Monday, January 27, 2020

BEQ untimed (Jim Q) 


LAT 5:12 (Nate) 


NYT 3:10 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 11:39 (Rachel) 


Universal tk (Rebecca) 


WSJ 4:27 (Jim P) 


Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review

I couldn’t figure out where this was going and I was amused when I got to the revealer. Could have done without the racist entry.

New York Times, January 27, 2020, #127, Timothy Polin, solution grid

  • 18a [*Sinister genius in a series of Sax Rohmer novels] is FU MANCHU. The novels are racist. The movies are, if anything, worse.
  • 23a [*Quick-tempered, gun-toting, rabbit-hating toon] is YOSEMITE SAM.
  • 38a [*Dudley Do-Right’s enemy in old TV cartoons] is SNIDELY WHIPLASH.
  • 51a [*Chief pirate in Neverland] is CAPTAIN HOOK.

And the revealer: 60a [Archetypically villainous features possessed by the answers to the starred clues], MOUSTACHES. I had to do an image search to confirm that CAPTAIN HOOK does, indeed, have a moustache (or mustache, as I’d prefer to spell it). I don’t think of it when I see him in my mind’s eye, probably because I’m thinking of my brother playing the role at age 14…

A few other things:

  • 5d [Fill-in-the-blanks story] is the second recent appearance of MAD LIBS.
  • Also reappearing: ETAIL. Enough. Seriously. Take it off your word lists.
  • TE HEE never looks right to me. Shouldn’t it be TEE HEE?
  • 30d [Warning that’s pure bluster] is an IDLE THREAT. Parenting pro tip: never threaten something you’re not prepared to carry out.
  • I filled in IM A PC from crossings and couldn’t parse it at first. It’s [Part of an old Apple commercial tagline], of course.
  • NAOMI Osaka’s ascendance in pro tennis is a gift to constructors everywhere.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that PROVO has over 100,000 residents, and that ORCS are [Foes of elves, in Tolkien]. Everything I know about LOTR I learned from crosswords; I have neither read the books nor seen the movies.

Steve Mossberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Let’s Quest!”—Jim P’s review

I thought the theme was phrases with the form {some things AND some other things}, but it’s tighter than that. The revealer at 67a revealed all with this clue [Seminal role-playing game familiarly, and the theme of this puzzle] and this answer D AND D.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Let’s Quest!” · Steve Mossberg · Mon., 1.27.20

  • 17a [Everyday rulesDOS AND DON’TS
  • 24a [Makeup of some coded messagesDOTS AND DASHES. This one doesn’t feel quite as in-the-language as the others. Maybe because Morse Code is rarely used in real life anymore.
  • 48a [Small, sporadic quantitiesDRIBS AND DRABS
  • 58a [Move with a mouse, sayDRAG AND DROP

A nice, breezy Monday set. Clean and accessible. Just the way to start the week.

Loved seeing Linda RONSTADT in the fill. I had a crush on her when I was a kid after seeing her on The Muppet Show.

PUMPS IRON and BODEGAS make for more great fill, though WISED UP TO would have been better without that last word. I also liked METATAG, FISSURE, and the “OH MAN” / “AW GEE” combo.] SIDRA [Libya’s Gulf of ___] comes out of left field on a Monday, but I find it interesting. Needed every crossing though.

Clues of note:

  • 30a [Saw things?]. TEETH. Not a new clue by any means, but a goodie.
  • 47a [Fruit with a Cotton Candy variety]. GRAPES. Yeesh! I’ll stick with grape-flavored GRAPES.
  • 10d [Usher to a new spot]. RESEAT. I was watching John Wick 2 earlier this evening which features the rapper Common. I guess that put me in the mindset of one-named male performers because I was trying to make this clue fit singer Usher.

Nice, clean Monday. 3.75 stars.

Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker puzzle – Rachel’s writeup

First of all, what are the odds that this puzzle would run with KOBE in it the same day that the NYT runs with LAKER, today of all days? I’m not a basketball fan or an Angeleno, but my heart goes out to his family and the community of people who loved him.

The New Yorker crossword solution • Kameron Austin Collins • Monday, January 27, 2020

The puzzle itself: lots of good stuff in here, and some things I really struggled with. The grid is an interesting layout, with near full rotational symmetry, so all of the corners are approximately the same size. This means that there are no particularly long stacks, and the 4 longest entries are in the center of the grid (CAT CALENDAR / SCHERZANDO / COCOA BUTTER / ECCENTRICS). I lol’d at the clue on CAT CALENDAR when I finally got it (Where you might find a tuxedo), although I wish it’d had a ?. I knew the first part of SCHERZ- and then had to piece together the end from the crosses. I was curious about the clue on ECCENTRICS (Cranks) — one can certainly be eccentric without being cranky, so I had to look up both ECCENTRICS and crank to see which one had another meaning I didn’t know. It was crank! Apparently a second meaning of crank is “an eccentric person, especially one who is obsessed by a particular subject or theory.”

In terms of the solve itself, I flew through the NW Corner so fast that I didn’t even see CFC FREE until after I was done. That’s a cool entry! After that, I ground to a halt in the general south of the grid. There’s a dupe in the SE (POSTS UP / TALK UP), which ordinarily wouldn’t bother me, but their proximity made it particularly glaring. I wrapped up in the SW, where I didn’t know BARTOLI and couldn’t wrap my head around CASH BAR. They may improve your (wedding) reception, but really, wouldn’t an *open* bar be more likely to improve your reception?

