Monday, May 20, 2024

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT tk (Stella) 


NYT 3:09 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 9:57 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 4:29 (Jim) 


Jack Scherban’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

New York Times, 05 20 2024, By Jack ScherbanHappy Monday all, and happy New York Times debut to Jack! Today’s puzzle has the names of three fictional military men:

  • 20a [Beatles album character who apparently is an infantry leader] – SERGEANT PEPPER
  • 31a [ mascot who must be a commanding officer] – CAPTAIN OBVIOUS
  • 38a [Fast food icon who surely heads a brigade] – COLONEL SANDERS

And then the punchline:

  • 49a [Unfazed response to a threat from 20-, 31-, or 38-Across?] – YOU AND WHAT ARMY 

The final line refers to how none of these guys actually lead any portion of the military… so you’re probably pretty safe if they’re attacking you. I liked the combination of the three men chosen for the ranks as they all come from different areas of culture. That being said, CAPTAIN OBVIOUS feels more like an idiom than a mascot – I could not have told you he was connected to at all.

I don’t know enough about military ranks for the second half of the clues to help me out much – I basically just used the cultural references in the first part. The other main thing that confused me was the emphasis in the clues – while solving I felt like it had to have something to do with the answers themselves? But looking at it now I guess it’s just to add sarcasm.

The overall fill of the puzzle is top notch. SNAKE EYES, RAKES IT IN, ISLAND HOP, VIDEOTAPE, GRAPE SODA are all standout. EBT is a newer initialism but one I expect will start showing up more in crosswords. I also loved the TV content of BPLOT, PAM from “The Office”, and Martha RAYE, a classic comic actress. And the puzzle really starts off with a bang with 1a: [It’s working!] for LABOR.

David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Making Fun”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases punnily applied to a fun-loving lifestyle.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Making Fun” · David Alfred Bywaters · Mon., 5.20.24

  • 16a. [Rule for maintaining a reasonable weekly social calendar?] TWO-PARTY SYSTEM.
  • 23a. [Hungry, hungry hippos, monkeys in the middle, tailless donkeys, etc.?] GAME ANIMALS.
  • 35a. [Queue for liquid refreshment?] PUNCHLINE.
  • 49a. [Moment for gift-giving?] PRESENT TIME.
  • 57a. [Birthday celebration fee?] BALLOON PAYMENT.

I found this to be enjoyable. Nothing groundbreaking or too unexpected, but I liked the celebratory thread maintained by the theme answers.

The 9-letter central theme entry paired with the 14-letter outer theme entries makes for an uncommon grid design and a lack of long non-theme fill. But all the stacked 7s in the corners are solid and the fill is mostly smooth. Highlights: NO WISER (though I needed every crossing to parse it correctly), CAMELOT, ACROBAT, SEATTLE. I didn’t see it until just now, but SMA [Wee, as a bairn] seems out of place on a Monday.

Clue of note: 39d. [Expert in work/life balance]. ACROBAT. Good clue, but I’m thinking a question mark is called for here.

3.5 stars.

Dylan Schiff’s Universal crossword, “Disconnected” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 5/20/24 • Mon • “Connected” • Schiff • solution • 20240520

As per usual, because the .puz version already has circles, I’ll be skipping the parts of the clues explaining about the relevant squares.

  • 56aR [Cancel cable … and a hint to this puzzle’s theme] CUT THE CORD.
  • 17a. [Fastener for drying laundry] CLOTHESPIN.
    19a. [Pub pints] ALES.
  • 24a. [“Well done!”] BRAVO.
    26a. [Trumpet-shaped flower] CALLA LILY.
  • 34a. [Put back in office] REELECT.
    36a. [“Die Hard” actor Alan] RICKMAN.
  • 48a. [Roll for a lobster roll] HOT DOG BUN.
    50a. [Like many characters in “The Big Bang Theory”] GEEKY.

A snap!

  • 37d [Sauteed mixture of diced veggies used as base for soups] MIREPOIX. Apparently an eponym, as I was surprised to learn.
  • 58d [Marbled loaf] RYE. Only sometimes!
  • 41a [Cozy eatery] CAFÉ. In fact I have dined at an establishment called Cozy Café, though I wouldn’t characterize it that way. (42a [“I’d say …”] IMO.)

Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 5/20/24 – Agard

Tough one for me today! Add this Mon TNY solving time to my unexpectedly quick Sat NYT and average them together, and you get the challenge level I expected from both. Erik excels at tough (but never unfair) clues, and my brain got a workout today. I did struggle with the top and bottom right quadrants, but eventually they came together.

Fave fill: “DON’T STOP,” SWELTERED (the season is nigh), PIEROGI, the CITY PROPER, SUPER-COOL (which is also a scientific verb), SISTER SONG (which I first learned about from an early These Puzzles Fund Abortion crossword), gaming CHEAT CODE, and COLOGNE with the impossible-then-helpful clue [City where the perfumer Johann Maria Farina resided].

