Monday, May 20, 2019

BEQ untimed (Jim Q) 


LAT 4:12 (Nate) 


NYT 2:43 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 5:00 (Ben) 


Universal 6:59 (Vic) 


WSJ 5:55 (Jim P) 


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

New York Times crossword solution, 5/20/2019, no. 0520, Gary Cee

This is a classic Monday theme. The second word in each two-word theme answer goes with a certain other word, and there’s a revealer. The design is interesting – the themers go both across and down.

  • 11d [*Seafood topping that may be red or white] is CLAM SAUCE. I prefer the white. What say you?
  • 17a [*Government’s credit limit] is the DEBT CEILING.
  • 28a [*Beanbag juggled with the feet] is a HACKY SACK. Is this still popular on college campuses? It was big in my era (late 70s- early 80s)
  • 34d [*Part of a ship just above the hold] is the LOWER DECK.
  • 46a [*Symbol for “O.K.”] is a CHECK MARK. If you want to read a thoughtful piece about the “OK” finger symbol that has been coopted by white supremacists, check out Doug Glanville’s essay in the Sunday NYT. Yes, that Doug Glanville.
  • 61a [*Much-visited site in Jerusalem] is the WESTERN WALL.

And the revealer: 39a [“Start the music!” … or what one could do to the finish of the answer to each starred clue] is HIT IT. Hit the sauce, hit the ceiling, hit the sack, hit the deck, hit the mark, hit the wall. All the theme entries are solid and so are the hit the… phrases. Well done.

A few other things:

  • 18d [Org. concerned with ecosystems] is the EPA. Or at least it used to be.
  • 20a [Like many infield grounders] is ONE-HOP. Not to be confused with a Baltimore chop.
  • 26d [Served raw, as steak] is TARTARE. Eeuw (a personal opinion; I do not speak for the blog. I speak for the trees. Or something).
  • 42a [Full-time resident of a college community] is a TOWNIE. I always heard that as somewhat condescending. Is it still in regular use?
  • 65a [Bury, as ashes] is INURN. This is not a word anyone uses, and I’ve had more opportunities than most people to discuss cremation and cremains. It’s also not synonymous with “bury.” Many urns are kept above ground.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that anyone thought INURN was a word.

I leave you with this in reference to 61a

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

I’m moving this week, so my husband and I are busy packing and getting rid of as much stuff as we can, so this will have to be a brief review. Hope you’re all doing well!

LAT Solution 5 20 19

LAT Solution 5 20 19

11D: OUTER BANKS [Coastal North Carolina resort area]
17A: ONION BAGEL [Bread with a schmear]
24D: OPEN BAR [Source of free drinks]
29D: OUIJA BOARD [Seance prop]
61A: ORANGE BOWL [Annual Florida football game]
56D: OBIE [Theater award … and a phonetic hint to the answers to starred clues]

Strong early week puzzle. Lots of themers + revealer taking up a fair amount of grid space, and all the themers are firmly in the language. The revealer even crosses the last themer, which is a nice constructing touch! Otherwise, this grid was pretty straight forward – a bit dated in its fill and cluing (maybe aside from RAJ), but otherwise fine. A few women were included (TRIS DENISE REBA NALA RONA) which was a plus, but I wasn’t politically so excited to see SCALIA, Gorsuch, and ALITO in the same grid.

Brian Temte’s Universal Crossword, “No Alcohol Provided”—Judge Vic’s write-up

Brian Temte’s Universal Crossword, “No Alcohol Provided”–5-20-19, solution

At the party, there’s be no alcohol provided, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want you to drink; therefore, BE WHY OH BEA, okay?

  • 17a [*”Feel free”] BE MY GUEST
  • 26a [*Joker catchphrase] WHY SO SERIOUS
  • 43a [*Alternate title for “December, 1963”] OH WHAT A NIGHT
  • 54a [*”The Golden Girls” star] BEA ARTHUR
  • 51d Invitation advisory, or a homophonic hint to the starred answers’ starts BYOB

I like it. I am always looking for phrases, sayings, etc. to which this gimmick can be applied. Wish I’d thought of it!

