Monday, September 11, 2023

BEQ 3:34 (Matthew) 


LAT 1:51 (Stella) 


NYT 3:26 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 6:01 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 4:29 (Jim) 


Hoang-Kim Vu’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: STILL I RISE – theme answers are things that rise. Plus, there’s a literal rising line of I’s crossing the puzzle.

New York Times, 09 11 2023, By Hoang-Kim Vu

  • 17a [*What might be kneaded in the kitchen] – BREAD DOUGH
  • 57a [*Person to keep an eye on for future success] – UP AND COMER
  • 28d [*One being propelled by hot air] – BALLOONIST
  • 10d [Classic Maya Angelou poem … or a hint to the answers to the starred clues and the circled letters, in two different ways] – STILL I RISE

I loved the two different theme layers in the puzzle! Separately they are both good if a bit thin, but seeing them together executed to perfection made this feel like two Monday puzzles in one. The I’s are visually striking, and could help out a newer solver by giving them some extra letters if they figure out what’s going on. The multiple different “risers” are great takes on three different uses of the word. It took me a while to get BALLOONIST – I put in “balloon” and had no idea what those last three letters were.

Pretty lively fill for a Monday, not tired or overdone at all. Even with all the I’s, it didn’t feel repetitive. I loved seeing ODDS ARE, SELENA, TALK TO ME. There were some fun cluing directions for common words too: I liked [Check (out), like competition] for SCOPE and [___ tag (game with target vests)] for LASER.

Neat that the puzzle was bookended by foods with NACHO and PESTO. Speaking of foods, I’ve seen Chef Ming TSAI on TV but I didn’t know his name straight away. I have never heard of Joan MIRO, so that corner was a little tricky for me. In the opposite corner, I had “bitty” instead of BITSY.

Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend!

Kevin Christian & Andrea Carla Michaels’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Oh! Oh!”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar(ish) names and phrases with similar first words.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Oh! Oh!” · Kevin Christian & Andrea Carla Michaels · Mon., 9.11.23

  • 17a. [Pioneering French designer with a namesake fragrance] COCO CHANEL.
  • 22a. [Pigeon’s extinct cousin] DODO BIRD.
  • 32a. [Footwear for Nancy Sinatra in the 1960s] GOGO BOOTS.
  • 49a. [“Boomerang” singer (and dancer and actress and YouTuber)] JOJO SIWA.
  • 55a. [One whose weight goes up and down] YOYO DIETER.

Solid Monday theme. I didn’t know JOJO SIWA, but I expect many younger solvers do.

But what a missed opportunity here to lead off with U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff! I realize this puzzle was probably written months ago, but she was already a well-known rising star in the sport. I’d have much rather seen her in the grid than noted anti-semite and Nazi collaborator COCO CHANEL.

I liked seeing NEW WAVE, CULT HIT, Don CHEADLE, and “HEY SIRI” in the grid. Never have I ever heard of OVERDOG [Person who’s dominant in their field]. That sounds completely made up (but I assume it’s not). Discussion: Shouldn’t the opposite of an underdog be an overcat?

Clues of note:

  • 60a. [On the qui ___]. VIVE. The term means “on the lookout.”
  • 2d. [Made like a ham, say]. RADIOED. Nice clue. To me, it sounded like something Shaggy (of Scooby-Doo fame) would say.
  • 37d. [Victor Hugo poem critical of the Vatican]. THE POPE. It was critical of Pius IX in particular (in the 1870s) but supportive of Christianity in general, per Wikipedia. Unfortunately, a cursory search couldn’t turn it up online.

Three stars from me. I would’ve liked it much better with Gauff instead of Chanel.

Jay Silverman’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 9/11/23 by Jay Silverman

Los Angeles Times 9/11/23 by Jay Silverman

Baby steps today! The revealer at 61A [First leg of a journey, and a description of 20-, 30-, 38-, and 49-Across] is FROM A TO B, meaning that each theme entry is a two-word phrase that starts with the letter A and ends in the letter B.

