Monday, October 23, 2023

BEQ tk(Matthew) 


LAT 1:49 (Stella) 


NYT 3:14 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 7:35 (Jenni) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 4:05 (Jim) 


Stella Zawistowskis’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Each theme answer ends with a way to listen to music, starting from the oldest technology and ending with the newest.

New York Times, 10 23 2023, By Stella Zawistowski

  • 17a [Listing of disciplinary infractions [1950s to early 1980s]] – PERMANENT RECORD
  • 26a [Tan adhesive [1970s to early 1990s]] – MASKING TAPE
  • 45a [Fixed-term bank offering that pays well [1990s to 2000s]] – HIGH YIELD CD
  • 57a [Recycling option that collects paper, plastics and metals together [2010s to present]] – SINGLE STREAMING

Cute theme! I figured out what was going on around the time of the second theme answer, and it helped me out a lot, especially on HIGH YIELD CD, which I did not know at all. MASKING TAPE held me up a little because I don’t really think of it as tan? So I was thinking of, like, body tape or something like that. I had heard of SINGLE STREAMING recycling, but just as “single stream”, I’m not sure which version is more common. But I liked all the answers that Stella chose, and they work effectively as a progression.

Other fun things in the puzzle: OH EM GEE, TOM CRUISE, MONA LISA, and the cross referenced cluing of COPA and LOLA. I had [Song syllables] as “bars” at first because I was thinking the clue referred to a particular term, not the generic LA LA. Other hold ups for me were COTES and ESTAB, which felt like there were many potential abbreviations. Besides that, the fill was pretty smooth.

Congrats to Team Fiend member Stella on a great puzzle!

Sean Ziebarth’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Extreme Rides”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose final words can go with the word “board” to form a sporting activity. The revealer is GET ON BOARD (59a, [“Join the team,” or what you might do to the ends of the starred answers]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Extreme Rides” · Sean Ziebarth · Mon., 10.23.23

  • 18a. [*Overly frugal sort] CHEAPSKATE. Skateboard.
  • 24a. [*Browse through TV options] CHANNEL SURF. Surfboard.
  • 37a. [*Celebration of a life, with drinks and dancing] IRISH WAKE. Wakeboard.
  • 50a. [*At extreme risk of burning at the beach] WHITE AS SNOW. Snowboard.

Nice. Fun theme answers and an accessible theme just right for a Monday. Wakeboarding is not an activity I’ve had occasion to become familiar with, but it’s to water skiing as snowboarding is to snow skiing.

The fill is smooth and solid with UNDERTOW and MINI CARS as highlights. The stacks of 7s in the corners aren’t bad either with TIN HATS, SCARE UP, MATISSE, and AMNESIA keeping things interesting.

Clue of note: 42a. [Hot Wheels or Matchboxes]. MINI CARS. I guess they are technically mini cars, but I think I usually heard them referred to as diecast cars or just diecasts.

3.75 stars.

Steve Faiella’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 10/23/23 by Steve Faiella

Los Angeles Times 10/23/23 by Steve Faiella

A look at the revealer at 62A [Arriving with great speed, and what the first words of the answers to the starred clues are doing?], COMING IN HOT, tells us that each starred-entry clue “comes in,” or begins with, a word that can follow HOT to form another phrase:

  • 17A [*Holders of small liquor servings] is SHOT GLASSES, leading to HOT SHOT.
  • 29A [*Facial feature of Frosty the Snowman] is BUTTON NOSE, leading to HOT BUTTON.
  • 48A [*Theater buff’s memento] is TICKET STUB, leading to HOT TICKET.

I would’ve maybe liked one more theme entry, given that two of the long Down answers (HEAD HONCHO and SEAT COVERS) are as long as two of the themers.

Zachary David Levy’s Universal crossword, “Little Help?” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 10/23/23 • Mon • “Little Help?” • Levy • solution • 20231023

This feels like an old crossword theme that’s probably been done many times, but the presentation of the theme answers is unorthodox, so it’s a bit of a spin.

  • 6dR [Plea for assistance … or what you might say to 58-Across, 3-Down or 9-Down] GIVE ME A HAND.
  • 3d. [Hostile audience] TOUGH CROWD. “Please clap.”
  • 9d. [Patek Philippe, for onw] WATCHMAKER. Hm, would you really say “give me a hand” to a watchmaker?
  • 58a. [Insurance salesperson?] BLACKJACK DEALER. I’m sure insurance figures into the game as an option, but I don’t really know how.


  • 24a [Plea for freedom] LET ME GO. Crossing MEs in answers to “plea” clues.
  • 35a [Assembled] MADE. 46d [Puts up] ERECTS.
  • 5d [What the 2024 Dodge Charger aptly is] ELECTRIC CAR. Technology catching up with the name, or at least putting a different cast to it.
  • 13d [Scottish hillside] BRAE. Probably the least Mondayish fill in this puzzle.
  • 51d [Sarcastically enthusiastic response] OH JOY. My only mis-fill, where I put in OH BOY.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword – Jenni’s write-up

I really enjoy Natan’s puzzles. This one was on the hard side of Monday New Yorkers so I enjoyed it even more than usual. There were lots of entries I didn’t know, all with fair crossings so I learned a few things!

