Monday, December 3, 2018

BEQ 21 minutes (Vic) 


LAT 6:00 (Nate) 


NYT 3:02 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


The New Yorker untimed (Vic) 


Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

I like this puzzle, although it’s not as Monday-smooth as many of Lynn’s.

NYT 12/3, solution grid

There’s something similar about each theme entry.

  • 17a [Great Dane of animated cartoons] is SCOOBY DOO.
  • 24a [Result of overnight condensation] is MORNING DEW.
  • 38a [“Impossible for me!”] is NO CAN DO. Nice.
  • 50a [Words on returned mail] are  POSTAGE DUE.
  • 62a [Couple’s ballet dance] is a PAS DE DEUX. This one clanged a bit for me because I pronounce DEUX with the French vowel, which does not match the others.

Do bee do bee do….

A few other things:

  • Some fun with clues in the NW: 1a [Expressions of amazement] and 6a [Amaze] (GASPS and AWE, respectively). We also have 15a [Great Dane, e.g.] which gives us DOG just above DOO. I thought that might be a pattern, but no.
  • 11d [French play about a storied Spanish soldier] got me. I filled in EL CID and thought “I didn’t know that was French.” It’s not. The correct answer is LE CID. That one seems a bit much for a Monday.
  • 34d [Some down-ballot electees, informally] are STATE REPS. It’s important to vote on the whole ballot – state reps make decisions that directly affect us and being a state rep can be the start of a bigger political career.
  • 30d crossing 37a gives us COO and MOO. I find that amusing.
  • 46d [Like a probability curve with two peaks] is BIMODAL. We also see BIMODAL curves in the ratings of particularly tricky crosswords.

A solid Monday offering.

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

Tracey Goridmer’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Divas” — Jim P’s review

EGOCENTRIC is our revealer at 55a [Like divas, and like the names at 17-, 26- and 43-Across].

Each theme answer is a big-name woman with the letters EGO spanning their two names. I really enjoyed this theme because I didn’t know where it was going until I got the revealer. You don’t often have such a fun a-ha moment on a Monday, but I did this time.

WSJ – Mon, 12.3.18 – “Divas” by Tracey Gordimer (Mike Shenk)
  • 17a [“Blame It on the Bossa Nova” singer] EYDIE GORME. I wonder how many people under the age of, say, 45, know who she is (and how to spell that first name). But if you watched TV in the 70s, you’re aware of her. And if you’re older than that, then this was no problem.
  • 26a [1971 French Open and Wimbledon champion] EVONNE GOOLAGONG. Another name from the 70s with another unusually-spelt first name. But you can’t not love saying “Goolagong.” You just can’t! “Ms. GOOLAGONG, would you care for some OOLONG?”
  • 43a [Charlie Chaplin’s wife and “The Great Dictator co-star] PAULETTE GODDARD. This one goes way back, and this was certainly not a name I knew (I was thinking OONA, because crosswords). But all 15 crossers were fair.

I love the consistency in having all women as theme entries in keeping with the title. Not that I think women suffer more from egocentrism (quite the opposite), but it makes sense with the title. And since women are generally under-represented in puzzles, this felt really, really good.

The fill is way above AVERAGE as well. Okay, CAGINESS is rather blah, but I love TELENOVELA, “POOR DEAR,” ODD NUMBERS, ARIADNE, and that central vertical stack of GELATO, DOLORES, and OOLONG, even if it comes at the cost of ARNO. Oh, and MARIOS and DORIAN are representing for the men-folk.

All in all, a really lovely Monday outing with a surprising theme and beautiful fill, even if the names throughout are fairly dated. 4 stars from me.

Kurt Krauss’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

Put on your favorite Bee Gees record and settle in!

LAT 12.3.18

LAT 12.3.18

17A: BAGGAGE CAR [Passenger train’s suitcase carrier]
25A: BEGGED OFF [Turned down an invitation]
36A: BIGGER MAN [Guy acting more maturely]
50A: BOGGLE DOG [Cross between a Boston terrier or boxer and a beagle]
60A: BUGGY RIDES [Carriage outings]

I’m a sucker for themes like this – I love when language has these types of parallels. I’d never heard of BEGGED OFF or BOGGLE DOG, but Google tells me that they are things.

Zora NEALE Hurston

Zora NEALE Hurston

This puzzle took me a minute than LA Times Mondays usually do, partly because of a few pieces of tougher fill: ENNA, BRAGA, ISOLA, as well as the GENESEE/MOSE/ERTE section in the SE corner of the grid. Otherwise, the grid was largely smooth. I appreciated the inclusion of Zora NEALE Hurston, MEG Ryan, and Sonia BRAGA. Even things like AMNIO and cluing ERA with respect to a woman is a small but meaningful way to represent the contributions of women to society!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday #493″—Judge Vic’s review

Brendan Emmett Quigley Blog Themeless Monday solution 12-3-18

Here we have a 70-word themeless that did not crush my brain bones. Twenty-one minutes, roughly, with smooth sailing, save the intersection of two long answers I had never heard of:

  • 19a [Phrase said to a braggart who probably shouldn’t be bragging] WEIRD FLEX BUT OK and
  • 20d [Time of the Tokugawa shogunate] EDO PERIOD. I spent a good bit of time trying to answer 19a by thinking up a name to make out of WEIRD*BUT*. Finally, when I had all the other crossers for 20d, E, for EDO, was the only letter that made any sense. From a quick bit of research, I believe 19a, is really current. Kudos to the constructor for that one!

