Caitlin Reid’s New York Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
Sorry for the delay! We had a lovely time at the beach and dawdled a bit coming home. Then my computer crashed while I was doing the puzzle. Anyway, here we are.
We have four theme phrases that have something in common.
- 20a [Holder of wires along a street] is a TELEPHONE POLE.
- 31a [Aggressive defensive soccer maneuver] is a SLIDE TACKLE.
- 47a [Series of funny outtakes] is a BLOOPER REEL. They are, of course, no longer on reels…
- 56a [Toy in a 2017 craze] is a FIDGET SPINNER.
POLE, TACKLE, REEL, and SPINNER are the key words, as explained by 71a: [Use the items found at the ends of the answers to 20-, 31-, 47-, and 56-Across], which is FISH. I figured this out with TACKLE, helped along by spending the weekend in a real honest-to-goodness fishing village.
A few other things:
- 1a [Shoot out, as 14-Across] is SPEW and 14a is LAVA. Not all LAVA is spewed; some oozes.
- We have both STL and YSL, as well as POS and NEG, which is TMA (too many abbreviations).
- COED shows up at 33d and mirabile dictu! we have left the 1950s and are no longer using this to refer to women! The clue is [Like mixed doubles tennis, in college]. It’s a little awkward, but still a huge improvement.
- 57d [Hotel amenity with a cord] is an IRON. The last two hotel rooms I stayed in had cordless phones.
- Do people really say that clarinets and oboes are REEDED? That felt a bit roll-your-own to me.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that highway crews fill in POTHOLES. I live in Pennsylvania.
Craig Stowe’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
This pleasant Monday puzzle shouldn’t end up being your mortal enemy. If it is, though, we can bring in the medical examiner. Let’s see what Craig Stowe has in store for us:
17A: MASS EXODUS [Large-scale departure]
26A: MAJOR EXPENSE [Cost of a car, in most family budgets] – Or the cost of rent/living in most metropolitan areas, these days!
49A: MOUNT EVEREST [Edmund Hillary’s conquest] – Want an example of the simple ways in which people of color are erased from our collective histories? Note Tenzing Norgay’s omission from this clue – he was the Sherpa who co-climbed Everest with Hillary on that first full ascent. Arguably, the climb wouldn’t have been possible without Norgay.
64A: MIDDLE EAST [Region including Egypt, Israel, etc.] – Another example of what we prioritize in our tellings and retellings of history can be found in this clue. Out of all the countries that could have been used in this clue, which ones were and weren’t? The one caveat to this mention is that Yemen and OMAN do appear at 16A, which was nice to see.
72A: EMMY [TV award, and a homophonic hint to the four longest answers in this puzzle] – Y’all know I’m always here for some homophonia. <3
A strong, consistent Monday theme with a CUTE revealer and super clean grid? I’ll take it! I almost set a record Monday LAT solving time on this puzzle, which speaks to how smooth the grid and cluing were. LADES and EUBIE Blake might be tough for an early-week puzzle, though I’m always glad to see the inclusion of people of color in crosswords. Hi also to Marvin GAYE!
#includemorewomen: In this week’s puzzle, we only saw the same women we tend to see frequently here: ILSA from Casablanca, TORI Amos, and [Bizet opera priestess] LEILA (next to ADMEN, I might point out). Instead, since it’s such a timely puzzle with this year’s Emmy’s tonight, I’ll take a moment to celebrate one noticeable Emmy snub: Jodie Comer, who played the jaw-droppingly amazing Villainelle on Killing Eve. Of course I’m excited to see Sandra Oh nominated for her work on the show but, seriously, #justiceforjodie. I don’t know that I’ve ever been as entranced, captivated, or impressed by a villain as I was with Comer’s Villainelle and I’m so desperate for a second season of the show. Her work expands the range of what can be expected and anticipated of well-written female characters on TV. And in case you were wondering, Killing Eve passes the Bechdel Test over and over again. <3
Jacob Stulberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Where the Wild Things Are” — Jim’s review
Theme: Animal metaphors in the form noun OF THE location.
