Monday, December 4, 2023

BEQ 3:13 (Matthew) 


LAT 2:10 (Stella) 


NYT 3:17 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 6:27 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 3:47 (Jim) 


Sean Ziebarth’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: DJS – phrases re-imagined to be DJ-related

New York Times, 12 04 2023, By Sean Ziebarth

  • 20a [Make history at the Olympics, say] – SET A NEW RECORD
  • 25a [Totally reverse one’s losing position] – TURN THE TABLES
  • 43a [Have an impact that can be gauged] – MOVE THE NEEDLE
  • 48a [Keep going without faltering one bit] – DON’T MISS A BEAT
  • 54d [Workers at dance clubs who 20-, 25-, 43- and 48-Across] – DJS

Clever theme – all of these phrases are very well known, but I never would have thought to interpret them all to be about DJS. I even like how the phrases are vaguely in order – like, the DJ first sets down the record prior to spinning. The puzzle is also well laid out – all of the theme answers are 13 letters long, which can be a rough length to work with. But the puzzle lines them up well with smart usage of black squares – in fact, not a single down answer crosses more than two themers.

The fill overall is strong. I especially liked TEA BAGS and SAME DAY clued in regards to shipping. LASAGNA is nice too, although both my mom and I spelled it with an E at the end rather than an A. The two longest down answers, NODDED AT and AM STEREO, are both fine, but not particularly standout. (Can AM radio even be in stereo? I don’t know how it works). The only glue-y parts I see are TAMS and IBAR, but neither of those should hold up new solvers that much. My favorite clue today was [Babes in the woods?] for CUBS.

Happy Monday all!

Rich Katz & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Ender’s Game”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose final few letters spell out PREPOSITIONs (54a, [Part of speech some say shouldn’t end a sentence, but that does end each starred answer]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Ender’s Game” · Rich Katz & Jeff Chen · Mon., 12.4.23

  • 17a. [*Person raising money on Kickstarter, maybe] CROWDFUNDER. Under. “Crowdfunding” and “crowdfunded” seem much more common.
  • 24a. [*Mustard passed between two Rolls-Royces in a classic commercial] GREY POUPON. Upon.
  • 34a. [*Spanish “See you soon!”] “HASTA PRONTO!” Onto. I’ve never heard this phrase, but it sounds brilliant. Think I’ll start using it from now on.
  • 43a. [*Decorative exterior for a comforter] DUVET COVER. Over.

This theme is probably for me and other bloggers on this site who complain about awkward PREPOSITION-ended phrases (like “nip at” or OWE TO). Here we have a whole theme of PREPOSITION-ended phrases—but at least these are legit. The first one’s not used so commonly, I should think, but the rest are very nice.

Fill highlights include JALAPEÑO and FOG CITY (although I very rarely heard this nickname for San Francisco despite growing up in the South Bay). Tough start to the grid with MASHA at 1a, especially when I thought it was going to be MAGDA, but the crossings sorted it out.

Clues of note:

  • 14a. [Medium for a ham]. RADIO. My first instinct was to go with STAGE.
  • 32d. [Leads, as from a state capital]. GOVERNS. “Leads” doesn’t fee like quite the right word. “Presides over” maybe?

Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Brian Callahan’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 12/4/23

Los Angeles Times 12/4/23

Although there’s a revealer, today’s theme is a smidge more oblique than usual for a Monday. The revealer at 57A [Inflatable river float, or what the answers to 16-, 23-, 35-, and 46-Across have] is INNER TUBE. That’s TUBE in its “television” sense, as the theme entries are each phrases that have T at the end of one word and V as the first letter of the next word, such that there’s an “INNER” TV, or TUBE:

  • 16A [TikTok posts by some pet owners] is CAT VIDEOS.
  • 23A [Tart sprinkle for fish and chips] is MALT VINEGAR. “Sprinkle” had me thinking of a powdered seasoning and made me want to have SALT at the beginning for a while.
  • 35A [Appraiser’s determination] is FAIR MARKET VALUE, with the TV in the second and third words of the phrase here.
  • 46A [Ability to see in low light] is NIGHT VISION.

