Monday, September 4, 2023

BEQ 10:58 (Matthew) 


LAT 1:46 (Stella) 


NYT 3:25 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:09 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


Note: No WSJ puzzle due to the holiday.

Tom Pepper and Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Parts of a mountain, arranged in the grid from BASE to SUMMIT.

New York Times, 09 04 2023, By Tom Pepper and Zhouqin Burnikel

  • 17a [*U.N. conference seeking to eliminate hunger] – WORLD FOOD SUMMIT
  • 24a [*Suffers humiliation] – LOSES FACE
  • 34a [*Gradual, seemingly harmless course of action that ultimately results in bad consequences] – SLIPPERY SLOPE
  • 48a [*Place of warship?] – NAVAL BASE
  • 55a [One who encounters the last parts of the answers to the starred clues on the way up] – MOUNTAIN CLIMBER

Cute theme! It’s a neat extra layer to the puzzle that the entries are in order, top to bottom, of how the climber would encounter them – although I will say, if you solve top to bottom like I did, the *solver* encounters them in reverse order, starting with the SUMMIT and ending with BASE. I guess we’re climbing down the mountain? :) I love the NAVAL BASE clue, and I also like that LOSES FACE and NAVAL BASE rhyme and it has nothing to do with the actual theme.

This puzzle took me longer than my average Monday, I think largely because of the big open corners. Normally if I get stuck on the acrosses of a Monday puzzle (which I did today, having never heard of WORLD FOOD SUMMIT), I can just switch to the downs – but today, the downs are tricky, just based on length alone. I did enjoy the switch from the typical Monday grid layout, though, and STREUSEL, PEEKABOO, ET CETERA, and ONEROUS were all standouts. I did not love OAS, CRO, or the plural A TEAMS, but everything else was Monday smooth, which is tricky for a puzzle with 5 themers that must be arranged in a certain order.

Write overs: “restless” instead of ROOTLESS, just a general inability to spell STREUSEL.

Fave clue: [John for Elton John] – LOO.

Christina Iverson’s Universal crossword, “Hard to Tell” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 9/4/23 • Mon • “Hard to Tell” • Iverson • solution • 20230904

Each of the longest across answers begins with a circled letter, and it turns out that the wacky phrase as clued involves that first letter being changed from a familiar phrase.

As per the title (which I didn’t refer to until the puzzle was completed), in the original phrases those letters would have spelled HARD and now they spell TELL.

  • 16a. [“Nana nana boo boo,” for one?] TAUNTING MELODY (haunting melody, h→t).
  • 25a. [Transporter of Dutch cheese?] EDAM DRIVER (Adam Driver, a→e).
  • 44a. [Class in which to make doIlies?] LACE COURSE (racecourse, r→l).
  • 56a. [All an alchemist really needs, when panning for gold?] LEAD IN THE WATER (dead in the water, d→l).

That’s rather tidy.

  • 7d [Word before “reel” or after “running”] GAG. Coincidentally, I just (minutes ago!) wrote elsewhere about a running GAG that I liked in Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, which overall I thought was awful.
  • 27d [Polar bear prey] ARCTIC SEAL. This is not a particular species, but rather a geographic descriptor.
  • 46d [Expose, like a face] UNMASK. My only mis-fill, where I recklessly went with UNVEIL. Perhaps I was primed by the I-E sequence in 43d [Exerts, as power] WIELDS.
  • 54d [Camp sight?] TENT. The clue doesn’t require the question mark, so I guess it’s there to call attention to the homophonic wordplay (campsite).
  • 22a [No spring chicken] OLD, 23a [All over again] ANEW.
  • 48a [Not there?] HERE. 59a [“That was __, this is now!”] THEN.

Marin Wells and Andrew Kingsley’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Looks like we have a debut today from one half of this constructing team. Congratulations!