Not much else in the Acrosses. The Downs feature

  • 21d [Annual game with a flowery name] ROSE BOWL and
  • 25d [Fancy nonalcoholic drink] MOCKTAIL

Nice puz. 3.5 stars.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Stockholders”—Jim P’s review

Names and phrases hide farm animals.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Stockholders” · Mike Shenk · Mon., 5.20.19

  • 16a [Crusading environmentalist] ECO-WARRIOR
  • 25a [Uncertainty about whether something is right or wrong] MORAL AMBIGUITY
  • 42a [Oscar winner for “Ghost”] WHOOPI GOLDBERG
  • 56a [Commerce secretary since 2017] WILBUR ROSS

The theme is fine. Maybe even cute.

But seriously. 41d. RETARDS.

Haven’t we been through this with chink, gook, spic, and most recently, beaner, after which Will Shortz had to make a public apology? Just because a word has a valid other meaning (in this case [Slows down]), doesn’t mean it can’t cause offense in a puzzle. You don’t see anyone using the clue [Cigarette] for a certain three-letter F-word, do you? No. Because it’s an offensive word to many people. The R-word is too, and an editor should know that.

When a word is in a grid it loses some of its context. This is very different than when the same word is used in a sentence. In an image of the grid, as shown above, it stands by itself without the support of its clue, and anyone offended by that word will be shocked that it’s been included in one of the nation’s leading newspapers.

The thing is, it’s not terribly hard to repair. Here’s the work of about 5 minutes: The R-word becomes RETIRES which now crosses BEIRUT with RODE, USNA, TSAR, EDNA, and SEAR filling out that corner (see picture).

Pair this with the recent dearth of women constructors appearing at the WSJ, and it is just not a good look.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword #518—Jim Q’s review

A funky looking 15×16 themeless grid with left/right symmetry today. One of those moments when you open a puzzle and can’t wait to see what’s in store. Certainly a lot to like here.


  • 34A [“You’re losing me”] GET TO THE POINT. The answer being a touch more

    BEQ Themeless Monday #518 – 5-20-19 -crossword solution

    blunt than the clue.

  • 52A [“Hard pass”] I’M NOT INTERESTED. Took me a while to figure out what “Hard pass” was referring to- I briefly considered toying around with a sports related answer.
  • 3D [Warm whiskey drinks] HOT TODDIES. Once a year, a HOT TODDY is a good idea. Just once though.
  • 36D [Tasmania’s capital] HOBART. I was just researching whether or not to bicycle through Tasmania and its capital this summer. Looks pretty cold in July. Hard pass.
  • 30A [Kings’ requests, for short] TOS. Time Outs, to the Sacramento Kings.


One var. in a themeless sorta makes me cringe, so two is quite off-putting.

  • 12D [Plate creators: var.] DIETICIANS. This one didn’t look too bad in the grid until I retyped it now. DIETITIANS is more accepted, though it does look like the spelling has been a topic amongst DIETI(T)(C)IANS.
  • 37D [Put one’s weight behind: Var.] INDORSED. I’ve never seen that spelling before.

Still, that was not enough to distract me from really enjoying this solve overall. DIEGO MARADONA was entirely new for me, but with an inferable first name and fairly crossed surname, it doesn’t warrant any gripes.


  • 28A [“Hey ___” (Beastie Boys single)] LADIES. 

Happy Monday!

