Monday, March 14, 2022

BEQ untimed (Jenni) 


LAT 2:10 (Stella) 


NYT 3:29 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 6:37 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today untimed (malaika) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Stephen Hiltner’s New York Times Crossword — Sophia’s recap

Theme: Each theme answer is a famous TV neighbor.

New York Times, 03 14 2022, By Stephen Hiltner

  • 17a [Neighbor on “Family Matters”]  – STEVE URKEL
  • 28a [Neighbor on “Full House”] – KIMMY GIBBLER
  • 45a [Neighbor on “Home Improvement”] – WILSON WILSON
  • 62a [Bygone TV host with a famous “neighborhood”] – FRED ROGERS

Congrats to Stephen on his debut! And if you’re wondering if you’ve been hearing those words a lot from me recently, it’s true – this is the 5th NYT Monday in a row that’s been a debut for at least one of the constructors! Love seeing new faces around Crossworld.

How you feel about this puzzle’s theme is probably going to depend on how much 90’s TV knowledge you have. I was born after the heyday of most of these shows, so to give you an idea of how much staying power each one has, STEVE URKEL and KIMMY GIBBLER were both instant gets for me, as was FRED ROGERS (although I did try to put in “Mr. Rogers” first before realizing it was too short). I have never heard of WILSON WILSON.

I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’re a constructor building an easy puzzle for a wide audience like the NYT has and your theme is based around pop culture knowledge, it’s good to include answers that span a wide array of times/knowledge bases in order to be solvable by more folks. Here, FRED ROGERS actually stands out as the only answer not to be based in the 90’s (or really a TV “neighbor” in the same way as the others, but he is famous as a neighbor and anyways I’m never going to complain about more Mr. Rogers.)

Other notes:

  • Even if the theme might trip some folks up, the fill probably won’t here! Very clean and Monday appropriate. I like how few names are in the fill given the name-centric theme. Other than the odd suffix -IES and the retro DSL, there’s nothing to dislike here.
  • I don’t think we needed the possible thematic tie-in of the AREA clue of 55d [Neighborhood]. It felt a little gratuitous.
  • I thought the “suit” in 20a [Summer suit material] was going to refer to a swimsuit and tried “nylon” and “lycra” before the correct LINEN.
  • Favorite clues: 31d [How fashionable people arrive, it’s said] for LATE and 44a [Lets down] for LOWERS – a nice Monday level misdirect there; I thought it was going to do with disappointing someone.
  • Favorite answers: COWGIRLS, and the two best cartoon characters with Y___I names, YOSHI and YOGI.

Happy pi day everyone!

Jill Denny & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pigtails”—Jim P’s review

Wife-and-husband duo Jill Denny and Jeff Chen GO WHOLE HOG (62a, [Pull out all the stops, and how to find the animals at the starts of 17-, 27- and 47-Across]) in this grid. The other themers are familiar phrases whose first word can precede “hog.”

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Pigtails” · Jill Denny & Jeff Chen · Mon., 3.14.22

  • 17a. [Investment vehicles that may engage in short selling] HEDGE FUNDS. Hedgehog.
  • 27a. [Guidelines settled on at the start of arbitration] GROUND RULES. Groundhog.
  • 47a. [Cream used on a skin growth] WART REMOVER. Warthog.

Cute, huh? I didn’t catch on until I got to the revealer which made for a nice little twist rather than the usual these-words-can-precede-this-word variety.

Having only four theme answers frees up the grid for fun fill like SIDEWINDER, WOLF PUPS, LIP SYNCHED, ENTANGLE, and TUITION. Also good: MUFFLER and NEO-NOIR.

Clues of note:

  • 46a. [Enjoy Stowe]. SKI. I wanted to put READ here. Anyone else?
  • 57a. [“___ Gonna Do?” (1977 Pablo Cruise hit)]. WHATCHA. Didn’t recognize the title or the band, but I do recall hearing the song back in the day.

Smooth, clean puzzle with a cute theme. Perfect Monday fare. Four stars.

Zachary David Levy’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 3/14/22 by Zachary David Levy

Los Angeles Times 3/14/22 by Zachary David Levy

Today’s puzzle felt like a mismatch between grid difficulty and day of the week, although my final time of 2:10 doesn’t necessarily bear that out, especially since this grid is a 16×15. Let’s see where we get after we’ve talked this out…

First, the theme, which is pretty simple and is probably why this puzzle got slotted for Monday even though I might have chosen Tuesday or even Wednesday if I were in the editor’s chair. The revealer at 61A [Intermediary … or a hint to 23-, 35-, 42-, and 52-Across] is GO-BETWEEN, and each theme phrase has GO as the central word of a three-word phrase.

