Monday, September 26, 2022

BEQ 4:49 (Matthew) 


LAT 1:58 (Stella) 


NYT 3:13 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:30 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today untimed (malaika) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Margaret Seikel’s New York Times puzzle – Sophia’s write-up

Theme: HANG IN THERE – the theme answers are all places to “hang”, in different senses of the word.

New York Times, 09 26 2022, By Margaret Seikel

  • 17a [*Indoor bouldering locale] – CLIMBING GYM
  • 37a [*Male equivalent of a she-shed] – MAN CAVE
  • 11d [*Room by the foyer, often] – COAT CLOSET
  • 27d [*Place to buy a painting] – ART MUSEUM
  • 58a [“Stick with it!” … or a hint to the answers to the starred clues] – HANG IN THERE

Loved today’s theme – it’s easy enough to understand from a Monday-theme level, but the different forms of hanging elevates it. In that way, COAT CLOSET and ART MUSEUM are a little redundant. That being said, I solved this puzzle with my mom, and she didn’t like that three of the answers were literal and one, MAN CAVE, was the more figurative “hanging out”, so to each their own. I also like how Margaret had some of the theme answers oriented vertically, in order to squeeze in 5 themers without sacrificing fill quality.

Oftentimes on NYT Mondays I don’t know what to say about the puzzle beyond the theme, because the fill and the clues are fine but usually simple and things I’ve seen before. Not so today – a lot of the fill was interesting and felt new, without being reliant on pop-culture knowledge that would bring up the difficulty level.


Favorite clues: 34d [A big one might be standing in a concert hall] for OVATION, 4d [Place where elbows bump on a plane] for ARMREST, 41d [Claims rated “four Pinocchios,” say] for LIES.

Favorite debates with my parents: “I’ve seen Mean Girls as much as anyone else, and I have no idea on 49a [Janis ___, “Mean Girls” sidekick]. People aren’t going to like that.” – my mom (IAN was a gimme to me). “I don’t think a she shed and a MAN CAVE are the same thing. Isn’t one a detached structure?” – My dad

Johanna Fenimore & Andrea Carla Michaels’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Ladies Rock!”—Jim P’s review

Theme answers consist of Beatles songs with a woman’s name within, clued as if they were referring to famous women. The revealer is SHE’S A WOMAN (58a, [1964 Beatles song, and an apt clue for 17-, 23-, 36- and 46-Across]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Ladies Rock!” · Johanna Fenimore & Andrea Carla Michaels · Mon., 9.26.22

  • 17a. [Moreno who’s mesmerizing?] LOVELY RITA.
  • 23a. [Stewart, sweetheart?] MARTHA, MY DEAR. If I recall correctly, Paul wrote this song about his dog.
  • 36a. [Obama, chérie?] MICHELLE, MA BELLE. I always thought it was “my belle.” This one’s a bit of a fudge, anyway, since the actual title is simply, “Michelle.”
  • 46a. [Lawless high overhead?] LUCY IN THE SKY. Another fudge in the title, this time one of omission.

Despite being a child of the 70s/80s, the Beatles were my first band and I know just about all their songs, including the revealer used today, which I’m guessing most younger solvers won’t ever have heard of. It’s interesting that all of these songs were written primarily by Paul with the significant exception of “Lucy” which John penned.

As for the theme, I’m guessing you enjoyed it if you’re above a certain age and like the songs. I’m also guessing younger solvers will only have heard of one or two of these and thus enjoyed it less. I understand the liberties taken with the song titles, but it’s a little bit jarring when two of the entries are accurate and two aren’t.

There are no long fill entries today, but there are extra Beatles references scattered here and there and in keeping with the theme, references to a number of women. Some tough-for-Monday fill includes AGITA, LAICS, and RONDO.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [Muslim head covering]. If you can’t differentiate your HIJAB from your burka, here’s a handy guide I saw on reddit the other day.
  • 50d. [Hanna-Barbera’s Hardy Har Har, e.g.]. HYENA. Despite being a “laughing” HYENA, Hardy Har Har was an incurable pessimist. Today I learned he was voiced by Mel Blanc.

