Gary Cee’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
This is a nice Monday puzzle. The theme was not obvious to me until I saw the revealer in the middle.
The revealer: 39a [“I’m deeply indebted” … or a hint to the ends of 17-, 25-, 51- and 64-Across]. THAT MEANS A LOT TO ME. The last word in each of the theme answers means “a lot.”
- 17a [Junk pile] is SCRAP HEAP.
- 25a [Triple Crown winner of 1977] is SEATTLE SLEW. I had the SA, didn’t look at the year, and dropped in SECRETARIAT. Nope.
- 51a [Power source for an electric vehicle] is a BATTERY PACK. We have a Hyundai Kona EV. We love it! We also have solar panels so most days we run it on sunshine.
- 64a [Easter event in Vatican City] is a PAPAL MASS.
HEAP, SLEW, PACK, and MASS. Consistent, solid, and Monday-accessible theme. Nice!
A few other things:
- I love OPEN ARMS at 6d. I just like the expression.
- 28a [Drummer Ringo] is STARR. Maybe we can get more Brenda and less Ringo and Ken.
- 27d [Toward sunrise] is, of course, EAST. I looked at a website yesterday that informed me that since the overlook faces west, it’s a great place to watch the sun rise. Um.
- 31d [Detectives, informally] are P.I.S. Yesterday was PI day! Did you have PIE?
- I enjoyed the crossing of TRIAL and TRAIL. Just ’cause.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the ALCAN Highway runs through Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
This felt really hard! My time is only slightly higher than my normal New Yorker Monday, but I felt like I was flailing around for a good portion of my solve. That said, I *really* like this puzzle. There’s so much fun stuff in it that I don’t even really care about the few small issues and one medium-sized issue I came across.
First, these 11 stacks, MY STARS! They’re so good! We have JUNK SCIENCE / ONE SHOT DEAL / SEGWAY TOURS in the NW (I had SubWAY TOURS in there for almost my whole solve, and that’s definitely not a thing, so that’s on me). The SW is equally fabulous with I’M NOT A ROBOT / PETRODOLLAR / SESAME SEEDS. I’d never heard of PETRODOLLARs (Coinage fo the 1973 oil crisis), but it was pretty inferable.
- HANGRY (and that clue! “Not to be spoken to until fed” — this really resonates with me and how I live my life)
- One of my favorite cocktails, the Vieux CARRÉ, and my absolute least-favorite, NEGRONIS (NEGRONIS: good for crosswords, bad for drinking).
- Cute OVERLOAD – both colloquial and a former website we should probably all petition to bring back while living through social distancing for the indefinite future
- BOSSYPANTS – love it and Tina Fey and its weirdo cover
Three small issues and one medium issue:
- Small dubious plural: HISSINGS.
- Small “who???”: EBRO. Is that like, e-ink, e-reader, e-mag, E-BRO? Google tells me no, it’s just a nickname that is short for Ibrahim.
- Small “is that an A or an O in the middle???”: NEUTROGENA (see: EBRO above)
- Medium thing: Ok, the crossings of EIDOLON/NAN/KIDS feel pretty unfair. Never heard of EIDOLON, not familiar with NAN Talese (only knew Gay Talese, who is her husband, apparently), and if you, like me, don’t know KIDS or Harmony Korine, it just as easily could have been KISS or KIPS or KINS or any number of KI_S things.
- Names I didn’t know: REI Kawakubo (seems like it would have been pretty easy to use the outdoors store REI here, but the crosses were fair), EBRO, Harmony Korine, Anouk AIMÉE
- Favorite wordplay: Star close to Venus? for SERENA
Overall, this puzzle was awesome. Hard, but full of really great long and medium-length entries and updated cluing. A good way to kick off a week of working from home! In honor of this puzzle I will be having a Vieux CARRÉ later. Lots of stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword Themeless Monday #560—Jim Q’s review
Wasn’t feeling this one today. I don’t think it’s the puzzle’s fault all that much. I’m supposed to be at work and the mood feels surreal. Found it hard to want to tackle the harder parts of this puzzle.
- 34D [Nickname for WWE superstar Bray Wyatt] THE FIEND. Never heard of
Bray Wyatt or his nickname, but I had to highlight that answer for obvious reasons.
