Kate Hawkins’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
I’m not a huge fan of vowel progression themes. They’re just not that much fun. This one is fine, I guess, for a vowel progression theme, which is a fine theme for Monday even if it’s not to my taste.
- 17a [Raiser of the dead?] is a PALLBEARER. The ? confused me until I realized this is Monday and it’s a smidgen tricky.
- 24a [Financial aid for college that doesn’t need to be repaid] is a PELL GRANT.
- 37a [Arthropod that can roll into a ball] is a PILLBUG.
- 49a [Busy person just before an election] is a POLL TAKER.
- 59a [Lures for magazine readers] are PULL QUOTES.
A, E, I, O, U. It’s a vowel progression. There’s nothing more to say about that.
A few other things:
- Am I the only one who put in CAT for 1a [Thing with pads and claws]? It’s PAW.
- I don’t know if this was on purpose for the week after Election Day, but there’s another election clue at 12d [Tried to get elected] – RAN.
- On the list of things I will never do: RAPPEL down a mountain (it’s RAPPELS in the grid but I couldn’t make the sentence work)
- I like [“That’s ___ from me” (refusal)] as a clue for A NO, even though it’s an awkward FITB. I get tired of Spanish years.
- I’ve never heard of SWAG as an acronym for “stuff we all get.” Since we pronounce it as a word, I guess it’s an initialism, not an acronym.
What I didn’t know before I got this puzzle: I’m ashamed to say I did not know that OLGA Tokarczuk was the 2018 Literature Nobel prize winner.
Kurt Krauss’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
The signs are everywhere in this Monday puzzle — four of them, to be exact. Going straight to the revealer in the center of the grid tells us that: 36-Across [Plea for divine guidance…and hint to the ends of the answers to starred clues] leads us to GIVE ME A SIGN. And, in fact, each theme entry is a two-word phrase whose second word is a type of sign.
- 17A [Doctor’s visit, back in the day] is HOUSE CALL. A CALL SIGN is the unique designator for a signal transmitter, like a radio or TV station. Today I learned from the unimpeachable source of Wikipedia that call signs tend to start with K for stations located west of the Mississippi, and with W for eastern stations. Except that Pennsylvania is weird, which is why I grew up with KYW NewsRadio in my hometown of Philly and I remember KDKA from visiting my grandma in Pittsburgh. Okay, end digression.
- 23A [Perry Mason’s secretary] is DELLA STREET. STREET SIGNs are underrated, says the gal who came home from a road trip last week. Said road trip involved me playing navigator for my husband and trying frantically to find well-hidden STREET SIGNs that matched up with the route I was guiding him through on Google Maps.
- 49A [Rural station at which trains need to be flagged down] is a WHISTLE STOP. A STOP SIGN is that piece of traffic-directing equipment at the intersection nearest my apartment that cars just loooooove to blow through and pretend isn’t there.
- 59A [Expatriate American poet who was a WWII fascist collaborator] is EZRA POUND. A POUND SIGN is #, and this clue is oooooooooof.
So…let’s talk about EZRA POUND. I didn’t know he was a fascist; part of me thinks, why bring it up at all? I feel for the constructor; much as I wish he’d gone with DAWG POUND or FOOT-POUND instead, I totally get when you’re brainstorming theme entries and you forget to check them for bad behavior. I have a feeling this didn’t come up until the puzzle was being test-solved or fact-checked, at which point someone called out, “Hey, this very influential literary lion also practiced very bad politics.” And at that point, what do you do? Pull the acceptance of the puzzle? Clue the entry without reference to the problematic nature? Do as was done here and acknowledge the bad actions along with the achievements? I don’t think the answer is the same every time — depends on how egregious the behavior was, how long the person has been dead, etc. — but I think I would have gone with the second option in this case.
Leslie Rogers’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Crossing the Line”—Jim P’s review
Today’s revealer is a phrase I’ve never heard before, LANE SPLITTING [Riding a motorcycle between cars, and a hint to the circled letters], but it makes good sense, and I’m glad to learn it.
In each of the other theme answers, a word that can precede “lane” is “split” between the first and last letters.
- 20a. [Group of emperors, say] PENGUIN COLONY. Penny Lane.
- 29a. [Spiritual lyric quoted in King’s “I Have a Dream” speech] FREE AT LAST. Fast lane.
- 37a. [Constituent list for an organization] MEMBER DIRECTORY. Memory Lane.
- 46a. [Upscale sport utility vehicles] LANDROVERS. Lovers Lane.
I like it. MEMBER DIRECTORY feels a little iffy, but you gotta have Memory Lane in here, so I’m cool with it. And I especially like how it’s split exactly in half unlike any of the others.