This one was for the Beatles lovers. Others may not have enjoyed it so much. The fill could’ve used some oomph. 3.25 stars.

Here’s an unplugged version of Paul singing “SHE’S A WOMAN.”

Emet Ozar’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 9/26/22 by Emet Ozar

Los Angeles Times 9/26/22 by Emet Ozar

Arf! It’s a pupper-friendly puzzle! The central revealer at 37A [Out of favor with one’s partner, and where to find the ends of the answers to the starred clues] is IN THE DOGHOUSE. That is, each two-word theme phrase ends with an item that might be found, literally, in a doghouse:

  • 16A [Fancy costume party] is a MASKED BALL. Fetch!
  • 24A [Colorful garden plot] is a FLOWER BED. My gym is dog-friendly, and a couple of the coaches who have little dogs bring both their dogs and their dogs’ beds to class while they teach. I wish someone would follow me around all day with a nice soft bed to just plop into when the mood strikes.
  • 51A [Sensitive spot on the elbow] is FUNNY BONE.
  • 61A [Annual Florida college football game] is the ORANGE BOWL.

I’m here for any and all dog-related content. Although I thought LAST PENNY seemed a bit green paint-y, I liked the other 9-letter nontheme answers (SUGAR PLUM, IT CAN WAIT, and OSCAR NODS). Pretty smooth grid overall!

Guilherme Gilioli’s Universal crossword, “Shining Example” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 9/26/22 • Mon • “Gilioli • “Shining Example” • solution • 20220926

After encountering the first two theme answers I decided I had no idea what was going on, so I just let it flow. Fortunately, there was a revealer right in the center.

  • 38aR [Low hotel rating, or what 17-, 23-, 50- or 61-Across has] ONE STAR.
  • 17a. [Where to see WXYZ] TELEPHONE KEYPAD.
  • 23a. [Gifts are put under it] CHRISTMAS TREE.
  • 50a. [Tiles are laid on it without grout] SCRABBLE BOARD.
  • 61a. [Symbol of a Caribbean commonwealth] PUERTO RICAN FLAG.

This is a nice early week theme. The theme answers were quite easy to get and there was a definite aha! moment. The rest of the grid is very smooth, again in line with a gentle puzzle.

  • 12d [Pigeon perch, perhaps] LEDGE. Rock doves (Columba livia) are originally cliff-dwellers, so it makes sense.
  • 18d [Marge Simpson’s is blue] HAIR. 24d [Painter’s shade] HUE.
  • Cryptids! 19d [Mythical Himalayan creatures] YETIS. 42a [Loch with an elusive monster] NESS.
  • 30d [Boeing product] JET. 64d [Travel on a 787] FLY.
  • 36d [What diners do after entering diners] SIT. That’s kind of fun.
  • 6a [Classic meme featuring a Shiba Inu] DOGE. Wondering how this will play among the commentariat.
  • 22a [Corporate shuffling, briefly] REORG. 25d [Taken-back auto] REPO.
  • 28a [Portuguese king] REI. Refreshing change, seeing this older clue after so many appearances of the outdoor gear retailer.
  • 37a [How syringes should be purchased] NEW. Yes, good plan.
  • Mildly meta: 44a [Only state other than Iowa or Ohio that might be entered here] UTAH.
  • 65a [@ @ @ @ @] ATS. Not really a fan of this one, but wondering how other solvers feel.

Kavin Pawittranon & Nijah Morris’ USA Today puzzle, “Virtual Zoo”– malaika’s write-up

usa today– virtual zoo

Good morning folks! Today’s puzzle gives us three theme answers where the first word is a computer term (KEYBOARD, MOUSE, MONITOR) and the second word is an animal (CAT, DEER, LIZARD). With a theme like this, I always wonder how the constructors came up with these answers. Did they just think really hard?? It feels like a tough category to brainstorm, so it’s cool they found three examples.

