Monday, May 13, 2019

BEQ DNF (Jim Q) 


LAT 4:45 (Nate) 


NYT 2:31(Jenni) 


The New Yorker 22:09 (joon—d.o.) 


Universal 7:31(Vic) 


WSJ 5:16(Jim P) 


Gary Larson’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

This is a nice Monday theme. I guessed what it would be with the first answer and was completely wrong.

New York Times crossword 5/13/2019, 0513, solution grid

  • 17a [“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” novelist] is D H LAWRENCE. I thought we were going to have a delivery service theme (DHL). Nope.
  • 23a [Bart and Lisa’s dad] is HOMER SIMPSON.
  • 51a [Real-life lawman who lent his name to a 1950s-’60s TV western] is BAT MASTERSON.
  • 62a [Utah senator who once ran for president] is MITT ROMNEY.

DH, HOMER, BAT and MITT are all baseball terms, and the revealer at 39a is [Early railroad tycoon whose nickname is a hint to the starts of 17-, 23-, 51- and 62-Across] tells us why – DIAMOND JIM BRADY. Nice accessible Monday theme with a fun payoff for experienced solvers. Thanks, Gary and Will!

A few other things:

  • I solved this right after doing the Sunday LAT and was amused to see LADS at 1d [Young chaps]. The Crossword Conspiracy is alive and well.
  • I’ll have my café AU LAIT with STEVIA, please.
  • NECCO wafers are “currently on hiatus,” according to Wikipedia. I loved them.
  • 51d [Moisten, as a turkey] is BASTE. This is not necessary. Years ago, when we lived in NoCal, I heard Narsai David interviewed on the radio in mid-November. He advised cooking the turkey without basting: 350 F for 45 minutes + 7 minutes per pound, until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 F. We stick something in the cavity – usually onions and rosemary – and salt and pepper the skin. It has never failed and it’s easy-peasy. Get yourself a ThermPen instant-read thermometer, go forth, and roast.
  • I filled in DYKE from crossings and raised my eyebrows until I looked at the clue, [Comic actor Dick Van ___]. Phew. The NYT retains its – whatever.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Claude AKINS appeared on “Gunsmoke” (I looked him up).

Ladies and gentlemen, Dick van DYKE (and yes, that’s his wife, who is 45 years younger than he is).

Dick Van Dyke is still a sprightly dancer at almost 90 years old.

Sam Buchbinder’s Universal Crossword, “Cerealization”—Judge Vic’s write-up.

Sam Buchbinder’s Universal Crossword, “Cerealization”–5-13-19, solution

“Cerealization” is a good title, though one could argue for “Cerealism.” Which, with its nine letters, could have been a fourth theme entry and, as such, would have been a clever reveal-title. Sam would have had to come up with new theme clues, though, as cereal is in all of them.

There is no reveal. Nothing wrong with that, but a lot of recent puzzles have had reveals that did little more than add to the overall theme content and/or add a chuckle to the presentation. This puzzle is unusual in that the total theme letter count is 29 boxes, comprising three theme entries.

That said, here we have three cereals that end in the letter X, said X being such that if replaced by CKS, the word and, therefore, the phrase of which it is a part, would be something altogether different from cereal. I feel safe in saying that these are the only three cereals on the market that meet this criteria.

  • 17a [Knockoff square cereal?] FORGED CHEX
  • 36a [Fruity cereal that fell on the floor?] DIRTY TRIX
  • 56a [Why to eat a puffed-grain cereal when you’re full?] JUST FOR KIX

So, there you have it. Don’t get me wrong, it is clever. I’m surprised, though, that Sam didn’t go for three longer answers. I can think of a few off the top of my head. Background/cashiers Chex, conjuring/magicians Trix, butterfly/roundhouse Kix. Well, maybe there’s not a good grouping beyond what was used here.

With the diminished volume of themers (10-9-10), we expect a ton of non-theme sparkle. And we are not disappointed:

