Keiran King’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
I did this on paper at first because the notepad says “In the print version of this puzzle, 1-, 4-, 9-, 16-, 25-, 36- and 49-Down have a mathematical radical sign before their clue numbers.” I could have done it on the computer without missing anything. It’s a thin theme. I filled it in on the computer afterward so you all didn’t have to deal with a bad picture of my handwriting.
Each theme answer is very literal: it’s the square root of the clue number. 1d is ONE, 4d is TWO, 9d is THREE, 16d is FOUR, 25d is FIVE, 36d is SIX, and 49d is SEVEN. Just in case someone missed the point, we have 60a [Some Down answers in this puzzle]: SQUARE ROOTS. And that’s all. It’s certainly an accessible Monday theme. I hope new solvers keep at it. Even Monday puzzles are usually more fun than this.
Since it’s Monday, the rest of the fill is straightforward. Nothing really bothered me; nothing stood out as particularly notable or enjoyable.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that THOREAU wrote “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty.”
Jeff Stillman’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
We have a bit of alphabet soup in today’s LAT grid – let’s C what we’ve got:
20A: KAY CORLEONE [Diane Keaton’s role in “The Godfather” films]
33A: BEA ARTHUR [“Maude” star]
39A: JAY GATSBY [Fitzgerald’s “Great” title character]
50A: ELLE FANNING [“Maleficent” actress]
Each of the theme entries starts with a name that sounds like a letter of the English alphabet: K, B, J, L. I’m not sure if there’s more to the theme or if we’re supposed to spell something out from here, but fine enough for a Monday as is. I was pleased that three of the four themers were women, and it was interesting to have a 2/2 split between fictional characters and real-life actors. Also, my gayness wouldn’t allow me to comment on this puzzle without referencing the enormous impact that BEA ARTHUR has had on me and so many other gay people through her leading role in “The Golden Girls.” Thank you for being a friend, Bea!
– I almost didn’t finish because I’m not familiar with “The Godfather” and almost couldn’t grok the TOCCATA / KAY CORLEONE crossing. I can see ANYA being a tough crossing for a few folks up there, too.
– I was so glad that HIT ON was clued via finding a solution rather than in terms of hitting on someone. I always find that iteration creepy.
Constance Burnikel & Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “I Get Around”—Jim P’s review
Another debut puzzle. This time, our newest constructor appears to be a relation of veteran grid-wrangler Zhouqin Burnikel. Congratulations, Constance!
Our theme today is a simple one, but filled with fun and lively entries. Each theme answer ends with a method of “getting around.”
- 17a [Portable storage device] FLASH DRIVE
- 24a [Angler’s fishing lure] ARTIFICIAL FLY. I’m not sure how in-the-language this phrase is since I’m not much of a fisherman, but I want to say “fly lure” would be the more common term.
- 48a [Arrogant leader] COCK OF THE WALK
- 58a [Set of shows with a predetermined end date] LIMITED RUN
Fun, yet accessible theme.
And the fill is funner still: “I’M AT A LOSS,” GOOD KARMA, STRIKE PAY, SNAIL MAIL, TEE TIME, and ALFALFA are all great entries. I like timely TARIFF and colorful CERISE as well.
I could really do without SSR (and its kin, SST). It especially seems to be out of place in a Monday grid when new solvers might have no idea what it’s referring to (Soviet Socialist Republic).
The only other hang-up was putting in LET ME at 64a [“I wanna have a turn!”], but I guess the “wanna” is telegraphing that the correct answer should be LEMME. Subtle, but unmistakable hint there.
Very nice grid. This was a smooth and fun-filled start to the week. 3.8 stars.
Evan Kalish’s Universal crossword, “Playing Doctor”—Rebecca’s review
THEME: SHAM appears in each theme answer, hinted at by DEEPFAKE
- 23A [Place for dirty laundry] CLOTHES HAMPER
- 34A [Jose Andres, for one] SPANISH AMERICAN
- 46A [Centerpieces at yuletide dinners] CHRISTMAS HAMS
- 54A [Convincing, algorithmically generated video … and a hint to the word concealed in 17-, 23-, 34- and 46-Across] DEEPFAKE
A good idea for a puzzle, even if the theme is a bit depressing, as everything DEEPFAKE related is increasing horrifying. Hiding SHAM in each theme answer works for the purposes of the theme.
