John Lieb’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The notepad reads, “Although this puzzle can be solved in Across Lite, the print version contains elements that the software cannot reproduce.”
I compared the .pdf version to the .puz and could discern no structural or informational difference. Perhaps my mind is clouded.
It’s readily apparent that the grid is atypical. Instead of 15×15 squares we have 14×16.
There’s a revealer as the last long across entry. 60a [How an extreme underdog wins … or this puzzle?] AGAINST ALL ODDS.
The other five long acrosses count upwards by two, eliding the odd single-digit numbers.
- 16a. [Driving condition in a blizzard] ZERO VISIBILITY.
- 22a. [Approval from Siskel and Ebert] TWO THUMBS UP.
- 29a. [R&B group with the #1 hit “Reach Out I’ll Be There”] FOUR TOPS. Sometimes with a “The”, sometimes without, so this is fine here.
- 45a. [Amusement park with the Nitro roller coaster] SIX FLAGS. 48d [Made smile] AMUSED; made scowl.
- 50a. [1988 film about the Black Sox scandal] EIGHT MEN OUT.
I’m not appreciating the AGAINST ALL here, not beyond the -2-4-6-8, and of course the proportion thing. There are odd numbers everywhere in the grid. Two of the theme entries are odd-numbered, there are plenty of entries with an odd number of letters, et cetera.
- Longdowns: 10d [Traditional Christmas plants] POINSETTIAS, 27d [Blinkers] TURN SIGNALS, 4d [Michelin winter product] SNOW TIRE, 42d [Pop with no fizz] FLAT SODA.
- 11d [Heinz product] CATSUP. That particular company spells it KETCHUP.
- 41d [Times New Roman, e.g.]
- 47d [ __ Alley, shopping area for Harry Potter] DIAGON. Oh, that JK Rowling, she’s sooo clever with her names.
It’s tough for Monday puzzles. They have to be unintimidating for newer solvers, free from crosswordese, and can’t get too tricky or clever, yet still somehow be entertaining for solvers at all levels of experience. With rare exceptions, the best they can hope for is mediocrity. That’s why I can’t find anything positively remarkable about this one. Then again, I didn’t see what was lacking in the .puz version.
Gabriel Stone’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Go With the Flow” — Jim’s review
Good Monday morning to you. Today we’re given phrases in which one of the words is repurposed as being river-related.
- 17a [Defender of a river area?] MOUTH GUARD
- 27a [Position held by the supervisor of a river tributary?] BRANCH OFFICE
- 43a [Silt accumulation along the river’s?] BANK DEPOSITS
- 57a [Strength of the flow where the river empties into the sea?] DELTA FORCE
Perfectly adequate theme, but unfortunately for me, the first one I resolved was BRANCH OFFICE, whose clue seems unnecessarily confusing. That sort of soured me on the whole thing. MOUTH GUARD and DELTA FORCE are okay, I guess, but BANK DEPOSITS is rather obvious.
I do however love the long fill today, especially PLASTIQUE and BORN LOSER. But we also get OLD GLORY, GREEN DAY, AT HEART, and STRAFES.
KOKOMO, the [Indiana city] at 44d, is interesting. I’ve spent some time in Indiana, so I’d heard of the city and was therefore able to fill it in with just a few crossings, but I’m guessing most people won’t. Perhaps the Beach Boys #1 hit might be more familiar to solvers. I was going to embed the video here, but I’ll just link to it with a warning: it’s just awful. The puzzle was better, maybe that’s why we get the Indiana clue.
Agnes Davidson and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
- 62aR [Part of an Aretha Franklin refrain about fools … and a hint to the ends of 17-, 28- and 57-Across] CHAIN CHAIN CHAIN.
- 17a. [It’s “down at the end of Lonely Street,” in an Elvis hit] HEARTBREAK HOTEL (hotel chain).
- 28a. [Oil well output, in slang] BLACK GOLD (gold chain). Oh, I thought there was going to be a layer of coherence, with the clues all referencing hit songs. Well.
- 47a. [Miracle-Gro, e.g.] PLANT FOOD (food chain).
Three CHAINs, three places for them to be appended.
Ultimately it’s a modest theme, which I feel is fine for an early week offering. It should be deferent to the overall accessibility and smoothness of the fill. And with a few blips (e.g., AARE, , ROTI) that’s the case here. And there a few moderately playful/clever clues.
THEMELESS MONDAY #391 by Brendan Emmett Quigley
EMERGENZZZZ is the stunt answer in the grid. Aside from that, we have a sensible design, with medium-length stacks with scads of interesting answers. The difficulty was at Friday level, I think, though I’ve take a Sinutab, so I’m not sure; they don’t hit you the way Adcodol do though!
