Ron Toth and Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This reminds me that I am way overdue in answering Zhouqin’s email! I will do that Monday. POCKETS is the name of the game, and the revealer clue is 53a. [Keeps for oneself … or features of the answers to all the starred clues]. The other theme answers in this puzzle with left/right symmetry (but not, I don’t think, any sort of visual effect of pockets) are CARGO / PANTS, BOWLING LANE (with a great clue: [*Where you can hear a pin drop]), POOL TABLE, and PITA BREAD. I like that only one of the pocketed things is an item of apparel.
Nonthematic sparkle in the grid includes GO “POOF” (which might be a little hard for a Monday puzzle), WORLD CUP, tasty ENCHILADAS, and SOUR GRAPES. There were also a few words I was surprised to see on a Monday: CRU, STOA, RHOMB (I feel like high-school geometry makes rhombus much more familiar), and Villa d’ESTE.
Three more things:
- 19a. [Who thought of “The Thinker”], RODIN. Hey, we don’t know that for sure. Maybe someone suggested it to him. Maybe his figure model came up with the idea.
- 40a. [Soft-serve ice cream shape], SWIRL. Anyone else suddenly in the mood for a chocolate-and-vanilla swirl, dipped in chocolate?
- 32a. [Unfiltered and unpasteurized brew], REAL ALE. I have never encountered this term before, and it really doesn’t sound like the sort of ale for me.
3.6 stars from me.
Nancy Salomon’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Hello LAT faithful, it’s Andy. You got me yesterday, and you’re getting me again today, filling in for pannonica.
Nancy Salomon has had several hundred puzzles published by the NYT and LAT over the past twenty years, and she has mentored many novice constructors. I somehow missed her LAT offering a couple of weeks ago (in the lead-up to the ACPT, no less! Shame on me for missing a puzzle), so it was nice to see her byline for the first time in several years.
Simplicity’s the word with Nancy’s puzzles. The theme is coherent, not too flashy, and the fill is solid. Here, Nancy gives us a Monday-appropriate synonym theme: 38a, “CAN I GET A WITNESS?” [Revival leader’s query … and hint to the starts of 17-, 23-, 49-, and 60-Across].
- 17a, SEE THE LIGHT [Understand, finally].
- 23a, STARE INTO SPACE [Zone out].
- 49a, WATCH THE BIRDIE [Photographer’s instruction]. This phrase strikes me as dated in the age of digital photography/selfies/whatever the kids are doing these days. I’m imagining a photographer ducking under one of those little curtains with a bird puppet attached to their hand. I’m sure the callback will tickle many Monday LAT solvers. For the Buzzfeedier set, the Kanye/Jay-Z #1 album Watch The Throne would’ve fit perfectly here.
- 60a, LOOK AT ME NOW [“Didn’t think I could do it, did ya?!”]. I love this phrase. It’s the height of pettiness, which really strikes a chord with me.
Nancy obviously took great care with the fill. The top right corner is a beautiful example of how to work in letters with high Scrabble values without sacrificing the quality of the fill. RITZ/BENZ and TAKE COVER/KIT are great crossings. I like TROLL clued as [Internet forum troublemaker]… I feel like we’re seeing editors lean more heavily on that usage than ever before.
SNOW APPLE in the bottom left is completely new to me. I wonder if it wasn’t SNOW ANGEL in a previous version of the puzzle? There would be no problem filling that corner cleanly with SNOW ANGEL, so either Nancy preferred SNOW APPLE or, possibly, Rich needed to get rid of SNOW ANGEL because it appears in a puzzle shortly before or after this one.
The only tough spots in this one are the GMAC/WAAC/ATT section near the lower left, which I think is about as good as you can get that cluster, and maybe the ELISE/ELWES crossing or the ASLAN/SANAA crossing could trip up a new solver. As has been mentioned before around these parts, IRANI shows up a lot in crosswords relative to how often people say it. “Iranian” seems to be the preferred demonym, but again, that section is pretty constrained and I don’t terribly mind IRANI.
