Monday, May 13, 2024

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 2:19 (Stella) 


NYT 10:00 (Emily) 


The New Yorker 5:47 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 4:28 (Jim) 


Jeremy Newton’s New York Times crossword — Emily’s write-up

Happy Mother’s Day!

What a fantastic puzzle and fabulous grid and theme! Whether you play golf or mini golf, this puzzle a fun one.

Today’s theme: the square marked with the flag is the CUP for the string of “O”s that start in the word HOLE and travel around the grid’s “course” in a line through INONE all the way into the marked square with SHOT.

5.12.2024 Monday New York Times Crossword

As a bonus, MINIGOLF also ties-in, as well as SCOTLAND. There is so much to this theme but it all fits together well so doesn’t seem like too much. Plus, the those two placements bookend the main three that line up in the middle–delightful. Such a fun, creative concept! This theme didn’t feel gimmicky and really gelled for me, which is impressive and felt like one of the stronger themes while also being playful within the grid. I saw it about halfway through solve and filled in the “O”s before finishing. Awesome job, Jeremy!

I’m still a NYT newbie so usually can do Monday, Tuesday, and perhaps Wednesday difficulties but do pieces of the other days’ puzzles usually; Sundays can go either way, depending. I really enjoyed this puzzle and its theme. The overall fill was smooth and easily clued, as it should for a Monday, which is great for an easier solve or for solvers newer to the NYT puzzles.

Five stars from me.

Aaron Ullman’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 5/13/24 by Aaron Ullman

Los Angeles Times 5/13/24 by Aaron Ullman

I have time only to explain the theme today. It’s pretty cute! The revealer at 67A [Disco classic spelled out with arm motions and by the ends of the answers to the starred clues] is YMCA, because the last words in 20-, 33-, 41-, and 52-Across are WHY, EM, SEA, and EH, or homophones for the letters YMCA, respectively:

  • 20A [“I can’t make sense of it”] is DON’T ASK ME WHY.
  • 33A [World Series of Poker game] is TEXAS HOLD ‘EM.
  • 41A [Natural-horror film franchise featuring superintelligent sharks] is DEEP BLUE SEA.
  • 52A [Catchphrase of the Three Stooges] is OH, A WISE GUY, EH? Definitely harder to parse with no spaces between the words than the others.

John Ewbank’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Separation”—Jim’s review

Circled letters in certain rows spell out synonyms for romantic relationships and are relegated to the left and right sides of the grid. The revealer is LONG-DISTANCE / RELATIONSHIP (20a, [With 56-Across, a cause for frequent travel, and what the circled letters represent]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Separation” · John Ewbank · Mon., 5.13.24

  • ROMANCE is formed from ROMO and LANCE.
  • AFFAIR is formed from AFFIRM and PAIR.
  • FLING is formed from FLAK and CITING.
  • HOOKUP is formed from HOOKY and COUP.

Nice. I love the serendipity of LONG-DISTANCE and RELATIONSHIP having the same number of letters, and the theme is easily accessible for Monday solvers. At first, a LONG-DISTANCE hookup sounds like an oxymoron, but with technology these days, there are probably new and creative ways to get the deed done.

Loved the smooth grid, too. Highlights include SABOTEURS, “OH DEAR ME!,” NO MERCY, and FLEA BANE (though I’ve never heard of it). Not much to complain about either. Well, maybe plural AMS.

Clue of note: 49a. [Most ribald]. EARTHIEST. I’m not too familiar with this usage, but that sounds like my own problem since online dictionaries support it.

Four stars.

The entry NO MERCY made me think of the following from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Enjoy!

Jeffrey Lease’s Universal crossword, “Naughty By Nature” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 5/13/24 • Mon • “Naughty By Nature” • Lease • solution • 20230513

Very fast, very smooth solve.

  • 54aR [Hit AMC  crime drama starring Bryan Cranston … and what the words in the starred clues’ answers are doing, literally?] BREAKING BAD. That trigram spans multiple words in each.
  • 18a. [*Some coral reef explorers] SCUBA DIVERS.
  • 23a. [*Converter that plugs into a certain PC port] USB ADAPTER.
  • 34a. [*Fred Flintstone catchphrase] YABBA DABBA DOO. This central entry fittingly features a double helping.
  • 48a. [*Hit the bar for happy hour, say] GRAB A DRINK.

