Monday, December 5, 2022

BEQ 4:16(Matthew) 


LAT 1:44 (Stella) 


NYT 2:50 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:32 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (malaika) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Tracy Gray’s New York Times puzzle – Sophia’s write-up

Theme: MY BAD – The last word of each theme answer is a synonym for “mistake”.

New York Times, 12 05 2022, By Tracy Gray

  • 18a [‘Bama rival] – OLE MISS
  • 25a [Bit of banking documentation] – DEPOSIT SLIP
  • 39a [Cause of many California earthquakes] – SAN ANDREAS FAULT
  • 50a [Former moniker of reality TV child star Alana Thompson] – HONEY BOO BOO
  • 62a [“Oopsie!”… and a hint to the ends of 18-, 25-, 39- and 50-Across] – MY BAD

This is a classic “words at the end of the phrase connect” puzzle, which doesn’t really happen that much in the NYT anymore. As such, I was looking for another layer to the theme, but I think that’s it – I kind of wish there was something more to elevate it. I do like that all of the theme answers refer to other meanings of the “mistake” words, and the mirror symmetry is very striking.

The first three theme answers are nice but not too special.  The grid-spanning SAN ANDREAS FAULT is my favorite. HONEY BOO BOO feels a little like the odd theme answer out – it’s the only pop culture reference (although it’s a bit outdated; “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” went off the air in 2014), and BOO BOO doesn’t quite feel like the same type of “mistake” as MISS, FAULT, or SLIP. This was an instant drop-in for me, but I could see it tripping up lots of folks less familiar with the TLC oeuvre.

The fill overall is very clean, and I like the standout CABOOSE and ARROW KEY. I did not know CHAPPAQUA (11d[Town in Westchester County, N.Y., where the Clintons live]) and needed most crosses to get it, but I was glad to learn it. Other answers I think could be tricky are LAIRD and AGEE, both of which I was luckily able to get off crosses. I had “made par” instead of SHOT PAR, so that slowed me down at the start of the puzzle.  Other than that, though, this puzzle played very easy for me – it’s very rare for me to finish a puzzle in under 3 minutes, which I did today.

Jeff Stillman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bunker Mentality”—Jim P’s review

Theme: SAND TRAPS (57a, [Golf hazards, or what the letters between the circles have fallen into]). The other theme answers are familiar phrases whose outer letters spell SAND.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Bunker Mentality” · Jeff Stillman · Mon., 12.5.22

  • 18a. [Loafed] SAT AROUND.
  • 23a. [Isthmus, essentially] STRIP OF LAND.
  • 35a. [Gave up one’s confederates] SANG LIKE A BIRD.
  • 51a. [Investment option] SAVINGS BOND.

Works for me. Cute premise with solid-to-fun entries. I admit I wanted there to be a progression from S/AND to SA/ND to SAN/D. But that would only be three entries, and besides, nothing about the theme says there needs to be any sort of progression.

In the fill I liked MATILDA and BERSERK (though I can blame a certain video game for causing me to spell the latter one wrong). DRUG USER was a bit of a downer.

On the other hand, I loved the shout out to Kevin KLINE who tortured Michael PALIN in a scene in A Fish Called Wanda, one of my all-time favorite films. But why not cross reference their clues? Yes, I realize the puzzle also has Eric IDLE, and that both Pythons are clued as such, but that KLINE/PALIN scene was probably a big reason KLINE won the Oscar.

And that’s all I have. Nice puzzle. 3.5 stars. Enjoy the chips-up-the-nose scene from A Fish Called Wanda.

Amie Walker’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

I like this theme!

Los Angeles Times 12/5/22 by Amie Walker

Los Angeles Times 12/5/22 by Amie Walker

Titles and revealers have pros and cons: They can help newer solvers figure out how crosswords work, but I think requiring them all or most of the time, as many outlets now do, is a bit constraining. IMO it pushes constructors to OneLook phrases with “inside,” “outside,” “front,” “back,” etc. to come up with a theme, and great themes fall by the wayside simply because the constructor can’t figure out a good title or revealer.

So: I like this theme because it does have a revealer, but that revealer is not of the “I found this on OneLook” variety. What’s going on? In the middle at 36A [Instantly recognizable brand, and what can literally be found in this puzzle’s circles?] is HOUSEHOLD NAME. In the circled squares, you find nicknames for family members, or HOUSEHOLD NAMEs. Cute!

  • 17A [“Sounds reasonable to me”] is YES, I SUPPOSE, with the circled letters spelling SIS. (Extra elegant that the three theme letters span the three words in the answer!)
  • 29A [Setting for floor-model electronics] is DEMO MODE, with the circled letters spelling MOM.
  • 47A [Core-working fitness device with a wheel] is an AB ROLLER, with the circled letters spelling BRO. Nice evocative entry too!
  • 58A [Personalized promos] is TARGETED ADS, with the circled letters spelling DAD. I would call this entry triggering rather than evocative :P

Alan Massengill’s Universal crossword, “The Devil’s Music” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 12/5/22 • Mon • Massengill • “The Devil’s Music” • solution • 20221205

Self-evident theme, especially with the title.

