Monday, May 4, 2020

BEQ tk (Jim Q) 


LAT 4:46 (Nate) 


NYT 4:24 (Matt) 


The New Yorker 9:14 (Rachel) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


WSJ 4:24 (Jim P) 


Emily Carroll’s New York Times Crossword — Matt’s review

Matt here, filling in for Jenni, who is rock-climbing in Patagonia (I’m guessing). Today we have an amusing theme from Emily Carroll:

17-A: [Features of most hotel doors] = PEEPHOLES. I think “hotel room doors” would be more precise.

24-A: [Gibberish] = GOBBLEDYGOOK

37-A: [What the starts of the answers to 17-, 24-, 48- and 60-Across do, punnily?] = USE FOWL LANGUAGE. Non-traditional central revealer! I think this is becoming a thing. When I saw one of these a few months ago I recoiled at the affront to my revealers-come-last-end-of-discussion upbringing, but then a commenter said that they liked the central reveal because it let them enjoy the last few theme entries during the solve instead of after. Interesting take. Since seeing that comment I’ve thought about using a central reveal in a couple of my puzzles but haven’t quite been able to bring myself to do so. But when I saw it here I have to admit it didn’t bother me. May have been forced in this case since there might not be a good 15-letter match for USE FOWL LANGUAGE, but again, warming up to the idea. Sound off yea/nay/OK in comments below.

48-A: [Medical impostors, informally] = QUACK DOCTORS

60-A: [Bar with country music] = HONKY TONK

So we’ve got a chick, turkey, duck, and a goose making a peep, gobble, quack, and honk. Nice touch that they’re all different animals; wouldn’t have begrudged her having to reuse one of these creatures in a theme entry but it elevates the theme that she didn’t.

Star fill: ICE SKATERS, CELLOPHANE, ARGYLE, and STRONG. Only non-Monday zone was the upper-right, where the confluence of RICCI, ARLES, ALDO, RIA, and CREDO might trip up a few newbs. You and I knew all those, but hey, we’re pros.

Clever clues: [Knight stick?] for LANCE, [Film about food?] for CELLOPHANE, and [Just about every character on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”] for COP.

Let’s come up with a number: fun theme I haven’t seen before, tightly executed; controversial/bold placement of the revealer in the center; fill that didn’t suffer despite five theme entries, including a 15. Running that through the ratingometer yields a score of 3.81740328 stars, which rounds up to 3.82 stars. Above-average Monday.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Knight Line”—Jim P’s review

It’s the fourth of May, the date which has been co-opted by certain sci-fi fans as “STAR WARS Day.” Here’s a fact I didn’t know: Per Wikipedia, the term “May the Fourth Be with You,” was first used in a congratulatory ad in The London Evening News on the day Margaret Thatcher first took office in 1979. It read, “May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations.”

This puzzle uses the first letters of its theme answers to spell out the famous movie quote. STAR and WARS make an appearance at 29d and 56d with the clue [With 56-Down, series that’s the source of the movie line in the circles].

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Knight Line” · Mike Shenk · Mon., 5.4.20

  • 16a [Tartar sauce base] MAYONNAISE
  • 20a [Movie settings] THEATERS
  • 30a [Without any doubt] FOR CERTAIN
  • 43a [Vegetable that comes in red, yellow, orange and green] BELL PEPPER
  • 56a [Shriveled up] WITHERED
  • 61a [Bookstore section] YOUNG ADULT

Pretty simple and straightforward. A good accessible Monday theme for crossword newbies, especially those of the geeky persuasion. The only trouble for me was that I tried to shoehorn FOURTH where FORCE eventually went.

Billy DEE Williams makes an appearance at 68a, and TITLE gets the clue [Darth for Vader, e.g.]. The most surprising bit of the theme for me (in a fun way) is the puzzle’s title, since the quote is spoken often by Jedi Knights.

The rest of the grid wasn’t all that memorable as I sped through it. Entries like CRATE UP, BEEPS AT, LEAD-UPS, and INTONES don’t exactly sparkle. I like “BOO HISS,” and ERITREA is nice to see thanks to its crossword-friendly letters.

I was surprised to find INLAY and OUTLAY in the same grid and crossing at the Y, no less. In fact, that Y was my last letter entered. Their meanings are completely unrelated of course ([Dental filling] vs. [Expenditure]), but it was still surprising since they must be etymologically related. Mustn’t they?

Not much to note in the cluing, so I’ll leave it there. 3.4 stars from me.

Evan Kalish’s Universal crossword, “Keeping Quiet” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 5/4/20 • Mon • “Keeping Quiet” • Kalish • solution • 20200504

  • 50aR [Crowd-rallying cry, or a hint to a 40-Down letter in 19-, 27- and 41-Across] I CAN’T HEAR YOU. 40d [See 50-Across] SILENT. Those entries contain a silent u.
  • 19a. [Current problem?] SHORT CIRCUIT. I think the u imparts a schwa sound rather than it being a short i.
  • 27a. [Youth baseball organization] LITTLE LEAGUE. Silent e too.
  • 41a. [Purpose of corporate bonding exercises] TEAM BUILDING.

Bonus! 1d [“Quiet!”] SHUSH.

So there you have it. Straightforward, Monday-ready theme.

Relatively mellow accompaniment:

I’m not a big Miles Davis fan, but it certainly seems appropriate.

Let’s have a look around (40a [Intel collectors] SPIES).