  • 26a [Three-__ sloth] TOED. For Scrabble players, this is your AI, genus Choloepus. (For comparison, the three-toed sloth, Bradypus sp., is your UNAU.
  • 41a [__-free (water bottle claim] BPA, which is bisphenol-A.
  • 51a [Not yet born] IN UTERO. Steve Albini, famous record producer, died this past week, and the album by this name by Nirvana is one of his most lauded projects.
  • 2d [Chow mein alternative] CHOP SUEY.
  • 4d [Headquartered (in)] BASED. Also, a slang term claimed and counter-claimed by various factions. 8d [Belittled] ABASED. Looks as if there’s an etymological relationship.
  • 38d [Shared deep feelings] OPENED UP. 10a [Letters for your closest pal] BFF.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 5/13/24 – Natan Last

Easier than I was expecting for a Natan Monday.

Fill of note: BIG MAMA THORNTON, who had a hit with “Hound Dog” several years before Elvis did. BOTTLE EPISODE, which is theatrical in that it uses a limited number of actors in a single location, as you might expect from a stage play. YA novelist MARIE LU (new to me—I misparsed it as MARIEL U). BLENDED LEARNING, a combination of in-person and online classroom instruction. PLAY-TEST, trying out a new game before it’s on the market, and SPEEDRUN, trying to race through a video game as fast as you can. Didn’t know that BOOGALOO meant [Dance style that developed in Oakland]; many Gen Xers know it in the context of the movie Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Indigenous corner: The HOPI are a [Tribe whose village of Oraibi has been continuously inhabited since at least the twelfth century]. The INCA were a [People whose empire was also known as Tawantinsuyu].

Four stars from me.

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43 Responses to Monday, May 13, 2024

  1. MarkAbe says:

    The LAT being reviewed is not Monday May 13, it’s Saturday May 11.

  2. MarkAbe says:

    As long as I’m commenting — LOVED today’s NYT more than a hole-in-one in miniature golf!

  3. huda says:

    NYT: I agree that this was a wonderful Monday, with an intricate theme that was well executed and did not get in the way of the solving experience. Quite a feat, especially for an early week puzzle.
    And it’s great to have your voice as a reviewer Emily. I identified with the fact that you tumbled to the theme partway through and took the time to fill all the O’s.

  4. David L says:

    NYT was very cute — although I didn’t notice all the Os until I finished and saw the animation. But it made me smile anyway.

    8D: rhyming? Not for me. But I talk funny.

    • Eric H says:

      8D? I prefer my HALF with just a hint of L, so it’s close enough to a rhyme for me.

    • JohnH says:

      Surely the purveyors would not have adopted the phrase if it could not be taken as a halfway decent rhyme, and surely it would not have caught on. FWIW, dictionaries show the alternative prounciation as hawf or hahf, suggesting that what a speaker perceives as retaining the L comes out as a slight alteration in the vowel sound

      Over at TNY, be it noted that Natan is back. There has been much speculation here as whether he had been summarily dismissed, perhaps as part of a move to dumb down the puzzles. I still think that we just can’t expect the same number of challenges back in a M-W, presumably hard medium easy format. I still think, too, that the editing leaves an awful lot of determining difficulty to the constructor. But then I have not yet tried this one.

      • pannonica says:

        I found it not particularly “challenging”, in line with the others occupying the Monday slot of late.

        • PJ says:

          Agreed. I finished in thirteen minutes with no errors. Crossings quickly resolved things I didn’t know

        • JohnH says:

          I felt the S/SE (apart from the “racy” clue, which I still don’t have) like a sop to the math/lit types like me. Other parts varied, but no question easier than his usual. But I really am stuck in the SW.

  5. Me says:

    NYT: I had never heard the term MINIGOLF, so that tripped me up for a while and I was well over my Monday average. I’ve always heard it called, “miniature golf” or “putt-putt.” But this was an extremely clever puzzles with the Os. Very nice!

    • JohnH says:

      I’d never heard it that way either, but I just assumed I was out of touch again. And sure enough there are plenty of hits for “mini golf,” including for New Yorkers like me “best places to play” recommendations from both TimeOut and NY Magazine, with a link to one on a pier in Tribeca, in Hudson River Park, whose page calls it “mini golf,” too.

      I was afraid I was missing something, since I spotted the shaded square and, given my experience with shading in pdf printouts, feared I’d missed a lot more. But nope, and I caught all the O’s and was suitably impressed. Cute for a Monday.

      I did think that the WSJ had some forced fill (ASTIR, IT IS SO, perhaps Captain Picard on vacation), especially for a Monday, but not too bad.

    • Eric H says:

      I’ve always heard the game called “miniature golf,” but I haven’t played it since my nieces were preteens. (The younger one turned 40 last year.)

      By coincidence (or not), one of the NYT Strands games recently had a miniature golf theme. “Mini Golf” was the “spangram.”

