Monday, December 31, 2018

BEQ untimed (Vic) 


LAT 4:01 (Nate) 


NYT 2:56 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


The New Yorker 10-ish (Ben) 


Brian Thomas’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

Happy Last Puzzle of the Year!

This is a nice Monday theme. I figured it out early on and still enjoyed the revealer at the end. Not all the fill is as Monday-friendly as the theme.

NYT 12/31/18, solution grid

Each theme answer has OOO somewhere.

  • 17a [“You young people go ahead!”] is I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS.
  • 25a [Lack in energy] is HAVE NO OOMPH.
  • 44a F[orce to exit, as a performer] is BOO OFFSTAGE, which is not as common as the others but still not bad.
  • 58a [Traffic reporter’s comment] is IT’S A ZOO OUT THERE. My favorite of the four.

And the revealer: 65a [Another name for O3 (as appropriate to 17-, 25-, 44- and 58-Across?)] which is OZONE. Nice.

We have two 15s in the theme answers and four nice 8-letter entries: LAID ASIDEIMPLOREDWAIT HERE, and STEGOSAUR.

A few other things:

  • Two U-less Qs to start off with Q AND A at 1a and Q-TIP at 1d.
  • 18d [Kingly name in Norway] could be OLAF or OLAV; I always need the crossing.
  • Is anyone still doing TAE Bo, or does it just live on in crosswords?
  • 48a is [Broadway’s ___ O’Neill Theater]. Is the theater more famous than the eponymous playwright?
  • AUNT is a common word with a host of possible clues. Do we really need the reference to a racist stereotype at 46d with [___ Jemima]?

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: when I said some of the fill wasn’t Monday-friendly, I was referring to 40d [Scoundrel, in British slang]. I have never heard of a TOE RAG.

Lewis Porter’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Seize the Day” — Jim P’s review

The hidden word of the day is EVE (63d, [Day before that’s found in the starred answers]).

WSJ – Mon, 12.31.18 – “Seize the Day” by Lewis Porter (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [*Contrariwise] VICE VERSA
  • 21a [*Soothing lotion additive] ALOE VERA
  • 39a [*They’re followed by direct objects] TRANSITIVE VERBS
  • 53a [*Safety wear when boating] LIFE VEST
  • 60a [*Island nation west of Africa] CAPE VERDE

I find hidden word themes to be less and less interesting, especially when there’s no “reason” (a clever word or phrase) explaining why the word is hidden. (I should talk. I have a hidden word theme over at Universal Crosswords out today, but at least it has a revealing reason.) So this theme didn’t thrill me, even though the entries are solid enough.

I enjoyed the fill much more, though, with entries like SVENGALI, MAZEL TOV, SKIVVIES, TAROT CARDS, and SCUTTLE.

SVENGALI reminded me of the Seinfeld scene where Elaine mispronounces the word. Then, who should show up a few entries later but Julia Louis-Dreyfus herself in the clue for VEEP. Don’t know if that was purposeful or not, but it was fun.

Also, I recently had an encounter with TAROT CARDS (31d, [The Fool, The Hermit and The Hanged Man, for three]) in the puzzle app “Rusty Lake: Roots.” If you like your puzzles with a touch of the macabre, and you don’t mind creepy weirdness, you could do worse than any of the Rusty Lake games. (Seriously, they’re like Twin Peaks with puzzles.) Start with “Cube Escape” series since they’re free.

Back to the puzzle. What do you think of the bizarre entry BUTTLE (23d, [Work in a manor, facetiously])? Not one I’ve ever heard, but the word shows up in multiple dictionaries. It’s also in Urban Dictionary, but the definition is, uh, entirely different.

That’s about all I can muster. Three stars for the theme, 3.5 for the fill, which puts the whole affair at about 3.25 stars.

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

Ironically, this puzzle wasn’t a pain at all!