  • 20A [Pitchfork-wielding crowd] is an ANGRY MOB.
  • 30A [Group that may arrange a class reunion] is an ALUMNI CLUB.
  • 38A [Tech user who will only use Macs] is an APPLE SNOB (IMO the most fun of the themers).
  • 49A [Part of speech that conveys doing] is an ACTION VERB.

Jared Cappel’s Universal crossword, “Side to Side” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 9/11/23 • Mon • “Side to Side” • Cappel • solution • 20230911

  • 33aR [What separates 17-/19- or 52-/55-Across … or a hint to the word bookending each of these answers] LINE BREAK. Each of those entries begins with LI- and concludes with -NE. The first part of this clue, it seems to me, can refer to either the clues or the answers, if you’re willing to say that consecutive rows in a crossword grid constitutes lines of text.
  • 17a. [Building material for the Great Pyramid of Giza] LIMESTONE.
    19a. [Have your own bachelor pad, say] LIVE ALONE.
  • 52a. [Young child] LITTLE ONE. Also what I often call my cat.
    55a. [“Strip That Down” singer] LIAM PAYNE. New to me, but I have heard of One Direction, of which he was a member.

After getting the first two theme entries, I thought it might be some sort of word ladder with changes to each half. Thankfully that was not the case.

  • 1a [Flash in __ pan] PAN. A dull way to open the proceedings.
  • 15a [Word before “circle” or “top”] CROP. I like the disparateness of the two choices.
  • 23a [Owns] HAS. Right underneath 19a, whose clue uses ‘have’.
  • 40a [Roast] RIP ON.
  • 61a [Tizzy] SNIT. These don’t feel like synonyms to me.
  • 20d [Southeast Asian language] LAO. If it’s three letters long, it’s almost certainly LAO. Four letters, probably THAI.
  • 27d [Striped cat] TABBY. Factette: about 80% of all domestic cats have a tabby pattern, even many calicos, tortoiseshells, and black cats—although it may be difficult to discern.
  • 42d [Anthem heard before a Maple Leafs game] O CANADA. Add an N and you can anagram this to ANACONDA. #RandomObservations
  • 56d [Tinder, but not tinder] APP. Capitalization!

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 9/11/23 – Natan Last

I do always enjoy a tough Natan themeless!

Today’s fave fill: “MAKE IT MAKE SENSE,” RIPPED JEANS, “CATCH THESE HANDS”, SARONGS, RAP-METAL, STIR THE POT, the PAINTED LADIES of San Francisco (in THE BAY), BLANKET HOG, and ISSA RAE (recently started bingeing her series Insecure, which is on Netflix now, and highly recommend it; not for kids, though, since there’s plenty of sex).

Three clues:

  • 19a. [Fire, so to speak], FAB. Here, fire is being used as the contemporary slang adjective. “This crossword is fire,” you might say if you think it’s terrific.
  • 33a. [Marion of “Bewitched”], LORNE. I’m perplexed! And that’s despite watching reruns of the 1960s sitcom when I was a kid. Aunt Clara was played by one Marion Lorne, it turns out.
  • 1d. [Doughboys, perhaps?], BAKERS. I can’t believe I haven’t seen the hosts calling any of the Junior Bake Off contestants doughboys during Bread Week!

4.25 stars from me.

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

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 9/11/2023

In his comments alongside this puzzle BEQ shouts this grid design out as Robyn Weintraub-inspired, noting the room for long, colorful entries and ease for the constructor to fill. For me, the puzzle delivered, with highlights like “ABOUT YEA BIG,” POWER TRIOS, FROZEN ASSETS, MOMFLUENCER, and the *wonderful* stack of PIRATE SHIP and SEA SERPENT in the lower right.

I found the overall puzzle about medium difficulty for the last few months of Mondays, but the cluing consistent throughout rather than relying on one or two tricky areas. I had a negative reaction to SLOW LEARNERS for [Tutor’s chargers], but I’m having trouble articulating it now, so I guess I’ll leave it at that.

