Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
Not much time since we’re expecting 20 people for dinner for erev Rosh Hashanah. Don’t take the short review as a knock on the puzzle, because I liked it a lot. It’s all about “knocks” – familiar phrases are clued as if they were bad reviews.
- 16a [Bash some tobacco holders?] is PAN PIPES.
- 19a [Bash some small trucks?] is TRASH PICKUPS.
- 39a [Bash a laundry room brand?] is RIP TIDE. We would also have accepted “what Auburn fans do.”
- 57a [Bash an Alex Haley classic?] is PUT DOWN ROOTS.
- 61a [Bash a bug repellent brand?] is BLAST OFF.
A solid theme that is totally Monday-appropriate and still fun. This is not easy to do, even though Lynn makes it look like a snap.
Roland Huget’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
17A: HOUSE HUNTER [Realtor’s client]
26A: BREAD BOARD [Surface for slicing rye, say]
36A: TAIL LIGHT [Vehicle’s rear warning lamp]
50A: PAPER TIGER [Feline metaphor for an empty threat]
60A: WHITE MATTER [Certain brain tissue, or what each half of the answers to the starred clues can be]
Each of the words in the theme entries can be paired with white to make a new word or phrase: white house, white bread, whiteboard, etc. It’s pretty impressive that the constructor found enough theme phrases that could double in this way. I feel like gr(a/e)y matter is more common an expression than WHITE MATTER, but the Google tells me it’s a thing, so okay!
I had never heard of white hunter, so I went to its Wikipedia page: “White hunter is a literary term used for professional big game hunters of European or North American backgrounds who plied their trade in Africa, especially during the first half of the 20th century. The activity continues in the dozen African countries which still permit big-game hunting.” I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of people who hunt elephants, giraffes, lions, and other big game for sport or trade, so this entry gets a big eeeeeek from me.
Other random thoughts:
– I loved a lot of the fill in this grid, including BAO, Good Night IRENE, ABIGAIL Adams, Donna Summer’s HOT STUFF, ODA Mae Brown, ICE T, and Medgar EVERS.
– I wasn’t as excited for RIIS, MEESE, or SNEAD. Those feel like know-it-or-you-don’t entries. I had to get all of them from the crosses.
– This was one of my quickest solves lately, which was a good feeling on a weekend afternoon! :)
Barbara Lin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Squeaky Clean”—Jim P’s review
I like this cute Monday theme! Each of our theme phrases ends in a word associated with bathtime.
- 17a [Give up] THROW IN THE TOWEL
- 32a [“I’m thrilled,” sarcastically] THAT’S JUST DUCKY. I tried DANDY at first.
- 38a [Products of exuberant real estate speculation] HOUSING BUBBLES
- 57a [Gets a lot of attention] MAKES A BIG SPLASH
I honestly didn’t see the theme while solving, so when I realized what it was afterward, it brought a smile to my face. Of course, my first thought was Ernie singing his “Rubber Ducky” song. That was your first thought, too, right?
Fill-wise, MOTOR HOTEL, the un-portmanteau’d version of “motel,” STRETCH OUT, and SCREEN NAME add some sparkle to the grid. I’m not one for SHERBET (I much prefer sorbet), but I like it in the grid.
I’m not keen on ITALS [Slanted letters: Abbr.], but the crosses made it clear enough. I got hung up at 31d [MetLife Stadium team, on scoreboards], thinking it was going to be NYY, and the crossing at 37a [Texas governor Abbott] seemed like it could have been GREY. But of course the correct answers are NYG and GREG respectively.
Everything else is smooth and clean, which is as it should be, given the title.
Four stars from me.
Lynn Lempel’s Universal crossword, “Unhitched”—Rebecca’s review
THEME: Breaking ties – a different type of tie is split between the words of each theme answer.
- 18A [*Parthenon column style] DORIC ORDER
- 24A [*Asti Spumante and Madeira] DESSERT WINES
- 37A [*Fiery-hot chilis] HABANERO PEPPERS
- 53A [*Purple present for a Pisces, perhaps] AMETHYST RING
- 61A [Overtime, e.g., and a hint to what spans the two words of each starred answer] TIE BREAKER
Another day, another puzzle constructed by a woman whose name I’m always excited to see. Clever theme here, with TIE BREAKER the perfect revealer for the splitting of ties that happens in each set of theme answers. The stronger answers for me were definitely HABANERO PEPPERS and DESSERT WINES, but the other two work perfectly well for this theme, even if not the most exciting parts of the puzzle.
Really enjoyable fill today too, with my favorites included DOG BEDS, RED TAPE, ANGORA, ELIXIR, and MAMBA. Another thing that struck me while solving was several crossed words that paired so well together.The quack mentioned in the clue may make a DEAL for that ELIXIR. RED TAPE STOPS progress. And who can’t picture ELMO doing the HOKEY Pokey? Several others here that are more of a stretch, but I always love finding these hidden puzzle stories.
Shana Tova to all who celebrate!
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s write-up
Oh man, this is an *excellent* crossword puzzle. Absolutely perfect way to kick off the week—the long entries are so solid, the clues are tricky but satisfying to crack, and the grid design is unique and interesting. And that word count (64, by my tally)!
- As a bioethics professor, my favorite thing about this puzzle was the long TROLLEY PROBLEM entry. I literally taught the TROLLEY PROBLEM in my research ethics class last week, using this exact scene from The Good Place. In fact, I’m going to get fancy and embed a YouTube video at the bottom of this post just to share the sheer joy of that show and scene.
- BREAD AND ROSES – I feel like a Bad Feminist™ for not knowing this. It’s quite evocative!
- Love to see SHONDALAND and BROAD CITY in the grid
- SASHAY: Wish this had been clued as a Drag Race reference, but I can’t have *all* the things I love in one grid. I’d be spoiled for other themeless puzzles forever.
- USED ONES NOODLE: the only long entry I’m not that into. “Use your noodle,” sure, but I’ve never been a huge fan of using that indefinite pronoun in entries.
- Non-English words I didn’t know but am glad to know now: TOREADOR and MEUNIERE. Natan Last giving out free language lessons (complete with PHONICS and LINEAR A)
Overall, loved this puzzle. It’s a perfect blend of new and old, with some solid misdirects on the cluing (e.g. “Hit squad?” for DRUM CIRCLE. Fantastic.).
P.S. Here’s that TROLLEY PROBLEM video: