Monday, April 15, 2024

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 2:05 (Stella) 


NYT 2:51 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 4:37 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 4:54 (Jim) 


Amanda Winters’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

New York Times, 04 15 2024, By Amanda Winters

Happy Monday all! And happy NYT debut to Amanda Winters!

Today’s puzzle includes six 2×2 blocks for  of shaded squares. In each one, the top two letters are AS, and the bottom two are SO – AS literally sits above SO.  The revealer, in the middle of the puzzle, has the clue [philosophical principle in which Earth mirrors heaven … or a hint to the shaded squares] – AS ABOVE, SO BELOW. (Also, AS on the left, SO on the right, but that’s just an amusing consequence).

I won’t list out all of the answers here that include an AS or a SO, but some nice longer ones included MASON JARS and SONIC BOOM. Six blocks of four shaded squares each means 24 themed squares in total (plus the revealer!) – I wonder how many more AS/SO pairs could have been put in the puzzle before the fill started to suffer.

The fill overall is incredibly smooth, as it needs to be for a Monday. CPL, ESE, SQIN are the only pieces I have any issue with. The grid layout affords a lot of mid-length words (and very few 3-letter words: only 12 overall). Some highlights included: ASIAN PEARS, SOLAR PANEL, SUBLEASE, FEDORAS, BLOSSOMS. I really liked the SOLAR PANEL clue, actually – [Component of a green house?] is a nice Monday misdirect. I also enjoyed the informal language in the clue [Poster holder-upper] for NAIL.

Katie Hoody’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Diversified Portfolio”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose second words could also be a financial asset, clued wackily of course.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Diversified Portfolio” · Katie Hoody · Mon., 4.15.24

  • 19a. [Investment in a comedy club?] LAUGHING STOCK. Good one.
  • 28a. [Investment in a reception venue?] MARITAL BOND. Solid.
  • 42a. [Investment in Greek architecture?] CLASSICAL CD. A bit green painty.
  • 52a. [Investment in carbon-free energy?] NUCLEAR OPTION. Another good one.

Good theme for a Monday and especially for this particular venue. And it looks like it’s this constructor’s debut, so kudos on that! The theme set is well chosen and doesn’t try to overdo it. That leaves room for the puzzle to breathe with smooth fill throughout.

Highlights include JUNK FOOD, GOES STAG, BRAINIAC, EN ROUTE, and “YOU SURE?” I’m not particularly fond of SPIT AT and ON ME, but those are easily gotten past.

Clues of note:

  • 23a. [It rises over México]. SOL. That one acute accent is your hint that the answer will be in Spanish.
  • 8d. [Ancient document, or how to view a modern document]. SCROLL. I like the contrast here.

Very nice debut puzzle with a good theme and fun, smooth fill. 3.75 stars.

Micah Sommersmith’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 4/15/24 by Micah Sommersmith

Los Angeles Times 4/15/24 by Micah Sommersmith

I’m reminded of the Reading Rainbow theme song: “Take a look, it’s in a book!” Or, really, any work of fiction, as far as the theme entries in this puzzle go — although the revealer does make it book-specific. 63A [Brainstorming breakthroughs, and the ends of 17-, 26-, and 47-Across?] is NOVEL IDEAS, meaning that the last word in each theme entry is an essential to a fiction book:

  • 17A [Backyard vegetable patch, e.g.] is a GARDEN PLOT. Some would argue that PLOT is, in fact, a nonessential.
  • 26A [Configuration before customization] is DEFAULT SETTING. Recommendation: When you are traveling, pick a novel (or, in a pinch, a nonfiction work) whose SETTING is the place you are traveling to. I find that it really enriches the experience of both the reading and the sightseeing!
  • 47A [Element of early internet art] is an ASCII CHARACTER. See here for lots of examples of ASCII CHARACTER art. I can’t pick a single favorite literary CHARACTER, but Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice and Lyra from His Dark Materials are up there.

Susan Gelfand’s Universal crossword, “See the Point” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 4/15/24 • Mon • “See the Point” • Gelfand • solution • 20240415

Didn’t see the connection until encountering the revealer.

