Monday, July 17, 2023

BEQ 3:25 (Matthew) 


LAT 1:57 (Stella) 


NYT 3:28 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 6:16 (Jenni) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 4:33 (Jim) 


Alexander Liebeskind’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Phrases containing the strings “RU” and “OK”

New York Times, 07 17 2023, By Alexander Liebeskind

Theme Answers:

  • 17a [Two-ingredient drink order] – RUM AND COKE
  • 24a [Distinctive effect of paint applied to a canvas] – BRUSHSTROKE
  • 37a [How-to manual] – INSTRUCTION BOOK
  • 48a [Recurring comical reference] – RUNNING JOKE
  • 58a [Query of concern … or a phonetic hint to two pairs of letters appearing in 17-, 24-, 37- and 48-Across] – ARE YOU OKAY

A great Monday formula is to reparse a common phrase, and this one did that well by turning the phrase ARE YOU OKAY into its phonetic letter counterparts R U O and K. I liked all of the theme answers, particularly RUNNING JOKE. I don’t mind the somewhat wordy BRUSHSTROKE clue – from personal experience, I know it’s a tricky (impossible?) word to clue succinctly.

I didn’t understand the revealer until I had finished solving the puzzle. It’s elegant that the letters always appear in RU/OK pairs – I wonder how many more phrases there are where the R-U-O-K appear in that order but don’t touch? I do think that the answers, somewhat out of necessity, skew attention towards the OK since it’s towards the end of every phrase – at first, I thought the theme was “phrases that end in OKE”.

Other notes:

  • Fill highlights: ROSEBUSHES, TRUCK STOPS, and BEEF TACO were great long downs. All of the serious ULTIMATE players that I’m friends with would be happy to know that the NYT agrees that Ultimate and Frisbee refer to different things. BORESOME didn’t do much for me, but hey, it intersects with three theme answers, what can you do?
  • Fill lowlight: The IN MIND/LIENEE stack on in the bottom right.
  • Fill highlight again: Loved how many women were featured in this puzzle! ERMA Franklin, RENEE Zellweger, Meryl STREEP, PAOLA Suarez, GRETA Thunberg, Yoko ONO and Gertrude STEIN all make appearances in the grid.

Happy Monday all!

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Long Division”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose outer letters (at the extremes) spell out a unit of measurement (specifically, length). The revealer is EXTREME MEASURES (37a, [Desperate situations call for them, and a hint to the circled letters]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Long Division” · Mike Shenk · Mon., 7.17.23

  • 18a. [Pressed for time] IN A CRUNCH. Inch.
  • 20a. [Area with few places to purchase fresh produce] FOOD DESERT. Foot.
  • 55a. [Caution on a soccer pitch] YELLOW CARD. Yard.
  • 57a. [It’s unlikely to be billed] MINOR ROLE. Mile.

A good example of this type of theme. I appreciate the inclusion of the modern FOOD DESERT. Also, I like that the theme just focuses on one measurement (length) and that the units increase in size as we progress down the grid. Nice touches like these make for an elegant execution, even if we’ve seen this type of theme numerous times before.

I love the colloquial long fill entries “I’M NOT SURE” and “IT DEPENDS.” What a great duo! GOOD AND EVIL is also great, CONSORT WITH…not so much. Oh, there’s also START OVER and SESAME OIL. Overall, very strong long fill.

Some shorter fill might be tough for newer solvers, considering this is a Monday grid. I’m talking about OSS, ORR, and plural abbreviation RRS. But the crossings are all fair enough.

Solid Monday grid. 3.5 stars.

Lynn Lempel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 7/17/23 by Lynn Lempel

Los Angeles Times 7/17/23 by Lynn Lempel

Lynn is always good for a nice easy Monday, and this puzzle is no exception. We’re getting artsy, in that the theme is types of art you can hang on your wall. The revealer is a bit strained IMO: [Bizarre, and what the ends of 16-, 22-, 37-, and 49-Across are when redecorating] leads to OFF THE WALL, in that each theme entry ends with an item that hangs on a WALL, but presumably comes OFF THE WALL when it’s time to redecorate.

