Monday, April 8, 2019

BEQ untimed (Jim Q) 


LAT 4:23 (Nate) 


NYT 3:07 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 6:10 (joon—downs-only) 


Universal untimed (Judge Vic) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Tracy Gray and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword — Jenni’s writeup

NYT • 040819 • Mon • 8 Apr 2019 • Gray, Chen • solution

A quick one tonight because I just got home from a delightful weekend away and have to do laundry.

I didn’t suss the theme until I got to the revealer, and it was more of an “oh, yeah” than an “aha!” moment. We have four sets of intersecting circles within long answers.

  • 14d [Gathering just for guys] is a STAG PARTY.
  • 19a [Comedian who co-starred in “Ride Along” and “The Upside”] is KEVIN HART.
  • 45d [Lavish praise upon] is FAWN OVER.
  • 56a [Something a horse kicks with] is the HIND LEG.
  • 42a [Anonymous woman] is JANE DOE.
  • 43d is both the revealer and a theme answer, which is a neat trick. [Road sign that hints at what can be found three times in this puzzle’s grid] is DEER XING.

This is a terrific Monday theme. It’s accessible and easily understandable, and it’s also elegant. Each type of cervine is a separate word in the larger answer. Some are the first and some the second of each two-word phrase or name. All the answers are solidly in the language. It’s a nice, solid, fun theme.

Nothing else tonight except a new closing. What I knew in this puzzle because I have a teenager: Kevin HART. Emma adores his work.

Robert E. Lee Morris’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

You can almost hear Melissa Etheridge singing “Come to My Window” as you solve this puzzle:

4.7.19 LAT

4.7.19 LAT

17A: BIG PICTURE [Broad decision-making perspective]
25A: TWEET STORM [Social media barrage]
38A: CHESAPEAKE BAY [Home of many a blue crab]
51A: MEAL TICKET [Announcer’s voice, metaphorically]
63A: REAR WINDOW [Hitchcock classic, and a hint to 17-, 25-, 38- and 51-Across]

Nice theme! The revealer is fun, the themers feel modern/current, and the theme content takes up a healthy amount of grid space. Picture window, storm window, bay window, and ticket window. Strong set.

But as fun as the theme was, the puzzle suffers because of its shorter fill: a few too many acronyms (IOC ISP ASL DDS HMO) and some randomness (SOU MPS DAS HET TRW). A wise mentor once told me that no matter how strong the theme, a grid can quite often live or die as a result of the shortest fill. It gives you a lot of respect for people whose grids are consistently clean, especially when it comes to the shortest fill!


Christopher Adams’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Split in Two” — Jim P’s review

BREAK UP is the central revealer, clued [Split, and, in another way, what the starred answers do]. Each theme answer is a phrase in which one word ends in U and the next one starts with P.

WSJ – Mon., 4.8.19 – “Split in Two” by Christopher Adams

  • 20a [*2008 title animated warrior voiced by Jack Black] KUNG FU PANDA
  • 11d [*Fruits named for a region of France] ANJOU PEARS
  • 29d [*Dish often wrapped in Mandarin pancakes] MOO SHU PORK
  • 54a [*Tourist attraction at an elevation of 7,972 feet] MACHU PICCHU

Simple theme, but it’s effective with a great set of lively themers.

The pinwheel pattern of the theme answers means there aren’t any marquee non-theme entries, but the fill is clean throughout, and there are still some goodies. I especially liked “PINCH ME!” and LONG CON as well as AT ODDS, UNISEX, HOSTEL, and CRUSOE.

ODETS [“Waiting for Lefty” playwright Clifford] was the roughest piece of crosswordese in the grid, especially where it crossed ambiguously clued BID [Two hearts, for example]. But it was ultimately gettable.

And that’s all I have. A simple theme, but a good amount of sparkle livens it up. 3.6 stars.

