Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
I love Lynn’s Monday puzzles. They are accessible and fun for new or inexperienced solvers, and smooth and satisfying for me. This is not easy to do, and Lynn does it every time. Brava.
Today’s theme pinwheels around the grid with four answers running across and two down.
- 10d [*Equitable treatment] is FAIR SHAKE.
- 16a [*Chief source of support] is MAINSTAY.
- 22a [*Chapel Hill athlete] is a TAR HEEL.
- 32d [*Soft bedding material] is GOOSE DOWN.
- 50a [*”Why?”] is HOW COME?
- 59a [*Tend an absent resident’s property] is HOUSE SIT.
What do all these things have in common? Lynn is glad you asked. 37a [Praise after a proper response to the end of the answer to each starred clue] is GOOD DOG. That’s what you say when the pupper SHAKEs, STAYs, lies DOWN, HEELs, COMEs, and SITs. Good theme.
A few other things:
- 1a [33 1/3 r.p.m. records] are LPS. Youngsters, ask your parents. My kid found one of our few remaining LPs when she was about 10 and asked what it was. I explained. She said “But how does it play music? It’s too big to fit in the computer.”
- 12d [Edges, as of craters] are RIMS. Here’s a crater in Iceland as seen from the RIM on our trip this past March.
- 33a [Yankee great Yogi] is BERRA. Congrats to Pamela Fiering, who won the Yogi Berra Award for the best wrong answer at last weekend’s Indie 500 crossword tournament.
- 41a [Round Mongolian tents] are YURTS. This word always makes me giggle.
- 61a [M.L.B. division that includes the Astros] is the AL WEST – since 2013, when they moved over from the National League.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that CLOVIS was the first king of the Franks.
Danny Reichert’s LA Times crossword – Jenni’s write-up
I didn’t understand the theme until I’d finished the puzzle and stared at it for a few minutes.
- 11d [Club sandwich pickup spot] is the DELI COUNTER.
- 17a [One who shuns alcohol] is a TEETOTALER.
- 25d [“The Queen of Disco”] was DONNA SUMMER.
- 59a [Venomous European viper] is a BLACK ADDER.
COUNTER, TOTALER, SUMMER and ADDER all add up to a synonym theme. TOTALER is not a word anyone uses, although I’m sure it’s in a dictionary somewhere. Other than that, it’s a perfectly fine theme. I could have done without the fusty crosswordese ORT at 1d. It’s worse when that stuff is right at the beginning of the puzzle.
A few other things:
- 12d [Nada] is ZIPPO. Am I the only one who dropped in ZILCH off the ZI?
- 20a [Resembling a classic sheriff’s badge] is STARLIKE. Um, I guess. That’s a roll-your-own.
- 28a [“It’s just __ manic Monday”: the Bangles] is ANOTHER. Music break!
- 40a [Hanukkah pancakes] are LATKES, which also showed up in the NYT puzzle. And it’s not even Kislev.
- 54a [Drummer’s __ shot] is RIM – another near-duplicate entry from the NYT. Cue Twilight Zone music.
Nothing I didn’t know before I did this puzzle and nothing I know because I have a teenager. That’s it for me!
Mark McClain’s Universal Crossword, “P Is for Puns”—Judge Vic’s write-up
No mysteries here. See title. We have puns that begin with …:
- 18a [Dinner bell sequence?] PEAL AND EAT–Not peel, but peal.
- 26a [Fishing magazine evaluations?] PIER REVIEWS–As opposed to peer.
- 43a [Satisfaction in a job well done?] PEACE OF WORK–Looks like all these pun words begin with P and a long-E sound.
- 56a [Best time to cuddle certain lap dogs?] PEKE SEASON–Yup! That’s kinda nice.
Other good stuff:
- DROWNS OUT
What I learned: [Politicians’ media events, informally] PRESSERS
Sherman Uitzetter’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Inner Peace”—Jim P’s review
This looks to be a debut puzzle for our constructor. Congratulations, Sherman!
But I know for a fact there’s been at least one other WSJ puzzle with this exact title. That one was pretty goofy, though, yeah? This one’s a little more straightforward, but well done, nonetheless.