      Fun crossword puzzle. For some reason, I didn’t get the animation at the end until I turned my iPad off and back on. (For anyone who hasn’t seen it, they recreated it at

  6. Milo says:

    Lovely NYT! Very impressive that the O’s land in the right place in all the themers MINI-GOLF, SCOTLAND, and HOLE IN ONE SHOT.

  7. Flinty Steve says:

    New Yorker: Really happy to see Natan Last back on board. Today’s puzzle is a gem!

    • David L says:

      I would have known who the constructor was without being told. And I didn’t like it for all the reasons I don’t like his puzzles in general. Too many names, several of them obscure (17A, 49A) or clued in obscure ways (15A, 16A). No idea what 33A and 53A mean.

      I finished with one error, at 49A/40D.

      • pannonica says:

        Was happy to look it up and learn what a BOTTLE EPISODE is and why that name.

      • Flinty Steve says:

        Alas – one person’s obscurity is another’s general knowledge. At least, eventually, somehow, we all get a puzzle we’re happy with (at least I hope we do).

      • Not that I expect everyone to remember every phrase they see in a crossword if it’s unfamiliar to them — especially if they don’t hear it in a context outside of puzzles — but remember BOTTLE EPISODE showed up in my first crossword this year? Clued very differently, obviously, but still.

        • Eric H says:

          I’m not sure I solved that puzzle, but I have definitely seen BOTTLE EPISODE in puzzles and in real life. A lot of episodes of the original “Star Trek” take place entirely on the Enterprise.

          I was a little surprised that pannonica didn’t recognize the term.

        • David L says:

          I clicked on the link and discovered, to my chagrin, that I had googled BOTTLEEPISODE when I solved that puzzle. Clearly it didn’t stick. I am at an age when remembering anything new requires pushing some other factoid out the window.

      • Gary R says:

        BOTTLE EPISODE was new to me, too (never watched much of Seinfeld, and none of Breaking Bad).

        I’m surprised that BLENDED LEARNING is unfamiliar, given that the pandemic is so close in the rearview mirror.

        • JohnH says:

          Both new to me, as was MARIE LU, also in that corner. Must admit, though, that SEND NUDES, BOOGALOO, and No Good DEED look entirely reasonable in retrospect. I should have done better.

          There has been so much journalism and debate over the last few years about losses from online learning vs keeping schools open that, sure, I have to think I must have seen the term somewhere. But I still don’t remember encountering it once. You never know.

          • JohnH says:

            FWIW, I searched the NYT Web site for “blended learning,” since that’s where I’ve read the most about the school shutdowns. Nothing relevant. However, bear in mind that the NYT search engine is pretty awful.

            BTW, a high-school classmate called a mutual friend “nasty, brutish, and short.” Thankfully, the victim shrugged it off as clever rather than meant.

            • Gary R says:

              I agree about the uselessness of the NYT search capability. I generally use Google rather than almost any website’s own search feature.

              “blended learning”

  8. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Mostly pretty smooth solving, except for the NE and SW corners. It’s amazing how one three-letter gimme (29A REM) can unlock a whole section of a grid.

    In the SW corner, I stuck with GODmother at 30D for too long. I hadn’t known that particular factoid, and my answer is not technically wrong. I’ve never heard of MARIE LU, but I haven’t read YA fiction in about 50 years.

    It’s been what — five or six weeks since the New Yorker changed up its puzzle schedule? I think it’s long enough to assume that easier Monday puzzles are the new normal. I will miss the challenge; it was a nice contrast to the easy Monday puzzles in other publications.

    It was a pretty fun puzzle, though. Gotta love anything that references Hobbes’ “NASTY, brutish and short.” (My husband is on his fourth or fifth circuit though Patrick O’Brian’s “Master and Commander” series and loves that one of the characters uses the phrase to describe midshipmen, who were teenagers during the Napoleonic era.)

    • Gary R says:

      GODmother went in off the “G.” I had heard that bit of trivia somewhere. But it took too long for me to recognize the alternative answer.

      Probably a little faster than my time for a Monday by NL in the “old days.” Or maybe I’ve just gotten more accustomed to his puzzles.

  9. Katie says:

    NYT: Nifty. Fun. Monday-appropriate. Solid fill.
    (Perhaps even novel? Somewhere, someone knows of a seemingly similar past idea, for NYT… If so, can you please share it?)

    Now for a long meta-ramble.

    I’m sparked by curiosity about why there are multiple (currently 3) 1/5 ratings.

    I’ll attempt to play devil’s advocate, but, folks – I’m 100% with the 5/5 gang here, in the end: (1) nice execution (e.g., with no other letter o’s), (2) potential “speed fill” fun if you figure out the pattern, as Emily notes (“Aha!”), and (3) I’d say this is exactly where the NYT animation is genuinely appropriate, useful and fun. (No?)

