Monday, March 22, 2021

BEQ untimed (Jenni) 


LAT 2:21 (Stella) 


NYT 2:58 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 13:19 (Rachel) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Daniel Grinberg’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

I figured out the theme early on. The revealer was still a surprise. It’s a perfect Monday theme and a solid puzzle overall.

The theme answers:

New York Times, March 22, 2021, #0322, Daniel Grinberg, solution grid

  • 17a [Collectible toy vehicle] is a MATCHBOX CAR.
  • 29a [Birthplace of General Motors] is FLINT, MICHIGAN, which still does not have reliably safe water.
  • 45a [Certain online dating bio] is a TINDER PROFILE.

MATCHFLINTTINDER all fit together, and there’s more in 58a [1980 Stephen King novel….or a hint to the beginnings of 17-, 29-, and 45-Across]: FIRESTARTER. Nice!

A few other things:

  • These days JAB is likely to evoke COVID immunization, not boxing.
  • My husband enjoys AMARO. “How many do we have?” “Kind of depends on what you count. Six. Seven. Eight. No, nine, and that doesn’t count the other aperitifs.” Also: vermouth is not an amaro, he’d like you to know.
  • Not too many PLAYDATEs in the past year, which would have been hell when my kid was of that age. I lived for mother-daughter PLAYDATEs. I’d happily relive the teenage years. Please please please do not send me back to toddler/preschooler days.
  • Are there actual TRIP WIREs on security systems now? Or is it all optical and motion sensors these days?
  • Are corner offices and prime parking spots still PERKS in the time of COVID?

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I actually did not know that GM started in FLINT.

Val Melius and Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

LAT 3/22/21

LAT 3/22/21 by Val Melius and Jeff Chen

I think I might have beef with this theme. Even though the theme is actually vegan. It’s a little more complicated than the average Monday, enough so that I think this puzzle would’ve been better on Tuesday or Wednesday; note my overall solving time is more consistent with one of those two days. But that’s really more a note to the editor on rating the difficulty here; I’m more not that into the choice of theme entries.

First, what’s going on? The revealer at 56A [Circular fried food … and what’s in the circled letters] is ONION RINGS. And when you look at the circled letters in each of the theme entries, they spell out the name of a type of onion. The circled letters, not coincidentally, are at the beginnings and ends of the phrases; that is, they “ring” the words or phrases.

  • 17A [Accompanying dishes, like 56-Across] is SIDE ORDERS. This answer isn’t part of the circled-letter theme although it is topic-wise linked to the revealer.
  • 23A [Athenian now a citizen in Athens, Georgia, say] is a GREEK-AMERICAN. The circled letters spell out GREEN.
  • 30A [Spraying gently, as plants] is SPRITZING. The circled letters spell out SPRING.
  • 38A [Expecting a baby, quaintly] is WITH CHILD. The circled letters spell out WILD.
  • 45A […nothing more…] is PURE AND SIMPLE. The circled letters spell out PURPLE.

Here’s my (onion-flavored) beef: IMO, for a theme like this to work well, the phrases that are alluded to by the circled letters need to be well known. GREEN ONIONS and SPRING ONIONS, sure. WILD ONIONS, though, feels a little more like GREEN PAINT than like GREEN ONIONS. PURPLE ONIONS is iffy; I’m much more familiar with them as RED ONIONS, even though they are in fact a purplish red. Google the various onion phrases and you get: GREEN, 8.8 million hits; SPRING, 5.4 million; WILD, 360,000; PURPLE, 939,000. So I think Dr. Google is with me on this one. I admit I can’t think of what theme entries I would have proposed in place of WITH CHILD and PURE AND SIMPLE, alas.

The fill is nice and clean; I liked INDIGNANT, PR BLITZ, HOEDOWN, and PILAF especially.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Food Chain”—Jim P’s review

This puzzle goes from SOUP to NUTS.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Food Chain” · Mike Shenk · Mon., 3.22.21

  • 18a. [Stock holder?] SOUP BOWL
  • 24a. [Fiesta in Arizona, for one] BOWL GAME
  • 35a. [Nintendo console replaced with the Wii] GAMECUBE
  • 40a. [12, for 1728] CUBE ROOT
  • 49a. [Black cow base] ROOT BEER
  • 57a. [Sweet-and-salty snack brand] BEER NUTS

Is there a name for this type of theme. It’s not a word ladder, that name’s taken. Word chain? That name’s also taken. A word chain is a list of related words where the last letter of a word starts the next word. So this is similar to that but with whole words, not just letters. How about a phrase chain? Works for me.

