Monday, April 11, 2022

BEQ  2:51 (Matthew) 


LAT  2:09 (Stella) 


NYT  3:06 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 10:35 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today untimed (malaika) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Rachel Simon’s New York Times Crossword — Sophia’s recap

Theme:  The second word in each theme answer can be preceded by “pick up” to form a new phrase.

New York Times, 04 11 2022, By Rachel Simon

  • 20a [Earthquakes occur around them] – FAULT LINES (pick up lines)
  • 36a [Fortnite and The Legend of Zelda, for two] – VIDEO GAMES (pick up games)
  • 42a [Construction site vehicles] – DUMP TRUCKS (pick up trucks)
  • 59a [Eating utensils that might come wrapped in red paper] – CHOPSTICKS (pick up sticks)
  • 66a [Learn, as a new skill … or what can precede the ends of 20-, 36-, 42- and 59-Across] – PICK UP

First and foremost, congratulations to Rachel on her New York Times debut! This is a classic theme type, but I feel like we haven’t seen it around in a while? I had no idea while I was solving the puzzle what tied all the theme answers together, so it was exciting to finally reach the revealer and realize what the common thread was. That being said, I found the revealer itself a little underwhelming – it would have been cool if it was a more exciting, full phrase rather than just PICK UP. It left me with a tiny bit of an “oh, that’s all?” sense on an otherwise good puzzle.

Other notes:

  • There’s a pretty high amount of thematic content in the puzzle, but you wouldn’t guess that from how strong the rest of the fill is. TIMEPIECE, BLOSSOMED, COLOGNE, KEEP OUT, and DIMITRI (as a 90’s kid I appreciated the Anastasia reference) are all lovely bonuses.
  • I nearly put in “eddied” (is that a word?) instead of ROILED for [Made turbulent, as water], so it was funny when EDDY ended up crossing it!
  • I personally struggled a little bit all over the puzzle rather than a lot in any particular area. On the right, I wanted “I see it” and “uh, no” rather than OH I SEE and UHUH. I don’t speak French, so ANNEE was all due to crosses for me. OAST and maybe F-STOP might be tricky for newer solvers. But aside from that, it’s a remarkably clean puzzle.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

David W. Tuffs’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Use Your Eyes!”—Jim P’s review

This is Mr. Tuffs’s WSJ debut. You may have seen his NYT Sunday puzzle just yesterday with the anagrammed second words in familiar phrases. I was quite impressed with that one. Let’s see what he has for us today.

Um, well. I’m not so keen on the revealer of “HEY, GOOD LOOKIN‘” with its male-gazey, cat-calling connotations. But I certainly do know the song in the clue [1951 Hank Williams hit, and a compliment for 17-, 23-, 45- and 56-Across]. Sure, it was before my time, but my parents had music of that era playing in the house while I was growing up. The other theme answers are hobbyists—for lack of a better word—using their eyes.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Use Your Eyes!” · David W. Tuffs · Mon., 4.11.22

  • 17a. [Tourist in a city] SIGHTSEER.
  • 23a. [Observer on a boat] WHALE WATCHER.
  • 45a. [Hobbyist by a track] TRAINSPOTTER.
  • 56a. [Enthusiast with a telescope] STARGAZER.

Though this is just a list of activities, I’m quite impressed with how common they are and yet how each one uses a different word as a synonym for “viewer.” It’s a really nice collection.

In the fill there are some definite highlights like “WHAT TO DO,” FRIGHT WIGS, FLEA MARKET, and GOAL POSTS. I’m not so sure about GET NASTY, and I’m even less sure about STRAW BALE; I’ve only ever heard “hay bale.”

Clues of note:

  • 9a. [The missus, informally]. WIFEY. Again, like the revealer, I’m not keen on this entry, but the clue gives it an old-timey feel, like it came straight out of “Li’l Abner”.
  • 22a. [Comedian Notaro]. TIG. Props for including this very funny comedian. Here’s an older piece about her, at about the time when she was coming onto the scene after dealing with her personal struggles.

I like the theme set, but wouldn’t have minded if a different revealer could’ve been found. 3.5 stars.

Edited to add: Don’t think cat-calling is insulting and objectifying? Have a look at this woman’s silent walk through Manhattan.

Kathy Lowden’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 4/11/22 by Kathy Lowden

Los Angeles Times 4/11/22 by Kathy Lowden

Apologies, not much time to blog this week. This puzzle’s theme is so simple it doesn’t require much explaining. There is a revealer at 71A [Second addendum to a letter … and a hint to 18-, 34-, 44-, and 62-Across], which is PPS, indicating that all the theme answers are two-word phrases whose initials are PP.

