Monday, June 10, 2024

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 1:43 (Stella) 


NYT 3:37 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:17 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 4:24 (Jim) 


Kareem Ayas’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Different definitions of the word SET. Also, there is not a single three letter entry in this puzzle that is not SET.

New York Times, 06 10 2024, By Kareem Ayas

  • 1a [Theater backdrop] – SET
  • 24a [Put (down)] – SET
  • 31a [Prepare, as the dinner table] – SET
  • 40a [Written in stone] – SET
  • 47a [Unit for a comedian or musician] – SET
  • 57a [Like hard plaster] – SET
  • 5d [Part of a tennis match] – SET
  • 8d [Sink, as the sun] – SET
  • 31d [Mathematical grouping using curly brackets] – SET
  • 35d [Having everything one needs] – SET
  • 37d [Volleyball move before a spike] – SET
  • 62d [Complete collection] -SET
  • 64d [Adjust, as a watch] – SET
  • 71a [Guinness world record holder for “English word with the most meanings”] – SET

I’ll admit, at first I was not sure about this theme. SET sure does have a lot of definitions, huh? (Although there seems to be some spirited internet debate about whether it has the “most” or is beaten out by “run”). But then I realized that SET is the only three letter entry in the puzzle, and I became much more impressed from a construction standpoint. That’s hard to do! Luckily SET has pretty common letters, but that makes it incredibly tricky to have even two three-letter entries next to each other due to the SS EE TT combos. I just hope people notice this fact and don’t just assume the theme is “SET is in this puzzle a lot”.

Given that the theme only relates to the three letter entries, I was glad to see some other standout fill. Personal faves were ANGELFISH, TIPPYTOES, AGREEABLE, DOG SPA, and SMOKE FREE. There were a fair amount of two-word answers like CHIP IN, TIP OFF, TYPE UP, but most of them are in the language and didn’t bother me much (most of them. Looking at you, YEN FOR and ON DISC). I got most hung up on [Theater centerpiece] for STAGE because I was picturing something *on* the stage, not the stage itself.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

Brad Wiegmann’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Earthlings Unite!”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases featuring a geographical formation and a group of people. The revealer is GROUND CREW (57a, [Plane maintenance group, or what 16-, 23-, 33- and 49-Across make up collectively]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Earthlings Unite!” · Brad Wiegmann · Mon., 6.10.24

  • 16a. [Some apartment building owners] LANDLADIES.
  • 23a. [Main characters in “The Revenant,” e.g.] MOUNTAIN MEN.
  • 33a. [“God Only Knows” singers, with “The”] BEACH BOYS.
  • 49a. [“So I was like, I’m so sure!” speakers] VALLEY GIRLS.

I ignored the theme during the solve and enjoyed the pleasant aha moment afterwards. It’s always nice when a Monday puzzle has a solid and interesting theme. Well done.

No long bits of fill in the Down direction, but we get DODO BIRD and PIT BULLS squeezed in between theme answers. Other goodies: TIN CANS, GOURMET, SURVEIL, ON A DIME, MEINEKE, and CHARON. Did not know MONTAND [Yves of “Jean de Florette”] but his is a name worth knowing.

I’m partial to the BEACH BOYS’ “God Only Knows”, and apparently the official video came out only two years ago. It was the culmination of a four-part series that included “Barbara Ann”, “Don’t Worry, Baby”, and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”. Together, the four videos tell a story of young love. Watch them in order for the full effect. Here’s the scoop on the making of the series.

But I haven’t heard Frank Zappa’s “Valley Girl” probably since it came out, so let’s give that a look-see.

Nice puzzle. 3.75 stars.

Noelle Griskey’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 6/10/24 by Noelle Griskey

Los Angeles Times 6/10/24 by Noelle Griskey

This theme is sassy! No, really: The revealer at 60A [New beginning, and a feature of 17-, 26-, and 44-Across] is FRESH START, because each of the three theme entries begins with a word that can mean FRESH in its “modern and fun” sense:

  • 17A [Low-slung jeans] is HIP HUGGERS.
  • 26A [1993 film about the Olympic bobsled team from Jamaica] is COOL RUNNINGS.
  • 44A [Magazine with tips and techniques for anglers] is FLY FISHERMAN.

Hopefully you’re feeling HIPCOOL, and FLY after solving this puzzle, which was filled in easy-breezy fashion. Lots of nice evocative fill like FONDUEPIG PEN, and TENNIS, and proper nouns like EUDORA Welty and Claude MONET weren’t too hard for Monday.

Jay Silverman’s Universal crossword, “Grand Slam” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 6/10/824 • Mon • “Grand Slam” • Silverman • 20240610

It’s another baseball theme.

