Kevin Christian and Andre Carla Michael’s New York Times crossword — Jenni’s writeup
I figured out the theme early on. It’s a good Monday theme – accessible, solidly constructed, and fair. It didn’t thrill me but then I’m not the intended audience for Monday puzzles.
There are seven theme answers, which is a lot for a 15×15. I don’t think the fill suffers; I will stipulate that I am less likely to be irritated by fill than some others, so your mileage may vary.
Our seven themers:
- 3d [Mega Millions jackpot] is LOTTO PRIZE. This gave me a rare error on a Monday, since I confidently filled in LOTTERY once I had the first three letters. Nope.
- 17a [Tito Puente’s specialty] is LATIN PERCUSSION.
- 23a [Material that’s spotted at a fashion show?] is LEOPARD PRINT. I spent the better part of the past three days shopping with my daughter and I am here to report that snake print is big this year. Leopard is out.
- 31d [Wall covering that’s washable with soap and water] is LATEX PAINT.
- 41a [Area of a basketball court near the basket] is LOW POST.
- 51a [Rocket’s takeoff point] is the LAUNCHING PAD.
- 61a [Court case, e.g.] is a LEGAL PROCEEDING.
And the revealer: 62d [Old records … or a hint for this puzzle’s seven longest answers] is, as you’ve probably realized, LPS.
A few other things:
- 1a [After-bath powder] is TALC, but it shouldn’t be.
- 9a [“Holy moly!”] is the entertaining YOWZA! which always takes an exclamation point.
- 34a [Mothers, informally] is MAMMAS, although I hear “madre” a lot among my kid’s friends.
- 24d [Gets hitched in haste] is ELOPES. Is it always in haste? I think sometimes people elope to get out of the big wedding drama, but maybe I’m wrong.
- 68a [What you might use to get a grip on something] is VISE. I put in VINE at first, thinking of getting a grip as you climb a mountain in the jungle….never mind.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the area of a basketball court near the basket is the LOW POST. Baseball, sure. Anything else, not so much.
Stephanie Kim and Zhouqin Burnikel’s Universal Crossword, “Doctor’s Orders”—Judge Vic’s write-up
I’m liking this “Doctor’s Orders” puzzle by Stephanie and C.C.. (Is this a debut for Stephanie?) I see M’s and D’s circled in each theme answer. That covers the title’s doctor concept. I see five such answers, in alphabetical order. In each, both M & D are followed by the same vowel–difficult theme to develop, I sense. Now, I gotta figure out how this configuration covers the concept of orders. A closer look shows:
- 17a [Peacock courtship ritual] MATING DANCE–This colorful phrase gets 600,000 Google hits, yet doesn’t show up in a dictionary?
- 24a [It has a finger on a city’s pulse] METRO DESK–This phrase’s roots are in old-school newspaper work-space layouts, no? I’m surprised that it is not in a dictionary, whereas city desk is. 100,000 Google hits, though.
- 35a [“Iron” Bears coach] MIKE DITKA–One of the most colorful and successful football figures ever. No need to look him up.
- 52a [Goes from No. 1 to No. 2, say] MOVES DOWN–Farlex’s Free Dictionary carries move down as an idiom, but mow down is in several dictionaries, and MOWED DOWN ought to have worked, I think.
- 60a [Red-faced fowl] MUSCOVY DUCK–This dark-crested water bird of Central and South America hereby makes its crossword debut. A tip of the hat to C.C. and Steph!
All I can figure out for the order concept is that the theme answers are … in order, and that makes me wish that 39d [Not in stock yet] ON ORDER could have been IN ORDER, clued as either a reveal or a bonus.
This nicely built grid also gives us HOT TEA, I-TUNES, ST. KITTS, LAMISIL, ORATORY, MESS KIT, I’M GONE, and ADJURE. Good fill! Lots of clever clues.
Nice job, folks! 4 stars.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Falling Into Disrepair” — Jim P’s review
23d is clued [Seedy, and an apt description of a word hidden in 3-, 9-, 29- and 33-Down], the answer being RUN DOWN. Each theme answer has the letters RUN spanning a two-word phrase.
- 3d [Title won by Arnold Schwarzenegger multiple times] MR. UNIVERSE
- 9d [Watt, for one] POWER UNIT. Hmm. This one gets the side-eye from me. Not a strong in-the-language phrase like the others.
- 29d [Strike caller] LABOR UNION
- 33d [Sports gambler’s line] OVER/UNDER
Works well enough, I suppose, but if you’ve seen this type of theme scores (hundreds?) of times, it’s hard to get excited about it. Still, this is a good theme for someone new to crosswords.
Frankly, I must not have been paying much attention during the solve since I was trying to watch the telly at the same time, but looking back over the grid, CHINTZY, TOUGH IT OUT, and “I’LL BE BRIEF” stand out as the funnest fill. I also liked seeing TOGO clued as [Country between Ghana and Benin].