The one other entry that strikes me as off is EDATE, which has showed up a few times in crosswords but isn’t something I’ve heard anyone say. I did a little noodling to see if I could get rid of it, and came up with this:
Whether KISMET is Monday-worthy is certainly arguable, but the crossings are all reasonable. And, of course, the discussion is moot if you like EDATE as an entry. But I know at least some of you like to see how different constructors tackle the same problem.
A fine Monday puzzle. Lots of theme content–4 themers plus the 15-letter revealer in the center is jam-packed, especially for an early-week puzzle, and solid, accessible fill. Good stuff.
Until next time!
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Joint Account” — Jim’s review
Greetings! It’s spring break for us where we live, so we are traveling this week. And that means I may have some difficulties getting my daily posts up on time and with any sort of consistent depth of analysis. My apologies in advance.
First up this week is Dan Fisher (aka editor Mike Shenk). Very simple theme not needing too much analysis, luckily for me. He’s found four phrases that end in a body joint.
- 16a [What some white collar criminals get, annoyingly] A SLAP ON THE WRIST
- 24a [Shabbily attired] OUT AT THE ELBOWS
- 39a [Overwhelmed with emotion] WEAK IN THE KNEES
- 51a [What an unfriendly person might give you] THE COLD SHOULDER
Pretty straightforward, like I said.
Favorite non-theme fill: KRAKATOA (4d [Eruption site of 1883]) and KAPOW (41d [Fight sound in the comics]).
Other long fill: PREMIERS, PT BOATS, LEATHER, BENGALIS, and SPEAK LOW.
Really tough proper names especially for a Monday: 23a [“Zorba the Greek” Oscar winner Kedrova] LILA and 30a [___ Grace Moretz of “Hugo”] CHLOE. Whew!
Pretty clean aside from a RATA here or a RAJA there. I’m going to cut it short there and start up again tomorrow. See you then!
Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “The Old Heave-ho” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everybody. I hope you’re doing well to start the week. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Jeff Chen, is all about different types of pitches, as the one of the words in each theme entry is, in its own way, related to a PITCH, with that word featuring in the grid as the reveal (71A: [Toss…and a hint to the last words of 18-, 27-, 49-, and 62-Across]).
- ROUGH IDEA (18A: [General notion])
- PERFECT FIT (27A: [Match without flaws])
- OXYGEN TENT (49A: [Intensive care apparatus])
- BELL CURVE (62A: [Graph of a normal distribution])
How many times have I gone for a SKINNY DIP in my life (36D: [Swim au naturel])? That would be zero, which means I can’t say that I’ve lived life to the fullest just yet. That entry was part of the group of long entries that livened up the grid, and especially liked seeing the scrabbly WAXWORKS (40D: [Some lifelike statues]). I’ve been tempted a couple of times over the years while walking in Times Square by the street psychic who READS PALMS and/or siphons money from suckers who believe that those soothsayers are for real (29D: [Does a bit of fortune-telling]). Though I haven’t flown out there in about four years, there was a time when I would routinely fly into OAKLAND and stay in the area before covering football games at the University of California at Berkeley (41A: [Bay area city]). Now thinking about it, outside of cities in New York and New Jersey, I think the only cities I’ve frequented more often than Oakland are Philadelphia, Washington DC and San Diego. Sounds like another California trip is in the works!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: UFO (25A: [Sci-fi transport]) – For those of you who are New York Knicks fans and grew up in the 1980s, like myself, you would have seen Walt “Clyde” Frazier more as a broadcaster as opposed to a Hall of Fame basketball player. Over his three decades as the color commentator for the Knicks on radio and television, he has been know for his distinctive, rhyme-time style of commentary (e.g. “swishing and dishing.”). One of his most popular lines he uses is UFO, what he describes as a shot attempt from distance that does not hit the rim, a.k.a. an airball.
Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!