Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
If you don’t know Brad, you’re missing out. He’s an opera fan, tennis maven, crossword editor (The Chronicle of Education puzzles – if you’re not doing them, you should be!), baker, mensch-of-all-trades, and, oh, yeah, a constructor. I’m more accustomed to seeing Brad’s name on the fiendish Saturday Stumpers. Today he shows us that he can also create delightful easier puzzles.
I didn’t understand the theme until I got to the revealer at the bottom, and then I grinned.
- 17a [Not strict adherence to what really happened, say] is DRAMATIC LICENSE.
- 33a [When a fresh factory crew arrives] is at SHIFT CHANGE.
- 43a [Archipelago forming the southernmost part of the continental U.S.] is the FLORIDA KEYS.
- 63a [Member of an N.F.L. team transplanted to Los Angeles in 2017] is a SAN DIEGO CHARGER. Sometimes Will holds on to puzzles for a long time; I wonder if this clue had to be changed.
What do those things have in common? 56d [Where the endings of 17-, 33-, 43- and 63-Across are often found] is in a PURSE, and indeed my PURSE currently holds my LICENSE, some CHANGE, my KEYS, and a cellphone CHARGER. This is a 21st century puzzle! I love the fresh 15s, which I don’t recall ever seeing in a puzzle before. This theme is completely accessible for newbies and less confident solvers and still fun for us more experienced folk. Very nice.
A few other things:
- 3d [Company that makes Frisbees] is WHAM-O. Fun entry.
- 5a [Old workplace sitcom with Danny DeVito as a dispatcher] is TAXI. We were in Manhattan yesterday and we walked along W 44th street past several garages and repair shops. There were cabs in various states of disassembly all over the place.
- 23a [Surefire winner] is a SHOO-IN, which I still try to spell SHOE-IN, even though I know it’s wrong.
- I tried to google THEO letter after I solved, thinking that the clue [Letter you don’t pronounce in “jeopardy” and “leopard”] referred to some old-time name for a letter, like ETH. Um, no. It’s THE O. I can’t decide if that’s very clever or just annoying. It’s my least favorite entry in the puzzle, which is not much to complain about.
- I’m not generally fond of partials, but 66a [“Could you, would you, with ___?” (Dr. Seuss line)] is too much fun for me to complain about. It’s A GOAT.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Steve Carell voiced a character named GRU in “Despicable Me.”
David Steinberg’s Universal Crossword, “Cornball Humor”—Judge Vic’s write-up
Fun theme here, from the editor himself. Not sure why he is both constructor and editor today. I think I will let this punny puzzle speak for itself, first listing clues and answers of the themers and then doing likewise with the best of the rest.
- 20a [Corntucky Fried Chicken mascot?] KERNEL SANDERS—Corntucky … Kernel, not Colonel. Oops! I said I’d let these speak for themselves.
- 34a [Celebrate a corn harvest?] RING IN THE NEW EAR–Hmm, seems like there’d be more than one ear in a harvest. Sorry. I’ll back off.
- 42a Literary corn growers? STALK CHARACTERS–Stick characters? (Forgive me.)
- 56a [Sorting system at a corn farm?] GOOD COB BAD COB
All in all, a nice array of corn pun (pone).
And now, the supporting cast:
- 5d [Polish dumplings] PIEROGI
- 9d [British sports car] MCLAREN
- 11d [“Turn! Turn! Turn!” folk singer] PETE SEEGER
- 28d [Just by description] IN NAME ONLY
- 44 [Bionic humans] CYBORGS
- 46 [Major cable company] COMCAST
Zachary David Levy’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Up in the Air”—Jim P’s review
When you solve and/or blog about puzzles every day, it’s easy to forget that there are always people discovering the joys of this hobby. Thus, there is always a need to have simple, straightforward themes on a Monday, even though many of us regulars might find them old hat.
Today brings us a synonym theme which we’ve seen many times over the years, but its simplicity makes it perfect for the newer solver. Each theme phrase starts with a synonym of “jump” (or with “jump” itself).
- 17a [Energizing impetuses] JUMP STARTS
- 25a [Presidential elections are held in them] LEAP YEARS
- 36a [Inevitable] BOUND TO HAPPEN
- 49a [Game with a chalk-drawn playing area] HOPSCOTCH
- 58a [Chinese hors d’oeuvre] SPRING ROLL
A good set, however HOPSCOTCH is problematic. In each of the other terms, the first word changes meaning, but in this one, it does not. An alternative possibility is HOP GARDEN, i.e. a field for growing hops. That’s not a phrase I’ve ever heard, but it does have a strong showing over at onelook.com.
Other than that little inconsistency, the theme is lively and clear without the need for a revealer.
Oh hey, I forgot to mention this appears to be a debut, and further, the constructor’s surname is Levy. Any relation to our very own Jenni Levi? Congrats!
