Jacob Stulberg’s New York Times crossword — Jenni’s review
Today’s crossword takes us on a little journey. The connection (sorry) isn’t immediately obvious – at least it wasn’t for me.
- 17a [Anode or cathode] is a BATTERY TERMINAL.
- 27a [Iconic San Francisco bridge] is the GOLDEN GATE.
- 50a [Steinbeck novel set in Monterey] is CANNERY ROW.
- 65a [Letting others occupy the spotlight] is TAKING A BACK SEAT.
What do these phrases have in common? 8a [Where to find the ends of 17-, 27-, 50- and 65-Across] would be the AIRPORT. TERMINAL, GATE, ROW, SEAT. This theme is elevated by the sequence – they march down the grid in the order in which you encounter them. Nice for a Monday.
A few other things:
- 1a [Something up one’s sleeve?] is the ELBOW, which is literally up one’s sleeve. I guess the question mark is there because it’s not the metaphorical usage.
- 4d [Discreetly, informally] is ON THE DL (for “down low”). I started with ON THE QT. Just me?
- 11d [Relative of alcopop] is a WINE COOLER. Wikipedia tells me that alcopop is called “spirit cooler” in South African English. Gareth?
- 48d [Pinnacle] is TIPTOP. This seems off to me. TIPTOP sounds like a Britishism having more to do with being in TIPTOP shape than with a physical location. When I think of “pinnacle,” I think of “tippy top,” because I am five.
- I just sent a box of Kit KAT bars to Emma for Halloween, along with lights and decorations for her room. Care package!
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that MR T was originally known as Laurence Turead.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Tattoo You” — Jim’s review
INK is our revealer at 34d and it’s hidden in each of the theme answers. Its clue is [Tattoos, slangily, sported by the four longest Across answers].
- 17a [Children’s TV character portrayed by Bob Keeshan] CAPTAIN KANGAROO. A gimme. No crosses needed.
- 23a [“A Fish Called Wanda” Oscar winner] KEVIN KLINE. Another gimme for me. One of my favorite films.
- 49a [1980s “Meet the Press” host] MARVIN KALB. Never heard this name before in my life.
- 60a [Quarterback who famously knelt during the anthem in 2016] COLIN KAEPERNICK. Super timely entry. Maybe the seed answer for the grid? But that extra E threw me off for a while.
No women in this list, though. Are there many women’s first names that end in “-IN”?
As usual, Zhouqin gives us lively fill beyond the theme. Check out those stacked pairs in the corners: CHAINSAW with HORSE TRADE and RUMOR MILL with BUM A RIDE. That’s really, really good. It looks so simple, but it takes a lot of work to make a Monday grid flow so smoothly.
Other good things: I like the worldliness of ALEPPO, ANKARA, HANOI, CHILE, and PERU. And the fun mid-length stuff doesn’t disappoint, either: LIMBO, KAPUT, AKIRA, SAILOR, CREPE, UPTAKE.
Not a groundbreaking theme, but handled deftly and with the solver’s enjoyment in mind. 3.5 stars.
Gail Grabowski & Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
What’s sooner than soon? Ask an Oklahoman … or solve today’s Monday LAT. (Also, fair warning that one of the quadrants of the puzzle felt unpleasant, especially given recent events.)
20A: IN SHORT ORDER [Soon]
41A: BEFORE YOU KNOW IT [Soon]
58A: ANY MINUTE NOW [Soon]
For such a straight-forward theme, this puzzle played a bit tough for me – clocking in at least a full minute longer than my average Monday LAT solving time. Was it some of the olde-timey fill (NETTV EDD TREADLES RENAULT)? Was it the cluing that felt slightly off (ALLIN CELLS and others)? Was it that unpleasant NE corner (OGLE ORALS LATEX SEX REARS) especially with LIE, DRUNKEN, and YALIE all nearby? That section felt especially devastating given what we’ve gone through as a nation this week.
Something I did enjoy in this puzzle was the fun animal sub-theme: RAM GNU LLAMA BISON ANT CAPON HOG as well as a clued wolf. I didn’t know CAPON – a rooster castrated to improve its meat quality – but now I do!
#includemorewomen: We have an awesome group of women in today’s puzzle, including LORI Grenier, [Sister of Osiris] ISIS, and ANNA Gunn of “Breaking Bad”. Instead of focusing on any of these women, though, I want to focus on all the women – and all survivors, in general – who have been retraumatized by the national events of late. We hear you, we support you, and we’re here for you.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s themeless Monday crossword — Laura’s review
THE JOKE’S ON YOU, listeners — I’m TOTALLY DRAINED right now, so you get only five interesting things about this puzzle instead of the usual TEN:
[51a: “Can ___ frank?”]: I BE. Loved the S-shaped grid with the top-and-bottom triple stacks, but there’s a lot of awkward three-letter fill gluing it together: CDT, PES, WDS, TAI, AVG, ITT.
- [15a: Place where Captain Ahab’s last voyage started from]: NANTUCKET ISLAND. Nantucket dominated the American whaling industry from the late 17th century through the 1850s, when New Bedford became more prominent, due to its deeper harbor and direct access to the railroads.
[42a: Poorest country in the Middle East]: YEMEN. Life expectancy is about 63 years; the country is undergoing a continuing civil war, which has precipitated both famine and a cholera outbreak, and the adult literacy rate for women is under 60%.
[26d: The Beach Boys’ last #1 hit]: KOKOMO. My nominee for World’s Worst Earworm. I’m not even going to link to it because it will make me want to tear out my brain. “God Only Knows” is a much better song.
[22d: ’80s singer Moyet]: ALISON. Were you also thinking about her because of that episode of The Americans where Phillip gives Paige the LP of “Upstairs at Eric’s” after he’d heard it at Kimmy’s? No? Just me? Well, Alison Moyet was the lead singer of Yaz (known as Yazoo in the U.K.), and she has one of those incredible blue-eyed-soul British voices. Let her help erase every trace of that damn earworm.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Ben’s write-up
Gosh, today’s New Yorker grid is pretty. A simple diagonal of black squares running from right to left, with some embellishments on the sides, but there’s a quiet beauty to it.
That said, I was kind of so-so on the fill. My brain kept wanting “Leaves with a steak dinner” to be some riff on creamed spinach (since those are the leaves I serve when I make a steak dinner), but a SIDE SALAD is fine. I’m familiar with ALPHA and BETA males, but learning that the classification goes all the way down to OMEGA MALEs was news to me – I’m only familiar with one Omega Man, and Charlton Heston seemed pretty alpha to me. AS YOU WERE.
I looked into it, and it looks like P DIDDY is currently going by “Brother Love”, rather than “Puff Daddy”, “P DIDDY”, “Diddy”, or “Puffy”. Please update your DATABASE accordingly. Lots of body talk in this week’s crossword as well, with FOOT MODEL, NOSEBLEED (as in terrible theater seats), and KNEE BENDS all show up in the lower part of the grid.
3.75/5 stars on this. Gorgeous grid, with fill that, while challenging, could have felt a little more like the usual high/low mix I’ve come to expect from the New Yorker.