Monday, May 31, 2021

BEQ tk (Jenni) 


LAT 2:05 (Stella) 


NYT 3:02 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 8:56 (Jenni) 


Universal tk (pannonica) 


Note: No WSJ puzzle due to the holiday.

Michael Lieberman’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

This theme made me smile! I had no idea what was going on until I got to the revealer, which is at the bottom as all good revealers should be.

New York Times, May 31, 2021, #0531, Michael Lieberman, solution grid

  • 17a [Arkansas’s capital] is LITTLE ROCK.
  • 26a [Bicolor cookies also called half-moons] are BLACK AND WHITES. When I was a kid, there was a stand in Grand Central Station that sold soft ice cream and black and whites. I always asked for a cookie and my mother always said no. The first time I went to the city by myself, I bought a cookie and it was a deeply disappointing experience.
  • 42a [Final practice before the big show] is a DRESS REHEARSAL.

What do they have in common? We find out at 57a. [Fashion designer associated with the item spelled out by the starts of 17-, 26-, and 42-Across]: COCO CHANEL is credited with popularizing the LITTLE BLACK DRESS. Fun! Nothing in the fill slowed me down or jumped out at me as un-Monday-ish.

A few other things:

  • 1a sets the tone for the whole puzzle, and I just loved FANCY-shmancy.
  • 7d [Cher holder?] is an IPOD. Shouldn’t that have an {obs} tag?
  • My daughter thinks it would be a BRIGHT IDEA to order a LARGE PIZZA when her boyfriend arrives this evening.
  • Apparently JORTS has made it into the language, since it’s not tagged as slang. I don’t know how I feel about that.
  • I do know that I enjoyed seeing ORZO above BOZO.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that a tie in tic-tac-toe is called a CATS GAME. Is that common knowledge? If not, maybe it shouldn’t be in a Monday, which is a shame, because the rest of the puzzle is a gem.

Winston Emmons’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

LAT 5/31/21 by Winston Emmons

LAT 5/31/21 by Winston Emmons

Hope you’re enjoying some HOLIDAY REVELRY today. Perhaps you’re in a HOUSE RENTAL or driving a HOT ROD? If any of these are true, you have a head start on solving today’s LAT. The theme, as revealed in 58D [Personnel depts., and what the personnel in 20-, 31-, 40- and 50-Across have in common] is HRS. Do people refer to human resources departments referred to in the plural as HRs? I’m asking. I haven’t. In any case, all of the theme entries are people whose initials are HR.

  • 20A [“The Carpetbaggers” author] is HAROLD ROBBINS. The first thing I saw about him when I looked him up is that Wikipedia calls him “one of the best-selling writers of all time,” so now I feel silly for not having known who he was. But then Hollywood Reporter called him “the forgotten ‘dirty old man of American letters’,” so I feel less silly.
  • 31A [Auto industry partner of Charles Rolls] is HENRY ROYCE.
  • 40A [“I Am Woman”] singer is HELEN REDDY, and the only theme entry I could have dropped in with no crossings.
  • 50A [She married Bill in 1975 but didn’t start using his name until his 1982 Arkansas gubernatorial campaign] is HILLARY RODHAM.

I’m not wild about this theme. “Names that have the same initials” is so straightforward that it almost has to run on a Monday, but the set of potential theme entries is so constrained that I think the constructor had to dig a little too deep. HELEN REDDY, awesome. HENRY ROYCE…sure, Rolls-Royce is well known, but I doubt most solvers could give you a first name on either. The novel cited in the clue for HAROLD ROBBINS came out 60 years ago, which would be fine if his books were widely read today, but based on my extremely cursory Googling it sounds like they aren’t. And HILLARY RODHAM has been HILLARY CLINTON for nearly 40 years.

I don’t think the “personnel” bit in the revealer clue is enough to make this puzzle better than it would have been if, say, the constructor had decided to have a long revealer of HR DEPARTMENT, which would then open things up to common phrases like HOTEL ROOM, HUMAN RACE, HEART RATE, etc., rather than just constraining the list to people’s names.

Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword—Jenni’s write-up

Good morning! Kameron made me think this morning.

New Yorker puzzle, May 31, 2021, Kameron Austin Collins, solution grid

  • Something I should have known but did not: that MESCAL is another word for agave. I love the eponymous spirit – put some mezcal in my margarita, please!
  • [Job that’s all about making connections]: OPERATOR. Kids, ask your parents.
  • I loved [“Enough!”] for WE GET IT
  • My favorite clue/answer pair in the puzzle was [“Suit yourself, moody”] for FINE BE MAD. I had to check the crossing to know if it was MAD or SAD.
  • KITE TAIL clanked a bit for me. Kites have tails, I know that. I’ve never heard anyone refer to a KITE TAIL, though.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that KING TUT was Akhenaten’s kid, and that AIDAN Gillen appeared in Game of Thrones. Everything I know about GoT, I learned from crosswords.

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16 Responses to Monday, May 31, 2021

  1. person says:

    In Tic-Tac-Toe I’ve known draws to be Cat’s Games. My kids would mark the grid with a big X or O if one side won or a big C if neither side prevailed.

  2. Lester says:

    New Yorker 53D: Is “Bet” an exclamation that The Youngs use as an equivalent to “All right, cool”?

  3. MattF says:

    ‘Cat’s game’ was new to me.

  4. Christopher Smith says:

    TNY: In what world is “Voila!” the same as BADABING? It’s understandable that someone might think that. But try to picture Sonny Corleone saying “Voila!”

  5. STEVEN says:

    BEQ: hillary spelling should be hilary

    i don’t think i knew that little gem

    • Kelly Clark says:

      I know I didn’t but I looked it up and you’re right…one L. However, BEQ’s 3 down more than made up for it, I think.

  6. Robert Alden says:

    NYT: Oddly enough, I’ve always called tied tic-tac-toe game “cats eyes,” which caused its own problem filling in the NW. Overall, it was a good Monday puzzle.

  7. Bryan says:

    NYT: Jenni, I had the same thought about wondering whether the iPod clue should have an “obsolete” qualifier. But lo and behold, they are still being sold:

  8. damefox says:

    NYT: A tribute puzzle to a Nazi is maybe not the best look for Memorial Day. On a related note, I feel like this is the third puzzle about Coco Chanel I’ve seen in the last year (including WSJ Contest puzzles) – is there really no one more interesting and less Nazi-adjacent we could be making puzzles about??

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