Monday, August 7, 2023

BEQ 3:21 (Matthew) 


LAT 1:55 (Stella) 


NYT 2:22 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 7:06 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 3:59 (Jim) 


Chloe Revery and Alissa Revness’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

New York Times, 08 07 2023, By Chloe Revery and Alissa Revness

Theme answers:

  • 20a [“Monster” on the web] – INTERNET TROLL
  • 34a [“Monster” on the highway] – SPEED DEMON
  • 42a [“Monster” with a sweet tooth] – SUGAR FIEND
  • 54a [“Monster” who drains people emotionally] – ENERGY VAMPIRE

You’ve heard of the Sunday scaries, but have you heard of the… Monday monsters?? As far as “related phrases” themes go, I thought this was a great one. All four of the answers are fun entries, and together they make a pretty cohesive set. ENERGY VAMPIRE reminded me of one of my favorite TV shows, “What We Do In The Shadows”, which has a character who is a literal energy vampire, taking life force from people by being incredibly boring rather than sucking their blood. And of course given this website, I was happy to see any sort of FIEND related answer :)

General thoughts/notes:

  • Loved SAILOR MOON and IMAGINEERS as long down bonuses! The grid is nicely laid out to avoid there being too many constraints on the other long answers – they each only have to cross two themers.
  • Speaking of SPEED DEMON – I think this might have been my fastest ever Monday NYT time. I’m not sure why, other than being extremely on the constructors’ wavelength – I was able to put in both of the long downs with no crosses, and was basically not held up anywhere else. Did other people have faster than average times?
  • Actually, I think another reason for my speed was how clean the grid is – all the words are common and extremely Monday friendly. When ETTE is the biggest grid problem, you’re doing something right.
  • Favorite clues: [Viral jokes like Grumpy Cat and Sad Frog] for MEMES, [Tango and foxtrot, for two] for DANCES  – loved the slight NATO alphabet misdirect.

Congrats to Alissa on her debut! Happy Monday all!

Sam Koperwas & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Scratch That”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that end with an unfortunate golf swing. The revealer is MULLIGANS (63a, [These might be given on a golf course, after the ends of 17-, 25-, 39- and 51-Across]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Scratch That” · Sam Koperwas & Jeff Chen · Mon., 8.7.23

  • 17a. [Alternative to veal in osso buco] LAMB SHANK.
  • 25a. [“Do these leftovers smell okay to you?”] TAKE A WHIFF.
  • 39a. [Popular cheesy offering at a food court] PIZZA BY THE SLICE.
  • 51a. [Be brusquely dismissed] GET THE HOOK.

Everything I know about golf comes from George Carlin, so maybe I wasn’t the target audience for this puzzle. But I liked it just fine, especially those two middle entries which I got the most enjoyment out of.

The long fill is nice with BEACH HOUSE, FIRST BASE, and BRATWURSTS. Other niceties include ZOOTSHAMAN, and Mulan‘s MUSHU. I could do without seeing THE OC in another puzzle. That seems like a show that gained more traction in crosswords than it ever did on TV.

Clue of note: 61a. [Food-sounding “Mulan” dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy]. MUSHU. A faux-shocked “You LIED to me?!” is one of my go-to Mulan quotes.

3.5 stars

Laura Dershewitz’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 8/7/23 by Laura Dershewitz

Los Angeles Times 8/7/23 by Laura Dershewitz

Wish I had time to do more than explain the theme, which is cute and unusual, today! The revealer at 62A [Classic sunshine pop hit single with hot-air-balloon imagery, and what 17-, 30- and 47-Across literally are] is UP UP AND AWAY. That is, 17A and 30A are phrases that “up” can mean, and 47A is a phrase that “away” can mean:

  • 17A [Tied with a scrunchie, maybe] is IN A PONYTAIL, i.e., hair that’s “up.”
  • 30A [No longer on deck] is AT THE PLATE, or “up” to bat in baseball or softball.
  • 47A [Taking time off] is ON VACATION, or “away” from work.

Prasanna Keshava’s Universal crossword, “School’s Out” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 8/7/23 • Mon • Keshava • “School’s Out” • solution • 20230807

Another day, another container theme.

  • 56aR [Planning to attend a university, and a theme hint] COLLEGE BOUND. The theme answers are bounded by the names of colleges, circled in the grid and explicitly described in the clues. (I won’t be replicating that part.)
    To reconcile the revealer with the title, my interpretation is that the title refers to high school, specifically the seniors who—after the summer—will be in college.
  • 20a. [Seek a seat] RUN FOR OFFICE (Rice).
  • 28a. [Aspiring minimalist’s event, perhaps] YARD SALE (Yale).
  • 36a. [Simplify something] BREAK IT DOWN (Brown).
  • 48a. [Way off] TURN LANE (Tulane).

Works well enough.

