Monday, September 23, 2019

BEQ untimed (Jim Q) 


LAT 3:23 (Nate) 


NYT 3:10 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 12:13 (Rachel) 


Universal  Untimed (Rebecca) 


WSJ 4:29 (Jim P) 


Andrea Carla Michael’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

This was a fun Monday puzzle with a fresh theme. All the theme answers have essentially the same clue.

New York Times, September 23, 2019, #923, Andrea Carla Michaels, solution grid

  • 17a [One who yaks, yaks, yaks …] is a TALKAHOLIC.
  • 27a [… yaks, yaks, yaks …] is BLABBERMOUTH.
  • 44a [… yaks, yaks, yaks …] is the delightful BLATHERSKITE.
  • 59a [… yaks, yaks, yaks] is CHATTERBOX.

I haven’t seen this theme before and I enjoyed solving it. It’s easy enough for a Monday and engaging enough for more experienced solvers.

A few other things:

  • 7d [Eye amorously] is a mild-mannered clue for OGLE. I’d rather something more pointed about the invasiveness of ogling.
  • 10d [“Oh yeah? You and what army?”] is SEZ WHO? Made me grin.
  • 37a [The “G” of L.G.B.T.Q.+] is GAY. I haven’t see it with the + sign before; not sure I like it, since it makes the other identities invisible.
  • 48a [“Whatever you want!”] is NAME IT.
  • 66a [Long, tedious trip] is SHLEP, which looks wrong to me without the C (schlep). It’s correct, I know, since transliterating Yiddish is not an exact science.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: the CIAO means “hello” as well as “goodbye.”

Trent H. Evans’s Universal crossword, “Onset”—Rebecca’s review

THEME: Lights! Camera! Action! Today’s puzzle MAKES A SCENE

Universal crossword solution · Trent H. Evans · “Onset” · Mon., 9.23.19


  • 17A [*Gives the go-ahead] GREEN LIGHTS
  • 27A [*Robocop?] SPEED CAMERA
  • 47A [*Like an injured player on the sidelines] OUT OF ACTION
  • 63A [Rants and raves, or what a director does after saying the starred answers’ ends] MAKES A SCENE

This is a great, easy puzzle. A classic theme-type, very well executed. The end of each themed answer gives us part of LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! with the phrases MAKES A SCENE our very-literal revealer – just a great solve all around.

The fill is pretty great too. ALTER EGOS and ALL TIED UP are superb, lively answers that were fun to discover while solving. And of course this Battlestar Galactica fanatic was excited to find CYLONS in the grid. It’s also never bad to have a chance to see Kelly CLARKSON and ADELE together. We had a little color mini-theme happening too with GREEN LIGHTS, BLACK SOX, and YELLOW all leading off rows, which whether intentional or not was another cool part of this puzzle.

A couple of clues I want to mention as well – the clue for CAT [Pet that’s not fetching?] made me laugh – and the clue for OBEY [Controversial wedding vow verb] – with it’s indication that the verb is a problematic one when it comes to wedding vows – made me so happy.

I was trying to figure out which area of the puzzle I was going to consider my favorite, but looking back at it the grid was really so well constructed with so many great answers that I loved it all.

4 stars

John Lieb’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Say That Again?”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Well-known(ish) quotes of the form verb noun verb, where the verb is repeated for emphasis.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Say That Again?” · John Lieb · Mon., 9.23.19

  • 20a [Warning in 1994’s Best Picture] “RUN, FORREST, RUN!”
  • 34a [“Disco Inferno” refrainBURN, BABYBURN
  • 43a [Fight song at Philadelphia football gamesFLY, EAGLESFLY
  • 57a [1965 Boris Karloff filmDIE, MONSTER, DIE. Never heard of this one, but it was simple to infer given a few crosses and knowledge of the theme.

It occurs to me that you can follow each of the phrases above with “Disco Inferno!” and it still works well enough. Go ahead and try it. I’ll wait.

I thought this was lively and fun, and the repetition made sussing out the lower entries much easier, which is not a bad thing on a Monday.

The fill is lively as well with BRASSERIE, BELL TOWER, DEARBORN, BIG CHEESE, and IF NEED BE. Quite an ENJOYABLE set!

I had no idea on MODEL A [Ford’s first car], but since I got it completely from the crosses, it was a non-issue. Could do without archaic HIE, though.

Everything else is clean and by the book. A fine, fun puzzle. 3.9 stars.

Elizabeth Gorski’s New Yorker crossword — Rachel’s write-up

Of all the New Yorker puzzles I’ve done recently, this was probably my least favorite, but that’s not actually saying very much about the quality of the puzzle, because it’s still quite clean and contains several entries/clues that I enjoyed! This is an objectively good puzzle, but a few details kept me from fully enjoying it.

