Note: No WSJ puzzle due to the holiday.
Andrea Carla Michaels and Victor Barocas’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
This was not my favorite Monday puzzle. I figured out the theme with the second theme entry and knew what the revealer would be, at least in principle. That took some of the fun out of it, and there’s some strained fill that didn’t help.
Four consecutive letters in each theme answer are circled.
- 17a [2011 film co-starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams] is MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.
- 26a [App introduced in 2010 to locate a missing Apple product] is FIND MY IPHONE.
- 37a [Business operations, informally] is ADMIN.
- 46a [Mr. Spock player] is LEONARD NIMOY.
And the revealer: 60a [Decided otherwise … or a hint to the four sets of circled letters] is CHANGED ONE‘S MIND.
The strained fill is 24d, [Place an “X” in the wrong spot on, say]. MISMARK? I don’t think so. Yes, I know, it’s technically correct. It’s just strained, as I said.
A few other things:
- 5a [Word after monkey or handle] is BARS. Cute.
- 20a [“I’ll wait to hear from you online”] is a strained clue for a perfectly good entry, EMAIL ME.
- The Silly Putty EGG! I loved Silly Putty. Now I want some.
- NOSEGAY is a lovely word.
- [Fan mags] is a tricky clue for a Monday. The answer is ZINES.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the CAPITOL is pictured on the back of the fifty-dollar bill. Not sure I’ve ever held a fifty-dollar bill.
Priyanka Sethy and Matthew Stock’s Universal crossword, “I Before E” — pannonica’s reveiw
In which a word or phrase containing the bigram EI has those letters transposed to form the second part of the answer.
- 20a. [Permanent marker for drawing a wrinkly dog?] SHAR-PEI SHARPIE. Was a time I used to call the breed Bluntie because, y’know, they’re kind of lacking in sharp edges. Ha-ha-ha, WELL moving on…
- 33a/44a [Hard liquors at a Massachusetts college?] BRANDEIS | BRANDIES. Think I’d’ve just called it liquor, but de bibemus.
- 56a. [“Congratulations! You’ve successfully logged into your new iPhone!”?] APPLE ID APPLEID. <side-eye<
Only three themers, and one of them’s split. But in exchange we get some very impressive stacked vertical 10s: 11d [Hopping mad] APOPLECTIC / 12d [Excited, in a sense] TITILLATED and 26d [Latin phrase meaning “for now”] PRO TEMPORE / 27d [It’s drawn up in a war room] BATTLE PLAN. Superb stuff.
- 28a [Prefix with “friendly” or “warrior”] ECO-. 40d [Environmentalist’s favorite asana?] TREE POSE. You know what it looks like, even if you aren’t familiar with the name.
- 38a [Fake Twitter followers] BOTS. Many big accounts have lots of them.
- 56d [Film released shortly before “A Bug’s Life”] ANTZ. 61a [Pixar clown fish] NEMO. Strangely, m-w.com lists only the two-word phrase, while clownfish is listed in numerous other resources, and has stronger support at Google’s Ngram Viewer:
- 62a [You may place one online] ORDER. These days, very much so. Amirite, as the kids say?
- 41a [James of jazz] ETTA. More R&B and blues, but sure, that works too. Every so often I rewatch this amazing performance:
Paul Coulter’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
17A: SCHOOL AGE [Old enough to start kindergarten]
23A: STUDY ABROAD [Attend a foreign university, say]
44A: SHORT ANSWER [Kind of exam with brief responses]
56A: ESSAY TEST [Exam answered in a blue book … and a phonetic hint to 17-, 23- and 44-Across]
Pronounce 56A a slightly different way (S-A test) and you have the hint to the theme: each of the theme entries is an S___ A___ phrase. And this puzzle is the test, I reckon. The odd thing is that SHORT ANSWER is literally a type of S-A test, whereas the other two theme answers aren’t. Yes, they’re both education related, but it seems like an odd mix of thematic elements that didn’t fully land for me.
New to me: [Done to ___: perfectly cooked] A TURN
Fun for me: Long downs like JUGGERNAUT and GRIM REAPER (too soon?)
Bummer to me: Heidi of the ALPS and MAEVE Binchy are the only two women in this entire puzzle, compared with OREL Hershiser, TRINI Lopez, Sonic the HEDGEHOG, PAUL, Jared LETO, NEHRU, and ATTA BOY for the men.
