Monday, November 1, 2021

BEQ 4:19 (Matthew) 


LAT 2:10 (Stella) 


NYT 3:47 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:04 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (malaika) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Fiona Taylor’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s recap

Theme: The last word in each theme answer is the name of an NFL team.

New York Times, 11 01 2021, By Fiona Taylor

  • 20a [Things modern travelers pack] – PHONE CHARGERS (L.A. Chargers)
  • 32a [Forms of some kids’ multivitamins] – GUMMY BEARS (Chicago Bears)
  • 41a [Breakfast side at a diner] – HASH BROWNS
  • 52a [Government-backed investments] – TREASURY BILLS (Buffalo Bills)

And the revealer:

  • 56d [Org. that’s home to the ends of 20-, 32-, 41- and 52-Across] – NFL

Congrats to Fiona on her NYT debut! In a fun coincidence, I turned on the Seattle football game immediately before solving this puzzle (and am now only a little annoyed that Fiona didn’t find a way to work in “Seahawks”). As an NFL fan, I was able to figure out the theme mid-solve, although knowing the ends of the phrases were teams didn’t stop me from putting in “treasury bonds” over TREASURY BILLS  for some reason. The revealer will help out folks who don’t follow sports, and the theme phrases that Fiona picked out (particularly the first three) are all fun and evocative.

I have mixed feelings on the fill today. I really like MANHATTAN and WISE GUYS, but KASHI, UMIAK, and SCARP are rough on a Monday. There were also several common words that I felt were made much trickier by their clues – In particular, I was held up on 26d [Like Russia, east of the Urals] for ASIAN and 42d [Hide in a hard-to-find spot] for BURY. Also, I keep parsing ALL A’S as a misspelling of “alas”. Overall, I felt like I was moving very slowly through the puzzle, but I ended up with an average time – I’m curious about how other people perceived this puzzle’s difficulty.

Other thoughts:

  • On one hand, I like cluing TEE and LOGO in reference to football as a tie-in to the theme. On the other hand, for a mass appeal easy puzzle, this might be a lot of sports for people who aren’t into it. It’s all about balance.
  • GOTHS, GORGONS, CROWs, mentions of “butterfingers” in the clue for 1d… I’m enjoying trying to wring out as much Halloween spirit from this puzzle as I can. Kinda wish we had gotten a sugary clue for GUMMY BEARS instead of going the multivitamins route.
  • Road Work AHEAD? I sure hope it does….

Happy Halloween everyone!

Susan Gelfand’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 11/1/21 by Susan Gelfand

Los Angeles Times 11/1/21 by Susan Gelfand

Today’s puzzle is pretty sharp. No, really. Go to the revealer in the center at 39A [Vacillates … or what you can do when you look at the starts of the answers to starred clues?] and you get SEESAWS. Not just a playground implement (of yore, anyway; seesaws appear to be a casualty of making playgrounds less lawsuit-inducing), if you split the word into two you get SEE SAWS, because the first portion of each theme entry is a word that works in combination with SAW.

  • 17A [*Trendy terms] is BUZZWORDS. A BUZZ SAW is that thing I was scared to death of in shop class in seventh grade. (Want to know something I’m not good at? Fixing anything!)
  • 60A [*Popular cause to jump on] is a BANDWAGON. A BAND SAW is the one with the long skinny blade that you can use to cut fancy designs. If you’re not scared to go near it like I am, that is.
  • 11D [*Mall anchors] are CHAIN STORES. I guess so, but aren’t lots of malls being anchored by things like laser tag and Peloton studios now that online retail has big mall stores on life support? Anyway, today I learned how many times the Texas CHAIN SAW Massacre has been remade or sequel-ed and…why am I surprised?
  • 25D [*Game with paddles] is TABLE TENNIS. TABLE SAW…why does this puzzle have to keep taking me back to shop class? I’m delighted to keep paying other people to make things out of wood when I need them, thanks.

I have a couple of nits to pick with the cluing. For example, 23D EQUAL is clued as [Math sign], but isn’t the sign an EQUALS SIGN, not an EQUAL? Also, other pubs have been doing better about not being heteronormative when cluing gendered entries — 15A [Mama’s mate] for DADA could have used a “perhaps.”

