David Woolf’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Cute Monday theme. EYE CONTACT is the revealer, clued as 62a. [Asset for a public speaker … or a hint to 17-, 24-, 37- and 52-Across]. Those other four themers have the letter “i” at the end of the first word and beginning of the second word:
- 17a. [World’s largest religious denomination], SUNNI ISLAM.
- 24a. [Org. looking for aliens], SETI INSTITUTE. Not sure I knew that was a thing, as opposed to SETI being a thing.
- 37a. [Supporting nativist policies], ANTI-IMMIGRATION. This one’s a hyphenated dealio rather than a two-word phrase. I’m not super keen on “nativism,” which sounds perhaps more benign than it is in practice.
- 52a. [One teaching pizza slices and S-turns], SKI INSTRUCTOR. I needed crossings here because I had no idea those were skiing terms.
Having just this evening pointed a high school student towards some indie puzzles by younger constructors (Erik Agard, Paolo Pasco, and Will Nediger’s puzzle blogs, all linked on the Crossword Links page you can access by clicking above on this page), I had teenaged solvers in mind while working this puzzle. The more glaring bits of crosswordese jumped out at me. Kid’s not going have trouble with ELMO or NBA, no, but LEM, ONO, ESSO, ETUI, probably BIL Keane, COOER, TNN, and maybe TITO Jackson all feel like a reach. And ALOU, if the solver’s not a hardcore baseball fan. And the high-end vocab word GIMBAL, clued as 23d. [Stabilizing part of a ship’s compass]—the word might be more familiar if clued as the same sort of device but in filmmaking, as seen in Inception where the room rotated.
Three more things:
- 55d. [Channel that became Spike TV in 2003], TNN. News flash: Spike TV no longer exists. You’re looking for the Paramount Network, as of a few months ago. So these Spike TV clues for TNN are just stale and weird now. (Your pop culture crossword editor has to know these things.)
- 15a. [Longest river in France], LOIRE. I always want this to be the Seine, Rhine, or Rhone, but no.
- 26d. [Still uninformed], NO WISER. The clue feels a little weird to me, but I love the entry.
I’ll go 3.9 stars for the theme, 2.8 stars for the fill that’s not beginner-friendly. Averages out somewhere in the 3s.
Melina Merchant’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Tax Collecting” — Jim’s review
Our theme: Phrases whose last word/part could be tax-related.
- 17a [Biologist’s tax schedules?] LIFE FORMS
- 27a [Geometry teacher’s tax divisions?] ANGLE BRACKETS
- 47a [Comic collector’s tax mailings?] BATMAN RETURNS
- 62a [CPAs?] PRO FILERS
The inconsistent final entry threw me for a bit since all the other entries are clearly two words. It took several seconds before I thought to re-parse it. But other than that little inconsistency, I like the theme fine. I especially love BATMAN RETURNS. You think Bruce Wayne can write off his lycra expenses?
As usual, I solved this Monday puzzle while watching The Walking Dead, so maybe I wasn’t paying such close attention. But a couple nice clues stuck out at me.
- 18d [Post of good behavior]. EMILY. I didn’t expect such trickery on a Monday, so I needed most of the crossings. Good clue.
- 49d [Heir’s acquisitions]. TRAITS. Another bit of trickery. With the financial theme, the biological aspect of this entry was unexpected.
This is a super clean grid. And yet, there’s plenty of nice longer stuff. I like OLE MISS, STILTED, TEARFUL, AT SPEED, and of course, RINGO STARR and GETS BETTER.
It wasn’t Ringo who penned and sang “Getting Better,” that was Paul. So here he is singing it live in 2002.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Marching Bands — erik’s Review
weird-looking themeless monday this week, huh? quigley runs a regular subscription feature for these across-and-clockwise-running “marching bands” puzzles – you can hop over to his site for more details.
quick highlights from this one: the apt stack of guitarist STEVE VAI over AXEMAN (constructors – go check your wordlist and tell me if AXEWOMAN is in there), the elegant double-Q second row, rapper SKEE-LO, hitchhock classic STRANGER SON AT RAIN, and the clever clues [Club member?] for BACON (as in a club sandwich) and [One studying some pointers, briefly] for a VET (the dog-examining kind).
Jake Braun’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Adesina’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! It’s Ade/AOK doing some pinch-hitting today. I hope you all had a good weekend and are having a good (and dry) start to your week, unlike many people in the Northeast right now. The theme for today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Jake Braun, fits right in with the time of the year, as baseball season in here – though, with all the rainouts and cold weather across the country, it doesn’t really, really feel like baseball season just yet. As for today’s theme, each of the first four theme entries is a two-word answer in which the first word describes a way in which a batter in the game of baseball hits into an OUT – with ‘OUT’ acting as the theme’s reveal (70A: [One of an inning’s three, which can follow the first word of 17-, 29-, 47- and 63-Across]).
- FLY FISHING (17A: [Angling method using hand-tied lures])
- LINE DANCER (29A: [One doing the Electric Slide, e.g.]) – It’s been a while since I’ve done an Electric Slide, and, for the next wedding that I go to, I might have to break it out and, hopefully, others at the reception will join in!
- GROUND BEEF (47A: [Hamburger meat])
- POP CONCERT (63A: [Beatles’ Shea Stadium performance, e.g.]) – Again, fitting the theme, the stadium referenced was the home of a baseball team, the New York Mets, for over four decades.
Though not being part of the theme, SAMMY SOSA makes an appearance in full in a grid, and now I’m left in awe as I’m thinking about how fast time flies, since the home run record chase between Sosa and Mark McGwire occurred exactly 20 years ago, in 1998 (54A: [Mark McGwire rival]). There are a couple of leading ladies in the grid, DEBRA (4A: [Actress Winger]) and BROOKE, the latter once being romantically tied to a popular sports figure who also shows up regularly in crosswords, Andre Agassi (49D: [Actress Shields]). Once again, a couple of extra brownie points given to the grid for an Africa-related reference, with CAIRO being featured this time around (31D: [Egypt’s capital]). There was some crosswordese littered in the grid, with REBAG standing out from those entries (26D: [Pack again, as groceries]). In a way, DESPOT is a timely entry, given everything going on in Syria and the major players (despots) involved in the chaos and human suffering over there (48D: [Absolute ruler]). Can only hope/wish for the safety for the many innocent victims caught up in the war now, as well as the safety for those who are trying to flee/have fled the country because of it.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: WISE (42A: [Like the Magi]) – Many sports fans remember the famous walk-off home run Carlton Fisk hit in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series for the Boston Red Sox, waving the ball to stay fair before it hit the foul pole to end one of the greatest baseball games ever and force a Game 7 against the Cincinnati Reds. The homer made Rick WISE, who pitched in relief, the winning pitcher in that game. Mostly a starter in his career, Wise was a two-time All-Star (1971, 1973) who once pitched a no-hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies, on the road against the Cincinnati Reds – the “Big Red Machine” Cincinnati Reds, mind you – on June 23, 1971. (Wise also hit two home runs in that same game he threw the no-hitter!!) However, Wise is best known for being the person traded by the Phillies to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for future Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton. At the time of the trade, Wise had 75 career wins while Carlton had 73. Carlton would end his career with 329 wins and four Cy Young Awards, the first of those coming in the season after that trade, in 1972. (Below is the video of the final out of Wise’s no-hitter, retiring Charlie Hustle to complete the feat.)
Thank you so much for your time, everyone, and I hope you all have a great rest of your Monday. Stay warm and dry…or enjoy the spring weather!