Monday, April 22, 2019

BEQ 9:43 (Jim Q) 


LAT 4;50 (Nate) 


NYT 3:01 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 10:51 (Ben) 


Universal 5:00 (Jim Q) 


WSJ 4:03 (Jim P) 


My apologies for missing the LAT post yesterday – I added it to the Sunday writeup.

Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword — Jenni’s writeup

Tennis, anyone? Tennis, everyone!

NY Times crossword solution, 4/21/19, no. 0421

  • 17a [Tennis with dad?] is POP SINGLES. At first I thought this was a play on some kind of base phrase, and then as I solved the puzzle I realized it was a tennis spin (!) on a standard phrase – except that POP SINGLES isn’t really a standard phrase. I presume it refers to single song releases, which are just SINGLES. I don’t hear people say “POP SINGLES.”
  • 23a [Losing tennis player’s prayer?] is GIMME A BREAK.
  • 37a [Dislike for tennis?] is CONTEMPT OF COURT.
  • 8a [“Wow, no wonder you’re playing such great tennis!”?] is WHAT A RACKET. I somehow don’t think the racket would help me hit like Serena Williams.
  • 59a [Lose every set of a tennis match 6-0?] is FALL IN LOVE.

And a bonus: 51d [“Let” and “Fault,” from a chair umpire] are CALLS.

The weakest theme entry is 17a, which is a shame, because it sets the tone for the puzzle and the rest of the theme is so much better.

A few other things:

  • I’m not a big fan of cross-references, and two of them in a 15 x 15 is too many. SARA LEE and BACK NINE could be clued as four separate words.
  • I do like the two long downs: INSERT COIN and ACT NATURAL. 
  • 26a [In a trite way] is BANALLY. I guess.
  • Also not a huge fan of FITB clues, but [“___ making myself clear?”] might be preferable to yet another French-friend clue for AMI.
  • 34d [Like Christmas decorations and some juries] is HUNG.

Vaguely tennis-related factoid (or straight-up theft from Ade’s “Sports WILL Make You Smarter”): Sunday’s NYT Book Review includes an interview with Abby Wambach, who says that Andre Agassi’s memoir “Open” gave her the freedom to write her own story.

And the answer to 59a gave me an earworm. Why should I suffer alone?

(the first video I found had the title as “Author’s Theme.” Proofread, people)

Victor Fleming’s Universal Crossword, “Present and Past”—Jim Q’s write-up

The judge has recused himself from a critique of today’s Universal. I badly want to use the word ENBANC in some sort of pun right now, but I’m sure I’ll flub the meaning… so let’s just say it’s his puzzle.

Universal crossword solution * 4 22 19 * “Present and Past” * Fleming

THEME: Wacky entries are created by adding the present tense of a verb (found in the base phrase) to the beginning. I found that much harder to articulate than it should’ve been.


  • 17A [Glimpse woodcutting facilities?] SEE SAWMILLS.
  • 11D [Get amazing prizes?] WIN WONDERS.
  • 28D [Really like baseball shelters?] DIG DUGOUTS.
  • 63A [Abide weariness?] BEAR BOREDOM.

“Dagnabbit!” I feel like I made every mistake I possibly could in this puzzle. Including my initial answer for “Dagnabbit!” (I had DARN instead of DRAT). OLDEST for ELDEST, MAIMED for HARMED, SONJA for SONYA, SURE for OH OK, and what felt like a host more. Plenty of gimmes to get me on track- (Thanks NIN Anais and Vietnamese New Year!).

Fun theme, though I didn’t fully grasp it until the end. I thought perhaps it was a “before and after” type theme with SEE SAWMILLS (Seesaw and Sawmills). Or perhaps a video game theme with DIG DUGOUTS. The title is key here: Present and Past. Silly me. Often when I don’t see the theme until the end, the puzzle doesn’t sit right with me… this was definitely more of a “I should’ve figured that out earlier than I did” kind of feeling. It’s unique and clever wordplay that I can’t recall seeing before, and I enjoyed the “Aha!”