Barbara Lin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Monday Tradition”—Jim P’s review

I hope I’m not the only one who was stumped by the theme until well after finishing. It took a minute or two to see the beginnings of the theme answers are steps in the laundry process.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Monday Tradition” · Barbara Lin · Mon., 11.1.21

  • 20a. [Be carried away by the tide] WASH OUT TO SEA.
  • 31a. [“Hold your horses!”] HANG ON A SEC.
  • 48a. [Drink that may be shaken] DRY MARTINI.
  • 56a. [Where a guest may sleep] FOLD-OUT COUCH.

A couple things conspired to confuse me. 1) The title. I was not aware that there was a day of the week when it’s commonly accepted that most people do laundry. For us, it’s always been a weekend chore when we’re done using uniforms/work clothes for the week. I really have trouble believing that most people do laundry on Mondays. Why not just title the puzzle, “Laundry Day”? 2) LEGO MEN looks like it might be a theme answer, based on its length and central placement, but it’s a red herring. (Also, I’ve never heard that term despite being around LEGO all my life. The actual term is minifigure or minifig.)

Not everyone hangs their clothes out to dry. Further, since that’s part of the drying process, I’m thinking it shouldn’t really be there. Most people do sort their clothes prior to washing (I think), so starting the theme off with SORT makes more sense to me (if a suitable phrase exists, that is).

Moving on, I see there are no long non-theme entries (nothing longer than 7, anyway). The aforementioned LEGO MEN is the most interesting bit of fill, but again, nobody uses that term as far as I know. ALTOONA, KAMALA, EL PASO, AT ODDS, HOT TEA are nice mid-length entries.

Clues of note:

  • 19a. [Retiring]. MEEK. I was not aware of this usage of “retiring”. Tough clue for a Monday.
  • 9d. [Workers in small hills]. ANTS. We get some pretty good sized ant hills here in western Washington. I’m talking 2-3 feet tall or taller.
  • 12d. [Olympic gymnast Sunisa]. LEE. It was neat to see her win the All Around gold medal at this last Olympics and the support she received from her Hmong community. Note that she goes by the nickname “Suni” which I have yet to see in a crossword but seems like a name we’d see fairly often.

The title really confused me on this one. 3.25 stars.

Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Double-Talk” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 11/1/21 • Mon • Coulter • “Double-Talk” • solution • 20211101

Looks like … multiple homophones? That are phrases in the original versions? Not seeing anything that unites them further.

  • 16a. [Solemn ceremonies that may require Froot Loops?] CEREAL RITES (serial rights).
  • 25a. [Book introduction written by singer Mariah?] CAREY’S FOREWORD (carries forward).
  • 40a. [Where Mozart’s mentor would have kept his jet, if flying had been around?] HAYDN PLANE SITE (hide in plain sight).
  • 52a. [Decelerating wildebeests?] BRAKING GNUS (breaking news).

I mean, these are pretty fun I guess, and maybe that’s all that’s necessary for an early week offering.

Quick tour, as I have an appointment this morning:

  • Favorite clue: 4d [You hate to see them] EYESORES.
  • 35d [Strongest architectural shape] TRIANGLE. Would that be a triangular pyramid?
  • 38d [Coming or going?] GERUNDQuel sens littéral!
  • 42d [Inexperienced gamers] NOOBS. Shades of ‘Froot Loops’.
  • 43d [Mali or Somalia] NATION. See how the former is orthographically contained in the latter?
  • 47d [Coupe, for example] AUTO; 23a [Alternative to a convertible] SEDAN.
  • 13a [ __ borealis (northern lights)] AURORA. Anyone get a look at them recently?
  • 31a [Part of UCLA] LOS, 32a [Part of UCLA?] CEE.
  • 59a [Connect] LINK. Unlike the theme answers?

Sara Cantor’s USA Today puzzle– malaika’s write-up

Sara Cantor’s November 1, 2021 USA Today puzzle

Edited by Amanda Rafkin

Good morning everyone, I hope you’re all recovering from Halloweekend with water, sleep, and 50% off candy from your local CVS.

