Monday, March 6, 2023

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 1:52 (Stella) 


NYT 3:36 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 7:55 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (malaika) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


 Lynn Lempel’s New York Times puzzle – Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Each theme answer is a body part followed by something found in nature.

New York Times, 03 06 2023, By Lynn Lempel

  • 17a [*Region of upstate New York named for its bodies of water] – FINGER LAKES
  • 25a [*Navigation hurdle for a sailboat] – HEADWIND
  • 35a [*Climbers’ warm-ups before mountains] – FOOTHILLS
  • 46a [*Source of shade on a desert island, say] – PALM TREE
  • 55a [Set of traits we all have … or a two-part description of the answers to the starred clues?] – HUMAN NATURE

As soon as I read the byline on today’s puzzle, I knew exactly what I was in for. Lynn’s puzzles are well-themed, with generally solid fill that leans away from anything too modern/pop-culture-y, giving her puzzles a bit of a timeless/old school feel. And that’s exactly what I got!

The NYT has been doing more and more of these “both parts of a theme answer are connected to a revealer phrase” puzzles, and I’m always astounded by how many phrases work in these constraints. Yes, HEADWIND is a little bit of the odd answer out since the other three are geographic features, but still! Finding symmetric answers that both fit the pattern and are interesting to have in the grid is no easy task. I first learned about the FINGER LAKES from E.L. Konigsburg’s “The View From Saturday”, which is set in that region. I believe there’s a regular crossword tournament based there too!

Bullet points on the rest of the puzzle:

  • I fell on my face right out of the gate today with “knelt” instead of BOWED for [Greeted a king or queen, say]. Luckily, I was able to get the next ten or so answers without looking at crosses, so my mistake became obvious quickly.
  • I wish some of the midlength fill had been a little stronger – WINESAP, AUTOMAT, and BUNGLER didn’t do much for me personally.
  • I could see people having trouble on the OLSON/ROMERO cross, but hopefully folks will know at least one of those actors.
  • I really like both the NE and SW quadrants of the puzzle: SALTINE/CARKEY/PASTA and especially JESUITS/ACORNS/WOWED. Great use of a less constrained area.

Vasu Seralathan’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Stress Test”—Jim’s review

Theme: Familiar phrases that are synonymous with “Relax!” are applied to appropriate persons.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Stress Test” · Vasu Seralathan · Mon., 3.6.23

  • 17a. [“Relax!” (to an overexcited songwriter?)] COMPOSE YOURSELF.
  • 27a. [“Relax!” (to an overexcited craps player?)] SLOW YOUR ROLL. I have never heard this phrase, but I guess that’s on me since it looks like it’s been around for a while.
  • 48a. [“Relax!” (to an overexcited fighter pilot?)] COOL YOUR JETS.
  • 63a. [“Relax!” (to an overexcited stripper?)] KEEP YOUR PANTS ON.

Very nice. This makes for a smooth and accessible Monday theme. Sure, a word is duped in each of the entries, but I’m okay with that on a Monday. At least it’s consistent, and it gives a newer solver something to latch onto.

Plenty of fun fill to enjoy, too: DEMAGOGUE, SORE LOSER, DOE EYES,WHO SAYS?,” and PARABLE. I’m spying little to no clunky fill which is another reason why the solve felt so smooth.

Clues of note:

  • 4a. [Taylor and Fillmore, politically]. WHIGS. What happened to the good ol’ WHIGS? Why don’t we bring ’em back so we can have a third option? *Looks them up.* Meh. They’re basically just Republicans. Never mind.
  • 32a. [Action that follows “Bring it in!”]. HUG. Fun clue. Group HUG, everybody! Bring it in!

Smooth and lively puzzle to get the week going. Four stars.

Rebecca Goldstein’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 3/6/23 by Rebecca Goldstein

Los Angeles Times 3/6/23 by Rebecca Goldstein

I’m low on time so this’ll just be about the theme: The revealer at 66A [Olympic arena that features the ends of 17-, 25-, 41-, and 52-Across] is SKATE PARK, and indeed the last word in each theme entry is something a skateboarder might encounter there.

