Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
That time may be a record for me, if I kept track of such things. I enjoyed the puzzle. I noticed part of the theme pattern but not the whole thing, so the revealer gave me a pleasant – well, you’ll see. The theme answers:
- 17a [Thin variety of pasta] is ANGEL HAIR.
- 24a [Competitor of Home Depot and Lowe’s] is ACE HARDWARE.
- 40a [“Don’t worry, it’s not your fault”] is ACCIDENTS HAPPEN.
- 50a [Talk show host who won a season of “Celebrity Apprentice”] is ARSENIO HALL.
I noticed the A-H pattern, but not what came after the H. 64a showed me the light: [Sudden insight … with a hint to 17-, 24-, 40- and 50-Across] is an AHA MOMENT. That’s a lovely Monday theme.
A few other things:
- 1a [Q-tip, e.g.] is a SWAB. Seriously, people, do not stick it in your ear. In the last three weeks I’ve seen one perforated eardrum, two wax impactions, and a raging infection all because people ignored their mother’s advice not to stick anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.
- 11d [Doughnut shop attraction] is the AROMA. Mmm, doughnuts.
- I like the long non-thematic down entries: THROWS OPEN and EPIC HEROES.
- Who knows what GPAS will mean for high school and college students in the COVID era? Our local district will start online instruction tomorrow – yes, forty days after the schools closed. It’s an economically challenged district and they had to find a way to get computers to all the kids. The shutdown is making the economic gap between rich and poor more evident and more severe.
- I have done my best to SIP my pre-dinner cocktail. It was yummy.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that ARSENIO HALL won a season of “Celebrity Apprentice.” Hey, remember when Donald Trump was a faintly ridiculous reality TV star? Good times.
Gail Grabowski & Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
Happy Monday! I’m grateful to the puzzles I’ve been reviewing for this site because it helps me keep track of which days are which. I hope crosswords bring you the same, along with the joy and fun of a satisfying solve. Onto today’s puzzle by the power duo of Gail and Bruce:
20A: WAITING GAME [Strategy with delaying tactics]
27A: PUBLIC STORAGE [Rental industry with units for extra belongings]
49A: FAMILY MEETING [Household gathering to discuss something]
56A: DOUBLE ROOMS [Hotel accommodations for couples, and a hint to both parts of 20-, 27- and 49-Across]
I’m always smitten by themes like this because it must taken some dutiful work to find themers that work with both words (waiting room and game room, public room and storage room, etc.) and are symmetrical with each other and the revealer. There’s certainly room for me to grow as a constructor with themes like these, so thanks to this duo for showing us a bit more of the ropes! Bonus points to the constructors for letting us all imagine that we have developed muscles like an ab or PEC – especially during all the comfort eating taking place these days! Also, I learned to new words in this puzzle: a tree trunk can be called a BOLE and a fake coin is a SLUG. Whenever I don’t pay attention to new words like this, they always come up again super soon in a future puzzle, so time for me to pay attention. : )
Adam Vincent’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Vacation Club”—Jim P’s review
Our theme is phrases whose first words can have something to do with vacations (though they don’t in the original phrases). The second words also change meaning from the original.
- 17a [Telegrams from a vacation?] TRIP WIRES
- 28a [Reason for a vacation?] GETAWAY DRIVER.
- 46a [Drink on a vacation?] HOLIDAY SPIRIT
- 63a [Small island for a vacation?] ESCAPE KEY
Solid work here. Very consistent. Oftentimes in themes like this where the focus is on one set of words (the first ones in this case), there might be some inconsistencies elsewhere. Not so here where the second words each change meaning as well. This includes DRIVER which is altered in an unexpected but rewarding way. Well done.
The fill felt clean throughout with highlights SAYONARA, TOP CHEF, FOOTSIE, ZIPPERS, and a SADISTIC MINDSET. Oops, I missed THE MAN whom you can feel free to BOO HISS. A lot of fun ones there!
Clues of note:
- 10d. [Some business conducted under the table?]. FOOTSIE. Not sure it’s ever been called “business,” but it goes along with “under the table” so it works for me.