There’s a lot of duplication here, but that seems okay for a Monday when you might have newer solvers. But not all the clues are Monday-level, I’d argue. I’ve never heard of a “black cow” drink, which looks to be a root beer float. The BOWL GAME clue is tricky as well, and the SOUP BOWL clue is a tough one to start with. As far as I know, people usually don’t put stock in their bowls; stock is the basis for a soup, not the finished product.

Other non-Monday things: U THANT, MOUE, EOS, and possibly SQUAB. I do like SEA LEGS, DOG POUND, and “YOU GOT ME.”

I like the theme, especially going from SOUP to NUTS, and it’s fun to say the phrases aloud as you go along, but there were some non-Monday aspects to this that didn’t sit well. 3.3 stars.

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

The New Yorker crossword solution • Patrick Berry • Monday, March 22, 2021

Hello good morning! I have to admit, this is not my favorite Patrick Berry I’ve solved lately. It felt a little stale to me, and there were a few crossings and cluing decisions that left me a little baffled, although there were some solid long entries.

Long entries I liked include STRIP POKER / ALL THE RAGE / HATE WATCHED / GO FOR A SPIN. I particularly like HATE WATCHED [Viewed with disdain?], which feels more contemporary. SYMPATHIZES and FATHERLAND were both perfectly fine entries, although I think the clue for SYMPATHIZES would be more appropriate for EMPATHIZES [Shares feelings?] and FATHERLAND felt to me like it should have been MOTHERLAND [Where one’s ancestors are from]. Other long entries were BOBBY DARIN / COAL MINING / SCRATCH PAD / SOUR CHERRY.

I struggled with the proper nouns today, not realllly knowing BOBBY DARIN or the MR T character Clubber Lang or the [Literary character who was once married to Milady de Winter] (ATHOS). There were also a couple of entries I raised my eyebrow at — specifically DIPPY and H BAR. I’ve seen a lot of construction-materials-named-after-letters in my time as a solver, but I think H BAR is a new one for me. Is it just an I BAR that has been turned on its side? And DIPPY, to me as a Pittsburgher, means “over easy,” as in, “I’d like some DIPPY eggs with my toast, please.” I have never encountered this meaning of DIPPY, and I didn’t know CANOE slalom, so that whole section was pretty tough for me.

A few more things:

  • I’ve never read Ella Minnow PEA but I’ve done enough crosswords to know it, and I think the concept+title are so fun. I should probably just read this already!
  • The clue on GUT is a little graphic for my tastes [Destroy from the inside out]
  • Favorite clue: [Viewed with disdain?] for HATE WATCHED

Overall, several stars from me.

P.S. If you’d like to solve an easier puzzle, check out today’s USA Today, which is a collaboration between me and Rebecca Goldstein!

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1350), “Themeless Monday #613” — Jenni’s review

A true Torah scholar, which I am not, would have a lot to say about the number of today’s puzzle, since there are purportedly 613 mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah. I’m sure we could come up with some crossword mitzvot if we tried.

This was a fun puzzle! It seemed a smidgen harder than the last couple of BEQ Mondays. Just me?

Brendan Emmett Quigley, Puzzle #1350, “Themeless Monday #613,” solution grid

  • Two entries span the grid: BODY TEMPERATURE and MARRIAGE LICENSE, both very solid 15-letter entries that I don’t remember seeing in puzzles very often.
  • Four 11-letter entries that I enjoyed: VAYA CON DIOSWHAT ON EARTHFRIVOLITIES, and FINE SEA SALT. Samin Nosrat has made a slat believer out of my husband. Food in our house now tastes much better, and it wasn’t bad before. This year I will be able to put enough salt in the matzah balls, the chicken soup, and the gefilte fish for the first time since we were married.
  • Speaking of chicken soup, it often comes with TLC. Yes indeed.
  • 23d [Cold open?] is HARD C. This kind of clue gets me every time. You’d think I’d learn.
  • I also liked the nine-letter downs: ONEMAN BAND and SINGLE FILE.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that there are butterflies called APOLLOS.

Sally Hoelscher’s Universal crossword, “Growing a Garden” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 3/22/21 • Mon • Hoelscher • “Growing a Garden” • solution • 20210322

This is a really fine theme.

  • 17a. [*Botanical specimen whose fronds resemble a flightless bird’s plumes] OSTRICH FERN.
  • 34a. [*Botanical specimen that large African animals eat] ELEPHANT GRASS.
  • 41a. [*Botanical specimen that attracts fluttering insects] BUTTERFLY BUSH.
  • 59a. [Botanical specimen whose offshoots resemble arachnids] SPIDER PLANT.

Nifty, right? Animal names in plant names. And it’s evenly split between two that resemble their namesakes and two that provide nourishment for their eponymous cohorts.

But wait! There’s more: 53d [Body parts that the starred answers’ starts have increasing numbers of] LEGS. That adds a whole other dimension to an already solid theme. 2-4-6-8, much appreciated.