  • 53aR [Have a measurable impact, or what 20-, 31- and 41-Across each do] MOVE THE NEEDLE.
  • 20a. [Indy 500 entrant] RACECAR DRIVER. The needle on the speedometer or tachometer.
  • 31a. [Gown creator] DRESSMAKER. Sewing needle.
  • 41a. [Player of recorded music] DISC JOCKEY. Phonograph stylus.

These work, nice group.

  • 36d [Front part of a clock] FACE. Hands are not needles, whew.
  • 48d [Orangutan relative, casually] CHIMP. Clue could have read [Orang relative] but perhaps that’s too subtle for an early-week offering? Or maybe orang is somehow offensive? Not sure.
  • 19a [Prevent from happening] AVERT. For some reason I was confident in plunking in ESTOP here.
  • 63a [ __ these flowers beautiful?”] AREN’T. Works fine and easily gettable, but maybe an idiosyncratic phrase choice? 51d [Garden growth] PLANT. 16a [Buzzing homes] HIVES.

Elizabeth Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 4/15/24 – Gorski

This one played like a Friday NYT for me, nowhere near the difficulty level I expect for a Monday New Yorker puzzle. I hope the move to mini/midi crosswords on Thursdays and Fridays doesn’t coincide with a dramatic reduction in the challenge level on Mondays.

Fave fill: NIECY NASH (though I drew a blank on the two roles in the clue), GENEROUS TIP, “ENOUGH ALREADY,” STEGOSAURUS, RULE OF LAW, THREE-WAY TIE, and GHOST KITCHENS. Didn’t know the novel THE KNOWN WORLD.

If you’re one of those solvers who hates an abundance of proper nouns in a grid, sorry. This one’s maybe not for you. If you aren’t in your 20s and don’t have a kid in their 20s, you probably don’t know the NOO-NOO from Teletubbies, and that’s OK. But you should know that one of the Noo-Noo’s main jobs was cleaning up excesses of pink Tubby custard. (You feel smarter already, don’t you?)

17a. [Star-studded attraction with a major following?], URSA. I like “star-studded attraction” as a playful way of saying “constellation.” Of course there’s both Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. 19d. [A thousand up front?] was also a fun way to clue KILO-.

Could do without E’EN, ATH., R.U.R., and CRO-. Shades of Ooxteplernon.

3.25 stars from me.

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20 Responses to Monday, April 15, 2024

  1. DougC says:

    NYT: Who puts up a poster with a NAIL? Does anybody do that? That was the only place I had a (very) brief hesitation. A very smooth but very easy puzzle, (very) nearly a PB.

    • PJ says:

      I agree. I started with TACK but also considered TAPE. Crossings soon corrected me

    • Eric H says:

      A NAIL seems like overkill to me, too. But someone in the NYT Wordplay comments speculated that perhaps the clue refers to the kinds of posters attached to utility poles (lost pets, upcoming shows, whatever).

    • JohnH says:

      I have framed posters of two classic paintings. That sounds more grandiose than it is. They’re just the cheap frames you used to find at convenience stores like Woolworth, not the fancier kind in framing stores. (I’ve no idea where to find them today). The rims are only plastic and slip on. Then a nail holds it to the wall. Glue wouldn’t work, but then I wouldn’t stick something to my interior walls with glue. It’d damage the paint and look awful. My apartment is not a lamp post or an abandoned building.

      The NYT threw me because, as so often, shading barely shows up in a printed page. I missed it altogether. I should have found it anyway, but either I was too busy wondering if I’d ever heard the revealer phrase before (I doubt it) or was just not motivated to put in the effort after I’d completed the puzzle. Let’s just say that, for me, the theme was not part of solving, and that’s a weakness.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I had the same reaction while solving and was going to grouse about that answer in my post-solve notes. But upon further reflection after I was done, I realized that posters are often framed and hung on NAILs.

      OTOH, I’m not at all familiar with the revealer phrase, AS ABOVE, SO BELOW except maybe as a paraphrase of “on Earth as it is in Heaven” from the Lord’s Prayer.

