Peter Gordon’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
Thanks to Amy for putting up the post and the grid while I was being a space cadet on Sunday evening. My apologies.
As she said, the theme is two-word phrases in which the second word is contained in the first word. There are helpful circles.
- 18a [Position sought every six years] is a SENATE SEAT.
- 20a [Close guy friend] is your MAIN MAN.
- 26a [Home theater feature, maybe] is SURROUND SOUND.
- 43a [Annual award for architects] is the PRITZKER PRIZE.
- 52a [Safest course of action] is the BEST BET.
- 56a [Pop-up store opportunity for bargain hunters] is a SAMPLE SALE.
It’s an accessible Monday theme that wasn’t a whole lot of fun to solve. I don’t want to be a SNEERER, so I’ll stop there. Except who says SNEERER?
A few other things:
- I hate LICE, largely because of the irrational and classist policies about lice of most US public school systems. Emma had lice three times and luckily we never had to figure out how to keep her home – although we could have done it without either of us losing our jobs, unlike the parents of many of her classmates.
- There will be professional baseball players AT BAT starting this week, with games scheduled for the end of July. Maybe. At this point I don’t trust anything.
- 22a is the best clue in the puzzle: [In his Webby Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech (which is limited to five words), he said “Please don’t recount this vote”]. The answer is AL GORE.
- OK, maybe that’s the second best, and the best is 38d [Long lunches?] for HEROS.
- I tend to use far AFIELD metaphorically rather than literally. It’s clued here with the parenthetical (a long distance away).
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the OREO was invented, or at least originally marketed, in 1912 (although now that I think of it, there was a centennial puzzle, wasn’t there?) or that David Oyelowo played Martin Luther King Jr in the movie SELMA. Speaking of which, have you see our own Rebecca Falcon’s Twitter thread about Black representation in crossword clues and answers? Read it. As a community, we need to do better. A lot better.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Universal crossword, “Obtain-a-ble” — pannonica’s write-up
-BLE appended to phrases, to wackified effect.
- 18a. [Result of a fallen kitchen rack?] SPICE RUBBLE.
- 32a. [Carnival juggler dropping a club, say?] SIDESHOW BOBBLE.
- 36a. [Warning of an approaching Caribbean thunderstorm?] JAMAICAN RUMBLE.
- 54a. [Song a bird sings after you’ve gotten up?] CIVIL WARBLE.
Nice amuse-bouche of a puzzle, a good way to ease into the week.
- 12d [Press __ (newsroom oxymoron)] RELEASE. Never considered it that way before.
- 8a [“Odyssey” byline] HOMER. ‘Byline’ seems a weird choice here.
- With 1a [Fond du __ ] LAC and 49a [Dernier __ ] CRI in the grid, I’d almost expect 34a [ Or __ was told] SO I to be [ __-disant].
- Rhyme time (or stinky pinky) in the bottom row: 62a [Figure skater’s feat] LUTZ, 61a [Overabundances] GLUTS.
- 10a [Fairy queen mentioned in “Romeo and Juliet”] MAB. Three times, in a speech by Mercutio.
- Favorite clue: 41a [Words read with feeling?] BRAILLE.
- 21d [Well-protected] SAFE.
Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Hi all! Happy challenging puzzle Monday! Today we have a puzzle from Kameron Austin Collins, with a pretty interesting grid design and one of my most favorite (15)s ever. The grid is unique in that all of the black squares form what look like tetris pieces, none of them diagonal to each other (except for those connected by a corner helper). It’s cool and different! I also like the L-shaped corner helpers. V visually appealing.
The long grid-spanning entries today are THE DEFENSE RESTS and BRAND AMBASSADOR. BRAND AMBASSADOR is fine, but THE DEFENSE RESTS is *chef’s kiss* so good! Other excellent long stuff includes FAVELAS, AIR MATTRESS, and PROMISE RING. I love the clue on AIR MATTRESS [Commodity subject to inflation?], but I don’t totally get why PROMISE RING‘s clue has a ? [Token of steady commitment?]. That seems like a pretty straightforward clue? Anyways, here’s a song from the band The PROMISE RING that I find stuck in my head for no reason way more often than makes sense.
