Monday, January 17, 2022

BEQ untimed (Matthew) 


LAT 2:04 (Stella) 


NYT dnf (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:26 (Amy) 



USA Today untimed (malaika) 


Note: No WSJ puzzle due to the holiday.

Evan Mahnken’s New York Times Crossword — Sophia’s recap

Theme: The grid features the names of three oceans, each with the second half of its name “dropped” to the line below, as highlighted by the revealer A DROP IN THE OCEAN.

New York Times, 01 17 2022, By Evan Mahnken

  • 17a [Teenage military leader canonized in 1920] / 21a [Not inclined to reveal one’s feelings] – JOAN OF ARC / RETICENT
  • 40a [Insignificant amount … or hint to this puzzle’s shaded squares]/ 45a [Actress Rigg of “The Avengers”] – A DROP IN THE OCEAN/DIANA
  • 58a [Big-dollar election-influencing grp.] / 64a [“Tell someone who gives a hoot”] – SUPERPAC/AS IF I CARE

I like today’s crossword theme a lot! It’s a nice twist on a common phrase and made me think “that’s clever!” when I figured it out. It’s fortuitous that Evan was able to use the IN from A DROP IN THE OCEAN for a theme answer as well as a revealer, since that meant he didn’t need to take up extra grid space to have them both separate. All of the theme answer choices are solid, and I especially like how AS IF I CARE breaks up the back half of PACIFIC across three separate words.

I’m of two minds about the fill in this puzzle. On one hand, there were a lot of words that I was excited to see on a Monday because they’re more interesting than what we sometimes get, and I’m not just talking difficulty-wise: for example, all the down answers in the NW corner of the puzzle (UNJAM, PHONY, SLANG) are common words, but they have cool letter combinations and were satisfying to put in. Things like WACKO and BOOBY are also different from the norm, and the long downs of OLD SPICE and ALLERGIC are nice too (although it did take me a looong time to see ALLERGIC since I had “scab” instead of SCAR, and I didn’t immediately know ENGELS). Oh, and there are a bunch of women in this puzzle – ILHAN Omar, Patsy CLINE, JOAN OF ARC, DIANA Rigg, the biblical LEAH, and … SARA Lee? (so close, puzzle!) After last week’s nearly woman-less puzzle, this was a great change of pace.

On the other hand, some of those uncommon words I mentioned earlier cause tough crossings. Personally, this was the first Monday puzzle in a long time that I didn’t finish without Googling, thanks to the ENOW/WYVERN cross. I had no idea on the fantasy dragon (didn’t even know if it was from a specific thing or was just a generalized creature) and thought that [Sufficient, to Shakespeare] had something to do with the word “enough” (which maybe ENOW does; I didn’t check), so after running “f” and a few other letters in “enough” I decided I had had enough (haha) and looked it up. I’m not sure how that will play for other people – both clues did hit known blind spots of mind, and ENOW has been in the NYT plenty of times before – but for me, it was an impossible crossing. I also worry about SARIN down there in the SW – I’ve never heard of this and got it entirely off crossings. If someone doesn’t know STP or the URAL River, those consonants could be pretty much anything. 

Sound off in the comments about how things went for you! Happy MLK day everyone.

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

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 1/17/2022

Have to be quick today, unfortunately. Real toughie for me from BEQ this holiday.

Plusses: WEASELS OUT OF, SIN TAX, DUST DEVILS, STETSONS ([They’re part of ranch dressing] *chef’s kiss*), RAGOUT

Big Minus: A CUP. I’d certainly like these to be gone from wordlists, but even limiting to this case, it’s really not hard to avoid this in this corner. PIPE/UCLA/TAUT gives you PUT OUT/PLUTO/EAT OF in the downs while preserving the longer entries, and there are plenty of other fill options if you don’t like one of those from this very amateur constructor.

Green painty?: AGED WOOD

Fact checking: I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone calling it “The” CBC (5d). ZEBUS are bovines, not equines.

Will Nediger’s USA Today crossword, “Low-Hanging Fruit”– malaika’s write-up

Congrats to Will on his USA Today debut!

