Amanda Chung and Karl Ni’s New York Times crossword — Jenni’s review
It’s unusual for me to need crossings for 1a in a Monday puzzle. Did everyone else know that an INCUBUS is a “night demon?” Plus there are circles, so I was not predisposed to like this puzzle. It kind of won me over.
Every theme answer has circles in the center:
- 1a [Night demon] is INCUBUS.
- 8a [Japanese dog] is AKITA.
- 22a [Cable material that transmits data using light] is OPTICAL FIBER.
- 39a [“Really?!”] is ARE YOU KIDDING ME? My favorite theme answer.
- 49a [Legendary jazz saxophonist] is JOHN COLTRANE.
I saw the connection, and I still enjoyed the revealer. 67a [With 68-Across, still feeling like a teenager, say …or a hint to the circled answers] gives us YOUNG AT HEART. Cute. I think four theme answers might have been enough and I still don’t like INCUBUS, especially at 1a, but the theme is cute.
A few other things:
- 13a [Romantically daydreaming of, with “over”] is MOONING. I guess the less romantic definition doesn’t pass the NYT breakfast test.
- 18a [French novelist ___ France] is ANATOLE, and I guess it’s not a dupe to have a version of the same word twice in the clue.
- Infelicitous partial alert: 24d [“May ___ your coat?”] is I TAKE, which just looks odd in the grid.
- 49d [Movie with an iconic theme that starts with two alternating notes] took me a minute. It’s JAWS.
- 60a [Question ending many a riddle] is WHAT AM I?
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: INCUBUS.
C. C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
Our queen of Monday puzzles is back with another offering to make us feel welcome and at home:
17A: BLANKET FORT [Bedding structure for kids]
24A: NUDIST CAMP [Place for people with nothing to hide?]
46A: STOLEN BASE [“Theft” on a diamond]
55A: CABINET POST [Secretary of Defense, for one]
33A: PRIVATE HOUSES [Most suburban residences … or, in a military sense, the ends of 17-, 24-, 46-, and 55-Across]
I grew up as the kid of an Air Force parent, so I liked this theme and appreciated the lively, everyday, in-the-language themers Burnikel chose. I also admired the symmetry of the themers – they’re all modified nouns in a 6/4 or 7/4 enumeration. Those small details matter! My only question about the theme is whether FORT, CAMP, BASE, and POST are the HOUSES themselves in which each PRIVATE might stay – in my experience, terms like FORT or BASE tend to indicate the larger township-like communities in which there are HOUSES, stores, etc. (unless, of course, Burnikel is meaning HOUSES in a larger, more metaphorical sense). Nitpicking aside, a fun and solid Monday offering.
I enjoyed ULTA, EERO Saarinen, ALLEYOOP, HOTTIP, BUBBA, POORME, and ESCAROLE a lot. I was less keen on STOLID and UNFED, but if those are my only real complaints, I’ll take the small lumps for the larger fun of the overall Monday puzzle.
#includemorewomen: In today’s puzzle, we have Jessica ALBA, Tea LEONI, clued Bacall, Zora NEALE Hurston, and ETTA Jones. I just got back from a long weekend in DC so I don’t have much time for tonight’s post, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t celebrate the women of color in the puzzle today! Yaaas!
Harold Jones’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “All Wet” — Jim’s review
WATER is the word of the day. It is the [Word that can precede each word of each starred answer], per 62a.
- 17a [*”Leaf peeping” attraction] FALL COLORS. Waterfall, water colors. Nice, evocative entry. I just spent the weekend in the Twin Cities where we got to enjoy some of the lovely foliage (when we weren’t dodging snowflakes).
- 27a [*Cars driven by them get better traction] FRONT WHEELS. Waterfront, water wheels. This would work much better in the singular, as in “Front-wheel drive.” But then it couldn’t be the symmetrical partner to…
- 44a [*Army scout with a Wild West show] BUFFALO BILL. Water buffalo, water bill.