  • 23A [Ride with wooden horses] is a MERRY-GO-ROUND. My favorite as a kid!
  • 35A [“Let’s change the subject”] is DON’T GO THERE.
  • 42A [St. Patrick’s day shout] is ERIN GO BRAGH. Here’s hoping the missing initial cap in “day” was fixed when this puzzle went to press. It wasn’t there in the Across Lite file I got and it made my eyes twitch.
  • 52A [Without a care in the world] is HAPPY-GO-LUCKY.

So…sure, the theme entries certainly lead one to a Monday slot. They’re all more than well known enough. It’s the fill that, while totally legitimate, feels a little harder than Monday. We have ERRATA, which can nearly always be ERRORS if you haven’t got enough crossings, at 17A, right underneath a proper name. Also in that NE corner, RIM SALT is lively but I suspect might not drop quickly. We have the possibly tough spelling of EDVARD Munch at 24D, crossing what I think is a not-so-easy clue for ADELE [Singer with numbered albums]. 36D OHH could easily be AHA (and probably at least one other thing I’m not thinking of) if you’re trying to use that three to get a toehold. In the NW, FRYE feels like a niche brand, adjacent to Yani TSENG, whose name I didn’t notice while solving since I got her without crossings, but feels tough if you don’t follow golf. In the center right, although any one of CHE, CEDRIC, and TREBEK feels fine for Monday, having three proper names side by side, not so much.

I have argued myself into this puzzle being more appropriate for another day of the week, which of course is on the editor, not the constructor.

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword Themeless Monday #663— Jenni’s review

Hi and happy Pi day! I’m filling in for Matthew and I do not have pie, worse luck. There is no pie in the puzzle, either.

This fell a bit faster for me than I expected. It helps that I actually knew the film and music references, which rarely happens for me with Brendan’s puzzles. Lots of good stuff!

Brendan Emmett Quigley, Puzzle #1452, Themeless Monday #663, solution grid

  • 14a [HUAC members?] is UNAMERICAN – I guess the letters are members of the name of the committee.
  • I was also aided by my years of marriage to a geologist. 17a [Era when animal domestication began] is the MESOLITHIC. I actually knew this.
  • ROBERT PATTINSON sits in the middle of the grid. Even I have heard of him and I know he’s the latest Batman.
  • Music references I knew: Dave MATTHEWS, Mendelssohn’s “St Paul” ORATORIO, Spinal Tap’s BASSISTS (also a movie reference – two for one!), Beethoven’s EROICA, and I know that Antonio Carlos Jobim is from RIO.
  • UNSUNK gives us one note of INELEGANCE.

Speaking of Beethoven’s Third, I once listened to an audiobook of short stories in which this symphony was a major plot point. Unfortunately, the narrator consistently pronounced it as the EROTICA. Oy.

What I didn’t know before I solved this puzzle: I didn’t know that Andy Serkis play Alfred to Pattinson’s Batman.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today puzzle: Fall Back– malaika’s write-up

USA Today on Monday, March 14

Good morning folks, quick write-up today as things are broken at work and I must fix them. Today’s theme featured answers which contained the word FALL inside of them, backwards. VANILLA FUDGE, ELLA FITZGERALD, and PULL A FAST ONE. All three are lovely entries. Have a good Monday!



Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

The New Yorker crossword solution, 3 14 22, Patrick Berry

In brief, fave fill: SWIPE LEFT, BLUE SKIES, SWISS BANK, WENT ALL IN. Less keen on: “BE A PAL” (feels overused in grids), SWELL OUT and POKES AT and HOLD TO, POLITEST, OP ART, STENO.

49a LOLA Bunny was created for Space Jam … because the filmmakers felt they needed a female cartoon character to objectify. In 2021’s Space Jam reboot, Lola Bunny is a hotshot basketball player instead of … a rabbit with a pair of boobs and a skinny waist.

Fave clue: [Secretly espouse?] for ELOPE.

3.5 stars from me for this 66-worder.

Christina Iverson’s Universal crossword, “More, Please!” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 3/14/22 • Iverson • “More, Please!” • Mon • solution • 20220314

Really need to try to keep my personal animus for the theme subject at bay (33a [Howl toward] BAY AT). I’ve proclaimed on numerous occasions that “mayonnaise is the ichor of the devil”, YET (62d [“That said …”]) such is my task this morning to deal with this.

  • 59aR [Sandwich request added on the side in 18-, 27-, 36- and 47-Across] EXTRA MAYO. The letters M-A-Y-O are prefixed to those theme answers, altering the meanings of the phrases.
  • 18a. [Types who frequent shopping centers?] MALL SORTS (all sorts).
  • 27a. [Colleague’s expression of agreement?] AMEN AT WORK (men at work).
  • 36a. [Rising agent for Adam and Eve?] YEAST OF EDEN (East of Eden).
  • 47a. [Online journals about a Mediterranean morsel?] OLIVE BLOGS (live blogs).

must stay calm … must not snap … concentrate on mechanics of puzzle …

All the pieces work, and the wackified phrases are suitably entertaining.

