Michael Hawkins’ New York Times crossword—Ben’s write-up
Hi everyone! I’m Mr. Smith, your substitute NYT Monday reviewer. Looking at my notes, we’re apparently supposed to watch a movie, but I wanted to make sure we covered this Monday’s crossword before we got to that. Quiet down and we’ll get to what’s going on with Michael Hawkins’ puzzle today:
- 17A: #1 success — SMASH HIT
- 25A: Likeliest time for a traffic jam — RUSH HOUR
- 39A: Rubbish pile — TRASH HEAP
- 56A: It’s at the end of the line — FISH HOOK
- 66A: Top-secret…or a hint to 17A, 25A, 39A, and 56A (and 66A!) — HUSH HUSH
I spent far too long after solving today’s puzzle trying to figure out how “hush hush” translated into the “HH” seen across all of today’s theme entries before realizing that they all have an S before those double Hs, leading to a much more appropriate SHH. Reading – still fundamental!
I thought this was pitched at the correct difficulty for a Monday, although a few more complex entries (like LAFITTE at 21A) tripped me up. In fairness, French pirates based in New Orleans aren’t my strong suit.
Other fill I liked: NOOGIE, PULLTAB, IGNEOUS, FUSSPOT, BARISTA, TECHNO
Overall, this was a nice puzzle – 4 stars from me.
Now, as promised, your movie. Is “The Adventures of Hercules” with Lou Ferrigno okay?
Celia Smith’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “She Works Hard For The Money” — Jim’s review
Celia Smith (“It’s Michael”) brings us today’s puzzle featuring three hard-working female characters—all with the same pattern (name THE occupation) and all 15-letter spanners. Quite a remarkable find, really.
- 16a [Archetypal World War II machinist] ROSIE THE RIVETER
- 35a [Cartoon character with a talking backpack] DORA THE EXPLORER
- 57a [Steno in a comic strip launched in the 1920s] TILLIE THE TOILER
Of course, I had no idea who TILLIE THE TOILER was seeing as her cartoon strip ended in 1959. But being Monday, the crossers were easy enough to get.
Just for kicks I looked through my word list to see if I could find other 15-letter characters who fit the pattern. As you’d expect, they were almost exclusively men:
- Chance the Rapper (real-life)
- Groo the Wanderer (comic strip)
- John the Baptizer (biblical)
- Kraven the Hunter (comic strip – Spider-Man foe)
- Popeye the Sailor (Man) (comic strip)
- Sinbad the Sailor (legendary hero)
- Tim the Enchanter (film character – Monty Python and the Holy Grail)
I did find one other female character from fiction. “Ruth the Betrayer” was the first female fictional detective story. It was published as a penny dreadful in the 1860s.
There are a number of other women and female characters in the grid like Gwen STEFANI and LEELA of Futurama. Okay, make that just two others for a total of five named women. Plus DIVA.
Let’s count the men, shall we? ROONE Arledge, Jerome KERN, TED Koppel, GARY Cooper, Karl MARX, Alan ALDA, L. RON Hubbard, and ALEX Trebek. Eight named men plus, X-MEN (though the clue includes Storm), [“Walk Like ___”] A MAN, OPEN MIKE, and BOBS.
So in a grid themed with female characters, they’re still outnumbered by the men. Hey, she works hard for the money, so you better treat her right.
Moving on…With only three themers, the grid has a slew of really nice non-theme long fill. Favorites include: SRI LANKA, KEEL OVER, ASSASSINS, HIPSTERS, STEFANI, OPEN MIKE, HALF PIPES, and STIGMATA (topically clued as [Crucifixion wounds]). Could do without A BAR, AN IN, AT IT, ARNO, L. RON, and EIRE crossing ERIE, but on the whole, good grid.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”—Amy’s write-up
Well! This is a mighty fine crossword, what with that sparkling fill at 51-Across. The only thing I don’t understand is why 15-Down is allowed to touch it.
Top fill: “GO TO TOWN,” MONOLOGISTS, NBA JAM, BODY ODOR (you want to put some deodorant on the square between JAY and SURREAL, don’t you?), PINE-SOL, DWAYNE Johnson, currently popular term GARBAGE PERSON (not a sanitation engineer but just a worthless waste of oxygen).
Never heard of 6d. [Fisher who invented the drywall anchor], ARTUR. We don’t have a lot of famous Arturs. Maybe Schnabel?
