Mark McClain’s New York Times crossword — Amy’s write-up
The theme is LANGUAGE BARRIER, or 41a. [Communication problem … illustrated literally by the black squares before 5-, 19-, 26-, 54-, 65- and 73-Across]. The circled squares spell out the names of languages, with the names interrupted by black squares. We’ve got HINDU, URDU, GERMAN, POLISH, THAI, and LATIN. Kinda cute.
I count 24 proper nouns in the grid—people, places, brand names, and titles. I’m guessing this puzzle played a lot harder than the typical Monday for a great many solvers. (Seems like going over 14 jacks up the trouble quotient.) The propers aren’t all household names, either—MASUR, OLAF II, TOPOL, ETNA, EPSOM, OBIES, LILLE, ERIES …
Four more things:
- 28a. [Brother of Donald Trump Jr.], ERIC. At least one solver quit the puzzle right then and there.
- I … I … I don’t know. I SHALL plus the partials I LAY and I PRAY?
- Foreign vocab includes French DIEU and HUIT. Was that a LANGUAGE BARRIER for any of you?
- 10d. [It goes down a fallopian tube], OVUM. Unembarrassed OB/GYN clue!
3.25 stars from me.
Daniel Hamm’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Whisk Management” — Jim’s review
I don’t recognize today’s byline, and the name doesn’t come up in any search. Could be a debut, but it doesn’t quite feel like it. It feels like the work of editor Mike Shenk, but there’s no obvious anagram of the byline, however.
The title hints that we’re changing Rs to Ws, but that’s not it. It’s a simple synonym theme.
- 20a [Recording studio pro] MIXING ENGINEER
- 25a [Ellie Goulding song from the “Divergent” soundtrack] BEATING HEART
- 44a [Old place for punishment] WHIPPING POST
- 53a [Orator’s delivery] STIRRING SPEECH
Are you doing much cooking for the holidays? If so, I expect you’ll be doing a lot of mixing, beating, whipping, and stirring.
Plenty of good fill today in LET IT BE, TIREMARKS, timely REGIFTING, SPRINGY, EPIGRAMS, “IT’S EASY,” and even VIAGRA and PIGLET. I didn’t care so much for the stacked partials I READ and AN END, distasteful SEATERS, nor plural YENS.
All in all, a fairly typical Monday outing, which is to say, a straightforward theme solidly executed with only a few bits of iffiness.
THEMELESS MONDAY #394 – Gareth’s summary
Today we have an over the plate 72-worder. Clean, with a few colourful answers. STAYWOKE/AQUAMAN are the likely top-left seeds; IVANHOE, DAMPDRY asnd SPORTUTE fulfill a similar role in the bottom.
Others: MONDO is high-end vocab; The h of EFHUTTON was difficult for this non-American to infer! That and a few others made it a tough puzzle to close! DIVINYLS had other songs too…