Monday, July 3, 2023

BEQ 4:50(Matthew) 


LAT 1:51 (Stella) 


NYT 3:27 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:40 (Jenni) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 5:10 (Jim) 


Sam Buchbinder’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Happy Monday folks! I’d say the week is off to an… auspicious beginning with this puzzle :)

New York Times, 07 03 2023, By Sam Buchbinder

  • 17a [Miles Davis classic that’s the all-time best-selling jazz album] – KIND OF BLUE
  • 24a [“Oh, I’m not messing around!”] – JUST YOU WAIT
  • 47a [Big member of the string section] – UPRIGHT BASS
  • 60a [Neon, argon and krypton] – NOBLE GASES
  • 38a [Having initial success … as suggested by the beginnings of 17-, 24-, 47- and 60-Across?] – OFF TO A GOOD START

So, each of the theme answers has a first word that can mean “good”: KIND, JUST, UPRIGHT, NOBLE. This is a totally solid theme, and I like the (grid-spanning!) revealer with it. I wish the theme answers were a little snappier, given how many synonyms for “good” exist. But I do like how all of them twist the “good” meaning of their words into something else. I didn’t know KIND OF BLUE was the all time best selling jazz album, that’s pretty cool.

This puzzle played pretty easily for me, even though that’s not reflected in my time since I had to spend ~40 seconds error hunting (turned out to be “dig” instead of DUG :( ). The bottom third of the puzzle or so barely required a single down answer. The top felt much harder for me, particularly the DAHS/ULAN/MONO stack in the upper right. Did other folks feel the same way?


Clue highlights: 2d [Sexiest Man ___ (annual award)] for ALIVE, 61d [Letters that bookend the phrase “Google Maps,” aptly] for GPS. 

Happy 4th of July EVE to those in the USA!

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Picnic for the Fourth”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are red, white, and blue foods.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Picnic for the Fourth” · Mike Shenk · Mon., 7.3.23

  • 18a. [Grilled entree for the Fourth] RED SNAPPER.
  • 20a. [Poached entree for the Fourth] WHITEFISH.
  • 34a. [Pie choice for the Fourth] BLUEBERRY.
  • 38a. [Seasoning for the Fourth] RED PEPPER.
  • 50a. [Libation for the Fourth] WHITE WINE.
  • 55a. [Salad dressing choice for the Fourth] BLUE CHEESE.

I suppose that’s as good a way as any to make a 4th of July puzzle. Why two of each color? I don’t know. I guess because they fit, and one of each color wouldn’t be much of a puzzle. But finding six appropriately colored food items that fit symmetrically in a grid has to count for something.

Of course, if your picnic was restricted to red, white, and blue foods like these, that’d be a pretty bizarre picnic.

Having six theme answers is always tough to fill around, but we still have some goodies here like SPLITTER, OIL WELL, and especially SMARTASS. On the other hand MOTETS [Sacred compositions] is pretty tough fill for a Monday especially when the first letter crosses a proper name (MAILER). I wasn’t helped by my brain insisting that Gustav MAHLER was the author of “The Naked and the Dead” instead of Norman MAILER.

No clues of note today. Have a safe and happy Fourth. And please spare a thought for all the traumatized animals who suffer on this holiday.

Susan Gelfand’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 7/3/23 by Susan Gelfand

Los Angeles Times 7/3/23 by Susan Gelfand

Currently doing my solving on a train in Sweden, so apologies for the brevity. Coming down to the revealer at 53A [Imitate, and what the last words of 18-, 26-, and 42-Across can do], we get FOLLOW SUIT: That is, the final word in each theme answer can be placed after the word SUIT to make another phrase (or compound word, in one instance).

  • 18A [Hardcover protector] is a DUST JACKET, leading to the formal article of clothing, SUIT JACKET.
  • 26A [Solve a mystery] is CRACK THE CASE, leading to SUITCASE. Mine is packed pretty efficiently, if I say so myself.
  • 42A [Like some home repairs] is DO IT YOURSELF, leading to SUIT YOURSELF.

Super smooth grid, leading to a well-under-two-minute solve, which is just right for Monday. Nice!

