to half an hour to complete, using my smartphone’s Crosswords app. Here are several clue-answer combos that made psychic indentations as I was solving:

  • 17a [Offerer of package deals] UPS STORE—I participate in lots of package deals at a UPS Store in my neighborhood.
  • 20a [Game whose outcomes flip constantly REVERSI—Had not heard of this game. At a site dubbed Math Is Fun, it is written, “Also called ‘Othello,’ this game has millions of people addicted.” I wish marketers would not use that last word as a promotional brag.
  • 33a [Dell rival] ASUS—Had not heard of Asus Tek Computer Inc. Have now!
  • 35a [Company morale] ESPRIT—I have a love/hate relationship with esprit. I was taught half a century ago that it had no existence outside the phrase esprit de corps, a French phrase (that had found its way into English) meaning, essentially, a commonly-shared honor-based enthusiasm among members of a group. I learned it at a summer camp when I was 13; the teacher was a college-age counselor; the context was team spirit that was supposed to somehow transcend the context of mere athletic competition. In one online dictionary, esprit de corps is expressly listed as a definition of esprit, the other being “vivacious cleverness or wit.” I’ve never heard it used in the latter way—i.e., as a synonym for wit. Hmm … BEQ’s clue is non-objectionable. and my original point is too complicated to explain.
  • 38a [Some risky bids] NO-TRUMPSNo-trump is the only plural of no-trump. I think. In the phrase no-trump bid, it’s an adjective. In the phrase a bid of two no-trump, it’s a noun. And, as I recall from my bridge days, there is nothing inherently more risky about bidding no-trump than bidding clubs, diamonds, hearts, or spades.
  • 42a [Director Kusama] KARYN—Had not met this name before.
  • 43a [Wrap from a truck] GYRO-Love this clue! Adept misdirection.
  • 45a [Doo ___] (hair care company) GRO—Had not met this brand before.
  • 57a [It sank during Cuba’s War of Independence] THE MAINE—This cost me several minutes, as I confidently inserted USS MAINE, with the result that surrounding entires were reluctant to reveal themselves.
  • 59a [“What you see is what you get,” on Instagram] NO FILTER—Clever, I thought. Very clever!
  • 13d [Perceive by sight and sound, e.g.] SENSATE—This is an underused word. Will you join me in making a point of using it this week?
  • 29d [With everything considered] IN SUM TOTAL—Yes, people say this, but, imo, there should be a tag to indicate that when they do, they are repeating themselves over again redundantly.
  • 31d [Awaits a whooping] IS IN FOR IT—In the South, we say “whuppin’.”
  • 35d [Event that calls for ticker tape?] EKG TEST—There’s precedent for this phrase, but imo, no one would ever say “electrocardiogram test.”
  • 39d [Isn’t bullshitting] MEANS IT—Yeah, baby!

Super-challenging themeless. Very enjoyable!

4.7 stars.

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21 Responses to Monday, November 19, 2018

  1. Whelm, actually, Jenni, it can be used either as the Middle English meaning as seen in the puzzle, or, more modernly, as a state between unimpressed and overcome with emotion. It’s also where 14th century mansplainers got their water.

    • Noam D. Elkies says:

      LOL re ‘splainers. Turns out Shakespeare used “whelm” once(*), as against six “overwhelm” instances reported by the same online concordance at . Going by Google’s Ngrams, the coinage “underwhelm” didn’t catch on till about 1960.


      (*) Merry Wives of Windsor [II, 2] 927-929:

      This punk is one of Cupid’s carriers:
      Clap on more sails; pursue; up with your fights:
      Give fire: she is my prize, or ocean whelm them all!

  2. Mark Abe says:

    Let’s see…we have a cheese at 3D, a “Big Cheese” at 4D, where pasta originated at 19A, a donut at 27D, some pasta sauce at 31D, and a Greek sandwich at 57A. I was just wondering if Mr. Hilger was late for dinner when he created this puzzle!

  3. Dr. Fancypants says:

    ORFF on a Monday? Yikes.

    • Art Shapiro says:

      Guess I respectfully don’t agree. Isn’t Carmina Burana a staple of the orchestral repertoire? Anything else by Orff would qualify as obscure, but this one is a “biggie”.

      Surely we don’t expect Monday-level solvers to only be familiar with proletarian garbage such as movies.


      • Noam D. Elkies says:

        You say bu-ray-na, I say bu-rah-na;
        You say car-mye-na, I say car-mee-na.
        Bu-ray-na, bu-rah-na; car-mye-na, car-mee-na . . .
        Let’s call the whole thing ORFF.

  4. David L says:

    Is BOFFO really a Broadway term? I thought it was Hollywood Reporter slang.

    Nice puzzle.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      On Twitter, Brian Cimmet (Lollapuzzoola co-creator, musical theater guy by profession, sister who’s performed on Broadway) says BOFFO is decidedly not a Broadway term.

      Maybe Variety or Hollywood Reporter?

  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Loved Natan’s New Yorker puzzle today! Enjoyed the mix of scholarliness and contemporary pop culture.

    • David L says:

      I liked it too, mostly, but DNF because I had no idea about ACCIO (the Harry Potter thing) or BONE (malar and vomer sounded like Spanish verbs to me) and didn’t know CARE work — could have guessed it eventually, I suppose, but I mentally ran through HARD work and even YARD work (!) without hitting on the right answer.

    • Doug says:

      I like Natan’s style, but not this particular puzzle, which struck me as a trivia-fest aimed at a rather narrow musical demographic (i.e., stuff I had no clue about). Oscar Romero, btw, while certainly a social activist, did not consider himself an advocate of liberation theology; his activism was non-violent and based in a very traditional theology.

      • Zulema says:

        I very much agree with DOUG about the very narrow musical demographic in the New Yorker puzzle which I could not solve even with the help of many crosses. It was one of the worst for me.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        If you’re using “rather narrow music demographic” to refer to rap, you should know that hip-hop is pretty dominant on the Top 40 these days. Can’t get much broader than “popular music.”

  6. janie says:

    to accompany natan’s terrific puzz, here’s a terrific new yorker article about donald glover (CHILDISH GAMBINO):


  7. Penguins says:

    TNY was a trivia train wreck. How a puzzle like that gets accepted is beyond me.

    • Zulema says:

      I have to agree with Penguins. This is my second comment here on it today, when I was still attempting to wrestle with it. This is Tuesday.

  8. dj says:

    NYT puzzle – What’s a “green” movie? What’s a “fluid” movie? What am I missing??

    • Jenni Levy says:

      The color of money is “green.” The shape of water is “fluid.” It’s taking the titles very literally.

  9. Victor Fleming says:

    So inspired am I by Joon’s write-up of Natan’s New Yorker puzzle that I vow to start doing one puzzle a week reading only half the clues. I shall start with the Monday New York Times. I ultimately loved Natan’s New Yorker, but it took me 45 minutes over three sittings. And lots of wrong guesses–e.g., SEMANTICS seemed so certain at 1a that I abandoned the gimme IBM at 4d and tried to think of some other Watson. After getting POLYAMORY, I decided that 53d had to be RAP. And with everything filled in except the crossings of AC?IO/?ARE and CO?/CHILDIS?AMBINO, I was reduced to going through the alphabet and trying every letter. That all translates into a challenging puzzle for my skill level. Bring it!

    • Victor Fleming says:

      P.S. – I’ve agreed to review next week’s New Yorker to give Laura the day off. I’ve decided to download the puzzle right after midnight, so I can solve it in time to post the review before dark.

  10. Dele says:

    In the LAT puzzle, 3D TRADE WAR and 38D BACKPACK are also theme entries.

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