  • 31a [Go phishing?] RUN A SCAM–This entry was used only once before, per Ginsberg’s clue database, by the late, great Merl Reagle, in 2005.
  • 35a [“My parents are gonna kill me …”] I’M SO DEAD–Good ILSA, this!
  • 38a [“This doesn’t look familiar”] WHERE AM I–Ditto!
  • 43a [“Let It Be Forgotten” poet Sara] TEASDALE–Not an ILSA, but looks like one.
  • 1d [Place to watch the big game?] SAFARI–This clue made me smile.
  • 2d [Unusual plants and pets] EXOTICS–I stumbled here, putting in exotica and running with that until … the stumble.
  • 3d [The Hebrew Hammer of the Cleveland Indians] AL ROSEN–If I knew he was called this, I’d forgotten, so this was a learning experience, as well as a good ILSA (all name combos are ILSA’s).
  • 12d [Pitch that’s heard but not seen] RADIO AD
  • 22d [Enter, as data] READ IN
  • 26d [Plastic soldiers] ARMY MEN
  • 27d [“Is it necessary?”] MUST I
  • 39d [Put on a show for the cameras] HAM IT UP
  • 41d [Covert mission] BLACK OP
  • 42d [Gets hitched] SAYS I DO
  • 43d [League for Bulls and Grizzlies] THE NBA
  • 45d [Some muscle car engines] V-SIXES

Really nice work, Sam and David! In a puzzlingly short-themed puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Dan Margolis’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

LA Times Solution 5 11 2019

LA Times Solution 5 11 2019

19A: UNKNOWN SOLDIER [Anonymous Arlington honoree]
31A: UGLY STEPSISTER [Evil Cinderella sibling]
38A: UNDER SUSPICION [Possibly the perp]
51A: UMBRELLA STANDS [Entryway conveniences for rain deflectors]
63A: THIS / IS US [With 64-Across, NBC drama … or, in four parts, a hint to the answers to starred clues]

I don’t mind this at all. A fun take on a modern, super popular piece of pop culture whose themers take up a fair amount of grid real estate? Works for me. I could do without UGLY STEPSISTER as a commentary on women, their looks, their roles, etc., but that is how the characters were described, I reckon.

I enjoyed seeing so many women in the grid (CLIO RAE LOIS PATTI) but wasn’t as excited for some of the random ye olde male names in the grid, including 1975 Nobel Peace Prize winner ANDREI Sakharov and 1947 Nobelist in Literature Andre GIDE, especially since the latter is a self-professed pedophile! Now, that’s ugly.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “On the Periphery”—Jim P’s review

OUTERMOST is the revealer at 64a clued as [Farthest from the center, and a hint to 17-, 24-, 40- and 51-Across]. Each of those entries has the word MOST split between the beginnings and the ends of their respective entries.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “On the Periphery” · Mike Shenk · Mon., 5.13.19

  • 17a [Expense with both fixed and variable elementsMIXED COST. Don’t think I’ve ever heard this phrase.
  • 24a [Dickens character who says “I wear the chain I forged in life”MARLEY’S GHOST. How many of you tried to put JACOB MARLEY in there like me and find it was one letter too short?
  • 40a [Thrashing spot at a concertMOSH PIT. Fun entry.
  • 51a [Peak called Chomolungma in TibetanMOUNT EVEREST. The more you know…

It’s hard to get excited about a theme that’s simply about splitting up the word MOST, especially when one of the answers is one you’ve never heard before, but honestly, I didn’t look at the theme too closely while I was solving. And it seems like a perfectly fair theme for a Monday.

I enjoyed the fill more, especially PASS RUSHER, SENIOR YEAR, and WILD GOAT. I think I may have heard MEET CUTE [Feature of many a rom-com] before, but I can’t be sure. Anyway, it’s defined as “an amusing or charming first encounter between two characters that leads to the development of a romantic relationship between them.” Yeah. I’m skeptical that we’re all better off for having learned that.

That’s it for today. 3.4 stars from me.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—joon’s review

New Yorker 5/13/10—Natan Last

joon here with the review of natan last‘s new yorker puzzle. like many of natan’s puzzles, i found this to be a difficult but richly rewarding solve. i did my usual downs-only solving, and i was quick off the mark in the upper-right, where OPUSES, FONT, FILET, SNOW ANGELS, TAILBONE, and DECANT all fell more or less right away. the clue {Their wings melt in the sun} for SNOW ANGELS is a terrific one, but one i’ve seen before, so i was not misled into thinking about icarus. however, a good working knowledge of greek mythology did help me plunk down {Figure who Hera turned into a woman for hitting copulating snakes with a stick} TIRESIAS, which helped quite a lot in the middle-left section along with THE HOBBIT, CIRRI, and BANANA PEEL.