  • 2d [Snack within “spinach omelet”] NACHO. That’s a fun find.
  • 8d [Cars with stick shifts] MANUALS. My preference always. Would be a misnomer to call them ‘standard’ nowadays.
  • 9d [Halifax, Nova __ ] SCOTIA, 10d [Bagel topper] LOX. ISWYDT
  • 26d [About 687 days, on Mars] YEAR. Confusing, because that is the number of Earth days a Martian year lasts. The duration is roughly 669 sols, or Martian days. I looked this up.
  • 55d [“On the Basis of __”] SEX. Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic. Have yet to see it.
  • 23a [Zoo facility for birds] AVIARY, 48d [Owlery sounds] HOOTS.
  • 33a [Pie __ mode] À LA, 63a [Word in a simile with “ABC” or “pie”] EASY. Just like this Monday crossword. I had a sub-3-minute time (finally having a fully functional keyboard helps a lot!).

This is a little more raucous than the track above, but way more apropos. RIP Hal Willner (1956–2020).

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup

The New Yorker crossword solution • Patrick Berry • Monday, May 4, 2020

WOW this grid! Patrick Berry has given us four absolutely flawless, wide-open corners with dense quad-stacks of 9s in the NE and SW and only one single solitary piece of fill that I could live without (it’s WIP). Also only two three-letter entries in the entire puzzle, unless I’m missing something. Just a gorgeous, moderately challenging themeless grid packed with high-quality wordplay clues and some standard New Yorker cultural trivia sprinkled throughout.

First, those quad-stacks: HOLE CARDS / I’M ON A DIET / TEST PAPER / SLEEP MODE in the NE and STAG PARTY / HOLLOW LOG / EMMA STONE / DEAD HORSE in the SW. Every one a solid entry, except mayyyybe TEST PAPER, but the clue on that one so nails the entry that it doesn’t matter. The other long entries in this puzzle are ERASERHEAD, the Wikipedia article for which I sincerely regret reading, and RITA MORENO, whose appearance on The Muppet Show I sincerely do NOT regret finding on Youtube and linking here.

A few other notes:

  • I had never heard of TONEARMS because I’m the wrong kind of millennial (i.e. not the kind that has a record player even though for a while it was cool to buy record players)
  • In-your-face projectile? for PIE  reminds me of how sad I am that the Indie 500 is going to happen virtually this year instead of IRL but also how happy I am that they made their entire set of past tournament puzzles available for free on their website
  • Most New Yorker™ clue: “Smug and silver” river mentioned in Shakespeare’s “Henry IV, Part I” for TRENT
  • Never having read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and knowing just barely enough about TV in the 90s means that I threw down FRASIER instead of ICHABOD for “Crane who woos Katrina”

Overall, this is a tightly packed, expertly constructed puzzles that I thoroughly enjoyed. Many many stars from me!

Craig Stowe’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up

LAT 5.6.20 Solution

LAT 5.6.20 Solution

17A: LAZY SUSAN [Revolving tray]
25A: NAKED LUNCH [1991 cult film based on a William S. Burroughs novel]
38A: CATS IN THE CRADLE [1974 Harry Chapin hit that mentions Little Boy Blue]
49A: PRIVATE JET [Rich exec’s transport]
62A: EYE OPENER [Shock to the system, and what the start of each answer to a starred clue can be]

Lazy eye, naked eye, cats eye, and private eye – each theme entry opens with an “eye -” phrase. I’m not the biggest fan of lazy eye or TONE DEAF in this puzzle – both certain skew negatively and maybe even in an ableist direction – but the theme set otherwise felt solid. I appreciated that two of the themers had to do with the actual physical organ of the eye and the other two didn’t.

What I extra appreciated was all of the women featured in this puzzle! Comedian ALI Wong, Chris EVERT of Tennis, Minnesota senator AMY Klobuchar, BEA Arthur of “The Golden Girls”, “Frida” star Salma HAYEK, Barbra STREISAND of “Yentl”, Old-time actresses JAYNE Mansfield and Meadows, and EVA Longoria of “Overboard”. A small missed opportunity with ANN and its cluing, but I’ll take it. :)

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9 Responses to Monday, May 4, 2020

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Agree cute theme. Took me longer than usual for a Monday, not sure why…
    I don’t mind the revealer in the middle. It can be of some help on certain days, although on a Monday, I would not need to rely on it– if anything it might be slightly distracting.

    • JohnH says:

      I don’t mind it either. It may trouble a true addict used to working from NW to SE in order for best time. But I bet I’m not alone in starting wherever I get a foothold and my eye takes me.

      DASHCAM in the New Yorker was new to me, with a punning clue at that, although surely worth knowing. It did make for an awfully hard corner, with HOGAN, LEGOLAS, and CIERA (which I first entered as SIERA). I did recognize ICHABOD Crane once I had it but didn’t know the story in the clue. I’m not fond of the whole proper name cluster, where crossings weren’t available, but I feel grateful to have got it.

  2. Anne says:

    NYT: I liked the theme a lot, and it went faster than my average Mondays.

    I do have a question though – do people say “quack doctors”? Around here we just call them “quacks”.

  3. Dr Fancypants says:

    Took we way too long to understand CELLOPHANE even after I’d filled it in. Really good use of a ? clue.

  4. AP says:

    Wasn’t keen on the NYT today, but it was fine, especially for a Monday. Did think the themes were a bit of a groan/stretch, and the theme did nothing to help me solve, but again, par for a Monday. What did bug me was the absence of Star Wars clues on May the 4th?!?

  5. Nene says:

    The perfect Monday. The clueing was sublime.

  6. R says:

    Universal: I pronounce the last syllable of CIRCUIT with a short ‘i’ sound, and a quick survey of a few dictionaries and samples show the same for American speakers. You might be in the minority saying it with a schwa.

  7. Billy Boy says:

    NW NYer prevented a perfect puzzle. Still excellent

    Pro wrestlers and Fantasy and that MI rep, only lacking a Hebrew month, NW is so often the most obscure, I’m sure intentionally

Comments are closed.