I’m super impressed by all the fun non-theme entries, like DEMO TAPE, OXYMORON, TEA POT, RED CORAL, BAKE SALE, MALAYSIAN, COSMIC RAY, and DOODADS. I haven’t read any AMY TAN novels, but I recognize the name.

Also, this appears to be a debut for both of the constructors, so congrats to them!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday puzzle – Matthew’s write-up

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 9/26/2022

BEQ’s website promises a “doozy” today, but I managed this more smoothly than the last two or three weeks. My secret? Sports. Not necessarily more than usual from BEQ today, but a few entries in key places kept my momentum up.

The grid is lovely, with *five* down answers of nine letters or longer, and two long acrosses, including the in-the-moment QUIET QUITTING [50a Doing the barest minimum on the job]. There’s a wide range of knowledge bases in the grid, but I found AC MILAN [8a Italian soccer team that plays at San Siro] across the top row and Adam VINATIERI [34d Adam ___ (only NFL player who scored over 1000 points for two different franchises)], which bridged the lower and middle right, as well as the center, particularly useful for getting through the grid. Knowing the Pelicans in [54d Pels’ home] are New Orleans’ (‘NOLA‘) basketball team gave a valuable foothold in the otherwise toughest corner of the grid, with GRAVELY [60a Big name in lawn mowers] and GLYN [55d Recording engineer ___ Johns (seen in “The Beatles: Get Back”)] unknown to me.

Broadly, I found the fill image-rich: CHALUPA, DOTAGES, KOREAN BBQ, AZEALIA Banks, ELROY Jetson were all fun little pearls as I moved through the puzzle. I can say the same about a number of clues, but I’ll move into notes for that:

  • 34a [_____ Massif (Antarctica)] VINSON. Containing Mount Vinson, the highest point in Antarctica, the VINSON Massif includes among other peaks, “Mount Wyatt Earp.”
  • 50a [50a Doing the barest minimum on the job] QUIET QUITTING. I quibble with the anti-worker tone of this clue; an employer-employee relationship is a business one. I’m not asked to pay $7 for an item marked $5 at the store; why should an employee be vilified for not doing more than they’re paid for at work? The employer is free to pay more, or find another employee who will do more for the same money, though I understand the difficulty in doing the latter is driving the suddenly public handwringing around QUIET QUITTING.
  • 59a [More bright and penetrating] BEADIER. In the sense of ‘eyes,’ I presume.
  • 60a [Big name in lawn mowers] GRAVELY. I’d question how big this company actually is, but my lawn is soon to be overlaid with pine straw as it doesn’t get enough sun anyway, so I’m not the best to pass judgement. Apparently the company is over 100 years old. Huh.
  • 5d [Hits the opposite way?] BUNTS. Ehhh, I don’t really buy “opposite” here.
  • 7d [“The Hallucinogenic Toreador” painter] DALI. If you gave me a blank piece of paper, I might be able to name three Dali works from memory, with some persistence. When it comes to crossword solving, I’m grateful for the imagery of his titles as beacons, until I learn them.
  • 13d [Protestant denom.] AME. Hoo, did I want “Ang(lican)” here, off the A of MILAN.
  • 28d [Take URLs with the intent to deceive] CYBERSQUAT. If you’ve ever made a typo when traveling to a website, you’ve probably found a CYBERSQUATter. Well-resourced companies will usually buy up URLs with typos in them and ensure they redirect to the correct site, but not everyone can.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 9/26/22 – Natan Last

Fave fill: SLEEPER AGENTS, PHONE TAG, ANTIWAR PROTEST, NIKKI GIOVANNI. Note to commenter who believes that when I include a name among my fave fill, it’s merely because it’s a name I know: That’s wrong. I single those out because it’s a person I admire or because the person’s inclusion in a puzzle fosters representation of folks who aren’t straight white cis men. (And I won’t complain that the SALDANA/NENE and ANA/MCCANN crossings are hard. You should know one or both of the women in each pair.)