Title: Three Doors Down
Theme: The last word of each theme answer, which is positioned vertically in the grid, can come before the word door
Theme answers:

  • 7D: MAGNIFYING GLASS (Detective’s accessory)
  • 10D: SHORT LIST (Pared down candidate roster)
  • 28D: THIRST TRAP (Sexy Instagram selfie, maybe)
  • 30D: FLAT SCREEN (Thin TV display)

This puzzle is asymmetrical, which I did not even notice until I was reviewing the grid and finding the theme answers to list above. Some fun bonus answers in FOOD BLOG, STORMS IN, and BEST SELLER. More things below:

  • The term CISHET (15A: Non LGBTQIA designation) refers to someone who is the same gender that they were assigned at birth (“cis”) and is HETerosexual.
  • The term “Kids THESE days…” (19A) reminds me of Paolo’s blog. Great clue, great blog.
  • 58A: One of two on the crying-with-laughter emoji (TEAR)
  • “Like caramel or hot fudge” is such a nice visual for GOOEY (3D). Now I would like a little treat.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — Matthew’s recap

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 11/1/2021

Today’s puzzle from BEQ felt tougher than my time ended up, but it wasn’t a breeze either.

The three long acrosses range from the familiar: CALAMITY JANE (49a- Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show star), to the ‘yea, I guess I’ve heard of it: DQ TREATZZA PIZZA (36a- Frozen pie-shaped dessert from a soft-serve chain), to the old crossword standby of ‘a phrase that’s close to one I know but not quite’: GO LIKE A DREAM (19a- Work better than expected). I never use or hear “go”, but do use “work like a dream.”

All those Z’s, complete with (38d- One of six in this puzzle’s grid) calling them out had the feeling of a stunt puzzle, until I got to the central down answer, DANA ZZYYM (20d- First person to have “Gender X” on their passport).

Zzyym was born intersex and received their passport this week after a six-year legal contest with the State Department. I had seen their name previously, but I’ll certainly know it better now, and I’m glad BEQ could make it work in a grid. I will note that Zzyym is the first person to have “Gender X” on an American passport; a number of other countries already offered the option. I highly encourage you to click through and read this link.

Given DANA ZZYYM down the middle, I’ll note that Brendan didn’t shy away from names and proper nouns otherwise: JUDITH Blegen, ELEA, KHAMENEI, RENE Marques, Dianne WIEST, TYSON Fury.


  • 8a- (Cost of being a woman?) PINK TAX. A group near me at a brewery was discussing the PINK TAX this weekend. Hopefully more people becoming aware of the different prices for “men’s” and “women’s” products that are otherwise identical will ultimately end the trend.
  • Lots of court and law in this grid: RECUSAL, ESQS, ACQUIT. Maybe Brendan has jury duty coming up.
  • 44a- (Mineral-rich spots) FENS. This has me on a Wikipedia rabbit hole of… the taxonomy of wetlands?
  • 60a- (Employing melodrama) EMOTING. There’s this thing in crosswords where EMOTE carries a connotation of “over the top” that I think just isn’t there outside of crosswords.
  • 1d- (Creature with a three-chambered heart) FROG. I have spent ten minutes looking at diagrams, and I just don’t understand how reptile hearts keep the oxygenated and de-oxygenated blood separate.
  • 13d- (High-ABV drink) ALE. Huh? As beer goes, there are ales of all alcohol levels, and I can certainly find lagers and stouts of higher ABV than many ales. And of course if we consider “drinks” generally, since that’s the word in the clue, most spirits are much higher in ABV than a typical ALE. What am I missing?
  • 25d- (Province of the Philippines named after their second president) QUEZON. Crossed fairly enough, plenty worth knowing on its own anyway.
  • 37d- (Prescribed treatment for a breakdown) REST CURE. New phrase to me, but AKA “bed rest”

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up

New Yorker crossword solution, 11 1 21

Getting to this late, so I’ll be quick. Fave fill: JANE ROE (subject of a recent New Yorker story), WHATSAPP (I use it to chat with my South African Pokémon Go friends), NON-WORDS, WINNOW OUT, STICKY BUN (terrific clue: [One with a glazed look]), PAUL NEWMAN, ACTION HERO (if you like action movies, you might enjoy this year’s The Suicide Squad starring Margot Robbie), GREEN GIANT, PROSE POETS.

