Monday, August 28, 2023

BEQ untimed (Matthew) 


LAT 2:10 (Stella) 


NYT 2:42 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:11 (Amy) 


Universal tk (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 3:44 (Jim) 


Brian Callahan’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: UNCOUPLES – phrases where two words contain the string “UN”

  • 16a [*Evasive treatment, with “the”] – RUN AROUND
  • 23a [*Boba Fett’s occupation in “Star Wars” films] – BOUNTY HUNTER
  • 39a [*Seriously hammered] –

    New York Times, 08 28 2023, By Brian Callahan

  • 52a [*Weekend occasion for avocado toast and mimosas] – SUNDAY BRUNCH
  • 64a [Disconnects … or what’s found in the answers to the four starred clues?] – UNCOUPLES

UNCOUPLES will never not remind me of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s “conscious uncoupling”, but I’m guessing most people won’t have that immediate reaction to this puzzle :) I like most of theme answers Brian chose, particularly SUNDAY BRUNCH. AS DRUNK AS A SKUNK is not my favorite, because it has the potential to be a bit of a bummer phrase, and it also breaks the two word pattern. From my wordlist, there are a bunch of other 15 letter answers with double UNs that could fit in the slot, but I can understand putting it in if this answer gave the best fill.

Speaking of fill! It’s generally pretty good, given the sheer amount of thematic material. GO DOWNHILL and SPORTS NUTS are both great, although does anyone actually have season tickets to all of football, baseball, and basketball games?? That’s so many sports games! Things I loved less: NYUK, AGER, plural RPMS. Is it just me or does YOLO already feel like dated slang?

Other notes:

  • Yes, I did look at my computer keyboard for [Key above Caps Lock] rather than just figuring it out. (It’s TAB).
  • A lot of double references in clues today: [Penny loafers, e.g.] for SHOES and [Like wingtips and penny loafers] for SOLED, and [Feature of an Uber ride … or an Uber Eats order] for FARE and [Alternatives to Ubers] for LYFTS.
  • New to me: [“___ Como Va” (1971 Santana hit)] for OYE

Congrats to Brian on a great NYT debut!

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Environmental Movement”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar(ish) words and phrases that feature the letters LAND. Entries are positioned in such a way that the letters seem to “slide” to the left as the solver goes down the puzzle.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Environmental Movement” · Mike Shenk · Mon., 8.28.23

  • 18a. [Pore filler] SWEAT GLAND.
  • 27a. [Coax with flattery] BLANDISH. I think I’ve only ever seen this word in noun form (blandishment).
  • 35a. [“Anne of the Thousand Days” playwright] MAXWELL ANDERSON. New-to-me name, but the crossings were fair and the theme helped to finish it off.
  • 42a. [Draped decorations] GARLANDS.
  • 55aR. [Earth movements, and a description of the circled letters] LAND SLIDES.

Solid theme though I can’t say I got too excited about it. The repetition really helped speed things along. It would have been more elegant to me if the word was sliding left to right, since that’s the way we read and (often) solve puzzles. But since LAND starts the revealer phrase, that wasn’t really an option.

BOBBY SOXER and “IT’S ALL TRUE” top the fill, along with LANCELOT.

Clue of note: 19d. [Jake who was in both the Senate and space]. GARN. Needed every crossing for this name. The sitting senator was the first politician to fly in space back in 1984. He had previous Navy flight experience, but that didn’t prevent him from getting serious space motion sickness. Per Wikipedia, it was so severe that his name became the eponym for the level of sickness an astronaut might experience, with “one GARN” being the most violently sick possible.

A fine Monday puzzle. 3.5 stars.

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

Los Angeles Times 8/28/23 by Amie Walker

Los Angeles Times 8/28/23 by Amie Walker

Cute theme if you like video games: The revealer at 37A [Car’s storage compartment, or a feature of 17-, 24-, 48-, and 58-Across?], which also happens to be in the center of the grid, is CENTRAL CONSOLE, with the circled letters in each theme entry spelling out the name of a video game console.

  • 17A [Frozen drink sometimes made with rose] is WINE SLUSHIE, with NES (the old-school 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System) in the circled squares.
  • 24A [Inadvertently reveals a secret advantage] is TIPS ONE’S HAND, with PS ONE (PlayStation 1) in the circled squares.
  • 48A [Some tissue dispensers] is KLEENEX BOXES with XBOX in the circled squares.
  • 58A [“SNL” alum known for her Target Lady sketches] is KRISTEN WIIG with WII in the circled squares.

Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 8/28/23 – Shechtman

A quicker solve than I expected on a Monday, and a good bit of sparkle in the fill and clues.

Fave fill: GROMIT, the never-heard-of-it-but-plausible TikTok thing of GET READY WITH ME (my god, does that sound boring), NETI POT, CHARLES BURNETT (mad at self for blanking on his first name till I had enough crossings), LUDDITE, FAIRWAY, MORTAL SIN (this nonreligious person finds it funny that Catholicism says that renouncing Catholicism, the apostasy in the clue, will send you to the Hell you probably gave up believing in), the great SLOW JAMS, and METAVERSE.

Not keen on END AT, ADES, ADDR. Not that much crud for a 68-worder.

Three things:

  • 20a. [Target area?], AISLE. As in a Target store.
  • 38a. [Hall and Oates, e.g.], SURNAMES. Great clue!
  • 5d. [Peninsula that borders the Alboran Sea], IBERIA. I know lots of geography, but I’ve never heard of the Alboran Sea. It’s the westernmost bit of the Mediterranean. All that Adriatic and Aegean and Ionian Sea fame, and nobody tells us about the Alboran.

Four stars from me.

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

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 8/28/23

A lovely-looking grid, and clued to a level that I often needed some crossings to break through. The 9- and 11-letter entries, pinwheeled around the center, are all fun, particularly BRYCE CANYON, KURT COBAIN, and YOU CALLED IT, and I quite liked the clues [Keeping up with things] for MAINTENANCE and [Sticker on some brown bottles] for BEER LABEL.

I mulled on UMA for [Augusta school] for a while. Is it an artifact of a previous version of this corner that had UGA? No, it’s in reference to the University of Maine at Augusta, the second largest in the Maine state system, after the flagship at Orono. Not that I knew that during the solve; just decided the crossing was more reasonable. On the other hand, I think JAPED for [Do something in jest] is indeed an editing error in the verb tense, and somewhat unfortunately crossing JOUNCED [Moved in an up-and-down manner] which I have never, ever seen before, but ok, it’s similar to “bounce,” I suppose.

I quite liked [Fix a ragdoll] for SPAY, a Fawlty Towers reference for SYBIL, and the elegant (to my ear) term GARAGED for [Off the street]. Cheers.

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24 Responses to Monday, August 28, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: Solid debut.

    I was happy to see OUT and PETE Buttgieg in the grid. My husband and I celebrated our 29th “Elvisersary” this evening. We’d been together for years when we were “married” by an Elvis impersonator at an AIDS fundraiser. I wouldn’t have believed then that we would be legally wed 10 years later. Progress is slow, but it is progress.

    Sophia wrote, “New to me: [“___ Como Va” (1971 Santana hit)] for OYE.” Thanks for making me feel old: I was in 6th or 7th grade when that song came out. (I was interested to learn today that Carlos Santana’s version is a cover of Tito Puente’s original. That’s the kind of music trivia I thrive on, but I never knew that.)

    • David L says:

      Congrats, Eric, to both of you. There have been some changes for the better, thankfully.

      That Santana LP was one of the first I possessed. Unless it belonged to one of my brothers.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Congratulations to you and your hubby, Eric. I love the Elvisersary story!

      • Eric H says:

        Thank you.

        One of our guests videotaped the ceremony. The vows were based on lyrics from Elvis Presley songs. For example, I think we each promised to be the other’s “hunk of burning love.” The Elvis impersonator was pretty good (Vegas Elvis, of course).

        I was incredibly nervous, though I’m not sure why — maybe I was just uncomfortable being half the center of attention. When we kissed at the end, I gave my husband a long, very wet kiss. He had to wipe the saliva out of his mustache and beard when we were done.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          TMI! TW! (Too wet.)

          • Eric H says:

            But it’s on video! And it was a sloppy PDA, since in addition to our guests, there were a bunch of other people waiting to get “married” (which I’m sure added to my nervousness).

            Our real wedding was fairly small, family and a few friends. We made them watch the video at our rehearsal party dinner.

          • Eric H says:

            Erik, I’m gonna guessing you’re referring to Elvis.

            Neither of us was ever a big fan, but we did have fun visiting Graceland. I recommend that if you’re ever in the Memphis area.

