Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
I may have made a happy little noise when I saw Lynn’s name on this puzzle. I enjoy her Monday efforts; they are easy and accessible and fun, all at the same time. I didn’t grok the theme until I finished the puzzle and it made me smile when I got it.
- 3d [Smallest possible amount] is the BARE MINIMUM.
- 5d [W.W. I fighter pilot who is Snoopy’s fantasy opponent] is the RED BARON. Curse you!
- 7d [Classic actor who played Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life”] was LIONEL BARRYMORE.
- 40d [Businesses like the Kit Kat Klub in a hit musical] are CABARETS.
And the revealer is at 28d: [Reduce one’s standards, as illustrated, respectively, in 3-, 5-, 7-, 40- and 28-Down], or LOWER THE BAR. I’ve highlighted the grid to demonstrate. I really like the way the revealer completes the theme with BAR down at the bottom of the grid. Very nice.
A few other things:
- 1d [Kids’ construction bricks] are LEGOS. The company insists that LEGO is plural without the added S. Conventional usage disagrees. I figure if you’ve stepped on one barefoot, you get to decide, and I vote for the S.
- 22d [Letters on some American naval vessels] is USS. What’s on the rest of them?
- 28a [Place to set a baby or a napkin] is LAP. I liked that clue. I don’t really know why.
- 45d [Candied Thanksgiving servings] is a timely clue for YAMS.
- 52d [Modern viewing for couch potatoes] is HDTV, not HULU, as I originally thought.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that LIONEL BARRYMORE played Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Probably should have, but did not.
Adam Vincent’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
18A: MONEY MAKER [Lucrative business]
23A: COURT JESTER [Medieval entertainer]
54A: BACKPACKERS [Hostel audience?]
61A: GAG WRITERS [Comedian’s suppliers]
39A: FOLLOWING ORDERS [Doing as told, in the military … or what the starts of the answers to starred clues can literally have?]
Money order, court order, back order, and gag order. Each of the starts to the themers can literally follow “order.” Works for me! The solve was super smooth and LTGEN or ISBNS might have been the toughest fill. A lovely way to end the Thanksgiving holidays!
Stu Ockman’s Universal crossword, “BP”—Rebecca’s review
THEME: Ps turned to Bs
- 18A [Suds evaluation?] BEER REVIEW
- 37A [19th hole?] BAR FOR THE COURSE
- 55A [Well-being of a rude person?] BOOR HEALTH
- 63A [Hamburger parts, or this puzzle’s theme?] BUNS
The theme works, but I think more theme answers would’ve made the puzzle more satisfying overall. I think all of the puns – or BUNS – are entertaining, but it felt a bit thin. BAR FOR THE COURSE was my favorite of the group.
I did like longer answers like AT ANY RATE, SET A TREND, HERE’S TO YOU, and FLIP CHARTS – and the overall grid is really smooth. I just did not connect with a lot of the cluing which made the puzzle feel much more difficult than I expected it to to be. I also enjoy seeing full names of those who have great filler names so the full BOBBY ORR was welcome.
The crossing of K-RATIONS and KLEE for me was a lucky guess – and even after finishing it took a few minutes for me to not read it as KRATIONS.
You didn’t think I’d leave you without some Damn Yankees, did you? Here’s Whatever 14-Across Wants:
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Happy snow day from Central New York (and happy Cybermonday** to everyone else)! This puzzle from Elizabeth Gorski, with its lovely staircase through the middle, was a fun way to start to the week. Not terribly many long entries, but the medium-length and short stuff is mostly pretty fab.
I’ve never heard of the movie RACHEL RACHEL (nor, I must admit, Joanne Woodward), but obviously I was pretty pleased to see RACHEL at 1-Down. Also, as an erstwhile childhood viola player, I was also happy to see VIOLISTS and their associated trivia at 3-Down. In fact, a lot of this puzzle resonated with me today, although it didn’t have the same volume of millennial slang/colloquialisms as other recent New Yorker puzzles. I’m not sure exactly which generation says “SLEAZOID,” but I plan to incorporate it into my vocabulary immediately.
