Monday, November 27, 2023

BEQ 3:24 (Matthew) 


LAT 2:23 (Stella) 


NYT 3:51 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 7:00 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 3:44 (Jim) 


Ricky J. Sirois’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: “Two B Fare” – two word foods where both word start with the letter B

New York Times, 11 26 2023, By Ricky J. Sirois

  • 18a [Ale-simmered German sausage, informally] – BEER BRAT
  • 24a [Vegetarian dish on a Mexican menu] – BEAN BURRITO
  • 39a [French meat stew for which Julia Child penned a popular recipe] – BEEF BOURGUIGNON
  • 49a [Loaf often made with walnuts] – BANANA BREAD
  • 60a [“Admittedly …,” or, when said aloud, a punny description of 18-, 24-, 39- and 49-Across] – TO BE FAIR

I noticed while solving the puzzle that a bunch of the answers started with double B’s, but I didn’t put together until the revealer that all of them were food terms. That’s neat, and adds an extra layer to a pretty simple theme type – I was a bit underwhelmed until I realized the full extent of what was going on. It feels a little odd that BEER BRAT needs the “informally” in the clue – does anyone say “beer bratwurst”?? Also, I knew that BEEF BOURGUIGNON was the answer long before I knew how to spell it within the grid (honestly, it still looks wrong).

Random thoughts:

  • Fun fill: BAR FIGHT, SOFTWARE, IN A FEW, MASH-UP (even if this word will never not remind me of “Glee”).
  • The NW and SE corners are pretty closed off from the rest of the puzzle, but I’m glad that the constructor used that to make the fill super clean, including some uncommon letters in the Q and Z.
  • There are some less clean moments, though, mostly including partials and weird plurals: A HOOT, ANNS, RARES.
  • New to me: that SARTRE turned down the NOBEL prize for literature. He did that because he “always declined official honors” in order to not be “institutionalized”, but unfortunately his letter informing the jury of his choice arrived too late.

Happy Monday all, and happy NYT debut to Ricky!

Geoff Brown’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Film Leads”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are film titles whose first words can also “open” for (i.e. precede) the word “market” in colloquial phrases. The revealer is MARKET OPENING (37a, [What ringing a certain bell signals, and a hint to the first words of this puzzle’s movie titles]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Film Leads” · Geoff Brown · Mon., 11.27.23

  • 17a. [1988 Kevin Costner sports film] BULL DURHAM.
  • 26a. [1993 film with Keiko in the title role] FREE WILLY.
  • 50a. [2010 Natalie Portman thriller] BLACK SWAN.
  • 60a. [1985 Griffin Dunne comedy] AFTER HOURS. I don’t think this was a big a film as the others, but I do remember the poster image. Whoa, wait a second, this was a Scorsese film? I had no idea.

Bull market, free market, black market, after market. Nice. Tight theme with perfectly chosen theme answers. An enjoyable set.

The 13-letter central entry puts some constraints on the grid, so there isn’t anything overly long in the fill, but the stacks of 8 in the NE/SW corners are nice, especially the SW with MAIL SLOT and ARMATURE. Also good is SIROCCO. The crossing of proper names ECO and COULEE in the NW might be problematic for some on a Monday. Cluing ECO as a prefix would’ve helped.

Clue of note: 39d. [Sounds of doubt]. EHS. Hmm. “Uh” sounds more like doubt than “Eh” to my ear.

Nice theme and grid. 3.5 stars.

Josh Gordon’s Universal crossword, “Party in the USA” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 11/27/23 • Mon • “Party in the USA” • Gordon • solution • 20231127

Two-letter state postal abbreviations need to be sounded out phonetically to make sense of the theme answers.

  • 20a. [Energy gained from eating s’mores in Helena?] MT CALORIES (empty calories, Montana).
  • 39a. [Nods for the Best Acadia Park Ranger Award, e.g.?] ME NOMINATIONS (Emmy nominations, Maine).
  • 60a. [Ideas such as “I bet I’d enjoy living in Omaha”?] NE THOUGHTS (any thoughts? Nebraska).

In each case the state is signalled by invoking its capital. Only three theme answers, which leaves the rest of the grid rather unencumbered and easy to fill.

  • 1d [Friendliness] WARMTH.
  • 5d [Deck with a Chariot card] TAROT. Made especially easy as ‘chariot’ is reminiscent of ‘tarot’. See also the more explicit 68a [River that rhymes with “crocodile”] NILE.
  • 9d [Duffel, e.g.] BAGDuffel—a toponym for a place in Belgium—is a reference to a kind of fabric which duffel bags were originally made out of, but nowadays I think it more commonly refers to a certain bag design. Duffel coats, on the other hand, still have both a distinct style and material.
  • 26d [Turbulent part of a river] RAPID. More commonly seen as a plural?
  • 49d [Noise from a baby’s toy … or a deadly snake] RATTLE. ooo, sinister
  • 56d [“Big __” (novel set in California)] SUR. The author is Jack Kerouac.
  • 23a [Word that Ohio State trademarked in 2022] THE. What? I’ve got to find out about this … Ah, okay. That makes a sort of sense. It’s for a specific kind of use. Here’s an NPR report.
  • 66a [“__ to Margaritaville” (jukebox musical)] ESCAPE. Seems intentioned to conflate Jimmy Buffet’s oeuvre with Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”? Weird choice.
  • 67a [“I’m in my flop __” (“Life’s been tough lately”] ERA. Not a phrase I’ve encountered before, but I can DIG (51a) it.

