Dan Schoenholz’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
This played a smidgen harder than an average Monday for me. Might have been the weekend of wine-tasting from which I just returned. Or maybe not. I really liked the theme. Dan took words that end in “-ize” and rewrote them phonetically with appropriately literal, yet wacky, clues.
- 17a [Very soft loaves of bread?] are TENDER RYES (tenderize).
- 26a [Neckwear with the letters A, B, C, D, etc.?] are ALPHABET TIES (alphabetize).
- 44a [Indigo, henna, etc.?] are STANDARD DYES (standardize).
- 57a [“You haven’t aged a bit” and “I love that jacket you’re wearing”?] are SOCIAL LIES (socialize). This is my favorite.
This is a fresh, fun, and totally Monday-accessible theme. Nicely done!
A few other things:
- I could have done without the cross-reference at 5d. 6d is [Golf score of 5-Down under par], which is BIRDIE, so 5d is ONE, which could have been clued any number of other ways. It made the NW corner awkward for no good reason.
- 12d [TV’s “___ Line Is It Anyway?”] is WHOSE. Say it with me: “….and the points don’t matter.”
- 29d [Stereotypical material for a professor’s jacket] is TWEED. My husband was a professor for ten years. He’s never owned such a jacket. Maybe that’s why academia wasn’t for him, in the end.
- How long before we see GRETA clued as [Climate change hero] rather than [Garbo of silent films]?
- 47d [“Oh, shucks!”] is AW, GEE.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that MINKs are relatives of weasels.
I leave you with Dar Williams’ gorgeous song about 15a.
Mike Macdonald’s Universal crossword, “All-Inclusive”—Rebecca’s review
THEME: Theme answers are the end of phrases starting with “whole”
- 20A [End of a “complete” phrase] BALL OF WAX
- 28A [End of a “complete” phrase] ENCHILADA
- 43A [End of a “complete” phrase] NINE YARDS
- 51A [Like feel-good memes, or this puzzle’s theme?] WHOLESOME
This puzzle is one that that the more I think about, the more I enjoy. Solid answers that fit together in a really nice way, but was definitely not immediately satisfying for me. It was more the after-the-fact thought of the linguistic coincidence of all of the theme answers fitting symmetrically with the word WHOLESOME that gave me the joy I wish I had experienced while solving. Only word that I was expecting to be part of this theme that never showed up was SHEBANG.
I also do think the revealer would’ve worked better without the inclusion of memes in its answer which felt a bit…
Totally enjoyed the symmetry of SCALLION pancakes and EGGROLLS, and loved the clue for EYELIDS [41D. Target for some shadows]. Was less familiar with the cluing of FETISH [19A. Magical object] in a non-sexual way. Also feels like there are more relevant STONERs to reference than Cheech or Chong, but they certainly fit the answer.
3 stars from me
Freddie Cheng’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
3D: RUSSIAN ROULETTE [Deadly “game” in “The Deer Hunter”]
5D: RANCH HANDS [Ones helping with the horses]
9D: ITALIAN STALLION [Stallone nickname, with “the”]
31D: FRENCH HENS [Trio after turtle doves]
14D: DRESSING DOWNS [Severe reprimands, and a hint to the starts of the answers to starred clues]
Each of the theme entries has a type of salad dressing starting its down answer, hence DRESSING DOWNS. I’m torn on whether I like the plural version of the themer or not – what do you think? I had a bit of deja vu solving this puzzle and found this recent, dressing-themed puzzle in the NYT. Different themers, revealer, and structure, but I couldn’t help but think of the one in context with the other. I appreciate how each themer brings its puzzle alive based on the directions in the revealer.
– I loved the clue for 6A! PTAS can have moms, dads, and educators, but the moms and dads aren’t necessarily with each other. Subtle, but I noticed it and smiled.
– 12A is a great example of where women could super easily be included more regularly in puzzles. Why not switch out “men” for “women” in the clue for PLURAL? Same with the clue for SALUT at 10D. Why not switch “Henri” out for a woman’s name? Especially when EVELYN Waugh and CYNDI Lauper are the only women actually represented in the puzzle anywhere in the grid/clues.
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Say It With Flowers”—Jim P’s review
An easy, breezy flowery grid gets our week started here. Our theme is well-known phrases that include a hidden flower part.
