Alex Eaton-Salners’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
This puzzle is out of this world.
Oh, come on. Someone had to say it.
The theme answers are starred.
- 17a [*Capricious] is MERCURIAL.
- 22a [*Forgivable] is VENIAL.
- 36a [*Warlike] is MARTIAL.
- 55a [*Jolly] is JOVIAL.
- 61a [*Gloomy] is SATURNINE.
45d explains: [Etymological origins of the answers to the five starred clues] and the answer is PLANETS. Which is true – they all share names with planets – but don’t the planets and the words both originate from the names of gods? Some of the definitions are a tad obscure; I’m looking at you, SATURNINE. This is an okay-but-not-great theme.
A few other things:
- 1d [“Just play along, please”] is HUMOR ME. Nice.
- Glad to see Lin-Manuel MIRANDA getting his props at 3d.
- 10d [Online discussion forum] is USENET. Does this still exist?
- Lots of fill-in-the-blank clues: 18d [ ___ fruit (wrinkly citrus)], 20a [“… man ___ mouse?”] 23a [ ___ McDonald (clown)], 30a [Pupu ___], 34d [“___ Not Unusual”(Tom Jones standard)] 60a [“___ ears!” (“Listening!”)], 66a [“You ___ right!”]. Way too many. I don’t see any reason why UGLI and PLATTER can’t be clued without the blanks.
- 49d [What oxen pull, in England] is a PLOUGH. Those wacky Brits and their orthography.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that JohnTESH has six Emmys.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Growing Interest” — Jim’s review
That’s two days in a row for Zhouqin at the WSJ. I wish I could be one-quarter as prolific as she is.
Today she brings us a clean and tidy theme identified by 39d‘s RATE HIKE [Fed proposal, and a hint to what’s hidden in 3-, 9-, 25-, and 29-Down]. Each entry has the word RATE going upwards (which means that the theme entries have the letter string ETAR in them).
- 3d [Admonishment to an overly affectionate couple] GET A ROOM. Great entry!
- 9a [Location to be hit] TARGET AREA. Not as evocative, but not bad.
- 25a [Sticky stuff on a baseball bat] PINE TAR. Okay, I’m going to admit here that I’ve been playing the farming simulator game Stardew Valley, and in it you can tap certain trees to get maple syrup, oak resin, and PINE TAR.
- 29a [Baked fruit desserts] APPLE TARTS. Mmm, I can smell ’em!
To me, this doesn’t quite seem like a Monday theme. For a newbie solver, I wonder if it becomes clear what’s happening here. But for the rest of us, this was simple yet elegant. It helped that she was working with four of the most common letters in the English language, but still, she makes it look very easy.
Likes: “I’M ON A ROLL!”, SOUR NOTES, FIASCO, ARCANE, PSYCH. Mehs: ICE AXE, PRO-AMS, LAP AT (notice that two of those are the direct result of stacking themers in the west and east portions of the grid).
Overall though, an easy, breezy way to start the week. 3.7 stars.
Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Adesina’s write-up
Good day, people. Hope you’re all doing well and, for those out in the Northeast, also hope you’re staying warm! (It was beyond nippy last night in New York!) Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Ed Sessa, features four theme entries in which the letter “H” appears four times in each, with the fifth theme entry, FOUR-H, acting as the reveal (51D: [Club with 20-, 32-, 42-, and 57-Across as members?])
- HENRY THE EIGHTH (20A: [English king married six times]) – I like seeing this better than “HENRY VIII.”
- HIP HIP HURRAH (32A: [“Three cheers” cry]) – Those of you who would say/spell this phrase with “hurrah” instead of “hooray,” show yourself!
- HIGH ON THE HOG (42A: How wealthy people live])
- HOLD THE THOUGHT (57A: [Keep something in mind])
Along with a couple of the theme entries, seeing TROOP IN also made me focus on, what I felt, was the dated nature of this grid…not that there’s anything wrong with that (45D: [Enter steadily, as a line of students]). I definitely understood the pun in the cluing for EGOS, but thought that ended up falling flat at the end (19A: [Sometimes-puffy I’s?]). Liked seeing IGGY POP in the grid, as it probably stood out the most in terms of fill in the grid (5D: [Singer known as the “Godfather of Punk”]). Actually, one of its crossings, GAMUT, was pretty good fill, even if it was short, as I don’t believe I’ve come across that too many times in my solving experience (15A: [Complete extent]). There was a fair bit of crosswordese in the grid, but even with IHOP becoming even more unsightly with the pluralization, IHOPS, I’m glad that it’s still indeed IHOP and the woeful campaign of changing the name to IHOB is a thing of the past (5A: [Waffle House competitors]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: COLLIE (47D: [“Border” dog]) – Former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie quickly became a favorite pass-catching target for future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning when he joined the team after being drafted in 2009 out of BYU. In his first two years with the Colts, Collie caught a combined 118 passes for 1,325 yards and 15 touchdowns. At the end of his rookie year, in 2009, Collie played in the Super Bowl loss by the Colts against the New Orleans Saints, hauling in six passes for 66 yards in Super Bowl XLIV, played in…MIAMI (66A: [Orange Bowl city]).
Thank you so much for your time, everyone! Have a great rest of your Monday, and don’t let the case of the Mondays get you down.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s themeless Monday crossword — Laura’s review
[15a: Sarcastic laugh on the web]: HURR DURR. As distinguished from herp derp.
