Andrew Kingsley’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
There are circles in the theme entires. It’s more accurate to say that the circles are the theme entries, since each set of circles spans three answers and two rows. The words in the circles have something in common.
What’s the common thread? 37a tells us. [Hop to it … or what to do to the various eggs in this puzzle’s circled squares?] is GET CRACKING. I would say “what was done” because each theme answer is “cracked,” but that’s a tiny quibble. Overall this is a fun theme for a Monday.
A few other things:
- 17a [Firefighter Red] ADAIR was famous for fighting oil well fires in the 1960s and 1970s. A gimme for me – I suspect a head-scratcher for younger folk.
- The ’70s vibe continues with 28a [Peter ___, Nixon impeachment hearings chairman]. I remember Peter RODINO quite clearly. I was 12 when the Watergate hearings started, and Rodino hailed from nearby northern New Jersey.
- Could have done without CAN YOU and TRY TO, which feel pretty random.
- GILLETTE garnered a lot of PR with their recent ad in which they suggest that “The best a man can get” might mean being a decent human being who does not subscribe to the norms of toxic masculinity. There was the predictable backlash from those who think “decent human being” is somehow not consistent with any kind of masculinity. And they say it’s feminists who hate men.
- Infelicitous food juxtaposition: KIMCHI and TOBLERONE. Ick.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that there’s a character named OLAF in the Lemony Snicket books. My kid didn’t read those.
Tom Pepper’s Universal Crossword, “Enough!”—Judge Vic’s write-up
Good job, Tom and David! I like this puzzle. I like this kind of theme: Familiar idiomatic phrases interpreted literally to create humorous clues:
- 17a [How to make the letter K from a kit?] KNOCK IT OFF–Hmm, why not [How to make kit K?]. Granted, my suggested clue doesn’t carry the visual of someone with a kit fashioning a letter, but it gets rid of the worrisome A in the literal application. Which is to say that knocking it off makes K from kit, not from a kit. Literally.
- 23a [How to make the letter V valid?] PUT A LID ON IT–Here, the a is part and parcel of the gimmick. My preferred clue is [How to make V valid?]. Feels snappier. Parallels 17a.
- 37a [How men can become the letter N?] DON’T START WITH ME–This clue’s off a tad: The directive starting with Don’t is, literally, addressed to the writer, not to the word men. How about [How to make men N?]?
- 48a [How to make the letter R rarest?] GIVE IT A REST–Here again, the a is crucial, and I’d prefer [How to make R rarest?], to be less “letteral” in the clues … plus, as you can see, I’ve developed a parallel pattern for four clues.
- 58a [How to form the U.N. with U Thant?] CUT THAT OUT–Looking at my earlier comments, I’m preferring [How to make U Thant U.N.?]. This one differs from the rest in that the letters removed are not consecutive. But what the heck?
I still like the puzzle. Other stuff of note includes:
- 4d [Kudos on the green] NICE PUTT
- 11d [Dog handler’s dream] BEST IN SHOW
- 25d [Apt network for a chemistry show] ION TV
- 29d [Located exactly] PINPOINTED
- 40d [How some boxers go at it] TOE-TO-TOE
- 45d [Tanning hazards] UV RAYS
Fun to solve and analyze. 3.5 stars.
Matt McKinley’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
16A: TWIN SISTERS [Advice columnists Ann and Abby, e.g. (AL Central)]
37A: ROYAL WE [Monarch’s self-referential plural pronoun (AL Central)]
59A: CARDINAL SIN [Pride or greed, e.g. (NL Central)]
9D: CUB SCOUTS [Preteens in a pack (NL Central)]
32D: RED ALERTS [Warnings of serious danger (NL Central)]
66A: MLB [Org. in which the start of five answers is a “central” player]
So, each themer’s first word is the singular form of a baseball team (Twins, Royals, Cardinals, Cubs, and Reds), but I’m lost other than that. The revealer of MLB does nothing for me. It was clear from the cluing that they were all MLB teams, but how does each of these teams being from a Central division make them “central” players? And the themers are all teams, not individual players. I know the dual meaning of central wants to happen here, but MLB isn’t a revealer that involves central at all, nor are any of these teams the most important (or central) teams of the MLB. And is “central player/team” even a baseball term in the first place? I hate to say it, but this theme struck out for me.
Loved: The inclusion of women like PATTI Lupone, Ann Landers and Dear Abby, and Jackie ONASSIS.
Didn’t quite love: ENC, NEHI, TENHUT, BDRM, CSNY, ENTR, DMIN, ELOI, WPM, RVER, CAVILS. The fill might have suffered from too much theme fill.