- 17a [Reaction to dog dander, say] PET ALLERGY
- 26a [Protector of free speech] FIRST AMENDEMENT
- 44a [Crusaders whose white mantles bore red crosses] KNIGHTS TEMPLAR
- 58a [Chanced having an unfortunate result] RAN THE RISK
Seems to me like this one would have been great to run in the springtime, but I’m not complaining. The theme is just right for a Monday—accessible and clear—and it makes for a great starter grid for a newish solver.
The fill is not terribly sparkly, but I like HEY JUDE, STILETTO, GALAHAD, and KOALAS. Not being much of a basketball watcher, I’m not too familiar with the term SET SHOT, but it was inferable enough.
For the most part, the clues are straight as an arrow. In fact, there’s not a single clue with a question mark to be found, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. I guess that’s why I was able to rack up such a (for me) speedy time.
And that’s all I have. This is a straight, but clean, hidden-word theme that’s just right for a newbie. 3.7 stars.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword — Rachel’s write-up
As no one will be surprised to hear, this Patrick Berry puzzle is as clean as they come. Not a single piece of fill is out of place or questionable, and the quad-stacks in the NE and SW are things of beauty. The grid is also gorgeous– that neat staircase of black squares through the middle, with two sets of squares offset on either side, is so aesthetically pleasing and simple!
I did have a harder time with this one than most other New Yorkers I’ve done recently, but it was a struggle I appreciated (as much as one can appreciate a struggle before coffee–check out that over-15-minute time!). Much of the cluing was the tough and clever combo that results in those satisfying lightbulb moments (Coloring on nails? for RUST; Like orders of magnitude? for SUPERSIZED).
A few miscellaneous notes:
- I didn’t understand the clue on AGENT (Ten-percenter), but google tells me that talent agents get 10% of their stars’ earnings and are therefore sometimes called “10 percenters.” ?♀️
- I went back and forth on the last letter of ANTIPASTI; I knew the I is correct because it’s plural, but couldn’t imagine a word ending in -IPTS (until I got the actual answer, RECEIPTS, which was also cleverly clued)
- LEEMARVIN is new to me (I am an uncultured brute who is unworthy of The New Yorker), so that NE stack was the last to fall
- Also new (and old): SHINOLA. Having this brand in the same grid as the aforementioned clue for RUST was tricky!
- The only clue I truly disliked was the one for WINS (“What he who dies with the most toys does, according to a bumper sticker”). I’ve seen this bumper sticker exactly once, and I rolled my eyes then, and I roll my eyes at this clue. It’s consumerist and gross and bro-y.
Overall: beautiful, clean puzzle that was more challenging than I was prepared for at 7am before coffee!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword, Themeless Monday #533—Jim Q’s review
A lively themeless today from BEQ, full of fun stuff and couple of new, inferable entries.
- 17A [Swank, e.g.] OSCAR WINNER. Had a feeling this was a reference to Hilary Swank, but didn’t fully appreciate the clue until uncovering her OSCAR WINNing role as Brandon TEENA (see 53-Across). Excellent clue, made more fun without the cross-reference.
- 21A [Spot whose residents roll in] RV PARK. That RVP at the beginning can result in a confident answer, or a confident erasure.
- 10A [Disney cheese] IGER. I really wish the CEO were named EDAM.
- 14D [Lower leg problem] CANKLES. I liked this clue, and got it off the K. I was solving with a friend, and she didn’t like it at all, claiming it was not a “problem.”
- 41A [“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” star] WINSLET. Only had to glance up at the poster hanging on my classroom wall for a split second after realizing CARREY wasn’t going to fit.
NEW TO ME:
- 1A [Meme demonstrating lunacy posing as genius] GALAXY BRAIN. You can always count on a BEQ for something fresh that you may not yet be hip to… I’m assuming this is it for me.
- 15A [Tree that has bumpy fruit] OSAGE ORANGE. Inferable.
- 39A [Fencers’ code] DUELLO. Never heard of this. Needed all the crosses.
- 53D [Twitter follower, informally] TWEEP. Cute.
DIDN’T MUCH LIKE:
- 36D and 48D. TRASHMEN/ENDMEN. The MEN dupe made me question ENDMEN, which I was not at all confident with.
- 36A [Exactly, after “on”] THE DOT. 6 letter partial. Yuck.
Overall, good times! Lucky that I knew all the names, even if I wanted to spell EILISH as ELLISH and RIAN as RYAN.