New Yorker solution • Elizabeth Gorski • 9/23/19

For one thing, putting ROZ CHAST at 1-A in a New Yorker puzzle feels very “look how clever and self-referential we are being!” of them. Possibly I’m just cranky about it because it should have been obvious from __Z_HAS_ and I feel silly about getting it last, but crossing TYNAN (?), CRTS (??), and the delightfully-clued-but-difficult to infer RESEARCH was a challenge.  I also don’t think of ENORMITY as a synonym of “Outrageousness” (in my mind ENORMITY is morally neutral, but the first definition does appear to be “enormous wrongness” rather than “enormousness”), so that NW corner was just tough for me.

To address a conversation in the comments from last week, I want to add that I agree with the consensus that New Yorker Mondays are designed to be harder than New Yorker Fridays. I’d say these Mondays are like NYT Fridays, and these Fridays are like NYT Tuesdays, if NYT Tuesdays were themeless? The Monday cluing definitely seems to skew towards the less obvious (e.g., the clue on ZOOTOPIA, which in this case required that you have at least some idea what the film was about, rather than just knowing that it won the Oscar for best animated film. Or, ITALO disco rather than ITALO Calvino).

A few other things:

  • Wasn’t familiar with HAYMOW, but it appears to be synonymous with “hayloft”?
  • YMA is one of my all-time favorite bits of short fill, both because it’s a fun combination of letters, but also because I learned who YMA Sumac is from an offhand line in the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • RELAXWILLYOU doesn’t feel natural enough to be a stand-alone entry. I generally like the New Yorker puzzles’ use of colloquialisms as entries, but this one doesn’t work for me.

Overall, a solid puzzle, but less exciting than other New Yorkers. (Grading these puzzles feels like grading on a curve where the baseline is the excellence of other New Yorker puzzles, so this is still VERY good.)

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword, Themeless Monday #535—Jim Q’s review

Anyone else having trouble downloading the Across Lite file? I solved in the applet on the website, which was a first for me. Not all that bad though! ***Update: Across Lite issue has been fixed***

BEQ #1194, Themeless Monday #535

Surprised myself by completing this in what felt like below average time, considering there was a lot I did not know. Names that were foreign to me included Erick ROWAN, IRA ALLEN (who I can only assume lived in Ethan’s shadow!), Gish JEN, KARL Lagerfeld, Danny TREJO, ERNO Goldfinger (surprised I’ve never seen the last name clued considering the number of times ERNO has appeared in a grid). WYMAN, DAYNE, and WOODROW were amongst the names which only required a letter or two to jog my memory.

There’s a hilarious Taylor DAYNE encounter story that Tig Notaro told on This American Life. I highly recommend taking the time to enjoy it:

Not sure how I feel about BONEHEADED PLAYS as the featured grid-spanner. Is that a solidly in-language phrase? It feels… I dunno… somewhat vague and “green paintish,” but I could be wrong.

While I could always use fewer names in the BEQ, it’s a testament to the cluing and construction that I was able to wade through it all.

4 stars.

Seth Bisen-Hersh’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

9.23.19 LAT Solution

9.23.19 LAT Solution

20A: DUE NORTH [Zero degrees, on a compass]
23A: BLIND TRUST [Fiduciary entity whose holdings are unknown to its beneficiaries]
39A: DOUBLE INDEMNITY [Life insurance clause specifying twice the payment for certain situations]
47A: RAIN FOREST [Wet wooded region]
54A: ITS A DATE [“I’m there!” … and hint to the first part of the answers to starred clues]

Due date, blind date, double date, and rain date. Nice! This feels like a tight, consistent, and largely complete theme of ___ date phrases, which I appreciated. This was also an incredibly quick solve for me, which says something about the clean cluing and lack of crud in the fill. Sure, the YSER/ROC crossing will get some folks, but it otherwise felt doable.

Big plus for this puzzle: Can we talk about the number of women represented throughout the grid and cluing? MARY, EDIE Adams, TINA from “Bob’s Burgers”, Lois LANE, Streisand, DAME (although clued as a man’s object), SADE, Maria and Anita from “West Side Story”, NELLY Furtado, ballerinas, and Charlotte RAE. Yaasss! This is what we so rarely see.

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15 Responses to Monday, September 23, 2019

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I thought it was great fun! Very playful.
    I didn’t know BLATHERSKITE, which is a big hole to have in the center of a puzzle on a Monday, but I loved learning it. And the crosses were easy enough that I finished in normal Monday time.

  2. Ethan says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that 27A is not quite the same as the other themers? For me, a BLABBERMOUTH is someone who reveals secrets regardless of the actual quantity of their speech, whereas the others are someone who talks a lot in general.

  3. JML says:

    I don’t usually nitpick on this site, but that LAT was rough. For some reason, it got by as an 80-worder. The grid seems unnecessarily cramped; themers of 8-10-15-10-8 should not warrant such a boxed-off grid. Why weren’t the eights moved away from the tens? 51 theme squares, again, should not justify pushing the word count to 80. The longest non-themers are six letters long, and there are only two of those; no other fill exceeds five letters. Also, it should not have been a Monday puzzle. I was fine as a regular solver, buy I feel bad for new solvers trying to fill in YSER, NSEC, TETE, EERO, YENTL, ROC, and AIDA. Apologies to constructor Seth, but I just wasn’t a fan today.