Carolyn Davies Lynch’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 11/27/23 by Carolyn Davies Lynch

Los Angeles Times 11/27/23 by Carolyn Davies Lynch

Looks like we have a debut in the house, and it’s a fun one! The revealer at 51A [What I shouldn’t do at the dinner table, except in 20-, 28-, and 44-Across?] is PLAY WITH MY FOOD, because each theme entry is a tabletop game that has a food item in its name:

  • 20A [Game whose cards have images of red and green fruit] is APPLES TO APPLES.
  • 28A [Game whose tiles are stored in a fruit-shaped bag] is BANANAGRAMS, which is one of my favorites.
  • 44A [Game in which players compete to collect plastic fruit] is HI HO CHERRY-O.

Some nice fill entries like TABLE READMISO PASTE, and I WAS HAD, although tougher entries like SEA PIG and METRE, and some of the cluing contributed to this being more of a Tuesday-Wednesday feel to me. Although I think the puzzle was misclassified as a Monday, it’s still a fun one. Nice debut!

Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 11/27/23 – Collins

Luckily, WHITE BREAD wouldn’t work below the PLAIN BAGEL / DINNER ROLL stack, or we’d have too much carbs. (Too many carbs? “Much” sounds better to me since I don’t count individual units of carbohydrates.) I miss bagels!

The puzzle hits the Monday New Yorker difficulty level right where I expect it. Satisfying when it’s not easier—I like a toughie when that’s what’s promised.


Four clues of note:

  • 1a. [Check that includes the tip?], FINGER SCAN. Fingertip, that is.
  • 31a. [Animated feline with the catchphrase “Heavens to Murgatroyd!”], SNAGGLEPUSS. I barely recall watching the Snagglepuss cartoons, and yet “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” is firmly embedded in my brain. A timeless line for people in my generation!
  • 47d. [Dregs], SCUM. Pond scum floats on top of the water rather than being dregs on the bottom, but if you pour out a bottle of infused olive oil or wine that has sediment in the bottom, I guess that could fit into the SCUM category. What say you?
  • 51d. [Viola string?], EGOT. Viola Davis has won the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony.

Four stars from me.

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

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday solution, 11/27/2023

Fun grid from BEQ — DESTINESIA (presumably a portmanteau of “destination” and “amnesia”) is new to me, and two crossings upped the difficulty, especially as D?ST?N- looked a little like “distance”: DE LA (of rap group De La Soul, clued to their 1991 single “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays'”) and Argentinian president-elect Javier MILEI. I usually get by on De La Soul thanks to fill in the blank clues, and the latter had passed my awareness, though I knew an election had happened.

Otherwise, some fun long stuff on either side of the grid – THE CHOSEN ONE, WHAMAGEDDON, HOTLANTA are all highlights for me. A number of clues struck me as odd and not very BEQ-ish, but I’m chalking that up to my ongoing recovery from COVID, I think, especially as I can’t quite put a finger on it.


  • 1a [In action] AFOOT. This is interesting! I’m most familiar with AFOOT from the Sherlock Holmes phrase “The game is afoot,” which doesn’t quite work for “in action.” If I were to say “I got to see Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce in action last week”, then I guess I can squint and make it work, but it breaks down the harder I look. Commenters, am I missing a reading of either phrase?
  • 38a [Screen printing company?] EZINE. I think this is pretty clever – zines might be printed, but e-zines would appear on screen, and screen printing is a (separate) thing
  • 42a [Cork’s spot] ERIN. As common as ERIN for Ireland is in puzzles, this held me up a good bit. Cork as in the Irish city, if it held you up, as well.
  • 43a [The girl on the train] BRIDE. Does “on” work for a bride’s relationship to her train? I’m not sure. Does “girl” work for “bride”? In some cases of child brides, I suppose.
  • 45a [Black Friday mood] PANIC. I assume as in the stock market’s Black Friday, and not whatever the November shopping holiday is nowadays.
  • 47a [Faster, at times] JEW. “Faster” as a noun – one who fasts
  • 53a [___ Fire (Muppets-based meme)] ELMO. Is “Elmo fire” the name of the meme? That’s new to me, but I guess it works. I’ve heard it called “Hellmo”
  • 54a [Dick lit book] CRIME NOVEL. I liked this clue — “Dick” as slang for a detective faded before my generation, but I see it enough outside of crosswords that it has a different old-timey effect than, say, Jenny Lind.
  • 1d [First band from a non-English speaking country inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] ABBA. Fun piece of trivia that I didn’t know. And they got in despite Jann Wenner thinking women musicians aren’t “articulate” enough. Imagine that.
  • 13d [Club covering] MAYO. As in a club sandwich, which contains MAYO
  • 22d [Game where one tries to hold out the longest from hearing “Last Christmas” after Thanksgiving] WHAMAGEDDON. “Last Christmas” being a derided earworm from the band WHAM!, and the “game” deriving from a combination of WHAM and “armageddon.” I’ve never minded the song all that much, though I can see why it’s disliked.
  • 30d [Turkey’s home?] ALLEY. Turkey being a bowling term for a run of three consecutive strikes. I’m not sure if such a thing can have a “home”, but I was more on this one than I am when “Turkey’s home?” clues ASIA MINOR.
  • 43d [Was seriously lame] BLEW. I would like to see “lame” as an insult fade away — it rings ableist.
  • 46d [Spot for some bad apples?] EDEN. Were the apples “bad,” or just forbidden? (Is jaywalking “bad,” or just “forbidden”?). They did grant knowledge, after all. But it makes a nice turn of phrase for a crossword clue, I suppose.
  • 51d [Pops in the fridge?] RCS. RC COLA and pop~soda in one clue! I see only now that there’s a play on the verb “pops” here, but I am from a place that says “pop” rather than “soda” and I didn’t even notice the misdirect during my solve.
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14 Responses to Monday, November 27, 2023