Los Angeles Times 9/4/23 by Marin Wells and Andrew Kingsley

Los Angeles Times 9/4/23 by Marin Wells and Andrew Kingsley

Each theme entry has circled squares and a starred clue. The revealer at 64A [Begin a conversation, and what the answers to the starred clues do to their circled letters?] is BREAK THE ICE. That is, the circled squares in each case are not adjacent to each other (they’re “broken” up in the theme phrase), and they spell out ICE.

  • 17A [*Clue suspect dressed in red] is MISS SCARLET.
  • 25A [*The key to good locks?] is HAIR CARE.
  • 40A [*”I confess! You got me!”] is GUILTY AS CHARGED.
  • 50A [*Parakeet’s home] is BIRD CAGE.

Do I think breaking up a three-letter word made of common letters is enough to hang a theme on? Not really, but there’s a lot in this puzzle that makes up for it. The theme answers themselves are evocative and in the language (and the clue for HAIR CARE is unexpectedly tricky and fun for a Monday). The fill has the very fun COOL KIDS, plus is full of evocative concretes like NUDGES, BURIES, HORNET, etc. that make for a good easy puzzle.

Paolo Pasco’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 9/4/23 – Pasco

Pretty grid! And a puzzle that was easier than I’d expected, given its Monday placement.

I see some negative vibes in the star ratings for this puzzle and wonder if it’s because JULIO TORRES, [Writer, director, and star of the 2023 film “Problemista”], is near the top and many solvers didn’t know the name. I had read the New Yorker profile of Torres a couple years ago and recently saw a mention of him somewhere, faintly recognizing the name. Anyway! The trailer for Problemista pulled me in and I look forward to seeing it when it comes to streaming. (DAPPING UP at 1a might also have vexed more staid solvers.)

Fave fill: THE CARS (straight from my teen years), PILOT EPISODES, HAS IT GOOD (though “[pronoun +’s or ‘ve] GOT IT GOOD” flows better), JANE THE VIRGIN, POTSHOTS (which can flip two letters to become Wi-Fi HOTSPOTS, and I’m guessing Peter Gordon has featured the word pair in a Fireball themeless), THE VOICE reality show, STRIPPER POLES, SOLO ASCENTS.

Three things:

  • Fun clue for 25a. HATS, [Signs of bad haircuts, sometimes]. When I was a kid and my sister butchered my hair, she did indeed make me wear a hat when our mom came home.
  • 2d. [Flight components, maybe] wasn’t about stairs or airplanes. Rather, it’s a flight of ALES, meaning a collection of different brews in small glasses so you can taste a bunch of different ones. I’m way too picky for wine flights (no reds, please) or beer flights (limited tolerance for bitterness).
  • 26d. [State capital that’s home to the Basque Block], BOISE. I knew this! Somehow, one of the biggest Basque communities in the US is in Idaho. Highest concentration of Basques anywhere outside Spain. It’s like Chicago and Poles. (Free theme idea: STRIPPER POLES clued as strip club dancers named Jadwiga and Agnieszka.)

Four stars from me.

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

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 9/4/23

More segmented grid from BEQ this week. I fell into a beginning-to-end solving pattern down the left, up the diagonal, and up the right. Very much felt that the puzzle at the end of that progression was harder than at the beginning.

10-stacks in each corner are generally fun entries – SHOT TO SHIT, LOOP PEDALS, ARE WE ALONE, ON CASSETTE were highlights for me. I quite liked SPONCON – short for “sponsored content,” which is pretty much what the clue says: [Product placement on social media].

I struggled significantly in the SE corner, where three names I wasn’t sure of ([YA author Showalter], [Actress who plays Young Sheldon’s grandmother], and [Carpenter-esque] for GORY) are near a geographic compass rose clue [Naples-to-Bari dir.], a slightly contrived phrase in VERY APT, and an abbreviation I’ve never seen before in [ : Venice :: ___ : Valencia] (For SRTA – seems “” is something like “Ms.”). To varying degrees I’m willing to accept each of these as fair, if difficult. And [Stormy period?] for MEAN STREAK is an excellent clue, if keeping the degree of difficulty up.

