Ned White’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
I thought I had figured out the theme when I filled in the first theme answer. I was wrong.
All the theme answers are two-word phrases that start with P___ G___. I figured it was something to do with movie ratings.
- 4d [*Darts and snooker] are PUB GAMES.
- 18a [*Basketball position for Magic Johnson or Steph Curry] is POINT GUARD.
- 20a [*Level on the military wage scale] is PAY GRADE.
- 26a [*Alternative to a brush when coating the side of a house] is PAINT GUN.
- 37d [*Roast accompaniment prepared with drippings] is PAN GRAVY.
- 41a [*The Beach Boys or Backstreet Boys] are a POP GROUP. Speaking of the Beach Boys, we saw “Echo in the Canyon” last night. It’s a documentary about the folk-rock stars of the mid-60s, including the Beach Boys. Definitely worth seeing. Here’s the trailer.
- 52a [*Shade akin to olive] is PEA GREEN.
- 54a [*Sorority types who go out a lot] are PARTY GIRLS.
I realized I was wrong about the theme in the middle: 36a [Consumer products giant, for short … or a hint to the answers to the eight starred clues] is P AND G (Procter and Gamble). A nice, accessible Monday theme, solidly constructed and well-clued. I’ll take it.
A few other things:
- 1a [Al who created Li’l Abner] is CAPP. Kids, ask your parents. Li’l Abner stopped running in 1977. Maybe it should stop running in crosswords, too.
- And does anyone say IMING any more? Or even do it?
- 27d [Mom’s mom, for short] is GRAN. I put GRAM at first. Just me? She shows up again at 29d [Mom’s mom] as NANA.
- In the constant effort to find an interesting (or at least less common) clue for OREO, we have 31d, [___ O’s (breakfast cereal)]. My teeth hurt just thinking about that. Ick.
- 49a [___ Field, former home of the Seattle Mariners] is SAFECO. I’d prefer “former name of…” since they still play at the same ballpark, which is now named T-Mobile Park. This is the first season with the new name; I wonder when Will accepted this puzzle and if they had to change the clue.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Magic Johnson and Steph Curry are POINT GUARDs. Not a basketball fan.
Ross Trudeau’s Universal Crossword, “See You in a Week!”—Judge Vic’s write-up
As per the title, this puzzle has four words that are indeed seen in a week. Let’s start with the reveal:
- 59a [Does some scheduling … or, when parsed differently, a hint to this puzzle’s theme] NAMES A DAY–This feels contrived. I don’t think the puzzle needs a reveal. Perhaps the title could have been “Name the Day.” Or “What’s in a Name Today?” I guess parsed differently contemplates A DAY’S NAME?
- 17a [“Dragnet” sergeant] JOE FRIDAY–A day of the week is this cop’s last name.
- 24a [Title girl of a Rolling Stones hit] RUBY TUESDAY–A day of the week is the title character’s last name. Keith Richards, who was 23 when he wrote this song, has cited a couple of different people as being its inspiration. IMO, absent proof positive the muse was under 18, Ruby should be referred to as a woman in the clue, not a girl.
- 35a [TV daughter of Morticia and Gomez] WEDNESDAY ADDAMS–A day of the week is this fictional Addams’s first name.
- 51a 19th-century baseball player who became an evangelist BILLY SUNDAY–A day of the week is this athlete-turned-pastor’s last name.
Stuff that bugged me, besides having only four of the seven days covered:
- ODORIZE–I’ve never heard anyone use it.
- UNROLLS–This pluralized word with a prefix has a built-in conflict issue with the common figure of speech that one rolls out a carpet.
- MEZE–Never heard of it. Merriam-Webster says it’s been around since 1904, meaning “an appetizer in Greek or Middle Eastern cuisine.” And I’m like, “Wha?”
- SPREAD ‘EM–The clued context is a negative law enforcement stereotype. A second stereotypical connotation comes to mind, it too being negative. I’d avoid this entry, even though its two NYT appearances have been rather recent.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Inside Joke”—Jim P’s review
We have a Monday-simple, but Zhouqin-smooth grid today in which she’s found phrases that hide the word GAG (61d, [Joke hidden in the starred answers]).
- 17a [*”Nope, still not right!”] WRONG AGAIN
- 39a [*Way back when] LONG AGO
- 58a [*It’s between 16 and 18 years old in most states] DRIVING AGE. So…if you’re over 18, you’re riding the bus?
- 11d [*Laughing uproariously] BUSTING A GUT
- 25d [*Game console introduced in 1989] SEGA GENESIS. Ah, the venerable Genesis. Never owned one (I was always a Nintendo fan), but if you wanted to play Sonic the Hedgehog games back then, you needed a Genesis. But you’re in luck! If you want to relive those glory days you can pick up a SEGA GENESIS Mini starting September 19th.
A fun example of the “hidden word” theme type. If I was to pick a nit, it would be that all of the GAGs are preceded by an N except the last one. It would be more elegant if a greater variety of examples was found.
With the theme entries in a pinwheel pattern, there isn’t room for any long fill answers, but the mid-length entries are strong: COUSIN, GOSPEL, DEARTH, ENIGMA, GARTER, AUNTIE, OREGON, JOLTED, BANJO.
I liked the crossing of LAILA (15a) and ALI with its factual clue [With 8-Down, boxer who retired undefeated]. I also had no idea that Jenny McCarthy is Melissa McCarthy’s COUSIN. And cluing OBESE with respect to a fictional character [Like Jabba the Hutt], is far more welcome than trying to be cutesy with it.
A strong and clean puzzle. 3.75 stars from me.
Jennifer Marra’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
Is this possibly a debut puzzle? I can’t find a record of Jennifer Marra anywhere in Fiend’s database; if so, hooray! Congrats + yay for seeing a woman’s byline.
20A: HOLMES AND WATSON [Investigating team in “Sherlock”]
39A: FRIDAY AND GANNON [Investigating team in “Dragnet”]
56A: MULDER AND SCULLY [Investigating team in “The X-Files”]
A consistent theme of investigating duos who, somehow, have name pairs that add up to 15 letters (once AND is included). Brava for finding those!
It’s certainly a straightforward theme, which is what you want in a Monday puzzle. My only gripe, perhaps, is that the themers + other fill/cluing seem dated. Or rather, it feels like this exact puzzle could have be published in the 90’s. We at least had GLENN Close referenced by her 2017 movie “The Wife”, but that modernity stood out in an otherwise OPIE OLEOS NEET-filled puzzle.
Other random thoughts:
– Loved the clue for BOND ([Tight connection, as between mother and baby]). Women are obviously so much more than just mothers, but I’d be surprised to see a male constructor or editor think about this as a way to clue BOND.
– I was also glad to see SELMA and its importance referenced in the grid!
– Yay for inclusions like GLENN Close, ERICA Jong, and ANNE Frank. These aren’t women who show up in grids as often, so I was glad to see them.