John Lampkin’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
The week of women at the NYT is over. This is a nice Monday offering which coincidentally shares a theme answer with Sunday’s brilliant puzzle. This one has units of weight in each theme answer; the weights go up as the answers move down in the puzzle.
- 18a [What you should take dubious advice with] is, of course, a GRAIN OF SALT.
- 29a [What a complete fool lacks] is an OUNCE OF SENSE.
- 46a [Shylock’s harsh demand, in “The Merchant of Venice”] is a POUND OF FLESH.
- 58a [What “it” may hit you like] is a TON OF BRICKS.
A solid, accessible Monday theme. I find it a little awkward that the theme answers don’t include the articles, which are all a standard part of the phrase, but at least none of them have the article. If some did and some didn’t, that would be really annoying.
I really liked the cluing in this puzzle! It was fresh without being too challenging for a Monday – at least as far as I can tell. I haven’t found a Monday challenging in nearly 50 years, so I may not be the best judge.
A few other things:
- I slowed myself down by plopping in PUB for 1a, [Tavern]. It’s BAR.
- 20a [“If I’m wrong, I’ll eat ___!”] MY HAT is so much fun that I don’t mind the partial.
- 38a [Letter between oh and cue] is a cute clue for PEE, getting around the obvious but unpleasant one.
- I enjoyed the COO and GOO crossing, both clued as sounds (dove and babies, respectively).
- I was less pleased about the juxtaposition of ARES and ARE. It’s not really a dupe since the war god and the verb are not related to each other at all. It looks like a dupe, though.
- Another fun clue at 60d: [Q: Why is a flower like the letter A? A: Because a ___ goes after it] for BEE.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: once again, I got nothing. I had a bunch for Sunday’s LAT, so it all evens out.
Debbie Ellerin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pick Up the Pace”—Jim P’s review
Let’s make this quick!
Each theme answer consists of two words and each word can precede TIME. Hence the revealer DOUBLE TIME (58a, [Holiday pay rate, perhaps, and a hint to what can follow each word of each starred answer]).
- 17a [*Size for a petite person] EXTRA SMALL. Extra time, small-time.
- 21a [*Comment accompanying an eye roll] SPARE ME. Spare time, me time. Fun entry.
- 32a [*Look of determination] GAME FACE. Game time, FaceTime. Another fun one.
- 42a [*Like an optimist’s glass] HALF FULL. Half time, Full-time.
- 51a [*Blimp] AIRSHIP. Air time, ship time. Ship time? This is the only one I have to question. Is it referring to what I normally would call “shipping time” (i.e. the time it takes an e-tailer to send you a package) or nautical time (i.e. the time as kept aboard a ship, like a cruise ship or navy ship).
Despite that last one, I enjoyed this theme and this type of theme overall, especially when there are fun entries like SPARE ME and GAME FACE.
In keeping with the alacrity in the theme, our long fill feels theme-adjacent with MINUTE RICE and those slow-poke LATECOMERS. A fun touch. Other goodies: GET REAL, FLOATER, SCARAB, and SURMISE which looks like “sunrise” so it always gives me a positive vibe. And MALICE makes me think of the New Wave hit “Town Called Malice” (see below).
Welp, ALL’S well that ends well. A quick and lively theme. 3.75 stars.
Kameron Austin Collins’ New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
I’m not sure if it’s my own lack of coffee, the lingering effects of daylight savings, or the puzzle itself, but I didn’t get a whole lot of joy out of this solve. There are definitely some parts I liked (most of the long stuff), but today I found the sticky spots to be *particularly* sticky.
First, the stuff I liked: the long 11s in the NW and SE were all pretty solid, with the possible exception of ECO-THRILLER. I loved CREME BRULEE, AFAM STUDIES, and PUMICE STONE, but I am not a big fan of adding ECO- as a modifier. ECO-THRILLER (“Hair-raiser about rising sea levels, say”) is definitely a thing that googles, but it just doesn’t do much for me. UNREAD EMAIL is great (and probably a place where a parallel clue about hair-raising could be used— seeing a friend’s phone with 1,345,436 UNREAD EMAILs is the sort of thing that sends my heart rate through the roof). I also liked JAMBALAYA and FREE STATE, although I have yet to correctly spell JAMBALAYA on a first attempt.
Now the bad news… For one, the word for an Italian grandma is spelled *Nonna,* with two Ns. I was trying to figure out what the wordplay was on that clue due to the dropped second N, and then got a little cranky when I realized it was just a typo/oversight and there was no wordplay (I realize that this is probably a problem very unique to me). And due to my aforementioned inability to spell JAMBALAYA (which I spelled wrong again in typing it out just now), I struggled with YADA crossing YEAR-END and LAB TABLE crossing BED. I suppose YADA is a “Blah alternative” in that either could be tripled to mean “and so on” or whatever, but since the tripling wasn’t hinted at in the clue, this was a major struggle for me. Similarly, I didn’t see how BED could be a 1-to-1 for “Lettuce, at times” until just now, when I realized you could have a BED *of* lettuce on which your other food rests. In this case I’m pretty sure that synapse’s delay in firing can be attributed to my lack of caffeine/DST sleep.
A few more things:
- Fill I could live without: DYERS, ACH, RAS, UMM (especially as clued)
- Almost no proper names in this one!
- Love seeing UHAUL clued for queer women’s tendencies to move in together right away (guilty).
- Had to google what a CESSNA is
- Lol’d at the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs getting the nod in 1-D as members of the NCAA
Overall, not my favorite New Yorker themeless, but a solid offering nonetheless from Kameron, whose byline we haven’t seen in a while from the New Yorker rotating roster. Kam: more puzzles please!
Anna Gundlach’s Universal crossword, “In-Group”—Rebecca’s review
THEME: Hidden bands clued as though a song from the hidden band were being played by the longer-named group
- 20A [“Poison” group playing “Whip It”?] BELL BIV DEVOE
- 35A [“You Can’t Hurry Love” group playing “Losing My Religion”?] THE SUPREMES
- 52A [“Paranoid” group playing “Waterloo”?] BLACK SABBATH
- 1A/67A [With 67-Across, musical acts that are a theme hint] COVER / BANDS
Beautifully done easy puzzle to start the week with. Really fun theme that pulls together two very different musical groups as COVER BANDS. I got that answer pretty early into the solve, so as soon as I came across the themers, I had an idea of what was going on. Made for a quick, and very entertaining solve. I think my favorite one to think about is probably THE SUPREMES singing “Losing My Religion” but really all three clues evoke thoughts of entertainingly absurd mash-ups.
Of course, I also had to find out if any of these artist combinations existed and the internet did not fail me. While I would’ve loved to see what BLACK SABBATH could do with Waterloo – this video doesn’t disappoint.
As far as fill goes, lots of fun here too. SPELUNK is a great word -and I can see the same unenthusiastic answering both OK BY ME and NOT MUCH in the same conversation. Other longer downs like TAKE NOTES, DOORMAT, and CHEMICALS helped to make this a really smooth solve.
Clue of the day goes to ADAM [No. 1 dad?].
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword Themeless Monday #559—Jim Q’s review
NOW THE FUN BEGINS! I’d say that holds up! Great puzzle today from BEQ.
Found my foothold in the SW and steadily circumnavigated the puzzle with only a couple hiccups.
- 35D [Unique individual] RARE BIRD. A close relative of the ODD DUCK.
- 27A [Geography mnemonic that’s all wet] HOMES. Fun clue! No crosses needed. I think this was the first answer I entered.
- 17A [Alerts for those with sensitive constitutions] TRIGGER WARNINGS. “Sensitive constitutions.” That’s a phrase I need to use more.
- 1A [Cut out for dinner?] BEEF LOIN. Anyone else have PORK LOIN?
- 41D [___ of the North] NANOOK. I saw parts of this movie recently. I forget why and in what context. I do remember thinking it was not very good.
And my favorite clue:
- 38A [Toy with a missing piece] KEN. You have to think about for a second, but indeed Barbie’s beau is missing a piece for sure.
Not too many side-eye moments. TEN TO TEN seems bizarre (I wonder how many specific times are in BEQ’s word list!). ONE PM is there too! BOTNET was new to me, but I like it.
Fred Piscop’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
11D: FISHING HOLE [Place for rural anglers]
17A: BANANA SPLIT [Fruity ice cream treat]
25D: WENT ON A TEAR [Won 10 in a row, say]
63A: HIT A HOME RUN [Knock one out of the park]
40A: SEWED UP [Fixed, like the ends of the answers to starred clues]
Each of the theme entries ends with a word – HOLE, SPLIT, TEAR, RUN – that can be SEWED UP. The revealer feels off to me, since it doesn’t say anything about the theme entries themselves, rather something that can be done to all of them. I would have preferred a revealer that either hinted at how those openings formed or maybe this didn’t need a revealer? Instead, maybe a fifth theme entry that ends with rip?