I could do a whole post of “what I didn’t know before I did this puzzle.” Hey! Maybe I will!

New Yorker, October 23, 2023, Natan Last, solution grid

  • 13a [“No Country for Old Men” antagonist Chigurh] is ANTON.
  • 16a [Actor who said, in his Oscar acceptance speech, “My journey started on a boat . . . and somehow, I ended up here”] is KE HUY QUAN. He won last year for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which I have still not seen, and the boat came from Vietnam, although his heritage is Chinese.
  • I was initially concerned about a Natick crossing 16a with 7d, [Cartoon Network series set in a parent-free forest wonderland] which was also completely new to me. They cross at the I of CRAIG OF THE CREEK so that was easily inferrable. Also I read the clue at first as “…pants-free forest wonderland…” and now I want to watch that show.
  • 25a [1966 Otis Redding record that mostly consists of covers] is THE SOUL ALBUM. I was six when this was released. Never heard of it.
  • 36a [Prank interviewer who asked Buzz Aldrin whether he was jealous of Louis Armstrong] is ALI G. I don’t usually like Sacha Baron Cohen’s work, but that sounds pretty funny.
  • 54a [AMC became one in 2021] is a MEME STOCK. Inferrable, and here’s more information.

I give you Otis Redding. No, that’s not Otis on the album cover.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Monday, October 23, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: A little bit easier than Stella Zawistowski’s Saturday Stumper. Or the last “Tough as Nails” themeless from her website.

    Fun little Monday puzzle. I tried solving using only the Down answers, so the theme wasn’t apparent until I was finished.

    I too have been through many years of different media for recorded music, but never really had a tape era (cassettes were for the car and for the few local bands that didn’t have “record” deals. I still have all my CDs and a lot of my vinyl, but almost always listen to .mp3s from CDs I ripped or files I (legally) downloaded. It’s just too damned convenient!

  2. David L says:

    It took me a moment to figure out the theme in the NYT puzzle. Seems unusual for a Monday crossword not to have a revealer, but I can’t provide statistics.

    I don’t care for the clue for MASKINGTAPE. First, because tape isn’t a kind of adhesive, and second because the stuff I mainly buy these days is blue. Another brand is green but I haven’t tried it.

    • pannonica says:

      Are you referring to painter’s tape?

      • David L says:

        I’ve always used the terms interchangeably, but Google informs me there is a difference. However, many ads refer to the blue stuff as masking tape. A definitive statement: “Ultimately, all painter’s tapes are masking tapes, but not all masking tapes are painter’s tapes.”

        This comes from the Tape University!

        • pannonica says:

          And then there’s drafting tape!

          • huda says:

            In lab we have a type of masking tape that comes in about quarter inch width, in spools of every color. You wrap it around individual test tubes, you can color code it for the various groups or conditions, and you can easily write numbers or other identifiers on it. I truly love it :).

      • Mutman says:

        My friend Ian talks about Scotch Tape a lot …

  3. MaryS says:

    LAT: The 11D & 28D answers are part of the theme – hot head and hot seat. In the version of the puzzle I worked, the clues had asterisks/stars.

  4. Mr. [not really] Grumpy says:

    Universal: The clue for BLACKJACK DEALER baffled me as well [more of a Thursday level than Monday?], but Google came to the rescue after the fact: “Blackjack insurance is a side bet offered to the player if the dealer’s up-card is an ace, as insurance against the dealer’s hand being ‘blackjack’.” []

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    TNY … Yet another flogging for me courtesy of NL, but I keep trying. Oh well. I was rather surprised that I got as much of this as I did without cheating.

    How is MEME STOCK “inferrable” from “AMC became one in 2021”? I had __MESTOCK and all I could think of was ‘hoME STOCK’ because it worked just fine to make ‘Uh NO’ (instead of the correct answer, UM NO) as the answer for “Yeah . . . not gonna happen”. CRAIG OF THE CREEK could have been anything, as far as I know. I admit that these days, I’m a Luddite compared to most of a lot of you folks out here, but I’ve never seen that term before and don’t know how a MEME (an online joke, video/audio clip or image that spreads like wildfire, typically via social media and electronic messaging, right?) could be used in conjunction with the various meanings I know of STOCK (supply/inventory, ownership share in a company, a supporting framework, family lineage, soup broth) and how that might relate to AMC (the former car company, the movie theater chain, the TV network, something else I don’t know about or can’t think of?).

    That’s just one of about a half-dozen things that had me completely stymied in this puzzle and just one lost, long-time crossword solver’s experience.

    • pannonica says:

      I had to look up meme stock after completing the grid. But I guessed that part correctly.

