Monday, February 25, 2019

BEQ 13:48 (Jim Q) 


LAT 4:02 (Nate) 


NYT untimed (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 6:05 (Ben) 


Universal 6:51 (Judge Vic) 


WSJ 3:45 (Jim P) 


Peter Gordon’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

Peter Gordon on a Monday in the NYT means this is not blazingly hard. It’s a nice, solid Monday puzzle; an admirable construction with no tricky wordplay.

The theme answers are all linked. Wonder how many beginning solvers saw the link before the revealer?

NYT 2/25, solution grid

  • 19a [Proceeding well] is GOING SWIMMINGLY.
  • 39a [Place to bring aluminum cans] is the RECYCLING CENTER.
  • 59a [No longer in contention] is OUT OF THE RUNNING.

and the revealer at 66a: [Race suggested by 19-, 39- and 59-Across?] is a TRIATHLON. the SWIMMINGCYCLING, and RUNNING are in the standard triathlon order. Three 15-letter phrases that are solidly in the language with the required form of the necessary words: nicely done.

Speaking of triathlons, I was fascinated by this NYT article about a long-standing dispute over the ownership of the original Ironman.

A few other things:

  • I expect 1a to be a gimme on Monday. [The Cardinals, on scoreboards] could be either ARor STL. A glance at the clue for 1d told me it was STL.
  • 11d [“As if!”] is the charmingly archaic MY EYE.
  • 16a [To a sickening degree] is AD NAUSEAM, which I unfailingly try to spell NAUSEUM. That would be the museum no one wants to go to, I guess.
  • The closest we come to a Peter Gordon Trademark Very Long Clue is 41d [Fellow told to “hop on the bus” in Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”]. He was GUS. Stan had to make a new plan, and Roy didn’t need to be coy.
  • 68a is [Like a thermometer that’s put in the mouth]. Isn’t anything that’s put in the mouth ORAL?

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Bill NYE has a show on Netflix in which he apparently saves the world.

Here’s good ol’ Gus:

Paul Coulter’s Universal Crossword, “Name Change”–Judge Vic’s write-up

Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Hame Change,” 2/25/19, solutionThis puzzle is a drag.

The title suggests
a theme that rests
on the notion a name will be changing
And yet four clues
all Napoleon use;
but quite simply, there’s no rearranging.
What stays the same
is the very name
in the theme clues that holds the first spot.
So I thought, then,
the title we’ll amend
and call this crossword “Name Change–Not!”

(Yeah, I’ll be keeping the day job.)

  • 17a [Napoleon conflict] BATTLE OF THE NILE–Bonaparte here, 19th-century French emperor, who fought this famous battle.
  • 28a [Napoleon seller] PATISSERIE–Oblong pastry here, with filling. Non-capitalized. Non-ILSA answer that I’ve never heard anyone say in a normal conversation. Why not use PASTRY SHOP? It’s a tad livelier, no? And would impart to this puzzle a 4-2-2-4 symmetry of all phrases in the theme!
  • 44a [Napoleon book] ANIMAL FARM–Villainous Berkshire boar here, allegory of Joe Stalin. George Orwell’s creation. A significant character in Animal Farm.
  • 59a [Napoleon movie] THE MAN FROM UNCLE–Solo here, fictional Cold War-era American spy. Played by Henry Cavill in the 2015 film (screenplay by director Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram).

Paul surely looked for a fourth well-known person or creature with the handle Napoleon. I don’t think there is one. A Mental Floss article, “6 Things Named After Napoleon,” omits the pastry altogether! It cites Bonaparte’s son, the Animal Farm pig, the complex, a martini named for the complex, Solo the spy, and a controversial anthropologist I’ve never heard of. Good call, I guess, to stick with the pastry. Other items of note include:

  • 5a [Green car that’s often blue] PRIUS–Do Prius buyers choose blue more often than green?
  • 51a [Kind of city election] MAYORAL–Little Rock had a mayoral election last year. Hotly contested.
  • 1d [Jewish mysticism (var.)] CABALA–A variant of something I don’t know the preferred word for? Yuck!
  • 37d [Comedian Jerry] SEINFELD–This is the funniest answer in the puzzle. And the solver has to do the work by reminiscing. And I didn’t remember to, because I was speed-solving–ha-ha, that’s pretty funny, no?
  • 38d [“Green Eggs and Ham” nickname] SAM I AM–Seuss, in general, makes me smile, but this is a sterile clue-answer combo.