An uber cool puzzle, all in all, with the following positives, for sure:

  • 1a [Beat but good] SMASH UP
  • 52a [Monumento a la Independencia locale] CIUDAD DE MEXICO–Yet again, those Spanish courses from long ago were helpful.
  • 61a [Its Facebook page has a lot of cheesecake photos] SARA LEE–Great clue! I’m thinking that nobody won’t love it.
  • 3d [Settled a dispute] ARBITRATED–As opposed to litigated or mediated. Or possibly legislated.
  • 9d [Home for some drones] AIRBASE–I probably knew before, but had forgot, that AIRBASE and BEE HIVE both have seven letters.
  • 28d [Taking off on the Internet?] GOING VIRAL–Interpreting “Taking off” to suggest the concept of just starting, I quickly wrote in GOING CYBER, then injured my forehead when I realized what I’d done.
  • 36d [“Put a sock in it”] PIPE DOWN–This phrase has a great history, yet seems to be slipping away from us as time marches on.

I don’t suppose I can close without acknowledging 49a VIC, even though I’ve not heard of the guy in the clue, [Stand-up comic DiBitetto].

This puzzle gets from me a 4.5. Way to go, Brendan!

Kameron Austin Collins’s Monday New Yorker crossword—Judge Vic’s review

Joon is taking the day off, so I volunteered. By the time the opportunity arose, I had solved using both Across and Down clues. However, I did solve for 30 minutes with my left hand and 5 minutes with my right. You should try it sometime. I was stuck with 10-12 boxes open when I switched the pencil from one hand to the other. Within a minute, I started cruising. My last box was the crossing of 40a [Stanislaw who wrote “Solaris”] LEM with 41d [Capital of Equatorial Guinea] MALABO.

This I found to be a totally cool puzzle, a frequent opinion that I have when my brain is not overstrained. The left-right hand-shift at the point where I got stuck felt just about right: ah, balance! Among the entries that got my attention are:

Kameron Austin Collins’s The New Yorker crossword solution 12-3-18

  • 17a [Many used Buicks] LESABRES–I knew this answer immediately, and I’d like to think it was due to my parents’ owning many a LeSabre in my childhood.
  • 34a [Name for a Beethoven sonata from the German for “fortepiano”] HAMMERKLAVIER–I have no idea how I knew this answer, but when IER popped up after three easy crossers–25d KERI RUSSELL, 12d FRITO PIE, and 13d FREE BEER–I penciled it in with a weird sort of confidence.
  • 37d [Cell arrangement?] DATA PLAN–My right brain/left hand thought this was  surely RATE PLAN, but my left brain/right hand got it fixed in a hurry. Either way, it’s a fabulous clue.
  • 60a [Like a high-quality, uncorrupted digital file] LOSSLESS–The first hand got this one to L?SSLESS; the second one solved the problem logically with an O.
  • 34d [Indiana player] HARRISON–First hand was scanning the sports teams (Hoosiers, Colts, Pacers) when the other one saw the movie angle. Nice misdirection.
  • 26a [Figure] and 49d [Figures] turned out ot be SPEC and STATS, and for some reason I thought this was clever.

I hope the rest of you enjoyed it as much as I did. 4.5 stars. Nice work, Kameron!

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11 Responses to Monday, December 3, 2018

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: It was my fastest time, and felt really smooth to me. My only nit is that DEUX, to me, is pronounced completely differently from the rest. Closer to DUH… If we’re being francophile enough to have LE CID, then the Deux sound should be more authentic– and thus would not fit the theme. I realize I may be in the minority here.

    LE CID is a play written by the 17th Century playwright Corneille. It is considered his finest work, although some saw it as inappropriate at the time, because it had comedic elements. We learned entire scenes by heart as part of our high school curriculum in classical French literature. I can still spout out: “Rodrigue as tu du coeur?”– Rodrigo, do you have courage?

    Like many plays by Corneille and Racine, it was inspired by previous classical works, in this case a Spanish play. El Cid (or El Seed or El Sayed) in Arabic means the lord or master. It’s a title that the Arabs gave the Spanish leader Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar in the 11th century.

    Pretty amazing what sticks from decades ago…

    • Seth says:

      I bet you’re not in the minority. And I feel the same way. DEUX doesn’t rhyme, straight up. I’m kind of disappointed it made it in. It’s such a simple theme, so either do it 100% perfectly or don’t do it at all.

      • seahedges says:

        No question about it : DEUX is indeed phonetically dissimilar to its theme-mates in a puzzle that is otherwise, to use John Milton’s phrase, smooth, easy, inoffensive. Fun Monday.

  2. mary says:

    Jenni, don’t know if you recall this old joke (I cannot remember from whence it came):

    Found written on a bathroom wall:

    “To be or not to be.” –Shakespeare
    “To do is to be.” –Sartre
    “Do be do be do.” –Sinatra

  3. Ethan says:

    Today in stacking coincidences: ASTRO Jetson and SCOOBY DOO were voiced by the same guy. I’m surprised ASTRO got a baseball clue. Maybe if Astro had also been a Great Dane.

  4. BEQfan says:

    I post here on occasion as BEQfan, and as the name implies, I am. I often admire BEQ for his little jabs that really make you want to scream at him. Today, in deference to the reviewer, I have to interpret what he calls “really current” as “infuriatingly obscure.” And to think that it isn’t, is a sign of WAY too much leisure time spent surfing on the internet, which could easily be replaced with a good game of Angry Birds 2 (I know — seven years ago,maybe).

    Congrats to BEQ — on another excellent puzzle, and another frustrating entry for me!

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