Monday, May 6, 2024

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 1:45 (Stella) 


NYT 2:07 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:49 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 3:42 (Jim) 


Malaika Handa’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: I’M ON A ROLL – the letters “IM” sit atop three different types of rolls.

New York Times, 05 06 2024, By Malaika Handa

  • 16a [Pair of ones, in dice] – SNAKE EYES
  • 29a [Sheet with student names] – CLASS ROSTER
  • 47a [Sticky breakfast treat] – CINNAMON BUN
  • 64a [“Things could not be going better for me!” … or a hint to the placement of the circled letters] – I’M ON A ROLL

Love this theme! The wordplay is great on all three types of roles, and the I’M atop each one perfectly elevated the gimmick. CINNAMON BUN and SNAKE EYES are great answers outside of the theme too. Fittingly given the clue for I’M ON A ROLL, I’m pretty sure this was my fastest solve on a New York Times crossword ever. I’m not sure if that’s just because I’ve solved a lot of Malaika’s puzzles before, but this one flew by for me. Let me know how the difficulty felt for y’all!

Despite the stacked thematic content, the fill throughout the puzzle really shines. SANTA SUIT, DOWNTOWN, and SIGNATURE are all standout (although I think the [John Hancock] clue on the latter might throw some people off, it seems a little vague for a Monday without an “in slang” or something similar added). I also really want some CARNE asada with SALSA now.

There were a couple of sets of clues that went well together – we’ve got the cartoons of TINA Belcher from “Bob’s Burgers” and NED Flanders of “The Simpsons”. We have both ONE and TWO clued with their keyboard locations, which is a real boon to people like me that solve on their laptop :) I also loved the musical clues of [“___! I Feel Like a Woman!” (Shania Twain song)] for MAN and [It’s good for “absolutely nothing,” per a 1970 #1 hit] for WAR.

Happy Monday all!

Kathy Lowden’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Body Language”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar two-word phrases comprised of a body part and a gerund.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Body Language” · Kathy Lowden · Mon., 5.6.24

  • 17a. [Excessive self-contemplation] NAVEL GAZING.
  • 29a. [Solicitous attention] HAND HOLDING.
  • 34a. [Strongly worded reprimand] TONGUE LASHING.
  • 43a. [Bullying] BROW BEATING.
  • 57a. [Coercion] ARM TWISTING.

Straightforward Monday theme, but I have to admit I wanted something more. There are many, many such phrases (head scratching, knee slapping, thumb sucking, belly aching, etc., etc.), that I want something else to tie these together.

For example, the last three are all decidedly negative, while the first two aren’t. If two other negative phrases (backstabbing and brainwashing come to mind), then the set would be consistent and a more precise title could be used (perhaps “Body Blows”). As it is, these phrases feel somewhat random other than the fact that they contain body parts.

I did enjoy the smooth fill, though, with LOVE ME DO, NEATNIKS, SIBERIA, SCREEDS, REDDIT, and PO-BOYS. The grid has 76 words, but I felt it had good flow throughout.

Clue of note: 58d. [It follows pi]. RHO. Let me ask you. Do you care for clues such as this? Do you know the Greek alphabet enough to know what comes before or after another letter? As for me, I know the first few and the las one, but that’s about it. I almost always have to wait for the crosses to fill these in.

The theme is fine, but I felt it could have been more. 3.25 stars.

Patti Varol’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 5/6/24 by Patti Varol

Los Angeles Times 5/6/24 by Patti Varol

Although there’s no revealer, this puzzle’s theme is pretty straightforward: Each theme entry ends with one of the five Ws of journalism (WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and WHY, respectively).

  • 17A [Dr. Seuss work featuring an elephant who declares, “A person’s a person, no matter how small”] is HORTON HEARS A WHO.
  • 23A [Skeptical reply to an assertion] is BASED ON WHAT?
  • 39A [Very remote place] is MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.
  • 50A [“Should I stop pouring?”] is JUST SAY WHEN.
  • 61A [“My motives have to remain a secret”] is I CAN’T TELL YOU WHY. I couldn’t not think of the Eagles song as a more natural way to clue this, although I get that trivia has to be minimized on Mondays.

