Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
Apparently this puzzle took me precisely the same amount of time as last Monday’s, which is amusing. The theme is straightforward and accessible, although I had no idea what it was until I finished solving, and one of the entries bugs me a bit. It’s a solid Monday puzzle.
If the grid looks slightly off to you, do not adjust your set. It’s 14×15, and the revealer is one of two 14-letter entries: 58a [Kind of test … and a hint to a word hidden three times each in 16-, 22-, 38, and 48-Across]. That answer is MULTIPLE CHOICE. The other theme answers:
- 16a [What M.B.A.s enter upon graduation] is CORPORATE WORLD. This doesn’t make much sense to me without “the” as the first word. The CORPORATE WORLD is where MBAs work. CORPORATE WORLD by itself sounds like an amusement park.
- 22a [Verbatim] is WORD FOR WORD.
- 38a [Canadian team in the N.B.A.] is the TORONTO RAPTORS. The RAPTORS will face the Golden State Warriors in the upcoming NBA finals. I’m sure Ade has more to say about that.
- 48a [Tale that might feature a haunted house] is a HORROR STORY.
The repeated word is OR. You can see it without highlights, right?
A few other things:
- I like the juxtaposition of JIM and JACK at 1a and 1d, respectively.
- The smaller grid and the volume of theme entries combine to constrain the fill. I’m less sensitive to fill than some of the other Fiendsters, but I could have done without OUT OF, and OER and ERE in the same puzzle
- The long Downs are TURBO BOOST and TORCH RELAY, which would be fun if they were combined.
- Constructors notice word counts and patterns, obviously. Bruce or Will (or Joel?) noticed that ROPES can follow both “on the” and “learn the.”
- What I know because I have a teenager: 66a [R&B singer with the 2006 #1 hit “So Sick”] is NEYO.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the planetarium in Chicago is the ADLER Planetarium.
Bruce Venzke & Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
It’s been unusually cold and rainy in LA lately, so this puzzle felt quite apt!
20A: RESTAURANT CHAIN [Olive Garden, e.g.]
32A: RAKING IT IN [Winning big]
40A: RAISIN BRAN [Breakfast cereal with dried grapes]
52A: CAUGHT IN THE RAIN [Surprised by a shower … and a hint involving certain outer letters of 20-, 32-, and 40-Across]
Nice, consistent theme with good theme density and in-the-language themers. I especially appreciate that each theme entry took a different form of being “CAUGHT” IN THE RAIN (R___AIN, RA___IN, RAI___N) and in a sequential order. I’ll take it! Now, if only the rain rain would go away in LA. : )
– TISH could be difficult or feel like crosswordese, but its clue in this puzzle makes it reasonable and totally passable.
– I had SSN instead of SSI for [Govt.-issued aid]. Is the clue off or am I not familiar enough with Social Security?
– I’ve honestly never heard of [’60s TV show …] DAKTARI. The show is described by Wikipedia as a drama about an American (read: white) family living in East Africa whose father-figure is a veterinarian. Was this a big show in the ’60s? Comment below if it was!
Greg Johnson’s Universal Crossword, “Core Elements”—Judge Vic’s write-up
As phrases go, core elements feels familiar to me. In quotes, it gets over 3,000,000 Google hits. Yet, as a phrase, it is not in the dictionary. So, is it an in-the-language stand-alone (ILSA)? I dunno.
At a certain website, I find a definition I can understand and, with a little adaptation, fashion a definition: Components of something that must be in their proper places (usually in a certain order) to accomplish some intended effect. Against that backdrop …,
DRILL BITS, NEWS SEGMENTS, REESE’S PIECES, and AUTO PARTS are ILSA’s. The clues for these answers are consistently theme-y:
- 17a D, I, R and L?,
- 29a E, N, S and W?,
- 47a E, R and S?,
- 63a A, O, T and U?
In each clue, the letters are in alphabetical order. In each instance, all of the letters of the first words of the theme answers are mentioned. Each theme answer includes a synonym of components. The sense in which each of these synonyms is used in the ILSA’s mentioned above is different from the sense that would manifest in the context of core elements.
Other noteworthy stuff: FAN BASE, RANSOM NOTE, ERASER MATE, and ANGEL HAIR.
Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword—Jenni’s review
I was surprised to see the time when I finished the puzzle. It felt longer than six minutes – I would have guessed ten. There were a lot of spots where I had to stop and go somewhere else. Those of you who don’t like puzzles with proper names are not going to like this puzzle; neither are those who think The New Yorker puzzles are obscure triviafests. I enjoyed it a lot.
Part of the reason it felt like a long solve was the slow start. I didn’t know 1a [Lovecraftian entity know for its “call”] and I popped CLAVIER into 1d for [Harpsichord, by another name]. Then I saw 17a, [Laurie of “Lady Bird”] and I knew that was METCALF, so I had to take out CLAVIER and I had no idea what to replace it with. Turns out it’s CEMBALO, and the Lovecraftian entity is CTHULHU, which I have heard of but did not realize was connected to Lovecraft. I also didn’t realize it had a “call.”
One objection: [Guide] for SHERPA. Yes, it’s a perfectly valid clue because SHERPA has come to mean “guide” in English, but the SHERPA are an indigenous people of Nepal who do not exist simply to guide other (primarily white) people who want to climb the Himalayas. I would have preferred to see the clue acknowledge them as a people.
A few other things:
- Movie references sprinkled around:”Lady Bird”; “DEATH Wish”; “UNFRIENDED,” clued as [2014 horror hit about the dark side of social media]; “Tomorrow Never DIES“; “NOAH.” Also references to Gwyneth Paltrow, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg.
- Pop music from various eras: BEY, clued as [“Lemonade” star, to fans];Shakira’s album “Donde ESTAN los Ladrones?”; Steely Dan’s megahit AJA; Gene PITNEY. You may never have heard of PITNEY but there’s a very good chance you’ve heard some of his music.
- Toon characters: ELROY of “The Jetsons” and GREEDY SMURF.
- Fun clue for a very ordinary word: 53a [“___ alive!’] for IT’S.
- What I know because I have a teenager: the word FRENEMY, clued as [Fraught companion].
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re; CTHULU and CEMBALO. I’d never heard of the movie UNFRIENDED. I didn’t know there was an actress named TATIANA Maslany in “Orphan Black.” I was unaware of the [Cosmetic trend involving serums and essences], K BEAUTY (the K is for “Korean”). My father always said it was a good day if you learned something.
So many music choices to leave you with! I chose Queen Bey’s “Formation” from “Lemonade,” because if you haven’t seen it, you should.