Monday, November 21, 2022

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 2:01 (Stella) 


NYT 3:25 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker untimed (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (malaika) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Brandon Koppy’s New York Times puzzle – Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Things heard at the WORLD CUP.

New York Times, 11 21 2022, By Brandon Koppy

  • 17a [South African horn that produces only one note] – VUVUZELA
  • 28a [Repetitive cry of encouragement] – OLE OLE OLE OLE OLE
  • 48a [Reeeeeeeeally long celebratory cry] – GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL
  • 64a [International event where 17-, 28- and 48-Across can be heard] – WORLD CUP

This is a silly theme, and I mean that in the best way possible. Anytime I get to enter long strings of the same letter/s, I’m happy (this NYT puzzle comes to mind as the last time I entered a bunch of O’s). Even though VUVUZELA is arguably the most “normal” theme answer, once I figured it out I was immediately thinking “World Cup” since I, like many people, only learned about them through their World Cup popularity. The “sound” theme is a nice link, since the theme answers themselves are very different from each other. I’d like to hear what the NYT thinks the spelled-out sound of a vuvuzela looks like.

I’m a soccer fan, but I don’t think you need to be one to appreciate the puzzle – it pays homage to a major world event going on right now, but it’s not full of ESOTERIC soccer players or terms. I also appreciate that the puzzle contains no references to the country/government in which the Cup is held this year or the organization that puts it on, both of which have rightly been criticized for circumstances surrounding this World Cup (more information here written by folks much smarter than I am). The puzzle keeps the focus squarely on the game itself.

There are only four theme answers and two of them are pretty short, so there’s lots of space for other exciting answers. And there are lots of them, far more than usual on a Monday! THE DEETS, RUN WILD, EYE CONTACT, GOOD ONE, HAN SOLO, EPIC WIN are all highlights. At the same time, though, there are a few answers that are harder than usual. The SW corner is particularly rough with OATERS and NEALON (side note: if anyone else only knows Kevin Nealon from the 2009 classic Aliens in the Attic, congratulations you’re my new favorite person). I have also never heard the word SMAZE, and crossing it with LLANO could trip people up. I’m also not sure getting the X into the puzzle is worth XFL, and I’ve watched multiple XFL games on TV. It felt a little forced, especially in a corner with a *ton* of other fill options.

I’m excited to spend the next few weeks watching soccer, particularly the Seattle Sounders playing for the US Men’s team! Go Cristian, Jordan, and DeAndre!!

Daniel & Morgan Bodily’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Zero Waste”—Jim P’s review

Theme: IN THE DUMPS (59a, [Sad, or, environmentally speaking, where those starred answers’ starts don’t wind up]). The starred answers are familiar(ish) phrases whose first words are also recyclable items.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Zero Waste” · Daniel & Morgan Bodily · Mon., 11.21.22

  • 17a. [*Kind of dolphin] BOTTLENOSE.
  • 24a. [*Cylindrical channel marker] CAN BUOY.
  • 28a. [*Poor musicians have them] TIN EARS.
  • 38a. [*Musical group with homemade instruments] JUG BAND.
  • 49a. [*Marine, informally] JARHEAD.
  • 51a. [*Chart showing distribution via rectangles] BOX PLOT.

Hmm. A couple of these phrases I’d never heard of (CAN BUOY and BOX PLOT), but I guess that’s my own failing. I have a problem with tin being on here, because most of us don’t encounter much tin in our daily living that would cause us to recycle it. There may be some tin in “tin cans” (but not much), and besides we already have cans on this list, and that’s sufficient. And I’m not sure what is meant exactly by “jug,” because its recyclability would depend upon its composition (either glass, earthenware, or plastic).

If it were me (and I realize it’s not), I’d stick with BOTTLENOSE up top, move JARHEAD to the middle, scrap the “tin” and “jug” entries, and then find new phrases for “can” and “box.” CAN YOU NOT? and BOX TURTLE would seem to do the trick. The result (in my opinion) would be a more streamlined theme with more commonly-known entries, making it more apt for a Monday.