These are nice evocative theme entries, so I’ll forgive the fact that the V in VIDEOS and VISION comes from the same root as the V in TV (in fact, with NIGHT VISION and TELEVISION, it’s even the same word, not just the same root). I also liked the longer nontheme entries like SERVER FARMALTO FLUTE, and ART CRITIC.

Spencer Leach’s Universal crossword, “Mixed Drinks” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 12/4/23 • Mon • Leach • “Mixed Drinks” • solution • 20231204

Two items are anagrammed together to generate the theme answers.

  • 17a. [“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” e.g. (paloma + cider)] POLICE DRAMA.
  • 25a. [Like burnt cookies (vodka + beer)] OVERBAKED.
  • 36a. [Green-eyed (ale + soju)] JEALOUS.
  • 48a. [Veteran (gin + merlot)] LONG-TIMER.
  • 55a. [Throws cash in the air (sake + martini)] MAKES IT RAIN.

I like the concept, but the inclusion of two already-mixed cocktails (paloma, martini) gives me pause. Also, friendly advice: I do not recommended any of these be recreated in real life; marginal exception is that there is a saketini cocktail, but in that sake replaces gin.

Because it’s an easy crossword and I was more or less speed-solving, I ignored the anagram aspect and thus the theme as a whole.

  • 7d [Word on all U.S. coins] GOD. An artifact of the Red Scare in the 1950s that has unfortunately lingered.
  • 12d [Deeply unsettling mem, perhaps] CURSED IMAGE. Too real. The few times I’ve invoked it, I use an accent mark: CURSÉD IMAGE.
  • 23d [Trying to succeed in hip-hop, say] ON THE COME-UP. New to me. Fortunately this was automagically filled in via crossings.
  • 24d [What kindergartners use their elbows for?] MACARONI ART. Nailed this one with only the M in place. Similarly, the proceedings started off with a bang as I was immediately wise to 1a [One getting hammered on a camping trip?] TENT PEG.
  • 53d [Jazz singer Simone] NINA. Also a hell of a piano player.
  • 56d [Woodcutting tool] SAW. Such is the extent of my solving habits that I considered both ADZ and AXE prior.
  • 23a [Black cat, to some] OMEN. So pervasive is the superstition that black cats in significant numbers are adopted less frequently and euthanized more often. So if you plan to adopt a cat, please consider a melanistic meow-meow.
  • 29a [TSA requirement, starting in 2025] REAL ID. Note to self: renew driver’s license as a REAL ID. Been putting it off too long!
  • 53a [Asset on a blockchain, for short] NFT. “Asset.” Are we collectively over these scams yet?

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

New Yorker crossword solution, 12/4/23 – Shechtman

Roughly the expected Monday TNY level of challenge.

Fave fill: SAW DOUBLE, HIT JOB, SYNESTHESIA (tough clue, [Phenomenon that informed Wassily Kandinsky’s theatre piece “The Yellow Sound”]), AFROBEAT, CRITERION (just learned there’s a streaming service called the Criterion Channel for film buffs), “HE’S A REBEL,” HARD TACOS, SHADOW BAN, JAMBOREE.

Never heard of 37d. [“Fast Money” pundit Steve] GRASSO. Also new to me: 27d. [Program for some aspiring medical students, for short], POSTBAC. I’ve heard of postdocs but not training after a bachelor’s degree and before, apparently, med school.

Tricked me: 12d. [Parts of Black Panther uniforms], BERETS. I was thinking of the Marvel superhero rather than the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Season 2, episode 4 of the Netflix docuseries High on the Hog, which digs into the nexus of African American food and culture and history, has an old Panther talking about the free breakfast program for schoolchildren that the group initiated. (That was also a point in the Fred Hampton biopic, Jesus and the Black Messiah.) The powers that be recognized that free breakfast was a thing that would increase the Panthers’ political power so they took it away and made free breakfast a government thing, which the Panthers viewed as a big win! Anyway—I liked season one of High on the Hog but season 2 is digging deeper into history and I’m loving it.


3.25 stars from me.

