Monday, February 7, 2022

BEQ 5:13 (Matthew) 


LAT 1:40 (Stella) 


NYT 2:29 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:47 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today untimed (malaika) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Rebecca Goldstein’s New York Times Crossword — Sophia’s recap

Theme: CREATED A MONSTER – each multi-word theme answer has a monstrous creature hidden within two of the words that is “created” when you read them together.

New York Times, 02 07 2022, By Rebecca Goldstein

  • 17a [Good accessory for the owner of a shedding dog] – LINT ROLLER
  • 23a [Nothing to write home about] – NO GREAT SHAKES
  • 50a [Move reluctantly] – DRAG ONE’S HEELS
  • 61a [June celebration honoring the Stonewall uprising] – PRIDE MONTH
  • 38a [Emulated Dr. Frankenstein … or what you did after you filled in the shaded parts of 17-, 23-, 50- and 61-Across?] – CREATED A MONSTER

I’m writing this after a full day of competing at Boswords – amazing job done by all the constructors/folks involved in putting the event on! Anyways, Boswords must have been a great warm-up for today’s puzzle, because I got my personal record Monday time. So of course, I’ll say it was the best puzzle ever ;) I really love this theme – the fact that each of the words was different, they all spanned two words, and that the concept had a pitch-perfect grid-spanning revealer elevated it over other hidden words themes. My favorite answer in itself has to be the DEMON hidden in PRIDE MONTH, if only because it feels like a shoutout to the Babadook (iykyk). DRAG ONE’S HEELS worked less well for me, because the entirety of the first word is included in DRAGON and phrases with “one’s” always feel a little contrived to me. But hiding a 6 letter word is no small feat, so props to this answer for doing that!

Notes on the rest of the puzzle:

  • The only area I got held up on was 54d [Novelist Mario Vargas ___] for LLOSA, whose name I know but always get confused with Federico García Lorca, who is a Spanish poet. Luckily the crosses helped me out.
  • I got NIKE entirely from crosses, and lucky I did because I would have been entirely lost on [Sneaker giant headquartered in Beaverton, Ore.]. Never knew Nike was also from the Pacific Northwest!
  • I hope you know your directors, since we’ve got both PEDRO Almodóvar and WES Anderson representation here!
  • I can’t believe I’m wishing for cross-referenced clues because I normally believe they should be used *very sparingly*, but it could have been cool to clue both THEY and THEM as non-binary pronouns rather than just THEM (not complaining about that clue, though!)
  • I liked the long downs on the left side of the puzzle (DINING SET, TAILGATES) more than those on the right (MADE A FIST, STEPS ON IT), just because the left phrases are snappier.
  • Having both NAP and ASLEEP in the puzzle makes me realize just how tired I am… maybe it’s time for a late afternoon rest.

Happy Monday all!

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Finding Your Inner Child”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Synonyms for “child” are found in the circled squares within familiar phrases.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Finding Your Inner Child” · Mike Shenk · Mon., 2.7.22

  • 17a. [Kinda, but not quite, conventional] SEMINORMAL. Minor.
  • 27a. [Standard PC component] QWERTY KEYBOARD. Tyke.
  • 42a. [“Don’t be discouraged!”] “KEEP YOUR CHIN UP.” Urchin.
  • 56a. [Weasel family member that may be more than five feet long] GIANT OTTER. Tot.

Nothing groundbreaking, but a solid Monday theme. I especially liked the six-letter find in the third theme answer.

I didn’t know there was a giant version of the otter. I’m not sure I’d want to meet up with one in the wild. Although the fellow in the picture looks quite dignified.

Fun fill in “WHAT SAY YOU?” and WARMED OVER. TELETYPE and GOOD EGGS both feel decidedly old-fashioned.

Clues of note:

  • 25d. [Experts with figures?]. SKATERS. I’ve only seen a little bit of Olympics coverage tonight for the first time, since my wife always seems to find the figure skating events. Anyone here following the Olympics more closely?
  • 41d. [Putout of a player between bases]. PICK OFF. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the word “putout” before. It looks like its definition is specifically confined to baseball.

3.5 stars.

Andy Wang and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 2/7/22 by Andy Wang and C.C. Burnikel

Los Angeles Times 2/7/22 by Andy Wang and C.C. Burnikel

I haven’t enjoyed a Monday this much in a long time. It might sound odd to say “enjoyed” about a puzzle that took me all of a minute forty to solve — I certainly didn’t spend time savoring it — but I mean it! The simplest of themes is elevated by perfect execution. 58A, the revealer [Home of the Metropolitan Opera … and a hint to the “honest” guy hiding in 20-, 32-, and 45-Across] is a rather unwieldy but nicely evocative clue for LINCOLN CENTER. (I was just there a couple of weeks ago to attend an opera for the first time since before the pandemic started, and it was so good to be back!) The LINCOLN CENTER in this case is the trigram ABE, as in ABE LINCOLN, that appears crossing two words in the middle of each theme entry:

  • 20A [Gets trounced] is TAKES A BEATING.
  • 32A [Cubs’ caretakers] is MAMA BEARS.
  • 45A [Veggies from Peru] is LIMA BEANS.