But although the revealer feels like a bit of a stretch, the theme entries themselves are fun:

  • 16A [Bed that may have a canopy] is a FOUR-POSTER. I begged and pleaded so hard to get a FOUR-POSTER bed when I was a tween, and my walls were certainly covered in POSTERs.
  • 22A [Prize announcement that often involves pingpong balls] is a LOTTO DRAWING. I am proud to say I have a couple of DRAWINGs I did back in the day that are good enough that they’re still on my wall today.
  • 37A [Many a writing exercise in a fiction class] is CHARACTER SKETCH. A SKETCH would have to be by a pretty killer artist to make it onto most walls, I’m guessing.
  • 49A [Spotted pattern appropriate for a catsuit] is LEOPARD PRINT. Michelle Visage’s favorite color, and a wonderfully evocative entry.

I liked that the entries were all good at moving away from the literal thing-on-a-wall meaning of the theme word, and the grid was super-smooth and easy, with TRAMPOLINE as a fun bonus longer non-theme entry. Nice puzzle!

Jake Halperin’s Universal crossword, “See How They Run” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 7/17/23 • Mon • “See How They Run” • Halperin • solution • 20230717

Phrases ending in words that can also describe types or bits of computer software:

  • 17a. [Software for organizing a pledge drive?] OUTREACH PROGRAM.
  • 28a. [Software for screening a film?] MOVIE SCRIPT.
  • 49a. [Software for landing a plane?] AIRPORT CODE.
  • 63a. [Software for estimating a mortgage?] LOAN APPLICATION.

Very standard sort of theme.

  • 5d [CUUP product] BRA. Their logotype is, thankfully, subdued and tasteful, where it could easily have been a lot more tawdry.
  • 10d [You’d better believe it!] DOGMA. Or, you know what, don’t.
  • 32d [All lined up] IN A ROW.
  • 39d [Self-important] CONCEITED. 9d [Criticism may bruise it] EGO.
  • 61d [Apt letters missing from “Craig_l_st or Pin_er_st”] SITE. I’m growing weary of clues in this style.
  • 16a [Crime boss known as “The Teflon Don”] GOTTI. Hesitated because something else also fits here.
  • 60a [Iguazu Falls spray] MIST. They “are waterfalls of the Iguazu River on the border of the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná. Together, they make up the largest waterfall system in the world.” (Wikipedia)

Will Nediger’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

The New Yorker crossword solution, 7/17/23 – Nediger

With 20 answers of 7 to 11 letters, you wouldn’t be surprised if only a few were as juicy and crisp as a Honeycrisp apple. But Will’s included some fresh new fill along with other seldom-seen entries, and I like the result.

Fave fill: HAIRBALLS! OSCAR BAIT, OEDIPAL, SMILE AND NOD, “NO IT ISN’t,” “GOD HELP ME,” OOEY-GOOEY brownies, TAKES NOTE, HOLDING OUT. The new-to-me bits are 23a. [Person bent on becoming influential], CLOUT CHASER; 39a. [Substances that supposedly help the body deal with stress, in alternative medicine], ADAPTOGENS; and 58a. [Reveal, as a hidden part of a post], UNSPOILER. I’ve definitely seen and clicked on hidden text, but didn’t know that was called unspoilering.

Clues of note:

  • 10a. [Chic style], DISCO. As in the disco band Chic, with the great Nile Rodgers.
  • 57a. [Laymon who wrote “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America”] KIESE. If’ you’ve never read any of Laymon’s books or essays, here’s an essay to start you off. “I’m a walking regret, a truth-teller, a liar, a survivor, a frowning ellipsis, a witness, a dreamer, a teacher, a student, a joker, a writer whose eyes stay red, and I’m a child of this nation.”
  • 27d. [“Come, and trip it as ye go / On the light fantastic ___”: John Milton], TOE. What the hecking heck? I’m going to interpret this as being about seeing stars when you stub your toe.

