Monday, November 23, 2020

BEQ tk (Jim Q) 


LAT 1:57 (Stella) 


NYT untimed (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 7:59 (Rachel) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


WSJ 4:00 (Jim P) 


Stanley Newman’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review

This is a straightforward Monday theme that didn’t add anything to the solving experience.

New York Times, November 23, 2020, #1123, Stanley Newman, solution grid

  • 18a [Australian wind instrument] is a DIDGERIDOO. I knew the answer but couldn’t remember how to spell it.
  • 38a [System of underwater mountains] is the MIDOCEAN RIDGE.
  • 60a [Wedding attendant] is a BRIDESMAID.

I had no idea what the theme was until after I finished and then I saw 62d [Two forms of them are found in 18-, 38-and 60-Across]: IDS. So that makes sense. It’s a solid, consistent Monday theme and clearly it was possible to solve the puzzle without any idea what the theme was.

A few other things:

  • I made things more complicated by dropping in SCAR for 5a [Sign of a wound’s healing]. It’s SCAB.
  • 12d [Severe place of confinement] is an IRON CAGE. Well, yes, but is that a phrase people actually use?

Whoops! Gotta go.

Joseph A. Gangi’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 11/23/20 by Joseph A. Gangi

Los Angeles Times 11/23/20 by Joseph A. Gangi

Looks like we have a debut!

Let’s go to the revealer first: 61A [Ensemble playing in this puzzle’s circles] is a STRING TRIO. And if you go to the circled letters of each theme answer, you find that in each case they spell out a stringed instrument:

  • 17A [Sacred, as a promise] is INVIOLABLE, which is hiding the VIOLA, which I used to play.
  • 36A [University leader] is CHANCELLOR, which is hiding the CELLO.
  • 42A [High-ranking foreign diplomat] is an AMBASSADOR, which is hiding the BASS.

Tell me how to feel about this theme, y’all. I’m impressed that all the thematic material fits into single words that can be clued with brevity — often, the LAT theme clues get quite wordy on Monday to keep things easy for solvers, but here the clues are both short and clear.

…but, how many STRING TRIOs do you know that are written for that combination of instruments? VIOLIN doesn’t fit nicely into any 10-letter phrases…but it is pretty damn ubiquitous in string chamber music. A violin, a viola, and a cello? I buy that. Two violins and a cello? Check. But a viola, cello, and bass without a violin? I’m not going to say it’s never happened, but it seems like an unlikely TRIO to me.

Sean Biggins’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Squeeze In”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Phrases/names that have the word LEMON hidden inside. 56a, LEMON WEDGE, reveals all with the clue [Garnish for a glass of water, or a literal feature of 17-, 29-, 35- and 42-Across].

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Squeeze In” · Sean Biggins · Mon., 11.23.20

  • 17a. [Start of a math exam] PROBLEM ONE
  • 29a. [Grammy-nominated singer with roles in “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures”] JANELLE MONÁE
  • 35a. [Lady Gaga fan, familiarly] LITTLE MONSTER
  • 42a. [Accessory for a person under house arrest] ANKLE MONITOR

That works well for a Monday. I especially like the modern touches including Lady Gaga and JANELLE MONÁE (whose last name is usually all that makes it into a grid).

Fill highlights include PICKLE JAR, NUISANCES (which echoes the LITTLE MONSTER entry), TIME SLOT, and LATINX.  Not a fan of weird TOS [Talking-___ (reprimands)], but I do like all three of its crossings, so I guess I can live with it.

Clues of note:

  • 46a. [Books including Chad, Georgia and Jordan]. ATLASES. I honestly didn’t see the clue during the solve, but I think it would have thrown me pretty well. Nice misdirection.
  • 24d. [Casper product]. MATTRESS. I wasn’t expecting this to refer to the mattress company, but I sure couldn’t think what a friendly ghost would produce.

Decent theme, smooth fill. 3.6 stars.

I leave you with Janelle Monáe’s powerful political anthem which was born out of a call from Stacey Abrams to help get out the Black vote in Georgia. Read more about it here. (Plus, I love those cool glasses she’s sporting.)

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup

The New Yorker crossword solution • Elizabeth C. Gorski • Monday, November 23, 2020

Another cool grid shape today — more evidence that the New Yorker offers constructors the flexibility to play with “cheater” squares to make unique creations in their grids. This one is particularly interesting, blocking of the corners to make an almost round grid? I’m into it.

One effect of this design is that instead of your normal NE/NW/SE/SW grid corners to fill and explore, we have long entries in the N/S/E/W, plus a grid-spanning (15) through the middle. The central entry, MISSISSIPPI GIRL, is not a song I’m familiar with, but I listened to it just now for science. I can’t say I particularly *enjoyed* the song, but it’s a good entry! Lots of S’s. Other long stuff that I liked includes ILLUMINATES in reference to decorating medieval manuscripts; SENSIBILITIES [They may be offended], and EMPTY BED BLUES, which I enjoyed more than MISSISSIPPI GIRL.