LAT 12.31.18

LAT 12.31.18

17A: NAGGING PAIN [Persistent ache]
23A: GLASS PANE [Window section]
48A: LIAM PAYNE [Heartthrob in the band One Direction]
57A: THOMAS PAINE [“Common Sense” author]

This puzzle was easy breezy and every bit as strong as you’d expect from a Burnikel puzzle. My only real challenge was filling in the PA_NE in the last two theme entries, but thankfully those crosses were easy enough. Oh, and INESSE and MSED, which were a bit tough for a Monday. Even with those, though, I sailed through this grid in one of my faster Monday times recently.

#includemorewomen: It can sometimes be lost behind the initials, but C. C. Burnikel is one of the most prolific woman constructors in CrossWorld – it matters that she consistently publishes fantastic grids! In this grid, she includes women like NIA Vardalos, TINA Fey, EDNA Ferber, and LARA CROFT. These women are outnumbered by the men in the grid for sure, but Burnikel has inspired so many women in the field that she certainly counts as fantastic representation/inclusion herself!

I hope each of you has a wonderful end to the year and a fantastic, prosperous, and fulfilling 2019!

Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword—Ben’s review

12/31 New Yorker — Anna Schectman

Happy Monday, all! It’s the last New Yorker puzzle of the year, after last week’s delightful series of puzzles themed around the year in culture.  Those felt a skosh easier than the New Yorker’s typical output, but that felt like a natural part of how the puzzles were themed, and I loved getting a great review of movies/books/etc. from earlier this year.

We’re not here to discuss those puzzles, though, we’re here to discuss the latest entry from Anna Shechtman.  This was a grid I needed to trust myself more on – I held back on putting in my first guess on a bunch of these clues because I didn’t have any crossings, only to come back when I did and find my intuition was correct.

An example: I figured 1A‘s “Twenty-first century Superman” was Henry CAVILL but waited until I had ABHOR and LPS (“Spinning supply”) going down to enter it in.

Google used to serve up this TWEE video for Peter Bjorn & John’s “Young Folks” if you searched “indie whistling song”

Other things I liked: horror villain (and gay icon, as the New Yorker highlights as this weeks’ post-puzzle clue) The BABADOOK, SCREEN TIME, HOMEBODIES (though I disagree with the notion that they’re necessarily ANTISOCIAL, as its linked clue in 23D suggests), radical SELF CARE, I Dream of JEANNIE, and “TIFFS, e.g.” cluing IMAGE FILES instead of FILM FESTS like I initially tried to make work despite not having enough letters for the grid.

Your “Pope of Mope” and mine, MORRISSEY

4.25/5 stars

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword #497—Judge Vic’s review

BEQ Themeless Monday No. 497 solution, 12-31-18

This one for me was a bear. Finishing in just under 30 minutes, I found I had numerous errors, as expected. I had no idea on 1a [Irish country club] SHILLELAGH even after getting SCATHE, HIREON, INMATE, LEANS, and GLEN. Make of that what you will: I’m a moron, or it was a tad too hard. Maybe a little of both.

Some of the clues upset me, but that could be because I was a bit pressed for time. 19a [Parlour cup] I thought should have been “cupful” or the like. As worded, the clue touted me off of TEA.

37a [Short person’s condition] had me searching for a noun. The answer, NO MONEY, is not a noun.

57a Water event with a board POOL DIVING–I got diving, but would never have inserted pool had it not materialized from the crossers.

10d [Uncompromising adherences], as a clue for HARD LINES, just makes me want to say that there’s something wrong somewhere. What is an adherence? My adherence to a hard line is not the hard line itself, is it?

And these I just didn’t get:

32d [Splinter group, briefly] TMNT

[36d [Tender parts?] COAL BINS

In fairness, I really liked some of this puzzle:

  • 15a Character who didn’t wait for the other shoe to drop CINDERELLA
  • 17a Piece broker? ARMSTRADER
  • 20a 1988 U.S. Small Business Persons Of The Year winners BEN AND JERRY–Though, I’d not have capitalized of and the.
  • 5a. Comic actor who starred in “The Post” BOB ODENKIRK
  • 13d 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Music winner NED ROREM–Who knew?
  • 31d Country club regular COURSEPRO–I haven’t played enough golf lately.

