Monday, April 26, 2021

BEQ untimed (Jenni) 


LAT 2:15 (Stella) 


NYT 2:40 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 8:43 (Rachel) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


WSJ 3:55 (Jim P) 


Eric and Lori Bornstein’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

I know Eric’s name. Lori is new to me, so I checked out Wordplay for info, and it turns out she’s Eric’s mom and this is her first puzzle for the Times. Check out the link and see what she has to say about the experience of constructing with “one of {her} favorite sons.” I really enjoyed this puzzle! It’s a fresh, fun theme and entirely appropriate for a Monday.

It’s an unusual grid design. The theme answers have something in common.

  • 20a [Figurative site of a 35-Down] is a WHITE CASTLE.
  • 26d [Figurative ruler of a 35-Down] is the DAIRY QUEEN.
  • 30d [Figurative ruler of a 35-Down] is the BURGER KING.

35d, [Feature of many a mall….or a place for 20-Across and 26- and 30-Down], is FOOD COURT. I love this.

A few other things:

  • A sign of the times: when I saw 1a [Document for foreign travel], I thought “vaccine passport.” The answer, of course, is VISA.
  • A sign of the Times: 17a [Nonbinary pronoun] is THEY.
  • ADJOIN is not a word you hear every day. I’d prefer not to see it in Monday puzzles.
  • See also AREAR.
  • Does anyone actually use BING as an alternative to Google?

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that YALE is the alma mater of five U.S. presidents.

Catherine Cetta’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

LAT 4/26 by Catherine Cetta

LAT 4/26 by Catherine Cetta

Here’s a theme I’ve seen before, but I’m a gal who loves her shoes so I’m not complaining. I’d rather see a shoe theme repeated than yet another baseball team mashup, amirite?

The revealer isn’t really necessary, but I’m not mad at it the way I often am with revealers because there are four theme entries even without the revealer, so I don’t feel like the space could have been better spent on another theme entry. Let’s go there first: 63A [“Stand up!” … and a hint to the beginnings of the answers to starred clues] is ON YOUR FEET, which is where your shoes go. And it’s a shoe that you find at the beginning of each theme entry:

  • 17A [*Divisive political topic] is a WEDGE ISSUE. WEDGEs are not my favorite form of footwear, fashion-wise. I always think it looks like you have a brick tied to your feet. (Counterpoint from my 5’3″ niece: “Some of us need to be taller all the time and need an alternative to stilettos.”) Love WEDGEs or hate them as fashion, this is totally fine as a theme entry.
  • 24A [*Want-ad heading in the London Times, perhaps] is FLAT FOR RENT. You know, because Brits don’t have apartments, they have FLATs. And since the pandemic started, I have nothing but FLATs in my closet, too.
  • 40A [*Get up and running, digitally] is BOOT THE COMPUTER. This felt a tiny bit contrived? It’s much more common to say you’re BOOTING UP a computer rather than BOOTING it, right? I imagined booting my computer out of a window, which is what I want to do to it when it’s acting up.
  • 50A [*Interrogate persistently] is PUMP FOR INFO. Fun fact: A PUMP in American English means a high-heeled shoe, but it’s a low-heeled shoe in British English. That which Brits call a PUMP, we’d more likely call a flat; that which we call a PUMP, the Brits would call a “court shoe,” which either sounds like something you wear to meet the Queen or something you wear to play basketball.

Extra points to the constructor for being consistent in using theme phrases that always have a non-shoe meaning for the theme word. Also extra points for SQUIRT GUNS, OPERA, and KOI, but I could do without OGEES or PEROT (who’s feeling stale these days). And I sure wish 52D MAMMA had at least included a “perhaps” to acknowledge that some MAMMAs are partnered with other MAMMAs.

John Guzzetta & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “What Have We Here?”—Jim P’s review

Theme: WELL WELL WELL (56a, [“Just look what we have here…,” and a summary of 20-, 28- and 46-Across]). Each of the other theme answers acts as a clue to which the answer could be WELL.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “What Have We Here?” · John Guzzetta & Jeff Chen · Mon., 4.26.21

  • 20a. [Place to get a drink] WATERING HOLE. A well could be described as a literal WATERING HOLE.
  • 28a. [Healthy] FIT AS A FIDDLE. Someone who is healthy is well.
  • 46a. [“Let me see…”] GOOD QUESTION. This one took me a bit to grok, but I’ve decided we’re saying “Well…” as the preamble to giving a response, as in, “Well, it’s like this…”

Cute theme. I enjoyed it even though the last one took a little while to sink in. I have to say, though, that GOOD QUESTION doesn’t quite equate to “Well…” for me as much as the actual clue [“Let me see…”] does. Saying “Well…” is sort of a stalling tactic while one thinks how to phrase a response. Saying GOOD QUESTION is just that—admiring the question—and the respondent may know very well how to answer that question. To me it equates more to “I’m glad you asked.”

