Monday, November 16, 2020

BEQ tk (Jim Q) 


LAT  (Stella) 


NYT 2:35 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 14:19 (Rachel) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


WSJ 3:27 (Jim P) 


Jennifer Nutt’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review

That may be my fastest time ever for a Monday puzzle (or any other, obviously). It played like an easy themeless for me – I had no idea what the theme was until I went back and read the revealer after I finished.

We have five theme entries + the revealer. Lots of theme material for a daily puzzle.

New York Times, November 16, 2020, #1116, Jennifer Nutt, solution grid

  • 17a [Sweet item at a bakery] is a JELLY ROLL.
  • 23a [Keep watch while a homeowner’s away] is HOUSESIT.
  • 33a [Bar-to-bar activity] is a PUB CRAWL. Ah, those were the days.
  • 41a [What a speaker or musician may adjust before starting] is a MIC STAND.
  • 48a [Easy win] is a CAKEWALK. This is one of those terms that seems innocuous if you don’t know the history and has racist roots.

And the revealer: 59a [Small advances…or the progression suggested by the ends of 17-, 23-, 33-, 41- and 48-Across]: BABY STEPS. Babies ROLLSITCRAWLSTAND, and then WALK. Solid, consistent theme and well-pitched for a Monday. Not of lot to make me frown, although we do have that old chestnut ESPY.

A few other things:

  • 9d [Sirius…or Lassie, for example?] is a great clue for DOG STAR.
  • It’s not just GAMERs on Twitch! You can also catch crossworders each Monday on the Boswords livestream.
  • Amy will be pleased to see INCA clued as “early” rather than “ancient.” At least I think she will.
  • And my father would be pleased to see ATRIA clued as [Heart chambers]. My 8th grade bio textbook still used the term “auricle” and he waged a one-man battle to get it banned from the school district.
  • I was fooled by the tricky past tense at 55d [Shed tears]. I started with WEEP and then filled in WEPT.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that HORACE said “seize the day.”

Mark McClain’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 11/16/20 by Mark McClain

Los Angeles Times 11/16/20 by Mark McClain

We’ve got an anagram theme, and a very consistently executed one. 54A, the revealer, tells us what’s going on: “Earth-friendly retailer…and a hint to the circled letters” is RECYCLE SHOP. And if you go to each theme entry, you’ll find the letters of the word SHOP “recycled” in four different permutations. In each case, the circled letters are split across the two words of a two-word phrase.

  • 17A [“Fingers crossed!”] is HERE’S HOPING.
  • 24A [American addition to Chinese cuisine] is CHOP SUEY.
  • 34A [Vessel carrying soldiers] is a TROOP SHIP.
  • 46A [Steph Curry hoops specialty] is a JUMP SHOT.

I dunno…RECYCLE SHOP seems like a contrived phrase. Vintage shops, thrift shops, yes. Recycle shops, not so much. “Recycle shop,” with quotation marks around it, gets 359K Google hits; “Vintage shop” gets more than 6 million, and “thrift shop” gets more than 10 million. The fact that the revealer isn’t really in the language spoiled my enjoyment of the puzzle a bit.

As a former binge-watcher of early-season 24, I was glad to see ELISHA clued as the Canadian actress rather than as the Biblical prophet (yay for lady ELISHAs!). Mount HOLYOKE and director AVA DuVernay bring a little more womanly energy to this puzzle, which I appreciate.

Sarah Torres and Brad Wilber’s Universal crossword, “O+” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 11/16/20 • Mon • Torres, Wilber • “O+” • solution • 20201116

Basic theme here, the simple insertion of the letter O at the beginning of one of the words in the theme phrases.

  • 17a. [Lecture with a superlative flair?] FIVE-STAR ORATING (rating).
  • 28a. [Sign indicating a water feature is no longer out of order?] FOUNTAIN OPEN (pen).
  • 45a. [Store so with so-so engagement rings?] OKAY JEWELLERS (Kay).
  • 61a. [Needing to return recliners?] OWING BACK CHAIRS (wingback). The niftiest of the bunch, for the reparsing of the word.