            • e.a. says:

              😂 i meant the sloppy PDA, and the wedding story in general! very sweet, brightened my day

            • Eric H says:

              Thanks, Erik.

              I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I expect you’d enjoy the video, too. Even though it doesn’t show me at my best, I think it’s pretty funny.

  2. David L says:

    TNY: Pretty straightforward. But then Anna Schechtman’s puzzles tend to be more in my wheelhouse than those of certain other constructors…

    • Mr. [not really] Grumpy says:

      I thought the 33A/34D cross was pretty obscure, even thought guessing alliteration brought forth Mr. Happy Pencil.

    • Eric H says:

      I too don’t have much trouble with Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker puzzles.

      Today’s almost a collection of softballs for anyone interested in “cinema.” Nicolas ROEG? Check. Pier Paolo PASOLINI? Check. CHARLES BURNETT? Check. (I don’t remember a whole lot about “Killer of Sheep,” but I remember thinking it was pretty good.) Gary SINISE? Check. (Though you can hardly get more mainstream than “Forrest Gump.”) “Marnie”? Check.

      What slowed me down, though not much, were the little vaguenesses and ambiguities: OkrAS before ORCAS, “Seconds, say,” “Last until” (I wanted something like ENDure, which neither fits nor makes sense), “Petulant reply” . . . . ALBANIA was in, then out while I pondered the possibility that the answer was ArmeNIA.

      Maybe the only new things to me were MONOBOB (easily inferred), the name of the TikTok genre (which I knew existed), and “quiddity” (which my AutoCorrect thinks must be “Quidditch”).

      The east side seemed notably harder than the west, but overall, I would call it “moderately challenging.”

  3. placematfan says:

    Wow, Jeff Chen’s leaving xwordinfo. What a blogospheric fixture he has been. Thanks, Jeff, and good journey.

  4. sanfranman59 says:

    TNY … I’m not sure if I’m more amazed that there are enough people who post GET READY WITH ME videos on TikTok or that there are enough people who watch them to warrant a “genre”. Really?

    Disclaimer: This LUDDITE has never viewed a TikTok video of any genre. I never thought that word would apply to me, but here I am.

    • Eric H says:

      I find the existence of that genre pretty discouraging. Can it get any shallower?

      I didn’t know what those videos were called, but I knew they existed. The NYT had an article about a year ago about “TikTok hair” for young men.

      But I have a similar reaction to the channels that stream video games. Watching someone else play a video game doesn’t appeal to me.

  5. David Roll says:

    WSJ–used to run with Jake Garn in the U of U fieldhouse.

  6. Eric H says:

    BEQ: I’ve camped and hiked in Utah many times, and I have probably noticed this before. But did’ ya know that BRYCE CANYON, Capitol Reef, and Canyonlands all have 11 letters?

    Technically, a DNF for me. The NE and SW corners were hard — the former because of I AM AWARE and GARAGED, both of which have perfectly fine clues, and the latter because of CARL’S whatever. That’s a chain that never really caught on where I live.

    • Martin says:

      It might be called Hardee’s in your area. Like Hellman’s/Best Foods and Edy’s/Dreyer’s the chain uses two names in different areas of the country. When I moved to California, the McCormick spices I new from New York were labeled Schilling, but the Schilling changed to McCormick nationwide some 20 years ago. Marketing.

  7. Seattle DB says:

    BEQ: He is very creative but sometimes his puzzles frustrate the heck out of me. As mentioned in the review above, 25A “Do something in jest” is “Japed”, and 25D “Moved in an up and down manner” is “Jounced”. (Jounced sounds like a Stan Newman word invention…)

    • Eric H says:

      Did you never read the coming of age/YA classic “A Separate Peace”? That’s where I learned JOUNCED.

      From the Wikipedia plot summary: “Gene and Finny’s friendship goes through a period of one-sided rivalry during which Gene strives to outdo Finny scholastically as he believes that Finny is trying to outdo him athletically. The rivalry begins with Gene’s envy toward Finny. It climaxes and ends when as Finny and Gene are about to jump off the tree, Gene impulsively jounces the limb that they’re on, causing Finny to fall and shatter his leg, which permanently cripples him.”

      (Some people have found homoerotic undertones in the story, and the novel maybe isn’t as popular now as it was in the 1960’s.)

      But yeah, the clue for JAPED shows why editors are so important. I used to write for a living, and the people who edited my work save my butt all the time. I’ve seen similar mistakes in other BEQ puzzles, and they are frustrating.

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