4.0 stars.

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29 Responses to Monday, December 31, 2018

  1. Penguins says:

    Can a Monday NYT get any better than this one?

  2. Mike Drury says:

    First NYT theme answer immediately put to mind a less family-friendly phrase ending from Lethal Weapon, ha. Fun Monday to end 2018. Happy New Year everyone!

  3. Steve Manion says:

    LA Fitness has Zumba classes every day, along with Yoga. Power Circuit, Spinning, Pilates and a few others on selected days. You could do almost all the classes on any given day by going to different clubs. Some of the classes have martial elements similar to Tae Bo, but you can’t call the class Tae Bo without permission and paying a royalty, so very few if any do. Tae Bo peaked in the late ’90s. Zumba, which is basically dancing, is very popular especially for women.

    Fun Monday puzzle.


  4. Lise says:

    The word BUTTLE appears occasionally in works by P. G. Wodehouse, which is where I first saw it. I love his books.

    Happy New Year, everyone!

    • JohnHaber says:

      I kept going back to this one, rechecking crossings many times, sure I must have a mistake, somewhere. And then I came here to find out what I’d done wrong. It didn’t even occur to me that it might be a word in the dictionary rather than my mistake or a neologism I hadn’t caught up with.

  5. Alan D. says:

    FYI, there is a new New Yorker today.

    • Lise says:

      Got it, thanks! I’m done except for two Naticks. It’s time to look some stuff up. Overall, I liked it and it was an enjoyable solve.

      • Alan D. says:

        I hope someone reviews this. I, too, am Naticked in a couple of places.

        Naticked…this term always cracks me up. I live three towns from Natick so this is always a source of amusement!

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Thanks for the reminder. Header updated.

    • JohnH says:

      I just don’t enjoy TNY’s reliance on trivia one bit, like ROMO, CUSEC, CAVIL, CABO, and BABADOOK. At least I could guess the last one, since while Baba Doom sounded more potentially horrifying, no one would say 1 M for a mile, and a 1 meter race would be awfully short indeed. (For Cher and Tracy C. musically, I was hoping “tone deaf” or “boring” would fit, but alas no.)

      • Ben Smith says:

        With perhaps the BABADOOK clue (which pulls from Twitter/internet meme-ing of the villain into iconhood) and CUSEC, which is a more obscure unit of measurement (only two previous uses pop up on Crossword Tracker, both the NYT), I don’t see what qualifies this fill as “trivia”.

        Henry CAVILL has portrayed Superman in 3 films since 2013. Tony ROMO has, as the clue for 30D points out, been the Dallas Cowboys quarterback for a long time. CABO has popped up in multiple other venues, frequently clued in similar ways to the clue that popped up today.

        Also: Cher, boring? Are we thinking of the same Cher?

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Ben, I think John defines trivia as “anything I didn’t know and therefore it can’t be worth knowing.”

          Tony Romo is retired, though. He’s a TV commentator now. (We crossword editors have to know the career status of our 3- and 4-letter celebrities.)

          • JohnH says:

            Thanks, but I won’t go back to the comic book heroes I dropped when I was 10, and I won’t start following football to solve crosswords. Maybe other solvers should expand their vocabulary, watch decent movies, keep up with current events and issues, or (I know it’s hard) read a book.

          • JohnH says:

            Also, my first thought on Tony ROM_ was Tony Roma, the fast food chain, not that I’ve ever been in. And it certainly sounded plausible that the chain was begun by a sports figure.

            But more generally, just why should I have known without a crossing? Does that make me incurious? I’m interested in politics, history, literature, philosophy, and mathematical foundations of science. I’m editing physics texts and reading Balzac this week in French. I try to expand my vocabulary every day. Do you? So just why should I care that much about crap culture other than to solve crossword puzzles?