Sam Buchbinder’s Universal crossword, “Letter Openers” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 7/3/23 • Mon • “Letter Openers” • Buchbinder • solution • 20230701

  • 34aR [Prefaces … or a hint to the first two letters in both parts of 16-, 23-, 47- and 56-Across] FOREWORDS. The referenced entries are two-word phrases in which the first word begins with FO– and the second begins with RE–. So I guess that can be parsed as “FO, RE WORDS”?
  • 16a. [Investigative journalist’s filing] FOIA REQUEST. Freedom of Information Act.
  • 23a. [Warning that affects consumers, in two ways] FOOD RECALL.
  • 47a. [Traditional cure] FOLK REMEDY.
  • 56a. [Zebra running on a field?] FOOTBALL REFEREE.

I wasn’t wowed by this as a conceit to hang a theme on, but it’s certainly adequate and sufficiently entertaining.

  • 11d [Writing on modern elevator buttons] BRAILLE. How modern is modern? I recall seeing them all my life, but I also know that the Americans with Disabilities Act, which I presume would have mandated this at the federal level, dates only to 1990.
  • 21d [Glances over] SCANS. I avoid using this word, because it has two contradictory meanings.
  • 37d [Announcement awaited by many a student (and teacher!)] SNOW DAY. These are as far as I know becoming obsolescent, with online/remote learning capabilities becoming more prevalent.
  • 43a [Sawed logs] SNORED. This was made somewhat trickier with the omission of a “so to speak” sort of qualifier.
  • 52a [Big-eyed birds] OWLS. 61a [One of two on a face] EYE.

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

Happy Monday! Happier now that I’ve done Kameron’s crossword. I like the New Yorker vibe and this is a good ‘un.

I like the sort of pinwheel shape to the grid and the long answers in the center are fun.

New Yorker, July 3, 2023, Kameron Austin Collins, solution grid

  • Took me a while to see SQUARE DANCE for [Pursuit for a group of eight].
  • Hope that square doesn’t include any SLEAZEBALLS.
  • I’m amused by SOLAR ENERGY crossing NIGHTMARE FUEL. I always wonder if juxtapositions like that are deliberate.
  • The clue for 33a didn’t mean much to me at first. [Name applied to both a period following the Second World War and a period in the early twenty-first century] is the GOLDEN AGE OF TV.
  • 50a [Cut together, maybe?] is COEDIT. On a plane yesterday I watched “Turn Every Page” about the relationship between Robert Caro and his longtime editor Robert Gottlieb. Fascinating. I’ve read some of Caro’s pieces in the New Yorker (which were there because Gottlieb was the editor) and never his books. Now planning to fill that gap.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of novelist ALI Smith.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — Matthew’s write-up

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 7/3/2023

I didn’t find this very smooth, but it also wasn’t the hardest themeless we’ve seen from BEQ lately, so an interesting experience. The long stuff didn’t really land with me — ZERO FUCKS GIVEN and [Post cards?] for PRESS PASSES are highlights, but the stacks in the NE and SW didn’t move the needle.

Difficult-ish crossing of [Actress Glaudini] LOLA and [“Past lives” actress Greta] LEE, though now that I’m a few minutes post-solve, I suppose L is a reasonable first guess there. I’ve seen almost nothing featuring either actress, though looking at their filmographies, that’s very much on me. I’m never a fan of the “grunting” cluing angle around women’s tennis, as we see for Monica SELES in this puzzle.

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24 Responses to Monday, July 3, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    “The top felt much harder for me, particularly the DAHS/ULAN/MONO stack in the upper right.”

    The only thing in that corner that slowed me down was DAHS. I learned Morse code a gazillion years ago as “dots” and “dashes.” I still have trouble remembering that “dots” are “dits.” (Though now that I actually think about it, it’s pretty obvious.)

    It took me longer than it should have to come up with KIND OF BLUE — and it’s one of the few Miles Davis albums I have.

    Reading too many crossword puzzle blogs has me wanting to ding this puzzle for the duplications in JUST YOU WAIT/DUMBWAITER/CAN YOU SEE.

    Overall, a perfectly fine Monday puzzle.

  2. Dallas says:

    I had the exact same error (DIG instead of DUG), and for the exact same reason—barely needing the downs on the bottom. I couldn’t remember DAHS vs. DITS (or DATS?) but the downs got it for me. Harry Potter references are a complete black hole for me; even worse than gambling clues, though I’ve started to remember those now.

  3. pannonica says:

    When I learned morse code and got a ham radio license as extra credit in my eighth grade science class, we were taught both dot/dash and dit/dah—the former was more about writing and the latter was about speaking.

