Kyle Dolan’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
It’s a vowel-substitution theme – very Mondayish. It’s a well-done vowel-substitution theme, and a good entry point for newbies. Not so much fun for oldies like me.
- 17a [Enticing weblinks that suck people in] are CLICKBAIT.
- 25a [Teen magazine founded in 1965] is TIGER BEAT. The CLICKBAIT of my generation, in fact.
- 37a [Hazard of being outside in the cold for a long time] is FROSTBITE.
- 52a [Place for a blast offshore] is a PARTY BOAT. Please, no party boats now!
- 62a [Footwear that extends a little above the foot] is an ANKLE BOOT. I LOVE ankle boots. I own several pairs.
The sounds go in order: A,E,I,O,U. It’s a solid, serviceable, well-executed Monday theme. If that sounds like faint praise, I apologize. It’s an excellent example of its type.
A few other things:
- I did enjoy the clue for 1d: 1d [Unit of land that anagrams, coincidentally, to THE ACRE]. It’s HECTARE.
- This is the third puzzle I’ve done in the last few days that featured lobster BIBS. Now I want lobster.
- For some reason, I entered CLOSEST for 30d [Within reach]. This slowed me down, because the answer is actually CLOSE BY.
- SOFA LEG seems a little green paint-y, n’est çe pas?
- 65a [“Anna and the King of ___”] SIAM made an appearance in a Learned League question recently. I can’t remember if everyone in the cruciverbalist rundle got it right.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that TIGER BEAT was founded in 1965.
Gary Cee’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fancy Pants”—Jim P’s review
BELOW THE BELT at 57a is clued [Grossly unfair, or where you find the last words of 20-, 29-, 38- and 47-Across].
- 20a [Pool player’s call] CORNER POCKET. Hmm. Nothing about a pocket necessitates that it be one one’s pants. Plenty of shirts and coats have pockets. And not all pants have pockets.
- 29a [Injury-prone spot for pitchers] ROTATOR CUFF. Same issue. Long-sleeve shirts and coats also have cuffs.
- 38a [Enviable position] CATBIRD SEAT. That’s better. The seat of one’s pants must be “below the belt.”
- 47a [Shot to the warning track] OUTFIELD FLY. This one’s good, too. But again, not all pants have flies.
So I think my problem is the cluing of the revealer which states you will find all these items “below the belt.” Not “maybe.” Not “perhaps.” Just, “This is where they are.” Which is clearly not the case. If the clue was adjusted to read “where you might find…”, then I probably would have thought nothing of it.
My other problem with the puzzle was 49d LOOTER and its clue [Blackout baddie] which drove me to distraction. I get what it’s going for—taking aim at opportunistic looters during a power outage—but it really should have been reclued in light of the recent Blackout Tuesday, a well-publicized cessation of work in the music industry to raise awareness of the issues of racism and police brutality in our country. Even more, painting all looters with the same brush rubs me the wrong way. Of course, looting isn’t a good thing, but when we start to look at the reasons behind why people do it, we find some layers of nuance that are worth studying. All this could’ve been avoided by easily changing the entry to LOOSEN with the crossings SARA, EVEN, and NEED. I realize the puzzle was probably submitted months ago before the recent protests, but it seems like there was enough time to make changes during the editorial process.
Getting past all that, the other long fill entries are wonderful: BUCOLIC, CAREFREE, EMERALD CITY, CUTTING EDGE, TAIL ENDS and COLLIES. That’s a lot of sparkle.
Unfortunately for me, that sparkle got dulled by a theme which needed just a little adjustment in the cluing and an entry/clue combo that didn’t need to be in the grid.
Evan Kalish’s Universal crossword, “Commerce Center” — pannonica’s write-up
Dead-center in 30a [Each] EVERY themer is the name of a place where retail commerce occurs, more often than not spanning multiple words.
- 17a. [Con pro] SCAM ARTIST. Liked the oxymoronic clue.
- 26a. [What a professor who rarely gives A′s has] HIGH STANDARDS.
- 41a. [Wishes undone] LIVES TO REGRET.
- 54a. [“Fingers crossed for all of us”] LET’S HOPE SO.
Tidy little Monday theme. All very in-the-language phrases yielding mart, stand, store, and shop.
- 37a [Teeth on a wheel] COGS. Cogs are fundamentally levers, one of the six classical simple machines.
- 39a [Name that’s a Roman numeral followed by its value] IONE. Interesting observation, but in my opinion somewhat undermined by the name’s rarity.
- 10d [State whose northernmost city was renamed Utqiagvik] ALASKA. It was temporarily known as Barrow, but the current name long preceded that: “The location has been home to the Iñupiat, an indigenous Inuit ethnic group, for more than 1,500 years. The city’s native name, Utqiaġvik, refers to a place for gathering wild roots. It is derived from the Iñupiat word utqiq, also used for ‘potato’.” (Wikipedia, citing this article)
- Thence, 27d [Spud] TATER.
- Longdowns: LOW TURNOUT, HEAT VISION.
- 40d [Octet in an oxygen atom] PROTONS. What a coincidence! It’s AT NO is eight!
- 31d [“__, vidi, vici] VENI.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
This is a lovely, lightly challenging themeless puzzle from Patrick Berry, complete with lots of solid longish entries and fun cluing. As always with Patrick Berry puzzles, it is impeccably made, but it also left me a little cold; it’s almost like his puzzles are a little too perfect? It doesn’t have the same crunchy colloquialism/neologism/current pop culture feel that many other New Yorker puzzles have. Which is fine! The crossword universe is vast and contains many, many multitudes, and there is more than enough room in the New Yorker for multiple styles of themelesses; perhaps I simply prefer a messier puzzle. Anyways, all of that to say, this is an *excellent* crossword puzzle with very few things to critique!