  • 51aR [Hit one out of the park, and the key to interpreting the starred clues] CLEAR THE BASES.
  • 3d. [*Show embarrassment] FIRST BLUSH.
  • 5d. [*__ instrument] SECOND WIND.
  • 7d. [*Lively social event] THIRD PARTY.
  • 9d. [*Mesh item in a window frame] HOME SCREEN.

My first reaction is that the revealer should read that it’s the key to interpreting the starred answers, but after a little more consideration I’ve decided that the instruction is ambiguous and can be interpreted either way.

While I was solving the crossword it was readily obvious that ordinals in those starred entries should be ignored, so I wouldn’t say that I needed a key. On the other hand, CLEAR THE BASES did furnish a rationale for the gimmick.

Lastly, the grid has left-right symmetry and I wonder if the original intent was to represent a baseball diamond. I don’t feel that it does, but thought I should mention it just in case.

  • 18a [“Completely agreed!”] AMEN. 57d [“__ here!” (“Ditto!”)] SAME.
  • 26a [Like many Braille readers] BLIND. 13a [Slashed pronoun for two genders] HE/SHE. Both of these clues admirably avoid absolutism and are hence more inclusive.
  • 34a [NFL ball carriers] RBS. Just a letter off from RBI, I notice.
  • 23d [Up to, informally] TIL.

    (translation: dance til you drop)
  • 40d [Pasture-raised] GRASS-FED. Generally, yes. But be aware that GRASS-FED doesn’t necessarily imply pasture-raised, despite its bucolic trappings. Big agriculture employs many deceptive phrases and practices.
  • Towards the end, we get a couple of clues adorned with question marks, but they’re only gently twisted. 48d [Trips around the world?] ORBITS. 51d [Support staff?] CANE.
  • 58d [Service place for Lewis Hamilton] PIT. Only once I saw the answer did I recall that he’s a Formula One racecar driver.

Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 6/10/24 – Shechtman

First off, I miss the Sunday cryptics that the New Yorker stopped publishing! They were fun little bites of cryptic goodness. Second, Anna’s last name can be tricky to spell. What worked for me is seeing it as S + screenwriter Ben Hecht’s last name + man, nary an SCH to be found. If you simply must have an SCH, it’s found here in the terrific BORSCHT BELT answer.

Other fave fill: “YES, CHEF” (we would also have accepted “heard, chef,” and the new season of The Bear is nigh upon us!), the LAVENDER MENACE (I was pondering purple and violet before the crossings reminded me it was LAVENDER), TIMES TABLES, TAYLOR’S VERSION (if you don’t know the reason for that: someone Swift hated bought the masters of her records, so she’s been rerecording her albums and releasing them with her ownership of the content—and her fans are buying the revamps and listening to the new song versions), Monique WITTIG (I think I read Les Guérillères in college in a French lit in translation course, but remember nothing of it), and CHIMERAS.

I wanted HAIR GEL instead of HAIR OIL, didn’t recall that the Dubliners character is EVELINE rather than EVELENE, figured SCOPE OUT couldn’t possibly be SCOPE GUT; took a bit to unravel the issue.

Meh: EGEST, STETTED, partial I BE, French ETAGE.

3.5 stars from me.

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25 Responses to Monday, June 10, 2024

  1. JohnH says:

    Never thought I’d consider the Monday NYT a favorite, but I loved this one. When I hit my second SET, I noted it curiously, wondering how many would object to a dupe, so common a discussion topic here. But then it was the theme. Also nicely executed, in that the many clues for SET weren’t grating and with more fresh fill than usual for a Monday as well.

    • David L says:

      I agree. I didn’t like YENFOR and DUSTMOP (do people really say either of those?) but the puzzle overall was entertaining.

      • Me says:

        Having SET be the only three-letter answer really elevated this puzzle. It made it much more interesting, and it also forced the theme answers to be symmetrically placed. And if you’re going to break the “no dupes” rule, smash it to pieces! I really liked this one, although some of the rest of the fill was a bit challenging for a Monday IMO.

      • Martin says:

        Over 23,000,000 hits for dust mop.

        • Eric H says:

          That doesn’t surprise me. A DUST MOP is a real thing, as anyone who has ever had to use one can attest. (A post-college job working in an office supply/furniture store included using a dust mop on the warehouse floor. That probably contributed to my decision to go to law school.)

      • sanfranman59 says:

        YEN FOR got a bit of a side-eye from me, but DUST MOP is quite familiar.

      • JohnH says:

        I’d my doubts about YEN FOR in that grammatical sense, as opposed to “has a yen for, but it is in dictionaries, as is DUST MOP. The latter is in both the ones I check for style, RHUD and MW11C. Not that I have one.

    • marciem says:

      I totally agree with all you said. I often don’t even try the Monday NYT, but did today and am glad I did. I thought it fun, once I realized that set was an ok dupe (trip? quad? etc LOL) for this puzzle. I didn’t notice until reading the write up that SET was the only three-letter word in the puzzle… Kudos for that!