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

The New Yorker crossword solution, 5/20/19 — Anna Shechtman

New Yorker Monday puzzles are supposed to be tricky, but today’s installment played more like their weekend puzzle for how quickly I sliced through its grid.  Speedy solving aside, I found a LOT to like in this grid:

  • The New Yorker highlighted ATHLEISURE once the puzzle was solved, pointing to Jia Tolentino’s fascinating look into the Outdoor Voices brand of apparel.  I also loved the longer entries that appeared right above and below it, JUNETEENTH (“American holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States”), and GEL INSOLES (“Dr. Scholl’s product”)
  • There was some lovely variety in the rest of the long across fill — WE ALL DO IT, TWENTYSOMETHING (“Like the lead characters on ‘Insecure’ and ‘Broad City'”), SHRILLEST (“Often sexist superlative”), BACKUP FILE, FREE SPIRIT, and AISLE SEATS (“C and D, on many flights”)
  • The SELFIE has largely replaced the autograph as proof of a celebrity encounter.
  • So happy to see LATINX appear in a grid!

How did this one solve for you?

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29 Responses to Monday, May 20, 2019

  1. mt says:

    nyt: ogee/tec is a pretty bad monday cross (even if you can narrow it down to a vowel from t _ c) imo. as usual (for a monday), didn’t pay attention to the theme at all, but it’s surprisingly dense for how clean the rest of the fill was.

  2. Mary Flaminio says:

    Stethoscopes for ears?

  3. Ethan Friedman says:

    TEC, OGEE, OTOE, E-CIG …. that’s some subpar fill for a Monday.

  4. G davis says:

    Jim P. WSJ. Why do you insist on ranting about PC crap, overlooking the common use of retard in racing vis a vis spark plugs? And forcing us to figure out the offensive FAG word with your hint? Geez, these are crosswords, not morality plays. And Crosswordfiend find someone else to review WSJ.

    • Jenni says:

      Be careful what you wish for. You might end up with me reviewing them.

    • David Roll says:

      Right on G davis–His comments are really getting tiresome. Woe be the author who were to use “niggardly” in a clue.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      @G davis and @David Roll, you are more than welcome to find a crossword blog that better suits your preferences, if such a thing exists, or create your own if it doesn’t. We’re not changing.

      “Common use” for spark plugs in racing, LOL. Sure, pal, everyone knows that.

    • Ch says:

      I’m with you, G davis. The wokeness lockstep gets tiresome, but unfortunately one has to live with it here. We are always invited to leave if we don’t like it.

  5. Doug says:

    WSJ: As the review says, the “theme is fine. Maybe even cute.” In fact, this was a well-above average Monday puzzle. My outrage button was not pushed by 41d, even though, as a result of having been raised with a developmentally disabled cousin, I have always been sensitive to the offensive use of that word. A great many words in the English language can be used with offensive intent, and the language would be much poorer if we could never again speak (or print) any word that someone had found a way to use in a derogatory manner. I do my best to avoid using words those that were coined with the intention of being offensive (including most of the ones you list, Jim). I also wage my own small battle against the demeaning of the language by bigots, by refusing to allow them to deny me the use of perfectly good words with normal, everyday meanings. I am the owner of a vintage racing motorcycle equipped with a manual spark retarder, e.g. I do my best to avoid the company of crude or insensitive people who cannot speak of such things without turning them into cruel jokes.

    • G davis says:

      Well said.

    • Martin says:

      I’ve said in the past that banning “chink in the armor” is letting the racists win, so I have to agree. I would only add that we’re talking about two words that are not even pronounced the same. A mechanic re-tards’ an engine’s timing. The offensive noun is accented on the first syllable. It strikes me that the argument for banning — that they LOOK the same in print — adds an additional layer to the call for censorship.

      • M483 says:

        I think Jim P explained it best: Seeing a word in a crossword grid with no context to it can easily be offensive.
        We’re not trying to ban all these words from the language, only those that are offensive in any context.

      • Lois says:

        Voting for the word here, especially with the point about pronunciation as Martin explains. Things are getting absurd, as the word was not used in the bad way at all. Also, I don’t do the Shenk puzzles, but I don’t understand how a lack of woman-created puzzles in the WSJ is related to this controversy.

        Amy would like us off her blog, it seems, but it is still a very good one.

  6. Mike says:

    NYT. I grew up in Cambridge England and was definitely a Townie. Funny thing was it was not a put-down for us, just a description. College folk were Gownies because of their college uniforms.