As to the real-life activity of LANE SPLITTING, where do you stand? When people started doing it way back when, I was shocked at their disregard for safety, and it seemed so unfair when the rest of us schlubs had to sit in traffic. These days I’m much more mellow about it, and I definitely make room for motorcyclists when I’m in that situation.
Back to the grid! I love KEEP CALM [Start of a British wartime slogan] and I love ORANGINA, too, especially when I can get it in those funny little bottles. That about does it for the sparkly long fill, but those two are sparkly indeed, and the rest is solid enough.
One clue of note: 9d. [Like the Span. “el,” Fr. “le” and Ger. “der”]. MASC. That’s a pretty cumbersome clue, and I didn’t bother reading it all. I got the gist of it, saw that the entry ended in C, and guessed correctly.
An enjoyable Monday outing. 3.75 stars.
Penny Lane is part of the theme, and we are celebrating 10 years of our dog, Penny, coming home with us from the shelter, so I can’t resist sharing a recent picture. She’s a lemon-colored Basset/beagle mix, aka a lemon bagle.
Have a great day!
Alex Eaton-Salners’ Universal crossword, “Choppers” — pannonica’s write-up
Five long answers suggested by the same clue: [One making cuts on the job]
- 16a. HAIRDRESSER
- 21a. FOOTBALL COACH
- 33a. BLACKJACK DEALER
- 44a. BUDGET ANALYST
- 53a. VIDEO EDITOR
Not sure, but perhaps those lateral extended black blocks are meant to evoke cuts or slashes?
Anyway, this was a very smooth and gentle Monday warmup exercise. Nothing challenging in the cluing or the fill. Anything remotely questionable is covered adequately by crossing entries.
Haven’t got much to say beyond this.
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Helloooo world, welcome to our new reality! Let’s see how it goes.
Today’s puzzle from Anna Shechtman was not my favorite — the longer entries were mostly fine, although none were groundbreaking or extremely exciting, but I couldn’t help noticing that one of the marquee entries appeared in a NYT puzzle a few months ago. That entry was met with a lot of pushback at the time, so I was surprised to see it show up here!
First, the other long entries: today we have PEER REVIEW / INSIDE INFO / POSTAL RATE / BOTOX PARTY / CREDIT LINE / STRESS EATS / ROUGE ET NOIR / WATERMARKED / TRADE ALLIANCE. As I said above, nothing to stop the presses for, but I enjoyed the clue on STRESS EATS [Has all-consuming anxiety?] and was a little weirded out by the concept of BOTOX PARTIES, especially with a clue that punnily alludes to safe injection sites, a public health measure intended to reduce the harm associated with injection drug use.
The entry we’ve seen before, and recently, was MODEL MINORITY, which appeared in the August 8, 2020 NYT. I won’t rehash the debate over whether or not that entry, written and clued by Sid Sivakumar, an Indian-American constructor, was problematic. The issue was discussed briefly on xword info and at more length by Sid and co-constructor Brooke Husic on the Crossnerds podcast. I will note that it feels different to see the entry coming from a constructor who does not (as far as I am aware!) identify with the groups to whom this pernicious stereotype is applied.
A few more things:
- Fill I could live without: SER / PTS / GMEN / RDA / A NOTE
- Got stuck in the NW for a bit because I put RPI instead of RIT. As an upstate New Yorker, I tend to assume that most New Yorkers are referring to the Hudson Valley when they say “upstate,” so it’s nice to see an *actually* upstate school represented!
- Favorite clue: [Word spoken three times in the last seven words of “Ulysses”] for YES. Variations on this are my go-to clue for the word YES (I said YES I will YES).
Sunday LAT, bullshit puzzle and the explanation wasn’t much better
Gee. Sorry. With incisive commentary like this, I am SO motivated to change the way I do reviews. You put so much thought into your words.
^^^ Lovely way to start out a week… NOT :( Put your Sunday commentary on the Sunday thread so nobody has to see it, Golf. That was just rude to Jenni and everyone including me, even though I didn’t much love the puzzle itself.
Now, moving along … NYT, this is Monday? I didn’t know Olga but made a lucky guess, and never heard of the last themer, a “pull quote” . Is that really in the language for non-journalists?
I enjoy learning new stuff, but I just feel this puzzle is more later-in-the-week difficulty.
I didn’t know Olga, either, but felt the crossings were fair. I do know “pull quote” and I’m not a journalist so it didn’t bother me – but now I am wondering where I learned that and whether it’s a consequence of hanging out with a bunch of writers! Would love to hear from others.
I wondered about that too. I spent much of my career in and around journalism, so PULLQUOTE was a gimme. But it seemed kinda jargony for a Monday.
Then again PILLBUG is not part of my vocabulary, although I know it’s what many other people call those little beasties.
ETA: here’s an entertaining list of names from the UK. I especially like ‘parson pig’ from the Isle of Man.