- 51a. [City section]. WARD. Immediately followed by 54a. [First person]. ADAM. We also would have accepted [Burt of “Batman”] and [West of “Batman”], respectively.
Smooth and clean Monday grid with a satisfying theme and fun fill. Four stars.
Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
I liked this puzzle a lot, but I *am* going to call foul on the first entry. I was a swimmer for almost half my life, so I can say with some confidence that no one talks about their “LAP TIME,” and even if they did, they certainly wouldn’t go about lowering it at *practice*! A quick search on xwordinfo reveals that this entry was used exactly once in the NYT, in a Maleska-era puzzle, to refer to car racing. That may or may not be a more appropriate way to clue it, I am out of my depth on car racing, but I can guarantee a swimmer would not say “LAP TIME.” But anyways, other than that one entry being a huge stretch, I enjoyed so many other things about this puzzle that I am willing and able to overlook it!
The long central entries of ARMANI SUIT / STOOP BALL / LATE SUMMER are all great, and while STOOP BALL is a bit of a regionalism, I feel like it’s in the culture enough as to be inferable, especially given the brownstones in the clue. Other good stuff includes: GROUP TEXT, SWAG BAG, and POT FARM. I read the clue for AIOLI (Garlic sauce) and thought “is there a non-garlic sauce?” and still have not been able to think of a single sauce that would not be improved with garlic. Maybe chocolate sauce.
- Fill I could live without: DR T., EADS (I’ve never seen “DR. T and the Women,” and I’m just not convinced that this movie has the cultural clout that would justify its *checks notes* 27! NYT crossword appearances).
- I wanted to make a before-and-after joke about “Call me by My name is LUCA” but it doesn’t really work. So here’s a half joke for you!
- There’s really only *one* TOUCAN[S] on cereal boxes
- This is the second time the BOB HOPE “Road to ___” has crossed my radar in the last few months. Should I watch these movies?
Overall, I think this is a fun puzzle with a bunch of interesting and fresh entries. I also wrote the date on the caption of this puzzle as “Monday, February 27, 2020” if that tells you where my head’s at, but I think my crossword judgment is in tact. Lots of stars from me!
Gail Grabowski’s Universal crossword, “A Bit Irritated” — pannonica’s write-up
The four theme answers are phrases that begin with a synonym for ‘annoyed’.
- 20a. [One wearing stylish attire] SNAPPY DRESSER.
- 37a. [Fruit-bearing cactus] PRICKLY PEAR. You may know it as nopal.
- 44a. [Intersecting roadway] CROSS STREET.
- 59a. [What a Monday holiday might give an employee] SHORT WORK WEEK.
Hmm. I’ve gone through the clues and answers twice and can’t find anything especially remarkable, either negatively or positively. This should not be seen as indictment—rather, it’s an indication of how smoothly a Monday crossword can be made. No obscurities, no overly tricky clues, no weak fill. In short, nothing irritating at all!
So. A SNAPPY grid with no PRICKLY spots, fully fair CROSS-word puzzle that even a tyro solver could make SHORT work of.
Here’s an anodyne song about a HEARTBEAT (11d):
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword Themeless Monday #566—Jim Q’s review
I always wonder which quadrant of the puzzle is going to be a grind when I open a BEQ. Today, it was the north for me!
Seemed heavy on proper nouns that I didn’t know or that I couldn’t see. Those included FREEH (needed every cross and still didn’t like the looks of it!), THERESE (inferable), BRIANS (inferable), GUERRERO, LESTRADE, and ARENSKY (though that last one came to me). I also think that GRIOT / TOS is a solid Natick. GRIDT to me looks just as plausible as GRIOT, and TDS are [Clock-stoppers] as well, in the sense that touchdowns stop the clock. So that irked me when I couldn’t find my error in the puzzle after finishing.
Good stuff included LOOK ALIKE, FACILITIES with its cheeky BEQ clue [Going places?], SIDELINES, COVER GIRLS, and FEET FIRST.
Took forever for me to get SOFTC [Circular head?]. I am always so bad at figuring out the SOFT/HARD [letter] question mark clues.
New for me: GATE FOLD.
Not my favorite, but always a fun challenge.