What really takes this puzzle over the top for me is how smooth the fill is. There’s not a single entry in the grid that makes me think, “mmm, a little hard for Monday,” and it showed in my solving time.

Whenever C.C. is involved in making a puzzle, I know to expect some evocative food and drink references, and this one has even more than usual: LATTE, CARAMEL, SWEET TEA, CAKE, TALL (clued with reference to Starbucks), YAM, MEAT, PEA, the themer LIMA BEANS, and MARINADE. (Pro tip: Pretty much any time you marinate meat, pat it dry with paper towels before you cook it. Makes for better searing.) So maybe don’t solve this one if you’re hungry, but under any other circumstances, do! Such a fun, breezy Monday!

Gary Cee’s Universal crossword, “Taking Things Figuratively” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 2/7/22 • Mon • “Taking Things Figuratively” • Cee • solution • 20220207

Didn’t catch the theme until finding the revealer, in the final across spot. Turns out that the title is perfect.

  • 66aR [Filched, or what the ends of 17-, 33-, 39- and 57-Across could be] STOLEN. Not necessarily with that conjugation, but definitely with that verb.
  • 17a. [Downcast expression] HANGDOG LOOK. We speak more of STOLEN glances than STOLEN looks, but it’s a common to say that you’re going to steal a look or that you stole a look.
  • 33a. [Station for underwater vessels] SUBMARINE BASE. Stolen as in baseball, of course.
  • 39a. [Foil-wrapped candy] CHOCOLATE KISS.
  • 57a. [What some people leave alone?] DATING SCENE. Double entendre in clue. Theme element invokes acting.

As for the solve, the top section of the grid just kept falling under my figurative pen like a house of cards, but the bottom had a tad more structural integrity and I actually had to cross words to navigate it. Overall it was still very much an early-week level offering,

  • 9d [High-tech physical] BIOSCAN. Well over a million results, so it seems to be legit.
  • 11d [Traditional Catholic service] LATIN MASS. 52a [Vatican City’s eminent tenant] POPE.
  • 13d [Instrument played upright] BASS.
  • 28d [“It’s not a __ if you believe it” (George Costanza)] LIE. Dubious advice from a dubious character.
  • 33d [It’s near Iowa’s borders with Nebraska and South Dakota] SIOUX CITY. On the western side of the state, whereas Davenport and Dubuque are at either end of that funny bulbous part of the eastern border.
  • Ailurus ursinus |©Joel Sartore

    24d [Dish with bits of semolina] COUSCOUS. Not to be confused with marsupials of the Phalanger family, commonly called cuscuses.

  • 19a [Rolls up, briefly?] TPS. I kind of see two interpretations of this punny clue, but both seem to be stretching too far.
  • Row 10 comes out to be YOU OWE ME | ONE, but the entries aren’t explicitly linked. Fun.
  • 63a [Unlicensed radio operator] PIRATE. Indulge me for the following:

Okay, that’s all I’ve got this morning.

Liz Gorski’s New Yorker themeless crossword—Amy’s write-up

The New Yorker crossword solution, 2 7 22 – Gorski

This puzzle’s got a lot of people, places, organizations, and title words in the grid, which means I enjoyed it, even with the pause of not knowing BERIO ([Pioneering electronic-music composer Luciano]) at all. It also means that those solvers who don’t remember names and ABSORB{S} pop culture might be cranky about this one. Horse Funny CIDE and director TOBE Hooper are some unusual spellings.

Fave fill: PENOBSCOT (shout-out to M*A*S*H fans), BAADASSSSS! (the arbitrariness of the spelling amuses me, plus it’s a callback to 1970s Black cinema), SLURPEE, MYSTERY NOVEL, SPORTSCASTER,MAZEL tov!”

Could do without RTES and STES, and I’m never pleased to see SOT.

Three more things:

  • 28a. [Mint product], COIN. I was absolutely thinking of gum and candy before money.
  • 3d. [Image on a Citi Bike kiosk], AREA MAP. Non-New Yorkers with absolutely no idea of what this could be had to work the crossings for that kinda-stale crossword answer. Chicago has Divvy Bike, and I’m not sure anything at a Divvy station counts as a kiosk.
  • 56a. [Muffled], DEADENED. Just noticed the progression of

3.75 stars from me.