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Cutting Edge”—Jim P’s recap
FORESAW is the central revealer with the clue [Knew in advance, and a hint to parts of 17- and 61-Across and 10- and 35-Down]. Each of those entries starts with a word that can precede “saw”.
- 17a [Prehistoric cat] SABERTOOTH. Saber saw. Don’t think I’ve ever heard of this one. Apparently the term was interchangeable with “jigsaw” until the ’80s, but is now hardly used.
- 61a [Bloggable, say] BUZZWORTHY. Buzzsaw.
- 10d [Concert-in-the-park site] BANDSTAND. Bandsaw.
- 35d [Prison work group] CHAIN GANGS. Chainsaw. This weekend (listening to an old episode of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!) I learned that chainsaws were originally invented to be used on humans as a surgical instrument. If that doesn’t sound bad enough, just wait, there’s more. Primarily, it was invented to help with childbirth. *shudder*
Ok, those of you who are still with me, thank you for sticking with it, though I don’t have much else to say about this clean and smooth Monday grid.
The theme is an old standard type which I think works just fine. The grid, with the theme answers in a pinwheel pattern, still has room for some shiny fill: TELEPATH, OPERETTA, ERIC IDLE, ROLLED UP, EPHEMERA, OLD HABIT. I also enjoyed seeing COSMOS and FOIST, with the former crossing BIG STAR [2003 Kenny Chesney song]. I don’t know the song but maybe country music aficionados do.
And that’s it for today. Let’s call it 3.7 stars.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword #515—Jim Q’s review
A tough, but satisfying BEQ puzzle today. Had to step away multiple times (solved most while overseeing a study hall at school, so I wasn’t fully focused on the puzzle… that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).
- 27A [“This is going to get interesting”] PASS THE POPCORN. This phrase has only a vague ring of familiarity in this context, but I love it anyway. It screams schadenfreude.
- 42A [Dairy purchase] HALF A DOZEN EGGS. In place of HALF A, I initially wrote THREE, thinking I was looking for a 5-letter value. I grimaced at it since any number over ONE would be arbitrary. Never thought HALF A, but was happy when it revealed itself. By the way… do you say “half a dozen eggs,” “a half dozen eggs,” or just “half dozen eggs”?
OTHER ENTRIES OF NOTE:
- 15A [“Sparrow from Minsk”] OLGA KORBUT. After seeing her last name so frequently in crossword clues, you’d think this would be easy, but I could not figure out the second vowel in the last name. EUTERPE certainly didn’t help me out! Ran the vowels in that square when Mr. Happy Pencil failed to appear and eventually got it.
- 1A [Land known for downpours] RAINSCAPES. New to me. Inferable. The plural caught me off guard since the clue seems to suggest singular.
- 17A [Floating junk] SPACE WASTE. When “debris” doesn’t fit… go with the snappier sounding WASTE.
- 34D [Org. in Springfield or Canton] HOF. Hall of Fame. Basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts. Football in Canton, Ohio. Not my favorite acronym. Looks pretty ugly in a crossword though.
- 31A [“You know the ___”] TYPE. Anyone else really want that answer to be DRILL? I was very hesitant to enter TYPE, especially because “type” was in the clue for 26A [Similar type] ILK.
I like puzzles that are “a little too hard” for me. This one fell in that category today.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—Laura’s review
- [34a: Relief worker’s need?]: TERRACOTTA. As in relief, the sculptural form where, according to Wikipedia, “the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material” (hey, they explained it better than I could).
- [36a: Industrial-revolution creations]: POORHOUSES. To quote Mr Scrooge, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” The 1834 Poor Law Act, under Prime Minister Earl Grey (the tea guy), established workhouses which would shelter and feed the destitute provided that they would, or could, work. Workhouses generally split up families and were seen as a terrible last resort. Also there is likely a craft beer bar near you called The Pour House.
- [25d: Pastry that David Foster Wallace called “cinnamon toast from hell”]: ELEPHANT EAR. I’m a big DFW (RIP) fan, but here I have to disagree. Those things are delish.
- [41d: Pop-culture site owned by the Onion]: AVCLUB. I’m old enough to remember when The Onion was a Madison, WI, satirical newspaper, printed on actual newsprint, with the A.V. Club as a center section that covered arts and culture in whatever region in which your copy of The Onion was distributed. Crossword-related note: The AV Club Crossword, to which, full disclosure, your reviewer contributes, used to be The Onion‘s crossword, and when it was discontinued, editor Ben Tausig took the name, rechristened it The American Values Club Crossword, and continued to publish independently. The More You Know!
- [Nominee for best actress in a musical for “Timbuktu!”]: EARTHA KITT, in 1978. Here she is: