Monday, December 11, 2023

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 2:02 (Stella) 


NYT 3:25 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:35 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 3:50 (Jim) 


Luke K. Schreiber's New York Times crossword — Sophia's write-up

Theme: Phrases with the string "me" in them twice, once at the beginning

New York Times, 12 11 2023, By Luke K. Schreiber

  • 17a [Union of two major companies] - MEGAMERGER
  • 24a [Wampanoag chief of the 1600s also known as King Philip] - METACOMET
  • 38a [Temperature measurer for turkeys and roasts] - MEAT THERMOMETER
  • 51a [Ticking item that helps musicians keep time] - METRONOME
  • 62a ["I'm back!" … or a hint to 17-, 24-, 38- and 51- Across] - IT'S ME AGAIN

IT'S ME AGAIN is a really cute revealer, even if the theme itself is a little bland. I like the phrases Luke chose, and it's great that there are four strong ME - ME answers - looking at my own wordlist, there aren't many better phrases than these. METACOMET was new to me even though I've spent significant time in Massachusetts, so I was glad to learn about him. MEAT THERMOMETER is a nice grid spanner, and MEGAMERGER feels modern.

Given the amount of theme material, the fill of today's puzzle is remarkably clean. There are very few proper nouns that would make the puzzle inaccessible - SANAA might be the only one. I love STALEMATE, LET'S ROLL and MAGIC BEAN, and STAIR STEP and DEFROSTED aren't bad either.  My biggest solving issue was putting in "amaretto" before ANISETTE for the clue [Sweet liqueur often put in coffee]. New to me was the clue's fact about OPALs: [Gem whose name comes from "upala," the Sanskrit word for "precious stone"].

Happy Monday all! And congrats to Luke on a great NYT debut.

Kevin Christian's Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella's write-up

Los Angeles Times 12/11/23 by Kevin Christian

Los Angeles Times 12/11/23 by Kevin Christian

Thank goodness for detailed descriptions in revealers, because I have lived in New York City for 20+ years and I don't know a damn thing about GARDEN HOSEs. (In fact, if you would like your plant to die, feel free to put it in my care. I'm really good at killing plants, especially the ones I'm trying to keep alive.)

Anyway, the clue for GARDEN HOSE at 59A is [Backyard item with settings found at the ends of 17-, 25-, 37-, and 47-Across], and I believe the constructor as he's telling me that GARDEN HOSEs have settings called CONE, MIST, SHOWER, and JET. (The only non-intuitive one of these to me is CONE, which I guess is helpful when you're watering plants that are in a circular formation. Thanks, Dr. Google!)

  • 17A [Baskin-Robbins option] is a WAFFLE CONE.
  • 25A [Lemon-lime soda brand discontinued in early 2023] is SIERRA MIST. Huh, I didn't know it was discontinued! I won't miss it.
  • 37A [Wet postgame celebration] is a CHAMPAGNE SHOWER.
  • 47A [Wealthy executive's plane] is a PRIVATE JET.

The fill was mostly fine; I could do without AMATI on a Monday, and without SSR period, and on the other hand GIFT OF GAB and WATCH ME were standouts.

Mike Shenk's Wall Street Journal crossword, “Take It on the Chin”—Jim's review

Theme answers are familiar(ish) names and phrases whose first "words" grow from B to BEARD.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Take It on the Chin” · Mike Shenk · Mon., 12.11.23

  • 17a. [Hip-hop label founded in the Bronx] B-BOY RECORDS.
  • 21a. ["Hush!"] BE QUIET.
  • 37a. ["Golden Girls" co-star] BEA ARTHUR.
  • 53a. [Hearty greeting] BEAR HUG.
  • 58a. [Why one might have to shave, and a hint to the circled letters]R BEARD GROWTH.

Good theme for a Monday. Maybe not a puzzle that longtime crossworders might find thrilling, but a gentle, helpful theme for new solvers. Once you get the gist of it, that gives you plenty of help as you head toward the bottom of the grid.

The grid is more utilitarian than flashy with difficult-to-fill stacks of 7s and a large, open central area. But there's enough to like with RISQUE, INFIDEL, ALBANIA, and DEATHLY, and that center is impressively smooth. I was less keen on the home-displacement mini-theme of EVICTED and UPROOT with EJECT thrown in as an extra.

Clues of note:

  • 38d. [Overcoat named for an Irish province]. ULSTER. I wasn't familiar with this double-breasted coat. Here's everything you need to know.
  • 46d. [Garbage can, in Britain]. ASH BIN. "The bin" or "rubbish bin" seemed more common to me during my time in that country.

Good starter puzzle for new solvers. 3.25 stars.

Elizabeth Gorski's New Yorker crossword-Amy's recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 12/11/23 - Gorski

Easier than expected for me, but then I am fluent in crosswordese so formerly more common fill like ENTO, SONES, E'ER, ELEA, TRA, and ERLE dropped into the squares quickly. Those don't add nearly as much interest as the better long fill. Among my faves: SERRANO peppers, RHINOCEROSES, "BEAUTIFUL LIAR," Van Gogh's CYPRESS trees, the Dead's "TRUCKIN'," BY CHANCE, OUT OF TIME, and MONA LISA.

New to me: 40a. [Twentieth-century Catholic educator Sister ___ Bowman], THEA. Her bio at the Franciscan Sisters' site says this African American nun "fought evil, especially prejudice, suspicion, hatred and things that drive people apart." Her Mississippi diocese has ptu her name forth for canonization.

Also never heard of [“Game of Thrones” actress Bianco], ESME. She played a character called Ros who was largely naked.

Spanish vocab to know: [“Look,” in La Mancha], MIRA. Now, look, I've seen this one pop up in Spanish dialogue captioning, so it's pretty basic.

Three stars from me. That COAL OIL wasn't spicing things up!

Justin Werfel's Universal crossword, "Split in Three" — pannonica's write-up

Universal • 12/11/23 • Mon • "Split in Three" • Werfel • solution • 20231211

Regarding the theme, I had the AHA (40d) moment quite early on, so I spent the bulk of the solve mildly distracted, waiting for the inevitable revealer to appear.

  • 46dR [Rift … or, read in three parts, a description of this puzzle's theme] SCHISM, that is: sch is m.
  • 16a. [Good place for fly-fishing?] MITTS CREEK (Schitt's Creek).
  • 29a. [Viral image of an Egyptian landmark?] PYRAMID MEME (pyramid scheme).
  • 47a. [Colossus' back tooth?] RHODES MOLAR (Rhodes Scholar).
  • 61a. [No-good flower plots?] BUM GARDENS (Busch Gardens). I was off-balance on this one because the M didn't appear at the beginning of a word, as in the other theme answers.

Three of the four are proper nouns, which is an unusual distribution. As for the rest of the grid, quite easy to complete.

  • 11d [Not online, online] IRL. "In real life".
  • 23d [The Salvation __ ] ARMY. Maybe consider giving to a different charity this holiday season. 2019 Vox storynb: In recent years the organization has attempted to ameliorate its image.
  • 33d [Medieval system with lieges and their lieges] FEUDALISM. Highlighting the ambiguity of the word liege.
  • 62d [Game show host smiley or Fieri] GUY. The former is a Muppet. The latter is some sort of cartoon character.
  • {I found nothing of particular note among the acrosses.}

EASY (36a) early-week crossword. Now I can check out the New Yorker's for a challenge!

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7 Responses to Monday, December 11, 2023

  1. JohnH says:

    For the NYT, I had to get over mistaken expectations. OK, so there will be lots of ME, including the starts of themers. Will we get some wordplay, asking us to drop the two letters or see them added to form new words? Will we get a jokey revealer about an egotist obsessed with ME? But no, they just appear, albeit twice each time. Meh.

    But the doubling is nice, and it’s enough for a theme, especially on a Monday, so fine once I gave up expectations. And METACOMET is interesting to learn, although also a bit hard for an easy puzzle. I do wish, though, that META were not then a separate entry, although I realize there’s no shared etymology.

  2. Mr. [often] Grumpy says:

    NYT: Etymology be damned, META and METACOMET in the same grid was too much.
    LAT: It’s not the GARDEN HOSE that determines how the water comes out, but the fixture you add on the end.
    WSJ: Simple but a nice add-a-letter puzzle, and I thought it was nice that each of the growing pieces stood alone.
    Universal: Perplexing and kind of annoying until the revealer, and then I really liked it.
    TNY: Pretty much okay, since there was less trivia than I’ve come to expect [dread] from an early-week puzzle, and the crosses were fair, but I have to register a strong objection to the name of an actress from a show I have not watched and will never watch [and loathed the books, to boot] rather than a J.D. Salinger classic. End of rant. :-)

  3. Harry says:

    TNY: Minor peeve: No sommelier worthy of the name would recommend a rose.

    • PJ says:

      Sure they would. A good sommelier isn’t snobbing up the wine experience but is instead using their knowledge to enhance the consumer’s experience. And An Eight Track Tape and Gallinita from Sine Qua Non are two Roses worthy of any palate.

  4. Eri. says:

    New Yorker: I zoomed through the top third like it was a Monday NYT puzzle. Then I hit some snags with names I didn’t know (LEEVES, ESMÉ) and had trouble seeing answers I should have gotten easily, like PSALM and EPISTLES.

    I also had STArS for 23A, which is a perfectly cromulent answer. Despite having enjoyed GERARD Butler on some old British show about a jury, didn’t connect him to “Dracula 2000” (whatever that is; I assume it was not a movie, because my husband is a vampire freak and we would likely have seen it), I was slow to realize that rERARD was a ridiculous-looking name.

    I hadn’t known the factoid about the MONA LISA. Or maybe I did, as I got the answer off the M. But then, it’s a very crossword friendly name.

  5. Eric H. says:

    Nothing to add. Just need to fix my posting name before I delete it entirely.

Comments are closed.