Theme: The lowest part of each vertical theme answer is a fruit

Theme answers:

  • WHATS TODAYS DATE— Question from someone writing a check
  • MEADOWLARK LEMON— Harlem Globetrotters icon
  • BEIJING MANDARIN— Dialect group spoken in China

Will Nediger’s USA Today puzzle


  • We had some nice mid-length across answers, with SOUTHPAW, KINDNESS, KEYTAR, and DRY SPELL. I had the P and E for that last one and was trying to make “flop era” fit.
  • ASHA bandele wrote, among other things, The Prisoner’s Wife and stylizes her names with all lowercase letters, much like erik agard frequently does. I wish it was more common to do this, I prefer “malaika” to be lowercase, as you can see from the title’s of my write-ups.
  • INTO the Thick of It is a song from The Backyardigans. What’s your favorite Backyardigans song? Mine is Secret Agent.
  • Miso and ngapi are both PASTEs used in Asian cuisine; the former is made of fermented soy beans and the latter is made of fish or shrimp. Here’s my hot take of the day: Stop putting miso in desserts. I do not want it there. Soups, salads, marinades? Hell yes. Cookies, cakes, ice cream? No no no.
  • DED stands for Dutch ELM disease, a fungus deadly to trees
  • C.R. Patterson & SONS was the first car company with a Black founder
  • For me, REMAP falls into the category of “contrived RE- words that make crosswords easier to fill” but maybe I’m wrong and this is actually legit. My home state right now is going through a tumultuous gerrymandering trial right now.

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

Los Angeles Times 1/17/22 by Catherine Cetta

Los Angeles Times 1/17/22 by Catherine Cetta

Monday regular Catherine Cetta is back with a theme that’s a bit more complex than usual for a Monday. The revealer at 60A is [Say “See you mañana, e.g. … and a hint to each set of circles], which gives us CODE SWITCH. Each theme entry contains circled letters that, when anagrammed, or “switched,” become a type of CODE:

  • 18A [Coen brothers’ “Best Original” Oscar-winning output for “Fargo”] is SCREENPLAY, with the circled letters NEPLA anagramming to PENAL. Man, this one was tough for me, since those letters also anagram to NEPAL, PLANE, and PANEL. Thank goodness for the Internet Anagram Server or I’d still be wondering what a PLANE CODE was.
  • 24A [Weather warning on your cellphone, e.g.] is a TEXT ALERT. Phew, this one’s much easier: the circled XTA gives us TAX CODE.
  • 39A [Informal name for the classic painting “Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1” is WHISTLER’S MOTHER, with the circled ERSMO leading to MORSE CODE.
  • 50A [Sleight-of-hand swindle] gives us SHELL GAME, with the circled ELLGA leading to LEGAL CODE.

This one wasn’t my favorite — I found the theme a bit overcomplicated — but maybe it’s because I’m not very good at anagrams. I also didn’t love some of the short fill, like HOSNI Mubarak, the partial AS RED, the plural ESSES, and the odd-sounding HAYED. On the other hand, PIGHEADED and TELEPATHS were fun longer nontheme answers.

Elizabeth Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 1 17 22, Gorski

Apparently I am always going to forget to blog the New Yorker puzzle on Monday mornings without a calendar reminder. Calendar now set!

Fave fill: AIR BUBBLE, BACKSEAT DRIVER, LA CLASSE DE DANSE, AROMATICS, SCOTUS (great clue for that—[Justice league acronym?]), AREPA.



2.75 stars from me.

Zachary David Levy’s Universal Crossword, “What A Zoo!”

Universal, 01 17 2022, “What a Zoo!”

Theme: Words/phrases that are places animals can live that also include said animal’s name.

  • 17a [*Perch from which you might hear “Land ho!”] – CROWS NEST
  • 29a [*Issue that can be blown out of proportion, idiomatically] – MOLEHILL
  • 45a [*Hostile place] – LION’S DEN
  • 56a [*Shape of some windshield cracks] – SPIDERWEB
  • 1d [*Busy place] – BEEHIVE
  • 43d [*Shelter on the front lines] – FOX HOLE

and the revealer:

  • 35a [1978 comedy set at Faber College, and a clue to this puzzle’s theme] – ANIMAL HOUSE
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28 Responses to Monday, January 17, 2022

  1. Ethan says:

    NYT: It does seem like the SW and SE both could have been made more Monday-friendly. I wonder if the constructor submitted it with a different day in mind, because even just a few years ago there’s no way a puzzle with a complex theme like this would have ever run on a Monday. I think the NYT team is short on true Mondays and Tuesday/Wednesdayish themes are being re-purposed for Monday.

