Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
This felt harder than a typical Monday, but that may be the ongoing fatigue from a ridiculously long travel day on Friday. It takes me longer to recover than it used to.
The Oscars are tonight – as I type this – and the Monday puzzle gives us familiar phrases clued as if they applied to the movies.
- 17a [Suitable for moviemaking?] is WORTH A SHOT.
- 23a [Movie munchkin, maybe?] is A LITTLE EXTRA. This one made me giggle.
- 37a [Movie clip where the grips, boom operator and gaffer all appear?] is a CREW CUT.
- 47a [Finalize the music for the movie?] is SETTLE A SCORE.
- 57a [Redo of a movie scene?] is a DOUBLE TAKE.
All the phrases are solidly in the language and the clues are amusing. A nice Monday theme.
A few other things:
- Part of the slowdown was dropping in ACER instead of AIWA at 1d, which of course made no sense.
- COUNT NOSES is very appealing to me. I don’t know why, but I find it pleasing.
- Less than a week until pitchers and catchers report! We get umps calling batters (OUT) and balls in play (FAIR).
- I have TSA PREcheck through Global Entry. Highly recommended, although the combo of artificial knee + significant weight loss means I get a pat down every time.
- 57d [Small amount of cream] is a DAB. I guess that’s the kind of cream you rub in rather than put in your coffee.
Haven’t heard (or read) the word MOIL in a long time. I could do without seeing it again any time soon, especially in a Monday puzzle.
Gary Cee’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Blown Away”—Jim P’s review
I flew through this grid in what I think is a personal best. Seems appropriate given the theme.
Each theme answer ends in a word that could also describe the movement of air. IT’S A BREEZE is the revealer at 58a [“Piece of cake!” (and a hint to the ends of 17-, 24-, 37- and 49-Across)].
- 17a [Burst of renewed energy] SECOND WIND. I presume this term originates with sailing in which case “wind” has pretty much the same meaning as “breeze.” Oops, apparently that’s not the case. Most sites I looked up state that this phrase originated with “wind” being used as a synonym of “breath.”
- 24a [Fully edited manuscript] FINAL DRAFT. This is more clear-cut since the meaning of “draft” changes from the base phrase.
- 37a [Outlet output] ELECTRIC CURRENT.
- 49a [Skinny Apple laptop] MACBOOK AIR. I don’t see how this one works. “Air” is not a breeze; a breeze is the movement of air.
So that last one seems like an outlier to me. Are there any alternatives that could be used? Puff, maybe? POWDER PUFF fits, too.
As I said, I flew threw the grid, so that must mean the fill is smooth and clean, right? Pretty much, yeah. The long Downs are nice (BUCCANEER, UNDER FIRE, ACROBATIC, RELAY TEAM), and there’s really nothing that IRKS (check that; not a fan of LIRR [Line between Manhattan and Montauk: Abbr.]). Cluing is very straightforward, with nothing I feel I need to single out.
Apart from one outlier in the theme, this truly was a breezy Monday grid. 3.5 stars.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
For the New Yorker’s “Anniversary Issue,” we have a tribute puzzle to the TOP HAT wearing mascot of the magazine (and the puzzle). I’ve gotten so used to reviewing themelesses over here that I barely know what to do with myself when faced with an honest-to-goodness theme! I’ll do my best.
Theme: HAT rebuses as a tribute to “Dandy (EUSTACE) Tilley, who is often seen wearing something found in eight squares in this puzzle”
- THE MAD [HAT]TER / MA[HAT]MA
- C[HAT]EAU NOIR / T[HAT]CH
- HI[HAT] / T[HAT] WAS NICE
- [HAT]ERS / [HAT]S OFF
- HARD [HAT] / OLD [HAT]
- W[HAT]’S A / [HAT] PIN
- ANNE [HAT]HAWAY / TOP [HAT]
- AR[HAT] / [HAT]TIE
So, this was entertaining, but the big draw of rebuses (for me) is not knowing that there’s going to be a rebus… so when the site announced the mechanics for how to fill in a rebus before launching the puzzle, that sort of took away the element of surprise that usually makes rebuses feel satisfying.
I’m also (as I have been surprised to learn about myself in the course of solving this puzzle) a bit of a stickler for the NYT standard of having the rebus letters either span multiple words or not mean the same thing in multiple entries. In the themers above, I highlighted the instances when the rebus literally just mean HAT. I think having one like that would be fine, but having 5 or 6 (depending on how you count MAD [HAT]TER) literal HATs in the grid was a little excessive.
Given the density of the theme (eight HATs!), the fill is pretty good! That said, I think I’d have preferred less theme (maybe cutting the literal HATs) if it meant less of ATWO SOAS ARP TOV MSDOS IED AMS.
Overall, some stars for a cute puzzle concept, but I hope the themelesses come back soon!
Gail Grabowski & Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
This power duo is back again with a potter-inspired (but not Harry Potter-inspired puzzle):
17A: CLAIM FORM [Bit of insurance paperwork]
27A: OUT OF FASHION [No longer in style]
49A: GET INTO SHAPE [Work our regularly at the gym]
64A: BREAD MOLD [Fungus on an old loaf]
72A: CLAY [Potter’s material associated with the end of 17-, 27-, 49- and 64-Across]
I think the theme here is that the last word of each theme entry is what you can do to CLAY: form it, fashion it, shape it, and mold it. I also know that a form and a mold are both nouns associated with CLAY, so maybe that? It doesn’t feel as tight of a theme as maybe I want it to be – or maybe the themers work but they could also be describing dough or other shapeable objects so the overall idea didn’t fully click for me. Otherwise, the puzzle felt nice and straightforward for a Monday, aside maybe from the ZORBA / CRIS crossing, LON, and RUR.
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword Themeless Monday #555—Jim Q’s review
No music references and very light on names! That coupled with some very clever cluing made this a different, yet thoroughly enjoyable and difficult BEQ themeless.
- 14A [“Amen, brother”] SO RIGHT. Without “You’re” in front, SO RIGHT sounds kinda sarcastic to me, but I still liked it.
18A [Evening moment] TIE SCORE. Who amongst us didn’t think “Evening” was referring to night time?
- 19A [Some Twihards] TEAM EDWARD. Ah! The Twilight series. Is that still a thing?
- 26A [Very excited or angry] APE SHIT.
- 43A [Pictures of milk] LATTE ART.
Laugh moment for me at 24A [Salad bar selection] ENDIVE. I guess I need to start visiting swankier salad bars! Or maybe I just never see the ENDIVE. I’m more of a “throw some ranch dressing on that iceberg lettuce and call it a day” kinda guy.
Liked the fun fact at 1D [First woman inducted into the Harvey Award Hall of Fame for cartooning] CHAST. Loved the interview with her on Fresh Air.
I don’t understand the clue for 36D [Piece of wax] RECORD. Any help?
Overall, very fun puzzle impressively filled at a super low word count (58!).