this is where my progress came to more or less a screeching halt, though. i tried I’M HIT for {Paintball player’s cry}, which was correct, but i didn’t like _____HLE for 35a, because what ends with those letters? (PINOCHLE, that’s what, as you already know.) the long answer at 32a looked like it wanted to be SUNRISE something, but i didn’t know what the second word could be even with ____MENT, as there are quite a lot of nouns that end that way. and i was pretty sure {“Solution” often derided for ignoring politics} ended with FIX based on how it fit with other entries down in the bottom-right corner, but the first six letters were unknown to me. for about 10 minutes i had BERNIE FIX in there, a term i may have made up but that seemed like it might be a thing. that made 30a BIGON, which is definitely a thing (a two-sided polygon, which can’t exist in euclidean geometry but certainly does on e.g. the surface of a sphere), but one i wasn’t sure would be in a crossword. still, i had nothing better (the actual answer {Big-cat hybrid} TIGON did not occur to me even when i had _IGON), and i thought it just barely possible that BIGON might be right but clued as the phrase BIG ON, as in something like {Showing great enthusiasm for}.

it took a while to sort this all out. the next part i got was the lower left. based on the hypothesized SUNRISE, i thought {Traditional birthplace of Buddhism} might be DELHI because i couldn’t think of anywhere else in india that had that E in place, and i knew gautama siddartha was from ancient india. (so close! he was, but from a part of the subcontinent that is modern-day NEPAL.) still, _ARBAD__ gave me the incorrect BARBADOS 28a, which was enough to suggest the correct {How quickly a business goes through cash} BURN RATE for 28d, after which the whole corner clicked into place.

after that, i tried several things at 12d {Legal writ, in brief} like NOLO (not a writ) and even HABE (not how anybody refers to habeas corpus) before stumbling on CERT, which seemed like it fit well. that was enough to unlock the upper-left corner, but i still had to figure out 16d {Devices that help make a track suit} from S___O_____S. i did (correctly) think the clue was likely playing on “track suit”, using track as a noun and suit as a verb, but i still didn’t know what kind of track we were talking about. but with the S in place and COSTUME looking likely at 22a, i tried SOUND even though it required me to take out BARBADOS and replace it with BARBA_DS; i’m not even sure why i kept the S but it did give me the correct MASON at 23d for {Elizabeth Aldworth was the first recorded female one}. so that’s a wrong across answer with enough right letters for me to get two important crossing downs. this is a very good kind of wrong answer if you’re solving downs-only! once i saw SOUND MIXERS, the rest of the puzzle was more or less straightforward.

but enough about me (he said, after four lengthy paragraphs about himself). how was the puzzle? i thought it was, as usual, excellent. i wasn’t familiar with marquee answers {Organization uniting young people against the climate crisis} SUNRISE MOVEMENT or TECHNOFIX, but the concepts they denote are certainly familiar enough. (on the subject of the latter, check out the directions to the game elon musk’s ipod submarine for a hearty chortle.) i always come away from solving one of natan’s puzzles feeling a little more informed and a little more woke, and today was no exception. in addition, there’s nothing clunky in the grid; it’s an ELEGANT construction, {Like some mathematical proofs}. this is one of my favorite themeless puzzles in recent memory, so thanks to natan and the whole new yorker team for a highly enjoyable solve.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword #517—Jim Q’s review

Grumble, grumble. I hate it when I have a DNF. But alas, the Stumper and BEQ sometimes put me in my place. Worst part is, I shoulda had the GRIT to suss it out. Can’t really say I was Naticked.


  • 34A [“The world sucks! Let’s start over!”] BURN IT ALL DOWN. Love this phrase.

    BEQ Themeless Monday #517 – 5-13-19–solution

    Don’t hear it an awful lot, but that’s probably what makes it so alluring.

  • 3D [44-Across response] BLESS YOU. Like most solvers, I’m not a huge fan of cross-referencing, but I really like it when they’re synergistic like this. 44A [Hide-and-seek dead giveaway] I initially wrote in as I’M HERE! Haha! That’s also a dead giveaway… and I can usually get my nephews and nieces to say it. So it seemed appropriate.
  • 1A [Face cards?] ID BADGES. Much easier in retrospect.
  • 9D [Cager’s style of a play by a mediocre player who thinks he’s Michael Jordan] HERO BALL. BALL was easy to infer. Not so much HERO. Even with ?E?O in place. Fun term though. I especially enjoyed the Urban Dictionary definition.


  • 43D [Fife player on early TV] KNOTTS. Honestly thought I was looking for an instrumentalist.
  • 36D [Ortho spray] WEED B GON. Clever commercial spelling always spices up BEQ grids.
  • 20A [Just wrong] NOT SO. Refused to change it from NUTSO. Which, I am convinced led to my DNF.
  • 24A [Kelly’s former bandmate, briefly] BEY. As in Beyonce. I thought BEN. I dunno.