No other Os in these entries. I notice, too, that the first two themers have the prefixed O on the last word, while the final two use the first word.

This would have been significantly more impressive had the letter O been BANISHed (2d [Exile]) from the rest of the grid as well, but likely that more challenging constructing constraint would have created a puzzle too tough for a Monday.

  • 6d [Type of ray that causes tanning] UV-A. I believe UV-B does so as well (it’s more potent/harmful).
  • 9d [Attach with a click?] SNAP ON. Not sure why the question mark is needed here.
  • 4d [Witnessed] SEEN, 25d [Being exhibited] ON VIEW.
  • 41d [Robin or bluebird] THRUSH. Yes, they are Turdids.
  • 37a [Apt “evil” anagram] VILE. I legit wanted VEIL first.
  • I thought there might be a clue/entry alluding to blood typing, as a subtle nod to (and secondary rationale for) the crossword’s title, but found nothing of the sort.

Kind of a slight puzzle, but still worthwhile.

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

The New Yorker crossword solution • Kameron Austin Collins • Monday, November 16, 2020

Hellooo I have returned from doing my civic duty and attempting to count absentee ballots (while *some* people tried to have them thrown out despite their compliance with New York’s new ballot rules, not naming any names, state senate republicans…). Thanks to Amy for covering!

Today we have a challenging puzzle from Kameron Austin Collins, and it definitely took me longer than your average Monday New Yorker, despite a couple of gimmes. Those gimmes included the APHORISM CARPE DIEM, which was only a gimme because of the New York Times crossword, in which CARPE DIEM was in the clue for HORACE. Fun coincidence! The other gimme (for me and other southwest Pennsylvanians) was IRON CITY, which is pronounced ARN CITY (see the Pittsburgh Dad IRON CITY commercial below). Other than those two, a lot of this puzzle was a battle for me, but it was a good fight.

This puzzle only had a few long entries (ANNUAL EXAM, CASE LOGIC, ARE YOU NUTS, STEPS ON IT).  ARE YOU NUTS and its clue [“Uh, crazy much?”] are a bit stigmatizing, and I prefer to avoid clues/entries that make light of mental illness, but they are also good colloquial translations (consider this the “representation” note of the day). The main appeal of this puzzle, though, is not in its long entries, but in its crunchy medium fill throughout. I loved SWAP SPIT [French], APHORISM, GOOPY, WANTED IN, BIRDIES, AS NEEDED, LIP BITERS, and YUPPIFY. I’m not 100% sold on these last two being real things, but I also 100% do not care, they are fun and the clues work.

A few more things:

  • I definitely threw in AL PACINO as the star of SCARFACE because I didn’t read the fine print [*1932* crime classic starting 34-Down]. Same number of letters as PAUL MUNI, and the N works!
  • Loved the clue on CRYONICS [It’s freezing!], but could not figure out how to end the word past CRYO-
  • Is CASE LOGIC widely known? I needed all of the crosses
  • Favorite clues: other than those already mentioned, I’m really digging the ? clues on short fill
    • [Starter starter?] for NON
    • [Dependents?] for IFS

Overall, tons of stars for a crunchy puzzle stuffed with excellent clues. See you all on Wednesday.

Adrian Kabigting’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Crunch Time”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Things with CHIPS (37a, [Features of 17-, 22-, 47- and 58-Across]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Crunch Time” · Adrian Kabigting · Mon., 11.16.20

  • 17a. [You may pay with them] DEBIT CARDS
  • 22a. [Main computer component] MOTHERBOARD
  • 47a. [Popular cylindrical snack container] PRINGLES CAN
  • 58a. [Casino fixture] POKER TABLE

I’m fairly certain I’ve seen this theme or something similar in the past. A few nits: PRINGLES CAN doesn’t feel as in-the-language as the others. I can live with that, but worse, a chip in a debit card is a microchip, just as might be found on a motherboard. It’s clear the aim of this puzzle is to highlight different uses of the word “chip,” but those two are too similar (in my book). Possible solution: Find a way to reference the old TV show.

