Monday, August 19, 2019

BEQ 8:25, down clues only (Andy) 


LAT 4:13 (Nate) 


NYT 2:56 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker untimed (Ben) 


Universal 6:26(Vic) 


WSJ 4:31 (Jim P) 


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

Peter Gordon, of Blazingly Hard Fireball fame, brings us a Monday NYT, not a category known for being blazingly difficult. I found this a smidgen harder than the average Monday. I liked the theme, which was Monday-accessible.

All the theme answers are denoted by asterisks.

New York Times, August 19, 2019, #0819, Peter Gordon, solution grid

  • 4d [*”Sadly, you’re right”] is TOO TRUE.
  • 9d [*Vermin-hunting dog] is a RAT TERRIER.
  • 11d [*Pasta-serving cafe] is TRATTORIA.
  • 21a [*Seesaw] is a TEETER-TOTTER.
  • 29d [*Plumbing company whose jingle says “away go troubles down the drain”] is ROTO-ROOTER.
  • 30a [*Bring forward for display] is TROT OUT.
  • 35d [*Say again] is REITERATE.
  • 46d [*Trick-or-___ (kid on Halloween)] is TREATER.
  • 47a [*British hitmaker on Iggy Azalea’s “Black Widow”] is RITA ORA.
  • 57a [*1970 war film about the attack on Pearl Harbor] is TORA TORA TORA.

I noticed the plethora of Ts as I was solving and hadn’t figured out what that meant. There’s a revealer at 71a: [*Clarinetist Shaw … or, when said aloud, the only two consonants in the answers to the starred clues], and the answer is ARTIE. This is a reasonably satisfying “aha” moment for a Monday puzzle. It’s a heck of a lot of theme material for a weekday puzzle, even one that’s a smidgen bigger (it’s 16×15). There are a couple of obscure answers – or at least they seem obscure to me. Geography is not my strong suit and I’ve never heard of the ORNE River. I have heard of EULER and I know he used to be on one of the Swiss franc bills; that seems a bit much for a Monday.

A few other things:

  • I found it amusing to see PLATO on top of DIALOG in the NW corner.
  • We get ANTE clued as part of “AM” instead of an allusion to poker.
  • I very much prefer ANI DiFranco to the European blackbird, although it still feels like crosswordese.
  • I don’t think of a BAGEL as a “roll,” do you?
  • Baseball! 56d [Only M.L.B. team that Johnny Bench played for (1967-83)] is of course the REDS, and the Mets play at CITI Field.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: ORNE.

Evan Kalish’s Universal Crossword, “Holding Together”—Judge Vic’s write-up

Evan Kalish’s Universal Crossword, “Holding Together,” Aug. 19, 2019, solution

The reveal explains all:

  • 60a [Newscaster’s video introduction, or a hint to the ends of 17-, 25-, 36- and 51-Across] HERE’S A CLIP. And then we have
  • 17a [Government report] WHITE PAPER–paper clip;
  • 25a [Spaghetti’s thinner relative] ANGEL HAIR–hair clip;
  • 36a [Leave without words] TONGUE-TIE–tie clip (objection; we all become tongue-tied at times, but no one says, “I’m going to tongue-tie you,” do they?); and
  • 51a [Difficult-to-trace funds] DARK MONEY–money clip.

That’s a lot of horizontal theme. Elsewhere, we find:

RAW DATA, ON FIRST, NEBULAE (not in my vocab), A TAD (I’ve grown a tad tired of this answer), JURY-RIG, DOWN LOW, ON A DIME.

All in all, it’s a pretty fair fill.

3.4 stars.

Jakob Weisblat’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Down to Earth”—Jim P’s review

Another debut today. Congratulations, Jakob!

He brings us an (ironically) clean grid of idiomatic phrases where the last word is a word roughly meaning a top layer of earth.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · Jakob Weisblat· “Down to Earth” · Mon., 8.19.19

  • 17a [Came to an end] BIT THE DUST. Hmm. Is it really dust if it’s on the earth? Wouldn’t it have to be airborne to be considered dust? Once it’s on the ground, it’s dirt (IMO).
  • 24a [Spread gossip] DISH THE DIRT
  • 30a [Opaque, as an explanation] CLEAR AS MUD
  • 43a [Motherland] NATIVE SOIL
  • 48a [Important person] MUCKETY MUCK. I don’t know exactly what “muck” is, but I equate it with “gunk” and therefore, not a covering of the earth. In other words, “muck” might have other, non-organic ingredients.
  • 62a [Character flaw] FEET OF CLAY. I’ve heard this term, but I thought it referred to someone who moves slowly. Guess I was wrong.

Most of these work well enough for me, even the dust one, but I’m still not sure about that muck entry. I suppose it’s close enough.

The fill is strong with this one, especially those long Downs: “LET’S SEE IT!,” “I TOLD YOU SO!,” X-ACTO KNIFE, and LION’S CLUB.

My old nemesis, SST [Mach 2 flyer of the past], shows up again, as does URI [Swiss canton]. Those cannot be fun on a Monday for any newcomers to the crossworld.

Question. If the plural of “cello” is “CELLI,” then why isn’t the plural of “memo” “memi” (instead of MEMOS)?

I’ve picked some nits, but on the whole, this is a fine puzzle and a good Monday outing. 3.5 stars from me.

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

New Yorker 8/19/2019

Sorry to miss Lollapuzzoola this year – I was off solving a different sort of puzzle event, the Miskatonic University Game.  While some of you were racing through grids, I was racing through the North Shore area of Boston solving a Lovecraft-themed set of puzzles for about 36 hours.  I’m looking forward to solving the set at my leisure, once I get some actual sleep.