  1. David L says:

    NYT: I was slowed up a little by trying MEDLEY before MASHUP, but that was quickly resolved. I had to think about the revealer for a few moments before seeing what it meant: if I say TO BE FAIR and TWO B FARE aloud they aren’t identical, because of the stress pattern and the initial schwa in the former.

    Language evolution note: I hesitated before putting in the final letter of CAREEN. In British usage, the verb here would be career (see here, for example). But in American English, that meaning seems to have been lost and supplanted by careen, which originally meant to turn a boat on its side in order to clean the hull.

    Career is etymologically related to carriage, while careen derives from Latin carina, keel, which is also the name of a constellation.

    • Sophomoric Old Guy says:

      Oh please! re: the TO BE FAIR and TWO B FARE not sounding alike. TO and TWO, BE and B, and FAIR and FARE are all homophonic pairs in my world. Even if there is an ever so slight difference in the way you say them, sometimes that’s how wordplay works.

      • David L says:

        In isolation, sure, the constituent words are homophones. But combined in phrases, differences arise because of prosody. And that’s why it took me a little while to understand the revealer.

        What can I say, I’m a sensitive guy.

  2. JohnH says:

    I had not heard of AFTERMARKET in the WSJ, and a Web search for “after market” (didn’t occur to me to try it as one word, quite apart from inconsistency with the other themers) had me scrolling down quite a bit in order to get it. Is it more familiar to others?

  3. Gary R says:

    TNY: I was surprised to see Amy’s comment about the difficulty level – I thought this was on the easy side for a Monday. Maybe just a wavelength thing – when my solve time is just 2x Amy’s, something’s up!

    I knew many of the pop culture references, which is a rarity for me in a Monday TNY. The only area that slowed me down was the “carbs” and “art installation” section. I put in BAGEL based on the “A,” but it took a while to see what flavor (I’m an “everything” guy). Then tried bRead for the evening carb. But I had a vague idea of what Skims sells, so BRA got things moving again.

    An enjoyable puzzle, but not quite as challenging as I expect on a Monday

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I try to avoid looking at constructor names until after I solve puzzles. I got about two-thirds of the way through this puzzle and thought it was probably one of the typically on-my-wavelength TNY constructors (i.e. Berry, Gorski, Weintraub or Reid). But then I hit a brick wall at the bottom third. All I had in the last five rows of the grid were ERR, BRINE and NET. I simply couldn’t get anything else to go, though I never read the clue for ERRAND until after I’d cheated to get a couple of other things. If I had, I probably would have gotten both UPON and MEND and then perhaps the rest of the SW. But I don’t think I had a prayer in the SE. Another TNY Monday DNF for me. C’est la vie.

      • JohnH says:

        I too found that it started easy indeed for a Monday, then amped up in difficulty sharply toward the bottom, in my case pretty much the SE. Not sure how I feel about that.

    • Eric H says:

      I too would put it on the easy side for New Yorker Monday. I was about two minutes slower than Amy, which is rare.

      But I enjoy and rarely have much trouble with KAC puzzles. The FAKE TATTOOS and the carbs in the SE were the only answers that slowed me down a bit. Once I saw the FAKE TATTOOS, I got the rest of it quickly. Great misdirection on the EGOT clue.

      • David L says:

        SE was the hardest section for me too. It opened up after I more or less randomly guessed HERA off the H, although I had ONIONBAGEL before I decided a PLAIN one was preferable. Nice puzzle.

  4. JT says:

    NYT – a cute puzzle theme and puzzle overall, a lot of these vibed well with me. I stumbled with the bottom center for a good five minutes after filling in the entire rest of the puzzle, the cluing on those just vexed me today, nothing seemed especially bad about them.

    The “two-B fare” gag made me groan, but not in a bad way.

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