A few other things:

  • The clue on MERLE (Haggard musician?) isn’t exactly like a cryptic clue, but it had a cryptic feel to it. I’m into it!
  • Names I didn’t know: just Theda BARA and Marion BARTOLI
  • re: VAPE PEN – don’t vape, kids. (This message brought to you by public health.)
  • Not a fan of the DROPOUT / One with no class? combo.
  • Favorite wordplay clues:
    • Where you might find a tuxedo (CAT CALENDAR)
    • Beauty company? (BEAST)
    • A plus? (ASSET) — tricky tricky!

Overall, I enjoyed the solve, despite a few sticky places. Plenty of stars from me.


Frank Virzi’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

LAT 1.27.20 Solution

LAT 1.27.20 Solution

5D: SHORT STOP [Infielder typically between second and third]
17A: EDGE OF NIGHT [Mystery/soap (1956-‘84) that ultimately dropped “The” from its title]
37A: WOMANS DAY [One of the four Seven Sisters magazines that are is still in print]
63A: TALKING HEAD [Televised panelists shown from the shoulders up]
35D: TAIL LIGHT [Rear warning lamp, and what can go with the end of each answer to a starred clue]

The end of each theme entry can pair with light: stoplight, nightlight, daylight, headlight. Fair enough. I’m not as enthused about this puzzle as I have been for others recently for a few reasons. First, this isn’t a super tight theme set – there are lots of other ___light possibilities that it makes you wonder, “Why these ones?” Second / relatedly, if all you need is a themer ending with night in a puzzle you’re making in 2019 or 2020, why pick a 35+-year-old TV show whose title has to be clarified?

Aside from a few attempts at modernity in the cluing, this feels like a grid that could have been made when that show was still on the air and now just repurposed, which doesn’t spark a lot of joy. (Also, Justin Timberlake’s band is a dated reference – *NSYNC haven’t been a thing for nearly two decades.) The only hint that might be a new grid just with mostly old fill comes from ALEXA and MICHELE, which maybe could have previously been clued with older references, but it’s maybe not as likely? IDK. [Hopscotch] POTSY (??) certainly doesn’t help make this puzzle feel modern or current.

Where I do give a lot of credit is in the [Prefix with gender] clue for CIS. I’ll take inclusion of gender identities any day of the week!

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword Themeless Monday #553—Jim Q’s review

After two weeks of DNFs, I managed to get through this one successfully! And had fun doing it!


  • 19A [Out of whack] ASS BACKWARDS. Or “BACK ASSWARDS,” as I always say

    Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword solution, Themeless No. 553

    (even though it ceases to be an entertaining spoonerism).

  • 16A [“People have told me”] I’M AWARE. Sounds delightfully snide, doesn’t it?
  • 50A [Youngest person to sweep all four major Grammy categories (Record, Song, and Album Of The Year; and Best New Artist)] BILLIE EILISH. A very timely entry and clue pairing, as it references an awards show that finished airing less than 12 hour ago. That being said… total gimme (no complaints!).
  • 11A [It might be shot on a range] B WESTERN. I was very confident on the B and the W, and still thought I had something wrong. Nice aha moment figuring this one out.
  • 37D [First point] EXHIBIT A. The A in this one is symmetrical to the B in B Western. Unintentional, I’m sure. But I thought it was kinda cool.


Only in the SW…

I don’t understand how 62A [Where it’s at] yields LOCATED. Something seems grammatically off for me. 58D [Jerk you hate to see in public] seems a very strange way to clue TIC. I don’t think of someone’s TIC as something I “hate” to see. What I hate to see is someone making fun of a person’s TIC (like current U.S. Presidents do). Unless I’m interpreting the clue wrong. 60A [“Stay in touch!”] WRITE ME. Feels like it’s been a long time since I heard that. EMAIL ME? TEXT ME? CALL ME? Sure.

Other than those minor nits, I really liked this one a lot- and the elbow grease needed to get through a few areas was well worth it.

4 stars.

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6 Responses to Monday, January 27, 2020

  1. Billy Boy says:

    My wife told me cotton candy grapes are real and as disgusting as they sound.

    Today’s OK BOOMER moment – I filled in all the NYT theme answers (Including the MoUSTACHE spelling) straight away – that’s so pathetic, I know.

    New Yorker X-w will have to wait.

  2. Ethan Friedman says:

    Missing from the list of mustachioed villains is, of course, WILL SHORTZ.

  3. cyco says:

    Excellent New Yorker this week – one of the tougher ones in recent memory for me, but gettable after thinking through some of the puns.

  4. C. Y. Hollander says:

    In the BEQ puzzle, I had a couple of issues that Jim didn’t mention. 32D clues the NBA as a “sport”, whereas it’s a league. 30A suggests that there are OTTO pawns in an Italian chess set, whereas there are actually sedici of these (I had to look up that word): otto per side.

    I agree about “Where it’s at” not working for LOCATED.
    I have no problem with WRITE ME, which is something I would say, and doesn’t sound at all dated to my ears. I don’t hear the implication of longhand there. Don’t people “write” e-mails?
    Given that most people (as I believe) would prefer not to have tics of their own in public, one can hate to see them out of sympathy for the sufferer. That’s how I took that clue. If it were about making fun of tics, I’d expect “laugh to see”, or something.

  5. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: Missed opportunity. The puzzle could have easily replaced the troublesome figure of DR FU MANCHU with Sonic the Hedgehog villain DR ROBOTNIK, played by Jim Carrey in the upcoming film.

  6. Christopher Smith says:

    TNY: Have to second Rachel on CASH BAR, which honestly seems like a mistake.

Comments are closed.