  • 10d [Covered with small rocks] STONY. Surprisingly difficult to quickly parse, requiring a few extra beats.
  • 11d [“This can wait”] NO RUSH; 29d [“This can’t wait!”] ASAP. 12d [Not too late] IN TIME.
  • 39d [Catching catfish bare-handed] NOODLING. I knew this. Unfortunately I now also know that there are catfish and pasta (with mayonnaise!) out there, if the internet is to be believed.
  • 6a [Innovative spark] IDEA, 20a [Arrives at, in a brainstorm] HITS ON.
  • 40a [Divide, as a bill] SPLIT. At first I thought this was about legislation, then decided that it was more likely about something like a restaurant check.
  • 50a [ __ catcher (paper fortune-teller)] COOTIE. During the solve I thought it referred to a person, but now I suspect it’s a regional name for one of those folded things with writing underneath various flaps—sort of like an origami precursor to the Magic 8-Ball. Let’s see if I’m correct … yes! Also called chatterbox, salt cellar, whirlybird, or paku-paku. Far as I know, when and where I grew up they were just called fortune tellers, as the linked Wikipedia article is titled.
  • 56a [Infinite __ (web feature that its inventor apologized for)] SCROLL. I’m guessing that the creator of infinite scream holds no regrets. Coincidentally, it’s my internal response to the subject of this crossword puzzle. See? It all comes back around.

No more, please.

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13 Responses to Monday, March 14, 2022

  1. PJ says:

    I never watched a minute of the first three shows but I had heard of Urkel. No problem with the puzzle, though. Because Monday.

    60d: Improves, as wine – AGES. Only a very small percentage of wines improve with age. Some estimate it to be as low as 1%.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Specialized theme but good construction! None of these names jumped out at me though I recognized them after the fact (since I watched these shows when they were new :). Still, I had one of my fasted Monday times because the fill is well done.
    Very smooth Monday, which is not a common talent!

  3. Billy Boy says:

    Brain = mind?
    Agree about wine and aging disconnect a full 1% would be a lot

    I need virtually all the crosses on some parts of the names

    Congratulations!!! Another meh puzzle

    Whatever yay!

    • Billy Boy says:

      Contrast in quality NYT v WSJ today is staggering.

      Maybe WSJ a bit Tuesday-ish, but new constructor’s debuts for their own sake need a much higher bar than Will has currently set.

      In fact, short of Friday, last week NYT was as low for a week as I can remember.

  4. CC says:

    Observations about the “neighbors” puzzle in NYT…

    1) WILSON WILSON was the only one out of all of those that wasn’t really called by that on the show for most of the time. He was just called “Wilson.” So a bit inelegant there.

    2) Also weirdly inelegant is that not only were all themers other than FRED ROGERS from sitcoms, and not only from sitcoms but 80s/90s sitcoms, but they were ABC 80s/90s sitcoms! … and then longtime PBS kids show “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” that started long before the 80s, AND is the only one whose show included their name in it.

    • Mutman says:

      While he was referred to as ‘Wilson’, his character’s name was Wilson Wilson, so not inelegant, IMHO. If you think about it, all the characters were only referred to by half their names.

  5. pannonica says:

    NYT: 34a [Ones with negative views of humanity] CYNICS.

    Hmm. Not convinced on that one.

  6. Gary R says:

    NYT: I was never a regular viewer of any of the TV shows – watched “Home Improvement” occasionally, so WILSON was familiar (and in some crevice of my brain, WILSON WILSON seemed familiar). The only one that was totally new was KIMMY GIBBLER, but the crosses were fair.

    On a winery tour once, I was given a taste of wine before it went into a barrel for aging – yuck!

    • Billy Boy says:

      What grapes were those that you didn’t like? In Spain, I had Tempranillo from the fermentation vat and it was very tasty.

      • Gary R says:

        I believe it was a pinot noir, and I was in California – Sonoma. They followed up with a taste of the finished product (previous year’s vintage).

        “Yuck” was probably an overstatement, but no comparison – the aged version was a major improvement..

  7. marciem says:

    BEQ: 14a Harry Truman denounced the HUAC (House UnAmerican Activities Committe) as “the most unAmerican thing in this country today”.

    They investigated suspected communist activities in individuals and organizations (wasn’t Lucille Ball investigated? Think I saw that in the recent Desi and Lucy movie). I don’t know the role McCarthy played in it, but I’ve heard of the era as McCarthyism.

  8. Crotchety Doug says:

    Just a thought – All you reviewers (past, present, & future) and fellow commenters show me so much new stuff that I’d miss in my daily travels if I didn’t come here every day.This isn’t directed at any particular puzzle or commenter/reviewer. Just a big thank you to everyone present here on this site from this long-time fan.

  9. AndyHat says:

    LAT: At least as printed in WaPo, the print edition of 42A did capitalize the D in St. Patrick’s Day.

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