Monday, August 26, 2019

BEQ untimed (Jim Q.) 


LAT 4:26 (Nate) 


NYT 3:08 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker untimed (Jenni) 


Universal tk (Vic) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

Today’s NYT is the brainchild of the Fiend’s own Erik “Slicks” Agard. I love Erik’s puzzles, and this one is no exception. The theme is “double words that start with B and have different vowel sounds.” I’m sure there’s a technical term for that.

New York Times, August 26, 2019, # 0826, Erik Agard, solution grid

  • 18a [Start of a nursery rhyme on a farm] is BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP. This accounts for the 16×15 size of the puzzle and I suspect it was the seed entry.
  • 29a [Bow-tie-wearing cub in Jellystone Park] is BOO BOO BEAR. Raise your hand if you heard that in Yogi Bear’s voice.
  • 54a [1963 musical that was Dick Van Dyke’s film debut] is BYE BYE BIRDIE. The first movie I ever saw! I was three. Still love the score. And still love Dick Van Dyke.

One of the keys to a good Monday puzzle is being choosy with your theme material. Three answers is plenty here, and they’re all solid. A strong, accessible, satisfying Monday theme.

A few other things:

  • Love 19d, [Modern prefix with correct] for AUTO.
  • I suspect that we got [Places infants sleep] for CRIBS because it’s a Monday. Later in the week we might have a reference to slang for “residence.”
  • 34a [“You’re telling me!”] is a fun clue for I KNOW. It made me think of my kid’s IKR (for “I know, right?”, although she wouldn’t spell it that way).
  • I have a nit to pick with 42a, [Cookie that’s 29% cream]. There’s no real cream in an OREO. There is “creme filling,” and the spelling is not accidental. Full list of ingredients: unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate {vitamin b1}, riboflavin {vitamin b2}, folic acid), sugar, palm and/or canola oil, cocoa (processed with alkali), high fructose corn syrup, leavening (baking soda and/or calcium phosphate), salt, soy lecithin, chocolate, artificial flavor. See? No cream.
  • 61a [Former attorney general Holder] is ERIC. Would love to see this constructor clue it someday as “Incorrect spelling of an awesome first name.”

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of Jayson TATUM or TESSA Thompson.

Kevin Christian’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

8.26.19 LAT Solution

8.26.19 LAT Solution

19A: KING OF ROCK N ROLL [Nickname for Elvis Presley]
37A: FIRST LADY OF SONG [Nickname for Ella Fitzgerald]
49A: GODFATHER OF SOUL [Nickname for James Brown]

This was a lovely, quick, smooth puzzle with a tight theme. It’s cool that each of these nicknames is 15 letters long (even if the ‘N in the first themer is a bit of a shortcut) – great find, especially given the diverse representation across the three artists highlighted in the theme entries.

Other thoughts:
– I enjoyed seeing fill like YOYODIET and XMEN, and how cool for such a cleanly filled Monday puzzle to only be a Q and W away from being a pangram.
– Let’s look at the gender balance in this puzzle. We have Elvis Presley, James Brown, Jupiter, ANI, IVES, Seth MEYERS, POE, ELMO, Lawrence of Arabia, MONK, Bill NYE, MARRIEDMAN, Fellas / DUDES, Fellow / GENT, and SHEA. 15 entries for the men (counting Fellas / DUDES as one, to be generous) vs. only 5 women – Ella Fitzgerald, JUNO (only clued in her role as a wife), Scarlett OHARA (x2!), ERMA Bombeck, ELSA – or 6 if you count Scarlett twice. At least clue PATTY as a woman to get the ratio closer, right?

Trent H. Evans’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Championship Run”—Jim P’s review

MATCH MAKERS [Facilitators of love connections, and a hint to the first words of 17-, 28- and 47-Across] is our indication that the other themers start with the parts of a tennis match.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · Trent H. Evans · “Championship Run” · Mon., 8.26.19

  • 17a [“Lead on!”POINT THE WAY. Hmm. I’ve heard “lead the way” much more than this. I don’t think this works well as an imperative sentence. [Show someone where to go] would be stronger clue, IMO.
  • 28a [Bend rules to one’s advantageGAME THE SYSTEM
  • 47a [What Supreme Court opinions doSET A PRECEDENT. I wasn’t expecting the indefinite article here, but it Googles more favorably with the “a.”