Joseph A Gangi’s Universal crossword, “Knead I Say More?” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 3/6/23 • Mon • Gangi • “Knead I Say More?” • solution • 20230306

Theme here is some steps—in sequence—for the making of bread. The relevant clues all reference 36-down: [Loaf whose popularity spiked in 2020] SOURDOUGH. That was during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, in case you’ve somehow forgotten.

  • 18a. [36-Down’s place of humble beginnings?] STARTER HOME.
  • 28a. [Having to rise, for 36-Down?] BURDEN OF PROOF.
  • 46a. [Cleans up a cut on 36-Down?] EVENS THE SCORE.
  • 59a. [Best 36-Down at a baking contest?] BREAD WINNER.

So that’s starter, proof, score … bread. Obviously some steps are elided. (37d [Not every] SOME.) Factette: the traditional tool used to score or slash a formed and risen loaf is called a lame. I’ve never seen that sense used in a crossword clue, even though it’s less problematic than the alternative.

  • 2d [Healthy red drink] BEET JUICE. I know that that can be used as a natural sweetener and culinary dye, so I wouldn’t be surprised if someone, somewhere has incorporated it into a bread recipe. <consults internet> Yep, quite a few!
  • 3d [Switch to a better-paying job, say] CAREER MOVE.
  • 13d [Throw, in modern slang] YEET. Still wondering if this will have staying power, or is merely a fad.
  • 48d [Consumes soup rudely] SLURPS. But not in all cultures. And now I’m tangentially reminded of the spaghetti-eating scene from the soup-oriented film Tampopo.
  • 33a [Points at a dartboard] AIMS. I don’t believe this clue was intended to misdirect, but I was nevertheless caught thinking about the pointy tips of darts.

Nice easy start to the week.

Liz Gorski’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 3/6/23 – Gorski

I like the round-edged vibe to the grid, which builds in a frame of long entries. On the tougher end of the Monday New Yorker spectrum.

Fave fill: VASECTOMY, BANANA BREAD (hot take: banana bread and other quick-breads like blueberry muffins are cakes and not breads!), SENSIBLE SHOES (the only kind I own), BORDER TERRIER (r.i.p. Jade), ISABEL Wilkerson, DOCUMENTARIES with some RECREATIONS.

All those colorful interlocking entries come at a price: DCII, PINA, INST, TERNE, ORNE, SNERD. ENCHAINS sure is not a common word; the clue [Captivates, as one’s attention] did not point me to the answer.

Names some solvers may be perplexed by: WNBA player ARIKE Ogunbowale; get used to Nigerian names because there are so many notable Americans of Nigerian descent these days (Wikipedia tells us “Arike means a child you treasure, cherish, pamper and love in the Yoruba language,” and that’s so lovely). The cat in Japan named MARU has a dedicated YouTube channel. New to me: [Swimmer Jessica with sixteen Paralympic gold medals], LONG. Lots of easier ways to clue that entry, but it would be churlish to object to a spotlight on an athlete who’s dominated her sport.

Three stars from me.

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16 Responses to Monday, March 6, 2023

  1. marciem says:

    off topic a bit, but today I went to look to see if there were any new Cryptic or P and A puzzles at NYT… and I can’t find where ANY of those types of games are listed (including the acrostics that I’ve seen others talking about). Is there a secret path or are those games just *POOF* gone? Even for print? (I don’t do print, but just wondered)

    • Dougo says:

      According to BEQ, they’re gone.

      • marciem says:

        UGH!! Thanks. I didn’t pay much attention with the acrostics since they’re a slightly different thing from crosswords… but all the Sunday variety puzzles? Sheesh. I was mad enough when they quit publishing anything in .puz format, but XWord Scraper saved my day on that… :(

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Apparently, the NYT thinks they were giving their puzzle subscribers way too much value for their money. Yeesh. They’re kind of like drug dealers. They (quite literally) bank on us addicts who have been shooting up their puzzles for years and years and can’t easily give them up, even if there are better ways out there to satisfy our cravings. But I guess they’ve gotta do whatever is necessary to cover the costs of their news operation in the internet age.