      I also appreciated that the longer fill didn’t repeat any on, in, up etc. and found most of them fresh. I don’t recall seeing wristpads or tippytoes before.

      p.s. I use my Swiffer dust mop frequently to get those l’il bunnies!

      • David L says:

        I always think of a mop as something you use with a bucket of water. If it’s dry, it’s a brush or broom. And a Swiffer — is a Swiffer!

        • Jack2 says:

          I love these generational mismatches in experience! Dustmops were around for many decades (a century?) before Swifters first appeared on the scene.

  2. David L says:

    TNY: Not exactly challenging (although I admit I plunked in 1A immediately, not because I’m a fan of cooking shows but because the phrase seems to pop up a lot). Nice enough puzzle, but the NYer team needs to get its challenge-0-meter properly calibrated (I think I’ve said that before…)

    • JohnH says:

      Sure challenged me, and everywhere I looked were proper names, including three with an LBGT slant. (I should have got WITTIG faster, but the clue deliberately makes it harder by not using the book that made her rep, and I made it worse by settling quickly thanks to the L from LYLE on Gone AWOL. Oh, well.) But more turned out to be workable than I expected.

    • Eric H says:

      Not particularly challenging for me, either. So far as I can remember, I’ve never heard of Monique WITTIG or the LAVENDER MENACE. And for BORSCHT BELT, I was expecting something more specific. I didn’t know that “The THIN MAN” was Hammett’s last novel.p, nor did I know that sense of CHIMERA.I also was skeptical that Ms Schectmaan was actually going to use STETTED, but it’s undeniably a word.

      But I had lots of gimmes all over the grid, and it was not difficult to fill in my unknowns.

  3. Eric H says:

    NYT: I frequently don’t notice the duplications in a crossword grid that seem to so offend some solvers; I can only remember a few times where I hesitated to enter a particular answer because it had already appeared in some form in the grid.

    But even I could not overlook SET the third or fourth time it showed up. Then, I offset my eagle-eyed perception by falling to notice that SET was the only three-letter word in the puzzle. I’m glad that Sam Corbin (in the Wordplay column) pointed it out. That was a clever spin on the rule-breaking theme.

    Among the few pets any of my siblings had were the series of ANGEL FISH that my younger sister kept. They were aptly named, as none survived very long.

    This might be my favorite Monday NYT puzzle in months.

    • Dallas says:

      I felt the same; a lot of fun… and I liked the mathematical definition appeared (I didn’t check, but I assume that all of the definitions got used?). Fun Monday!

      • Eric H says:

        SET is in the puzzle 14 times. I didn’t count the definitions, but my dictionary has 13 verb definitions, six adjectives and 11 nouns. Each has at least two subdefinitions. And that doesn’t include meanings like a mathematical set or a chess set. (I gather there are two words with different etymologies.)

  4. IAAL says:

    Loved the use of SET! I guess the third time I saw it that it was the only three-letter word in the puzzle, which made things go smoothly.

    Least favorite was DITS. I wanted to say “dums,” plus I can never remember the name of the aliens in Avatar.

  5. PJ says:

    NYT – Not my favorite. I’m not overly fond of puzzles where after a couple of themers I can mindlessly fill in a large number of squares.

    TNY – The only resistance I encountered was MENACE, STAG, and EVELINE. But it wasn’t very much resistance.

    @David L, 1a got a lot of play in “The Bear” which is due to drop season 3 in a couple of weeks.

  6. DougC says:

    NYT: I’m feeling really ambivalent about this stunt puzzle. If you’re going to break rules, you should go big, and this puzzle does; using the same word for all the 3-letter fill was a nice touch. But it was also super-easy (even for a Monday) and the rest of the fill did not seem that interesting to me. So in the end it felt like a let-down.

  7. Kent Byron says:

    What’s going on with the Wall Street Journal’s crossword? Ever since they put up some verification nonsense, it’s been a pain. Today, as part of the verification process, they wanted me to solve a puzzle that was very hard to see. I flunked. Now I cannot access their site at all. Guess I won’t be working the WSJ puzzle. BAH!

    • Martin says:

      The Today’s Puzzles page has an Across Lite version every day.

    • JohnH says:

      I just went to the WSJ puzzle page without any problem, as usual. The verification need doesn’t appeal to me, but it required no action on my part and took only seconds. While I went in order to print from tomorrow’s pdf, I did first enter a couple of answers from my keyboard just to test. Sorry I couldn’t recreate your problem, but surely it offers hope, no?

  8. dh says:

    Universal: Back in the old days of WordPerfect, Lotus 123, and other now-defunct software packages, I used to use “Eudora” email client, which was named for Eudora Welty in honor of her play “Why I Live at the PO” (which the drama club of my school staged back in 1974).

  9. Burak says:

    I thought I was gonna hate the NYT once I hit the first couple of SETs, and then I realized that it actually works well at a higher level and was left impressed.

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