Let’s take a look at today’s New Yorker grid from Elizabeth C. Gorski:

  • What’s your favorite SCULPTURE GARDEN (36A, “The Museum of Modern Art’s outdoor “Oasis in the City,” for one”)?  Mine is the one next to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
  • I liked the longer across fill like KARA ZOR-EL (“Supergirl’s birth name”), AEGEAN SEA, AIRLINE PILOTS (“Delta force?”), and OIL HEATER.
  • Please stop using SPIRIT ANIMAL if you’re a white person who doesn’t have an actual connection to the many cultures that do believe in them.  Beer is not your spirit animal, and neither is Little Sebastian from Parks and Recreation.
  • Other things I liked: ICOSAHEDRA! Don Delillo’s MAO II! USURIOUS!

Please enjoy the “honeyed gravel voice” of Julie KAVNER, the voice of Marge Simpson.  I just think she’s neat.

That’s All, Folks!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword, Themeless Monday #530—Andy’s review

BEQ #1184, Themeless Monday #530

After solving Down Clues Only at Lollapuzzoola this past weekend, I decided I just hadn’t had enough, so I solved this one Downs Only too.

A spicy stack in this one, with SITKA SPRUCE / QUERULANT(!?) / PAUL SIMON / JELLO SHOT [Jiggly belt?] / REPATRIATED running through the center of the puzzle and crossing some other long entries like LIQUOR LAWS [Things that dictate the spirit world] and FORT SUMTER.

Also loved seeing AIR DUCT, WINE CELLAR, SERVICE ACE, Mae JEMISON. Didn’t like seeing this P.O.S. or, to a lesser extent, this guy who’s having a tremendously bad week.

I didn’t think the O.D. ON clue worked: O.D. ON takes an object, whereas [Party a little too hard, say] doesn’t

Three cheers for the [Alma mater of puzzle maker Evan Birnholz], DREXEL! If you haven’t solved the latest WaPo Sunday puzzle, go do it now (and bring some tissues).

That’s all. Until next time!


Julian Kwan’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

8.19.19 LAT Solution

8.19.19 LAT Solution

63A: SLICED BREAD [“Best thing” bakery metaphor … and a hint to each row of circles)

Each of four rows in this puzzle had alternating circled letters (sliced, if you will) which gave us the names of four standard types of bread. Nice!

Random thoughts:
– Literally the only “woman” in the grid is MRS Doubtfire who only dressed as (but didn’t identify as) a woman in the movie. I’d hope for more than zero women in a grid published in 2019, even amongst the cluing.
– The fill was largely clean, so no complaints there. Quick solve, especially once I saw the trick to the theme.

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11 Responses to Monday, August 19, 2019

  1. mt says:

    really don’t like how peter gordon puzzles seem very heavy on proper nouns, at least proper nouns that aren’t well known (or known to me). have never heard of ROTOROOTER, RITA ORA, or TORA TORA TORA (and forgot it was ERNO rubik) and having them all cross each other seemed kinda crazy for a monday. sure the crosses are a bit more guessable given the theme, but it’s no fun just guessing names simultaneously for a bunch of names you don’t know.

    • JohnH says:

      Agreed about not liking that style and associating Peter Gordon with it. (I suspect he pushed Shortz in that direction while the puzzle editor of a competing paper.) But I do recognize three of four of those names (not RITA ORA).

      I like that WSJ manages so many long theme entries. The New Yorker, as usual, is in its proper noun mode, even with Liz Gorski to temper it. I missed out on the crossing of Hussein’s adviser and Supergirl.

      • Billy Boy says:

        I have a friend from the NSA who doesn’t do X-words only because of the proper nouns. Imagine that. #Truedat

  2. David Steere says:

    LAT: Is there some problem with the Across Lite link for today’s LAT puzzle? Not an active link as of 8:30 am today, Pacific Time. Yesterday’s is still working. Today’s Universal is also working fine.

    Thanks for any help.


  3. David L says:

    Question. If the plural of “cello” is “CELLI,” then why isn’t the plural of “memo” “memi” (instead of MEMOS)?

    The plural of cello is celli only in crosswords, as far as I know. Although at least one of the announcers on WETA radio has a habit of saying concerti as the plural of concerto, which annoys me to an unreasonable degree.

    As for memo, it’s short for memorandum, and some people might insist on giving the plural as memoranda. But since memo is an abbreviation it counts as a bona fide English word and pluralizes accordingly.

  4. Lise says:

    Here is Merriam-Webster’s definition of “muck”:
    muck noun
    \ ˈmək
    Definition of muck (Entry 1 of 2)
    1: soft moist farmyard manure
    2: slimy dirt or filth
    3a: defamatory remarks or writings
    b: rubbish, nonsense //mindless muck
    4a(1): dark highly organic soil
    (2): mire, mud
    b: something resembling muck : gunk
    5: material removed in the process of excavating or mining

    That’s a lot of meaning to pack into a small word, and that’s just the noun. Anyway, it seems legit.

    I loved I TOLD YOU SO, and X-ACTO KNIFE was fabulous. Has either of those appeared before?

    • Stephen B Manion says:

      The Muck in poker is the pile of discards. It is also a verb as in Lise bet and Steve mucked.

      I had a bad inexcusable experience at one of the casinos in Phoenix about 10-12 years ago and have never been back. In poker, if you muck your hand or your discarded hand hits the muck, your hand is dead. I bet and my sole opponent at that point mucked his hand with his cards hitting the muck. He said, wait a second and asked if he could retrieve his cards. The dealer and the floor person agreed that he could do so. That was completely wrong and I quit the game immediately.


  5. JML says:

    Fun LAT! Good execution of the theme

  6. RunawayPancake says:

    TNY – Is it okay to use SPIRIT ANIMAL if I’m a black person who doesn’t have an actual connection to the many cultures that do believe in them?

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