The fill is strong with this one with AMBIANCE, CESAREAN, DADDY-O, SPOILER, TRAGEDY, BULOVA, CALIBER, and BLOOMERS [Bygone trousers for women] (though I really don’t think the clue needs “for women”). In fact, the more I look at the grid, the more I like it. Even the mid-length entries are good: BUFFET, CAMUS, PHENOM, POSADA, FORTE, PLUME, e.g.
And there’s very little in the way of gluey bits. I never heard of OIL PAPER [Translucent sheets], but those of you who have studied art probably have. And I don’t know that I’ve ever seen GMO [So-called “Frankenfood”: Abbr.] in a grid but I think it’s certainly crossword-worthy (and I like the clue, too). (Edited to add: It’s shown up about 10 ten times in different venues in the last five years.)
This is an impressively high CALIBER debut, and yet it’s still perfect for the crossword newbie. Four stars.
Elizabeth Gorski’s The New Yorker Crossword—Judge Vic’s write-up
Starting my Monday with a 22-minute New Yorker crossword romp. Not too shabby. Sixty-eight answers, 12 of them 8-letters long or longer, 14 of them only 3-letters. A little green paint here and there, as New Yorkers tend to have. But, all in all, a fun solve, led by three 15’s, followed by three staggered 11’s down the center. To say nothing of a pot-luck mini-theme.
- 37a [Moderately spicy potluck supper dish] THREE-ALARM CHILI
- 16a [Serving of 37-Across, perhaps] LADLEFUL
- 3d [Investment advisor’s asset-allocation samples] MODEL PORTFOLIO
- 10d [Contented reply to “How was your night?”] I SLEPT LIKE A BABY–I love this answer, but the clue question has to be worded in a way that I never head, so that rules are not broken–what we say in these parts is “Sleep good?”
- 14d [“Hot” seasonal romances] SUMMER LOVES–Didn’t we all have a few of these growing up!
- 17d [“Pagliacci” composer] LEON CAVALLO–Got this totes from crossers; otherwise, my time’d have been cut in half.
- 21d [Eternal] NEVER ENDING–Don’t we all enjoy a good one-word clue from time to time!
Other nice answers of (positive) note include SOME NERVE, E-COMMERCE, OVERTAKEN, LETS SLIDE, and ONONDAGA.
Of (negative) note I can cite only O’WAR, ODER, RECT, DO AS, and DET.
Bruce Venzke & Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
This power duo is back with another Monday LAT puzzle!
20A: PREMIERE PARTY [Opening night Hollywood event]
33A: POSTER CHILD [Recognizable face associated with a cause]
40A: CAMERA ANGLE [Photographer’s concern]
49A: MOVIE TRAILERS [“Coming attractions” offerings, and a hint to the starts of the answers to starred clues]
Movie PREMIERE, Movie POSTER, Movie CAMERA – all solid connections of words that “trail” the word movie, all derived from in-the-language themers. I’ll take it! The fill was largely okay, though I wasn’t excited about DSC LADE PARD ETO. Also, I’m torn on INNER MAN [Source of a masculine sense of self] – I’m all for explorations of gender identity in puzzles and like that this clue could apply quite broadly to anyone male-identifying, but I can’t imagine a woman-centered version of this fill / clue to end up in a puzzle and was sad about that. Prove me wrong, constructors!
Relatedly, Rebecca Falcon was on Twitter this weekend perfectly describing the sexism and exclusion of women that is so prevalent in crosswords. You should absolutely read her thread of tweets yourself. Here’s just one to capture your interest:
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword #521—Jim Q’s review
Squeaky clean themeless from BEQ today! Sure, there’s a bit of crosswordy glue in there (lookin’ at you ANI, ULT, and CHA who all decided to hang out together!) but for the most part, this is as smooth as it gets.
- 32A [Pat on the buns?] OLEO. As in a pat of butter. Awesome clue makes up for a tired
- 24D [Trip with dramamine] CRUISE. For sure, someone’s got dramamine on one of those.
- 48A [They’re no longer talking to each other] EXES. Hmmm. Seems like a bold statement. Lots of exes talk to one another. Perhaps [They may no longer be talking to each other] would’ve been more accurate?
- 26D [“No you didn’t!”] OH SNAP! The apostrophe in “didn’t” didn’t show up in Across Lite, but in Crossfire it’s there. Go figure.
- 64A [It might be waged on Wikipedia] EDIT WAR. Never heard this as a term, but very inferable. I remember following the edit war when a much-maligned former crossword editor kept updating his own page… it was entertaining.
- 20A [Bird that is a weak flyer] ANI. I had EMU. Pretty sure EMUs don’t fly at all, if crosswords have taught me anything.
- 54A [U.S. Women’s National Team starting goalkeeper (and avid crossword solver)] ALYSSA NAEHER. Needed every cross on that last name despite just reading an article about her and her crossword habit.
- 19D [Popular ATVs] QUADBIKES. I just know them as QUADS.
Really enjoyed this one!