John Lampkin’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
This is a delightful Monday puzzle. The theme is fun and the fill is accessible. If you know someone who wants to start doing the NYT puzzle, this would be a good one to share with them.
We have an unusual workout regimen.
- 17a [Arm exercise at a dairy farm?] are CHEESE CURLS.
- 25a [Shoulder exercise at a cutlery store?] are a FORKLIFTS.
- 37a [Wrist exercise at a candy factory?] is a PEPPERMINT TWIST. This is my favorite, perhaps because peppermint stick ice cream is my favorite ice cream.
- 51a [Chest exercise at a vintner’s?] is a WINE PRESS. I was all ready to grumble about the term really being “grape press” when I checked Google Ngrams and discovered that WINE PRESS has substantially more citations, so never mind.
- 62a [What the exercise regimen in 17-, 25-, 37- and 51-Across is worth?] is DIDDLY SQUAT. That made me laugh.
Solid, consistent, and funny theme on a Monday. I’ll take it.
The fill is free of mustiness as well. The partial [“Ben-___”] at 20a for HUR is a bit creaky but eminently gettable from crossings for younger solvers.
A few other things:
- 1d [Computer crash investigator, informally] is a TECH. I never use this word to refer to a person; I call them “techies.”
- 6d [Coffee choice before bed] is DECAF. Or, if you’re me, the only coffee choice ever, and even then only before 2:00 PM. Yes, I know it’s decaf. Yes, it still keeps me awake. No, coffee isn’t bad for you in any other way.
- 7d [Cape Cod resort town] is TRURO, home of the oldest synagogue in the US.
- 13d [“Finally!”] is AT LAST, clued without reference to our old friend Etta James.
- 40d is [Totalitarian control]. I dropped in IRON FIST; it’s really IRON RULE. Back to Google Ngrams, which tells me IRON RULE was far more common until 1970. Interesting.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I got nothing. It’s Monday, so that’s probably a good thing.
Colin Gale’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “That’ll Do” — Jim’s review
Theme: Each two-word phrase starts with a word rhyming with “That’ll.”
- 17a [Snitch] TATTLETALE
- 29a [Open audition] CATTLE CALL
- 43a [The USS Maine, for one] BATTTLESHIP
- 59a [Rickety ride] RATTLETRAP
You don’t see a straight rhyming theme very often. My second published NYT grid was one, but it featured different spellings with each entry. Here, the entries all contain the same five-letter string with only a differing start. A very light theme, to be sure, but a good start to the week I suppose. Maybe this is one you show to your non-crosswording friends to try to get them interested.
Of course, I had to check to see if the starting letters spelled anything. …T…C…B…R. Drat. So close. Frozen yogurt sounds pretty good right about now.
Highlights in the fill: MADE TO LAST (although “built to last” feels more common to me), EYEBALLS (though I could’ve done without the creepy clue [Checks out]), MAESTROS (with the fun clue [They know the score]), GOLIATHS, and the collection of worldly peoples in LEBANESE, LATVIANS, and one ALBERTAN. Also good: PIRATE, TONSIL, GATORS, PICNIC, TWISTS, and ELEVEN (though sadly, no “Stranger Things” reference).
Nothing much to gripe about fillwise, so let’s close this out. Though the fill is very nice and the theme is clean, I like something with just a little more meat on the bones, even on a Monday. Still, it makes for a really good grid for newbies. 3.3 stars from me.
The last theme entry made me think of Neil Gaiman’s short story “Click-Clack the Rattlebag.” If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare, give a listen to the author read his work.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s themeless Monday crossword — Laura’s review
How many things? How about five?
[1a: Sneaker company that once sponsored Run-DMC]: ADIDAS. We slay all suckers who perpetrate.
[18a: French pirate who fought in the Battle of New Orleans]: JEAN LAFITTE. He may have been a hero to some (and you can drink in a bar in his old blacksmith shop in New Orleans), but after he set up a personal empire in Galveston, he and his men would capture slave ships — not to free the enslaved people, but to sell them up the river in Louisiana.
- [56a: Swift genre]: TEENPOP. Thought it was that other Swift, dincha? Until SATIRE wouldn’t fit. There’s a hashtag thing going around on the twitters: #RockBandLiterature — some funny ones are: Because I could not stop for Death Cab for Cutie, The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective Village People, Jane Eyre’s Addiction, and Go Ask Alice Cooper (a while ago we also had #BandBooksWeek, to which my notable contribution was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxie 500).