    • Hi JML!

      I’m so sorry about YSER/ROC/NSEC — but anyone who doesn’t know Yentl right away should go watch that movie stat!!!! I mean, it was clued very easily by Rich. I just had “Streisand movie”, as I certainly can rattle off every single one she has done in one breath. Not to mention all the Verdi operas… Ah, well, perhaps you feel the way I feel when there is ever a sports clue (note: only 1 sports clue in this puzzle!). Anyway, my humblest apologies. Truth be told, given my grid constraints of ***TL and ***HI it’s a miracle I was able to fill that box at all.

      This was actually my first published crossword ever (!!!!!!!!!!!) after multiple attempts, and I didn’t even know you should count words, so thanks for teaching me that! I have since learned to keep my black square count to 40 or less, which in hindsight, would’ve knocked down the word count for you. However, I could not for the life of me figure out how to get those theme answers there more spaced out; I tried multiple different configurations, though I have since gotten better at grid construction, I promise. Originally, I had it 10-8-15-8-10 and that made for a much nicer grid; however, Rich wanted the theme revealer last, so I swapped them to the best of my ability.

      Regardless, I am still thrilled that people are talking about and doing my puzzle, as the only other puzzles I’ve ever written were for the 2014 MIT Mystery Hunt.

      Anyway, it would not be like me if I didn’t plug my webpage with my books, audiobook, sitcom pilot, songs, cast recordings of my musicals, web series, podcast, comedy videos, cat photos and travel blog, so if you’re so inclined, maybe you will enjoy some of my non-puzzle writing:

      Thanks again for doing my puzzle!!!! And for the nice tone of your comment; believe me, I’ve gotten way nastier, anonymous comments for various projects (I even have a book chapter and a song about it).

      All the best, Seth

      PS I had no control over the weekday, but I did think I was writing a Tuesday, honestly.

  4. Lise says:

    You had me at BLATHERSKITE ❤

  5. RunawayPancake says:

    BEQ – I also had problems downloading the AcrossLite file but as of 10:00 AM EST it appears to be fixed.

  6. David L says:

    Rachel — I was struck by your comment on ENORMITY. When I was young it was drilled into us that ‘enormity’ meant a great sin or immorality, and that using it to mean simply largeness was a Terrible Error. But the meaning of the word in general usage is changing, and I think this is a change for the better. It never made a whole lot of sense of that ‘enormous’ should be a neutral word while ‘enormity’ wasn’t, and the only point of the difference that I could infer was that it enabled know-it-alls to look down their noses at the hoi polloi. I am happy to bid good riddance to the old meaning of the word.

    I’d never heard of ITALO disco, and (consulting Wikipedia) I’m not sure Giorgio Moroder had much to do with it. He was from Italy but has lived and worked in Germany since he was young, and that’s where he first made his mark.

    • PhilR says:

      Apparently, enormous was the first to move from a common meaning of extreme wickedness, enormity only joining in on the fun recently. I much like the distinction and wish it to be preserved. In the past year or so Bank of America had a huge advertising campaign built around the phrase “Get to know the enormity of BoA”. I had fantasies of calling the head of marketing and betting him the entire advertising budget for the year that he would be pretty upset by reading Websters definition 1A of enormity. Also that someone at the ad agency put that in purposefully.

      • David L says:

        That’s funny! Perhaps they should have said, get to the know the monstrosity that is BoA. Or: You are small and BoA is huge beyond your comprehension.

        Hard to see what message they are trying to convey, really.

  7. Jenni Levy says:

    The New Yorker Mondays are definitely harder than the Fridays. That’s by design. I can’t find the piece now but I remember reading something when they introduced the Friday puzzle – they wanted something easier to help people relax as the weekend approached. Or something like that. I don’t mind an easier Friday puzzle and I really enjoy a harder Monday that reverses the polarity of the NYT difficulty scale.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      And yet this Monday New Yorker fell in a Mon/Tues NYT amount of time for me. Would have enjoyed some trickier clues today.

      Although my solving time was helped by knowing 1-Across without any crossings, so YMMV.

    • billy boy says:

      NYN – Weds ish feel for me, the non-timer. Crosses made it go easily, just as the crosses made the Mon LAT go super fast, but I can see where it would play slow for others.

      I must say that after 40 years, I still do not laugh at Roz Chast. Ever. I see her ziggly drawings and roll my eyes.

  8. The New Yorker:

    What confuses me most is why they went with RES at 60D and not RED. The clue for TASTES is good, but I feel like they could’ve gotten fun clues for TASTED and RED without needing to rely on a crutch like RES.

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