It seems weird having a set of themers that creates the term “Point, Game, and Set” when the phrase we all know is “Game, Set, and Match.” But I guess the theme is simply after the components of a match and has nothing to do with the phrase. Still, it’s distracting. And coupled with the nits I noted above, my initial feeling was that this felt a little off.

But I’ve come around a bit and think I was viewing this too harshly. I’m okay with the “A” in SET A PRECEDENT, and I’m okay with the overall theme structure, so if POINT THE WAY could have been clued a bit differently or replaced with something more idiomatically common (POINT OF VIEW fits), then I would be satisfied.

Moving on to the fill, we find a load of good stuff: HOT WATER (clued as a metaphor for trouble), BOTTOM LINE, “I CHOKED,” MALL SANTAS, BETA TESTCREAM ALE, PEACHES, THE MOB, and the fun and modern SHE SHEDS.

Everything else checks out as standard: Cleanish short fill and straightforward clues (it is Monday after all).

I don’t know where the idea of SHE SHEDS originated, but I first learned of them from this State Farm commercial, which also gives us the term “she-she-er” (sp?).

And then there’s PEACHES clued rather dully as [Georgia harvest]. More interesting to me is the song by 90s Alt Rock band The Presidents of the United States of America. The apparent message in the video: Eat your PEACHES and you too can fend off a surprise ninja attack.

3.6 stars from me.

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

This is a nice, chewy puzzle to start off the week. I struggled with the SW corner and felt a real sense of accomplishment when I finished it!

I was impressed with myself because I got 1a, [Non-venomous adders?] right away. It’s ABACI. (If it bites you and you die, it’s venomous. If you bite it and you die, it’s poisonous). Pride goeth, etc etc: I needed several crossings to get 1d [The bodily aspect of emotion, to psychologists], AFFECT. No, I’m not a psychologist, but I use the word in pretty much every patient note I write.

New Yorker, August 26, 2019, Natan Last, solution grid

Loved OXFORD COMMA, clued as [Style-guide subject, often]. The clue could have been more fun but the entry is great.

A few other things:

  • Lots of music. Dionne Warwick’s I SAY A Little Prayer, Aerosmith’s SWEET EMOTION, and the one I suspect will cause some grumbling: 37a, [Lil Nas X No. 1 hit with the lyric “I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more”]. That’s OLD TOWN ROAD. We also have DRE, not clued as the rapper.
  • 11d [Like some modern TV broadcasts] is LIVE IN HD. That feels a little roll-your-own. Do people actually say that?
  • Aerosmith and Lil Nas give us two of the three answers in the central staggered stack; the other one is 34a, [Many a closeup] for REACTION SHOT. Nice.
  • 32d is [“The greatest schemer of all time, the organizer of every devilry,” in literature]. The literature in question is written by Arthur Conan Doyle, and the answer is MORIARTY.
  • 39d [“I’m walkin’ here!”] is WATCH IT, brought to you by Dustin Hoffman as Ratso Rizzo. I checked to be sure I had the character name correct and discovered that line was an ad lib. Fun facts to know and tell.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’d never heard of the Lil Nas song, and I didn’t know that the FREE SAFETY provided cover to the quarterback.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword, Themeless Monday #531—Jim Q’s review

Found my foothold in the southeast after flailing around the grid for a minute or so. Enough down there to TOUGH IT OUT (not ROUGH IT OUT although A(R)CO looks better than the correct ATCO to me!).

Really liked this one overall.


    • 38D [Pan handler?] OVEN MITT. Great clue.