PULL QUOTE is fine for me, although it took crossings, so well maybe a bit hard for Monday. For me, COCKAPOO and PILL BUG were the ones definitely hard for a Monday.
LOL, and cockapoo and pill bugs were gimmes for me, once I had the poo.
I did NOT know that the official name for pill bugs (what I’ve always called them, for their propensity to pill up when touched) is Wood Louse.
What do you call the critters, John?
Does anyone solve BEQ Monday? Blog it? I don’t understand 51D, “Ni Guy.” I have the fill and Google didn’t know either. Help, please!
The clue is Nis with various accents, and the only way I got it was from the crosses. But if you google NIS it will come up as one of the options.
Hope that helps (don’t want to give answer away if you’re still working on it)
Thanks. I was confused too. The AcrossLite clue is Ni guy, as Karen said. I looked at the PDF and it had Niš guy.
I solve in AL and it’s correct. I wonder if there was an early, incorrect, version of the .puz file? Other possibilities are 1) platform issue [I’m on Windows, are you perhaps Mac?] and 2) AL version [I’m using 2.4.5].
Ni on mine. AL 2.4.4 on a Mac.
I use across lite in windows too, and mine is correct as Martin’s was. I don’t know the version.
I HAVE come across other puzzles, not necessarily NYT, where elements were different between early and later downloads (did one rebus puzzle with no rebus cue, only to see it there on a later download after checking here)
My guess is it’s a problem with AL on Mac. The š is in “code page 1252” used by Windows for legacy apps, but not in the equivalent Mac character set. The Times tests special characters on both and edits clues in the AL version so they work on both platforms. BEQ is more of a one-man band and I’m not surprised he doesn’t QA on Mac.
I didn’t solve the puzzle but I hope the answer is KNIGHT.
BEQ: 5d [Some shrubbery] HEDGES
LAT: Re Lanesplitting. I JUST heard this phrase on Peoples Court last week or so, and of course live in the only state where it is currently 100% legal (ugh, I really don’t like this practice) so I’m wondering if the constructor is a biker, or watches People’s Court :D .
ooops, that was WSJ for the lanesplitting comment.
LAT: I felt sorry for younger solvers today. Tom Synder, Della Street, Cass Elliot, Edd Hall, Gil Hodges, Sydney Omarr. (The other proper nouns seemed a tad more current or, in the cases of Ezra Pound and Seton Hall, non-pop-culture.) Also ancient: whistle stop. EGADS!
Easy with Della! She’s on the HBO series that is decidedly not the 60 year old version.
How did people get the LA Times puzzle today? The link from Cruciverb doesn’t work for me. It does this occasionally and after some number of days the LA Times puzzles do become available, but somehow others seem able to get it now when I can’t.
I have the same experience, Ed. Same with today. When this happens I either skip it or do it online at their website https://www.latimes.com/games/daily-crossword
Not sure how popular Matt Gaffney’s New York Magazine crossword is but if you don’t solve it, today’s is a good one.
The LA Times daily crossword can also be obtained from the Washington Post puzzle site at:
WSJ–Penny Lane? I looked it up, but it seems very obscure.
Not obscure to anyone who has ever heard of the Beatles.
Maybe the younger solvers?
Hit the #1 spot on the US Billboard charts. Now my reading shows that the guy who the street that the Beatles immortalized turns out to have been a slave trader :( .
Learn something new each day !
No need to get testy, but I have not memorized the title of all the Beatles songs. If there is ever a clue about People’s Court, I am sure you will be right on it.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to come off as ‘testy’, I was just surprised that a very non-obscure song of the Beatles fell into an “obscure” category. I did gave wiggle room for those who don’t know much about the Beatles. I didn’t mean it personally.
Perhaps I was the one who was too testy.
NYT: Good reminder for SWAG that, etymologically speaking, it’s almost never an acronym, even if you can make a cute backronym. Real etymology is likely simpler: https://www.etymonline.com/word/swag#etymonline_v_46435
Regarding Ezra Pound’s incarceration after WWII. From Wikipedia “On 24 May he was transferred to the United States Army Disciplinary Training Center north of Pisa, where he was placed in one of the camp’s 6-by-6-foot (1.8 by 1.8 m) outdoor steel cages, with tar paper covers, lit up at night by floodlights.
Pound lived in isolation in the heat, sleeping on the concrete, denied exercise and communication, apart from daily access to the chaplain.”
The “enol” is certainly crosswordese of the worst kind which irritates the chemist in me. I have seen it clued in the Times as “organic compound” of which there are virtually an infinite number. This puzzle clues it as an unstable compound which is also so vague and with an infinity of answers. Impossible to guess without filling in crossing entries. “Tautomer of a ketone” would be reasonable, especially for a Monday.— Even if it takes some chemistry knowledge, at least the possible answers are not infinite.