Helen T. Verongos and Will Nediger’s Universal Crossword, “Many Happy Returns”—Judge Vic’s write-up

Helen T. Verongos and Will Nediger’s Universal Crossword, 4-8-19 solution

Correct me, someone, if I’m wrong, but this may be a debut for Helen, who I think is a senior staff editor on the Culture Desk of The New York Times. Anyhow, she and Will have come up with an interesting reversal theme. As I’ve done so much recently, I will again start with the reveal:

  • 61a [*What the starred answers do (Hint: Read them right-to-left!)] KCAB EMOC–So, we are now looking for things that come back.
  • 17a [*Metaphorical coin that returns at the worst moments] YNNEP DAB–Hmm. Seems to me the common proverb is that “A bad penny always turns up,” although explanations make clear that the concept is a recurrence, or return, of the disreputable person symbolized by the coin. I won’t quibble.
  • 23a [*Weapon that returns to its thrower] GNAREMOOB–No question here. A boomerang definitely comes back. or is supposed to. I never could learn how to throw one.
  • 36a [*Weed that returns when you mow it down] NOILEDNAD–Yep, you gotta hand-pull a dandelion, often twice or thrice, to keep it from coming back.
  • 52a [*Dog that returns with game] REVEIRTER–Well-trained retrievers do indeed some back with the game shot by their owners.

Clever! With other good fill to remark on:


Nice job. 4 stars.

Natan Last’s The New Yorker crossword—joon’s write-up

The New Yorker crossword, 04.08.19

greetings. joon here with the review of natan last’s new yorker crossword. this is a gorgeous 66-word grid with stair-stacked 13s across the middle, which made it more amenable to my downs-only solving style than some other grid patterns. as a result, i finished this one fairly quickly relative to some other new yorker puzzles (including others by natan). that central stack of MONTREAL EXPOS, KENDRICK LAMAR, and MORALE BOOSTER was a lovely foundation for the puzzle; getting the former from XP_S at the end was what really sent me on my way.

some things i didn’t know among the down entries:

  • {Feminist-satire Web site founded in 2013} REDUCTRESS. i did eventually remember this when i had RED__TRE_S, having seen the name but never taken much notice of it before. i suspect it’s something i’ve seen while scrolling through my facebook feed.
  • {Set schedules?} CALL SHEETS. this is a film industry term i wasn’t familiar with. a call sheet is a sheet informing the cast and crew where and when to report for a particular day of filming. i figured it was something like that, but i needed to piece it together bit by bit.
  • {___ Simpson, author of “Anywhere But Here”} MONA. didn’t know this novelist or this novel, but mona simpson is also the name of homer’s mom on the simpsons.
  • {Channels through which qi flows, to an acupuncturist} MERIDIANS. i was worried when i saw this clue that the answer would be uninferable, but it turned out to be a normal word with an unfamiliar definition rather than, say, a 9-letter chinese transliteration. phew.
  • {“Hammersmith ___,” live-album venue for Bruce Springsteen and Kate Bush} ODEON. didn’t know this venue or album, but there’s only so many things it could be. my first thought was ARENA, and that wasn’t far off.

one troublesome entry among the acrosses: {Ugly, to Ugarte} FEO. luckily, i knew the snowman was OLAF and not OLAV, but i still had to pause at FEO because it’s not a three-letter string i recognized as being a viable fill entry.

overall, i really liked this puzzle. natan’s voice comes through very clearly in both grid and clues, and he adeptly mixes cultural content from a wide variety of sources (the beatles, kendrick lamar, acupuncture, feminist satire, and the civil rights movement, to name just a few). good stuff, as usual.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword #512—Jim Q’s review

BEQ Themeless Monday #512 – 4-08-19–solution

One of those puzzles where once a solid foothold is found, the rest falls into place.

I found my foothold on the west side with SLOP and TENOR, then, being able to infer POINT for the latter half of 4-Down, the rest fell into place relatively quickly. I did feel accomplished by guessing OPEN MARRIAGE (great entry) off of the first A.

Not a lot of SLOP in this puzzle at all. Could’ve done without EDDA, but Crosswordese exists for a reason. And DESI being clued as something other than Lucille’s partner threw me way off.