  2. David says:

    The NYT was *definitely* not meant for a Monday. I happen to know WYVERN and ENOW, but only because I’ve spent considerable time with a Scrabble dictionary. The theme was fun, and I enjoyed the challenge, but it definitely should have been published on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

    • Rob says:

      NYT: First Natick I’ve ever had in a Monday puzzle. This should have been a Tuesday or maybe even a Wednesday

    • JohnH says:

      WYVERN is new to me, but ENOW was a gimme. Actually it persisted as “poetic” well past Shakespeare and into the 19th c. in the same verse that gave us the cliched “a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and though,” as “oh, wilderness were Paradise enow.” That may be its best-known occurrence since it gave Eugene O’Neill (who knew a rather different class of jug wine awfully well) the title for his “Ah, Wilderness.”

  3. huda says:

    NYT: Agree that this didn’t seem designed for a Monday.
    An ideal Monday feels qualitatively different. It’s not a midweek puzzle with easier clues. It’s like an ikebana arrangement, which you can’t make by taking a typical flower arrangement and removing some elements.
    I think this would have been an outstanding Tuesday (maybe a couple of harder clues). I knew ENOW and was sure enough about the downs so I got that intersection, but had to look up WYVERN after the fact. It’s a cool word…

  4. Mutman says:

    NYT: I agree with all. I’ll add ILHAN, KANT and WICCAN (not as much) to the fill that Monday solvers will struggle with.

  5. Billy Boy says:

    WYVERN? Monday? Really? I can even see ENOW a problem for newer solvers making that cross a pure guess. Many new solvers will maybe need crosses for WICCAN.

    Sophia has SARIN new to her and the self appointed KofCW is giving birth to a calf on his site over it, seems more reasonable, albeit a sign of the times, at least it’s real. Oh the Cross-world …

    ANTARCTIC must have been too hard to include, but where is ATLANTIC? Maybe that is too much to include five theme answers, but were it not Monday (again).

    I guess this puzzle is OK, but seemingly missed the mark for a Monday, especially since I was expecting a nice Martin Luther King, Jr., themed puzzle

  6. JohnH says:

    Re the listing: there’s no WSJ today because of MLK Day.

  7. David L says:

    Nice NYT theme but yes, some tough fill for a Monday. I didn’t have any major problems because I knew both ENOW and WYVERN, but that’s just me.

    BEQ: I struggled for 10 minutes then gave up. So Many Names!

    • marciem says:

      So many names I didn’t know, then I got upset when the equine wasn’t a zebra (there could be humped zebras???? ) but were in fact the bovine ZEBUS.

      DNF on purpose.

      • David L says:

        Also, I tried TOILE instead of VOILE for the fabric — both legit as far as I can see — and would never guess AIOLI as dip for fries. Lah di dah, that’s some pretty fancy eatin’ in the Quigley household!

  8. Gene says:

    “Aunt and uncle’s little girl” is *not* my niece!! She’s my cousin! My sister’s (or brother’s) little girl is my niece.

    • John Daviso says:

      It could just as easily be their daughter (although there aren’t enough squares for that entry). This is yet another example of a clue too cute by half, a trend of crosswords these days. Why “little girl”? She could be an adult. Is this meant as a misdirection?

      Eleven names, by my count. Ya either know em or ya don’t…

    • Zulema says:


  9. Hugh says:

    BEQ: What is an EPT?

    • John Daviso says:

      Eastern Prevailing Time

    • stmv says:

      Early Pregnancy Test

      • John Daviso says:

        Bing lists many examples.

        • stmv says:

          The clue was “Most of their customers are late”. How would this match to Eastern Prevailing Time? It does match to Early Pregnancy Test (which you take if your period is late).

          • marciem says:

            I took his comment about “Eastern Prevailing Time” as a joke on customers being late. (I don’t see that as one of the many possible meanings to the acronym) Obviously (to me) it was the pregnancy test :D

            • Gary R says:

              “Eastern Prevailing Time” is a real thing (as is Central Prevailing Time, Mountain Prevailing Time, etc.). It’s used to specify the time for something that may occur at different times of year – so EPT means EST or EDT, whichever is prevailing at the time.

              But you’re right – doesn’t have anything to do with this clue/answer.

        • Bernie Haas says:

          Ah, you’re one of those who solves crosswords with Bing.

  10. Lester says:

    New Yorker: Another Gorski completed with a triumphant shrug. “Yeah, I guess that could be a name. Whatever.”

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