A few more things:

  • Was not familiar with the acronym BPOE, which is turns out is short for the “Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks”
  • I’m of two minds about the clue for ANTIGEN — on the one hand, COVID is dominating our current reality, and of course it’s going to creep into puzzles. On the other, I think a lot of people solve crosswords for the escapism and to have a few minutes disconnected from the bleakness of pandemia. I’m curious what other people think about this!
  • Every time I’m reminded of the existence of GOOP I just have to laugh. What a thing! That actually exists!
  • Some less-than-ideal fill was needed to facilitate this grid shape (ITAL, DICT, BPOE), but I’d say it was worth it!

Overall, lots of stars from me for the funky grid design and mostly clean fill. See you on Weds!

Amanda Rafkin and Ross Trudeau’s Universal crossword, “Just a Heads-Up” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 11/23/20 • Mon • “Just a Heads-up” • Rafkin, Trudeau • solution • 20201123

Alerts, reinterpreted for wacky factor.

  • 17a. [“You must be this tall to ride the roller coaster,” e.g.?] FAIR WARNING.
  • 27a. [“Use the squat rack as instructed,” e.g.?] EXERCISE CAUTION.
  • 42a. [“No black-soled shoes in the gym,” e.g.?] COURT INJUNCTION.
  • 55a. [“Keep your eyes on your own exam,” e.g.?] FINAL NOTICE.

Solid, but a little dry.

  • 36a [Fire signal at a hospital] CODE RED. Medical emergencies are code blue and bomb threats are code black.
  • 12d [Big name in yogurt] DANNON. “Danone was founded by Isaac Carasso, a Salonica-born Sephardic Jewish doctor, who began producing yogurt in Barcelona, Spain in 1919. The brand was named Danone, which translates to ‘little Daniel’, after his son Daniel” (Wikipedia)
  • 42d [Realm for Garfield] CATDOM. Anyone try COMICS? I had enough letters in place to avoid that pitfall.
  • 53d [Brown house, perhaps?] DORM. Referring to the university.
  • 19a [Doll who has had 40+ occupations] KEN. Pales in comparison to Barbies more than 200.
  • Liking the symmetric pair of 20a [Bits of progress] INROADS and 51a [In the direction of] TOWARDS.
  • 21a [Seabird within “water nymphs”] TERN, “of Scandinavian origin; akin to Danish terne tern”. Whereas the sea eagle ERNE is from “Middle English, from Old English earn; akin to Old High German arn eagle, Greek ornis bird”. (etymologies from
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10 Responses to Monday, November 23, 2020

  1. Bryan says:

    NYT: I thought this a themeless at first, having not seen “IDS” during my solve. I went back through afterward to see if I had missed anything, and that’s when I noticed the revealer. But even then, I was a little confused by “two forms of them” in the clue (aside from the common phrase “two forms of ID”). Maybe the “ID” sound is pronounced in different ways in each themer, I thought. But no, MID and RIDGE: both the same. Well, it was a quick, easy solve. Passable enough for a Monday, but a bit of a letdown after I had just finished solving yesterday’s stellar Sunday puzzle.

  2. Philippe says:

    NYT played a bit hard for Monday. Yaleu??

    • marciem says:

      I wasn’t crazy about Yaleu, and especially crossing edu , seemed oddly inelegant.

      Spelling of didgeridoo was a stopper for me, I wanted two gg’s there. But it was fair given that we’ve recently seen this instrument in a puzzle.

      So yah, maybe a bit harder than usual Monday and the theme was barely visible. Esp. since I didn’t see the downs in the south before puzzle-filled jumped up (bc of bad spelling on didgeridoo. 7down could have been Angy for all I knew LOL & once corrected and Happy smiled at me, I didn’t look further until I came here).

    • Mike says:

      Yeah, this seemed more suited to a Tuesday for me especially with DIDGERIDOO, PARIETAL, and ULSTER as answers. I didn’t catch the theme either…

  3. David L says:

    For those who did the BEQ: were you as totally Naticked as I was at the crossing of the Iraqi city and the Greek poetic term?

    • marciem says:

      Actually I got lucky in that area, on the crosses, without ever having seen or heard of “that” port in Iraq (and won’t in this life be able to pronounce it :) ) . I did start with Epod for the poetic term but figured that was my error when Happy didn’t jump up on completion. The s was my next guess.

  4. Zulema says:

    Strange, I thought that the NYT today was the easiest Monday ever, and since I was defeated by Saturday’s and disliked Sunday’s which also defeated me even after I read the explanation, I absolutely loved Liz’s NYer offering, a bit more doable than their usual Mondays and very enjoyable in many aspects. Thank you all anywho.

  5. Rose says:

    Rachel, I’d rather see Covid references than Goop. The former will go away someday but the idle rich will be here forever.

  6. jefe says:

    Huh – the LAT puzzle didn’t have the circles in the WaPo print edition.

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