Monday, November 20, 2023

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 2:13 (Stella) 


NYT 4:33 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5″04 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 4:02 (Jim) 


Sam Ezersky’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: CONNECTICUT, reparsed into CONNECT I-C-U-T. The theme answers start out with the four letters all separated by one space, and then gradually they become adjacent to each other.

New York Times, 11 20 2023, By Sam Ezersky

  • 19a [Where to find singles, a match and love?] – TENNIS COURT
  • 25a [Exasperated cry you might make when being turned over to voice mail] – PICK UP THE PHONE
  • 40a [Form of social diversity] – MULTICULTURALISM
  • 49a [Disposable bit of cutlery] – PLASTIC UTENSIL
  • 60a [The Constitution State … or, when parsed differently, what you gradually do with this puzzle’s circled letters?] – CONNECTICUT

Today’s puzzle comes from the NYT’s own Sam Ezersky. It’s a clever idea for a theme – I personally always remember that “connect” is within CONNECTICUT when I try to spell that state’s name. It’s elegant that the letters become connected in order – IC first, then ICU, then finally ICUT. PICK UP THE PHONE is my favorite answer, but I like the slightly tricky clue for TENNIS COURT too.

Speaking of that – this puzzle felt harder than an average Monday for me, and I don’t think that’s just because of the 16×15 grid. There were a fair number of answers that took a while to come to me, like [Be kind, follow the rules, etc.] for PLAY NICE and [Congressional V.I.P.] for HOUSE WHIP – I was staring at “house” and then four empty spaces for a very long time unsure of what went there, especially given that one of the crosses was the vague [Greek letters before chis] – ok, that’s not vague if you know the Greek alphabet, but for me I had to get 3/4ths of the letters in PHIS before I put it in. Point is, given the number of long answers and slightly tricky clues, this felt more like a Tuesday to me even though there wasn’t much difficult vocab.

Besides the previously mentioned PLAY NICE and HOUSE WHIP, I liked SLEEP ON IT, Gwen IFILL, CRAPPY, and HAIRCUT (although isn’t a beehive really more of a style than a cut?). SILK HATS are historically top-hat styles, but these days you can also get beanies and ball caps that are silk-lined and better for hair protection.

Happy Thanksgiving week to all celebrating! I’m headed to New England tomorrow to see family, and this puzzle was the perfect send-off.

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

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose beginnings spell out a kind of bed. The revealer is BEDHEAD (23d, [Messy hair in the morning, and a hint to the tops of the theme answers]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Rest Up” · Mike Shenk · Mon., 11.20.23

  • 3d. [Detective in a series of Erle Stanley Gardner mysteries] BERTHA COOL. No idea on this name. For all I knew, it could just as well have been Bert Hacool.
  • 8d. [Curdled milk product] COTTAGE CHEESE.
  • 17d. [Peg holder for card players] CRIBBAGE BOARD.
  • 29d. [Battle site of 1775] BUNKER HILL.

Smooth, easy-to-grok theme, though the obscurity of that first name is a little tough on a Monday and caused me to go over the 4-minute mark. But everything else was breezy and pleasant.

Fill highlights include CAME TO MIND, TELLS A TALE, and STICK-UP (recalling movie bank robberies). Nothing much raised an eyebrow (other than the one theme answer).

Clues are pretty straightforward and my laptop battery is running low, so let’s cut this short. Nice Monday puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Tom Locke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 11/20/23 by Tom Locke

Los Angeles Times 11/20/23 by Tom Locke

The revealer at 56A [Piece of carry-on luggage, and what the answer to each starred clue literally is] is TWO-SUITER. That is, a garment bag that holds two suits. In the context of the theme, it means that each theme entry consists of two words, each of which can be placed before SUIT to make a new phrase:

  • 16A [*Result of a hockey penalty, often] is a POWER PLAY, leading to POWER SUIT and PLAYSUIT. (I think PLAYSUITs are what Brits call rompers.)
  • 23A [*Field of expertise for corporate attorneys] is BUSINESS LAW, leading to BUSINESS SUIT and LAWSUIT.
  • 32A [*Primate passenger on a rocket ship] is a SPACE MONKEY, leading to SPACESUIT and MONKEY SUIT.
  • 48A [*Good find for a traveler on a budget] is a CHEAP FLIGHT, leading to CHEAP SUIT and FLIGHT SUIT.

I wasn’t crazy about this theme. I do admire when constructors can find enough theme entries for a double-word theme like this, but these feel like a stretch in that the literal meanings of the root words in the original theme phrases and in their SUIT pairings are so close. (And CHEAP SUIT feels a little like green paint.)

Chris Evans and Shannon Rapp’s Universal crossword, “Bear Hugs” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 11/20/23 • Mon • “Bear Hugs” • Evans, Rapp • solution • 20231120

The theme answers feature phrases whose beginnings and ends can spell out types of bears.

  • 17a. [Influencer’s material?] PROPAGANDA (panda).
  • 29a. [Topper for King Charles] BRITISH CROWN (brown).
  • 42a. [Preppy fashion choice] POPPED COLLAR (polar).
  • 57a. [Carte blanche] BLANK CHECK (black).