A few other things:
- Names I Didn’t Know: David LEITCH, ALEKSEI Leonov
- Fill I Could Live Without: REB (in this economy?!), CHA, SROS (I like the use of this meaning of SRO, but pluralizing it is a little meh)
- A clue I’m not so sure on: [Indie charity] for NGO. I mean, I guess NGOs are “indie” in that they are independent from governments, but I’d hesitate to call, like, the Red Cross “indie” despite being an NGO
- Other favorite clue: [Clump of cords] – KNOT. So evocative!
- There were only two women in this puzzle (ANI DiFranco, Edith Piaf), or three if you count SARA Lee, compared to six-ish dudes (ALEKSEI Leonov, David LEITCH, Einstein, ROSEN, Dapper DAN, Johnny REB).
Overall, aside from a couple of clues I had to squint at and some gender parity issues, this was an enjoyable way to start the week. Lots of stars from me 💥
Chuck Deodene’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double Digits”—Jim P’s review
Our theme is eleven. Well, not exactly. Each of the theme answers has two ONEs in it, as explained by 57a ONE PLUS ONE [Basic math operation found in 17-, 23-, 37- and 45-Across].
- 17a. [1975 Bay City Rollers song] MONEY HONEY. I don’t recall this one.
- 23a. [Historic seat for coronations in the United Kingdom] STONE OF SCONE. Never heard of this one either, I guess since it’s been so long since the last one. As you might expect, it has a long and storied history.
- 37a. [Push-button communicators] TOUCHTONE PHONES. Old school.
- 45a. [1998 Dennis Lehane novel made into a 2007 film] GONE BABY GONE. Heard of it, didn’t read the book or see the film which was Ben Affleck’s directorial debut.
Didn’t notice the theme until after the solve but it’s perfectly fine. It’s just unusual to have two themers on a Monday that I’ve never heard of.
I did notice how dated some of the fill felt (YES’M, GOLLY, ASTA) and a higher-than-normal amount of crosswordese (partials IT ON and A THIN, ATTA, SSE and ENE, TETE, YAP AT, NAE).
I did like the few modern touches like ANTMAN and QUINOA. RINGS TRUE is excellent of course. SNOWED OUT with its odd clue [Canceled, as an early-season Cubs game] made me raise an eyebrow. Obviously “snowed in” is more common, but how often does a Cubs game get SNOWED OUT?
Overall, this one didn’t do much for me, maybe because I’m still enjoying a three-day weekend celebrating my wife’s birthday. The theme works, but it’s not enough to rise above the tiredness of a lot of the fill. 3.25 stars.
Gail Grabowski & Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Watch this space next week for Team Fiend’s newest member, Stella Zawistowski! She’ll be covering the Monday LAT for us.
- Theme revealer: 55a. [Looks after, as suggested by the last word of 20-, 29- and 46-Across]. KEEPS AN EYE ON.
- 20a. [Protection for extremities during slicing and dicing], FINGER GUARDS. If you have a mandoline, use the finger guard! It is too easy to end up a bloody mess by shaving off a fingertip. *shudder*
- 29a. [Old-style timepieces attached to vests], POCKET WATCHES.
- 46a. [15-season CBS drama about the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit], CRIMINAL MINDS.
The plurals at 20a and 29a aren’t arbitrary additions to make the letter counts work out—they’re necessary to match with CRIMINAL MINDS, and the revealer uses the S as well. Slight ding to the theme for the “keep an eye on” meaning of “guard” basically being the same sense that’s used in FINGER GUARDS.
Much of the fill caters to longtime solvers rather than newbies attempting to get their feet wet on a Monday puzzle. OASTS, LEA, ASTA, AGATE as a marble, CCCP, ERTE, ELIA, TERN? Oof. There’s also an awkward partial: 53d. [“__ it, Rover!”: “Fetch!”], GO GET.
I do like CADDYING, though, which feels like a rare but familiar entry.
Three stars from me.