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

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday Crossword solution, 12/4/2023

Nice, clean grid from BEQ today. I wouldn’t’ve been sad to have it come through from a newspaper puzzle. Lots of highlights – EMERGING MARKETS is a great grid-spanner, and I liked CIVIL TRIAL, GREATER GOOD, and especially IATA CODE and PACMANIA, which was new to me, but helped by “ghosts” in the clue.

Many of the more trivia-leaning clues landed for me. I wonder how they might play for different solvers. ANNE RICE and ATTILA are pretty crossword-y, while the section from NBAer JaVale MCGEE extending down and left through ANTONI, IATA CODE, AIDAN, and JETE is kinda dense, though I do appreciate that it draws from a variety of knowledge bases. I wonder in particular about AIDAN crossing IATA CODES at each’s second -A-, and to a lesser extent, the N of ANTONI Gaudi. Bull HALSEY and hunting call HALLOA (which I know from crosswords as “hallo,” but this seemed plausible) could be another spot. I welcome having to puzzle a bit, infer what might be a more plausible letter combination, but YMMV.


  • 19a [One of two lasers needed to make a hologram] SIGNAL BEAM. The other being a REFERENCE BEAM.
  • 38a [“Raid the Cage” channel] CBS. This game show is brand new this fall.
  • 39a [Hall monitor, at times?] OATES. I really think this works, and am tickled. Sometimes common phrases are a bit shoehorned in, and the re-reading doesn’t come together. But “monitor” has a pretty wide set of uses.
  • 58a [More than necessary] TOO OFTEN. I’ve been paying attention more to entries with three consecutive letters – we saw LESS SO a bunch last month. It’s kinda fun to see -OOO- in a row in a non-theme entry
  • 60a [Univ. with an evergreen in its seal] STANFORD. Perhaps recognizable from Stanford’s irreverent “Tree” mascot (formally a member of the marching band)
  • 12d [State of bachelordom] SINGLENESS. I dropped “singlehood” first. Anyone else
  • 27d [Penny-farthings and velocipedes, e.g.] ONE SEATERS. I liked this – won’t say I always am glad to think about old bikes, but I was today.
  • 33d [Sagrada Família architect ___ Gaudi] ANTONI. Construction has been in progress for over 140 years, and may yet have 15-20 to go!
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22 Responses to Monday, December 4, 2023

  1. Alan says:

    They eventually did manage to figure out stereo AM, but long after the band became a wasteland.

  2. John says:

    I’d argue that the clue for AM STEREO is just wrong: the clue describes AM *radio*, but “AM stereo” isn’t just another way to say AM radio, it refers to a stereo encoding for AM. I don’t think you can really square its meaning with the clue asking for a “band.”

    Also, it’s now quite rare, and the only real purpose in the first place for stereo on AM was for music, not so much news and talk (which of course is largely the stuff that remains on AM, in mono).

    • DougC says:

      I agree. A radio “band” is just a range of frequencies assigned to a particular use. But AM STEREO is a broadcasting technique. It uses the same range of frequencies as standard AM radio.

      In any case, it is almost non-existent now. The vast majority of AM stations that adopted stereo broadcasting back in the 1980’s have since reverted to mono. This usually happened when they dropped music programming (as most did) for the news-talk format, for which stereo offers no particular advantage.

  3. Boddekker says:

    I call Shenanigans on Universal’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine clue. According to IMDb and Wikipedia, it’s a sitcom, not a drama. (Unless there’s drama in it, too, I suppose – can’t say I’ve ever seen an episode.)

  4. David L says:

    I agree that AMSTEREO and its clue are kinda dodgy, especially for a Monday, but it’s always comical to see Mr Parker go off on one of his trademarks rants, spending 84.3%* of his column blathering about it. I thought the puzzle’s theme was good enough to outweigh any deficiencies in the fill.

    *Not guaranteed accurate.

    @pannonica, re: black cats. My favorite cat ever was a small but muscular all-black guy. Actually, all my cats over the years have been my favorite cats, but he was the favoritest.

  5. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Appropriately challenging. I had to jump all over the grid to maintain momentum, but a few gimmes like AFROBEAT and JAMBOREE helped.

    I remember Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho” remake, but Vince Vaughan is about the only actor I remembered from it. Nice clue for IPHONE CASES.