  • 18A [Petite Mattel doll with her own Netflix series] is POLLY POCKET. These have been around long enough that I wanted to play with them when I was a kid (my mom always told me they were a waste of money).
  • 34A [Guy featured in “Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation”] is PETER PIPER. Never heard of this book, but sure, makes sense.
  • 44A [Porky’s girlfriend] is PETUNIA PIG.
  • 62A [Animated feline in Inspector Clouseau films] is the PINK PANTHER.

Interesting that all the theme entries are fictional characters. The fill was fine although I didn’t love that you start out with the abbreviation ATT in that 1A slot.

Will Pfadenhauer’s Universal crossword, “Location, Location, Location” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 4/11/22 • Mon • Pfadenhauer • “Location, Location, Location” • solution • 20220411

A theme I’m certain I’ve seen before, but not recently. Each of the featured phrases ends in a common street name designation. An added gimmick is that the fill-in-the-blank style clues provide a punny, Tomswiftian layer.

  • 17a. [“Meeting with the gold medalists on ___?”] FIRST PLACE.
  • 23a. [“Heading to the fundraiser on ___?”] CHARITY DRIVE.
  • 38a. [“Looking for the pickup game on ___?”] BASKETBALL COURT.
  • 47a. [“Trying to find the northern Alaskan hotel on ___?”] ARCTIC CIRCLE.
  • 58a. [“Going to the reunion on ___?”] MEMORY LANE.

It works, it’s Monday. I’m satisfied.

  • 2d [Friend, in France] AMIE. 34d [Building next to a she shed] HOUSE.
  • 54d [34-Down, in Seville] CASA. 5d [Resonates strongly] HITS HOME.
  • 4d [Texting format: Abbr.] SMS, which stands for Short Message Service.
  • 13d [“One of __ days …”] THESE.
  • 49d [Ride a bike] CYCLE. One of only two minor missteps for me—here I first filled in PEDAL. The other was 30a [Filled with activity] ASTIR, where I wrote ABUZZ.
  • 16a [“Life Elevated” state] UTAH. New-to-me slogan.
  • 22a [They might be “held down”] FORTS. 47d [San Antonio landmark] ALAMO, 56d [“Don’t __ with Texas”] MESS.

The rest of the fill is to me nondescript but solid.

Priyanka Sethy & Brooke Husic’s USA Today puzzle, “Inner P’s”– malaika’s write-up

Theme: Each of the two-word entries has a word that ends and starts with a P.

Theme answers:

  • Number-one thing to do– TOP PRIORITY
  • Vertical labret, for example– LIP PIERCING
  • Party game that involves disrobing– STRIP POKER
  • Public opinion survey since 1935– GALLUP POLL

Good morning, CUTIEs! I love the shape that wraps NAPS / GRETA / SWIG in the center– the F pentomino. I so rarely see it in puzzles. Not a lot of comments from me today but I do want you to know that I put in “pot” for [Bud] before PAL. I had not heard of EUGENIE Clark or ANNE Moody, but I have now.

Not a ton of exciting bonus answers (although I like MASCARA) but I’ll always take that trade off if it means no difficult fill. Have a good Monday, everyone!

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

The New Yorker crossword solution, 4 11 22 – Collins

What a delight to have a thorough ass-kicking from a themeless puzzle, without the wildly oblique cluing that sometimes irks me in a Newsday “Saturday Stumper.” I do love a good challenge, and this crossword turned out to be eminently fair, with everything coming together eventually in this visually pleasing grid (love those criss-crossed stair-stepped 11s in the middle).

My biggest misstep was PODIATRISTS instead of PEDICURISTS for [Sole caretakers?]. Most of the letters worked with the crossings. Having the wrong letter crossing HERO COMPLEX‘s space hurt me, as the [Need to save?] clue was also a tricky one, and I was thinking of saving money. Another misdirect: For [Lavender or periwinkle, e.g.], I tried SHADE long before I was able to plant that SHRUB.

Fave fill: HAITIAN Revolution, HERO COMPLEX, JAZZ FUNERAL, BEHOOVES (unrelated etymologically to hoof, and both words have been in the English language for 900 years or so), SOMALIA, MASONS (I come from a long line of masons), GORGON, JOE SCHMO, HALL MONITOR (tricky clue: [One making cutting observations?], as in seeing which students are cutting class), SPLASHY, and BAD-ASS.