Speaking of tough-for-Monday entries, in the fill we find LEU, EDDA, and LEHAR. And I’m really giving “bust A RIB” the side-eye; I’ve heard “bust a gut” far more. But there are plenty of sparkling entries to compensate: BID FAREWELL, “A DEAL’S A DEAL,” NEW RECRUITS, PTEROSAUR, a frustrated “IN A MOMENT!,” (I tried IN A SECOND then IN A MINUTE first), POP GUNS, UP TO BAT, “MY BAD,”, and JENGA. MODERN LINGO feels a bit green paintish (I wanted MODERN SLANG), but overall, that’s a lovely set of long fill.

Clue of note: 4d. [No longer on deck, say]. UP TO BAT. This one perplexed me for a good long time. Thinking it was about the deck of a ship, I couldn’t figure out why it started with UP. Good clue (though maybe too tough for a Monday?).

Not a bad puzzle, and I enjoyed the recycling concept, but I think the theme tries to do too much. It would be more effective with a couple fewer entries as well as phrases that are more familiar to Monday solvers. The long fill is very nice. 3.25 stars.

And this appears to be a debut for one of our constructors, so congrats on that, Morgan!

Dan Caprera’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 11/21/22 by Dan Caprera

Los Angeles Times 11/21/22 by Dan Caprera

I have mixed feelings about revealers: I think they’re overused, and I bet some great themes get abandoned nowadays because a good revealer isn’t, well, revealing itself to the constructor but it feels like the theme won’t get accepted without one. Here, though, is a puzzle in which a good revealer led to an unusual theme. 60A [Stretch of chilly weather, and what the first words of the answers to the starred clues amount to, phonetically?] is the novella-length clue that leads to COLD SPELL. And indeed if you take the first words of each theme entry and say them out loud, you will get homophones of the letters C, O, L, and D — a SPELL-out of the word COLD.

  • 17A [*Song sung by sailors] is a SEA SHANTY. I still haven’t listened to any of those on TikTok.
  • 25A [*”Huzzah!”] is OH HAPPY DAY.
  • 36A [*Yosemite monolith in the 2018 documentary “Free Solo”] is EL CAPITAN. The movie is very much worth seeing, especially if you can see it on the big screen.
  • 50A [*Actress who played Elliott’s mom in “E.T.”] is DEE WALLACE.

I liked this theme! The grid had a bit more crosswordese than I like on Monday: ETES, SSTS, SSR, EIDER, MAHI as [Half a menu fish]. DINAH Washington and “The Barber of SEVILLE” were highlights for me.

Max Schlenker’s Universal crossword, “Baloney Sandwich” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 11/21/22 • Mon • Schlenker • “Baloney Sandwich” • solution • 20221121

Common words phrases reinterpreted to be about sandwiches. Nice and simple.

  • 16a. [Sandwich that was dropped outside a deli?] FALLEN HERO.
  • 28a. [Major change sparked by a Florida sandwich?] CUBAN REVOLUTION. Since I recently on this blog shared Tom Russell and Barrence Whitfield’s ode the cubano, I won’t embed it this time, but I do feel obligated to provide a link.
  • 45a. [Specialty sandwich at Disney World?] MICKEY MOUSE CLUB.
  • 60a. [Norms and traditions for fans of a long sandwich?] SUBCULTURE.

Am I going to pick nits and say that subs and heros are just different names for the same thing? Nah, I have no axe to grind.

  • Speaking of picking nits though, 13a [Boxer’s enemy] FLEA. That’s hyperbolic, but the question mark is massaging things here.
  • 51a [MSG’s savory quality] UMAMI. Seeing more and more self-proclaimed UMAMI powders and sauces on store shelves these days.
  • 54a [Nintendo game that involves shooting ink] SPLATOON. New to me, but makes sense. However, I’m now envisioning forensics specialists arriving, analyzing wounds and evidence as if they were Rorschach tests.
  • 39d [No longer in a band] SOLO. 30d [Traveling and playing gigs] ON TOUR. 20a [Concert-opening cheer] LET’S ROCK.
  • 42d [Command to a curious canine] DOWN BOY. This is a tough clue if you happen to misread that as ‘circus’.
  • 58d [Couple, to a gossip columnist] ITEM. 23d [Groups such as Batman and Robin] DUOS. 12d [Companion of Nod] WYNKEN; plus Blynken for the full trio. 29d [Put two and three together, e.g.] ADD.

Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 11/21/22 – Shechtman

Lots of nice fill here: LAURIE Anderson (I’ll note that Lil REL Howery, LAURIE Anderson, and ULTA stores were my first three answers in the grid–wheelhouse!), WHATABOUTISM (saw it in action this morning, where someone equated a gay man in a rainbow shirt being detained by security for 30 minutes in Qatar with random street harassment of women … though Qatar actually bans LGBTQ expression while the government doesn’t require dudes to catcall Western women on the street), PARIS REVIEW, CRIES WOLF, and SLAP-HAPPY. Also appreciated LBD, [Monochrome wardrobe staple popularized in the nineteen-twenties, familiarly]–that’s the little black dress.

Perplexed by the clue for MEN’S CHOIR, [Group with a TTBB arrangement, perhaps]. Tenor, tenor, bass, baritone? I’m guessing there’s a cocktail called the painkiller, given that [Painkillers might be added to it] clues BAR TAB. New to me.

Not keen on CMS {you don’t need an S, cm is the abbreviation for centimeter(s)}, along with ANIONS, TSAR, LEO I, TARED, ESTD, USE IN, just for boredom rather than puzzle-wrecking.

3.75 stars from me. Appreciated the bits of fill that favor women rather than, say, fans of early baseball and long-gone cars.

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23 Responses to Monday, November 21, 2022

  1. RSP64 says:

    Is it now a requirement of the NYT crossword editors to have one or more Star Wars-related clues/answers to get published? It gets a little old for me.

  2. Philip (vuvuzela owner) says:

    NYT: Vuvuzelas are banned from the games in Qatar, although I suppose the clue doesn’t say you would hear them at this World Cup.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: It took me a while to figure out what was going on. Once you do, especially with the middle string of O’s, it gets a lot easier, but I think this put up more resistance than is typical for a Monday (and that usually impacts the ratings).
    SMAZE seems to be a double portemanteau, since SMOG is already one… I’ve never heard anyone use it in real life.
    I had an uncle who was some sort of a big deal in FIFA, so grew up hearing a lot about soccer. I should get back to watching it (Michigan sports can be a full time occupation).

  4. Jim says:

    Sophia, Nouhou (Cameroon) and Arreaga (Ecuador) deserve a shout-out, too. 🙂

  5. Gary R says:

    TNY: Lots of unhappy raters today! More three-letter entries than I like to see, but I thought the longer stuff was good, and generally enjoyed the solve. Interesting coincidence at 62-A, with Disney announcing a new (old) CEO today!

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    NYT: I’m merely a casual soccer fan but I definitely didn’t care much for the theme here (or a good bit of the rest of the puzzle, for that matter). The best the NYT can come up with is drawing attention to what are three of the four most annoying things about the sport? The other is players flopping as if they’ve been shot at close range by a high-powered rifle in order to draw foul calls, pretending to be severely injured, getting carried off the field and then returning 30 seconds later as if nothing happened. But I guess they couldn’t think of a way to incorporate that into the puzzle. It’s not like there’s isn’t enough material to come up with interesting Monday-appropriate themers for the most popular sporting event on the planet! Yeesh.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    My husband’s a soccer fan, so I quizzed him about this OLE OLE OLE OLE OLE entry. He’d accept three, four, or six OLEs in a chant, but not five. I’m partial to the four-pack, “oleeeeeeeee, ole, ole, ole.”

    • Philip (vuvuzela owner) says:

      I don’t know about soccer, but at Montreal Canadiens games it goes like this; “Ole, ole-ole-ole; ole… ole.” Six times. (That was fun to punctuate.)

  8. JohnH says:

    I, too, am hopeful someone else will explain painkillers as BAR TAB addition. I, too, am guessing its a drink, but I tried Googling for it and just got a lot of pages about opiates.

    The other clues that Amy found admirable and helpful, like ALTA, WHATABOUTISM (which sounded like a real phrase, although intuitively with a different meaning than offering equivalents), and LBD, were off my radar as well. (Well, I did know LAURIE Anderson and the PARIS REVIEW.) Overall, yet another TNY mailed in by UFO from another planet with its own lexicon.

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