With the word count maximized at 78, there are still enough ILSAs in there (that’s the judge’s term btw. “In-Language-Stand-Alone entries.”) to keep it lively. EGOMANIA, SLIP AWAY, ME TOO, I’M SET, and KEEP UP to name a few.

I am surprised that with only four 11-letter themers that the word count is as high as it is, leaving the middle section somewhat choked off.

But I’m always going to rule in favor of the judge.

Thanks, Vic!

4 stars from me.

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

4.22.19 LAT

4.22.19 LAT

Always excited to see a Burnikel Monday! Let’s see what she has in store for us today:

16A: FINAL TOUCH [Last bit of decoration]
34A: MUD FLAT [Coastal wetland often exposed at low tide]
10D: BLOWS SMOKE [Talks big]
26D: HI YO SILVER [Lone Ranger’s shout]
55A: SCREEN TIME [Amount of TV watching limited by parents, and a hint to the last word of the answers to starred clues]

A fun, strong, and clear Monday theme. Each themer ends with a word that can be combined with SCREEN: touch screen, flat screen, etc. I also liked the variety of theme answers – smoke screen and silver screen are certainly different than the iPad or TV screens we’re used to considering. Otherwise, the puzzle’s fill was pretty clean. I wouldn’t have initially spelled OKEY that way (maybe okie?), but the crossings were fair. In contrast, I did appreciate the timely SEDER in the puzzle!

Winston Emmons’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Call a Plumber!” — Jim P’s review

We have a LEAK at 73a: [Anonymous disclosure, and a problem at the end of each starred answer]. Each of the answers to the starred clues ends with a word that has to do with plumbing.

WSJ – Mon., 4.22.19 – “Call a Plumber!” by Winston Emmons

  • 20a [*Court player’s woe] TENNIS ELBOW
  • 41a [*Gentle punch] LOVE TAP
  • 60a [*Snare set by a zealous prosecutor] PERJURY TRAP
  • 11d [*Place for policy wonks] THINK TANK
  • 35d [*Item smoked ceremonially] PEACE PIPE

The revealer clue also says there’s a LEAK at the end of each answer, and I’m not seeing how that is represented. I guess those are all parts of a plumbing system that could LEAK? Maybe? But the wording would seem to indicate that there’s a drip or water draining from those words somehow, but I don’t get it. I may be overthinking it, but if there’s nothing else to the theme, then the wording of that revealer needs some adjustment.

Questions regarding the revealer aside, the themeset is nicely put together. Each keyword is changed in meaning more or less, and each entry is solid and interesting. I recently replaced a kitchen sink, so this puzzle brought back memories of that daunting task and my eventual LEAK-free success, so I’m good with both plumbing and this puzzle.

This is a nice grid, eh? I’m liking MELBOURNE, ALLIGATOR, ARARAT, GENOME, STINKO, and HANNAH. And for the most part, the short and mid-range fill felt clean as well.

Clues were Monday-straight, so there’s not much to comment on, but I found it interesting that at 43a [90 degrees from WNW] the Ns in the clue and the answer, NNE, all stand for North. That’s a slight dupe that we don’t usually see.

Overall though, a solid, clean Monday puzzle. 3.6 stars.

Kameron Austin Collins’ New Yorker crossword—Ben’s review

New Yorker 4/22/19 – Kameron Austin Collins

KAC has this Monday’s New Yorker puzzle and it was a chewy one, taking me about 3-4 minutes longer than the last few Monday puzzles, which was nice.  Let’s dig into what made this grid tick:

  • I kept trying to figure out if the Gilda Radner journalist would be ROSEANNE or ROSANNADANNA, and what that meant for the downs, but this grid was looking for the other journalist she played on SNL, BABA WAWA.  I love it!
  • Lots of nice long fill in this grid – TAKES TO HEART and DAGGERS DRAWN make for some nice across spans, WWE SUPERSTAR and BUTTERFLY NET create nice bridges going down, and (speaking of “bridges”), UNIBROWS (“They cross bridges?”), DISLIKES, MNEMONIC, MEXICALI, and ATTESTED create some lovely corners on this one.
  • “Where idols are covered” was a nice clue for TIGER BEAT – I kept trying to find a way for that to be American Idol-related (it’s still on!  ABC Sunday nights!), but teen magazines are another nice angle for that clue.

