Roger & Kathy Wienberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Wrapping Up” — Jim’s review
Theme: Words to follow “loose.”
- 17a [*Canadian symbol] MAPLE LEAF. Loose leaf.
- 38a [*”M*A*S*H” nickname] HOT LIPS. Loose lips.
- 11d [*Crowd disperser] WATER CANNON. Loose cannon.
- 24d [*Type of performance artist] QUICK CHANGE. Loose change.
- 59a [Fraying result, and what the second parts of the starred answers can be] LOOSE ENDS
Straightforward theme that works nicely. I wish WATER CANNON was clued with respect to a fireboat rather than riots and heavy-handed police action.
I would’ve thought this theme had been done many times before, but I only found one instance of it (Mon, Jan 2016, by Janice Luttrell). Both use MAPLE LEAF, but the rest of today’s entries are new, and in fact, we get four themers instead of just three.
And yet, the grid feels very clean and there’s still a lot of fun fill: EMIGRES, CULTURE, SCAMPER, O’CONNOR, EUROZONE, FOURSOME, AZALEAS, and RED-TAIL. Oh, and MASALA. Fun fact: Chicken tikka masala is one of the most popular dishes in the UK.
On the whole a great, clean start to the week.
Jennifer Nutt’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The name of the game is 59a. [Creature found “swimming” in 16-, 22-, 28-, 42- and 47-Across], KILLER WHALE, and each of those five answers contains a hidden ORCA. The themers are RADIATOR CAP; WINDSOR CASTLE; the [Quaint train amenity] I’m not familiar with, the PARLOR CAR; INDOOR CAT; and LIQUOR CABINET.
I find myself wishing that the 9-letter themers had been left out to give the grid more breathing room. There’s a fair amount of fill that I would not expect any beginning solver to know: AGUE, ILE-de-France, AGRA, OBI, SRO, maybe ERMINE, BIER, BLAT, and ALEE. Especially with AGRA and OBI in the 1-Across corner. These words are no impediment for seasoned solvers, but the typical non-crossworder wouldn’t necessarily have encountered these words much at all.
Fave fill: MOXIE, CODE WORDS.
3 stars from me, owing to the previously spotlighted fill issues.
Frank Virzi’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The revealer LONG GONE is clued as 58a. [Extinct since way back when … and, in a way, what each set of circles represents], and the word GONE is split in two different ways in four themers. GOLD MINE and “GOOD DAY SUNSHINE” split it GO/NE, while the quaintly ancient GRAMOPHONE and GRINDSTONE go G/ONE. I don’t think there are any decent GON/E options that don’t start with GONE (you can keep your GONADAL FAILURE to yourself).
–0.1 stars for the AMPS UP/RIP UP crossing with two UPs. +0.2 stars for GALAPAGOS, “RED RED WINE,” and FIRST LOVE. –1.5 stars for fill like LCDS, ALIT, SERA, SSTS, REMOW (!!), N.LAT. (!!!!), STEP A (!!!!!!), VIS., EDT, ON RIO, BYPATH, H-TEST. This is a 74-word grid, more challenging to fill than it needs to be. Rejigger the grid design to make it a 78-worder, and you might well find it easier to eliminate the more problematic fill.
Taking the theme and fill into account, I settle at an assessment of 2.9 stars.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword—Laura’s write-up
Is this the first time AVOCADO TOAST [53a: Chic brunch order] has appeared in a grid? If Millennials are ON A TEAR [17a: Killing it] with their avocados and the like, they can go ahead [26d: And then some] BY HALF, because AVOCADO TOAST is delicious, especially drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with cracked black pepper. I CAN CONFIRM [45a: “That is correct”], having made some myself when I was wondering what all the fuss was about. Too bad “.oast” isn’t a top-level domain (for, say, hop-kiln companies?) because then there could be a hipster brunch place called “avoca.oast.”
There’s a check-letter triangle (a right triangle, even, with a [13d: Triangle part]: LEG) at the 21a/5d crossing, because I [44a: Took a header] FELL flat on my face trying to force ILIAC where [5d: Of an intestinal part]: ILEAL was meant to go. I hereby [52d: Seek forgiveness] ATONE for my error in presenting the grid as I solved it. What else? Not much made me say [6d: “Like I’m supposed to know that?”]: SEARCH ME, but I tend not to get [16a: Fit to be tied]: ENRAGED when I don’t know something. Wasn’t super-familiar with proper names BELTRE [8d: Adrián who is the all-time hits leader among Dominican-born players], LEANNE [29d: Fashion designer Marshall], or MANCUSO [64a: Bonanno family crime boss]. Liked the personal-finance-themed crossing of [30a: Loan type]: HOME EQUITY and [20d: Nest egg choice]: SIMPLE IRA — maybe with an ironic intersection with WELFARE STATE [19a: System that looks after its citizens]?. IRON BAR [62a: Cage component] reminded me of Richard Lovelace’s 1642 ODE [14d: Pablo Neruda’s “___ to a Large Tuna in the Market] “To Althea, from Prison” (“Stone walls do not a prison make,/ Nor iron bars a cage”). Overall, plenty of good stuff to please crossword ZEALOTS [37a: Intense ones].