Monday, November 2, 2020

BEQ tk (Jim Q) 


LAT 2:01 (Stella) 


NYT 3:10 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 10:20 (Rachel) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


WSJ 3:36 (Jim P) 


Luke Vaughn’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review

If you think you’ve seen this before, you’re correct. Deb Amlen’s Wordplay column identifies the previous occurrence as a January puzzle by Evan Kalish. I only knew it was a bit familiar, and I had to stare at it for a while before I understood the theme.

Each theme answer has something to do with art.

New York Times, November 2, 2020, #1102, Luke Vaughn, solution grid

  • 20a [Popular dog crossbreed] is a GOLDENDOODLE.
  • 27a [Have an invisible footprint] is LEAVE NO TRACE. I’d quibble that this really. means having no footprint, but whatever.
  • 46a [One version of poker] is FIVECARD DRAW.
  • 55a [“S.N.L.” offering] is a COMEDY SKETCH. Side note: is it Times style to use the periods in “S.N.L?” Looks weird to me.

DOODLETRACEDRAW and SKETCH. There you go. A perfectly serviceable Monday theme that might or might not be evident to new solvers.

A few other things:

  • I haven’t played hacky-SACK in at least 30 years. That’s a blast from the past. Are kids still playing it?
  • It’s good to see that the Times understands that OGLE is a creepy way to look at someone.
  • SCRUB and RUB aren’t really dupes, but the crossing, um, rubbed me the wrong way.
  • The green-EYED monster is not in Fenway Park.
  • A bit of Googling only left me more confused about whether CYCLONES and tornadoes are really synonymous. I can’t ask the resident earth scientist because he hasn’t done the puzzle yet. Opinions?

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that a CYCLONE and a tornado are the same thing, and I’m not convinced they are.

George Jasper’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 11/2/20 by George Jasper

Los Angeles Times 11/2/20 by George Jasper

This is a pretty simple initialisms theme that I think doesn’t really need its revealer: 50D, YOU SEE, is clued as “‘It’s like this,’ and a phonetic hint to the five longest Across answers”. YOU SEE is a homophone for the letters U and C, and each of the themers is a two-word phrase whose initials are U.C.

  • 18A [1980 Travolta/Winger film set in Texas] is URBAN COWBOY.
  • 23A [Aristocracy] is UPPER CLASS.
  • 39A [Previously owned auto] is USED CAR.
  • 53A [Pandemonium] is UTTER CHAOS.
  • 59A [Where a quarterback may line up] is UNDER CENTER.

IDK…I’n fine with the first three themers, which feel very much in the language. UTTER CHAOS starts to feel a little more contrived, if still A Thing. But UNDER CENTER? I realize I’m no sportsball fan, but this feels like less of a natural, in-the-language phrase than the others. How about URGENT CARE and UNITY CANDLE instead?

I did enjoy some of the fill in this one, like acknowledging TAIPEI as a capital city (20A) and Stephen HAWKING for a touch of STEM at 10D.

Barbara Lin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “In the Bag”—Jim P’s review

Well, that was fun. Today we’re making a PB&J sandwich with the ends of our theme answers. It’s held together—unusually—with the short revealer AND at 39a [Common conjunction (that can go in the middle of the last words of 17-, 26-, 48-, 61-Across)].

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “In the Bag” · Barbara Lin · Mon., 11.2.20

  • 17a. [Packing piece] STYROFOAM PEANUT
  • 26a. [Rich skin cream] BODY BUTTER
  • 48a. [Queen bee’s nourishment] ROYAL JELLY
  • 61a. [Punch in the face, in old slang] KNUCKLE SANDWICH

What a lively set of themers, and I love the two grid-spanners. Great choices all around.

We have equally lively long fill with OPEN SWIM, TERABYTEPOP TART, and COP OUT. ORVILLE is good, too, clued as [Wilbur Wright’s brother], but we would also have accepted [Fox sci-fi/comedy show, with “The”].

Also great is the timely I VOTED / BIDEN crossing. (Have you voted yet? If not, do you have a plan to do so?). For those of you of the Trump variety, you can look at this puzzle from 2015—one of mine, actually—with an appropriate theme. And if you’re going to bring the hate, let’s hear it.