Some notes:

  • 14a [Rush, Nirvana, et al.] POWER TRIOS. Always here for Rush getting their due!
  • 28a [Real people?] MCCOYS. As in the phrase “The Real McCoy”
  • 34a [Butler’s domain?] EDU. As in Butler University, with a .edu URL
  • 35a [Woman’s name that means “dark”] LAILA. Today I learned — I certainly didn’t learn in my four semesters of B-/C+ Arabic study in undergrad.
  • 36a [Emulates someone who’s really driven, at first?] HAILS A CAB. Did this give anyone else pause, reading like a misplaced cryptic clue? Some fun syntax – to emulate someone who is driven, at first you must HAIL A CAB
  • 38a [Novel with a screen adaptation?] E BOOK. As in a Kindle or tablet screen. I thought this was well done.
  • 51a [Classic amusement park ride] PIRATE SHIP. “Tilt a Whirl” also fits, I unfortunately discovered.
  • 27d [“Ironic” singer] MORISSETTE. I have finally found a mnemonic for spelling this name – The n in “Alanis” and r in “MORISSETTE” are not doubled, and what is doubled are the letters her name shares with music-related word “cassette”
  • 47d [Cereal descended from “Shredded Ralston”] CHEX. I did a Wikipedia look for “Ralston,” and uh, going to say; not impressed with those folks one bit.
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28 Responses to Monday, September 11, 2023

  1. huda says:

    NYT: This was a neat puzzle for a Tuesday :) .
    I’m sorry that it was misplaced.

  2. Jose Madre says:

    NYT: taMil crossed with Miro was a little much for a Monday in my opinion.

    • Mutman says:

      Agreed. A Monday Natick!

    • Dallas says:

      It felt right on Monday for me; finished below my average time. I didn’t think Joan MIRO was super obscure, but I like modern art, and I remember hearing about the TAMIL Tigers on the news through the 90’s and maybe 2000’s. I might not be the right judge of Monday difficulty, I suppose… Anyway, felt like a great puzzle.

      • Eric H says:

        I don’t seee that crossing as particularly challenging, either. I’m not all that knowledgeable about modern art, but MIRÓ was a gimme as clued. And yes, the TAMIL Tigers were in the news a lot some years ago

  3. Tony says:

    One thing I thought that was really neat about the NYT was that not only do the Is run up the diagonal, but they are the only Is in the entire grid.

    • marciem says:

      great catch… even another level to a lovely puzzle!! Impressive for an “easy” Monday :) .

    • Mr. [not at all] Grumpy says:

      See 31A and 39A . Part of the title of the poem but not among the rising circles Is.

    • susanb says:

      Re: NYT – Both 31A & 39A have an I outside the rising Is line.

    • DougC says:

      I would amend Tony’s comment to say that the only “I”s are in the ascending diagonal and in the Angelou title that is the theme of the puzzle: all “rising Is”.

      Very impressive depth of theme for a Monday puzzle, and still easy enough for the day, it seems to me. My time was a few seconds under my Monday average.

  4. David L says:

    TNY: I finished it, so that’s good. But both long acrosses seem like pretty random phrases to me, the second especially, and there were a couple of unknown names where I had to make educated guesses.

    No idea about 19A. I got it from the crosses but don’t understand the clue at all. And the Spanish clue and answer at 22A are beyond me* — but gettable from crosses.

    *Googled both but am still in the dark.

    • Mr. [not really] Grumpy says:

      “If something is awesome or cool, people will describe it as “lit” or “fire.” It’s not uncommon to see people just use the fire emoji (🔥) as well to communicate this.” (TikTok glossary)

      Who knew?

    • marciem says:

      I’m with you on 19a. 22a is simply an example statement of the “ora” (hour) (mediodía) which is noon . At least that’s how I take it.

      I really didn’t much enjoy this puzzle (I usually do enjoy NL’s). Too many names everywhere that I was unfamiliar with turned it into a slog.