The ballast fill is mostly unremarkable but solid. A few mentions:

  • 34d [Caesar’s supposed question] ET TU, BRUTE? Not often we see the ‘full’ quote.
  • 60d [Lead-in to “season”] PRE-. In more ways than one.
  • 48a [Top-notch mark?] HYPHEN. Little sneaky there. More explicit punctuation with 11d [\] BACKSLASH.

A very nice Monday offering.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Monday, March 22, 2021

  1. Martin says:

    My power will be out until tomorrow morning, affecting access to Universal, WaPo, WSJ and Jonesin. Sorry about that. A tree took out a power pole and it’s a big mess. Candlelight dinner tonight.

    • Lise says:

      Sorry about the big mess, Martin! Thank you for the service that you provide, and I hope your power is back on soon.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Sorry for your trouble Martin and +1 to Lise’s gratitude for the service you provide this here crossword community.

    • Martin says:

      Thanks, all. PG&E worked through the night replacing the pole and we were up by 4:30 AM PDT. Hopefully everything works again.

      BTW, I finally finished a major reconfiguration of my system, which allowed Dave to change the links to https on Today’s Puzzles. You shouldn’t need to do anything special in Chrome any longer to get the puzzles with a single click. Thanks, Dave.

      (It took a while because it involved reconfiguring 6 computers at two different sites, three routers and some network storage. https is a major pain in the rear.)

  2. person says:

    I did know that GM started in Flint, Michigan (but will admit I had not heard of the Stephen King title Fire Starter). If you haven’t seen the documentary Roger and Me it is definitely worth a watch. Still relevant 32 years later.

  3. Sheik Yerbouti says:

    Today’s Patrick Berry New Yorker reminds me that his puzzle pack that you linked to the other day is amazing. Jaw dropping.

  4. Billy Boy says:

    cute Monday theme
    11A & 67A (with some grid symmetry as well, I suppose) could have each been clued outdated music storage system?
    “amazing how fast CD’s and maybe even DVD’s have become near-relics” I thought as I watched a movie on DVD Saturday evening.

    Today’s pedantry
    38A as clued – sole anatomically correct answer is forearm.
    The only bone in the arm is the HUMERUS.

    Layman’s ARM is the upper extremity

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Huh? In this layman’s world, the forearm and upper arm are two parts of the arm, connected by ligaments and tendons at the elbow joint. It doesn’t seem improper at all to me to refer to the bones in the forearm (in addition to the humerus in the upper arm) as arm bones.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        Doh! I misread your post before replying. You’re point is that an anatomist would disagree that the forearm bones are part of the arm since they only consider the upper arm to be the arm. You’re pretty clear about that. I don’t know why I was confused. Never mind.

  5. Crotchety Doug says:

    New Yorker 22A – AHORSE? Is this one word, as in “Oh look, there’s Roy Rogers. He is always ahorse.” This clue at least demands the archaic qualifier. That A was my last letter.

    • Mike Herlihy says:

      I couldn’t believe I had to fill that word in. Google’s NGRAM viewer shows a pretty steep decline to below 0.0000010% in 1920. It bumps all the way up to 0.0000011% in the 2009/2010 date range, but many of the counts include book scanning errors that incorrectly join the two words “a” and “horse”.

  6. Christopher Smith says:

    TNY: Feels like Patrick is right about his usage. Fatherland generally refers to nation of origin while motherland or mother country is usually more colonial (England was our mother country before it wasn’t). Also, sympathy is more about sharing feelings of sorrow while empathy concerns trying to relate to someone else’s pain without necessarily sharing it.

    • R says:

      Seconded on both counts. Motherland and empathizes are probably more preferred words (especially the ubiquitous advice to “empathize, not sympathize”), but FATHERLAND and SYMPATHIZES scan fine.

  7. marciem says:

    BEQ: I don’t really understand the clue for 56a : “Animal member of a singular” = boar.

    singular what?

  8. Lester says:

    Jim P: You must not be much of a Steely Dan fan. “Black Cow” is one of the songs on the crossword-friendly album Aja (“drink your big black cow and get out of here”).

    Rachel: I took “gut” to refer to what happens to the interior of a house when it is being completely rehabbed, so “destroy from the inside out” passed the breakfast test for me.

    Jenni: The typo that made your husband into a “slat believer” had me wondering whether Samin Nosrat was a kind of bed that depends heavily on the slats for support. The next sentences cleared it up for me.

  9. Rose says:

    Rachel – you obviously haven’t been around house construction. My father *gutted* the first story of our house when he built a basement & used *H-bars* to hold up the house during & after the project which are not *I-bars* turned around. Their horizontal steel bars are longer.

Comments are closed.