[15a: “Oh, pshaw”]: QUIT YER JOSHIN. Perhaps with an apostrophe on the end there? One hears this construction more commonly as “quit yer bellyachin'” or “quit yer bitchin’.”
If you don’t know [50a: Brandon Santiago webcomic about a girl and her ghostly spirit friend]: ERMA, you’re missing out. Take a look-see here.
Roger & Gail Grabowski & Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
It’s time for the Monday LAT!
20a: SIGNATURE STAMP [Self-inking device for check endorsements]
25a: CHANGE MACHINE [Coins-for-bills device]
43a: PAYMENT PERIOD [Interval before late fees apply]
48a: FROM TIME TO TIME [On occasion … and how 20-, 25-, and 43-Across go?”
I have no clue what this puzzle’s theme is. My first thought, based on the revealer, was to find two time increments hidden in each themer (like eon, era, or sec) so that we’d be going from a time to another time. Nope. Maybe there are time-related words hidden in the themers? Not that I can find.
So, I texted the much-smarter-than-I-am goddesses Laura Braunstein and Amy Reynaldo, and both came up with the best plausible idea: each of the two words in the themers can be preceded by “time” – time signature, time stamp, etc. That’s honestly the best option and it seems to fit almost all of the themer words, but I’m not sure what a time payment is. Is that a thing? Also, if this is the theme, the revealer does not do a great job of communicating this at al. At all. Someone please tweet me (@naytnaytnayt) and tell us what we’re missing!
– Are ankle TATs super common? That sounds painful!
– The cluing of [Boyfriend’s ultimatum] for HIM OR ME doesn’t sit well with me. It also doesn’t account for bisexual or pansexual folks. How does this kind of stuff pass an editor’s breakfast test, while other anatomical fill doesn’t?
– Dodgy fill: ELKE, OAS, ESALE, ONKP
#includemorewomen: Are all ships SHES? Even in this modern era? Are there any boat people who can fill me in? I’m genuinely curious. As for the women represented, we have three I didn’t know, so I decided to a do a bit of research on their respective Wikipedia pages. Here are a few tidbits that stood out:
– ELKE Sommer is a German-born entertainer who became one of the top Hollywood film actresses of the 1960s and won a Golden Globe in 1964. She was also a regular feature on “The Dean Martin Show”, Bob Hope specials, and “Hollywood Squares”. Before my time, but she seemed big!
– Little NELL is the primary female protagonist of “The Old Curiosity Shop” by Charles Dickens. Apparently this work and others were so popular in the 1840s that people in New York “stormed the wharf when the ship bearing the final installment arrived in 1841.” Sounds like a Harry Potter release party to me!
– RITA Coolidge contributed a key piece to Eric Clapton’s mega-hit “Layla” and was never credited!
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker themeless crossword—Amy’s notes
Okay, this one was tough, and I had two different squares where I was running through the vowels to find the right combo after using the “check grid” function. That crossing between transgender fashion model HARI NEF and tangential American Revolution figure Benjamin EDES (not remotely a common surname) killed me, and I figured it was something like HARINA F. That the H was confirmed only via nautical HAWSERS is also challenging.
Then there was semi-obscure surveying equipment THEODOLITE crossing COS with a clue that won’t at all resonate unless you shop at H&M a lot.
Going to the Art Institute Sargent exhibition this week—not sure if MADAME X has made it here or not. I don’t read ARTNEWS so I took a stab at ARTWEEK. Never heard of LITTLE MAGAZINES, either—filled that one in because I’d seen the blog comments before I solved the puzzle Monday night. [“Anatomy of Criticism” author] FRYE is entirely unknown to me. And [Dan Flavin works] for NEONS—really?
The rest of the puzzle was more pliable, though the ODER/OESTE crossing and cluing Spanish plural RIOS via the Balsas and Lerma rivers were also a bit much. (Apparently they are both in Mexico.) “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln …”
The crossword had sort of a “we are all in the same Cultural Studies graduate program, aren’t we?” vibe. And no, we are not.
Three stars from me, at best. NANNY STATE, GOODREADS, FIONA APPLE, MAHALIA Jackson, GORSUCH, and MADAME X were all nice fill, but there was too much else offsetting it.