Three more things:

  • 21a. [Little bit of everything?], ATOM. I came to this one with ATO- in place, and debated between A TO B and A TO Z before grasping the clue better.
  • 27a. [“Paris, Texas” director Wenders], WIM. Anyone else find that the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul theme music evokes Ry Cooder’s soundtrack to Paris, Texas?
  • 33d. [Practically beg to get tuned out], DRONE ON. Yes, this seems like a good place to stop my review!

4.5 stars from me. Happy to really have to chew on this puzzle for a while.

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

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 4/11/2022

This is the fastest BEQ Monday solve I have on record, so naturally it’s a great puzzle, what else is there to say? ;)

Slowing down a bit, this is a plenty smooth grid with in-the-language long stuff in the corners, and even sparklier long stuff bridging into the middle. I mean:

  • 26a [Mistakes will be made] I’M ONLY HUMAN
  • 44a [Star strictly for being a star] CELEBUTANTE
  • 7d [Bring sophistication to a place where it’s not expected] CLASS UP THE JOINT

These are pure delight for me, particularly CLASS UP THE JOINT. I don’t have the resources handy to know if it’s been used before, but I don’t remember it, and I adore it today.

There are a couple spots I could see being difficult: RAYS at [8d Team with a diamond in their logo] — it’s a baseball diamond; [25d Fixed FedEx shipping plan] ONE RATE — plausible once I got it, but a bit of help from the clue and crossings there, and [48a Green mineral from Burma] JADEITE, which I’ve seen before I suppose, but possibly only in puzzles, and I certainly got to JADE– and wasn’t sure what to do with the remaining three spaces. I’m also not a big fan of (either spelling of) UEY [39d Turnaround], but it and any other iffy short stuff is well worth the longer entries in today’s grid for me — AFTER YOU, LAY EYES ON are more lovely bits of themeless fill that I haven’t even gotten around to noting yet.

Brief notes:

  • 32a [Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner nicknamed “Little Al”] UNSER. Could I tell you anything about any UNSER other than that he’s a driver with different letters than RAHAL? Nope, but they come up in grids plenty, and I haven’t needed to know more yet.
  • 23d [Garbage music?] ALT ROCK. Similarly, what I know of Garbage is “a band BEQ puts in grids.” Hasn’t failed me yet.
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26 Responses to Monday, April 11, 2022

  1. Gary R says:

    NYT: Pretty good puzzle. Unfortunately for me, I had filled in 66-A from the crosses, and never saw the clue, so when I finished, the theme was a mystery.

    34-D: It always seems to me that there needs to be an “n” somewhere in this to make it work.

    Sophia – “eddied” is definitely a word, and “uh, no” – ANNEE doesn’t seem very Monday-ish.

    • Michel says:

      34-D that whole class of grunts is rather problematic, occasionally needing far too many crosses to get the correct non-word

  2. Jenni says:

    The New Yorker puzzle was *hard.* Really good. Really hard. Happy Monday!

    • e.a. says:

      yeah omg, what a tour de force. loved the terry mcmillan clue!

    • David L says:

      It was Friday/Saturday NYT for me.

      Maybe I’m being pedantic, but 33A is incorrectly spelled… I had a certain letter wrong and had to put the wrong letter there to solve the puzzle.

      • marciem says:

        I did the same thing (c for x, I’m assuming) but turns out either spelling is correct and acceptable, according to two on-line dictionaries.

      • JohnH says:

        I actually knew that both plurals are acceptable and alas then couldn’t firmly enter one to help with some tough crossings for a long while. And yeah, incredibly hard puzzle. I ended up stuck in the SE In part I didn’t know YUNA, CAT SPA makes sense but isn’t in my vocabulary, I took a long while to accept BAD ASS as family friendly fill, didn’t know the two familiar flowers are shrubs, and couldn’t after I was done make sense of the tuxedo clue at all until a finally realized it might be a breed and looked it up. It’s not in either dictionary I use, but then I tried again Googling. Not sure all of that together is fair, but still impressive.

    • janie says:

      ditto all jenni said. took me three passes *at different times…* — but the “aha” moments along the way made it worth the challenge. was also fooled this would be an “easier” monday, b/c the nw corner put up almost zero resistance. oh, me of little faith! ;-)

      and yes — SHADE before SHRUB.

      still… what the heck is a NOLE, 45D [Gator’s foe]? was that NOLA in some very previous (pre-BOVID/NOTED) incarnation?

      inquiring minds want to know —


  3. DJ says:

    Re: NYT – one more “words that can precede the ends of” puzzle. To paraphrase Mark Twain “rumors of their death have been greatly exaggerated”

  4. David L says:

    Spelling Bee: I went to today’s puzzle and it presented me with a collection of words I had already found. The puzzle seems familiar, but from a longish time ago.