  • 17A [Mailed?] IN ARMOR. What else could mail with a question mark mean?
  • 19A [Beatles song that John Lennon described as “more of Paul’s ‘granny music shit'”] OB-LA-DI, OB-LA DA. Ha! The list of other of Paul’s “granny music” is here.
  • 24A [Rightly or wrongly, in short] ADV. They’re both adverbs. D was the last letter in the puzzle that I filled in as I thought STRATA was the correct spelling for the crossing answer.
  • 62A [Back-breaking shift] HARD DAY. But a HARD DAY‘s Night… that’s another story. And it ain’t “granny music.”
  • 57A [Army pineapple] GRENADE. Not as yummy as it sounds.
  • 37A [“There’s no way of knowing!”] YOU NEVER CAN TELL. Surprised this wasn’t clued as the Chuck Berry song featured in Pulp Fiction

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18 Responses to Monday, April 8, 2019

  1. David A says:

    And the NYT sticks another cross along the bottom of the puzzle in black, too.

  2. Ben says:

    Excellent TNY today from Natan Last, as usual. In fact, for him I found it to be much smoother, with fewer obscure references (not that I mind those, necessarily – just an observation). 30A is a great clue/answer with accompanying article linked after the solve.

    Only spot of trouble was 17A — hadn’t heard of that term before, and the down clue was tricky enough to lead me astray.

    • Norm says:

      Different strokes for different folks. How is 30A a “great clue/answer”? It’s just a different category of trivia from 26A. Neither is great; they just are — and they’re typical of Natan’s over-reliance on names and obscure things, like 14D and 26D. This was actually a fairly easy puzzle, but far from excellent IMO.

      • e.a. says:

        not to mention 48a – never heard of it and it doesn’t appear to have charted

        • clamato8 says:

          e.a., It wasn’t a single, thus the lack of chart action. It was on heavy rotation on FM rock stations, though.

          • Splingle says:

            GLASS ONION is something gettable by nearly all Beatles fans. And, for better or for worse, it’s both more popular, and more inferrable, than, say, MADAM CJ WALKER …

            Norm’s comments, as usual, are pretty insipid — KENDRICK LAMAR is indeed great, both as recognized by the Pulitzer Committee and his millions of fans, and as an entry in any crossword, where hip hop stars are rarely given such a spotlight.

    • JohnH says:

      I’m finding it hellish as ever, with one proper name after another, in one case crossed by a foreign word I don’t know. I don’t know yet whether I’ll finish.

      I still just don’t get what TNY is thinking. It’s a magazine about sophisticated literature, arts, and politics. So why is it trying to hard in crosswords to show it’s about crap culture? (Oh, I did get the Beatles song, I guess a sop to my generation.)

      • JohnH says:

        All right. I finished it, with lucky guesses, but at the very least the whole SW quadrant (not just the SW corner) might as well have been in Hindi for all I knew. Yuck. Where’s the reward in finally guessing crossings in which both terms mean nothing?

  3. Ethan Friedman says:

    That was a terrific Monday. Lots of great fill

  4. Lise says:

    I was wondering whether last Wednesday’s AVCX will be reviewed today, now that the contest deadline is over (I think)? That was a fun puzzle. It would have been great even without a meta.

  5. Jeffrey K says:

    It may not be an intentional tribute, but today is the fifth anniversary of the first MONTREAL EXPOS game, which was played in New York. The Expos won 11-10.

  6. janie says:

    re: NYer — MONA simpson is also steve jobs’s sister… loved this puzz. ditto today’s NYT, which made for a particularly strong monday solve. imho. lotsa ZING.


  7. John Verel says:

    Don’t get BEQ 48a, ELS. Help.

    • GlennG says:

      In the back of “roll” we have 2 L’s, or ELS.

    • Ellen Nichols says:

      Roll back: Roll ends in two ELS. don’t feel bad, I had EBBS, and wondered who BARAH was, figured aBight was some nautical jargon.

      Oh well at least I got a triple dose of Beatles today. NYT, TNY, and BEQ clue.

      Plus the NYT is quite the menagerie if you add OTTER, GECKO & NEWT from the grid, plus hog, tom turkey, billy goat, Woodsy Owl, & I am the Walrus in the clues.

    • Norm says:

      ROLL is spelled ar-oh-el-el, so the BACK of ROLL is two ELS.

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