Some nice fill here, much of which was more fun than the theme answers. Favorites were ROSHAMBO, A CUT ABOVE, DUST MITE, ISLE OF MAN, SNIVEL, RIESLING, TA-NEHISI and SHIITAKE
Overall the puzzle is pretty smooth. I did feel like there were a few places where I was getting stuck, but looking back after solving there’s nowhere that has any particularly difficult areas.
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s write-up
This offering from Anna Shechtman is very much in keeping with the trend of more-challenging Monday puzzles. The long entries were splendid (GIRLS WHO CODE and APEROL SPRITZ), and there were a few standout entries scattered across the grid. Unfortunately, the overall effect of those beautiful marquee entries was somewhat marred by a smattering of fill that didn’t meet the standard we’ve come to expect from New Yorker puzzles. The cluing was also much heavier on trivia and lighter on wordplay than I’d prefer, so this ended up being one of the less enjoyable New Yorker themelesses.
First, things I liked:
- The entry/clue pairs that feature the language of digital natives: NO FILTER, DMED, and ON HERE
- The admirable restraint on the CROSSFIT clue (I don’t know that I could clue CROSSFIT without including the word “cult,” don’t @ me)
- The aforementioned marquee entries
- The clue on A PEACH (“What Prufrock dares not eat”)
Things I did not like:
- FRIES AN EGG seems a little arbitrary as a standalone
- Is OPES crossing OPENEYED a dupe? I’m open to being convinced that it’s not, but it sure seemed like one in the moment
- Rough fill: COR, CONF next to ANDI, PATEN, and for the life of me I cannot understand why SASES is still a thing people have on their wordlists.
Names I didn’t know:
- SARA RUE
- Nevil SHUTE
- Either of the LERNERS
Overall, not my favorite NYer I’ve solved recently, but there were definitely some shining moments!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword, Themeless Monday #537—Jim Q’s review
This one ran the gamut of very easy to distractingly difficult for me. Started with a confident bang in the northwest, but that fizzled in the northeast. The southwest was another head-scratcher.
- 58A [Words of person clearing the way] ONE SIDE. I don’t get it. I’ve never heard
anyone say this. I’ve heard ONE LINE! screamed on a daily basis by exasperated lunch monitors in the school cafeteria. But never ONE SIDE. This was made more difficult by the fact that MIDI could also be MINI. And the clue for EST was super obscure: 55D [Outgrowth of the human potential movement]. Erhard Seminars Training? Like, huh? Here’s the Wikipedia page on that. There’s nothing about EST on the relatively short “Human Potential Movement” Wikipedia page.
- 49A [Midge’s best friend on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”] IMOGENE. Started watching this show recently. Still needed every cross.
- 13D [Jet problem?] TURF TOE. Had a feeling this was football related. But I’ve never heard of TURF TOE. Seems to be the equivalent of a jammed finger… except instead it’s a jammed big toe. TURF TOE. The words alone sound gross.
- 5D [Yemeni city] TAIZ. If you say so.
- 2D [Classic work of divination] I CHING. This feels like something I should’ve known.
- 29A [Triply initialled author who created the detective Inspector Hanaud (who was the template for Hercule Poirot)] A.E.W. MASON. At least we knew it was gonna look weird, thanks to the hint in the clue referencing the initialism.
- 21D [Hot floor decor] HEARTH RUG. Seems to be a popular item. Google knew exactly what I was looking for. New to me though.
- 37A [Gossip] SPILL THE TEA. BEQ has the benefit of being able to publish a hot phrase while it’s still hot. I have a feeling this one is leaving the vernacular soon, but as of now it’s definitely still a thing.
- 17A [Show whose third season partially took place in “Hamsterdam”] THE WIRE. I keep trying to watch this show. No one ever says anything bad about it. Only raves. Yet I can’t get past the first four episodes.
- 16A [“… I am totes confused”] LIKE, HUH?
- 1D [Chubs] FATSO. Just plain mean.
A lot of this felt unnecessarily difficult. Not sure if that great trip-stack in the middle was enough to keep it entirely enjoyable.