    Did anyone else have the same experience?

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    USAT … I know criticizing this puzzle tends to get me into hot water around these parts, but I’m just reporting some data … 50 blocks (22% of the squares in the grid!) vs 37.5 for the average NYT Monday … 57 three- or four-letter answers (73% of the answers in the grid!) … anything over 50 is unusual in other puzzles. This type of thing happens a lot with the USAT puzzle. It seems to me that it’s tough to create an interesting solving experience in a grid with these kinds of stats. None of my other dailies (NYT, LAT, WSJ, Universal, TNY, WaPo’s Sunday) comes anywhere near numbers like this on a consistent basis.

    • malaika says:

      I think this is a fair critique! Crossword puzzles are all about trade-offs… USA Today allows more blocks and short entries because they disallow weird fill (like ANNEE, or UH NO, which were both complained about above.

      Everyone is allowed to have their own preferences… It seems like you prefer an “interesting” solve experience, whereas other people (like me, 80% of the time) prefer an “easy” solve experience. It’s just like how some people prefer themed puzzles (they should solve Universal puzzles) and others prefer themeless (they should solve New Yorker puzzles).

      I think the issue (the “hot water” if you will) comes when people say “The solve experience that I prefer is the only one that matters, and puzzles that do not cater to me are bad and should not exist.” Which you don’t seem to be saying!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      If a puzzle is targeting actual beginning solvers and trying to be accessible, then constraints like the number of blocks or “cheater squares” allowed do need to fall by the wayside. The Monday NYT crossword quite often includes fill that isn’t in most Americans’ daily vocabulary, which means you’ve got a puzzle that may well discourage a newbie from sticking with the venture (unless they crave the snob appeal of being able to say they do the NYT crossword). Exclude the obscurities, and yeah, you’re going to end up with mostly 3- to 5-letter entries in the grid. Jam the grid with 6- to 8-letter fill, and you’re likely to see compromises in accessibility.

      At Crosswords With Friends, we require easy, accessible fill, so we don’t ask our constructors to adhere to those grid limits. We do require symmetry, almost always the rotational kind, and this is where Erik and his editorial team differ–they allow asymmetrical grids, which make it easier for the constructor to assemble a theme set but don’t make the solver’s job any easier. Erik wants the added thematic variety that facilitates.

    • David Steere says:

      KAC’s tough and wonderful New Yorker puzzle and Priyanka Sethy & Brooke Husic’s USA Today offering couldn’t be more different. But, both were SO MUCH FUN! I had one error with the New Yorker not having heard of 11D and not knowing the meaning of the clue at 24A, I guessed wrong on their intersecting letter. PAGE PIX vs SAPS. Wrongo! The USAT is always unpredictable and interesting…as it was today…capped by the lovely write-up at Sally’s Blog. Fun coincidence that both Priyanka/Brooke and Kathy at the LAT played with multiples of the same letter, P.

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT: I’m pretty sure that the RNS {64D: OR attendants} I’ve known would object to being referred to as “attendants”. That seems rather condescending for as skilled a profession as nursing is.

  7. David L says:

    BEQ: I had ICY for LAX and YANKS for XSOUT in the SE, which prevented me from getting the long downs in that corner. After a while I gave up and revealed the solution. I find I do that pretty often with BEQ puzzles. There is frequently stuff I just have no idea about. Not the case here, exactly, but I have learned not to struggle too hard with his puzzles.

  8. Hi says:

    BEQ: One tiny nit. The title of the Metallica song referenced at 10D is “Wherever I May Roam”. It was clued as “Where I ___ Roam”

    • Diana says:

      I thought that too. But then I thought I was just losing my memory because crosswords are never wrong. Thanks for letting me know I’m not losing memory.

  9. Reddogg says:

    Just in case someone else had this problem in the New Yorker: the answer to 50A is Cat Spa,
    and not Cats Pa. Couldn’t find a town called Cats in PA. Nor can you. And there is a cat styled

    • marciem says:

      As one owned/possessed by a Tuxedo, I immediately went to the Cat…wanted Cat(s)lap., but that didn’t quite work :D . He don’t need no stinkin’ spa, he has moi :D :p

  10. Steve Grogan says:

    I do love (and appreciate this site) but the moralizing about some of the puzzles just get tiresome at times.

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