Not sure about HAS A ROW and ROSE UP IN ARMS. I wouldn’t want to see HAS AN ARGUMENT as a crossword entry, and I feel like “rose up” and “were up in arms” are mashed up into a single phrase here.
Dictionary includes SANDPAPERED as a verb, but I’ve never encountered it before. I’d just say “sanded.”
Gotta run. 3.4 stars from me. Over and out.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Double Play”—Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everyone! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, features theme entries in which the last letter of the first word and the first letter of the second word start with the same letter. Pretty straightforward.
- GOOD DEEDS (17A: [Scout’s activities])
- QUEEN NOOR (56A: [Jordanian royal])
- SWEET TOOTH (11A: [Sugar craving])
- BOOK KEEPER (28A: [One who’ll help you find your balance])
Of course, with me being a sports reporter, definitely love the entry of XS AND OS right down the middle of the grid (24D: [Football chalk talk symbols]). Seeing SHIEST with an “i” just looks weird to me, no matter how acceptable it is (29A: [Least likely to mix]). Is the frequency of TIBIAS being bruised caused by all of the different people who now run regularly on the hard pavement of city sidewalks and roads (26A: [Frequently bruised bones])? If so, then add me to the list, as I had to stop running for a little while because of leg bruising. I’ll get back on that horse this spring (running), and hoping the bruising doesn’t develop once again. Gotta get my beach body back once again!!.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: FEDEX (23A: [UPS alternative]) –If you’re a tennis fan, then you’ll definitely know that FEDEX is the nickname of Swiss tennis great Roger Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam singles champion. Despite that Grand Slam haul, he’s winless in his last 14 majors, with his last win in a major coming at Wimbledon in 2012.
Thank you for the time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
C.C. Burnikel’s’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
This is feels a more cohesive set of a “words that follow” theme. The theme’s centre contains a SEVEN, and we can make SEVEN SISTERS (the Pleiades), DWARFS, SEAS and WONDERS with the second parts of the theme answers. The plural BOYWONDERS felt slightly awkward.
The rest of the puzzle was well-filled, with more punch than many Mondays: LUCKYME, SPORCLE, ALFRESCO, and TOYSTORY are among the best of the rest.
NYT: This is one of the better Monday puzzles by someone not named Lynn Lempel, Ian Livengood, Andrea Carla Michaels, etc. Solid theme that was fun to uncover and excellent fill. The grid plays well for medium length answers; I love the 3×7 corners with LOSESIT/SUMMERY/DRAINER and PRENUPS/BARISTA/STATHAM*, and the opposite corners are wide open (including 5×4 white space) but clean and snappy.
Tillie, Leela, and Stefani made a very tough WSJ crossing section for me (along with skateboard vocabulary), especially for a Monday. (Regarding your word list, does anyone say John the Baptizer rather than John the Baptist?)
I believe I’ve heard John the Baptizer before. Searching the interwebs, it looks like many Jehovah’s Witnesses use that term instead of John the Baptist. Plus it distinguishes him from John the Epicopalian and John the Zoroastrian (that’s a joke).
A big Wow! to Amy’s shout out of the great Artur Schnabel. When I was 4 years old (no kidding), one of “my” proudest and fondest possessions was the Schnabel – Toscanini recording, (on 78’s), of the Beethoven 5th (Emperor) Concerto, and his recording of the Moonlight Sonata, both of which I would listen to obsessively. It was only a few years ago that I managed to reluctantly persuade myself to discard those old records, which I had kept for all these years.
I thought there was a musical Artur out there, but I confess I don’t know Schnabel’s work. He’s one of Google’s very top Arturs, though! And I knew you would know him well, Bruce.
Is Gareth ever going to post?! This gets so old, always having to wait for him!
So was it worth the wait? Or the bitch?
The best part is that there are at least a few other ways to see the answer grid without waiting for the next day’s paper. So I don’t get the demanding sense of entitlement that this blog is somehow depriving people of something they deserve.
I know Amy gets annoyed at complaints about people who confer a gratuitous benefit on all of us, and now I’m getting annoyed too.
I will relate a parable (my characterization) told by one of my senior partners. Pick a name and address at random out of the New York phone book. Send that person a check for $500. Every month thereafter send another check. But after a couple years, send that person a letter saying “I’m sorry but I won’t be able to send any more checks.” That person will feel angry and aggrieved.