4.25 stars from me.

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

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 7/17/2023

Easier side for a Monday BEQ this week, though the NW corner has some fun clues. Long stuff is a bit more routine than I’m used to from Brendan — DESENSITIZES in particular — but I quite liked YOU HAD ONE JOB and the baseball term SQUEEZE PLAY.

Sneaky scrabbly, huh? Two each of Z, X, Q … and yet not a pangram. Long time since I’ve even thought about grids being a pangram.

Lots of clues I liked here:

  • 1a [Providers of some low end] BASS AMPS. I felt very clever for dropping this right in, and now I’m not sure that there’s much trickery going on at all.
  • 31a [Type of cable] ETHERNET. My new printer came with an ethernet cable. I’m not sure the last time I used one, other than to bridge the short gap between router and modem.
  • 41a [Family men?] MOBSTERS. Maybe not the hardest misdirection, but I liked it.
  • 4d [It requires a sacrifice] SQUEEZE PLAY. A squeeze in baseball is when a team tries to bring a runner on third base in to score with a bunt; so called because a lot of action is squeezed into a small area. It can be chaotic. I’m curious to know the balance of SQUEEZE PLAYS where the batter is put out in a sacrifice, like this, versus making it to first safely.
  • 28d [Lake on one side of the Welland Canal] ERIE. The canal in southern Ontario connects Lakes Ontario and Erie roughly 5-10 miles west of the Niagara River, which is not really passable by boat.
  • 50d [One involved in a case study?] JUROR. As in a court case. I like it.
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19 Responses to Monday, July 17, 2023

  1. Mutman says:

    NYT: glad I checked here. I thought this was a lame ‘sounds like “OAK”’ theme, and BOOK doesn’t.

    But now I get it and it was pretty good!

    • David L says:

      I guess it was hard to find good phrases with RU and OK in them, but still, having the theme answers end in COKE, STROKE, JOKE, and … BOOK seemed inelegant to me.

  2. Greg says:

    New Yorker NE and SE were brutal, I thought (but ultimately fair).

    • PJ says:

      I agree on all counts. I’ve searched UNSPOILER and the extension seems to hide things, not reveal them.

    • RichardZ says:

      I especially liked the entries (and the clues for) HAIRBALLS, OSCAR BAIT, SMILE AND NOD, and OOEY GOOEY. PHONE LINK and SMALL also had clever clues. CLOUT CHASER was new to me, though I’m not much of a social media user.

      Re 58A (UNSPOILER) – that was particularly devious, as the clue would appear to be calling for a verb, while the answer seems like a noun. Some Googling finally made me see what was going on – the clue isn’t referring to the browser extension, but to this sense of the word:

      Not a fan of the term, but I guess it’s suitable fodder for a Monday TNY puzzle.

  3. Sophomoric Old Guy says:

    NYT Great Monday theme. Well executed. But not a fan of BORESOME

    • Milo says:

      Boring + Tiresome … what’s not to like? 😉

      I appreciate the effort that went into the puzzle. Also nice to see Greta, Erma, Paola, Meryl, and Gertrude. What an un-boresome dinner party that would be!

  4. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: I found this much harder than any recent New Yorker puzzle — more like a Saturday Stumper.

    Part of it may have been the grid layout. Those two rows with seven blocks all in a line just don’t appeal to my esthetic, and they isolate the NW and SE corners.

    The NE and SW corners weren’t too bad, but throughout the rest of the grid were things I had never heard of: CLOUT CHASERS, ADAPTOGENS, UNSPOILER. They were all inferable given enough crosses, but none came easily.

