Monday, October 30, 2023

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 2:04 (Stella) 


NYT 2:48 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 7:32 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 4:42 (Jim) 


Kenneth Cortes’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: BRIGHT IDEAS – the majority of the grid is shaded grey. Each of the theme answers contains the string “idea”, which is not shaded, and thus “brighter” than the rest of the puzzle.

New York Times, 10 30 2023, By Kenneth Cortes

  • 18a [Not difficult at all, in slang] – STUPID EASY
  • 26a [Seeing Eye dog, e.g.] – GUIDE ANIMAL
  • 44a [Game in which one might shout “Ready or not, here I come!”] – HIDE AND SEEK
  • 56a [Stroke of genius … or the theme of this puzzle] – BRIGHT IDEA

The core of this puzzle is a tried and true type of theme, but I’ve never actually seen the all-shaded-squares gimmick before, so that was cool. I liked all the theme answers that Kenneth chose, and that the “idea” is split between each one. Are animals besides dogs GUIDE ANIMALS? I know lots of different types of animals can be service animals, but I’ve only ever heard “guide” specifically in relation to dogs. Whatever, it doesn’t matter overall.

I would not say that this puzzle was STUPID EASY (loved that answer, btw), but it was significantly faster than average for me. I’ll chock that up to there only being 4 theme answers (including the revealer, which I was able to drop in no crosses because of the previous answers), and that the fill is clued simply – interestingly, but simply. There were almost no moments where I had to slow down and think, my first thoughts were almost always correct.

Great long fill today, like SEA ANEMONE and IN MEMORIAM (even though I spelled that one wrong at first). There are also *so many* food answers, including MOCHA, TOSTONES, EGG YOLKS, SHISH kebab, UNAGI, garam MASALA, and SALSA DIP. (side note, is that a thing people say? I would just say salsa). The only thing that might hold new solvers up is MANSE, but all the crosses are fair.

Happy Halloweekend, all! Congrats to Kenneth on a great NYT debut.

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

Theme answers are common items whose first words are things that vampires traditionally hate.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Batty” · Mike Shenk · Mon., 10.30.23

  • 17a. [Bad trattoria food for a vampire?] GARLIC BREAD. Not sure why I went with GARLIC FRIES at first.
  • 21a. [Bad street features for a vampire?] CROSSWALKS.
  • 37a. [Bad time indicator for a vampire?] SUNDIAL.
  • 52a. [Bad disco decoration for a vampire?] MIRROR BALL.
  • 60a. [Bad business participant for a vampire?] STAKEHOLDER. I like this one best. It can be read in two different ways.

Nice Monday theme on this All Hallow’s Eve eve. Straightforward but still enjoyable, especially with the wordplay on the last one.

Fill highlights: SMALL-SCALE, ALL-STAR, DIASPORA, UNDERTIP. I feel like I haven’t seen CZAR in a long time, unlike TSAR which is much more common in crosswords. This made that starting corning trickier than expected.

Clues of note: 26a. [Hearts, for example] followed by 29a. [Diamonds, for example]. Neither is about cards but ORGANS and STONES instead.

Nice Halloween puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Glenn Cook’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 10/30/23 by Glenn Cook

Los Angeles Times 10/30/23 by Glenn Cook

Here’s a fun, wish-I’d-thought-of-it theme (but if I couldn’t have thought of it, how appropriate that the constructor’s last name is Cook!). The revealer, which is placed in the center of the grid at 33A, is clued as [Chef and cookbook writer whose four elements of cooking are the first words of the answers to 16-, 23-, 48-, and 56-Across]. The answer is SAMIN NOSRAT, and the revealer’s instructions are unusually literal, probably because the revealer entry itself isn’t actually the explanation. Anyway, you take the first word of each theme answer to get SALT FAT ACID HEAT, Nosrat’s popular 2017 cookbook turned Netflix series turned cultural phenomenon:

  • 16A [“Push It” hip-hop trio] is SALT-N-PEPA. Nice!
  • 23A [Mardi Gras] is FAT TUESDAY.
  • 48A [Inclination to use biting sarcasm] is an ACID TONGUE.
  • 56A [“Feels like” figure that combines temperature and humidity] is HEAT INDEX.

I suspect this puzzle will play harder than a normal Monday for many: The grid design almost looks like a puzzle you’d see on Friday or Saturday, with lots of longer words in the corners.