- 17a [Tuna] CHICKEN OF THE SEA
- 39a [Camel] SHIP OF THE DESERT
- 63a [Lion] KING OF THE JUNGLE
Only three themers, but they’re all lovely grid-spanners.
This seemed like such an obvious theme that I thought it had surely been done before. But I could find no other instance of it in the cruciverb.com database, so it looks to be brand new. In that case, I’m very impressed at Mr. Stulberg’s finds. This is one of those, “Why didn’t I think of that” themes.
Small demerit for having another animal in an entry (CHICKEN), but I suppose it’s not a wild animal. But then again, neither are camels. At least, we don’t usually think of them as wild animals.
The rest of the grid is fairly clean and lively with colorful long Downs “FAIR’S FAIR” and “YEAH, RIGHT.” STARLIT provides a lovely image, and I also like GASBAG, GOFERS, and KAPOW.
JOB HOP [Keep changing positions?] sounds odd to me. I don’t recall hearing it before, but I can’t think of another term that means the same thing. Also, RED FIR [Many a Christmas tree]? We typically see Noble, Douglas, or Fraser Firs when we’re out tree hunting. Can’t say as I’ve ever seen a RED FIR.
A nice and lively start to the week. 3.6 stars.
Whenever I come across the word OBTUSE, I always think of The Shawshank Redemption.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s themeless Monday crossword — Laura’s review
[17a: Cinematic/melodramatic act of defiance and solidarity, in modern-day slang]: SPARTACUS MOMENT. Referring to the scene in Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 film Spartacus, when the Roman authorities offer to spare a group of rebellious slaves from execution by crucifixion if they will identify their leader, Spartacus (Kirk Douglas). Guess what they do instead?
[21a: Collected writings]: ANA. This one threw me, even though I’m a CEREBRAL former English major who has taken many a LIT CRIT class. The reference here is to the suffix –ana, or more commonly –iana, denoting the collected writings of or about a certain figure: Shakespeariana, Sherlockiana, Spockiana.
[29a: “If Beale Street Could Talk” actress KiKi]: LAYNE. This film will be released later this fall, and from the trailer it looks fantastic. Based on the 1974 novel by James Baldwin.
[9d: Motown singer Terrell]: TAMMI. Best known for her duets with Marvin Gaye, she died of a brain tumor in 1967 at the age of twenty-four — a tragic loss for music.
[55a: The tendency of a spell checker to replace misspelled words and words not in its dictionary with those that are wrong]: CUPERTINO EFFECT. I had thought this was referring to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, but that seems to be a backformation from early spellcheckers changing cooperation to Cupertino. My favorite descriptivist linguist, Ben Zimmer, describes some of the CUPERTINO EFFECT’s worst sins in a 2006 blog post. I always notice it around the Jewish High Holidays:
thank you, iPhone predictive text bar, I will have a happy Ross Hash Analysis! Chat Same Achievements! #RoshHashanah
— Laura Braunstein (@laurabrarian) October 2, 2016
Anna Shectman’s New Yorker crossword—Ben’s write-up
Some nice meaty stacks in this week’s New Yorker puzzle – we’ve got TWIN PEAKS, CISGENDER, and IMPORTANT in the upper left corner, balanced by PUSH ALERT, OPEN CASES, and DISS TRACK in the lower right giving some nice structure. There’s some great long down fill, too – OVERDOING IT (“Burning the candle at both ends”), FENTY BEAUTY (“Rihanna brand that netted more than seventy-two million dollars in its first month” – DANG, Rihanna!), CAMERA PHONE (rightly noted as having “revolutionized citizen journalism” in the cluing), and AGE OF REASON (“Enlightenment, in other words”)
In a nice bit of synchronicity, today’s featured clue for author Helen DEWITT (“‘The Last Samurai’ author”) was right at the forefront of my brain, thanks to an article from New York magazine naming “The Last Samurai” as Book of the Century in its stab at an early 21st-century literary canon. It’s gone onto my to-read list along with ~20 other titles from their list, and I’m looking forward to digging into it down the road.
A nicely structured puzzle – fill that felt fresh and wide-ranging (even in the 3-letter answers, which feels like a feat), good cluing, solid overall.