Clues of note:

  • 45a. [Use a flimsy excuse]. COP OUT. Sounds odd to me to clue this as a verb when I expect it’s more commonly used as a noun.
  • 45d. [Vacuum or dust]. CLEAN. I stuck with CHORE for too long on this one, especially since the clue clearly wants a verb.

Quite a fun Monday grid to start the week. Four stars from me. Now get out there and vote!

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

WELL if I was hoping for a quick, no-drama writeup this morning to try to stay even keel going into tomorrow’s vote-for-your-lives madness, that particular hope was certainly frustrated by this (very good!) puzzle!

The New Yorker crossword solution • Natan Last • Monday, November 2, 2020

Natan has written what I think is the perfect puzzle to illustrate the difference between the New Yorker and the New York Times themelesses. Can you imagine, for even a moment, that Will Shortz would run a puzzle that say DEFUND THE POLICE down the middle? Or, even less likely, one that says ACAB in the top right? I, for one, cannot.

The New Yorker, though! It seems clear that the editorial staff have granted constructors full artistic license to express their views through their puzzles, and I for one am HERE FOR IT. I *love* learning and recognizing constructors’ voices, and Natan has one of the strongest voices in the game. Is he going to get some angry emails and tweets for this puzzle? Probably. But he didn’t let that stop him from channeling anger at our broken justice and policing system into his puzzle, and I think that’s badass. Crosswords are changing, and the once-staid, bland, clue-and-answer exercise has evolved into a true art form that enables self-expression and a reflection of social movements. What a time to be in this space, and with artists like the constructors on the New Yorker roster!

Setting aside the message of this puzzle and viewing it from a purely technical standpoint, this puzzle is still super solid. The grid design is cool, taking advantage of corner cheater squares to emulate the staircase pattern in the middle into a sort of MC Escher multiple-staircases-in-multiple-directions grid setup. The central staircase of COURT JESTER / TALLAHASSEE / DARDANELLES is lovely (and the TALLAHASSEE clue [State capital where the band Creed was formed] made me laugh– just thinking about Creed in 2020 is such a funny proposition). Other long entries included NAILED IT (surprisingly not clued for the Netflix cooking fails show), I’M IN HEAVEN, ED SHEERAN, and JALAEPEÑOS, among others.

A few more things:


  • I’m not familiar with JOHN / STOSSEL, but it does seem odd that a libertarian pundit would share his full name with a puzzle featuring DEFUND THE POLICE and ACAB. Or am I missing a link here?
  • Favorite clues:
    • [Passed out on the table?] for DEALT
    • [Surname mispronounced as “Bumpersticker” and “Bellpepper,” among others, on an eighties sitcom] for BELVEDERE — I didn’t know this and still don’t know what sitcom featured BELVEDEREs, but the clue is funny!
  • I misread [Common ingredient in Indian cooking] as *Italian* cooking and was very confused about why I had never encountered TAMARIND in my family’s recipes
  • EYESPOTS are cool!

Overall, loads of stars for this statement puzzle. I’ll see you all on the other side of tomorrow. VOTE!

Pravan Chakravarthy and Matthew Stock’s Universal crossword, “Double Down” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 11/2/20 • Mon • “Double Down” • Chakravarthy, Stock • solution • 20201102

Quick write-up for a quick solve. Someone has a veterinarian appointment this morning.

Why was this a quick solve? Not only was it a Monday-level offering, but the theme hinges on long answers that are simply repeated words. Easy to fill in lots of squares!

  • 4d. [Piano part that’s less dry?] DAMPER DAMPER.
  • 14d. [Fire starter that’s easier to lift?] LIGHTER LIGHTER.
  • 8d. [Janitor who uses less profanity?] CLEANER CLEANER.
  • 22d. [Beer container that’s more hip?] COOLER COOLER.

During the solve I was wondering why the constructor opted to have the theme entries going down, but that’s because I hadn’t seen the title. (Nor had I looked at the byline to see that it was a collaboration (with an apparently new author)).