  6. JacobT says:

    The New Yorker: How did I go from being able to complete last week’s Monday to only managing 7 total entries today?? Seven. Just saddening. In my opinion, this puzzle was… not even approachable.

    • Eric H says:

      Last Monday’s puzzle was easy by New Yorker standards. It took me about half the time that today’s puzzle took.

    • steve says:

      it was a tough puzzle
      i was all over the grid
      when i pulled “shadow ban” out of thin air, it made me persevere
      very satisfying to finish that one

      • PJ says:

        I was all over it too, without a lot of success. WIDENET, HARDTACO, and JAMBOREE got me started. Fortunate, kinda, guess on NYSENATE. Definitely lucky on SHADOWBAN.

    • JohnH says:

      I felt lucky as can be in finding some high-brow stuff right away, like Marianne Moore (never liked that poem), Wordsworth, and Richard SERRA. I didn’t associate Kandinsky with SYNESTHESIA, but it’s in my vocabulary and the rest of the clue was a decent definition. Albany is in my state, so another gimme. But then I came to a screeching halt as it settled back into TNY mode.

      Finally had enough crossings to see an actual name, DANIELLE, emerging in the NW, although MED SPA crossing it was new to me. SHADOW BAN, which I haven’t yet looked up and don’t know what it means, was just one tough part of the SE, along with, say, Fela Kuti. The NE had smear and HIT JOB meaning the same thing, in one of their meanings that I haven’t yet determined, the interesting OCELOT factoid, and other difficult points. Maybe because I’ve really only seeing “seeing double” in that participial form, but I allowed myself to go mentally from “couldn’t focus” to the idea of a blur instead, and thus was slow to hit on the answer.

      But my killer was the SW, so no quadrant at all to help me along. The near open-ended clue for GPS above the unusual terms in the clue for ROES (another lucky) guess crossed GRASSO and SPON CON, both new to me. Well, glad to be over and done with this. There just has to be a better way to earn difficulty, as indeed there is in the Fri/Sat NYT.

    • Gary R says:

      Yes – far tougher than last Monday. Lots of unfamiliar fill, but I kept finding bits and pieces that I knew (or at least could make an educated guess at). It finally came down to four squares – the intersection of NOCHE and SYNESTHESIA with LA CIE and SHADOW BAN, all unfamiliar to me. Took my best guesses and was pleasantly surprised to see the Happy Pencil.

  7. Papa John says:

    32d. [Leads, as from a state capital]. GOVERNS. “Leads” doesn’t feel like quite the right word. “Presides over” maybe?
    My take: there’s a state government but not a state president.

  8. Papa John says:

    “…black cats in significant numbers are adopted less frequently and euthanized more often.”

    My wife, Jane, has two back cats and there ain’t no way she’d have them euthanized because of some dumb superstition. Wow! People are weird.

    • JohnH says:

      I think pannonica is saying that the adoption agency is obliged to euthanize too many because of lack of takers, not that the individual is having them killed. It’s sad anyway, all the more offensive to see people acting on such dumb beliefs. I’d say that even if my favorite pet hadn’t been a black cat.

  9. Papa John says:

    I lived int the Bay Area for almost five years and can’t say I ever heard San Fransisco referred to as “Fog City”. The Internet tells me that it was a popular sobriquet in the late forties. At the time I was there, across the bay in Oakland, it was simply “the city”.

  10. JohnH says:

    Did seem rather weird in a puzzle, but I couldn’t say it was dead wrong so shrugged it off (like indeed the curious AM STEREO), as I’m sure you did.

  11. JT says:

    NYT – I liked this puzzle for the most part and I’d argue that 4D – AM STEREO – and 10D – BE COOL – also could fit the DJ theme.

    That said, I’m none too happy with AM Stereo as an answer for a “radio band” as there is no such thing as AM stereo band, and even if there were, it wouldn’t be used by talk and news radio as the clue asked since those don’t need stereo to enhance their content. AM stations are essentially exclusively broadcast in mono due to broadcast distance limitations, there’s a whole wikipedia article dedicated to how little adoption of the various attempts there were:

    A better clue might have been “Unpopular FM radio alternative” and I could have accepted it, although that’d probably be too esoteric for a Monday puzzle.

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