[37a: Ground ball that goes right between two infielders]: SEEING EYE SINGLE. Hadn’t heard of this, but I’m inferring this is because the infielders are thought to be metaphorically “blind” in not seeing the ball, and therefore would need a Seeing Eye Dog?
[6d: Panthers sometimes attack using it]: RUNNING GAME. As in the Panthers that play football for the combined states of North and South Carolina, but in actuality play in Charlotte, North Carolina. Kind of like how the New England Patriots play in Boston (or more specifically 28 miles south of Boston), but purport to represent all six states in the region.
[13d: “THX 1138” director]: George LUCAS. His first feature film, and he continued to use THX 1138 as a motif in future films — it shows up several times in the Star Wars universe, and on a license plate in American Graffiti.
[29d: 1990 #1 hit that sampled “Under Pressure”]: ICE ICE BABY. Nah. The original is so much better. Can’t we give ourselves one more chance? Why can’t we give love that one more chance? Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword—Laura’s review
ENTRE [___ nous], I wish I had more time to tell you how much I liked this puzzle! But this post is very, very late, so I’ll give you five things:
- [15a: Imaginary body said to threaten freedom of speech]: PC POLICE. I think xkcd has a good take on this.
- [20a: Hold down power, say]: RESTART. My fave redirect of the puzzle — namely, hold down the power button.
- [47a: Origin of trap music]: ATLANTA. Trap is a genre of southern hip-hop.
- [10d: 2017 events at Punggye-ri]: N-TESTS. North Korea has conducted nuclear tests several times over the past decade, and earlier this year claimed that the test site was shut down.
- [23d: “Apache Woman” and “It Came from Beneath the Sea”]: Who doesn’t like B MOVIES? Especially ones with gargantuan octopusesses?
“Venial” from Venus? Kinda reaching there…..
I guess “venereal” didn’t pass the breakfast test.
Venus was sinful and not mortal… so there you have it- Venial.
Huda, I like your take on VENIAL. It seems to make it legitimate.
HenryVIII married another Katherine before PARR, 50D, Katherine Howard. She ended up on the scaffold also. Then he married PARR, who survived him. Clue slightly off.
Venus –> “venereal,” but also according to Merriam Webster, “venerate”:
“History and Etymology for venerate
borrowed from Latin venerātus, past participle of Latin venerārī “to solicit the good will of (a deity), worship, pay homage to, hold in awe,” verbal derivative of vener-, venus “sexual desire, qualities exciting desire, charm, (as proper noun) goddess personifying sexual attractiveness” (probably originally in cognate accusative phrase Venerem venerārī “to propitiate Venus,” extended to other deities) — more at VENUS”
The Greek equivalent, Aphrodite, gives us “aphrodisiac”
No write up yet for the WSJ Contest this week?
Find it here: https://crosswordfiend.com/2018/10/22/wsj-contest-friday-october-19-2018/
Two of the easiest puzzles in recent memory in the LAT and WSJ this morning, but quite different stylistically. They make great examples of two very different approaches to constructing a Monday-easy puzzle.
The LAT, I thought, was by far the weaker of the two, with its gratuitous plurals, prosaic cluing, and two somewhat non-standard theme phrases.
The WSJ, while just as easy, is elegant and entertaining; its more arcane theme works on a Monday because it is in no way necessary to the solving experience, but rather provides an “Aha” moment when you see what the constructor did there.
Anna Shechtman’s 22 October 2018 New Yorker puzzle
Never heard of dadist Tristan Tzara, nor of the word aphagia [inability to swallow], nor of Sancerre [certain sauvignon-blanc certification]. It appears that Sancerre is an area of France known for light wines. Apparently Grantland was an ESPN blog that was shut down in 2015, and sports journalist Bill Simmons created a new media venture called The Ringer in 2016 as a result. This was clued as [Grantland successor, with “the”]. I’d never heard of either of them. There was an interesting mix of easy and hard fill in this puzzle, assisted by some tough clues such as [One who’s not exactly fast] for PRUDE.
Try some Sancerre; it’s quite good. Tzara was definitely a complete unknown, but the crosses were fair, which is one the main things I ask of a puzzle. This may the first of hers that I have really enjoyed.
Seconded, Norm — I had been starting to dread Anna’s byline on the New Yorker puzzle (as compared to the other four in the rotation, who have been uniformly great), but then this one came along and it might be favorite New Yorker puzzle by any of them. No long entries requiring knowledge of ultra-obscure novelists, just great fill and cluing throughout.
I know TZARA as a character from Tom Stoppard’s “Travesties,” which recently had a great revival on Broadway.
Ade, I loved your LAT review. Also, I am definitely going to name my next dog Iggy Pup.
Is there an alternative source for the New Yorker puzzle? I’ve hit the ceiling on free access.
Try a different web browser, if you have one available.
I believe you can clear the browsing history (particularly the cookies) and reset the count. Or access the puzzle while browsing in “private” mode.
Or, you know, just subscribe!
SEEING EYE SINGLE in the BEQ: No. The infielders are not blind; the ball “sees” exactly where it needs to bounce in order to frustrate and avoid them. You can think you have the hit covered … but no.
Monday’s a good puzzle day with BEQ and TNY