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Credibility Problem” —Ade’s write-up
Well, hello there! Remember me? I hope you’ve all been doing very well in my absence. My apologies once again, but, after a month of non-stop traveling and such, I hope I’m back here for good. I’m welcomed back with a quip as a theme, with the crossword brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke. I personally haven’t come across Big Foot, but I did recently just talk with someone who wears a size 18 basketball shoe. Is that close?
- BIG FOOT SAW ME BUT HE CAN’T GET ANYONE TO BELIEVE HIM (17A, 26A, 48A and 62A: [Part 1 of a quip involving Sasquatch], [Part 2 of the quip], [Part 3 of the quip], [End of the quip])
I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m no fan of quips and sayings as themes. I end up guessing at it more than anything, and that’s just a distraction while I’m solving. Funny payoff at the end, but still not the most comfortable of solves for me. For some reason, I thought that the 2008 Olympics were in London instead of CHINA and thought there might have been an error in the grid (30D: [2008 Summer Olympics host country]). You know you’re getting old when you start mixing up your Olympic cities and years. Anyone still say MY EYE these days (45D: [What a bunch of baloney!”]). At least I’ve caught myself saying YIPPEE in the not too recent past, so that word is still in style (56A: [Cry of delight]). Props for African geography in the grid with RWANDA as well (8D: [Neighbor of Tanzania]). Time ti split, but not before this…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: USFL (4D: [Failed 1980s gridiron org.]) – I don’t get political, but all I’m going to say is that I hope Donald Trump doesn’t run into the same fate running the United States like he did in running the New Jersey Generals of the USFL, where he almost singlehandedly engineered the league’s demise by convincing owners to move the league’s schedule from the spring to the fall, in direct competition with the National Football League. Let’s just say that I have my doubts.
Thank you so much for the time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
You might want to check the PDF again, or solve in Puzzazz, to fully understand this theme. I thought it was clever and liked it.
You mean this .pdf?
Try the “Newspaper Version” — I think that’s an option when trying to print in the NYTimes system
Aha, this lovely and somewhat obscure incarnation:
Sorry, but after all the suspense, that gloss doesn’t do much for me. Not sure I would have felt different without the rigmarole, but it’s hard to say now.
No worries, it was just meant to be something fun that solvers of all levels of experience might enjoy…
Sorry, I completely forgot about the other version of the PDF. I don’t know why the NYT provides that version when they always have a beautifully formatted version of exactly what’s in the newspaper. Here’s what John’s puzzle looks like in Puzzazz:
(I don’t know what magic you did to get the image to appear inline in the comment, but click the link and you can see it.)
Now that I think of it, it would have been cute had this puzzle run on 02/02/2020, though probably John wouldn’t have been happy waiting 4 more years for it to run.
December 12th of this year would have worked much better.
Not getting it either, even after reading conductor and Jeff Chen notes. Me slow.
NYT: All the squares/clues are numbered using even numbers.
I solved in Across Lite, never saw the note, but still thought it was an outstanding Monday puzzle. Six theme answers (Not an odd number!) and it was my one of my fastest Mondays. The revealer AMUSED me.
Speaking of SNOW TIRES and ZERO VISIBILITY, we’ve had the fastest descent into winter I’ve ever seen, dropping from 72 degrees to a couple of inches of snow from one day to the next. Michigan had its last home game of the season and the UM team celebrated its win by making snow angels on the field…
I just tried to find without success what I am about to describe. I think it was President’s weekend the year after the Olympics at Whiteface Montain in Lake Placid. I was on a ski trip and the first day it was 12 below. We skied on glare ice. The second day it was 55 and we skied in corn snow. There was a picture in the local paper of a giant block of ice that had exploded from the Ausable River and crushed a truck.
Cool. Wish the instructions had been clear.
This is Shortz’s 23rd anniversary of becoming the NYT puzzle editor. I double counted to make sure it wasn’t his 22nd.
Pretty terrible that there’s a “#1” in the clues. Having 1988 isn’t ideal either, but at least it is even.
NYT: Good Monday puzzle, but um there is no such thing as Heinz catsup.
True dat, but I would argue that Heinz does make catsup.
As may be, but the clue is perverse.
Thanks to the NYT for putting this in my head all day today (hope the link shows up)…
I choose this clip. Thrilled to find it!
I did the puzzle on paper, and was very pleased, except for CATSUP instead of ketchup. I gave myself the argument that it could be just generic, lower-case CATSUP, but no go. Should have gone with another brand.
Pannonica, you seem to have totally the wrong NYT puzzle posted now, in the usual place, that is. I can’t really look at it. I’m afraid it’s Tuesday’s, which I haven’t done yet.
Wrong puzzle posted for the NYT! It’s a duplicate of the BEQ puzzle.
Restored to the correct grid.