          • JohnH says:

            Or, one last attempt, if it’s in the dictionary or part of shared heritage, you had better learn it. If it’s not, and it’s a fact out of the paper’s sports or style section, it’s trivia by definition, and it needs crossings. No more, no less.

          • JohnH says:

            I’m sorry, Amy, but this is really getting at me. I’m also an arts writer, and part of my mission is to break down the distinction between fine art and design, as well as to broaden the field so as to demand attention for blacks and women.

            This isn’t about the open minded vs. those closed minded to facts. It’s about the open minded vs. those trapped in a tiny bubble of Star Wars and Harry Potter.

            • Amy Reynaldo says:

              Please don’t say “blacks” when “black people” or “black artists” is scarcely more effort.

            • Lois says:

              Here’s a source for Amy’s chiding, which is not the first thing you see online. (Check out some of the others with different guidance.) See item 4. I don’t know whether this is analogous to “Jews” and “Jewish people,” but I’ve seen a similar controversy regarding usage of terms for my people and so far I prefer “Jews.”

        • Norm says:

          Unusually (as far as my limited experience reaches) for a Shechtman puzzle, this one was rather free of trivia and academic esoterica, but I still have to question crossing an actor’s name with a not-that-common French word. I’ve learned my terre and heure and such over the years, but verre? No. I don’t care whether or not anyone views Cavill as trivia, but that kind of cross pisses me off. YMMV. Good for you.

  6. haari Meech says:

    re: NYT as for TOE RAG… give Clapton’s “My Father’s Eyes” a listen…

    • Gareth says:

      Anyone else want TOSSER? Which has a more vulgar origin, although the NYT has used words with similar origins before (presumably because they weren’t known) so wasn’t completely sure I was wrong…

  7. Mike says:

    Toe rag was what the poor people, who could not afford socks wrapped their feet in. Thus a toe rag is about as low as you can get in both senses of the word

  8. David L says:

    I liked the NYT, although I thought the clue for TWEE was grammatically off — sensibility is a noun and twee is an adjective. But perhaps I am misinterpreting somehow.

    I watched the first half hour or so of the BABADOOK some while back, but then quit — not because I was deathly scared but because I was bored. Nothing much was going on except some yarn about a young girl and her tiresomely neurotic-seeming momma. I never did go back to see how it all went down.

  9. Aura says:

    Love me some BEQ, but today’s is so heavily reliant on proper nouns – some incredibly obscure – that the fun factor drifts to the negative side of the gauge.

  10. Lise says:

    Thanks for the New Yorker review! I was Naticked (should I capitalize that?) at 1A/1D. I have not seen the films, alas, and although I took lots of physics in engineering school, and taught HS physics for five years, this is my first encounter with CUSEC. If it appears again, I am ready. Bring it on.

    My other natick (lower case for variety) was at ROSA/BABADOOK. I should have guessed this; BABADOOK does have a certain ring to it. Other choices for the A were E and Y (although Y seemed a little far-fetched) and I didn’t look any of this up – just too busy with the annual Putting Away Of The Christmas Decorations So That In February I Can Find The One That I Overlooked.

    • RunawayPancake says:

      TNY- Hey, Lise. I stumbled in that NW corner, too. Too naticky for my ability. Didn’t know CAVILL. Just don’t watch many (any?) comic book movies. Consequently, I was lost when it came to CUSEC and VERRE.

  11. Penguins says:

    The problem with the CUSEC/VERRE/CAVILL cross is that it requires specialized knowledge to complete, other crosses can’t help. As I’ve put forward before, “trivia” (stuff that isn’t commonly known) isn’t a problem in itself, it’s its placement and amount.

  12. Douglas says:

    Re: BEQ 32d [Splinter group, briefly] TMNT…Splinter is a character in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
    [36d [Tender parts?] COAL BINS. A tender is a coal car on a train. This puzzle stumped me too.

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