Three things:

  • 4d. [They keep digits separate], TOE SHOES. I think this refers to those shoes that separate the toes from one another rather than to the pointe shoes worn by ballerinas.
  • 22d. [___ curl (hair style popular in the eighties], JHERI. If you aren’t Black and weren’t around many Black people in the 1980s, you might have been perplexed here. There’s a documentary in the works about the integrated suburb where I grew up, so yeah, this was a total gimme for me.
  • 50a is erstwhile AFL-CIO president George MEANY. I hope the next time MEANY shows up, it’s clued via Encyclopedia Brown’s nemesis, Bugs Meany. Are enough puzzle people of the right age and mindset to have cut their teeth on Encyclopedia Brown stories?

Four stars from me.

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15 Responses to Monday, November 1, 2021

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I agree that it felt hard but my time was pretty average. Some of the words Sophia mentioned (SCARP?) were indeed unexpected for a Monday, but it was easy to work around them. Still, it’s rare for me on a Monday to go elsewhere before finishing a corner.
    But the theme did feel solid and well executed. Even though I’m not a sports person, I tumbled to it after I got CHARGERS and BROWNS. And I like that 2 edible entries are in the middle framed by two inedible ones. Well done!!!

  2. Gary R says:

    NYT: Nice puzzle, and I like the theme – even though I didn’t catch on to it until I got to that tiny little revealer. And I was solving while watching an NFL game!

    SCARP and UMIAK seemed difficult for a Monday, but the crossings were okay.

    I grew up in farm country (mostly corn and soy beans), and I don’t think actual farmers where I lived worried too much about crows (16-A). Seems like that might be more of a concern for home gardeners.

  3. Eric S says:

    NYT seemed like a pretty typical Monday: It felt easy, and my time was about two minutes under average. I didn’t notice SCARP while I was solving it, but then I almost never notice the “hard” words in Monday puzzles, unless it’s really obscure, like last week’s “trysail.”

  4. Rob says:

    NYT: Congratulations Fiona on a very enjoyable debut puzzle. Second Monday in a row that was tougher than the typical NYT puzzle.

  5. JohnH says:

    I couldn’t care less any longer about football, but hard to complain about the NYT. Eminently solvable, whether I enjoyed recognizing the team names or not. So overall middling for me. I won’t rate it so as not to impose my interests. The noted words are indeed hard for Monday, but I’m not that into day ratings and don’t care for easy puzzles all that much, so no big deal for me.

    Jim has a real point about wash day or laundry day. I can live with the thought that someone still hangs out clothes to dry because cliches are what they are, but I’d never so much as heard of Monday as the day. So I treated this as a themeless and lived. Fast enough anyway, for those who like easy puzzles.

  6. marciem says:

    NYT: Monday is washday is an old English tradition, and there is even a song/nursery rhyme about it.

    “Wash on Monday
    Nursery Rhyme lyrics, origins and history

    Wash on Monday,
    Iron on Tuesday,
    Bake on Wednesday,
    Brew on Thursday,
    Churn on Friday,
    Mend on Saturday,
    Go to meeting on Sunday.”

  7. BarbaraK says:

    WSJ: There’s an old rhyme about women’s typical work schedule. Several variations, but they mostly all start with Wash on Monday. One from Wilder’s “Little House” books is

    Wash on Monday
    Iron on Tuesday
    Mend on Wednesday
    Churn on Thursday
    Clean on Friday
    Bake on Saturday
    Rest on Sunday

    I’ll be quite tickled if tomorrow’s WSJ theme is ironing, etc.

  8. PJ says:

    Monday is for laundry and a meal that requires little attention – Red Beans and Rice.

  9. David L says:

    NYer: pretty good puzzle, although speaking as an old dude, I would say it had a very old-dude vibe to it.

  10. janie says:

    re: wsj and laundry-related activities

    i was reminded of this song from childhood

    anyone else?


  11. Crotchety Doug says:

    USA – Can anyone ‘splain what a LIST Door is? Please?
    Or, more likely, it isn’t a themer after all, per title “Three Doors Down”.
    I did notice the asymmetry.

  12. marciem says:

    TNY: Thanks for the explanation of “toe shoes”, Amy. I’d never heard of these, and my recollection of long-past ballet lessons was that toe shoes crammed the tootsies together tight! :) . Good to know the new toe shoes.

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