Only two clues end with a question mark, which signals wordplay or trickery. Neither is humorous in the least:

  • 53a Crash site? SOFA
  • 67a Cost of living? RENT

IMO, 5-10 clues ought to make the solver laugh or at least smile. Looking over the answers, I see many that could be clued with this in mind. But none that were. I don’t ask for much. Just a few chuckles.

2.5 stars.

Trent H. Evans’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bodily Harm” — Jim P’s review

Our theme is phrases that sound like damage is being done to a part of the body.

WSJ – Mon, 2.25.19 – “Bodily Harm” by Trent H. Evans

  • 17a [Anxiety-evoking close game, for example] NAIL BITER
  • 37a [Hilarious joke] KNEE SLAPPER
  • 43a [Extremely strenuous task] BACK BREAKER
  • 66a [Practical joker] LEG PULLER

There are actually quite a lot of these kinds of phrases (brow beater, tongue twister, spine tingler, etc.). I collected them myself for a puzzle I never built. These four make a fine set for a Monday morning wake-up call, although BACK BREAKER is usually seen as the adjective “back-breaking.” Oh, but there’s the actual BACKBREAKER wrestling move which, unlike the others, does actual bodily harm…presumably.

If I can beat 4 minutes on a puzzle, then I bet some of the speed demons around here might be able to do it in under two. That’s how clean and smooth this grid is.

GO BLANK, ANISTON, GRANDMA, and BEDBUGS are your highlights. NO LOOK [Like some tricky basketball passes] was the hardest bit of fill for me. That L was my last entry in the grid, but it’s fair.

Other than that, and IMPAIR instead of IMPEDE at 30a [Hinder], there wasn’t much of anything that IMPEDEd my progress. Maybe some of the pop culture names might throw people off (BRATT, KRIS, DERN), but they’re fair as well, in my opinion.

Good, clean, Monday puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

Is my smoke detector going off? Let’s check!

LAT 2.25.19

LAT 2.25.19

20A: FLAG OF IRELAND [Tricolor flier in Dublin]
27A: HIFI RECORDING [Quality sound reproduction]
42A: WHAT IF I REFUSE [“And suppose my answer is no?”]
50A: WHERES THE FIRE [“What’s your hurry?” … and a literal hint to what’s hiding in 20-, 27-, and 42-Across]

Before I even get to the theme, can we talk about some of the fill in this puzzle? Lately, I’ve been working on honing my solving skills using the Down clues only. Imagine my surprise as my solving experience with this puzzle started in the following way: 1D [Stubborn animal] is ASS, easy. 2D [Chickadee relative] … is TIT. What is this puzzle and whose breakfast test did it pass? Later on in solving, I got to 42D [Dog at a cookout] and threw my hands up at WEENIE. Who is trolling us? How did the constructor get these past the editors, all in the same puzzle?

Ok, onto the theme – each phrase hides the word FIRE, connecting nicely to the revealer of WHERE’S THE FIRE? The first and third themers felt a bit like green paint, but that didn’t detract too much from the solve. Some of the other fill was a bit meh, though: EMONEY? UH OH. ANIL? AH ME. SHADY clued as [Shielded from the sun] (which should be shaded)? AW MAN. All the same, a quick and ?! solve thanks to some otherwise smooth fill and those Down entries!