  2. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Breezy and smooth except for the top three rows. I’ve heard of NIECY NASH but never seen her in anything, so I needed a lot of crosses to get that. 13D being a previously-unknown Harry Potter reference was no help to me; I had DrAGON ALLEY for a long time. (I‘m sure that answer was a welcome gimme for a lot of people.) The wrong letter made it hard to see CAPTAIN America.

    Even once I had GENEROUS _IP, I had trouble parsing it as two words.


    But everything was reasonably inferable, which is what I want from a “challenging” themeless.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I knew NOO-NOO but knew not THE KNOWN WORLD.

      I’ve ordered takeout from ghost kitchens so I knew that one. All the food of a restaurant without the hassle of renting enough space to serve diners on-site, without the need to hire, train, and pay wait staff, bussers, etc.

      • Eric H says:

        Thanks. I did a little reading about GHOST KITCHENS and virtual kitchens.

        We get a DoorDash delivery once a week, but it’s from a Tex-Mex restaurant that we’ve been eating at for 40 years.

      • Gary R says:

        GHOST KITCHENS is a term I learned recently. An article last week in the NYT suggests that they are disappearing (I guess that’s apropos) as people have gone back to regular restaurant dining.

    • Twangster says:

      Worth searching for the show Getting On … she was great in that.

    • JohnH says:

      I found it hard even for a Monday, and I’m afraid Gorski has now gone entirely into the TNY style of all obscure all the time. But then I realize that I know all the wrong people.

  3. Greg says:

    I agree with Amy that the Monday New Yorker played a bit like a Friday NYT puzzle. But I, for one, was relieved by the eased level of difficulty, after the challenges of the recent Joel Fagliano-edited NYT Friday and Saturdays!

  4. Jack Azout says:

    Regarding today’s New Yorker puzzle, Amy, Eric H, Greg, I am truly humbled by your comments. “Played like a Friday NYT,” “Breezy and smooth.” Wow. It took me 2:31:53 to finish this crossword! I am, admittedly, a notoriously slow solver, but even for me this was way longer than usual. My average TNY Monday time this year (without including this one) is 57:12; my Friday NYT average is 44:56. I didn’t know NOONOO, NIECYNASH, ASWAN, DIAGONALLEY, BAKU, or FRIGG, which made the entire East an unpleasant time sink.

    Anyway, this goes to show how much I have left to learn… and I’m 62, so the ship might have sailed lol.

    • JohnH says:

      My experience exactly. While I hadn’t heard of NIECE NASH and had never seen this spelling of “ow” or “owie” for hurting, it just had to be an E, well, just because. But the E defeated me.

    • Eric H says:

      I don’t know how long you’ve been solving crosswords. If you’re relatively new to this, take that into consideration.

      I’m almost 65 and have been solving on and off for decades, with some serious solving for the last four years. (As in at least three or four puzzles most days.)

      So I have seen a lot of the same answers multiple times. And my pattern recognition skills are pretty good now.

      Sometimes, you just have to assume that the puzzle isn’t really throwing you a curveball. I’ve never heard of the “Maiden Tower,” but I’m willing to chance that few puzzle editors expect me to know any cities in Azerbaijan other than BAKU. (But that B did lead me to try Belarus as the “site of Europe’s oldest university,” despite thinking that the answer was probably a city.)

      I admire your perseverance. Good luck!

    • Cameron Castle says:

      I usually Like Elizabeth’s puzzling. This was abominable. If I have to google an answer I feel I have failed. When I had exhausted my knowledge of her proper nouns I was left with a massive amount of open squares. I was furious. You either know “Niecy Nash” or you don’t. That is a lot of letters to have no idea about. Why do that? It’s like, “I know these people and things and you don’t. Ha ha. Teletubies and a Pulitzer prize author. Frigg! Double Frigg! Spell check on this site doesn’t know what I’m typing. I’m trying to be niecy here, but it’s hard. Ms. Gorki, you didn’t provide enjoyment. You raised my blood pressure 40 points and I’m pissed.

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