The fill is mostly nice, though. REPRODUCED is more workmanlike, but TOP BANANAS is fun as is the symmetrical pairing of ECSTATIC and ACROSTIC as well as timely MASTERS.

One clue of note: 46d. [Biden’s portrayer on “SNL”]. Jim CARREY. I’m guessing he’ll keep on in this role for the next four years.

Decent fill, but a few problems with the grid. 3.25 stars.

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23 Responses to Monday, November 16, 2020

  1. Mutman says:

    NYT: Cake walk — who knew?? Not me.

    Thanks for the history lesson.

  2. Peggy Betnstein says:

    The puzzle entitled Workplace Superstitions had an offensive clue. 35 down, Bar Mitzvah celebrant and the answer is Jew. Surely, you could have been more creative and sensitive.

    • Susan K. Hoffman says:

      Why is that offensive? I’m Jewish, and it’s true – any Bar Mitzvah celebrant is going to be a Jew. Is it using Jew rather than Jewish? If you imply the capital, it’s not a slur. I must say, I was also unhappy that Jew came out of the scrabble dictionary (although I understood that, because without the capital it is only a slur, but it was so useful, as was wop, which also came out).

    • Jenni Levy says:

      I reviewed the puzzle. I’m Jewish. It didn’t bother me because of the definition – although I realize I would say “anyone who has a bar or bat mitzvah is Jewish” rather than “…is a Jew.” There’s certainly a long history of the word being used as offensively as an adjective (or, worse yet, a verb).

      I wonder if this is generational. I don’t mean to speculate about your age, Peggy. I’m 60 and I know some of my hesitation to use the word comes from my mother. My daughter is 20 and has no problem with it.

      • David L says:

        It’s curious — I’m in my 60s and not Jewish, but I definitely feel a twinge of discomfort if I hear or see it said that someone is a Jew. And I avoid saying it myself. As you say, there’s a long and unpleasant history here.

  3. sanfranman59 says:

    Universal … Contrary to pannonica’s review, there is an extra O in FOUNTAIN OPEN {28A: Sign indicating a water feature is no longer out of order?}. That seems inelegant, at best.

  4. JohnH says:

    In TNY, I got hung up on the NW. I eventually guessed CASE LOGIC, new to me, although I considered CASOLOGIC crossing what in French could, after all, be SOU. I had to Google to confirm an answer. I did in time pull Bob IGER out of memory.

    That left SWAP SPIT crossing The POLAR Express, neither of which I knew. Indeed, I puzzled over the first for a long time after guessing the crossing. Finally I gave in and Googled the phrase to see what it might mean and what it might have to do with French. Still feels a stretch, as the search said it meant “French kiss,” not French.

    • Zulema says:

      I thought the clue should have been “French kiss, ” not just “French,” which I took for a long time to be a verb used in cookery. And I find the answer less than pretty. Put it down to my age.

      • Christopher Smith says:

        The “kids” (meaning, let’s say, people too young to remember a world without The Simpsons) use “french” as a verb (as in, “I caught them frenching”). Since SWAP SPIT is also modern slang, this seems to check out.

  5. Margaret says:

    I know the first SHOP in the LAT is split over two words (here’S HOPing) but it’s still SHOP, making the revealer RECYCLE SHOP less effective. I’d have preferred if all the other theme answers had been jumbled.

  6. Crotchety Doug says:

    BEQ – I read Brendan’s comments on his web site for this puzzle. He says “It will fly by undetected to virtually all of the solvers of today’s puzzle that there is very much a hidden Easter Egg in the solution grid. That hidden message, which spans across the grid somewhere, was the seed from which the rest of the crossword was built around.” I have examined all the rows and columns and also the NW to SE diagonal, but don’t find anything. Nor do I detect a theme. Anyone?

  7. Charles Montpetit says:

    Not that I want to carp about this (excellent) free site, but when you say that analyses are yet to come (“tk”, as with the BEQ grids of November 16 and 19), is it worth coming back for them week after week, or is there a cutoff point beyond which all hope should be abandoned? (I’m asking because there is supposed to be a secret message hidden in the Nov. 16 grid and I can’t figure it out.)

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