  7. Marcus says:

    Jim P. WSJ. Thank you for insisting to rant about cultural insensitivity in puzzles, and caring more about the people who may be hurt by a word/term than whether the word has alternate meanings. I came here today, in part, to vent my frustration that an editor would let that word pass, worse still when said editor is also the constructor. You nailed it better than I could on every point. Looking forward to your next WSJ review.

  8. JohnH says:

    TNY has, as usual, much that I didn’t know, but this time I really enjoyed stumbling past them into intriguing fill like JUNETEENTH. I hadn’t seen before the gender-neutral alternative to Latino and Latina before, and it was my last to fall, but really interesting to learn.

    Perhaps a shame when a derivative application of a word is offensive so that we lose otherwise acceptable use of the original. (I could almost include there, yes, the F word, but then the loss is only to Brits.) Still, I think we should accept the loss as necessary, and I would rather not have seen that word in a puzzle. I didn’t freak out about it, but still.

  9. JB says:

    The clue for 9D (“Axiom” for answer TENET) in the New Yorker seems off. Those aren’t really the same thing, are they?

    • David L says:

      They’re cousins, I would say. A tenet usually refers to a principle believed in by a religious community, whereas an axiom is typically a scientific or mathematical principle that’s accepted but not provably true.

      Depending on taste you may regard one as being more trustworthy than the other.

  10. jj says:

    TNY – An unpleasant amount of bad fill in this one. I had three bad guesses at the crossings of HOHO/EHUD/NOBU, and also TOLLE/KETONE. Then there’s ACAUSE, RICEA, ITON, CEN, OAS, MICH, KANG, the whole NE corner of ESO/NUL/TRE/HES. Cluing seemed off in places; the ETICKETS clue was frustrating – I know there are two companies listed but a singular “attachment” doesn’t adequately signal a plural entry and really threw me off. Lots of trivia clues (ton of brand names), three fill-in-the-blank clues in a row in the already-mentioned NE. Some good long entries, but it was a tedious solve for me.

  11. Seeing all these comments above scolding Jim P for objecting to the WSJ using 41D when it would be *so* easy to replace it with another word that wouldn’t cause offense at all is really something else. Even if it has a benign meaning, what’s the point of keeping it around when it has a well-known other hurtful definition and it’s easily replaceable?

    And can we stop equating objections to a crossword using a particular word with a desire to ban words from the English language or censorship? It’s so tiresome. Nobody’s going to throw you in prison for using words like 41D or any of the examples Jim lists, but if you use them and someone says, “Please stop, that’s hurtful to me,” then you should stop. That’s just common decency. It doesn’t take that much effort to avoid using words that alienate people once you’re aware of them, and if you think that taking the time to avoid those words is a bigger inconvenience to you than causing pain to people targeted by that language, then you have your priorities seriously mixed up.

    • David Roll says:

      There are people who can feel the discomfort of a pea under 10 mattresses. (George Will)

      • Jenni Levy says:

        Yes, David, and if I were the host in that house, I would remove the pea, because I want my guests to be comfortable and removing the pea would not discommode anyone. That’s a very cutesy way of accusing people in a targeted class of being too sensitive. It does not advance your argument.

        • David Roll says:

          I too thought it was cutesy. But now you are making me feel uncomfortable–perhaps I am just one of those who is “being too sensitive.”

          • Jenni Levy says:

            Aww, sweetie, but see, you’re not in a targeted class in this space, no matter how much that irks you.

    • Marcus says:

      “It doesn’t take that much effort to avoid using words that alienate people once you’re aware of them, and if you think that taking the time to avoid those words is a bigger inconvenience to you than causing pain to people targeted by that language, then you have your priorities seriously mixed up.”

      Thanks Evan. Couldn’t agree more and not as good at explaining it. And now there are people dropping N-bombs in the comments just to try and offend. It has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with making people feel attacked for “fun”. I like a crossworld where we’re kind enough to “just be nice” and be able to avoid these conversations altogether.

Comments are closed.