Elizabeth Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Ben’s review

New Yorker 2/25 — Elizabeth Gorski

It’s Elizabeth Gorski’s turn in the New Yorker rotation, and LET’S BE HONEST: this puzzle was smooth as silk, and I LOPED through it.  Here’s some of the highlights:

  • This week’s featured fill when you solve the puzzle: AVOCADO TOAST.  I understand the japery over this “Instagrammable food” — I’m never going to be able to buy a house, given my affinity for it, if some Australian millionare is to be believed — but it’s essentially breakfast guacamole, and who can be blamed for wanting to indulge in that?
  • Realizing the answer to “Monets and Manets, e.g.” was merely FRENCH ART was a little disappointing – I was expecting some sort of art movement to be the answer there, rather than just the country of origin.
  • GRAMMY clued as “You might get one for a song” was a very nice misdirect.
  • other pleasing across fill: PHISH, LENTO, USERNAMES, SCHOOL BUS (clued as “Coach for the minors?”), UMPIRES (“Ballpark figures”!), and AUCTIONED
  • On the downs: HOT MESS, BALONEY, WOKS, GO PRO (which I wonder if it had been originally clued as the camera brand rather than “Lose one’s amateur status”), and ASCENTS

This was a fairly GOOD SHOW for the New Yorker this week.  Lots of fun.

You can bet your sweet bippy (what is a bippy, anyways?) that the mere mention of Nine Inch Nails’ “Down IN IT” will cause me to look up their appearance on Dance Party USA.

4/5 stars

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword #506—Jim Q’s review

A somewhat segmented grid today, creating what felt like four mini-puzzles. Just-right level of difficulty for me with plenty of entries exercising inference skills.


  • 1A [Cartoonist term for using symbols in place of profanity] GRAWLIX.

    BEQ Themeless Monday #506 – 2-25-19–solution

    Never heard of this term, and needed all of the (fairly crossed) crosses. Fun entry into my vocabulary!

  • 32A [What teasers in the ’80s were known for] BIG HAIR. “Mom jeans” from the ’80s seem to be back in style with the young folks these days. When is that ’80s hair coming back?
  • 38A [2019 Best Director] CUARON. How’s that for a current clue? Looking forward to watching Roma!
  • 60A [Medium hurdle?] ESP TEST. If you’re into schadenfreude, I went down a rabbit hole of watching James Randi challenge people who claim to have ESP. It’s fun.



  • ALITA/ELLIOTS crossing. Hadn’t heard of either, though it appears that ALITA is currently in theaters. ELLIOTS as a plural (especially as clued) felt awkward.
  • PISSARRO. Needed all crosses.
  • SIGNS IN. Had SIGNS UP. Nope. Then SIGNS ON. Nope. With MINOR IN symmetrically opposite, I thought the first two had a better shot.   

Fun puzzle with some zing! 3.9 stars.

P.S. Apparently, you need not be a winner to flash a V-SIGN:

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10 Responses to Monday, February 25, 2019

  1. Jim Peredo says:

    Universal: Yes, there’s another Napoleon: [Napoleon slogan] = VOTE FOR PEDRO.

  2. Martin says:

    BEQ: MESOZOA is a great entry. These tiny organisms have confounded taxonomists for a century. We still don’t know if they’re more related to paramecia or earthworms. Yes, they’re parasites, but no threat to us. They live in the gonads of squids or starfish and prevent the reproduction of their hosts. We don’t even know if the squid gonad parasites are related to the starfish gonad parasites. Mesozoans are a great reminder that there’s still much to learn about how life evolved.

  3. DF says:

    Enjoyed the easy but elegant NY Times puzzle today, especially the clueing for 44-A.

  4. Ben says:

    Very much enjoyed the Universal! For an easy but still fun Monday, I thought Paul’s Napoleon theme was far more enjoyable than the triathlon thing in the NYT. It’s probably unfair to constructors, but I always look down on revealers that simply state the theme without any wordplay or anything. Even “Ironman” or something of the sort would have added a little something extra to the puzzle IMO.

    The New Yorker was good as always and fairly straightforward, though I struggled for a while in the NW corner. Other than that, the long acrosses went well for me, especially AVOCADO TOAST, which of course my Millennial brain was able to get immediately without any crosses.

  5. JohnH says:

    Looks like The New Yorker lacks a pdf again, instead again thinking it has one by including pdf in the URL. I find these too blurry to be worth printing out and solving, and I forget if there is an alternative to just waiting in hope that they fix it.

  6. Ray says:

    Beq Fun puzzle amazingly current with charon. Got Naticked by IleDe and grawlix.

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