ONTARIAN Shania Twain, who did the whole country-pop crossover before Taylor Swift did

A great grid (seriously, just look at that grid pattern of black squares) from KAC, and a fantastic start to the week.

4.25/5 stars

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword #514—Jim Q’s review

I’m surprised I got through this one with a slightly better-than-average time, being that there was plenty I’d never heard of. Leave it to BEQ to broaden your vocabulary.


  • 30A [Actor who claims his middle name is “period”] MR. T. Fun clue.

    BEQ Themeless Monday #514 – 4-22-19–solution

  • 20D [Gym refresher] HOT SHOWER. I had ?OWE? at the end and figured it had to be some kind of TOWEL.
  • 44A [Snot] BOOGER. Yuck. It appears that the LA Times once clued this as [Nasal nugget]. That’s hilarious.
  • 6D [Children’s theater supporter?] STAGE MOM. “Supporter” and “Annoyer” are often interchangeable in this context.
  • 17A [Human resources nono] AGE BIAS. Wanted AGEISM- had never heard of it referred to as BIAS. Makes sense though.
  • 19A [Person who is literally THE WORST] GARBAGE HUMAN. This phrase is entirely new to me, though largely inferable. Looks like it has its origins from a panel at Vidcon:

The east side of the puzzle was much more difficult for me. Seemed like a lot of proper nouns intersecting.


  • 11D [Sportscaster who anchors the Masters] JIM NANTZ. One of those “on the tip of my tongue” names. Not confident enough to type in NANTZ.
  • 26D [“Ficciones” author] BORGES. I’ve seen it before, but can never get it to stay in my memory.
  • 47A [Guilbeaux of “Queer Eye”] JESS. Thought I’d be looking for a male name. The J was my last letter to fill in, especially crossing the unfamiliar London fashion house JAEGER.
  • 64A [“.00”] NO CENTS. Had trouble with this one mainly because “No cents” doesn’t strike me as a stand-alone phrase.
  • 62A [Shelving unit] ETAGERE. Sounds fancy.

It’s a credit to the constructor that I was able to infer all the things I didn’t know. Still, I like it better when I’m somewhat more confident with my answers.

3.5 Stars.


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19 Responses to Monday, April 22, 2019

  1. Ethan says:

    So, I’m not a guy who watches a lot of tennis. So I wasn’t very familiar with the term BREAK. I Googled “tennis break” and I learned about “break point,” which sounds sort of familiar, but it seems that break point is an advantage for the player who is ahead. So I don’t understand the 23A clue, which is “Losing tennis player’s prayer?”

    Also, I understand that you can break your opponent’s serve, but is an instance of breaking a serve really ever just called a “break”?

    • Victor Fleming says:


    • Jenni Levy says:

      I understood the prayer to be “let me break my opponent’s serve.” And yes, it is called “a break.” To expand on Vic’s response: commenters will generally say “she’s up a break” meaning that the player in the lead has broken her opponent’s serve once more than her opponent has broken hers. It’s a common usage.

    • Steve Manion says:

      In a tournament like Wimbledon, which has fast grass courts, breaks are rare, especially for the men. Sets are frequently won 7-6 with neither player getting a service break and the set being decided by the tiebreaker format. The final set has to be won by two games (say 8-6), but one famous final set between Isner and Mahut was decided 70-68. Isner, who is around 6′-9″, has an incredibly powerful serve, but is merely good, not great, in the rest of his game. He was also involved in a recent marathon final set against Kevin Anderson, which has prompted a rule change that if the final set reaches 12-12, the match will switch to a tiebreaker format.


  2. John says:

    Bruce Haight comes out with the best puzzles. Always looking forward to more from him!