Didn’t really know the words TENABILITY and TWEEDLE meant [Capacity to withstand criticism] and [Entice with music].

Easier than I expected for a Monday New Yorker puzzle. Four stars from me.

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19 Responses to Monday, September 26, 2022

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: Fun puzzle, as Mondays go. I feel all cultured or whatever, with two Shakespeare references!

    I know you’re just testing us, Sophia, but 27D is ART GALLERY, not ART museum.

  2. Gary R says:

    NYT: I’m not generally a fan of Monday puzzles, but I thought this one was very good. It was nice to see themers both across and down, and all of the themers, as well as the revealer were “in the language.” I finished the puzzle without understanding the theme, and it took me a minute to get it after finding the starred clues – but it was a nice “aha!”

    I didn’t see much of anything I would consider “junk” in the fill. And there was some nice longer fill – SECRETE, DEMO TAPE, OVATION, PINCH ME – that was better than the typical Monday.

    Had to smile at Sophia’s comments about her parents. With the “I” in place at 49-A, I saw “Janis ___,” and filled in IAN without even noticing the Mean Girls reference in the clue. Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen” was a hit when I was a freshman in college.

    • Eric H says:

      Sigh. I was a sophomore in high school when “At Seventeen” was released.

      I’ve never seen “Mean Girls’; it’s only from crossword puzzles that I know of the “other” Janis Ian.

      Do bands still make DEMO TAPEs? I’d have thought everything was digital now.

    • marciem says:

      I did see Mean Girls, and took the Janis Ian character as a poke at “Clueless” where the female leads were named after pop stars of their parent’s eras (Cher and Dionne).

      I enjoyed the lively fill in this puzzle, more sparkly than the usual Monday, but still gettable for newer solvers.

      Re: “demo tape”. I don’t know if they’re still called that, being digital but could be… as in, do we actually “dial” a phone?

  3. huda says:

    NYT: Sophia, I like your parents.
    It’s an excellent Monday puzzle for all the reasons Sophia, Eric H and Gary R highlighted. I liked that beyond the physical passive hanging (art and coats) their was hanging on (rock climbing), hanging out (man cave) and hanging in (the revealer).
    I recall the 1970’s when the “Hang in there, Baby” poster with the cat became popular. And “hang out” became a popular expression in more recent memory. So, a rich term with evolving meaning, ranging from tightness to looseness.

  4. Gary R says:

    TNY: A pretty manageable Monday puzzle, especially given the constructor – fell in a normal NYT Friday time. Several unfamiliar names, as usual, but all gettable from crosses.

    Liked the cluing on 12-A, 30-A, 38-A and 53-A.

    • PJ says:

      I agree. I started very quickly and then slowed. The N at 1a and 6d did me in. I had CITY in 33a and nothing else. Trying to think of a multiple word entry there cost me time until I got a couple of crossings.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I flew through 90% of this grid unlike any previous TNY NL Monday puzzle at a NYT Wednesday pace. Then, I got my comeuppance with TAMARA {35A: Dobson who played the title character in “Cleopatra Jones”}, MCCANT {37D: Broadway producer Liz who won nine Tony Awards}, ANA {49A: “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” filmmaker ___ Lily Amirpour}, NIKKI GIOVANNI {58A: “Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgement” poet} and BASE {50A: Counterpart of superstructure, in Marxist theory}. I also misspelled ALLEN GINSBERG {13D: Poet who wrote “Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy!” in a “Footnote” to one of his poems} with a ‘U’. I managed to guess TAMARA and ANA correctly, but not the others and submitted my solution with four errors. Alas. :<(

    • JohnH says:

      I’d agree that it’s both clever and manageable for Natan Last, especially on a Monday. But “all gettable”? Remember that, say, TAMARA and ANA cross MCCANN and ETHAN HAWKE (who at least I quickly recognized), while SALDANA crosses DEION and NENE. That NW corner is especially awful.

