Monday, April 22, 2024

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 1:56 (Stella) 


NYT 4ish (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 6:26 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 4:20 (Jim) 


David J. Kahn’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

New York Times, 04 22 2024, By David J. Kahn

Happy Monday all! There’s a lot going on in today’s puzzle. For starters, there’s an 8 part word ladder going from COAL to WIND energy: COAL –> COOL –> WOOL –> WOOD –> FOOD –> FOND –> FIND –> WIND. Besides this, we have the central answer GLOBAL WARMING, flanked by GREEN POWER and FOSSIL FUEL.

In terms of word ladder puzzles, this is a pretty good one. I like how the theme includes the word ladder but also some other long answers, and I like how the word ladder clues relate to the climate change theme as well. That being said, it took me forever to get [*Energy source whose production contributes to 36-Across] for FOOD, because I was still thinking of the WOOD type of energy source. It’s very clever to have a clue that works for both of those middle answers, almost like a Schrodinger puzzle.

I don’t have much to say about the fill in the rest of the puzzle other than to say I wish it was a bit more interesting? But given the amount of thematic material I guess I should be happy it’s clean, at least (although I could definitely do without WINOS). DAWNED ON and LOUSES UP are good-not-great downs, but I loved the references to Sheryl LEE Ralph and  ADAM Lambert. My favorite clues in the puzzle were [Leave no leaves, say] for RAKE and [Its name translates as “waterless place” in Mongolian] for GOBI, which is a new fact for me.

Alex Eaton-Salners’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sound Check”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose first words are homophones.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Sound Check” · Alex Eaton-Salners · Mon., 4.22.24

  • 20a. [Bartlett, Bosc and Anjou] PEAR VARIETIES.
  • 33a. [Reduce] PARE DOWN.
  • 38a. [France’s equivalent of Santa Claus] PÈRE NOËL.
  • 49a. [Reading aid] PAIR OF GLASSES.

I’m so used to seeing Alex’s byline with tricky themes that it took me by surprise to look down and see his name after I completed my solve. But of course there’s no reason a veteran constructor of sneaky themes can’t produce a straightforward grid suitable for a Monday. This one’s about as straight as they come, so it would be a good one to hand to a newbie solver.

If I had to pick a couple of nits it would be that PEAR VARIETIES isn’t an in-the-language phrase like the others, and that the title is too generic. This is a tough type of theme to find a title for, but what do you think of “Pār Four”?

If the theme didn’t do it for you, perhaps you enjoyed the fill. Lots of highlights like “WHERE ELSE?”, CROSS-COURT, CHERRY-PICK, DRESS SHOP, JAKARTA, DAHLIA, “NO HINTS“, and TOOLBAR. New to me is “ON GOD” [Slangy “I swear!”]. But I know it’s legit because it even has an abbreviation: ONG.

Clue of note: 4d. [In what other place?]. “WHERE ELSE?” Hmm. I’m feeling like there should be quotation marks in the clue. The question mark by itself is usually an indicator of wordplay, but these phrases are synonymous.

Straightforward theme, but an enjoyable grid. 3.5 stars.

Agnes Davidson & Zhouqin Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 4/22/24 by Agnes Davidson & Zhouqin Burnikel

Los Angeles Times 4/22/24 by Agnes Davidson & Zhouqin Burnikel

The revealer at 64A [Newspaper’s attention-getters, and what both words in 17-, 25-, 38- and 54-Across can do], is HEADLINES, meaning that the HEAD, or first word, of each theme answer is a type of LINE:

  • 17A [Improper etiquette at a social gathering] is a PARTY FOUL, leading to PARTY LINE.
  • 25A [Aristocrat] is BLUE BLOOD, leading to BLUE LINE. In Chicago BLUE LINE means a train you can take to O’Hare; in NYC it’s the A/C/E trains.
  • 38A [Romantic outing] is DATE NIGHT, leading to DATELINE.
  • 54A [Biography] is LIFE STORY, leading to LIFELINE.

The grid is unusual for a Monday: It’s not unusual in that there are a lot of 3- and 4-letter words, but it is in that there are quite a lot of 7s. It’s fortunate that the 7s are all Downs, since 7-letter Across entries when all the theme entries are 9 letters long could be confusing.

Sarah Butkovic’s Universal crossword, “Drink Up” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 4/22/24 • Mon • “Drink Up” • Butkovic • solution • 20240422

We have some circled triplets today. The revealer explains it.

  • 56aR [Lively and cheerful state, or a theme hint] HIGH SPIRITS.
  • 20a. [*They don’t have any words] INST{RUM}ENTALS.
    (14d [Big painting on a wall] {MUR}AL.)
  • 37a. [*His songs were in “Top Gun” and “Footloose”] KENNY LOG{GIN}S.
    (25d [Cold rice topped with wasabi and raw fish] {NIG}IRI.)
  • 42a. [*They revise scripts] STO{RY E}DITORS.
    (36d [Jane of British lit] {EYR}E.)