– Nancy PELOSI, SHE, and IMAN are the women in our grid today. Oh, and NEFERTITI, who was a nice bit of long fill to include! Is this the first puzzle in ages where at least half of the women in the puzzle (as small a number as that might be) are women of color?
– “Life of Pi” and “Game of Thrones” seem to be the most current references in this puzzle, though they clue more generic fill. We also have E-cigarettes, TSA, and Nancy PELOSI. Those last two might be the most recent in-grid fill references in this puzzle. That said, this puzzle legitimately could have been written a decade or more ago with slightly different cluing. That, to me, isn’t as exciting as a solver.
WSJ – 51A [Blimp] AIRSHIP. Specifically, what is SHIP time? Maybe something to do with standardized
time on a cruise ship (see here, and another discussion here)?
[NYT] . . . and after the O-so-Qt clue for 38A:PEE. the next Across, 39A:PLY, is clued via toilet paper ;-)
I thought the New Yorker was a mess.
that is all
The New Yorker puzzle was and is a mess, I agree.
NYer: Is SUNDAYSAUCE really a thing? That and LABTABLE seem pretty random to me. I had an incorrect cross with UMS/AFASSTUDIES — I had to google steak-umm and hadn’t heard of AFAMSTUDIES as an abbreviation. Also didn’t know NARUTO. Not my brand of trivia.
SUNDAY SAUCE — or SUNDAY Gravy — is definitely a thing. A staple of Italian American comfort food. Google it and you’ll find the internet full of stories and recipes.
LAB TABLE is also worth googling: it’s what you call the archetypal black-topped table in most every science class in the country — and it’s been around for many decades.
On campuses and beyond, calling it AF. AM. STUDIES is about as natural and common as calling chemistry “chem,” biology “bio,” or economics “econ.”
You’ll all have to grow more comfortable living with the idea of ECO-THRILLER, seeing as how we are currently living in one!
In my day (which was also in a different country) we referred to the black-topped tables in science labs as lab benches. Don’t know why. And we didn’t have Af Am Studies, needless to say.
As I said, this was just a bunch of stuff that was beyond my ken. Nothing wrong with that but it made the puzzle extra puzzling for me.
I knew it as a LAB Bench also, but in this country, albeit many moons ago.
“Steak ums” and “AFAS Studies” are both googleable things. So I got stuck there too.
The idea is for the “The Souls of BLACK Folk” to be a tell, there.
I did have Steak-UMS first, but AFASSTUDIES was plainly wrong so I UMMed it.
Did not know of SUNDAY SAUCE but Googled it after finishing the puzzle (in a Fri NYT amount of time). This blog post accompanying a recipe is a good read.
Loved the long fill! So fresh within the crossword arena.
Steak-UMM while correct begs UMS
ECO THRILLER? I hope everyone here has read Michael Crichton’s State Of Fear, including the appendix.
Jersey Italian is not a compliment most places (not NJ) I’ve been, just sayin’
That recipe is basically homemade IT.AM. red sauce with a wee thing here & there. I don’t know what finely chopped (Pauley?) Walnuts will add to meatballs though …
Ha! Having grown up in NJ during the Sopranos / Jersey Shore era, I saw the Jersey Italian Culture Wars play out firsthand. SUNDAY SAUCE is the esteemed category of food names that I originally learned from The Sopranos (like “gabagool”).
In my beloved Jersey Italians’ defense, you gotta check out the great recipe channel on Youtube, from the late nonna* Gina Petitti, called “Buon-A-Petitti.” She’s an absolute blast. Here’s her sunday sauce (with some family stories mixed in for good measure): https://youtu.be/NFnKaAnXQiY
“Gabagool” is of course capicola.
Italian-American vocabulary is heavily influenced by Sicilian dialect. Another notable example: “scungilli” vs conchiglia.
With all due respect to the brilliant constructor Kameron – I am a second generation Bronx & Jersey Italian. It isn’t sauce regardless what the TV Sopranos script; traditionally it’s called gravy. And Nonna has 2 N’s so either use that spelling to refer to my mother’s mother or use “none.” Grazie