      I had mostly on these, eventually, a feeling of “what else could it be?” But with at least one exception: NENE, which could easily have been GENE, with SALDAGA or maybe SAL DAGA entirely plausible.

      • e.a. says:

        question for you J – if you get a square wrong in an unfamiliar name and then come to find out that that name is, for example, the second-highest-grossing film actress of all time, is there any part of you that’s like “actually that’s on me”?

        • JohnH says:

          I’m open to learning such things, not that I’d see “Avatar” on a bet. But I still insist that crossings give me the chance to do so.

          For me (as for Amy) Nikki Giovanni is really important. Bu I just wouldn’t demand knowledge of proper names in others. And there are sure others who follow movies that hate the whole box office thing of Marvel cartoons and sci-fi. To me, that’s just not what movie making is for. But again, I’m not interested in imposing my preferences on others and a puzzle. All I want is a fair chance.

        • JohnH says:

          I’ll put it another way. Some people, definitely not just me, dislike puzzles with lots of proper names from popular culture, and TNY (especially with Natan Last) is heavy on them while most other publications aren’t. It’s not just a chip on my shoulder.

          Why this situation? I’ll venture to say that movies, even popular ones, and culture generally have market segments. Words in the dictionary not so much. As for whether I should be embarrassed at not knowing more about a top grosser, should I know the best seller list better in the Sunday book review? Do you?

      • Gary R says:

        If you’re utterly unfamiliar with all the names, it would be tough. I know Zoe SALDANA more from her appearances in the newer Star Trek movies than from Avatar – but I’m sure I’ve seen her name in puzzles before, clued to Avatar. And she is legitimately a very well-known actor. DEION went in with no crosses, but if you’re not an NFL fan, that wouldn’t necessarily be easy. And if you don’t know Saldana, 6-D is tough – could be Gene or Rene (NeNe is not a name I’ve run across before).

        The area around TAMARA, MCCANN, and ANA was the last to fall for me. But once I had _CC_NN, MCCANN seemed like the only thing that made sense.

  5. CrotchetyDoug says:

    BEQ – Fairly smooth and entertaining, but I DNFed at crossing of 34A and 34D, not knowing either. Also 57D is the initials of Ransom Eli Olds, so how can he compete with himself? Oops! Wikipedia tells me that my knowledge was incomplete: he founded Oldsmobile, left it, and started a new company, REO, which was in competition. The things you learn doing crosswords!

    • RunawayPancake says:

      CrotchetyDoug – Thanks for the clarification. Like you, I wondered how REO could be a competitor. Unlike you, I just thought it was a misstep and didn’t look into it further. All in all, another enjoyable challenge from BEQ.

  6. Mr. [very] Grumpy says:

    Amy, Your comment that anyone “should know one or both of the women in each pair” was unforgivable. Why should I have to know actors’ names crossing each other in order to solve a puzzle? Because they happened to be women? I would have the same reaction to crossing obscure names of men.

  7. Andrea Carla Michaels says:

    JimP thanks for Paul Unplugged!!! I’ve never seen that performance!!!!
    Sad this puzzle didn’t get so much love as it’s my fave puzzle I’ve ever worked on!!!
    So much worrying in your thoughtful review as to who’d get what and who’d know what! Every age knows the Beatles!
    More love, less worry… it wasn’t written for every single solver in the world!
    Point taken about Martha, difficult words (wasn’t written as a Monday!) and slight fudge with titles…
    Tho all besides the point for these two Beatles lovers! :)

  8. El Gran Jugador says:

    BEQ – Matthew writes “I might be able to name three Dali works from memory, with some persistence”. Bet I can guess the first one.

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