      BEQ #1186, Themeless Monday #531

    • 41A [It begins with “Wrong ‘Em Boyo” on “London Calling”] SIDE THREE. Inferred here… It appears this was released as a double album. So SIDE THREE does not refer to a very strangely shaped record.
    • 26D [S word?] PLURAL. Really wanted the word to begin with “S.” Good clue.
    • 4D [Potion that dulls the pain] NEPENTHE. It was on the tip of my tongue… all I had to do was recite the fourteenth stanza of The Raven and then it clicked.
    • 63A [Gingers] CARROT TOPS. Reminded me of a very clever song by Tim Minchin:

  • 36A [First monarch to have their voice recorded] QUEEN VICTORIA. Shocking! 1888 recording. Here it is:


  • 24D [He worked for peanuts] CARVER. As in George Washington. I had CARTER, as in Jimmy. He also worked for peanuts.
  • 59D [London-based acting troupe that stages shows at The Globe: Abbr.] RSC. I was touring The Globe exactly one week ago. Probably should’ve gotten Royal Shakespeare Company without needing every cross.
  • 51A [Nat. where hryvnias are spent] UKR. Read it as “hyenas” rather than “hryvnias.” And assumed “spent” referred to the hyenas taking a nap after a long day of terrorizing other animals. I was surprised to find out they prefer sleeping in the Ukraine.

A touch heavy on names, and maybe a couple of ugly moments, but none worth mentioning. I thoroughly enjoyed the bite this one came with.

4.2 Stars

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25 Responses to Monday, August 26, 2019

  1. Martin says:

    Lise and Alan,

    If you missed Will Johnston’s late comment Saturday, he fixed the bug you reported that affected the calendar pages for the various puzzle archives. I never realized that Chrome would correct bad URLs that IE wouldn’t handle. Thanks to both of you.

    • Alan Wachtel says:

      And thanks to Martin and Will for fixing this so quickly, and for their indispensable but largely unsung labors to provide us with our daily quota of crosswords.

  2. maxine nerdström says:

    I liked the NYT a lot today, too. I usually find I’m a fan of Agard puzzles.

    In addition to your Oreo quibble, I’d like to question ASSERT, clued at 25A as “claim without evidence.” I just checked my dictionary definition and I don’t think this clue is quite right.

    • Martin says:

      M-W says that assert “implies stating confidently without need for proof or regard for evidence (asserted that modern music is just noise).” Our president asserts a lot.

      I think that maybe WS used “cream” and not “creme” (which has been used before) to avoid a false foreign language signal on Monday (I know it has an accent in French, but still). I also think it’s ok because we don’t have the same concerns as the FDA and because cream-like things are called “creams.” There’s no cream in a topical steroid vehicle that we call a cream to distinguish it from a messy, greasy, yucky ointment. (I much prefer creams to ointments, if you can’t tell.)

      So I feel that Oreo creme is a cream, even though it’s not cream.

      • JohnH says:

        Odd, but that’s not what I’m seeing in MW11C either online or on my shelf (or, for that matter, RHUD), and I’d have said the clue is off, too. That is, I’m not seeing the part about without regard for evidence.

  3. Lise says:

    Will, thanks so much for fixing the problem. I had edited the URL, although for some reason Edge did not provide “copy” as an option (IE did). Edge sometimes provides different right-click menus depending on the site.

    Clearly my browsers are slackers in the correcting department. Thanks again.

  4. Karen says:

    Going back to the corrupted 8/21 Universal puzzle: this puzzle shows as completed in my AcrossLite downloads although I never actually solved it. Each time I try to open it, AcrossLite shuts down. I haven’t been able to delete it either; again AcrossLite shuts down. Here is the link I show:

    I’d like to solve it or, at least, be able to delete it. Any thoughts?

    • Martin says:

      I’m not sure how you have AL download the puzzle, but it obviously has the bad one cached. I just download to my desktop and solve from there. But if you are not sure how to reconfigure your file association, or just don’t want to mess with it, I made a copy of that file for you with a different name, to trick AL:

      • Karen says:

        Thanks, Martin. I was able to open the file you sent. The old one is still in my downloads and still shuts down AL, but at least I can now do the puzzle!