      • David L says:

        Oh, that’s funny. I googled ‘mediodia’ in English and it told me ‘average.’ But I just checked again and apparently that’s a translation from Portuguese! Odd that that would come up first.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        If your explanation about the clue/answer connection for HORA, I wonder why there are quotation marks in the clue (at least they were in the .puz file I got from Crossword Scraper)? I took them to suggest that they were titles. Confusing.

        Since I’ve only completed about three-quarters of NL’s TNY Monday puzzles, I was pretty proud of myself for getting all but 8 of the answers in this grid. Unfortunately, all eight of them were in the NE and that made it impossible for me to finish without cheating.

        • Gary R says:

          Those quotation marks in the .puz file are an artifact of either Crossword Scraper or AcrossLite. The clue in The New Yorker is italicized – that seems to be TNY’s indicator that the answer is a non-English word/phrase.

          • sanfranman59 says:

            Thanks for the reply, Gary. I’ve noticed that before in the puzzles I get from Crossword Scraper, but I don’t understand why the clue would be in italics either. I probably would have interpreted that as a title also.

            • pannonica says:

              It’s a common style decision for foreign words and phrases to be set in italic type (for the first appearance in a text). I believe both the Chicago Manual of Style and Modern Language Association Style Manual both make such a recommendation.

            • sanfranman59 says:

              I’m aware of that convention in standard writing. While I won’t say that I haven’t seen it in a crossword clue at some point over the past 30 or so years, I don’t recall it.

            • pannonica says:

              The New Yorker has definitely been doing this since the inception of their crosswords, but if you use Scraper exclusively you won’t have seen that.

    • JohnH says:

      For me it was just another NL, all names and phrases that might just as well be another language. Yuk.

      In the end, after tons of guessing and crossings, I was stuck hopelessly on FAB and HORA (and an unfamiliar use of BELAY) crossing BEN FOLDS, although at least I’d seen ISSA RAE in enough puzzles, and SHANE and HOG crossing HANDS.

    • Gary R says:

      I recall just enough from a Conversational Spanish class I took some 30 years ago, that HORA went right in. The “F” of FAB was the last letter into the grid, after running the alphabet a couple of times. FAB seemed plausible, and the name BEN FOLDS sounded vaguely familiar (and after googling, I recognize at least one of his songs).

      I thought it was a fun puzzle and, at a little under 30 minutes to solve, about normal difficulty for a Monday TNY.

    • Eric H says:

      The first three-fourths of it went smoothly, but I ended up checking a few answers in the NE. I had TrivIa for TIDBIT for far too long, confirmed by ISSA RAE. I have heard of the BEN FOLDS Five, but I didn’t recognize the song title. It took me longer than it should have to figure out what “mediodiá” might mean — my Spanish is lousy, but “medio” + “diá” seems obvious in hindsight.

      I don’t really remember Marion LORNE’s “Bewitched” character, though I certainly watched enough of that show as a kid. Other than that, CATCH THESE HANDS was about the only thing in the grid that’s completely unfamiliar.

  5. marciem says:

    ALERT : Former Team Fiender/cruciverbalist DEREK ALLEN is scheduled to be on Jeopardy Second Chance tonite, 9/11/23, according to

    GO DEREK!!

  6. Seattle DB says:

    Matt G’s review of BEQ: “I did a Wikipedia look for “Ralston,” and uh, going to say; not impressed with those folks one bit.” Can you elaborate? I didn’t read anything controversial. Thx.

    • Eric H says:

      Maybe Matt G had Ralstonism in mind. That’s apparently where the “Ralston” in Ralston Purina comes from.

      • Seattle DB says:

        Thx for the link, Eric, and I will say that is some weird shit from back then, especially the part where they espouse that every young man should engage in a form of probationary marriage with a woman old enough to be his grandmother…

        • Eric H says:

          Ugh. I didn’t read the whole thing, but that’s pretty weird.

          And I thought the theories of Sylvester Graham (of Graham cracker fame) were weird when I first learned of them.

Comments are closed.