Anyhoo, I still think it works, and I like the theme.

DO I KNOW YOU?” tops the fill list along with BARISTAS, VOTER FRAUD, SWIM LAPS, and PURLOIN. In fact, the grid is quite beautifully put together with nary a bit of kludgy fill. STAGY took me an extra beat to get [Overly theatrical]. I would have thought it was spelled STAGEY ala CAGEY, but whaddya know, CAGY is a valid alternative.

Clues of note:

  • 19a. [Crazy for Swayze?] RHYME. Hahaha! This gave me the biggest laugh from a clue in a long time. Highlight of the grid for me.
  • 43d. [How to juice a lemon] SQUEEZE. We also would have accepted “Black Coffee in Bed” band.

A solid theme and a very strong grid. Four stars. Now, enjoy this bizarro video.

Zachary David Levy’s Universal crossword, “Outside the NBA” — pannonica’s post-up

Universal • 4/26/21 • Mon • Levy • “Outside the NBA” • solution • 20210426

Today we get words and phrases that are creatively defined as if they were basketball-related.

  • 18a. [Point guard?] PINCUSHION.
  • 23a. [Jump ball?] DANCE PARTY.
  • 38a. [Post up?] AIRMAIL. In my defense, I filled this one in without looking at the clue until just now, so I’ll continue to take credit for the heading.
  • 50a. [Buzzer beater?] FLY SWATTER.
  • 57a. [Fast break?] FORTY WINKS.

I enjoyed these reinterpretations. Solid and well done.

  • 11d [Tabled or shelved] PUT ASIDE. In British English, tabled has the opposite meaning, but shelved is synonymous with ours.
  • 31d [Important words of affirmation in a relationship?] I DO. Rather a long-winded clue, and I’m not sure it needs the question mark.
  • ©MH Sharp32d [Animals that consume ants] AARDVARKS. The generic name Orycteropus means ‘burrowing foot’ and, convergently with many other fossorial animals, its forelimbs are heavily muscled and leveraged. 47d [Some batteries] AAS.
    If I ever design a battery-operated aardvark toy I’ll be sure to specify that it takes AA batteries.
  • 46d [Pascal with a noted wager] BLAISE. This has to do with belief in god and death, if I recall correctly. Pascal’s Wager lives in the same part of my brain as Hobson’s Choice, which mayyybe is something that isn’t a choice at all? In which case I’d say they’re very different propositions.
  • 64a [Whole alternative] SKIM. Fooled me. I was thinking PART or SOME or NONE.
  • 34d [Black ___ spider] WIDOW. Here’s some fun in 5⁄4:

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

The New Yorker crossword solution • Natan Last • Monday, April 26, 2021

Happy Monday-after-ACPT, folks! I have a crossword hangover, so this may be brief!

I enjoyed this one, and it felt pretty quick to me (and the time backs that up). The grid is neat— some cool extended staircases and those NW/SE corner-blocks that I’m starting to associate with Natan’s puzzles. If they make the fill better, I find that I don’t care about the in the least, and they have the added benefit of also looking cool.

There weren’t any particularly long entries today aside from a central LOUISE GLUCK, but we’ve got a bunch of 8s/9s throughout the grid. My favorites were WIKILEAKS / CARD CHECK (it wouldn’t be a Natan puzzle without a reference to labor organizing)/ LOVE STORY (the difference between a Monday and Friday New Yorker is that this gets a 1970s novel clue instead of a Taylor Swift clue) / GRANDKID / OCARINAS. All solid long-ish entries!

A few more things:

  • GRONK is no longer a frequent Tom Brady target; does this clue need something to indicate that? I think probably not, but it gave me pause during the solve.
  • Love the elegant signifier that YOGHURT will have a nonstandard American spelling in the clue [Part of an English breakfast, perhaps]
  • There’s a fine line between OLD LADY being “jocular” and “misogynistic” so I guess just watch how you use it!
  • Favorite clues:
    • [Site for secret admirers?] for WIKILEAKS
    • [“Sounds chill”] for DOPE (love me a *short* colloquial)
  • I didn’t totally follow the clue for THE WHO [With Yes and the Band, band in an “SCTV” parody of a classic Abbott and Costello bit], but I looked it up afterwards and wow this is great:

Overall, lots of stars from me. See you Wednesday!

