Betty Keller’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s write-up
Happy Monday (or Sunday Evening, if you’re reading this when it goes live), everyone! Hope you had a good weekend.
Today’s NYT was a big pile of meh for me, and certainly didn’t start my NYT solves for the week off with a KABOOM or even A BANG. An old song lyric from “Accentuate the Positive” provides nominal inspiration for the theme today, with BOTTOM ROW, STEAMROLLER, PALM READING, and AM/FM RADIO all having an MR IN BETWEEN that you shouldn’t mess with.
(There may be more well-known performances of this song, but I like Sam Cooke, so there we go.)
Lots of stale fill today for a relatively straightforward theme, with ERA, ELS, ERR, OBI, CSI, EDY, and AMO all making appearances. Add in a clue for MMLI that barely even tried (29A, “The year 2051”) and an LMN letter run at 54A and this was a Monday that I easily shredded…sorry, TORE OPEN, to use the down fill.
I barely needed the downs on this one, but they felt a little more original than the acrosses. I liked TITLEIST, TWEEZE, BEHOLDER, FLUMMOX, and COLADA, but overall the fill on this just felt like a C+ to me.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called a crossword puzzle. Let’s go crazy!
NCS (a suspected pseudonym of editor Mike Shenk) has been put in charge of handing out walking papers, and she’s doing it left and right. In fact, you could say she’s “let-go crazy”. That’s what’s going on in today’s puzzle; each theme answer starts with a synonym for letting someone go (i.e. firing them).
- 17a [Kitchen gadget] CAN OPENER
- 28a [Fourth of July banger] FIRECRACKER
- 46a [Lizzie Borden, purportedly] AXE MURDERER
- 63a [Garment fashionable in the 1950s] SACK DRESS
Straightforward and smooth synonym theme, assuming you don’t mind a little AXE MURDERER with your Monday morning breakfast.
However, I stumbled at 1a—twice. Clued as [Wedding ceremony exchange], my first instinct was I DOS. When that didn’t work, I went with RING. Wrong again. I tried I DOS once more and it was still wrong, and then finally settled on VOWS.
Other than that it was smooth sailing. I like MODEL CARS and DELMONICO—the latter maybe not exactly Monday fare, but interesting [Another name for a club steak]. Apparently, there’s no set definition of a DELMONICO steak other than that it’s thick and contains a fair amount of marbling. No one can even agree what cut of meat it should be made from.
Also good are ATHLETES, CLINICAL, CHEEZ-IT, ADAGIO, and REMAKES. Less good are AS TO and EDUCE, but that’s as bad as it gets. This thing is really clean.
Not much else to say—a solid, clean puzzle and a smooth start to the crazy work week. Here’s hoping you don’t get “let go” anytime soon.
C.W. Stewart’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
I should time myself on early-week puzzles more often. It’s good for the ego.
We have four theme entries. We know they’re theme entries because they’re starred.
- Sing on key = CARRY A TUNE
- Underestimate = SELL SHORT
- Try, with “at” = HAVE A GO
- Cattle enterprise = STOCK FARM
Four theme entries and one is really a partial. I think “have a go” could stand on its own; I suspect the resulting clue would not be appropriate for a Monday. And is STOCK FARM actually a phrase people use? The only farmers I know raise organic lettuce, so this is out of my area.
The revealer is down in the bottom right, where revealers belong:
- Make available, as merchandise….and a clue to the start of the answers to the starred clues = KEEP ON HAND.
The first word of each starred clue is a something you do with merchandise: CARRY, SELL, HAVE and STOCK. This is an adequate theme; it’s reasonably consistent (although I think “have” is kind of weak) and it’s appropriate for a Monday puzzle.
A few other things:
- I haven’t seen UBER clued as a German word in quite some time, now that we can use clues like “App that connects riders with drivers.” I Ubered for the first time in Boston a couple of months ago; we have Uber here in the Lehigh Valley and I’ve never used it. I don’t know anyone who has. Since our public transit here is horrendous, everyone has a car.
- “Hi-fi” in the clue for 9D is a word from the past – and to me it’s a bit of a clunker. The answer is STEREO, and I always think of stereos as the replacement for hi-fi systems.
- There must be a way to clue UKES without reference to Hawaii. Probably not on a Monday, but at some point.
- Good old NERO Wolfe shows up at 60D. I loved those books when I was younger and more capable of overlooking horrifying misogyny.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that I could do a puzzle in under three minutes.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Straight to a bulleted list:
- HARD DAY seems like maybe not quite a lexical chunk, and STATEDLY is … is it actually a word?
- 29a. [Program that people from Scotland and Boston have problems with], SIRI. I have problems with Siri, too. Wanted info on Congressman Luis Gutierrez last month, but she gave me stats for a Mexican ballplayer.
- 9d. [When to put some plates away], MEALTIMES. “Put it away” being another way of saying “eat.”
- 11d. [“Can’t stick around”], GOTTA BOUNCE. Have never once said this, really don’t hear people say it, but I IMAGINE that Brendan does say it.
- 13d. [Ship actually named Santa Clara], NINA. Wait, what? My grade school education was a lie.
- SWEAT EQUITY is my favorite entry here. Surprised there aren’t more ANSWERS that I love, given the word count of 72.
- 35d. [Feminine name suffix], ETTA. “Brendanetta.”
- 56d. [Contaminated water virus, briefly], HEPA. Say what? Googling … ah, hepatitis A, hep A for short.
3.4 stars from me. Reynaldo out.