  4. PJ says:

    TNY – Not too tough for a Monday. I solved in 12:37. I dropped in 1A and 1D immediately. 4D, 5D, 17A, 21A, and NIGHTMARE soon followed. I’m not familiar with the film in 2D but the title sure helped.

    The NE didn’t fall as quickly, On my first pass I entered 12D, 20A, 24A, and TH on 28A.

    The SE may have been the easiest. 24D, 28D, 34D, 35D, 42D, 46D, and 51D wren entered as quickly as I read the clues.

    45A provided a bridge to the SW where NOFUN, FETA, HAM, and FROSH were easy and they made the three lowest across entries apparent.

    Finishing the six long entries took the most time. With the downs I had filled in going from NE to SE 29A was done. 27A and 31D were gimmes. I had ST__L for 26D and entered STEAL. I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway. I had ENERGY for 16D and the AR suggested SOAR, 22A forced me to dump STEAL for STALL. My parents were serious square dancers in the 60s (maybe before but I wasn’t around). My mother was an excellent seamstress. Her square dance dresses were works of art. Realizing we were spelling MAO’s name with a Z gave me 18D. That left me to tie up he loose ends in the NE and SW. I was naticked at 40A and 37D.

    Overall a very nice puzzle but like last week, not nearly as difficult as other Mondays.

    • Katie+M. says:

      TNY 2D is a short story that won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards. It is such a good story. I’m happy to see it in a puzzle.

      I look forward to KAC’s TNY puzzles. They are fun and doable, unlike some other TNY Mondays (for me).

    • JohnH says:

      I was delighted to have a solvable TNY, even if I didn’t relate to much of the fill. I had to Google to attribute sense to it after getting NIGHTMARE FUEL and Black OPS, but ot them without help. I’ve never heard of 2D either (or Charles in Hill Street Blues or Platt or the Kentucky college), and I couldn’t care less if it’s won awards. It’s still sci-fi (and apparently Coll of Duty is video games), so it still has a very specialized public. But it was a pretty easy fill between being a reasonably common noun and matching the quoted title in the clue.

      • Katie+M. says:

        Paper Menagerie is not sci-fi. It could be called fantasy, but I’d call it magical realism.

  5. dj says:

    Re: NYT – I thought ” what the starts of..” puzzles were no longer being considered, but what do I know?

  6. pannonica says:

    As long as we’re talking about TNY, I thought for sure the answer to 10d [Name in a famous three-word sentence] was STANLEY and put it in with zero crossings.

  7. David Bael says:

    TNY – Good puzzle, but a double whack-a-vowel crossing in the NE sunk me. Had no idea about the Hill Street Blues actor, which seems a bit obscure to me. I went with Charles HooD, crossing SLoPSON and SQUoSHED, which both seem reasonable for applying carelessly and a wet shoe sound in mud, respectively.

  8. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Overall pretty smooth, though the center took a bit. I hadn’t heard the term NIGHTMARE FUEL before, but it was inferable with a few crosses. And I was momentarily addled when MAO Tse TuNG didn’t fit, as that’s how his name was transliterated when I first knew who he was.

    I liked seeing SLEAZEBALLS — it’s a term I don’t get to use as much as I did when I worked for the Texas Legislature.

    Once again, I was reminded how much it pays to read all the clues in these harder puzzles. I was a big fan of “Hill Street Blues,” so HAID was a gimme that helped me out in the NE.

    • JohnH says:

      I’d agree that the MAO spelling is an anachronism given a clue for Warhol. That did slow me up, but didn’t make it impossible. Oh, and “That was close!” had me thinking of Whew!, so the answer didn’t ring true, but I figured that’s my limits.

      • Eric H says:

        “That was close!” raises an issue that the “conversational clues” usually don’t.

        I sometimes have trouble with those because, while I understand the meaning of the phrase in the clue, the answer is often not what *I* would say in that context.

        But “That was close!” is ambiguous absent any information about the context in which it’s said. Your “Phew” makes perfect sense, but so does KAC’s GOOD TRY.

  9. Zev Farkas says:

    In the Universal puzzle, we have:
    23a. [Warning that affects consumers, in two ways] FOOD RECALL.

    I didn’t get the “two ways” part. Can someone enlighten me, please? Thanks.

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