- 58a [*Appetizer follower] MAIN COURSE. Water main, watercourse.
Solid, clean theme with mostly good entries. You don’t see this type of theme as much anymore, but it seems perfectly fine to me for a Monday. Maybe it’s been done before, but I’m not going to go check the database at the moment.
We have sparkly non-theme fill in BARN OWLS, CHEESE BALL, FILE FORMAT, HALFBACK, ALAN BEAN, and TAKE A CAB. On the shorter side, I liked seeing OH GOD, SALOON, BARNEY, and of course GUAM [U.S. territory in the Mariana Islands] and my ancestral home.
On the other hand, there were these hard-for-Monday entries: ORFF and BARA, and this hard-for-any-day-of-the-week entry: BAKU [Capital of Azerbaijan]. BEERY also gets the side-eye from me, and ASSAD is a real downer of a way to start off your grid at 1a. Lastly, I’m far more used to seeing theater popcorn in a bag than in a TUB, which I’m assuming is way less cost-effective for the theater.
Those hiccups aside, this was a really nice start to the week. 3.6 stars.
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—Jenni’s write-up
Good morning! Happy Monday! My Mondays are much happier now that we have this excellent puzzle available each week.
Today’s installment went more smoothly and quickly than I expected when I saw 1a, which was completely mysterious to me. I like the grid – the stacks of 12/13/14 at the top and bottom play like a triple stack with the chance for fresher entries. I also liked the mix of up-to-the-minute entries and interesting twists on old chestnuts. Overall, a fine entry in this series, although not as difficult as I would prefer.
Let’s take a look, shall we?
- 1a [Her 2009 book opens, “Suppose I were to begin by saying I had fallen in love with a color”]. The New Yorker offered a link to an article about MAGGIE NELSON by Hilton Als. I read it and I am both intrigued by and frightened of her work.
- Natan continued to educate me with 13a [Forebear of Brazilian Tropicalia]. I’ve heard of CARMEN MIRANDA, but not the movement referenced in the clue. This time I consulted Wikipedia and discovered I am familiar with some of the artists who’ve been influenced by Tropicalia. Now I’m listening to this album. Thanks, Natan.
- Completing the top stack, we have 14a [It has pages for “M” and “Z”] The upper-case letters and formatting suggest we are not looking for a dictionary. The answer is ROTTEN TOMATOES, because “M” and “Z” are both movies.
- More music at 11a [Martin Luther King, Jr., called her the “Queen of American Folk Music”] This one I knew: ODETTA.
- Knowing Yiddish will make you smarter! 26a [What nudniks do] is PESTER.
- The fresh look at an old chestnut that I mentioned is at 47d [For a limited time, they came in Swedish Fish flavor]. That would be OREOS.
- Answers I don’t understand department: 52a [Its first item is sometimes jokingly meta] is TO DO LIST. I love to learn the lingo you kids use. Please enlighten me.
- I appreciate the correct attribution in 57a [Movement sparked by Tarana Burke]. The answer is ME TOO MOVEMENT. Burke started using the phrase in 2006.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Cyndi Lauper’s SHE BOP is about masturbation. Plus everything up above.
I leave you with Odetta.
“THEMELESS MONDAY #486” by Brendan Emmett Quigley – Gareth’s summary
My favourite stack (though also the last to fall) was the one with BIGFATLIAR and THISOLDMAN. Not sure if either of those was the “seed”, I suspect something nearer the bottom left.
It felt like I was wading through a lot more unfamiliar names than usual. Let’s see: KAT, [Timpf…]; ERICAMBLER; GAYBORHOOD is not a name but [The Castro] is; Portugal’s BRAGA; the particular ALAN [Hollinghurst] and RENE [Furterer]; LEHRER; TYRONE [Slothrop]; and NYS clued with [Kirsten Gillibrand]. This puzzle’s names and my world were not in sync!
I guessed that the […ladies’ cocktail party outfits] were little black dresses, but I’ve never seen it abbreviated. That feels very People magazine.