  5. Karen says:

    Going back to the corrupted 8/21 Universal puzzle: this puzzle shows as completed in my AcrossLite downloads although I never actually solved it. Each time I try to open it, AcrossLite shuts down. I haven’t been able to delete it either; again AcrossLite shuts down. Here is the link I show:

    I’d like to solve it or, at least, delete it. Any thoughts, please?

  6. Ruth says:

    chi-chi (or chichi) for WSJ

  7. DD says:

    New Yorker: I urge anyone who hasn’t listened to “Old Town Road” to watch the “official movie” on YT (it’s about 5 minutes long) — the song is great, and the story spun around it is great. Even people who don’t care for rap or hip hop tend to like this song.

    Thanks, Natan, for another great puzzle.

  8. JohnH says:

    I’d defend the WSJ. POINT THE WAY seems idiomatic to me, and I don’t mind the theme at all (and no doubt they want it to be timely with the U.S. Open’s opening). You’ve got the GAME, SET, and MATCH you want in three consecutive long answers, so why not throw in a fourth for what goes into a game?

    I first got POINT and then one of the two long down answers, the one ending in LINE. So while it didn’t fit the title, must admit I was hoping for PLANE somewhere. Indeed, to move from there to one added dimension, a short answer does provide SPACE. But I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

    I’d never heard of a SHE SHED, and of course it crosses a baseball name I had trouble remembering, but no sweat. Heck, I’ve never experienced a man cave either.

    • Stephen B Manion says:


      I am saying this with humor, but you need to watch more sports-related television. She Shed is ubiquitous on sports show commercials. It reminds me of WHAZZZUPP, which was funny and clever the first time I heard it, but instantly over used and annoying.

      I often wonder why insurance commercials are so big on TV.


      • JohnH says:

        What can I tell you. My exposure to sports on TV is basically in bars and in the gym, both where the sound is off. Come to think of it, a lot of things look better that way.

  9. Billy Boy says:

    I first heard SHE SHED when Nancy had Martin build her one in their garden in Scotland. I played dumb as my wife asked for clarification. Then I knew forever.

    29% cream made me throw up a little in my mouth. I’m no vegan or pescatarian, but we do eat only real food. Must shake that thought …

  10. JP says:

    Is there any reading of 37D in the New Yorker (“Mulled wine?” = OENOLOGY) that’s not completely wrong? I can see “mulling (0ver) wine” as meaning oenology, but why the past tense? (Obviously, “mulled wine” is the term and provides the misleading surface of the clue, but I don’t see how it can define/replace the intended answer.)

  11. GlennG says:

    Conspiracy or happenstance? Notice in today’s LAT and WSJ that THIN crosses ACHOO in the exact same location on both grids. Wonder if there’s a logical explanation for that showing up in two puzzles on the exact same day in the exact same location on the grid? If there isn’t one, the odds have to be pretty low (as in hitting the lottery) of it happening…

    • Evan Kalish says:

      Off course the odds of that are extremely low, but you have to acknowledge that it didn’t happen 999,999 of 1,000,000 times!

  12. Billy Boy says:

    Seems I get it late in the inbox, I miss the Old New Yorker providing literature rather than direct emotional guidance. Was once such a fine stable for elegant writers. It was a much better than typical NYM puzzle although the fact TAKEAIM didn’t ruffle surprised me.

    OENOLOGY (a subject I am rather familiar with) in answer to mulled wine is clever if a wee bit groan-worthy. The subject has amassed a FOK by occurring in the past tense.

  13. Patrick M says:

    Erik’s theme entries all end with an animal, which is nice.

  14. Noam D. Elkies says:

    NYT: I think repeated sound = reduplication. As noted in the Rex comments (and on xwordinfo), it’s not just a B- B- reduplication but in each case the rest is an animal that also starts with B. (FWIW xwordinfo also notes that each B- is a three-letter word with the other two letters being vowels.) Nice theme and puzzle.


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