  • The third row, beginning with IMAM and IMAGED, has a little of the thematic reduplication vibe to it. (16a, 17a)
  • 23a [It keeps coming back at you] ECHO. Persistent, that. 45a [“One more song!”] ENCORE.
  • 28a [A Boogie wit da __ (rapper)] HOODIE. Né Julius Dubose.
  • 46a [Some slalom races, casually] SUPER-GS. I just like this entry, so I’m saying so.
  • 49a [Org. with a phonetic alphabet] NATO. And what’s the word for the letter E? ECHO, just like the symmetrical partner at 23-across.
  • 51a [Get cuddly] CANOODLE. m-w muses: “The origins of canoodle are obscure. Our best guess is that it may come from an English dialect noun of the same spelling meaning “donkey,” “fool,” or “foolish lover,” which itself may be an alteration of the word noodle, meaning “a foolish person.” That noodle, in turn, may come from noddle, a word for the head. The guess seems reasonable given that, since its appearance in the language around the mid-19th century, canoodle has been most often used jocularly for playful public displays of affection by couples who are head over heels in love.”
  • 28d [Secures in place, or dashes away] BOLTS. Nifty.
  • 44d [Place to play Pop-A-Shot] ARCADE. Had to look it up: it’s that basketball free-throw-type challenge.
  • 60a [More  profound] DEEPER.

Fun little crossword.

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26 Responses to Monday, November 2, 2020

  1. Mark Abe says:

    NTY: I didn’t like cyclones either. Google defined cyclone broadly enough to cover hurricanes, typhoons, winter storms, and tornadoes. Wikipedia wants it to be a “large scale air mass”, which would omit tornadoes. I think that either hurricane or typhoon would have been a better clue.

  2. Celebes Ox Bob says:

    I think that in the northern hemisphere all tornados, hurricanes and typhoons have a counter-clockwise air mass rotation that is called “cyclonic” and in the southern hemisphere they are clockwise and are called “anticyclonic” . Go figure.

  3. Jenni Levy says:

    OK, the resident earth scientist finished the puzzle. He says cyclone and tornado are not synonymous in “normal usage” because a cyclone is “generally understood to be a tropical storm.” He also thinks cyclones are large-scale and tornadoes are localized.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      OTOH, the University of Wisconsin says that a tornado is a type of cyclone (he’s still looking it up).

  4. Ethan says:

    I’m not a fan of John Stossel and don’t support libertarianism generally, but credit where credit’s due: libertarians have been sounding the alarm about police abuses and militarization for a long time, well before it was hip among liberals.

    Then again, I don’t know why it’s “odd” for a name to appear in a themeless puzzle along with an idea they’re not associated with… it is a themeless, right?

    Also, I would caution against ascribing views to the constructor based on entries that appear in their puzzles. Maybe you already know Natan’s political orientation based on social media or offline interactions, but a puzzle in and of itself shouldn’t be viewed as a political statement, IMO. I don’t think every constructor who has used MAOIST in a puzzle is a Maoist.

  5. Billy Boy says:

    Rachel said what I was going to say but in another way

    “This was the most New Yorker Puzzle EVAH”.

    WSJ has its own ‘language’ as well, one could put a variety of puzzle out un-attributed, in random order and it would be fun to guess source and DOW.
    I’ve always learned that CYCLONES and HURRICANES are most similar. e.g. Pacific Cyclones, Atlantic Hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere, where I suspect most of this audience resides.

    Tornadoes are generally distinguished by a shorter length of existence.

    Feel free to attack whatever I have learned in error.

    • Anne says:

      I thought the big difference between cyclones/ hurricanes and tornadoes is that cyclones/ hurricanes form over ocean and tornadoes form over land.

      • Billy Boy says:

        Tornadoes over water have a more specific designation of waterspout as I understand it. I believe air mass shear is the cause and the ocean is so powerful as to limit the power of a waterspout. Again, please correct me if in error. I’ve lived much of my life in Hurricane America, plotted my hurricanes on paper as a kid … they’ve been important to me, the geosynchronous (Haven’t we seen that recently?) satellites revolutionized the weather database with seemingly geometric expansion of collected information.

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT: DST {41A: Fla. summer hrs.} really threw me into a tizzy. That’s such a misleading clue since virtually the entire country observes DST. Why not just clue it as “Summer hrs.”? I wonder if this was an editorial error? I (naturally) entered ‘edT’ there, which had me groaning about ‘EMBEDDEe’ instead of EMBEDDED {11D: Attached to a military unit, as a journalist} and furrowing my brow at ‘EROd’ instead of EROS {27D: Bow-wielding god}. Mythology is a particularly weak area for me and I thought it was just another god I hadn’t heard of.