The long entries that stood out for me were in the SE corner, where we have ANTARCTICA (with a fabulous clue featuring an explorer I had not heard of) / CALL IT A DAY (colloquialism!) / KICKBOXER. In the opposite corner, we had STRAW BOSS / ETHAN HAWKE / TEAM TENNIS. I had never heard of STRAW BOSS and thought the Davis Cup had something to do with sailing, so, that corner was a little slow to fall for me. We also have other neat longish stuff in the NE (URBANISM / SOUWESTER / EMMA STONE) and SW (A CAPPELLA / DESI ARNAZ / STARGATE).
A few other things:
- Names I didn’t know: Jane Jacobs (just read her Wikipedia page. She’s a boss.), Roald Amundsen
- I now have PUFF the Magic Dragon stuck in my head. Will report back on Friday if it’s still there or not, but seems likely it will be. THANKS A LOT PATRICK BERRY
- ANTARES and THAIS were both new to me, and in close proximity, which didn’t help with that NW corner
- Love the clue on SURTAX [Double duty?]
RMS crossing TMI was pretty weak as well. Not bad overall though, rather accessible
WSJ, 16 across: If I get a snicker out of something, it amuses me. If I amuse someone, I might make that person snicker. So wouldn’t the clue be more correctly stated as “give a snicker to”?
And now I’m thinking about a certain delicious candy bar…
Piling on the poor WSJ
Ironically the ROTATOR CUFF is hardly below the belt
I’m probably off base, and I had no trouble finishing the NYT theme with BOOT because it was obviously going to work (and I do know the sound in, say, “tube”). Still, running through the vowel sounds, I so wanted the last word to be “beaut.” After all words with other vowels can be pronounced differently but all came out with the sound of the letter itself.
WSJ … “Infield fly” is definitely a baseball term, but in 50+ years of closely following my favorite sport, I don’t think I’ve ever read or heard of an OUTFIELD FLY.
Thanks Jenni for the thoughtful review. I’m not fond of SOFA LEG as fill either, but it was the best I could come up with to keep the rest of that corner interesting and approachable.
Re: Jim P’s WSJ review.
POCKET, CUFF, SEAT and FLY. Let’s see, how many ways can I find to DISPROVE the puzzle theme? YOGA PANTS! PALAZZO PANTS! LEGGINGS! CAPRIS!
You know, sometimes a crossword PUZZLE is just a PUZZLE, not a doctoral thesis.
Some of us just do them for entertainment and mental excercise.
I, personally do not approach a puzzle LOOKING for bigotry, discrimination, lack of inclusiveness or bias.
A blackout is a total loss of power, not a racial intimation.
Justification for looting? Really?
Pocket, cuff, seat and fly are all obviously below the belt. So, I don’t see a problem with the clues particularly when the title is “Fancy Pants.”
Ok. You know what? I can see that. When you take the title in conjunction with the revealer then it works better. I’m used to them being mutually exclusive, but that’s not the case here.
Jim P, thank you for bringing the unfortunate timing of the LOOTER answer and clue to our attention. Here’s a response from Mike Shenk:
“I regret the unfortunate answer LOOTER and its clue in today’s Wall Street Journal crossword. The puzzle was edited over a month ago, and the finished puzzle as published was prepared almost a week before the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent events. Puzzles are not routinely reviewed closer to publication, and none of us who worked on the puzzle recalled that answer and clue once it was clear that they should be removed. If we had realized, we would have done so.”
Thank you for this. I appreciate that the puzzles must be prepped well in advance. Maybe it’s not possible, but couldn’t one last “sanity check” be worked into the timeline?
The video below just happened to show up in my Facebook timeline today, and it’s so apt to this issue, that I thought I’d share it here. I’m not posting it as a rebuke against the WSJ or Mike, it’s just an on-point lesson for all of us on why we shouldn’t rush to judgment or be quick to condemn those who have been lashing out. The woman speaks with eloquence and heart, and it’s impossible to ignore her. What she says is not comfortable, and there is some language toward the end, but it’s worth the time.
Forgive my ignorance. Kimberly Jones is an author, director, and speaker. Her website is at here.
NYT… BOOT just doesn’t work (for me). It’s not pronounced with a long “u” sound (e.g. LUBE) as it should be to match BAIT, BEAT, BITE, and BOAT. I get that the last theme answer does not have to begin with the letters BU. But the sounds is too inconsistent for me.
WSJ… The puzzled is titled “Fancy Pants”. Given that, I have no issues with the revealer.
The only good fit I could come up with was “beaut.” Not sure how you clue it – “Compliment to a boat owner” – SHE’S A BEAUT?
Dupes PARTY BOAT
Compliment to a yacht owner? Filly owner?
BOOT and LUBE have the same vowel for me. But then American is my second language.
Looking in vain for the LAT. I realize everyone is busy these days, and I’m not scolding, but I do miss my nightly LAT review!
Me too… I solved the puzzle but couldn’t figure out the theme.
I get behind on doing these puzzles so I don’t know if you’ll see my reply.
The clue for the theme is “Temporary… and how both ends of the answers to starred clues might be described.” The answer for that is “Short term.”
So… putting the term “short” with each part of the starred answers, you get:
Short sheet (I’ve done that!)
Some of these work better for me than others.
Re: Crossword Puzzle Commerce Center (Toronto Star, June 8, 2020)
Please explain “see letters 4 to 7” in the Across 17 clue.
Please explain “5 to 9” in the Across 26 and 41 clues.