Kameron Austin Collins’ New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
As Rachel is having some technical difficulties which preclude her write-up, the 1a BACKUP PLAN turns out to be my stepping in.
This was a welcome mid-level challenge today. Big stacks (trip tens!) in all four corners and, even though the center of the spiral at first seems cut off from the rest of the grid, there are four sets of two-letter entry points—they more than adequately integrate with the rest of the crossword.
Weakest entry—and really the only fault I can point to—is 33a [Womenswear conglomerate named after a fictional Ms. Taylor] ANN INC.
So let’s take a quick spin through around the grid.
- The symmetrical pairing of 14d [Replay payoffs] MONEY SHOTS and 26d [ESPN offering] SPORTSCAST.
- 17a [Attractive quality on a business-school application] LEADERSHIP. I kind of glossed over the ‘quality’ bit and really wanted INTERNSHIP.
- 31a [Tears] RENDS, 41a [Tear __ ] DUCT.
- 7d [Some notebooks] PCS, 22a [Some laptops] ACERS.
- 37a [“Git!”] AMSCRAY. Really enjoyed this as the center entry.
- 38a [ __ no Komachi (legendary Japanese poet] ONO. Giving Yoko a well-deserved rest. 40a [Often metered medium] POETRY. Kind of a heavy dupe there. (shh)
- 63a [Biblical site of Christ’s agony] GETHSEMANE. I thought that was Golgotha, but then again I’m quite ignorant.
- 3d [Mouthful of tobacco] CHAW. 35a [“Blergh!”] GAH.
- 5d [Heritage Journey organizer] UNESCO. Check it out.
- 23d [Wet a bit] RINSED. Tricky disguised past tense!
- 54d [“… je ne regrette__”] RIEN.
- 61a [Offers a few theories] SPECULATES. Wanted the too-short SPITBALLS, but again that isn’t quite accurate anyway.
- 62a [Cover with a flap, usually] TENT. A tent is indeed a means of cover.
Overall, the puzzle had the distinct hip vibe that the New Yorker typically goes for: referring to AA MILNE as Wodehouse’s frenemy, “Def!” for TOTES, invoking DivaCup in a clue for PADS, K-SWISS as tennis kicks, et al. (20a, 45a, 32a, 19a)
Gamblers despise $50 bills, they are thought unlucky. I like the image of Grant, personally. I don’t really gamble, but when I did go to Vegas for a meeting, I’d take $50’s onto the floor.
Excellent Universal today in contrast to the seemingly BOT-created NYT.
gah, totes, divacup/pads, iphonecase – wow, what a feat, an oh-so-NYM puzzle. Definitely a case of the PCS goin’ on there.
Alas, today’s nadir, allowing me to be today’s nearly nattering nabob of negativism
UC – I did like the long downs. I can’t decide if they overcome the two rows of mostly crosswordese threes.
“At Last” is Etta’s money song but “I’d Rather Go Blind” is my favorite. I also watch that performance from time to time. Thanks!
Universal puzzle was terrific!
Love that performance by Etta, of my favorite song of hers :) ..
I was surprised not to hate Beyonce’s cover of it in “Cadillac Records”. I think she actually did a great job.
Really liked the UC today, esp.
Nosegay is such a Beverly Cleary word. I’m comforted that she’s still alive.
Can’t say that TNY has a record number of things I didn’t even recognize, given that they tend steadily to have that in about a full quarter of the clues, but I just couldn’t finish the SW, while the NE intersections of BLAINE, LOCO, ALAN, GAH, ONO, TOTES, LENITY, and MONEY SHOTS had me grateful I could pull off a successful guess. Also in that sector, I didn’t know that AA MILNE had a thing with P. G. Wodehose, but that was fair given how often the former appears in puzzles. All I needed was AA to think “crosswordese” and take it from there.
I do give it credit for some punning or otherwise tricky cluing. And I give it credit, too, that I got hung up thinking Freudian for a stage before I finally switched gears to Lacan. (How did I ever manage to read him, I often wonder. But Pomo theory was way cool back then.) But even in the center around that, I also didn’t know ANN INC even after I recognized Taylor as Ann, and I’m not convinced that RINSED is “wet a bit” rather than wet thoroughly.
I guess I’m the only one old enough to remember when “At Last” was Glenn Miller’s song.