Ryan Mathiason’s Universal crossword, “Continue Along” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 10/30/23 • Mon • “Continue Along” • Mathiason • solution • 20231030

  • 58aR [Quickly adapt … or a hint to the first 3-5 letters + 2 other letters in each starred clue’s answer] ROLL WITH IT.
  • 17a. [*True crime watcher] EYEWITNESS (eye roll).
  • 22a. [*Dame and knight] HONORARY TITLES (honor roll).
  • 37a. [*Percussionist’s set] DRUM KIT (drum roll).
  • 49a. [*Breakfast dish made without yolks] EGG-WHITE OMELET (egg roll).

This strikes me more as a sort-of interesting curiosity rather than a fun theme. This is in part evidenced by the necessarily clunky explanation in the revealer. Of lesser import is the title, which is lackluster. Three of the four roll combinators are either a separate word or a discrete element in a compound word, but the honor of honorary is a root with a suffix—that feels weird.

  • 1d [Solid served in liquids] ICE. Was flummoxed by this one until the crossings worked it out for me.
  • 12d [Name that doesn’t rhyme with “Rene,” oddly] IRENE. Why oddly? Also, René typically has an accent on the e.
  • 13d [Rosa who stood up for herself by staying seated] PARKS. Nice turn of phrase, and somehow reminiscent of the framing in 1-down.
  • 26d [Maui figurine] TIKI. Wikipedia sez: “The word appears as tiki in New Zealand Māori, Cook Islands Māori, Tuamotuan, and Marquesan; as tiʻi in Tahitian, and as kiʻi in Hawaiian. The word has not been recorded from the languages of Western Polynesia or in the Rapa Nui language.” (emphasis mine).
  • 30d [Very well-done, but not done well] BURNT. Quite.
  • 14a [Winter refreshment] COCOA. ‘Refreshment’? I think of those as cold drinks. What say you all?
  • 56a [“That’s all false!”] LIES. Spot-on and evocative.

You were perhaps expecting Steve Winwood?

Will Nediger’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 10/30/23 – Nediger

My solving time hits right where I hope a Monday New Yorker puzzle will: harder than the typical Saturday NYT but not a grueling slog like the Newsday Saturday Stumper.

A few new-to-me things: The ENEMIES TO LOVERS trope in romcoms etc., MOON MOONS, the term IKEA EFFECT, SYLVIA MENDEZ (1946 civil rights case, whites-only schools in California, certainly a noteworthy piece of history to know). Not entirely convinced of the idiomaticness of “I MEAN, SURE.”

Fave fill: FRONT-LOAD, IMPROV SHOW, ZIP YOUR LIP, IMGUR (I assume it’s supposed to be pronounced “imager” but who knows), TREE-HUGGER, WORDLE CLONES (my favorite is speed-running Duotrigordle, the regular, sequence, and jumble versions where there are 32 five-letter words to figure out; I sometimes manage to solve all three versions within a 10-minute period and yes, that’s a brag), and PAID LEAVE.

Four stars from me,

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22 Responses to Monday, October 30, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: Fun theme.

    There’s almost as much music as food: OTIS Redding, Bon IVER, LORDE, ARLO Guthrie, FIRST AID [Kit] (yeah, I’m stretching there), ANNIE, the Jackson 5 and ABBA.

    Impressive NYT debut.

  2. David L says:

    I was somewhat disappointed in the theme — I thought some spooky Halloween-adjacent word was going to jump out of the darkness!

    I thought BONIVER was just one guy, not a whole band, and I didn’t know TOSTONES (I had tostadas first), but pretty easy overall. GUIDEANIMAL is not really a thing, I don’t believe, but OK.

  3. Papa John says:

    The LAT I downloaded does not match the puzzle in Stella’s review. What’s up with that?

  4. stmv says:

    The Universal theme was a bit more involved than mentioned in the review: Each themer not only starts with a ___ ROLL word, but also contains IT later on, to get “ROLL with IT”.

    • pannonica says:

      ack! I had intended to underline each of those ITs in the write-up. I’ll do that now.

    • Eric H says:

      Was the theme “involved”? Yes. (So much so that I wonder why this was a Monday puzzle.)

      Was it helpful? Not a bit, at least for me. I solved it like an easy themeless puzzle and then spent a few more minutes trying to decipher the clue for the revealer. I didn’t notice that HONOR, DRUM, etc. can all precede ROLL. So I gave up and came here.