- 57A [Group known for their melodic hits?] STEEL BAND. I started falling apart here while solving because I inexplicably entered STEELY DAN and refused to change it.
- 34A [Sample request?] TRY THIS. Did this need a question mark?
- 16A [Be an influencer] HAVE CLOUT. CLOUT is a fun word to say.
There was more I didn’t like. Seemed like a lot of cross-referenced clues and answers I didn’t know/couldn’t infer. Some of those included LEORA, TGV, and THALIARD. Maybe not as many as I initially thought now that I look over the grid. I should’ve done better with this.
Is NO ESCAPE a feeling? I guess so. I always thought of it more as a situation. Also, there are a lot of Greek gods/goddesses that begin with HE- I just found out. HELIOS, HERMES, and HESTIA are three that share the same number of letters as HECATE. Then there’s HERACLES and HEPHAESTUS…
Winston Emmons’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Battery Included”—Jim P’s review
Sorry for the late post. Haven’t been feeling too well lately.
I solved this without realizing what the theme was. Post-solve I went back and looked at the title, and then started looking for types of batteries. Bzzt! Wrong. Each theme entry starts with a word that’s a synonym for pummel.
- 17a [Vessel at a holiday party] PUNCH BOWL
- 24a [Lunch item with cocktail picks] CLUB SANDWICH
- 40a [Billboard chart topper] HIT SONG
- 5a [Journalist with a particular field of coverage] BEAT REPORTER
- 64a [Sara Lee product] POUND CAKE
Pretty violent theme, and given the pounding headache I’ve had for 24 hours, I’m not well-disposed to it. But I don’t really have a problem with it. It’s straightforward and it works.
The solve as a whole was super-smooth; I don’t know that I had to go back and make a single correction. That said, there isn’t anything terribly sparkly in the fill; CARACAS and TENNESSEE being the highlights. Clues are very straightforward today allowing for a quick solve.
And that’s about it. 3.4 stars from me.
Lee Taylor’s Universal crossword, “It’s Not Rocket Science”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Spacey terms with non-spacey clues.
- 17a [Flaky person] SPACE CADET
- 25a [Dance move once known as a backslide] MOONWALK
- 37a [Dark and inescapable situation] BLACK HOLE
- 53a [Chocolate bar with caramel] MILKY WAY
- 63a [Headquarters, slangily] MOTHERSHIP
Fun entries, although I never knew SPACE CADET had any other meaning aside from its derogatory one. I guess originally it meant what you would think it meant (astronaut trainee), but I highly doubt anyone is using it that way anymore. And for MOTHERSHIP we also would have accepted [Led Zeppelin compilation album of 2007].
The corners are impressive in this one, each of them with stacks of 7×3. I especially like the SW corner. PEACOAT and PAGODA are also worth highlighting.
One clue of note. I wanted APPS for [“LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Tinder,” e.g.], but once I filled in the last M, I got its meaning. It’s referring to the MEME a few weeks back (that was actually started by Dolly Parton!), in which a user posts what their profile pic might look like on those four apps, i.e. businesslike, friendly, artistic, and risqué. A number of other celebrities got into the act. My wife and I play “Animal Crossing Pocket Camp” (don’t judge!) on our phones, and here’s one I did up for this MEME.
Nice puzzle. 3.5 stars.
Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
I hope everyone is staying safe, sane, healthy, and away from each other as we work together to curb the spread of this virus! Thank goodness for crosswords to keep us company during these anxiety-inducing times! I just switched to my first day of teaching high school students online (!), so forgive me if my writeups this week are brief. It’s been quite the adjustment to run classes via Zoom! I hope you’re all adjusting well to any disruptions or changes in your own life.
20A: MOUNTAIN ROADS (with MOUN DS circled) [Winding, hilly thoroughfares]
28A: PLAY FOR KEEPS (with P EEPS circled) [Not kids around]
49A: DOUBLE AGENTS (with DO TS circled) [Traitorous spies]
59A: CANDY WRAPPERS [Halloween discards, and what the three sets of circles represent?]
Each of the theme answers is “wrapped” in a candy: Mounds, Peeps (though these are more for Easter than Halloween?), and Dots. Cute idea, though I almost would have liked it more as a 21x puzzle as a way to explore lots of different candies wrapped around fun phrases. MOUSE EARS, KLINGON, and SBARRO were fun to see in the grid; UNPC not so much.