But also in this corner is a typo in the clue [When you might drive to see the big bame] for JEEP SAFARI. Given how much trouble I was already having here, I gave a lot of credence to the idea that “bame” was some obscurity I didn’t know rather than a typo for “game,” which is the misdirection the whole clue hinges on. So, you know, probably not the experience BEQ was aiming for here.

Oh, and I had some errors further up, in a place I would have never looked back at if I were solving on paper: “Boosted” instead of HOISTED for [Raised up], as I didn’t know “outdoor brand” HELLY Hansen or space tourist Dennis TITO. “Belly” and “Toto” seemed plenty plausible. Very tough little trap there.

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18 Responses to Monday, September 4, 2023

  1. Mutman says:

    NYT: I think the YIPE/DUPE cross could easily have been YIKE/DUKE.

    Not crazy about either.

  2. David L says:

    I had STREUDEL instead of STREUSEL (because my knowledge of baking terminology is minimal) and took a while to suss out the problem. Cute theme.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      STRUDEL, no EU in that one. It’s always been vexing that the two baked goods’ names are so similar!

      • David L says:

        I would have to google to find out what they are and what the difference is between them. But I’m not going to because I would doubtless forget by the next time one of them shows up.

        My mother was a poor cook but an excellent baker, and everything she made that had a crumbly topping was called a crumble.

  3. Jman53 says:

    I love how and Enamor and Ramone are side by side anagrams of each other.

  4. JohnH says:

    I’m finding TNY impossible. Indeed, the clues read less like a puzzle than an issue of TV Guide.

    • David L says:

      I don’t watch a whole lot of TV and I haven’t seen any of the shows mentioned in the puzzle. But I’m aware that they exist and I know something about them, from reading the newspaper and so on. I didn’t think the puzzle was that tough. The last square for me was POTSHOTS crossing CHIOS, after I’d corrected JULIATORRES to JULIO (whose name was unknown to me).

  5. Gary R says:

    TNY: Being an old fart, I started off with a “handshake” at 1-A. But at least that got me ALES at 2-D. Then PIN and URNS and I.M. PEI convinced me I was wrong. Fortunately, I know what DAPPING is, even though I haven’t heard DAPPING UP.

    Coming off a weekend of college football, I really wanted “Bruin” at 1-D. After I got DAPPING UP, I even went with a Notre Dame Golden “Domer” for a while before I figured out I had the wrong type of Trojan in mind.

    The puzzle did seem a little on the easy side for a Monday. It put up a good fight, but I was able to make steady progress jumping around the grid, and reasonable crosses bailed me out when I got stuck on some names I didn’t know. I liked the clues for all three long downs on the east side, as well as 5-D and of course, 1-D.

    Overall, a fun solve.

  6. RCook says:

    BEQ: This is a nitpick, but C♭major is parallel to C♭minor, not to B minor. Yes, these are enharmonic, but spelling matters in music theory. If you try to argue a song is in D♯ major when it was written in E♭major, you’ll make some music student mad. (Especially because the former is not used in western practice.)

    • Bob says:

      Yes, technically, B-major would be the correct answer to the clue provided, but it comes up short, so its enharmonic is required instead. Pretty esoteric, but logical.

      A more correct cluing would be, “Its enharmonic parallel minor is B-minor.”

  7. Eric H says:

    BEQ: HELLY Hansen skiwear seems to be the only thing that ski resorts buy for ski instructors. But I always remember it as KELLY Hansen, which made HOISTED much harder to get than it should have been.

  8. Seattle DB says:

    UNI: David Steinberg doesn’t get enough credit for the yeoman’s job that he does. He quietly goes about his business while ensuring that the puzzles are suitable for almost all ages to solve. (And I love his parents and their puzzles!)

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