      Maybe I’m spoiled by the NYT puzzles, but the Times would have highlighted the theme answers when you were in the slot for the revealer. Instead, because I solved in AcrossLite, I was trying to see teeny little asterisks that were grayed out to figure out what the revealer applied to. Highlighting might have made the theme more obvious.

  5. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Challenging but not overly difficult. The top half went quickly, but the SW corner in particular slowed me down. I’ve heard of IMGUR but didn’t know what it deals in. For the “Mixology measures,” I expected something more specialized than OUNCES. Now that I see the answer to “X profile features,” I understand what “X” means in the clue. (I’ve never had a Twitter account, and I’m unlikely to ever have an X account.)

    I’m a bit embarrassed that SYLVIA MENDEZ doesn’t sound familiar. At some point, I had SYLVIA M____Z (with possibly a third letter), so I took a chance on a common Hispanic surname.

    The clueing is not bad, but it’s mostly straightforward. “One who respects one’s elders?” is clever, but the question mark told me that “elders” were trees.

    • David L says:

      Same for me — challenging overall but not too tough. Like you, I didn’t know SYLVIAMENDEZ but it was inferrable after a few crosses.

      No idea about PSET, and I’m far from convinced that MOONMOONS is legit. According to the knowyourmeme website, “Moon Moon is a fictional wolf character that is portrayed as a mentally challenged outcast in the pack.” Hmm.

    • JohnH says:

      Not for me. I’m finding the TNY formula: you either know everything or just forget it. No crossword solving skill required or helpful. Hateful.

      • Gary R says:

        Perhaps your definition of “crossword solving skill” is a bit too narrow. Amy’s write-up made it clear that there were a few things new to her. Eric’s and David’s comments indicate the same was true for them. There were more than “a few” unknown names/terms for me (I count nine), along with some names/terms I know, but did not know as clued (trivia!!). But somehow Amy, Eric, David and I all managed to solve the puzzle.

        If not crossword solving skill, just what might have been involved there? Just a ton of lucky guesses? I hope you don’t think we all cheated!

  6. Eric H says:

    BEQ: I got unexpectedly stuck in the SE corner. I didn’t recognize the TOLSTOY titles, and I don’t think I had heard of the violinist LINDSEY Stirling.

    I was pretty confident that BUT ALAS, OCULARS and FURLS were correct, but the clue for SOFA BED got me nowhere. It wasn’t until I threw SOCKO in there that I could see UKRAINE. I’m sure that airport has been in the news, but I don’t pay as much attention to the news as I should.

  7. Papa John says:

    Does anyone know how to change the credit card I currently have on file with NYT for crossword payments? I’ve contacted NYT directly with email, but I don’t expect a quick reply.

    • Gary R says:

      I have a full digital access subscription to the paper, but the process is probably the same.

      1) Go to
      2) At the upper right, there should be a “LOG IN” button (unless you’re set up to stay logged in – then there should be an “Account” button)
      3) Click and log in w/your user name and password
      4) At the left of the page, click on “Subscription overview”
      5) Scroll down and near the bottom of that page, you should find “Payment information,” where it will show a “Payment method” which has an “Update” button

      There might well be a faster way to do it, but this worked for me.

    • Papa John says:

      Boy, I’m having a heck of a morning! I finally managed to figure out how to change credit cards. I had to create a new account. (I think.) I’m too old for this shit! I’ve been battling being hit by the scam. It’s a relentless scam, hard to get rid of.

      Thanks, Gary. I was composing this while your message got posted. I’m going to follow your instructions to assure the change.

      • Gary R says:

        If you created a new account, you might want to check to be sure the old account is closed. I’ve had to get a new Amex card a couple of times in the past five years (once due to fraud and once due to a lost card), and Amex continued to accept recurring monthly charges from NYT (and others) using the old card number for over a year.

        • Papa John says:

          My solution is simply not to use that card. I learned that cancelling a credit card negatively affects your credit rating. The bank will eventually cancel the account after a prescribed period of non-use. (I think.)

          • Gary R says:

            I was thinking about the account with NYT, not the credit card account. If you don’t make sure the old NYT account is closed/cancelled, it’s likely they’ll continue to charge your old card for that account and charge the new card for your new NYT account.

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