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1360), “Themeless Monday #617” — Jenni’s review

Very quickly before I head out for my afternoon visits: I found this harder than the recent run of BEQ themelesses.

Brendan Emmett Quigley, April 26, 2021, “Themeless Monday #617,” solution grid

  • NASTYGRAMS is a great entry and for some reason eluded me for a long time.
  • 10d [Tube speaker?] had me thinking of the London Underground. It’s the boob tube – the answer is TALKING HEADS.
  • Do not serve me any curries containing GHOST PEPPER. Please, no.
  • Mmmm, HOHOS.
  • 401k matching is a PERK that purports to disguise the erosion and disappearance of pensions over the past 40 years. I’m reading Kurt Andersen’s “Evil Genuises” in small doses because every chapter makes me so angry I have to put it down for a while. Highly recommend.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the STYX originates near Pheneus.

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19 Responses to Monday, April 26, 2021

  1. JohnH says:

    ADJOIN in the NYT is maybe uncommon, but I wouldn’t put it in the same class with AREAR as a forced word. Fascinating discussion Sunday btw about Green Paint, which is relevant here. Far be it from me to impose my tastes, but I don’t mind fill that’s idiomatic, even if it’s not an idiom, especially if a clue truly evokes the context that might oblige one to use it. Crosswordese and clumsy coinages are something else again, although I realize that constructors are under all sorts of constraints.

  2. RSP64 says:

    NYT – RKO crossing John DONNE on a Monday? -0.5 in my book.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: The theme was fresh and cute. I think it was more Tuesday-like in some parts…
    Nice to see a mother and son collaboration. My son and I are starting a scientific collaboration, and I’m excited!

  4. Anne says:

    NYT: I loved the theme today, even though in this country we don’t have any of those fast food outlets. We have something that sells Burger King food, but is called Hungry Jack’s. (They even have paper crowns!)

    To answer Jenni’s question:

    Does anyone actually use BING as an alternative to Google?

    Here in Australia the government had a stoush with Google and Facebook over their use of media content, and Google threatened to close all access to the search engine in Australia. Many people migrated to Bing as a result. I don’t know how many have gone back after some kind of deal was agreed.

    • RM Camp says:

      I recommend DuckDuckGo over either, for privacy. I do hear that it’s not as good a search engine as Google but I’ve had no issues with it, and it’s improving.

  5. Flinty Steve says:

    New Yorker: Gronk was a Tom Brady target as recently as this year’s Super Bowl, so I think the clue is okay.

    • Rachel Fabi says:

      Ha! I did not follow the 2020 season so I thought their partnership ended in New England. My bad!!!

  6. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: My gosh, this puzzle deserves more love! I can’t imagine a better construction for this theme. It’s got the king on one side, the queen on the other, the castle in the middle, and a central court. Plus JANE AUSTEN, ROSE GARDEN, ROLEPLAYS, ART STUDIO, and PLATINUM, ANYHOO, and AZALEA?! What?! Even DELOUSE is fun (makes me think of the macaque monkeys on Gibraltar who will give you a delousing for free!). It was a joy to solve.

  7. janie says:

    hey — just gotta give a shout-out to team fienders — present and past — who made such a stellar showing at the acpt. wow-wow-wow!!! in no particular order, serious kudos to: ben z., doug, jim p., angela, joon, jenny, andy, rachel, stella, jeffrey, erik, neville, derek, gareth (rookie year — playing from south africa!), laura, sam, amy (ofl!) and (omg) dave (a/k/a tireless scoring guru). hope i’ve not inadvertently missed anyone — but each of you, please — feel free to take bow!

    cheers, all — and major congrats!


  8. Crotchety Doug says:

    LAT – It may be a small point (52D) but the clue Poppa matches with MOMMA and the clue Papa matches with Mama. “Mamma” looks weird. Witness “Throw Momma from the Train” (Danny DeVito) and “Your Mama Don’t Dance” (Loggins & Messina).

    • Jim Peredo says:

      Don’t know why they wouldn’t have clued it with respect to the wildly popular film and musical Mamma Mia! based on the ABBA song. That would have resolved both your and Stella’s points of contention.

  9. paolo p. says:

    universal theme is real nice

  10. Billy Boy says:

    Bing is fine, easy as it’s imbedded in Edge browser which I often prefer for Windows.

    AREAR and all other A-words – asea and the like are awful stuff, grating in fact

    The puzzle was a Tu Wed level challenge, probably indiscernible to a power solver from a Monday.

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