  3. Jessica vu says:

    I never go online to rate things, but this puzzle is outstanding. Very witty. very clever. like to see more like this

  4. Janelle G. says:

    I loved this puzzle. Now that I’ve done two of Bruce’s crosswords, I get that he likes puns. Even though I’m not a tennis player, I found this fun to solve now that I have some idea what to look for in the clues.

  5. Ethan Friedman says:

    POP SINGLES felt solidly in the language to me. That was a pleasure of a Monday.

  6. Victor A Fleming says:

    Thanks, Jim, for the nice review and for promoting my effort to get ILSA in the dictionary. As for having 78 answers, more often than not, having the maximum number of answers allows the highest quality of fill.

  7. CR says:

    TNY and WaPo Sunday have become the puzzles I most look forward to every week. TNY generates fresh fill with smart clues resulting in a near perfect challenge level. Occasionally, I get stuck, and today I spent the last 4-5 minutes working out the JACOBITE corner. But I still got there without error check or Google. Also worth mention, SUB did not immediately jump to mind as dom’s partner. A slightly edgier clue/answer. (Paolo Pasco has a variation on this pairing in his most recent blog puzzle.)

    I had the same reaction to the WSJ puzzle today. Where’s the LEAK? A rephrasing of the clue would have been the right fix. Unless, I’m completely missing something.

  8. Norm says:

    Can you really “insert [a] coin” to play a game in an arcade these days? I would have thought it takes a credit card or an I-wallet swipe or even a token. A coin?

  9. Marcus says:

    TNY today was so out of my wheelhouse. I had to look up so many things just to get footholds that it felt more like a test than a puzzle. Not that it’s a bad puzzle, but too obscure to be fun for me.

  10. Richard Zinar says:

    With regard to today’s New Yorker puzzle, can someone shed light on the answer (DAD) to 36D? Probably some bit of Internet slang or an acronym I’m not familiar with, I’m guessing. Just curious – thanks.

    • Ben says:

      It’s just a weird social media thing, mostly on twitter and instagram. For some celebrities, fans will simply comment “dad” or “daddy” in response to whatever they post – it’s sort of playfully sexual along the lines of calling them a “sugar daddy.” While it started with attractive male celebrities like Drake, of course, being the internet, it’s quickly become common to see it ironically as well.

      • Matthew G. says:

        Thanks for explaining. I came here to ask this same question. The pop culture in crosswords suddenly got a lot harder after I turned 40 (and it was always the weakest part of my crossword game as it was).

  11. Alan D. says:

    Re: NYT Jenni mentions in her review that “The weakest theme entry is 17a, which is a shame, because it sets the tone for the puzzle and the rest of the theme is so much better.” Couldn’t agree more! However I’ve often been asked by the NYT editorial crew to make the last themer the strongest one so that the puzzle ends on a good note. But I often want it first for just the reason that Jenni mentions. Oh well.

  12. Victor Fleming says:

    TNY’s fill is great and I breezed through 3/4, then hit a brick wall on the lower left.
    The T in EDT is time; thus [Mass. time] as a clue seems inapt.
    [Co-signs, in a way] seems inapt for AGREES ON. To co-sign is to affix one’s signature on a debt instrument with another person (or other persons). Definitionally, this clue is off a fraction, and I cannot find a context in which it is substitutional. (“Will you co-sign this loan?” “Will you agree on this loan?” I’ll agree on it, but co-sign? With you? No way!
    In a similar vein, [Declared] is inapt to clue ATTESTED. To attest is to do more than declare. It is to declare under oath that something already declared is indeed true. MW uses the word declare in two definitions of attest, but conspicuously omits the word declare from a list of synonyms.

    • Kameron says:

      Hi, Victor! Just a note on “Co-signs, in a way”
      for AGREES ON: There’s a contemporary casual usage of “co-sign” that means to agree on/with (in this context, the response to something you agree with might simply be, “Co-sign!”). The “in a way” in a clue was meant to suggest this alternative context — it’s a slang clue in disguise.

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