  • 15a. [Lizzo hit on Lucifer’s playlist?] GOOD AS HELL.
  • 25a. [Trammps hit on Lucifer’s playlist?] DISCO INFERNO.
  • 41a. [Blue Öyster Cult hit on Lucifer’s playlist?] BURNIN’ FOR YOU.
  • 55a. [Johnny Cash hit on Lucifer’s playlist?] RING OF FIRE.

This in contrast to my experience this morning, when I had to go out and a lot of the landscape was frozen over. Brr!

Easy-peasy straightforward cluing, so not much to highlight.

  • 18a [Part of a strong punch?] RUM.
  • 33a [Answer to “Who’s up next?”] I AM. 29a [No  longer up next, in baseball] AT BAT.

Elizabeth Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 12/5/22 – Gorski

On the easy side for a toughest-of-the-week New Yorker, I found.

Fave clue: 21d. [Chill partner], NETFLIX. As in “Netflix and chill” for an invitation to come over for cheap-date sexytimes. Honorable mention: 36a. [German foodie’s favorite city?], ESSEN. Lowercase essen means “to eat” in German. We get the deli from the German Delikatessen, which doesn’t actually mean “delicate food”; it comes from a French word.

Fave fill: Quaint FEEDING FRENZIES, BEE’S KNEES, “I’M HONORED,” ALCATRAZ, and the RIGHT LANE of the highway.

Less keen on entries like IDE, CDX, SEERESS, JAM UP, ORONO, ABAA, DESIGNEE, ENE.

Thank you to a recent Learned League trivia question about the women’s singles champions in this year’s tennis Grand Slams. I had not remembered Rybakina at all … but luckily I only needed to name one of the three! The answers put ELENA Rybakina in my head. (She beat the Tunisian player Ons Jabeur.)

Three stars from me.

BEQ’s Themeless Monday crossword—Matthew’s review

BEQ’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 12/5/2022

Did I guess ALEISTER CROWLEY [17a Occultist who created the religion Thelema] off the initial A- and a vague sense of the Ozzy Osbourne song. Did it then bias the rest of my solve to the positive? Yes on both accounts. ECUELLE [Soup bowl that shares its name with a French commune] similarly lived in some half-space of my brain, though I need to dig more into that.

Four grid spanners of varying flashiness (OPEN FIELD TACKLE, ALLERGY SKIN TEST, TAKE NO PRISONERS, the above-mentioned CROWLEY) lattice open corners and a deftly contained center area. I’m on record as being a fan of these types of grids – I want the chewiness that comes with 5-7 letter entries throughout – and while neither the cluing nor fill sparkled for me, the overall experience was enjoyable; not a brain-buster but not a speed race either. [Sub station?] for BENCH is a pleasant misdirect from both sandwich shops and electrical grids, and [Characters in a children’s book?] for ABC feels more obvious and less amusing now than during the solve, but I do try to hold on to my mid-solve impressions.

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10 Responses to Monday, December 5, 2022

  1. David L says:

    Nice Monday NYT — cute reveal and clean fill. What else can we ask for?

  2. DJ says:

    Every time I hear “Will isn’t taking words that can end” puzzles anymore, lo and behold another one appears

  3. Bryan says:

    NYT: Quiet crowd today. I, for one, loved the left-right mirror symmetry, a pattern I’m not accustomed to seeing on a Monday. The center black-square pattern reminded me of the Kool-Aid Man commercials from my youth. 😀 I also love when I can make little stories out of multiple entries. Today it was the 61a row (a cautionary tale for the upcoming holidays): I popped the champagne CORK that hit your eye. MYBAD. That’s ONME.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Years ago there were a couple themelesses with 15s that told a tale without needing extra words. Byron Walden had a 2005 New York Sun puzzle with OUT ON THE OPEN SEA / FRANCIS X. BUSHMAN / FELT A LITTLE LOST. I think Harvey Estes had one around the same time but can’t find it.

  4. Greg says:

    Nice to see the New Yorker Monday calibrated to the right level of difficulty (for me, at least).

    • Eric H says:

      I had a few snags in the NW — mostly because it took me a lot of crosses to remember Abigail BRESLIN’s name — but overall, it was not too difficult.

    • JohnH says:

      I never did remember BRESLIN. (A restaurant of that name, sadly, closed in NYC this year.) Over all, I’d agree a really nicely judged difficulty as TNY puzzles go. More proper names than often for Gorski, but all gettable while adding challenge, and nice how the quatrain rhyme scheme, which could have been all sorts of things, similarly required working out.

      Off topic, an article in the science NYT news about an eruption of Mauna Loa had an initial online headline, since changed, stressing not the magnitude or its significance, but how long it took to occur. All I could think of was that it was waiting for crossings, to see if it should be Mauna Kea instead.

    • Gary R says:

      BRESLIN, HIAASEN and ARGENTO utterly unknown to me, but crosses were fair.

      Ms. Gorski’s TNY Mondays generally seem easier to me than others’ but this one was chewy enough to be worth solving.

      Amy, thanks for the explanation of ESSEN – I was at a loss.

  5. David R says:

    BEQ themeless deserves a lot of love, that is one sweet puzzle, very few compromises it.

    • Eric H says:

      The NE was challenging for me. ALEISTER CROWLEY, Thelema, and ECUELLE don’t sound at all familiar. Having MAD ruSH for a long time didn’t help any, either. I don’t golf, so I had BirdY instead of BOGEY for a while.

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