All the nontheme entries are 7 letters or shorter (and only four of them are 6s or 7s), leading to a very quick solve. I enjoyed seeing CARLA Hall and KATE Spade referenced.

Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 5/6/24 – Liu

A couple notches easier than I was expecting. Perhaps Wyna originally clued this to be a more pliant Tuesday?

Fave fill: DREAM COME TRUE (such a lovely phrase!), MATERNAL LEAVE and [Fed one’s inner child?] for ATE FOR TWO, “SEXUAL HEALING,” ZERO SUM, PAPER TOWEL (fun clue, [Dryer sheet?]), RUSTLES, EVIL TWINS, ENAMELER (I’ll bet Wyna has done some enameling in her art career). Unmoved by COR, RETAG, ELHI, TORE AT.

Didn’t really know but pieced together [Hong Kong megastar Andy] LAU. Here’s his Wikipedia page. Sounds like he’s a bigger star than Jackie Chan, and he sang at the Olympic and Paralympic closing ceremonies in Beijing in 2008.

NIHON and Nippon are both accepted pronunciations for what the Japanese call Japan.

3.75 stars from me.

Freddie Cheng and Robin M Henry’s Universal crossword, “Never Mind!” — pannonica’s précis

Universal • 5/6/24 • Mon • “Never Mind!” • Cheng, Henry • solution • 20240506

Briefly, as I’m having a hectic day:

  • 61aR [“Forget what I just said,” or what one could do to the start of each starred clue’s answer] STRIKE THAT.
  • 16a. [*Critical moment in tennis] MATCH POINT (strike a match).
  • 25a. [*”Go handle the situation!”] DEAL WITH IT (strike a deal).
  • 39a. [*Cause a dire problem] POSE A THREAT (strike a pose).
  • 52a. [*Invoice total] BALANCE DUE (strike a balance).

Four strikes? Five strikes? I’m out.

p.s. nicely done, overall

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22 Responses to Monday, May 6, 2024

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Great Monday- Smooth and fun.
    Love: SWOON :)

    • Me says:

      I really liked this one. Very smooth – only 7 seconds off my personal best – yet I did not know what the theme was until I got to the revealer. Great work, Malaika!

  2. GiJoseph says:

    Not a fan of NRA in the WSJ.

  3. JohnH says:

    The WSJ seemed consistent enough for me, phrases with body parts that, all the better, refer to human interactions. I’m certainly used by now to the Greek alphabet. But then I had to memorize it in high school as the first assignment in physics. The teacher was mediocre, and till a wonderful college prof I was basically self-taught in physics. (He didn’t cover special relativity.) But he left me with that one lasting favor.

    As for consistency, I didn’t latch onto the NYT theme as happily and readily, since “roll” for class roster didn’t feel as natural to me as it should. But fine for a Monday.

  4. David L says:

    NYT: Maybe I’m unusually dense this morning, but I didn’t get it. I was just looking at the two letters underneath the circled IMs and could make no sense of what was implied. Oh well. Nice puzzle anyway!

  5. JT says:

    NYT – a really great puzzle and a cute theme, but it was so weird to see TERN show up in both this and The Mini on the same day. It’s hardly a bird I think about since we have actual seagulls here instead.

  6. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: A few false steps along the way, such as IT’S Karmic, PArenTAL LEAVE and Nile River, but otherwise pretty smooth. Always nice to see ZADIE Smith in a puzzle. “White Teeth” is such a great novel.

    • JohnH says:

      I didn’t enjoy it at all, but then you usually find TNY cluing much easier than I do. I got the karma answer and all I could think of was that no one would say that. I got REST AREAS but, no doubt for lack of a car and family vacations, my first thought there was they’re for bathrooms instead. I took forever to fill the word after MATERNAL since surely everyone says MATERNITY LEAVE instead, and I balked for a long time at RIVER NILE. I didn’t know the Marvin Gaye song, which surprises me, or LAU. So all in all breaking into the right side was all but impossible.