All three-letter liquors. I lift a glass.

  • 3d [Rover’s home?] MARS. Question mark helps here, not just to disabuse the solver from doggy thoughts, but also because MARS isn’t really the ‘home’ of those devices.
  • 4d [Chris of “Jurassic World”] PRATT, he of recent historic house-demolishing news.
  • 28d [Superior groups] ELITES. Not necessarily an indication of quality; sometimes it’s merely relative status.
  • 43a [Strong opponent of change] DIE HARD. That’s not how I’ve heard it used, though I can see how it could be parsed that way. For the record, m-w defines it thus: 1: to be long in dying such rumors die hard 2: to continue resistance against hopeless odds
    that kind of determination dies hard § Perhaps the clue is describing another form? A compound word rather than a short phrase? That isn’t in m-w, but may very well be in another dictionary. Yes, I see it in Wiktionary, although I don’t know whence their definition.
  • 53d [Fairy-tale monsters] OGRES. 55d [Fair-tale monster] TROLL.
  • 22a [Roofing gunk] TAR, followed by its emordnilap, 23a [Tattletale] RAT.
  • 54a [Key also known as Option] ALT. 67a [Key also known as return] ENTER.

Sid Sivakumar’s New Yorker crossword, “A Foodie Puzzle: Jam-packed”–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 4/22/24 – “A Foodie Puzzle”

No shade to Sid, but I really wish the New Yorker decision-makers had taken into account how many themed puzzles they had on hand before they shrank their puzzle offerings. I live for tough themelesses! And they keep running themed puzzles on hard-themelesses Monday.

The theme revealer is FRUIT-FILLED, and the theme entries are made by inserting a fruit inside the clued word to yield a legit phrase:

  • 16a. [*Societal customs and traditions], CULT FIGURES. That’s CULTURES with some FIG jam.
  • 20a. [*Skin-care product that might be applied with a cotton pad], TOP EARNER. A PEAR in your bottle of TONER.
  • 30a. [*Court legend Arthur], ASH PLUME. Arthur Ashe, plum.
  • 42a. [*Staff look-alike], ROMAN GOD. Mango in rod.
  • 54a. [*Buzz off?], SHED A TEAR. A date inside shear.

Solid theme.

Desi morsel: [Hub for Mughlai cuisine], AGRA. One of the mughals built the Taj Mahal, of course. Here’s a brief look at this North Indian cuisine.

Fave fill: GOOD FAT, CHEESE LOG, HOLY GHOST. “NO, SILLY” feels a little contrived to me, and I continue my crusade against the entry “I RULE,” which isn’t really a thing anyone says unless they’re a jackass, am I right?

3.5 stars from me.

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31 Responses to Monday, April 22, 2024

  1. Bryan says:

    NYT: Overall, a really good Earth Day puzzle. I happen to enjoy word ladders, so that element made my solve more fun.

  2. Seattle DB says:

    Martin – you’re the man with the answers, so maybe you know why the Universal Sunday big 21×21 puzzle is only available in PUZ format and not PDF? (TY if you know anything.)

    • Martin says:

      For some reason, comments posted with Chrome don’t take, so I’m trying Edge. I posted last night that Jeff Chen does us a great service by creating AcrossLite files for this site, since Andrews McMeel has no online versions of the 21×21. I salute him, and David Steinberg, who makes special AcrossLite files available of the 15×15 for us as well. They’ve both got lots to do.

      • Seattle DB says:

        TY for the reply, and I wasn’t complaining, I was just curious why the standard UNI comes as a PDF but the bigger Sunday UNI doesn’t. (And thank-you’s to Jeff Chen and David Steinberg also!)

        • Seattle DB says:

          Oops, I made an error. The standard UNI does not come in PDF format — it comes as HTML, which I then print. My apologies, Martin.

  3. Seattle DB says:

    Crossword history buffs might want to view this link to read a 2013 story about Martin Herbach and others who are archiving NYT crossword puzzles. (And I think there’s a picture of Martin with a young David Steinberg. Very cool stuff!)

  4. Paul+Coulter says:

    I enjoyed Sid’s puzzle in the New Yorker today. There’s a fresh theme and a nice pay-off. It’s hard and your time will probably be higher than you’d like for a New Yorker, but it was worth it.

    • marciem says:

      +1 ..

      Again, I was surprised to see a themed puzzle on Monday, when I look forward to the “Challenging” label … but this did not disappoint. It was somewhat challenging AND a fun theme.

    • JohnH says:

      I hardly knew what to expect when I saw that it was themed, but it was a pleasure. It was just hard enough to be halfway plausible for Monday, if maybe not optimal.

  5. RCook says:

    NYT: I’m not convinced the clue for 35 wasn’t accidentally duplicated at 36. A lot of food production doesn’t contribute to climate change.

    • Dallas says:

      I’m with you on this… while it does kinda work, it’s such a stretch that it doesn’t seem Monday-level to me, and I came down on it more likely being an accidental duplicate. But otherwise a fun Monday puzzle.

    • JohnH says:

      Never occurred to me it could be in error or an accident. I saw it as a clever duplicate, punningly using two senses of “energy source.” While it’s true that food growing need not always contribute to climate change, we’ve had the discussion a zillion times now that clues don’t have to be limited to “this is always the case.” And sure, sometimes it does contribute. I can’t begin to count the ways.

    • Gary R says:

      I was a little more skeptical of the clue as applied to WOOD. I suppose if you consider the “production” of wood to be logging/deforestation, it works, sorta. Personally, I think of the production of wood as the growing of trees which, if anything, retards global warming. It’s the “use” of the wood as fuel that contributes to global warming.

  6. Irish Miss says:

    Re the LA Times theme, both words in each theme entry can precede Line, e.g. Blue Line/Blood Line, Party Line/Foul Line, etc.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I’m familiar with the phrase “thin blue line”, but just “blue line”? When I Google it, all of the top hits are for lines that are part of various rapid transit systems (mostly Chicago and New York). Is there context for “blue line” that I’m not thinking of? To me, it doesn’t seem noteworthy enough to be included as part of a crossword puzzle theme.

  7. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: It took me about 16 minutes, which is not out of line for New Yorker Mondays before they cut back. (Since the cutback, my Monday times have been faster.)

    I probably spent five or six minutes just in the NW corner, where more clues seemed to be more susceptible to multiple answers. There are a lot of North Sea ports; ROLEX threw me because I was trying to think of a tennis player. I’ve never heard anyone say “All skill, baby!” and hope I never do.

    Maybe if I had committed to TICS sooner, the NW corner would have been as easy as the rest of the grid.

    I did get the revealer early on, which helped with TOP EARNER and ASH PLUME.

    • Gary R says:

      NW was not too bad for me. Took a while to see ANTWERP (I wanted Hamburg, but the crosses weren’t working for that) – didn’t realize it was that busy a port.

      My hold-up was in the area of MEDLEY, SPATE, ROMAN GOD and REPO. I was convinced the “string of numbers” was some kind of “key,” so I wasn’t seeing MEDLEY. Didn’t know APU, and it took a long time to come up with TORE AT. Even after TORE AT went in, I was puzzled by ROMAN GOD because I was thinking it was the second “O” that was part of ROD – so I was trying to come up with a 5-letter fruit that starts with “O.”

      Solve time for me wound up being like one of the old “Challenging” Mondays, but I enjoyed it. I thought there were a lot of clever clues.

    • Art Shapiro says:

      I too thought the NW was the only sticky area in an otherwise surprisingly-easy New Yorker. I normally struggle on the Mondays because of the plethora of completely-unfamiliar names. This one was a welcome exception to that normal misery.

  8. Bryan says:

    Random question: Does anybody know why the background of the page for today’s NYT puzzle on XWord Info fades from white to pink and back repeatedly several seconds after loading? I can’t think of any reason pertaining to today’s puzzle theme. Maybe Jim Horne reads these comments and can explain!

    • sorry after after says:

      A theme-related flourish from Jim, perhaps? Calls to mind a Dickensian fug that gradually dissipates as COAL gives way to WIND. Alas, it keeps coming back.

    • Eric H says:

      I noticed that, too.

      There’s a link on each puzzle page there where you can email them with questions or comments. Jim Horne has always responded quickly when I‘ve use those links.

    • Martin says:

      Pink snow is a symptom of climate change. Maybe that’s what he had in mind.

      • Bryan says:

        That’s a good theory. I think maybe the page is the “Earth” and the reddening of the page is “warming.” So, like, a visual representation of global warming. That’s the best idea I have. But the pink snow theory is good too.

      • Martin says:

        In anyone is curious, the background color animation goes from white to this pink.

    • Jim Horne says:

      I intended to represent global warming through the page heating up. I guess it didn’t work. :(

      • Bryan says:

        That’s what I eventually figured out. Once I “got it,” I thought it was very clever! Much like the overall theme and word ladder of today’s puzzle itself. Jim, thanks for everything you do to keep XWord Info up and running.

      • Martin says:

        See that orange here? Woulda been better than pink IMHO.

  9. Jack S says:

    I also miss the “challenging“ Monday from the New Yorker but anything from Sid S is OK with me.

    I thought there might be a meta involved with SHED A TEAR /CRY and ROMAN GOD/CERES but I couldn’t make any other connections

  10. Eric H says:

    BEQ: Another one in which the NW corner took longer than the rest of the puzzle. MRI SCAN before PET SCAN before CAT SCAN. CASH CAB sounds vaguely familiar from previous crosswords, but it took a lot to get there.

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