  7. lk says:

    TNY: I have strong feelings about ‘defund the police’ as an idea but it’s at least an idea that you can (usually) have a sane intellectual conversation about. ACAB on the other hand is a deeply troubling entry and the kid-gloves clue that Last gives it is simply offensive to me.

    Last once wrote an article about “bigotry” in crossword puzzles, so it’s especially maddening why he would include such a highly-charged bigoted entry in his puzzle. ACAB – “All Cops Are Bastards” – is an acronym that is merely blanket hatred, lumping an entire group of people of all types of backgrounds together as a homogenous mass and labelling that group with an epithet. If you lumped an entire category of people – by race, lets say – treated that category of people as a uniform solitary mass and formulized an acronym that utilized a derogatory epithet to describe those people, that’s like the dictionary definition of “bigotry,” is it not?

    • David Steere says:

      TNY: I have to agree with Ik that ACAB is in very bad taste here. The rest of the puzzle is very, very New Yorker as Rachel well points out. Kinda tough to finish for me because I didn’t know 3 Down, 4 Down and 5 Down. Somehow, “Belvedere” appeared from somewhere in the back of my grey cells and allowed me to complete the grid. Otherwise, a fine puzzle. 9-Across excepted.

    • Zulema says:

      Thank you for explaining ACAB. I agree it really shouldn’t be here, whether it’s “resurgent” or not.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Nobody is born as a cop, though! It’s not analogous to race. People join the police force knowing that it gives them a ton of state-sanctioned power, and that those powers are too often abused. (And then there’s the fact that an awful lot of police “unions” have negotiated a ton of legal immunity for malfeasance.)

    • JohnH says:

      Whatever one’s beliefs with regard to politics or what’s proper to puzzles, it seems plain weird to me that Rachel would gush at such length over supposed proud support for DEFUND THE POLICE while dismissing the libertarian and the acronym I’ve never once seen before as neutral references. I don’t see why Shortz wouldn’t allow at least the first to work into a puzzle either.

      • Billy Boy says:

        Broad-brush, blanket-cast aspersions whether genetic or societal are fraught with peril and in the USA the harsh certainty of polarity. I specifically avoided this entry because of past history, I’d like to say that it was handled better this time.

        My wife was aghast at the concept. I’ve had cops in my mother’s family and I’ve known a ton of them from ER’s. Yes, SCAB, but there I go again

        As in an old orthopedic saying never say never or always

      • Rachel Fabi says:

        Hi! “Gush at length” seems a bit hyperbolic, don’t you think? I am celebrating constructor voice, not a particular view on the police.

        • dhj says:

          So if a constructor built a puzzle around a bunch of Republican slogans and buzzwords, you’d “celebrate constructor voice” at a paragraph’s length then, too, right?

          • Rachel Fabi says:

            Lol, maybe? If the puzzle were well made? But in the meantime, if you don’t like the politics of this blog, feel free to read another, my dude!

  8. Crotchety Doug says:

    Rachel’s “vote for your lives” phrase has stuck with me all day. And I certainly will do just that tomorrow.

  9. arthur118 says:

    This Natan Last puzzle, as with many New Yorker offerings, delights me when I remember things I thought I never knew.

  10. pseudonym says:

    Natan “Trivia In a Box” Last. Please make him stop.

    • JohnH says:

      Yep. TNY claims notwithstanding for difficulty by day of the week, I find that irrelevant. I can see what’s coming only by author. If it’s Gorski, it will be smooth sailing but worth the relative ease for her wit. If it’s Berry, it will be tough, but totally fair, with lots of satisfying discoveries and a sense of achievement once I get it. If it’s Natan, it will be no more than a quiz to see if I share his and Rachel’s interests. I’m going totally nowhere on this one, and I couldn’t care less.

  11. Gale G Davis says:

    Barbara and Jim P :
    I voted

  12. Gale G Davis says:

    Barbara and Jim P :
    You are blocking my Trump vote comment?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Are you on crack? Nobody’s blocked you, two comments in a row appear. You’re concocting conspiracy theories out of thin air!

      I don’t respect your vote one bit.

Comments are closed.