    • David L says:

      I guessed MEMESTOCK correctly but I came to grief in the middle of the puzzle. I had RULED instead of RATED at 34A, which led me to think 7D was CRAIGOFLEECREEK (why not?). But that meant I couldn’t come up with anything plausible for 38A and 35D.

      My opinion of Last’s puzzles goes back and forth. He seems to delight in filling his grids with names that he must realize many people won’t know. Sometimes the crossings are reasonable; sometimes, like today, not so much.

    • Eric H says:

      I had a tough time with the New Yorker puzzle, too. It kinda felt like a Saturday Stumper. The bottom half filled in pretty nicely, but the rest took a while.

      I ran into the concept of a MEME STOCK in some other puzzle recently and am pleased to have remembered it, though I needed a few crosses to get it — the AMC reference is lost on me.

      Having never heard of CRAIG OF THE CREEK, it took me a long time to get the middle.

      In the NW, where I struggled the most, ANTON was one of my few gimmes. (Jenni! If you’re OK with movie violence, “No Country for Old Men” is wonderful. Javier Bardem deserves that Oscar.) Some of my guesses like SAKS and ETHIC just didn’t seem to work, until they did. And I knew that the actor at 16A was the guy from “Everything Everywhere All At Once” (it’s kind of spooky that my predictive text knows that title), but having not seen it, I can never remember his name.

      The math stuff didn’t help. I may have once known the formula for a HYPERBOLA, but if I did, I’ve long since forgotten it. And I don’t at all understand the clue for ONE.

      • pannonica says:

        “And I don’t at all understand the clue for ONE.”

        • Eric H says:


          One of the nice things about being an old retired guy is that I don’t have to think about that sort of thing.

          But you’re telling me that the answer is as easy as pi?

          • PJ says:

            That would be digit in the first decimal place of π

            I really enjoyed the math elements. But I spend some of my retirement revisiting math problems

            • Eric H says:

              Thanks. I realized the clue would have to be rewritten to work with π.

              I’m glad you enjoyed the math elements. I always did well enough with the subject in my classes, but 40 years or so of not thinking much about math have left me pretty rusty. (I’m not sure I ever learned about Euler’s number. If I had, I probably would have known how to pronounce his name before I turned 60.)

    • JohnH says:

      Glad Jenni likes Natan Last in TNY, but not everyone can cope with him, but she, too, found him hard for once, and this seemed like the ultimate in his puzzles, with hardly a clue that wasn’t a trivia question or, like the pair of “Shoot” clues, nothing to be decided without crossings should one be lucky enough to get one. Just who is this for?

      Oh, and doesn’t second decimal place mean the hundredths, not the second digit in the whole without regard for the decimal point?

  6. David L says:

    I balked a little at the HYPERBOLA clue. The reciprocal function, y = 1/x, gives what is called a rectangular hyperbola (because the two ends go off to infinity at right angles to each other). It’s a special case of the more general hyperbola, which along with circle, ellipse and parabola, form the conic sections, and which has a different formula. But the clue is correct.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I do like Natan Last’s wavelength. 6:42 for me. Never heard of the central Down and forgot how to spell Ke Huy Quan’s name (he’s delightful in the new season of “Loki,” though; his character is named Ouroboros).

    I think GameStop was the first memestock, where people in a Reddit group drove the stock price high and/or tanked it, or both. “GameStomp” was my first effort for meMESTOck.

    • Eric H says:

      We mere mortals who occasionally struggle with Natan Last’s puzzles would probably like them better if we could solve them in less than seven minutes.

      Despite it having taken me just over half an hour, I didn’t really have any complaints. Everything, including the stuff I had no idea about, was gettable from the crosses. To me, that’s the mark of a good puzzle.

  8. Eric H says:

    BEQ: A bit harder for me than other recent BEQ puzzles, particularly in the NW and central west. I cheated a bit to get LA PESTE (which I know by its English title, “The Plague”) and to confirm that Andorra is in fact on the IBERIAn Peninsula.

    I was tempted to look up Governor Spitzer’s predecessor, as PATAKI wasn’t working until it did. (I think of PATAKI as a mid-1990’s guy, because I remember Ann Richards and Mario Cuomo shilling chips after they both lost re-election bids. (PATAKI beat Cuomo; Richards lost to GWB.)

    Overall nice fill. I’m pleased that I got BRACKETOLOGY fairly easily, as I pay almost zero attention to NCAA basketball.

    I finished with an incorrect letter, the C in LACE. I had the right idea (a “bolt” of fabric), but went with LAmÉ instead of LACE. I don’t know why OmEANUS didn’t jump out as wrong.

    I may someday forgive BEQ for giving me an earworm of “ROSANNA.” It’s not my least favorite Toto song, but it’s close. Not recognizing the lyrics, for a bit I was hoping the answer would be ROxANNe. That’s a much better song and one that I have an amusing anecdote about.

Comments are closed.