I’ve seen quite a number of bear-themed crosswords over the years and, since there are relatively few distinct types of bears (especially that most people will recognize), they all feel rather similar. It’s quite likely that this exact theme has been done before. Kind of feels that way to me?

  • 6d [Part of a flight] LEG. 59a [Part of a flight] STEP.
  • 11d [Outlets for simple robots?] TOY STORES. A clever clue that only really makes sense after you get the answer.
  • 18d [“Weird” city in Texas] AUSTIN. My understanding is that the ‘Keep Austin Weird’ campaign has kind of petered out, as rents have steadily risen and the artistic types have been priced out.
  • 45a [Flower bitten during a tango] ROSE. Iconically, it’s a long-stemmed rose, and it’s the stem that’s clenched between the teeth.
  • 50a [Bestselling writer?] BIC. This one got me. Another common punny clue for BIC is [Pen name?].
  • 61a [Gymnast Katelyn known for routines gone viral] OSHASHI. I must have missed those.

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

New Yorker crossword solution, 11/20/23 – Shechtman

Surprised I finished this Monday New Yorker faster than usual despite being faced with a few new-to me entries:

  • 34a. [List-ending phrase], ET ALIAE. That final E threw me. This is the seldom-seen form of et al. that is specifically female. “And other things” is et alia and “and other people, male or mixed gender” is et alii. The abbreviation encompasses all versions of the phrase, but hey, I see no reason not to define ET ALIAE as “and other people” gender-neutrally, because it’s bullshit that “gender-neutral” typically uses male words and bodies. (Don’t get me started on “unisex” T-shirts that don’t fit my body.)
  • 42a. [Context-dependent, in linguistics], DEICTIC. I’d never seen the word before, not likely to ever see it again.
  • 28a. [Meas. that’s about 1.3 for a 78 LP], RPS. Revolutions per second, I gather. Who has a need for this abbreviation?!

Fave fill: B.S. METER, GRACE NOTE, MISHEGOSS, BARBIE DOLLS, SAPIOSEXUAL (term for those who attracted to people for their brains more than their bodies—pretty sure that applies to plenty of hardcore crossworders!), PROMISE RING, STRIPTEASES. Less keen on plural interjection TA-TAS, Italian ORA, suffix -INE, plural abbrev RTES, dated abbrev SSR.

Incredibly long but entertaining clue: 17a. [Edwardian novelist who said he was only able to write about “three types of people: the person I think I am, the people who irritate me, and the people I’d like to be”], E.M. FORSTER.

3.25 stars from me.

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8 Responses to Monday, November 20, 2023

  1. Philip says:

    NYT: Igloos are made of snow, not ice. Snow has insulating properties which ice does not.

  2. Me says:

    NYT: This was my longest Monday time in a while (but not by that much). I didn’t notice until Sophia’s writeup that there is a strict pattern to the ICUTs being connected:


    with each “unconnected” letter exactly two boxes away from the neighboring unconnected letter. That extra construction oomph is something that the NYT doesn’t always have, and I’m glad to see it here.

  3. Shanda says:

    I need a belly rub.

  4. David Roll says:

    WSJ–That Bobsey twins reference goes way back–read every one, but that was about 60 years ago

  5. Margaret says:

    LAT: I’m not familiar with the revealer term TWO SUITER but cheap suit is very much in my wheelhouse as in the term “he was all over me like a cheap suit.”

  6. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: I zipped through the first two-thirds in seven or eight minutes, then hit a wall. I didn’t remember SAPIOSEXUAL or DEITIC, though I have heard both before. It took me much longer than it should have to get MASCULINIZE than it should have.

    On the other hand, OXNARD was easy to get even without the X. 30 years ago, my husband and I spent a Friday night in a tent in a county park in OXNARD. Some teenagers showed up around 11 or 12 and blasted music for a few hours. I don’t remember if the campground host refused to do anything or just pretended they couldn’t hear us banging on their trailer door, but we got almost no sleep that night.

    I put the puzzle aside for a few hours and came back to finish it in just a few minutes. I hadn’t heard the FORSTER quote, but it sounds like what I know about him.

    I don’t really like the grid design, aesthetically or from a solving standpoint. All those three-letter answers in the NE and SW, those giant L-shaped groups of blocks — it’s just strange, and those corners are cut off from the rest of the grid.

    But there’s some good fill like BS METER and nice clues like the one for WRESTLERS.

  7. Eric H says:

    Universal: I haven’t done the puzzle, but this jumped out from Pannonica’s write-up:

    18d [“Weird” city in Texas] AUSTIN. My understanding is that the ‘Keep Austin Weird’ campaign has kind of petered out, as rents have steadily risen and the artistic types have been priced out.

    I’ve been living in Austin since 1977. Even by that point, it probably was “weird” only in comparison to the rest of Texas.

    As Austin has grown, it’s become more like Dallas and Houston. And at least politically, Dallas and Houston have become more like Austin.

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