  • 9d [Put upright] SET ON END. Is that in-the-language enough?
  • 39d [“Well done, kid!”] ATTAGIRL. 58d [Lads] BOYS.
  • 47d [Phone line?] CALL ME. Nice little clue.
  • 51d [Sports bar attractions] LCDTVS. Six letters, no vowels.
  • 64d [Democracy since 1776, for short] USA. I dispute that the date of the Declaration of Independence marks the beginning of the nation’s democracy. This Smithsonian essay agrees.
  • 18a [Knock on] RAP AT, evoking Poe’s raven.
  • 67a [ __ or reason (good sense)] RHYME.
  • 71a [Close with a bang] SLAM. Apt for the final clue in the puzzle.

Kameron Collins’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 8/7/23 – Collins

Tough, but not too tough—though if I hadn’t seen Oahu’s HANAUMA BAY before, the top left section would have been a bit harder to piece together.

Fave fill: VIM AND VIGOR, SPLIT SCREEN, HEARS A CASE, MARGINALIA, OLD ENGLISH (etymology clue, [Where kith and kin are from]), VIVE L’AMOUR (not that I know the film), EATS RIGHT balanced by the VALUE MEAL, and IMPORTUNED.

New to me: 50d. [Billion, in financier slang], YARD. Investopedia tells us “It is used to avoid confusion with the words million or trillion when making a trade,” and it derives from the French word milliard, meaning billion.

Three clues:

  • 16a. [Doorstop], TOME. Figuratively or literally, if you’re willing to put a large book on the floor where it might get kicked around. I gave away the big books I’d be fine kicking.
  • 46a. [Craft in which one might do more than sixty knots per hour], MACRAME. Not a boat and a windspeed! Rather, a handicraft in which you knot a rope, string, or thread to make various designs. Ah, I remember the macramé kits from the 1970s, and the macramé wall hangings everyone had.
  • 49a. [Name that anagrams to a month and a vegetable], MYA. DANG, I wanted AMY.

Four stars from me.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — solution grid

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 8/7/2023

Not feeling my best today so limiting screen time. A lot like last week’s, in that the fill is a bit more middle-of-the-road than I’m used to from Brendan. I like GOOBER PEA, RINKY DINK, FINISH HIM, and a number of clues. Have lost count of the number of times I lose the coin flip on RUN LATE versus END LATE. ORSON/OMEGA/CRITS in the center-ish were a couple of tougher ones, but doable with crossings.

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16 Responses to Monday, August 7, 2023

  1. PJ says:

    NYT – my fastest time also by a decent margin I believe. First time under four minutes. I guess I could have changed my handle to Roger Bannister.

  2. Eric H says:

    NYT: Fun for a Monday puzzle. (I prefer something more challenging.)

    Not my fastest Monday — that would be last week — but in the top 20.

  3. sanfranman59 says:

    USAT … This puzzle was a fine way to spend a few minutes, but WAKEY WAKEY sticks out like a sore thumb for me. Is this something that anyone has actually ever said? Is it a notable phrase from some TV show, movie or music lyric that I’m not familiar with? I don’t think I’ve ever heard or seen it before now. There must be thousands of possible answers for this simple theme and this is what they came up with?

    • e.a. says:

      a somewhat handy thing i learned recently is if you google a phrase and add at the end of your search, you can get brief examples of the phrase as it’s used in various tv shows and movies

      • sanfranman59 says:

        Cool … thanks for the tip, EA … that returns 729 hits for “WAKEY WAKEY”, including at least one movie I’ve seen on the first page (“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”), so I guess I have heard it before.

  4. sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ: WHIFF doesn’t really fit the theme. If you completely WHIFF on a golf swing, there’s not need to take a MULLIGAN.

  5. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: I always enjoy KAC’s puzzles and rarely have much trouble with them. I had my share of write-overs today — rat TERRIER, something ENGLand in the SE — but nothing major.

    I especially enjoyed the clues for MACRAMÉ and MARGINALIA.

    Do people really use the word RUINER(s)? It strikes me as one of those “random verb + ER” constructions that you only see in crossword puzzles. Those irk me, for some reason.

    • JohnH says:

      I wondered at RUINERS, too, but it makes a kind of sense. I also got tripped up on entering AMY instead of MYA, then reluctant to change it. (Could that be a name, I kept thinking? But I see it’s someone real.) I hard trouble with MACRAME, where I had to remind myself what it is, and YARD, where I had to come here for Amy’s explanation. Overall, though, that adds up to a really nice Monday challenge, with little reliance on trivia to obscure things.

      • Eric H says:

        I originally had VALUE MEnu (which I wasn’t crazy about), so it never tried to get “Amy” in there. That sense of YARD is new to me, too.

  6. Dan says:

    LAT: I wonder what explains the novel spelling of the constructor’s last name. Maybe there are two constructors with almost-but-not-quite identical last names?

  7. JT says:

    NYT, not quite my fastest time but close, a pretty good fill considering what a rough day it’s been. I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, and the theme was cute once I started doing the downs and seeing where each one had been going. On ENERGY VAMPIRE, I somehow kept misspelling something and coming up a square short so I thought I was off-base. The best thing for me was how few of these felt like rote crossword fill, the words had variety and the clues were fairly interesting, not many names or even multi-word entries.

    My favorite was TRON, always love seeing it get used in these, but it was interesting to see the similar TROT in the puzzle, same thing happened with ACME/ACNE, and no connection at all that I could see.

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