      • marciem says:

        I’ve just recently become addicted to Spelling Bee, so I wonder how soon they’ll cut me off from that? :D .

        What you say is most likely true… but it still hurts.

        • Ch says:

          Oh, it’s true – they ditched all the variety puzzles, including acrostic, and all the archives in one fell swoop, with less than a month’s notice. Apparently it’s just too hard to keep up with the tech side of things, according to the NYT – which I could maybe see with the acrostic, but the variety puzzles? The variety puzzles always had to be printed out and worked on paper, and since they are keeping them for the print addition on Sundays, and everyone is encouraged to get THAT, the “we couldn’t keep up with the tech” is a bit too disengenuous.

          • R says:

            I’d also factor in that variety puzzles are much more expensive on the creation side. Wordle and Spelling Bee barely need a single person keeping them running forever, while each variety puzzle takes a good constructor a serious amount of time to make. Pair that with Sudoku and the other barely constructed games that are featured there, and you can see how much $$ they’re saving.

      • Art Shapiro says:

        I often had a lot of trouble with the Acrostics – one week I’d whip it off with minimal grief, and the next be totally flummoxed. But it’s sad to see them disappear.

        What I really will miss is the extremely-sporadic Split Decisions puzzle.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          There’s a recent Fred Piscop book of variety puzzles including a number of Split Decisions puzzles, and Joon Pahk’s Outside the Box subscription series occasionally has a Split Decisions.

  2. JohnH says:

    Never thought I’d see a quiz-style puzzle from Elizabeth Gorski, not even in a Monday New Yorker. I’m saddened, and I came nowhere near completion.

    • Eric H says:

      Except for the ENCHAINS/PIÑA crossing, I did well with the New Yorker puzzle. Maybe because at one point my dream car was a 1955 Thunderbird?

      That’s not to say there wasn’t a lot of stuff I hadn’t heard of: TERNE, LONG (as clued), SENECA (as clued), ISABEL Wilkerson.

      • JohnH says:

        I had for a long long time “enchants” rather than “enchains,” and it still feels more natural in that sense. Of course, that made it harder to stumble on RIIS, whom I might otherwise know from puzzles, and PINA, new to me, much less CATANIA, also new to me, where I started with “Palermo” and considered “Salerno,” although it’s on the mainland. My understanding of cars didn’t extend to CONNECTING ROD, and of dogs beyond that I needed a first word for TERRIER. PTRAPS maybe should have been familiar from puzzles, even with the clever but highly misleading clue, although I’ve no idea what it is in life.

        So the whole broader NW was a disaster for me, even once I got ORNE and TBIRD. (You know, my father had one.) Naturally the stacking of TERNE and ARIKE put a huge burden on crossings. And that’s aside from the crossings of MIRA/ MARU and LONG / LORDE, where I hadn’t a chance. (Lorde is a known writer, but it wasn’t an obvious clue for her.) So let’s say overall a slog and a disaster.

  3. Jake Lang says:

    Best free crossword puzzle online?
    I’ve recently gotten into puzzles and I’ve done the LAT puzzle every day for about two weeks straight now. If I had to pick one free puzzle, is the LAT the best one? WSJ? New Yorker?

    • Eric H says:

      You’ll see a lot of the same constructors in all the publications you mentioned. I’ve never noticed an editorial difference that makes one better than another. On any given day, I might prefer the WSJ or LAT puzzle to the NYT, which is the only one that I solve every day.

      Note that the New Yorker puzzles are free up to a point. The New Yorker gives a limited number of free articles per month, and puzzles count against that.

      You might want to sign up for this email of crossword links. In addition to the mainstream media puzzles, it gives links to a lot of constructors’ independent sites. Many of them are free.

      Have fun!

    • David R says:

      Mini Atlantic Xword puzzles are consistently the most fun due to size and fill. I could do puzzles of this size all day long.

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