A few other highlights:
- WENT KAPUT – so crunchy!
- DUPING – of which there was none in this puzzle!
- HONEY GLAZED – feels seasonally appropriate
- 19a: Brother from another mother, really – HALF SIBLING
- 31D : Businesses that thrive on high volume sales? – BOOKSHOPS
A few things I could do without:
- The ASSTDA/SST situation in the NE
- The partials ONE I / A MOLE / AT ME / AM OF
Names I didn’t know: just two! The aforementioned Joanna Woodward and Jean-LUC Godard (who I think I must have inferred from knowing Jean-LUC *Picard*)
Overall: mostly excellent, with a a few sticky spots of fill but jam-packed with culture, just like the stack of only partially-read New Yorkers accumulating on my coffee table. Plenty of stars from me.
**PS: if you’re looking to support indie creators on this most cyber day of consumerism, consider supporting the Inkubator if you don’t already!
Caitlin Reid’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Opening Vaults”—Jim P’s review
I love a good title, and this one’s got one, with a double dose of verbal misdirection. Nice. The actual revealer is at 55a [Revives, and a hint to the beginnings of 16-, 22-, 33- and 46-Across]. This turns out to be JUMP STARTS and is our indication that the theme entries all begin with a word that can precede “jump.”
- 16a [Income before benefits and bonuses] BASE SALARY
- 22a [Mathematical operation done in steps] LONG DIVISION
- 33a [Requiring a lot of work and attention] HIGH MAINTENANCE. Nice grid-spanner.
- 46a [Person who can sing, dance and act, say] TRIPLE THREAT. I like this phrase, but I think I normally hear with respect to athletes.
BASE jump, long jump, high jump, triple jump. Slight inconsistency in that three of the four are standard Track and Field events, but BASE jumping is still athletic (and absolutely nutso), so I’ll give it a pass. By the way, if you didn’t know, the BASE in BASE jumping stands for things you can parachute from: Building, Antenna, Span (bridge), Earth (cliff).
LEGITIMATE PRESIDENTS (which accurately describes most of the PRESIDENTS we’ve had) are our marquee entries in the Down direction. Not a whole lot else jumps (haha) out at me (DISCO crossing PETCO strikes me as funny for some reason), but neither is there anything egregious in the fill. There’s somewhat of a reliance on standard crosswordese (A-ONE, ICE T, UTE, OR SO, ABA, UMA, etc.), but on the whole, these didn’t bother me too much. I did just realize that 42d is OPENED which is a dupe of the title. I wonder if it could have become OPINED with a few adjustments.
And that’s all I have. A lively, clean theme and solid fill. 3.6 stars.
NYT: To my mind, it’s a perfect Monday. The puzzle is easy and gettable and yet the theme is unexpected and so elegantly executed, especially with the word BAR appearing at regular intervals and being systematically lowered, as nicely illustrated by Jenni. It’s a little gem.
I agree and all in standard English, no slang no modernisms. HDTV doesn’t count. Thank you.
I totally agree with Huda and Jenni. This puzzle was a pleasure to solve, followed by the aha moment provided by the revealer.
An editing slip in today’s WSJ: Toile is not sheer. Voile is.
According to the internet, USS only appears on currently commissioned Navy ships. Ships that have not yet been commissioned or that are no longer commissioned lack the USS designation.
K rations in Universal puzzle? At the very least it should have been clued with an adjective such as old or obsolete “war fare?” They were not used after 1948.
I underrated the NYT puzzle, not realizing that the BAR was getting lower and lower. For me, it wasn’t easy to see without Jenni’s highlighting. I just thought it was BAR running downwards. (Is the blue PEST in Jenni’s solution a mistake or is something being pointed out?)