      I was left in the end with an almost completely blank NE. A rapper, two Japanese clues, the mutants (where I first hoped for sports teams, cars, or the like), the wide open Royal successor (so many possibilities), the allusive upper atmosphere, the seeming poor fit of the don’t be weird clue to any real phrase, etc. etc. Would I ever find a foothold? (I still have no idea what royal icing is.)

      • JohnH says:

        And of course “pasty” is a Britishism not flagged as such.

      • Eric H says:

        The rappers slowed me down a bit, too. I put in ICE-T early on, the took it out because I thought the radio response was Roger. I should’ve remembered J. COLE but needed a few crosses to get that.

        I agree that MATERNity LEAVE sounds more natural than MATERNAL LEAVE.

        Royal ICING is pretty basic stuff for cookie decorating — confectioners sugar, egg whites and vanilla. I only know the term because my husband used to watch cooking shows and once or twice made pissy cut-out cookies that he decorated with royal icing.

      • Gary R says:

        I agree on MATERNAL vs. maternity LEAVE. Also agree on the clue for ACT CASUAL – maybe “Don’t be conspicuous!” would have worked a little better. And royal ICING is an unfamiliar term – after looking it up, I know what it is, but I’ve never heard it called that (I’m not much of a baker).

        My last two squares to fill were the cross of ZADIE and AYER (an “A” seemed like the most likely choice, so I got that one right) and the cross of NIHON and COLE (got that one wrong).

        Other than those two squares, it was pretty smooth going for me. A few mis-steps along the way – programmer before BETA TESTER, roger before WILCO.

        I thought “Pasty, e.g.” was fine without any qualifier. I think of pasties as a Canadian thing, but they were common in Wisconsin, where I grew up, and are common in Michigan, where I live now. With the “P” from PANKO in place, PIE went in without hesitation.

        • JohnH says:

          Alas, I definitely did not have P in PANKO. Interesting about pasties in the U.S., though. I feel luck now even more than before that I read Zadie Smith’s novel. I’m looking forward to snaring the new one, Fraud.

  7. Mhoonchild says:

    A personal best time for NYT today! The solve went so fast I didn’t have a chance to think about the theme, and didn’t spend anytime post-solve to figure it out. I’m glad that Sophia and other bloggers figure these things out so I don’t have to. ;-)

    • DougC says:

      Agree that this was very easy, even for a Monday. This makes eight days in a row that my solve times have been significantly lower than my long-term averages. Quite a reversal from earlier in Joel Fagliano’s editorial tenure, when most days seemed significantly more difficult than the norm.

      But I also agree with those who found this smooth, cute and fun. :)

  8. David Roll says:

    WSJ–I agree with Jim–I really dislike Greek alphabet questions–I only go out to epsilon.

    • PJ says:

      I’m very comfortable with the Greek alphabet. But I am a statistician. I spent the last six years before retiring teaching quantitative methods to business sophomores and MBA students. Part of my first lecture each semester was spent trying to demystify the Greek alphabet by showing the similarities to our alphabet. It helped explain why, for instance, omicron, pi, rho, sigma, tau, and upsilon are in that order.

  9. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT … This was mostly a nice, breezy solve for me, “Wall St. index” is a poor clue for NYSE, which is an abbreviation for the New York Stock Exchange. Yes, there’s an NYSE Composite Index, but the clue is imprecise, at best. That answer complicated my finish, since I had ‘DJIA’ there (i.e. an actual Wall St. index).

  10. Don says:

    Did anyone do the Universal xword by Alexander Liebeskind titled “To Each Their Own”? The reveal – DIFFERENT STROKES – is clued as: Contrasting approaches, in a saying… and a hint to the starred clues’ answers. The starred clues’ answers are as follows: ROCKFAN, SWIMCOACH, ARTCOLLECTOR and TENNISPLAYER. I don’t see how the reveal has anything to do with the starred clues’ answers and it is driving me nuts! Any help would be most appreciated. Thanks!

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