I have been doing (and enjoying!) the Women of Letters puzzles and was rather surprised when I did today’s NYT to see the nearly exact same theme answers as one of the Women’s puzzles. I realize that these are two completely separate venues and this is just a coincidence and the Tracy Gray puzzle is an indie, but it still seems eerie. I don’t know whether anyone else noticed, or if so, if it is bothersome to anyone.
Either way, this is an excellent theme; I liked both puzzles, and I gave the NYT a very high rating.
I am the constructor of the similar puzzle that was published in the Women of Letters and I wasn’t bothered in the least when I solved John’s fun puzzle this morning. From memory, I think there is only one theme entry that is exactly the same (John’s revealer) and my theme cluing was more straightforward whereas John’s theme cluing was more playful. I came up with the idea independently in spring 2017 and it was accepted by Patti Varol and Amy Reynaldo in May/June 2017 and sat in queue until the project launched in April 2018. Most likely, with the long-ish wait between submission, review, acceptance, and publishing with the NYT, I imagine that John has had his puzzle in queue for awhile as well, not ever knowing that we had a similar idea for a puzzle and that they would be published just a few months apart in different venues. So, I would say it is just a coincidence and I think it happens quite often in the cross world. Either way, I’m glad you enjoyed both puzzles, Lise!
Thanks for your comment, Tracy. I do not subscribe to the “it’s been done before so let’s never ever do it again” philosophy, but the similarity did give me quite a start.
WSJ: “Ace’s blackjack value, sometimes” might be better clued as “Ace’s value in blackjack, sometimes” or simply “Ace’s blackjack value” since an ace’s blackjack value is *always* ELEVEN.
Or is that too nitty? Stranger things have occurred.
The Touro Synagogue is located in Newport, RI, not Truro, MA. It is a very cool place to visit as it is the oldest synagogue in North America. There is also a model of the building in the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia which I visit from time to time since it is a couple of blocks from my work.
DIDDLY SQUAT was such a wonderful find for me. It was a personal high because I have never heard anyone but my late husband use that term. Were he alive now, he would be 94. Thank you for making me laugh and for the remembrance from so long ago. It was so appropriate in the puzzle!
Such a lovely comment, Zulema. It’s amazing how certain expressions bring a person alive and make us realize the many ways we keep loved ones in our memories.
I can’t figure out too much about the etymology of this expression, which I do use. And since I have an accent, it tends to crack people up when I do.
Huda, thank you so much.
NYT: Never heard of a “twist” as a type of exercise, am I missing something?
Dumbbell wrist twist – hold a dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent, forearms parallel to the floor, palms up. Twist each wrist inward until palm is facing down, return to starting position. Works the forearm muscles and the biceps (a bit).
Those didn’t bother me — never heard of COS but I knew “Little Magazines” as thing, so that helped. The clue for DYE seemed pretty random but it makes some kind of sense.
I foundered in the NE. Didn’t know the transgender model and guessed MONT for Georgia and Geneva–not very plausible but at that point I was weary of the puzzle and clicked to see where I had gone wrong.
I thought Georgia and Geneva were lakes, so that held me up for a very long time in that area. Also thought Benjamin Rush might have been the answer for the Boston Tea Party agitator. For the roc clue I wanted something like “fictional” or “mythological”. I’m not familiar with nautical ropes, so that whole area was tough. I finally looked up the model and set myself on the right path.
In the Penguins Problem Area I had never heard of NANNY STATE but it makes sense now that I’ve googled it.
Now I want some AVOCADO ;)
CULTURAL STUDIES & LITTLE MAGAZINES are puzzle length fill that might as well be “insert 2-Word 15 here.” Never heard of COS, which Wikipedia describes as a “fashion line” & doesn’t even warrant its own entry. The person who knows HARI NEF, Benjamin EDES, MAHALIA Jackson, FIONA APPLE & OONA Chaplin is someone I’d like to meet. Loved the New Yorkers up to now but this one was a hot mess.
I’ll be blunt, this is one of the worst themelesses I have ever seen. The HARINEF/EDES crossing is beyond inexcusable (who, not being sure, would not guess A for that vowel crossing?), and COS/THEODOLITE is nearly as bad. Erudite fill is welcome and some highbrowism is to be expected in the New Yorker, but crosses matter. It’s a CROSS word puzzle.
The New Yorker has had some real gems so far, but also some real clunkers. This one was a clunker of a clunker.
Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal. Hip hop. Irony. Anti-Malthusian. C-Ya.
In other words–#CrosswordsTooWhite…despite a couple of tokens.
What do solvers actually solve?