One other clue of note: 61d is [Figure skater Alysa] LIU. She is the 2019 US national champion…and she’s 13, people! What were you doing at 13? Not winning national championships, I bet! Here she is with Jimmy Fallon:
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword #510—Jim Q’s review
Fantastic themeless offering from BEQ today. Hit more than a few walls, but it made that feeling of accomplishment when Mr. Happy Pencil makes an appearance all the better.
- 37D [Manicurist’s target] HANGNAIL. Eeew. I’ve never been to a manicurist. Next time I get a hangnail perhaps.
- 36D [“Harumph!”] THE NERVE! Incorrectly parsed it as THEN ??VE and really wanted THEN LEAVE!
- 38A [Question to someone acting really strangely] WHAT ARE YOU ON? Great entry.
- 36A [It leads to home] THIRD BASELINE. The I in THIRD helped me change the crossing answer from APART to SPLIT.
- 31A [Neighborhood stack spot] LOCAL LIBRARY. The LL in the middle made this one tricky for me.
- 23A [Actor whose name anagrams to a word meaning “wins over”] ED ASNER. The anagram in question is ENDEARS, though I can’t imagine that helped any solver figure out the clue.
- 12D [Song that knocked “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” out of the #1 spot in 1972] I AM WOMAN. Fun fact.
- 15A [First warning] ONE STRIKE… STRIKE ONE feels more familiar.
- 16A [Gave someone your heart?] DEALT. Doesn’t feel like the heart belongs to the dealer to me…
Things I didn’t know like KRAUS, MOL, SALA were all fairly crossed. Very hard to complain about anything in the puzzle.
I spent most of my time in the NE, where I tried a variety of different answers (I’M A WOMAN for I AM WOMAN, ELMER for SAMSA (makes sense, sorta!), DOPE for TWIT, SWATH for HEATH. Eventually it all came together in a very satisfying click.
4.5 stars from me.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—Ben’s review
Happy Monday, all! For those that went to the ACPT, I hope you all had fun and enjoyed the puzzles. Patrick Berry, one of this year’s tournament constructors, also has this Monday’s New Yorker Puzzle. Here’s some highlights from this week’s grid:
- I forgot to note which clue/answer was highlighted by the magazine on solving the puzzle this week, so we’ll focus on what clue felt the most New Yorker-y to me. That typically means a highbrow humanities thing outside my normal sphere of knowledge, which means this week’s clue is “Florentine sculptor of ‘Perseus with the Head of Medusa’“. That sculptor would be Benvenuto CELLINI, one of the most important artists in the Mannerist style. That’s about as far as I can get without needing to directly quote Wikipedia/other sources, but it’s some impressive bronzework.
- “One left holding the bag?” was a lovely clue for CHIP CLIP, though my favorite clue this week was “Tell-tale items?” for BOW AND ARROW. Another standout: “Future output” for RAP.
- Fill was also up to Patrick Berry’s smooth standards – RUNS LATE (which I initially had as RUNS LONG), URBANE, ART HOUSE, NODULAR, JAMES COBURN (who, it turns out, served as a pallbearer for Bruce Lee along with Steve McQueen), TIMESUCK, APPLE PAY, IT’S A GIRL, AUTO SAFETY, HALF CRAZED, and CALL SLIP.
No GAPS here – just smooth sailing.
C. C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
Y’all, I just left ACPT 2019 and it was a blast! The folks of CrossWorld really are the most lovely, genuine, earnest, nerdy, and wonderful people, and I feel so enriched from hanging out with them this weekend. If you ever have a chance to go, you should. I was one of 200+ rookies this year among the field of 700+ total competitors, and you can be part of that fun group next year!
Ok, on to this week’s Monday LAT puzzle by the legend herself, C. C. Burnikel:
16A: IKEA STORES [Sellers of build-it-yourself furniture]
20A: SHEA STADIUM [Mets’ home before Citi Field]
36A: SEA STAR [Five-armed ocean creature]
50A: TEA STRAINER [Leaves-catching brewing sieve]
57A: MIDDLE EAST [Arabian Peninsula region, and what 16-, 20-, 36- and 50-Across literally have]
Fun! Each entry splits the word EAST across two words, and specifically as _EA ST_. (Bonus points for HALVE as a grid entry.) This is really cool since there aren’t that many words that end in EA and not that many in-the-language phrases or ideas that could be used as themers. Brava!
Also, there are some great women in this grid: “Good Morning America” co-anchor LARA Spencer, ANGELA Merkel, ERMA Bombeck, EDIE Falco, AVA Duvernay, SARA Lee, and Irene CARA. All that’s missing are woman-centric clues for SUE and MUM.
That’s all for now – time to hop on a flight back to California. Take care!