Ross Trudeau’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
I usually love Ross Trudeau’s puzzles, and I was a bit disappointed in this one. The theme idea is fun: “afflictions” that are idioms that sound medical. One of the theme entries didn’t quite work for me and some of the other fill clanged a bit.
- 17a [“Affliction” suffered by Fab Four devotees] is BEATLEMANIA
- 27a [“Affliction” suffered by bracketologists] is MARCH MADNESS
- 43a [“Affliction” suffered by clothes lovers] is a FASHION CRAZE.
- 56a [“Affliction” suffered by the winter-weary] is SPRING FEVER. This is the one that fell flat for me and I think I’m being overly picky. I was expecting CABIN FEVER, because SPRING fever doesn’t happen in the winter, and in addition, FEVER doesn’t have the same psychiatric implication as the other three. Still a fun idea for a theme.
A few other things:
- I didn’t particularly care for POTTY-MOUTHED, as I’ve never heard it in that form – “he has a potty mouth,” sure, but POTTY-MOUTHED. I also wasn’t crazy about SANTA LETTERS. Then again, I never wrote one, so those of you who did or do Santa, you tell me: is that in the language?
- 9d [Tussle between wiki page modifiers] is an EDIT WAR.
- On the other hand, I loved WHAT NERVE for 11d, [“Well, I never!”].
- ELTON John and his dear friend LADY DI were in the same quadrant of the puzzle.
- 40a [Move like a butterfly] is FLIT, not Muhammed Ali’s often quoted “float.”
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that there are more than 2 million people living in OSAKA.
I leave you with ELTON singing at the funeral of LADY DI.
Ari Richter and Jeff Chen’s Universal Crossword, “You Are What You Drink”—Judge Vic’s write-up
So, this title suggests alcohol. And the grid contains three asymmetrically-placed sets of circles–could it be that they are intended to suggest six-packs of beer? The reveal says it all, in a way:
- 56a [Average guy, and a clue to the starts of 21-Across, 3-Down and 35-Down] JOE SIX-PACK–The wording here, of course, requires we look specifically at those three referenced entries:
- 21a [Valiant effort] COLLEGE TRY–Joe College. Get it?
- 3d [You bend over backward to do it] CAMEL POSE–Joe Camel.
- 35d [Doritos flavor in a blue bag] COOL RANCH–Joe Cool.
A very nicely executed theme, accentuated by the six-packs of AMSTEL, MILLER, and CORONA!
My one nit is UNAPT, for the obvious reason, but it’s outweighed by this really nice stuff in the vertical answers:
- 5d [Goes through a chain reaction] CASCADES
- 7d [Without a goal] AIMLESS
- 8d [Component on a chopper’s rear] TAIL ROTOR
- 10d [Everything but the last resort] ALL ELSE
- 33d [Soaring business?] AEROSPACE
- 41d [Secrets to cracking some codes] DATA KEYS
- 44d [Skin cream target] AGE SPOT4 stars
Mike Schlossberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “You Can’t Have Too Much Insurance”—Jenni’s review
The theme is phrases that evoke something that might generate an insurance claim. There’s no mention of Sheryl’s she-shed.
- 17a [Action-packed sporting event (Farm)]is a BARN BURNER, since a burned barn would be covered by farm insurance.
- 32a [Indiscreet lover, frequently (Property)] is a HOME WRECKER, and kudos to Mike and Mike for cluing this without reference to the “other woman.”
- 42a [False friend (Medical)] is a BACK STABBER.
- 64a [“Synecdoche” or “onomatopoeic,” e.g. (Dental)] is a lovely clue for JAWBREAKER.
I like this theme a lot. It wasn’t difficult but it was fun to solve and amusing.
A few other things:
- [Navel unit?] shows up as INNIE and, of course, OUTIE.
- 27d [Nursery bed] initially had me thinking of plants because my husband has been planting thousands of plants in our yard. The answer is CRIB.
- 43d [Apt name for a worrier] is a cute clue for STU.
- 39d [Repertoire of abilities] is SKILL SET. I fumble-fingered this at first and had SKILLETS.
- 50d [Sharp blow] is the oddly satisfying THWACK.
Answer I knew because I have a teenager: 14a [Country singer Jackson] is ALAN. She’s the only one in the house who listens to country music.