I wish I had more fun with this than I did. It’s not the puzzle’s fault. I was distracted and am coming down with my bi-annual sick bug.

3.4 Stars.


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19 Responses to Monday, May 13, 2019

  1. M483 says:

    Gary, re: NYT review. I absolutely agree with no turkey basting. Constantly opening the oven while basting makes the cooking time so much longer because the oven cools way down quickly. However, I always used a lid or covered with foil to keep the bird moist.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      No lid or foil = crispier skin! For really crisp skin, dry the bird in the fridge for a day or two before cooking.

  2. Lise says:

    I love this blog ?

  3. JJ says:

    Maybe it’s because I’m in my 20s and therefore too young for quite a few clues or because I’m still a fairly new solver, but I thought this Monday was too difficult. Took me almost double my average time (an average that’s been slowly ticking down as I’ve gotten quicker this year).

    Never heard of DIAMOND JIM BRADY or BAT MASTERSON. Never seen TNG so I didn’t know TROI. Don’t know Clause AKINS. Never seen NECCO except perhaps in a few crosswords. Don’t remember enough chemistry to plop in TITER or ISOMER. Never heard of TRINI Lopez.

    All these old names made for a very excruciating fill.

    • Ben says:

      Agree, it was a fine enough puzzle but there wasn’t much sparkle to it. Filling in a few unfamiliar answers from crossings alone isn’t unexpected by any means, but for a Monday it took away some of the zip.

    • JohnH says:

      I didn’t do the NYT puzzle, but I’m showing my age, in turn, if I say that for once I’d actually get all the culture references that JJ mentions. Regardless, I’d put in a word for ISOMER as something else again. Maybe TITER is of interest only to those doing certain old laboratory procedures, but well worth picking up isomers as some chemistry about how the world works. Besides, their “cis” and “trans” forms have entered popular culture in quite another sense now.

      Conversely, as usual the Monday New Yorker puzzle was weighed down for me with newer phrases and trivia, so as usual can’t say I enjoyed it. I especially disliked the crossing of DEMI and DOE. And do professional artists have a huge bent toward costumes for their kids? Curiously enough, while MW11C does have CIRRI for the plural, RHUD allows it only for meanings others than clouds (giving cirrus as its own plural when it comes to clouds). Go figure.

    • Lois says:

      JJ, I noticed the older-person vibe, but was very grateful. I’m glad when some puzzles are more youth-oriented and others are more oriented to my elderly age, though I admit I prefer the latter. Don’t forget that many people start doing crosswords when they retire, so that many Monday solvers are older solvers! I’m sure that you won’t have this problem every week. In the meantime, I always recommend TCM, the classic movie channel, which actually shows films from all eras.

      • JJ says:

        Honestly, I’m normally pretty decent at the older oriented fill. My parents raised me on classic movies (I’ve seen Singin’ in the Rain more times than I can count), motown music, and I enjoy literature, history, etc. But today they just weren’t ones I had under my belt. I’m fine with there being a decent amount, but it’s always good to have a mixture too.

  4. Becky says:

    NYT – Wasn’t anyone else bothered by 35-across with “opinion” in the clue and “op” in the answer?

    • Jenni Levy says:

      I would have been if I’d read the clue! Filled it in from crossings and didn’t notice.

    • Martin says:

      “Op” in OPED is short for “opposite,” not “opinion.” The oped page traditionally faces the editorial page.

      • Martin says:

        I’m not sure whether this introduction of the Op. Ed. page is behind the Times paywall, but it states:

        Through the new page opposite the Editorial Page that we inaugurate today, we hope that a contribution may be made toward stimulating new thought and provoking new discussion on public problems.

      • Becky says:

        The things you learn from fellow solvers… Thanks

  5. David R says:

    Aww I really liked this BEQ it felt just difficult enough, tough cluing and lots of diverse fill. I got Naticked on LENAPE/EPT both fill I’ve seen before but so infrequently that I didn’t remember it.

  6. M483 says:

    I don’t get the theme in the LA Times puzzle today. I’m totally missing how the revealer has 4 parts and how that relates to the themers. Would someone please explain it for me.

    • lemonade714 says:

      There are four (4) long answers of two words with the first word beginning with U, the second with S. Together they make “US”

  7. M483 says:

    I don’t get the theme in the LA Times puzzle today. I’m totally missing how the revealer is supposed to be in 4 parts and how that relates to the themers. Would someone please explain for me.

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