    That said, corners are certainly “minigrid” items. And more cheater squares than you might wish for. I also wish URU and CAF were not required (NE), but I give that a fully-excused, given CUP and FUN (in “LoADSoFFUN”) are so solid and purposefully done, for the overall theme.

    I wish MUTToNCHoP had been something like PHENoMENoN, for a bit more symmetry. (There were surprisingly more ****o***o* options [when * is something NOT “o”] than I’d anticipated, when I checked…)

    That is, LoADSoFFUN and PHENoMENoN both map more symmetrically to the idea of minigolf at some point(s) being a “fad”. MUTTONCHOP felt like, “ok, this is good enough”. e.g., in SW, something like
    AIR (or SOY, etc.)
    TEE, works as a start… (But then, I expect than botches up other regions…)

    “Grrr!” Rant over. So, that’s me _trying_ to be “grumpy”, nit-picky, but being mindful and specific. :-P
    THO — that’s all pretty minor, to me, too… e.g., still 5/5, or (maybe) 4/5 or 4.5/5, if grumpy…

    But: 1/5?
    [No, I don’t know who the constructor is. Just – what is/was the case for a 1/5 here? Other than as a “thumb on the scale”? In short, please don’t do a “thumb on the scale” rating, for this puzzle and/or for more general, recent frustration, folks! Or at least, be brave enough to justify it, b/c I am genuinely curious about that minority opinion here.]

    [Last: I grew up calling it “putt-putt”. My husband calls is “pee-wee golf”. “Miniature golf” is more universal, but the local/vernacular names, including “minigolf”, are all fine, since you can figure them out with partial info, I’d say.]

    • Eric H says:

      There seem to be some people who routinely rate every puzzle one star. (Every one of today’s puzzles has at least one one-star rating.)

      If someone is routinely rating puzzles with one star, they need another hobby.

      Evan Birnholz would have us disregard the ratings. I don’t entirely disagree with him.

      • Correct. The ratings are completely useless and the sooner people stop treating them like they’re meaningful evidence of a puzzle’s quality, the better. Their only purpose is to give trolls an opportunity to troll and to persuade people to avoid solving crosswords that they might otherwise enjoy.

        Thankfully, I was shown how to use a browser extension to block the ratings from my browser entirely. So I don’t even see them anymore and my experience here is *way* better for it.

      • Lois says:

        The anti-ratings attitudes have some justification in general, but I don’t see a real problem today with the ratings for the Times crossword. When you see a rating of over 4 stars from 54 users, you know it’s likely to be a good puzzle. What’s the problem with a couple of 1-star ratings? I had another problem–that the online solving experience was so nice, with visual gimmicks and action that couldn’t be and were not available in the newspaper version, even the online newspaper version. The print version would be enjoyable and almost the same puzzle, but not quite. So what is the rating measuring?

        • PJ says:

          I agree, Lois. If more people rated other puzzles there wouldn’t be a problem with a couple of bad actors

          • Katie says:

            Fantastic points, on all accounts, Lois, Evan, Eric and PJ. I’m fine with a few one-stars, too. Just genuinely curious on a day with nearly half (28 of 59) the scores being 5/5 if some 1’s were actually intended to “undo over-rating” (or similar). :-P

            Perhaps just silent trolls, sure, but most folks here are rational actors. (By rating a puzzle at all, troll or not, someone’s just drawing more attention and interest than by ignoring it entirely.)

            Ratings are flawed but overall interesting/useful, for similar reasons as with IMDB. I’d seriously doubt people “skip” a puzzle due to poor ratings very often… (If you’re on a streak, you’re on a streak.) I feel the ratings allow busy people to filter while avoiding any “spoilers”.

            um, btw…
            I WAS still curious about any similar past themes, too. Any come to mind? Perhaps something somewhere in this list…?

  10. David Roll says:

    Pi/Rho again? It’s all Greek to me. No more please.

  11. Zach says:

    WSJ: Lovely theme, played a little harder than usual for a Monday.

    Regarding 59D, I see “AHS” clued as “Spa sounds” all the time. Has anyone ever heard an audible “ah” at a spa? I sure haven’t. It’s such a cartoonish clue (with few alternatives tbh).

  12. Burak says:

    This is a legendary NYT Monday. If this theme was executed shoddily, it would’ve been a gimmicky puzzle that led to a “oh, OK you did that, cool”. Instead we’ve got an actually fun puzzle to solve with a clean grid that comes together seamlessly (on a Monday no less!) and then leads to a “oooooh wow you did that, great!”

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