Michael Black’s New York Times crossword — Jenni’s review
I’ve driven a long way this weekend so this will be a short review. The theme is game shows, and it’s no mystery.
- 18a [Popular program usually shown back to back with 34-/36-Across] is JEOPARDY.
- 23a [Host of 18-Across] is ALEX TREBEK.
- 34a [With 36-Across, popular program usually shown back to back with 18-Across] is WHEEL OF / FORTUNE.
- 49a [Co-host of 34-/36-Across] is VANNA WHITE.
- 54a [Co-host of 34-/36-Across] is PAT SAJAK.
“I’ll take Annoying Crossword Tricks for $200.00, Alex.”
“Answer: Many solvers dislike this trick because they have to keep looking around the grid.”
“What are ‘cross-referenced clues?’ ”
So yeah. Every single theme answer is cross-referenced. I know it’s a Monday puzzle and the theme is certainly accessible. I didn’t think it was all that much fun.
A few other things:
- 1a [Just one year, for Venus and Serena Williams] is AGE GAP. Maybe I’m tired and dazed from all the driving, but this seemed like a difficult clue to start off a Monday.
- 13d [Banded gems] are ONYXES. Not a plural found in nature.
- 43d [Ditch for cutting timber] is a SAWPIT. I grew up in Port Chester, NY, which was originally called Sawpit. There was an old-fashioned Italian restaurant in town also called Sawpit where my parents were regulars. Was this term familiar to anyone else?
- With PAT SAJAK and VANNA WHITE so close together in the grid, there’s a dense Scrabbly section that includes QATARI and VIJAY.
- I prefer 60a [“Who am ___ say?”] for I TO rather than Judge Ito references.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that VIJAY Singh won the 2000 Masters.
Bruce Venzke & Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
Can we have a heart to heart? I liked this breezy Monday LAT puzzle!
17A: DOOR TO DOOR [How canvassers usually work]
27A: COVER TO COVER [How page-turners are often read]
48A: MONTH TO MONTH [How apartment leases sometimes run]
62A: BACK TO BACK [How pistol duelers typically stand]
I appreciated how parallel both the theme entries and clues were in this puzzle – it made for a fun, quick solve. I enjoyed entries like SASS, CHEETOS, TAHINI (sadly, not Tahani from The Good Place), SHALOM and ALOHA, NO DOUBT (sadly, not the band), and CARPOOL. I was grateful that there wasn’t much IRKSOME fill – only OPCIT, CLEM, and NTSB gave me pause. Thumbs up!
#includemorewomen: In today’s puzzle, we have [Female WWII gp.] WAAC, EMMA Stone, and Yoko ONO.
The Women’s Army Corps (WAAC) was an active duty women’s auxiliary branch of the US Army from 1943 until 1978, at which point they were integrated with men’s units. Unfortunately, even though so many women fought for our country, their entry into the armed forces didn’t come easily: “In 1943 the recruiting momentum stopped and went into reverse as a massive slander campaign on the home front challenged the WACs as sexually immoral. Many soldiers ferociously opposed allowing women in uniform, warning their sisters and friends they would be seen as lesbians or prostitutes.” Yikes. It’s a good thing we respect women and listen to their experiences a lot more these days, right? #SASS
Debbie Ellerin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Lower Case” — Jim’s review
Words that can precede “box” are presented at the bottom of five Down entries. DROPBOX, with the clue [Big name in the cloud, and a hint to the starred answers] is the revealer at 44d.
- 4d [*Footwear for a winter hike] SNOW SHOE. Shoe box.
- 6d [*Rawhide bone, for example] CHEW TOY. Toy box.
- 10d [*Regular post] SNAIL MAIL. Mailbox.
- 33d [*Focus of a Cleveland hall of fame] ROCK MUSIC. Music box.
- 41d [*Coal color] JET BLACK. Black box.
Conceptually, this feels off. The revealer would seem to indicate that only the “box” part of the theme entries should drop down leaving the remainder in the Across direction. That’s a much more challenging puzzle to make, but to me, it makes the most sense with that revealer.
That said, this is a lovely grid. All the theme answers are lively and in-the-language, and the non-theme fill is top-notch. We’ve got HEART RATE, RATS’ NESTS, HONEYBEES, and CAST DOUBT, plus HORMONE, BEIJING, and TOO EASY. That’s a lot of good stuff for an early-week easier puzzle. So if you look at this puzzle as a words-that-can-precede-another-word theme, then this is a really good example of the form. It’s just that the revealer seems to indicate that something else is going on when it’s not.
3.4 stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s themeless Monday crossword — Laura’s review
Five things today for you, my listeners:
- [1a: Seabiscuit rival]: WAR ADMIRAL won the Triple Crown in 1937. American Pharoah, who won the Triple Crown in 2015, is his descendant.
- Get your classical music trivia on with [20a: Conductor with 32 Grammy]: SOLTI, [30a: His cello is nicknamed “Petunia”]: YO YO MA, and [40a: Latin dance done at a slow tempo]: BOLERO.
[25a: New Orleans transportation]: STREETCARS. “They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at Elysian Fields.” — spoiler alert, but that’s pretty much the plot of the play, expressed as an allegory in Blanche DuBois’s first line. These days, you can take the bus to Elysian Fields.
[48d: 2018 US Open winner Osaka]: NAOMI. Crossword constructors celebrated her win by noting that we now have new ways to clue both Naomi and Osaka.
[65a: Bud Light slogan]: DILLY DILLY. From a 2018 Superbowl ad. Neither “Less Filling” nor “Tastes Great” would fit here.
ARE YOU DONE? Pretty much.
Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword—Laura’s review
Woah this was tough. Got majorly Naticked (if it’s the New Yorker, are you “Algonquined”?) in the SW with that RUSS/OTERO crossing. Five things:
- [16a: Shunned]: ESCHEWED is my favorite word beginning with esch-, aside from eschatology
- [20 Kenneth ___, theatre critic and “Oh! Calcutta!” cowriter]: TYNAN. This is some varsity-level New Yorker-style trivia: the name of a British theatre-with-an-re critic who died in 1980, with reference to the legendary “erotic revue” Oh! Calcutta! (which also had sketches written by Samuel Beckett and John Lennon).
- [32a: Master of the walk-and-talk]: AARON SORKIN. As in the characteristic scene of The West Wing. My colleagues and I have verbed this: “Do you want to meet here or shall we Sorkin?”
- [34a: Micro-genre of music self-distributed online]: SOUNDCLOUD RAP. Soundcloud, like Bandcamp or, I suppose, MySpace back when, lets music creators control the means of distribution by connecting directly to consumers and fans.
- [41d: May of the comedy duo Nichols and May]: ELAINE. A fine comedy writer in her own right, she’s might be best known these days as the director of the notorious cinematic flop of the 1980s, Ishtar. Remember the scene in The Graduate where Benjamin Braddock tries to kiss Mrs. Robinson but she’s trying to exhale after taking a drag on her cigarette? That originated as a Nichols and May bit. (Side note: I was trying to find a video of this bit, and I found instead a New Yorker article about Mike Nichols, which has this most New Yorker-esque of sentences: “The first person Nichols met at registration [at the University of Chicago] was Susan Sontag; they struck up a lifelong friendship.”)