56d tells us that [Inner peace, incorporated in the four longest Across answers] is CALM, which is what we should be looking for in the theme entries.
- 20a [Small-but-loud group] VOCAL MINORITY
- 28a [Measure originally defined as one minute of latitude] NAUTICAL MILE
- 45a [Clicking device] OPTICAL MOUSE
- 55a [Android] MECHANICAL MAN. I love this quaint-feeling entry.
A strong set of themers. Each is “in the language” and I like the consistency in that the hidden word is broken down the same way (CAL-M) in each phrase. (The equally-as-good alternative is to have the hidden word break down in each of the three possible ways, but then you’d only have three entries, and good luck finding a word that starts with LM-, unless of course you use LMNOPEN.)
Further, having theme answers that are 12- and 13-letters in length means those entries get pushed toward the middle of the grid, causing extra constraints to have to work through. But Sherman appears to have handled it well giving us great fill to boot.
Check these out: PLAY DIRTY, BUST A MOVE, HAMILTON, HEROIC, EPITOME, and SIBERIA.
There were a few hard-for-Monday types, though: LAVE [Wash], MOS [Sept., Oct. and Nov.], AGORA [Greek market], ADONAIS [Shelley’s elegy for Keats].
But on the whole a strong debut and a very nice Monday grid to start the week off right. Four stars.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword #520—Jim Q’s review
Man… I was so confident I was going to have a record setting BEQ time today. Then I met the southeast. Dagnabbit! Somehow muddled through and it was still very satisfying when Mr. Happy Pencil made an appearance.
- 14A [Booty mover] PIRATE SHIP. I suppose there are a lot of fun ways one can
clue PIRATE SHIP, but I really liked this one.
- 33A [Slider’s spot] BURGER JOINT. Ohhh… that kind of slider.
- 12D [“Take your time”] I’LL WAIT. A teacher phrase if ever there was one (totally translates to “Shut the hell up you monsters!).
- 38A [It can make some problems smaller] SHRINK RAY. Think of the fun you could have with that!
- 59A [2019 winning group that has a way with words, familiarly] OCTOCHAMPS. I bet a lot of solvers may have difficulty with this uber-fresh term for the eight (!) spelling bee champs at Scripps. Ready for their winning words? Auslaut, Erysipelas, Bougainvillea, Aiguillette, Pendeloque, Palama, and Cernuous. My spellcheck is currently having problems with half of those. Impressive.
COULDA DONE WITHOUT:
- 37A [Pain killer, known by a more popular name] PARACETAMOL. Needed every cross.
- 61A [53-Down section] and 53D [See 61-Across] ESSAY TEST / LSAT. The cross referencing dependency underneath the a-little-too-fresh OCTOCHAMPS was brutal for me.
- 3D [Praying figures] ORANTS. One of those crosswordy terms I can never quite remember.
Even with the southeast making this (perhaps) more difficult than necessary, this was a good ride.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—Ben’s review
Today’s New Yorker puzzle from Patrick Berry was a workout! This was a nice brain-squeezer after a fantastic Indie 500 weekend, but it didn’t make me SAY UNCLE.
- The stair-step in the middle of this grid with DETECTIVE WORK (“Digging, in a sense”), ROMANCE NOVELS (which “Harlequin’s line” immediately pointed to), and MINIATURE GOLF (“Game featuring balls of different colors”) was beautiful
- For whatever reason, the upper left corner of this grid stymied me for most of my solve. I wanted GLENS instead of GULFS, and ETHOS instead of CREDO, both of which made working out GUN CLUB, UBERIZES, and LOVE BITE more difficult than it should have been.
- Apparently the Matrix movies occupy the same place as Avatar in my brain, where I recall seeing the film(s) in theaters, but retain none of the major plot details. In the case of today’s grid, this means I didn’t remember that NEO‘s actual name is Thomas A. Anderson
- NAOMI WOLF is currently having a moment after it was revealed that the main thesis of her new book is largely a misunderstanding on her part of terminology used in the Victorian era.
Today’s highlighted bit of fill from the New Yorker’s interface was TED TALK. Here’s my current favorite TEDx talk, about how to sound smart in your TED TALK.
A nice challenge to start my Monday.