Monday, December 9, 2019

BEQ untimed (Jim Q) 


LAT 4:32 (Nate) 


NYT 2:54 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 12:00 (Rachel) 


Universal untimed (Rebecca) 


WSJ 4:17 (Jim P) 


Ellis Hay’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review

This played a smidgen harder than an average Monday for me, in part because I have never watched “The Office.” The theme answers are all place + color. If there’s a specific pattern or meaning to the colors, I missed it.

New York Times, December 9, 2019, #1209, Ellis Hay, solution grid

  • 17a [Sweet citrus fruits from Southern California] are VALENCIA ORANGES. I always thought they hailed from Spain.
  • 26a [Only N.F.L. team that doesn’t have a logo on its helmets] are the CLEVELAND BROWNS.
  • 47a [Some chickens] are RHODE ISLAND REDS.
  • 61a [Hit 1980s cop show] is HILL STREET BLUES. Still the best.

Four 15-letter theme answers that are all solidly in the language and consistent, and appropriate for a Monday. Impressive.

A few other things:

  • 1a [The Mayflower had three of them] is MASTS, not SAILS, which is what I put in originally.
  • 10d [Weather phenomena from the Pacific] is the infelicitous plural EL NINOS. Who says that?
  • I love the word SMITTEN. I just do.
  • 43d [Actor who played Andy Bernard on “The Office”] is ED HELMS. Was this a gimme for anyone who ever watched the show? I’ve never heard of the guy.
  • 53d [*cough, cough*] is an amusing clue for AHEM.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: in addition the Ed and the source of the oranges, I didn’t know that ISU sports teams are the Cyclones.

Sid Sivakumar’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Get to the Top”—Jim P’s review

This looks to be Sid Sivakumar’s WSJ debut. Congrats! Sid had a nifty AVCX grid a couple months ago if you’ll recall.

Today we’re given theme entries in the Down direction, each with some circled letters at the top. 30d is clued [Partly, and a hint to how to read the circled letters]. Answer: UP TO A POINT.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Get to the Top” · Sid Sivakumar · Mon., 12.9.19

  • 3d [Tuning tools for a cappella groups] PITCH PIPES. Tip.
  • 8d [American Airlines Arena team] MIAMI HEAT. Aim.
  • 24d [Infused with gas] AERATED. Area.
  • 34d [Notes stuck on the fridge, perhaps] TO-DO LISTS. Dot.

I’ll admit it took me a few minutes of post-solve cogitating  to sort this out. My first thought was that these were things that came to a point like the TIP of a pen. That didn’t work. My second thought was that these were words that could precede or follow the word “point”. “Dot point”, “point dot.” Nope again.

It took me a while to realize these were all synonyms of “point” where the meaning of “point” changes from entry to entry. Nice. I like it. But it feels pretty esoteric for a Monday. For me anyway.

Beautiful fill though, eh? NAMELY, we get HEDGE MAZES, HAILS A TAXI, “OH IS THAT SO?,” LOOP DE LOOP, CAVIAR, STEPS UP near to TRAMPLE, SHADOW, MAC PRO, TWO OUT, HYENAS, and Bernadette PETERS. That’s pretty great stuff for a Monday when a constructor has less leeway in filling out the grid. Oh, I also liked FOR HER clued as [Gift category]. That was a nice touch.

Being a Monday, cluing is pretty straightforward but I can relate to [Pain in the neck, at times?] as the clue for TIE.

Nice theme, even though it eluded me for too long, and delightful fill. A well-crafted grid. Four stars.

I leave you with my favorite Bernadette PETERS moment: her duet with Steve Martin in The Jerk.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup

If I hadn’t known today’s puzzle was by Natan before solving, I’d have figured it out by the time I hit the center of the grid, where REFUGEE CAMP occupies the central squares. The viewpoint that Natan brings to his puzzles is always strong and often highlights his work in refugee and immigration advocacy. It’s awesome.

The New Yorker crossword solution • Natan Last • Monday, December 9, 2019

I (as usual) loved this puzzle, although I have a couple of nitpicky minor things that keep it from being my absolute favorite. First, the good stuff.

Entries I loved:

  • CLICKFARMS – modern and horrifying.
  • AVENUE Q – I saw this with my grandfather when I was 13. Would not recommend seeing this with your grandfather when you are 13.
  • FLEABAG – The first show I loved enough to fully binge watch in YEARS.

Clues I loved:

  • Langston Hughes poem “Let America Be America ___” (AGAIN). Nice counterpoint to other ideas about what America should be again.
  • Position papers? (KAMA SUTRA). Perfect pun.
  • Golda who said, “Don’t be so humble; you are not that great” (MEIR). Savage!

Minor gripes:

  • The clue on TOP (Be the dominant partner, in queer parlance). Not to get too blue on this upstanding family-friendly website, but I assure you that not all dominant partners in queer relationships are TOPs!
  • DFLAT (Key of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune”)- I’m pretty over this entry type of note-followed-by-FLAT-or-SHARP.
  • SLIER (More cunning: Var.). There’s Var. and then there’s “shouldn’t we probably just say “more sly”?
  • This might just be a me-thing but I got hung up in the SW by HOG/HACKER. I had PIG/PACKER and thought maybe IGLALA was a Var.? Isn’t a PACKER also a type of hat? And to have the same meaning of black hat in the grid twice was a bit misleading! Usually if you duplicate clues it changes the meaning, no?

Anyways, overall, still loved it. My favorite thing about these New Yorker puzzles is that they really allow the constructor’s voice to shine through, and Natan’s puzzle voice is one of my favorites. Lots of stars from me.

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword Themeless Monday #546—Jim Q’s review

I finally got caught up on the Peloton commercial controversy- literally just before opening the puzzle- having been in the dark most of the week. So 1-Across was no problem whatsoever for me! You can always count on BEQ for uber-current entries.


  • 1A [Ad character that has a lot to work out?] PELOTON WIFE. Her semi-

    Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword solution, Themeless No. 546

    quasi “sequel” ad for Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin is very entertaining.

  • 17A [Performance guaranteed to make a splash?] WATER BALLET. Not really sure what this is, but I enjoyed it as an entry.
  • 20A [Periods of omission?] ELLIPSIS. Great clue.
  • 39D [Lord, in a certain Christmas carol] LEAPER. Is it the tenth day?
  • 11D [Garage number] ESTIMATE. For some reason, I thought this was a music clue.


  • 5D [___ out (ineligible to run for reelection)Put into words?] TERMED. Let’s assume the latter half of that clue is a typo… perhaps a clue from another puzzle that didn’t get erased when BEQ updated? Who knows.
  • 27D [___ Fielding (“A Passage to India” character)] CYRIL crossing 33A [Grayish igneous rock] DIORITE. That R was brutal for me! Had to run the alphabet before Mr. Happy Pencil appeared.
  • 21D [“Attention” singer Charlie] PUTH. Never heard of. Tough to infer.
  • 24A [Bygone small CD format (expect hipsters to adopt them in about 10 years)] MINI DISC. A dupe of sorts, since in the clue itself the D in CD stands for DISC.

I was shocked at how easy the SE was- not needing a single cross for the lovely stack down there (MADAM I’M ADAM, AMAZON PRIME, SPRINGSTEEN). That’s a rarity for me.

Great fun!

4.1 stars.

And in case you haven’t seen the follow up ad:

Evan Kalish’s Universal crossword, “Bright Spots”—Rebecca’s review

THEME: STAR appears in each theme answer

Universal crossword solution · Evan Kalish · “Bright Spots” · Mon., 12.09.19


  • 16A [*Apply pressure, in a way] TWISTST ARMS
  • 23A [*”The Coming” rapper] BUSTA RHYMES
  • 33A [*2013 OneRepublic hit … and a task that, if applied to the asterisked answers, yields five] COUNTING STARS
  • 47A [*Rep’s goal] SALES TARGET
  • 56A [*Country whose capital is San Jose] COSTA RICA

Cute puzzle to start off the week. I liked the theme – and thought this set of answers was a lot of fun with a really nice range. The only one that I didn’t love was TWIST ARMS which is valid, but just felt like not the part of speech that is normally used here.

Some fun fill here as well – I was unfamiliar with ROAD DIET before but it’s a great entry – and I like seeing NARNIA show up – especially this time of year. Also going to give points here for MIRREN, ON A RUN, YEAH BUT, and TAILOR TO.

