Olivia Mitra Framke’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
It took me a minute to figure out the theme after I finished the puzzle. The revealer is [Some household helpers … or an oral hint to 17-, 24-, 51- and 63-Across], AU PAIRS. I went looking for the sound and then realized it refers to the letters – O pairs. Each theme answer has two pairs of Os.
- 17a [Mystery-solving Great Dane of cartoons] is SCOOBY–DOO.
- 24a [Logo art that changes almost daily] is the GOOGLE DOODLE. There’s no Google Doodle today. Harumph.
- 51a [Stir-fry ingredients, often] are BAMBOO SHOOTS.
- 63a [Can’t-miss] is FOOLPROOF.
I like this theme. It’s solid, consistent, and smooth, and it’s accessible for new Monday solvers. I also giggle every time I see or hear SCOOBY–DOO.
A few other things:
- I’m not a big fan of partials, but I didn’t mind 3d [“Am ___ late?”] – I TOO – because it’s so solidly in the language.
- Have you ever heard anyone use the plural GRANOLAS? Me neither.
- I liked the long downs – SNAPDRAGON and SCRAP METAL.
- For some reason I was surprised to see that Apple still makes IMACs, maybe because the last time we purchased a desktop computer was 2010.
- We have one more “O” pair in HOO–HA, clued as slang for commotion instead of slang for a woman’s private parts. In either sense the word makes me snicker.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that SNAPDRAGONs are named after actual dragons. Never thought about it.
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “You Do The Math”—Jim P’s review
Surprisingly, there is no math involved in this puzzle. Each theme answer ends in a word that can also describe someone performing mathematical computations.
- 16a [Extremely venomous snake of Australia] DEATH ADDER
- 25a [Bygone feature of some department stores] LUNCH COUNTER
- 41a [Autumnal warm spell] INDIAN SUMMER. There doesn’t appear to be consensus as to the origin of this term, but one thing is certain—it’s associated with America’s colonial past. It might be time to retire this one and find an alternative. This article identifies many other terms currently in use, especially around Europe (Old Wives’ Summer, anyone?). But simpler might be better. “Second Summer” works for me.
- 55a [One likely to pass the bar] TEETOTALER. No question mark on this clue?
Aside from “counter,” no one would ever use these words in a mathematical context; people would just look at you funny. But those of us who have been around crosswords for a while have seen these words before, usually in deceptive clues. So from that standpoint, the theme works as a straightforward synonym theme. But anyone new to crosswords might solve this and just groan, wondering who would ever call someone a “totaler.”
Fortunately, there’s some spiffy fill to rely on like “HERE GOES…,” “ANY DAY NOW…,” ANTHILLS, GASHOG, and SANDMAN.
But there’s also some more difficult stuff: a couple of composers, VERDI and ELGAR, a writer, Stephen Vincent BENET, a hockey player, Gordie HOWE, and oddly-clued HOCUS [Play a trick on]. I’ve never heard that word used anywhere without being followed by “Pocus.” For an early-in-the-week entry, that could’ve been clued a lot straighter.
But despite the groan-worthy punny nature of the theme, it works for me, and the long fill is solid-to-sparkly. I don’t know that I would choose this grid to offer a newbie solver, but for everyone else it’s a straight-over-the-plate solve. 3.4 stars.
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
We’ve got a new layout/design on the New Yorker Puzzles & Games page today, featuring, for some reason, little meters that look like gas tank indicators? I think it’s meant to tell us how hard each puzzle is, and today’s indicates that this puzzle is challenging. That message is reiterated on the puzzle page itself, where the subtitle proclaims this “A challenging puzzle.” Well, I think this probably says more about my relationship to the same cultural reference points as constructor Natan Last than it does about the puzzle’s actual difficulty, but I solved this faster than I did today’s (Monday!) New York Times.
I may have some speed bias here, where kicking this puzzle’s ass leads me to believe the puzzle is pristine, fresh, and all-around excellent, but…. this puzzle is pristine, fresh, and all-around excellent. The long stuff! It shines! The short stuff! It’s good fill! The cluing! … I have go back and look at, because I went so fast I didn’t stop to appreciate it. Ok, I have gone back, and the cluing IS excellent!
Let’s run down the long stuff: BANANAS FOSTER, HARUKI MURAKAMI, MEDIA DARLINGS, A SCANNER DARKLY, NEUROTYPICALS, ASK ANYONE, I DON’T CARE. Whew! I love all of this. The only thing I *might* ding is the noun-ification of NEUROTYPICAL, which is a totally valid adjective but a little iffy as a noun? But the rest! I love HARUKI MURAKAMI, and ASK ANYONE / I DON’T CARE are excellent in-the-language phrases clued with perfect 1-to-1 quotes [“The whole world knows it!” / “Either’s fine”]. Great stuff.
