John R. O’Brien’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I never saw the two-part revealer till 5 minutes after solving. It consists of two 3-letter entries in the middle of the grid, and out of order: 32a. [See 39-Across], EYE / 39a. [With 32-Across, what the answers to the starred clues each have], ONE. Can’t help thinking it would have been better to just mention the one eye in each of the theme clues rather than splitting a revealer in two weird spots. (They’re symmetrical, but easy to miss.) Mythological POLYPHEMUS, entertainer SAMMY DAVIS JR., a JACK OF SPADES, and BAZOOKA JOE are the themers. Bazooka Joe has one eye? Huh, an eyepatch—zero recollection of that from childhood.
There’s so much crusty fill in this puzzle, and it’s meant to be solvable by newbies since it’s a Monday. AGORA EERO AGAPE RANI (if you’re not Indian) UVEAS ESAI NENE VERSO ASP EGAD ERES and HEMAL? H-less O SAY? Contrived I CAN HELP? If you find your grid contains such vocab, start over. If you used auto-fill, don’t do that anymore. If you filled manually, raise your standards for what you’re willing to put in your grid. Many of the entries I’ve listed here are things that might perplex a typical college-educated person who’s new to crosswords.
It’s late and I’m tired (I forgot that pannonica’s laptop is kaput, and I forgot to line up a sub), so that’s it from me. 2.5 stars.
Craig Stowe’s Los Angeles Times crossword—erik’s write-up
SMART PHONE, FAST ONE, BRIGHT SIDE, QUICK BREAD, SHARP CURVE – the first word of each theme answer is a synonym for the word “intelligent.” serviceable monday theme, not much to talk about.
supporting fill i definitely didn’t know back when i was a novice solver: ERG, RUR, DELE, ITEN, ESSA. (notice how those last two appear in the same corner, constrained by the theme density in BRIGHT SIDE and MENSA in a fairly wide-open area.) the crossings of BASRA/RUR and LORRE/ERG could be tough for some.
on the plus side: STREISAND!
i’m trying to think of more stuff to say, but now i’m just fixating on stuff like why the clue for SIX reads [Number of sides on most game cubes] – is “game cube” a thing, outside of the console? also, are cubes not definitionally six-sided? also, wait, did someone hear the phrase “never say die” once and take it super literally? my laptop battery is in the process of hitting zero, so i will wrap this up and spare you further such observations.
to play us out… PIPS.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s themeless Monday crossword — Laura’s Review
Five things, because even though I only lost an hour of sleep, this morning is turning out to be brutal (I’m a bit of a LATE RISER), and HOLD IT — we’re getting another Nor’easter tomorrow.
- [1a: Advertising icon whose first commercial was called “Park Bench”]: AFLAC DUCK. I heard that the agency that made those ads approached Ben Affleck to be in a new series of commercials, but he wasn’t having it. Relatedly, the term spokesduck is inherently funny.
- [12a: Long and small hybrid dog]: CHIWEENIE. A cross between a chihuahua and a dachshund, one assumes.
- [50a: 1987 Randy Shilts book about AIDS, with “And”]: THE BAND PLAYED ON. Shilts was a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle. He won the Stonewall Book Award for And the Band Played On. His last book, published just before he died of AIDS in 1994, was Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf.
- [40a: Encoded series of transactions used in cryptocurrency]: BLOCKCHAIN. That’s the most succinct and clear definition that I’ve read so far. ICYMI, BEQ collaborated with the Fiend’s own joon pahk on a recent American Values Club puzzle with a similar theme.
[3d: The Black ___ (Americana group that took its name, supposedly, from flowers)]: LILLIES. I listen to a lot of Americana, alternative country, “roots music,” what have you, and I hadn’t heard of them. They’re pretty good!
Celia Smith’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Riverfronts” — Jim’s re-cap
The puzzle posted late, and I’m getting to it late, so this will just be a quick thematic re-cap.
Our theme today consists of phrases whose first word can be re-clued as if it was part of a river.
- 17a [Set of rules governing a river’s start?] SOURCE CODE.
- 21a [Sentry watching over a river’s end?] MOUTH GUARD.
- 37a [Engineers who relocate the course of a river?] CHANNEL CHANGERS.
- 57a [Purse snatcher on the side of a river?] BANK ROBBER.
- 63a [Group policing the end of a river?] DELTA FORCE.
Cute enough theme, I think, for a Monday. The clues didn’t hit my funny bone, but it works.
That’s a lot of theme material, so the grid is heavily sectioned off. With nothing longer than six letters in the Down direction, there’s not a lot of sparkle.