    My biggest mistake was sticking for way too long with “diaphragm” instead of PIANO ROLLS. I was thinking of a kazoo, though I don’t know why I thought a kazoo would be considered a “self-playing instrument.”

    I really liked the HAIRBALLS clue. The OSCAR BAIT clue is also good, but not quite as good as the one from the July 1 LAT puzzle by Annemarie Brethauer and Katie Hale (“Catering production?”)

    • JohnH says:

      I’m finding it very hard, too, and not enjoying it. I’m still stuck in some places. I’ve also marked as many clues as in the worst past TNY puzzles as just didn’t know (and often crossing). And some things are really obscure. That IPA is named for its hops? I probably should have guessed, since it’s an IPA after all, but it doesn’t even say so on the beer’s Web page, and a craft beer fan like myself sure didn’t recognize it. Indeed, I’ve never even come across the brewery. (Bellaire, MI, anyone?) And it’s next to BHOSI and the currency factoid crossing a golf term, alone with much else clued with difficulty. (I still don’t get the clue for LINGUAL.) And that’s just one sector of the puzzle.

      I can’t downrate it, though, like so many a TNY. For one thing, most of what I don’t know is at the level of phrases rather than names, which is easier to justify. Better still, the grid made such an impact when I opened the empty puzzle. Wow.

      • pannonica says:

        [Tongue-tied] indicating that the word LINGUAL is related to anatomically describing the tongue, or even metaphorically describing language. Works either way.

        ASHA Bhosle is one of the most recorded musical artists in the world, with a many-decades-long career.

        • Eric H says:


          I’ve come across ASHA Bhosle in another crossword puzzle, and though her name didn’t stick, I recognize her face. I doubt I’ve ever heard her sing, as I haven’t seen many Bollywood movies.

      • PJ says:

        The HOPS clue had me for a while, too. When I see IPA I think hoppy but I didn’t know why this particular IPA should be singled out. Turns out Humulus lupulus is the binomial scientific name for hops.

        • Eric H says:

          I backed into HOPS. OAST is the only word I know for a kiln used in beer-making, so it seemed like HOPS was the best answer for 1D.

          An IPA with a name that puns on a scientific name? No thanks. (But I’m not fond of IPAs in the first place.)

    • Gary R says:

      I thought this was a pretty enjoyable Monday TNY.

      Fun cluing for the long entries in that entire NW block, plus 21-A.

      There was enough familiar stuff in the middle – PIANO ROLLS, OEDIPAL and SMILE AND NOD (which I find myself doing in noisy bars and restaurants, due to hearing loss) – that the unfamiliar CLOUT CHASER and ADAPTOGENS were gettable from crosses.

      My sticking point was the block in the NE. With UPPER LIP and CACTI in place, I just ground to a halt. The disguised capital in 10-A threw me for quite a while and, while I know DORMER, I just couldn’t bring it to mind. Tried Haiti for a while at 20-A, even though “pastizzi” sure sounded Italian. Kept trying to come up with a Yiddish word for 11-D.

      Left it alone for a couple of hours while I went to the gym, and when I got home, the SMALL of my back came to mind, and then the rest fell into place.

  5. Eric H says:

    Universal: “61d [Apt letters missing from “Craig_l_st or Pin_er_st”] SITE. I’m growing weary of clues in this style.”

    You’re not alone, Pannonica. I find those clues too time-consuming to sort out, so I usually just rely on the crosses to give me enough letters to establish a sword pattern. (On the other hand, I suppose that if one got stuck on the crosses, a clue like that could be helpful.)

    Otherwise, I enjoyed the puzzle as a quick and easy respite from the ones that kicked my butt today (New Yorker, BEQ, and a 20-year-old Byron Walden Saturday NYT puzzle). The theme is solid if not exciting.

    Idle thought: John GOTTI died over 20 years ago. That answer was a gimme for me, but I wonder if solvers younger than 40 recognize that name.

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