Other favorite clues:
- [Reply to “How about a dessert menu?”] for WE’RE SET
- [Conversation piece?] for PHONE
- [Bananagrams bit] for TILE (it’s so specific!!)
- [It can be twisted] as a clue for both consecutive entries KNOB and ANKLE
A few other things:
- The short stuff is all totally solid– the only Fill I Could Live Without is GESTE [Beau ___ (magnanimous act)] because it feels a little stale/overly crosswordese.
- Favorite fill: BYNES, HEY MOM, REPRO
- Names I didn’t know: HERSEY, ANITRA
Ok that’s all for today. This puzzle is awesome and gets literally all the stars from me.
P.S. I adopted a puppy this weekend and here is a picture of her!
Kyle Dolan’s Universal crossword, “An End to Food Waste” — pannonica’s write-up
- 62aR [Eco-friendly container that may hold the ends of 17-, 29- and 45-Across] COMPOST BIN.
- 17a. [Skin rejuvenation treatment] FACE PEEL.
- 29a. [Place for roasting ribs] BARBECUE PIT.
- 45a. [Truck bed cover] CAMPER SHELL.
Peels, pits, and shells are indeed all compostable materials. If you’re interested in finding out the basics, you could do worse than these resources: Mother Jones, Apartment Therapy, Green Action Centre.
Has this theme been done before? Not that I know of, but even it were, would it be such a bad thing to reuse it?
Definitely has a female vibe. I’m not going to apply a strict Bechdel-style tally, but we see 8d [Lizzo and Adele] SOLO ACTS, 12d [Hathaway of “Les Miserables”] ANNE, 18d [Singer/activist Horne] LENA, 31d [Old Testament heroine] ESTHER, 33d [Tony-winning Menzel] IDINA, 25a [“We __ Never Meeting in Real Life” (Samantha Irby book)] ARE, 35a [“Peanuts” character Peppermint ___ ] PATTY, 44a [Eve’s profession in “Killing Eve”] AGENT, 61a [“Madama Butterfly” solo] ARIA, 67a [Its January 2020 cover featured Beyonce] ELLE, plus 40d [Band at a quinceanera, perhaps] MARIACHI, 52a [Early 20th-century women’s objective] SUFFRAGE. That’s a lot.
- Did you spot the duplication between the 8-down answer and the 61-across clue? There’s another between 5a [Quarterback’s throw] PASS and 14d [Pass quickly] RACE BY. Perhaps the editor doesn’t consider these infelicities to be 24d [Mistakes] ERRORS.
- Favorite clue: 3d [Pocket protector?] MACE.
- 10d [Walkie-talkie sign-off] OVER. Doesn’t the clue indicate OVER AND OUT, or just OUT?
- 59d [ __’s Handmade vodka] TITO. Wow, a blank with a possessive apostrophe s. Wow. Don’t care for that at all.
- Nice longdowns in 9d COFFEE MUG and 36d TEMPT FATE.
Time for me to raise my own COFFEE MUG to the crossword and—hey, did you know coffee grounds are excellent compost fodder?
26a [Gives the green light] OKS.
Mark McClain’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme revealer is 64a. [Earthquake echo, or where the last words of the answers to starred clues might go], AFTERSHOCK. Each themer’s second word can follow the word shock:
- 17a. [*Price a discarded item might fetch], SCRAP VALUE. Shock value.
- 27a. [*Preliminary book copy for editing], PRINTER’S PROOF. Shockproof. Not sure this clue is accurate. Editors are generally working on manuscripts (printed or digital) and by the time there are galley proofs, the editor’s just checking that editorial changes have been rendered properly. I don’t recall printer’s proof being a term used when I was in book publishing. I Googled printer’s proof and the first page of hits were all about print jobs for art prints and the like. Might have been better to use the more familiar GALLEY PROOF and find an 11-letter option for ___ WAVE.
- 48a. [*Salon job often shortened to its first four letters], PERMANENT WAVE. Shockwave. Do people still get perms?
The fill’s generally on target for a Monday solving audience, though I’m not sure how many people under the age of 40 would know the oddly spelled name of a character from a 1980s show that airs in syndication only on the Antenna channel, which I’ve never heard of. Apparently it’s also streaming on Amazon Prime Video if you want to see a young Michael J. Fox playing ELYSE‘s son.
Three stars from me.