Ada Nicolle’s USA Today puzzle: Trans Rights– malaika’s write-up

Theme: The right-most word of each phrase can use the prefix “trans” to make a new word. Super awesome title on this one!

Theme answers:

  • Victor or Rosa Vasquez, to Billy Batson– FOSTER PARENT. I thought I didn’t know who these people were, but then I looked it up and these are characters from “Shazam!” which I was dragged to watch in theaters like a million lifetimes ago, but did, I think, enjoy.
  • Flying geese travel in one– V FORMATION
  • “Share this post,” for example– CALL TO ACTION. We use this term at my job a lot, abbreviated as CTA, and I didn’t realize it was more widely used.

Ada Nicolle’s USA Today puzzle

Good morning, friends! Congratulations Ada, on her USA Today debut! This is my favorite type of asym grid, where it’s only asymmetrical to accommodate the themies– in this case, V FORMATION is centered as much as it can be given that it has an even number of letters.


  • Ijeoma OLUO is a writer known for, among other things, “So You Want To Talk About Race,” which had a big moment in the summer of 2020 when a lot of people were Googling “what should i read if i only just realized that my high school education did not actually teach me anything about systemic racism and i’d like to play catch-up”
  • ARI Eldjarn is a stand-up comedian– I know Ada does stand-up, so I assume this was one of her clues
  • Bembeya Jazz National is a 1960s group from GUINEA that I am listening to right now
  • I love my LOOFAH and only recently learned that a loofah is actually a spongy plant!! (The one I have is made of plastic, so maybe I am not getting the full exfoliating effects from it.)
  • Asjia ONEAL is a middle blocker at University of Texas
  • Biomuseo is located in PANAMA, and focuses on the natural history of the country
  • Shout-out to Ada for getting her own name into the puzzle– here, it’s clued as ADA Rook, a member of the Canadian pop band Black Dresses

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

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 2/7/2022

Just one of those days where the completed puzzle sat solved on my work computer all day and I never found a breather to write it up. Some thoughts on this difficult four-corners grid (with an interesting center area) from BEQ.

Faves: GNOMON [30a Sundial piece], TEN STONE [61a 140 pounds], the clue for FOOT SPAS [4d They’ll soothe irritated dogs]

Super-duper fave: AINT I A WOMAN [23d Words of Truth]

New to me: GOR [30d Oxford oath]. Related to “cor”?

Didn’t quite land: OLE [31d Miss descriptor]. I suppose it is an adjective in the phrase, but it’s not really a phrase that’s ever split up, nor are there other Mississippis/Misses that take different descriptors.

We don’t talk about: BRUNO.

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9 Responses to Monday, February 7, 2022

  1. Billy Boy says:

    STDS gave me pause as I cross-checked the clue from the completed fill.

    Never know when the NYT will break yet another barrier …

  2. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I loved Rebecca’s NYT theme, but wish THEM had been changed to TRAM to avoid the dupe with THEY. The clue for THEM could have relocated to THEY.

  3. Mr. [only a little bit] Grumpy says:

    NYT: I didn’t feel as though I had “created” a monster so much as spotting or revealing one.
    LAT: Should have been saved for 2024 so it could run on his actual birthday.
    WSJ: Liked it more than the NYT because the spot-on title was better than a strained reveal.
    UCD: You can “steal a scene” or have others complain that you had “stolen a scene” but I’m not persuaded that a “stolen scene” is a thing. Still a fun puzzle.
    TNY: Delightful. Didn’t care for the obscure [to me] 13A and 26A in the same sector, but the crosses were fair. I could do without any reminder of 31A. You had to do that to me on a Monday? The clue for 17A was wonderful and made me forgive those complaints.

    • pannonica says:

      “You can ‘steal a scene’ or have others complain that you had ‘stolen a scene’ but I’m not persuaded that a “stolen scene” is a thing.”

      As I explained when highlighting the revealer, and then demonstrated with the first theme answer. I didn’t explicitly do so for all instances where it applies.

  4. David Roll says:

    WSJ–“experts with figures” I believe refers to the fact that part of the competition used to be, for example, to skate an O. Sometime ago this component was dropped.

  5. David L says:

    USAT took me a bit longer than usual. Lots of stuff I didn’t know, although everything was fairly crossed. I didn’t know who Billy Batson was, and googling didn’t enlighten me much since I don’t know who/what Shazam is either. That meaning of CALLTOACTION was novel to me too. It would be good if I remembered all things I learn from these puzzles, but I rarely do, alas. My aging brain is full.

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