For those unfamiliar with the song this puzzle is based on:

3.25 stars

Kurt Mengel & Jan-Michele Gianette’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

LAT 12.9.19 Solution

LAT 12.9.19 Solution

17A: PORK BARREL BILLS [Career-boosting political spending on local projects]
30A: HAM OPERATOR [Amateur radio hobbyist]
36A: GOOSE EGGS [Zeros]
47A: CHICKEN FEED [Paltry sum]
60A: MEAT OF THE MATTER [Issue’s most important element … and a hint to 17-, 30-, 36- and 47-Across]

Each of the themers starts with a type of meat, but I’m not sure what the “matter” part of the revealer is supposed to indicate. It feels like this puzzle could have had any meat-related revealer to me, which makes it seem less elegant. Also, HAM OPERATOR uses the term ham in a completely different way than the meat meaning, while the other themers’ meats reference the meat/animal itself. Finally, pork and ham are the same meat, right? Two pigs and two birds, but no other animals/meats. Was this puzzle supposed to be focused on white (or the other white) meats? It’s all okay, but it didn’t feel as solid and enjoyable as some other puzzles I’ve done in the LAT lately.

The fill in the puzzle was largely straightforward and uneventful, aside from the odd ONE OF [___ a kind] and HOLE [___-in-one: golfer’s ace] dupe. ERES [“___ to you, matey!”] also felt a bit dodgy. Otherwise, a quick solve! It was nice to see women like ISADORA Duncan, UMA Thurman, and Lady GODIVA in the puzzle. Yes, MA’AM!

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15 Responses to Monday, December 9, 2019

  1. Ethan says:

    I would say that Ed Helms is “Monday puzzle famous.” In addition to The Office, he was a correspondent for the Daily Show and was a co-star of the Hangover movies, which, though I’m not a fan, made a bunch of money.

  2. maxine nerdström says:

    Ed Helms was a gimmie for this Office fan, but i do think he’s a tricky name for a Monday puzzle.

  3. Thumbs down to the ABLE clue in the NYT.

  4. C. Y. Hollander says:

    The New Yorker Puzzle GOOFed and ERRed twice over, in my opinion, for cluing these words with the word transgress, when both goof and err mean specifically to sin unintentionally, which transgress does not.

  5. Billy Boy says:

    Not much to write home about this Monday including Wonder Twins, lol.

    At least no OREOs.

  6. JohnH says:

    Typical TNY. No ingenuity at all required. Just endless trivia or a lot of very good guesses. I mostly guessed right, but not always, and who cares?

  7. Karen says:

    BEQ: Thanks, Jim Q, for blogging this puzzle today. I miss the Mon/Thu BEQ blogs. I do them every week and often need explanations here. I will have to look up the “peloton ad controversy.” Hadn’t heard about it.

    • Stephen B. Manion says:

      The Peloton ad controversy revolves around a very slim, fit woman who receives a ($2.000) Peleton stationary bike as a gift. She comments after some alluded to lapse of time how it has transformed her life. The controversy involves the perceived sexism of featuring such a woman. I do spinning twice a week. I burn a little more than 500 calories in a class . The very best men and women, who are for the most part strong moreso than slim and fit, burn close to 700.


  8. Noam D. Elkies says:

    NYT: 10D:EL_NIÑOS looks funny, but it does occur; I find it several times in the Wikipedia article on the weather phenomenon. How else would one form the plural? “Los Niños” wouldn’t work.

    Nice Monday puzzle otherwise. As for 17A:VALENCIA_ORANGES, I figured that they originated in Spain but were now cultivated elsewhere too — but Wikipedia says that no, the hybrid was created in California, but named for “Valencia, Spain, which had a reputation for its sweet orange trees”. Learn something new . . .


  9. JohnH says:

    On the WSJ, I feel foolish for asking, but how does POINT = AREA?

    • RunawayPancake says:

      Per Merriam-Webster, one definition of point is “a narrowly localized place having a precisely indicated position”; and area can be defined as “a particular extent of space or surface . . . a geographic region.” Seems a bit of a stretch, but that’s all I could come up with.

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