Three more things:

  • 20a. [Nuts with cupules], ACORNS. I began hopping through the Across clues and there was nothing I could fill in until this one came along. The little cap is a cupule.
  • 38a. [Donner pulls its donner], SANTA SUIT. I didn’t understand this clue till just now. Donner the reindeer pulls the sleigh bearing Santa, who dons the Santa suit.
  • 6d. [Kwame who said, “In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience”], TURE. Ah, there’s the rub.  Ture was previously called Stokely Carmichael. He’s portrayed by Corey Hawkins in the excellent Spike Lee film BlacKkKlansman, which you should see if you haven’t. That movie turned me from not liking Adam Driver to being wowed.

Four stars from me.

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12 Responses to Monday, May 20, 2024

  1. David L says:

    I too had no idea that the character was CAPTAINOBVIOUS, and I don’t know why that name should be appropriate.

    And I’ve always known the revealer phrase as YOUANDwhoseARMY, but maybe that’s just me. Breezy puzzle, despite my nitpickery.

    • JohnH says:

      I, too, didn’t know anything about in the NYT, but there’s lots I don’t know, so I didn’t let it bother me. I also agree on “whose” army, but figure others may hear it differently, so fine.

      Sophia’s idea that the characters aren’t army folk in the real world so must turn on you is ingenious, and for all I know may even be true. But I just figured they went with the word “army” or the phrase “what army?”

      Is there significance I’m overlooking to the italicized words in the theme clues? I could see “must” going with “obvious.” (It must be so; it’s obvious.) But that doesn’t work for the other two. Maybe I’m just overthinking.

  2. Mutman says:

    NYT: I thought this was a great Monday puzzle! Themers excellent as well as revealer.

    Mini-rant. I do not watch Jeopardy! anymore for many reasons, one of which is when a contestant answered final Jeopardy with the theme answer and not Sgt. Pepper. They didn’t give credit for that.

    • DougC says:

      I agree that this was an excellent Monday puzzle, mainly due to the exceptionally clever and entertaining theme.

      I hesitated briefly to roll my eyes at the first themer, because I’ve never seen Sgt. PEPPER’s rank spelled out in full; but in the end, the theme was so good that I am willing to forgive that non-traditional usage :)

      The only other shortcoming is just how dang easy this was, even for a Monday. But Mondays are supposed to be easy, and are rarely this much fun. I finished with an amused grin on my face as I watched the revealer appear. Hilarious! An outstanding NYT debut by Mr. Scherban.

      • Eric H says:

        Ditto, ditto, ditto. Normally, the spelled-out SERGEANT would have irked me, but the theme was fun enough that I didn’t mind the loosely-goosey quality of the first theme answer.

        Mr. Scherban, in his constructor note on Wordplay, says he misspelled SERGEANT in his first draft of the puzzle and had to re-do it when a friend caught his mistake.

  3. David L says:

    TNY (no spoilers): Not crazy difficult but definitely a challenge for me. 1A seems like a green-painty phrase, unless there’s some context I don’t know about. I’m puzzled by 9A — googling produced pictures of [clued item] that didn’t have [answer].

    I didn’t know the person at 6D, the organization at 42A, the musician at 45A, or the concert film at 31D, and I got 24A wrong twice before getting it right. But the crosses were all fair. Good puzzle.

    • pannonica says:

      re 9a: the adjustable part of a non-fitted (e.g., baseball) cap.

      • David L says:

        Thanks. It wasn’t clear from the pictures I found whether the caps were adjustable or not. I haven’t come across that name before.

    • Gary R says:

      Mostly all the same unknowns as you – although I am familiar with snapbacks. Pretty much all of them have [answer], but the angle of most of the photos I see when I google it makes it hard to see.

      Just the right level of chewiness for my taste. Didn’t come easy, but I never felt totally stumped. I’m never sure how to spell 23-A (and I think there are alternative accepted spellings), so I had to wait for crosses there. Took me a while to get a foothold in the SE. The long acrosses weren’t coming to me, and the fact that I put in SAGE for 49-D wasn’t helping.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Kwame Ture changed his name from Stokely Carmichael. Ring a bell? US civil rights figure.

      45a is Missy Elliott, rapper and singer who’s the first woman in hip-hop to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

      I tried CITY CENTER before CITY PROPER.

    • Eric H says:

      New Yorker: This was the first New Yorker puzzle since they revised their schedule that I found challenging. It took me just over 19 minutes, as compared to 10 or 12 for recent Mondays.

      I had all the unknowns/semi-knowns David L and Gary R had. I know (more or less) who Stokely Carmichael was and recognize the name Kwame TURE, but needed too many crosses to get it. Similarly, I have a pretty good idea who Missy Elliott is, but I couldn’t name any of her songs.

      The SW was the toughest part for me. “Johann Maria Farina” sounded more Italian than anything else (and it is), so I spent way too long trying to make some Italian city fit. Despite seeing through the clues for PREPAID and MINNIE, I was slow to come up with the correct answers. But like my favorite crossword puzzles, I was able to eventually tease everything out. Really nice puzzle.

    • JohnH says:

      Really hard, and a lot I didn’t know, much of it mentioned in other comments. But for once I think it was worth it. I got closest to hung-up in the SE.

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