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword—Jenni’s review
This was tougher than the last few New Yorker Monday puzzles. That is not a complaint. I love a good challenge, and I love Anna’s puzzles, and this one did not disappoint.
The NW did not fall easily – it was the last part of the puzzle I filled in, so it kind of felt like I was solving it backwards. 1a is [It could be credited with the popularity of crosswords among millennials], and the answer is NERD CULTURE. This sounds plausible to me and since it’s phrased in the conditional, you can’t really argue with it. It’s also a great entry.
I got a toehold over on the east side of the puzzle with 28d [Creator of the Pevensie children], C S LEWIS, and worked from there in no particular pattern. Things I liked a lot:
- 12d [Stood for] is PERSONIFIED.
- 19a is [Parliament group?]. I know this is the collective noun for owls. I also know that a) the question mark means that’s not the answer and b) it didn’t fit. Turns out it’s CARTON – as in Parliament cigarettes. That was my grandmother’s brand.
- Shakespeare translated into Spanish at 20a [“___ o no ___” (Start of Hamlet’s famous soliloquio)]. It’s SER.
- Love the female vibe with EVE clued as the Anne Baxter role rather than the time of day, and CLUMPIEST clued as [Like the worst mascara]. I recently learned about tubing mascara, which I hear is a game-changer and does not clump. I have not yet tried it.
- 42d is [Childhood friend of Truman] and the answer is HARPER, as in HARPER Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The character of Dill is based on Truman Capote. We recently saw the Broadway adaptation (about which I have wildly mixed feelings) and I thought the characterization of Dill was a bit too informed by that piece of information.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that C-RATIONS are [Canned, pre-cooked meals for GIs].
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword #523—Jim Q’s review
I’ll start by saying that my last answer to fall in this grid is so absurd that I enjoyed it. That would be TAPE PLAYERS clued as [Decks that might be used during some barbecues]. In order to attend that barbecue, you’d likely have to time travel with MCFLY (not MARTY as I originally entered).
Really, really nice long answers in this one all around.
- 1A [Comment said to someone who’s already put their foot in their mouth
twice] KEEP DIGGING. The hole that he/she is going to need to crawl out of eventually.
- 15A [“FYI”] AS A REMINDER. The correct answer was my first hunch, but when I think of anytime I used FYI, it’s usually followed by fresh information, not reminders.
- 17A [Howard Hughes’s craft] SPRUCE GOOSE. A gimme which gave a solid foothold up north.
- 28A [Doormat’s claim] I SUCK. Fun entry, which also helps figure out the letter missing from E?G TESTS.
- 69A [Hunch, jocularly] SPIDEY SENSE. Nice.
- 63A [Feature of some kids’ cereals] COCOA FLAVOR. Seems a little “green paint-ish.”
And knowing BEQ’s puzzles, I didn’t have to think twice about the answer for 68A [Crack spot]. ASS.
BREW CREW and EARPLUG were nice to uncover as well.
This puzzle had an obligation to make up for the abbreviated December plural (DECS). And it certainly did.
Gail Grabowski & Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
This powerhouse duo strikes again with another Monday LAT:
17A: BOARD EXAM [Medical licensing test]
10D: BANK EROSION [Wearing away of a riverside slope]
59A: BULK EMAIL [Online mass marketing message]
23D: BODY ENGLISH [Torso-twisting “spin” that has no effect on the ball]
38A: B AND E [Burglary, for short … and a hint to this puzzle’s four longest answers]
Is that revealer technically correct? Is it burglary every time you break and enter? That seems off to me. That, coupled with the fact that I’ve never heard breaking and entering simply called B AND E made this puzzle slightly less enjoyable for me to solve. The themers also had varying levels of being in-the language: BOARD EXAM for sure and maybe even BULK EMAIL, but BODY ENGLISH feels old-timey and BANK EROSION seems like it’s there to balance out the symmetry of BODY ENGLISH. It all fits the theme, but it’s not my favorite of their puzzles.
Other random thoughts:
– To my knowledge, I’m not related to PIERRE [Cardin of design], though wouldn’t that be nice!
– SAKI felt like a stretch. Why not SAKE / REDS there? And eek at NDAK. Bret HARTE who??
– Are Deborah KERR and DANA Delany the only women in this grid aside from icons Judy and Liza? Compared with alllll the men represented in this grid? Oof.