Fred Piscop’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
This may be a Monday NYT record for me. I really enjoyed it. It’s a great Monday puzzle.
The theme is comical. Literally.
- 15d [Odor, in the comics] is WAVY LINES.
- 16a [Anger, in the comics] is STORM CLOUD.
- 26d [Idea, in the comics] is LIGHTBULB.
- 59a [Nervousness, in the comics] is SWEAT DROPS.
Consistent, accessible, and still fun to solve. I like grids with theme answers going both across and down – no reason, I just like them. I didn’t grimace at anything in the fill.
A few other things:
- Happy to see Harper LEE instead of Robt E.
- 25a [Bit of sunshine] is RAY. We would also have accepted [Member of the team that sent the Astros packing, much to the satisfaction of legions of baseball fans].
- I like SO–AND–SO, clued as [No-goodnik].
Dinner is served!
Craig Stowe’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
It’s anagram time! This’ll make more sense if we start with the revealer first: 64A, TWIST TOPS [Easy-to-remove caps…or, one way to get the starts of the answers to starred clues?]. Hmm, I’ll have to use that in a cryptic clue someday, because what this entry is telling you to do is anagram, or “twist,” the word TOPS to create five other words that, probably not coincidentally, each appear at the “top” of their respective theme entries. We have:
- 17A [*Chooses not to partake in], OPTS OUT OF. OPTS is the TOPS anagram.
- 25A [*Random quality-control measure], SPOT CHECK. SPOT is the TOPS anagram.
- 30A [*Often herky-jerky animation technique], STOP MOTION. STOP is the TOPS anagram.
- 45A [*Rainbow-end rewards], POTS OF GOLD. POTS is the TOPS anagram.
- 50A [*Lickety-split], POST HASTE. POST is the TOPS anagram.
I know I should be impressed that there are six theme entries (counting the revealer) totaling 56 letters of thematic materials. And I am…but I can’t say I especially enjoyed the solve. The price of so much thematic material is entries that seem out of place on a Monday, like QUAG, ANOUK (I’m all for more women in the puzzle but think she might be saved for a little later in the week), and ABEAM (hell, I’m not particularly interested in seeing those nautical adverbs any day of the week if it can be avoided). I also don’t love the theme entries themselves, especially OPTS OUT OF and POTS OF GOLD; I might have gone with three or four themers plus revealer instead to go after longer phrases, which have more potential to be evocative (how about the ’80s song STOP THE WORLD? Imagine trying to get that out of your head if that were in the puzzle).
So: a theme consistently and thoroughly executed, but could’ve used a bit more of that elusive “sparkle” quality.
Amanda Rafkin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “One For The Money”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Each theme entry has a HIDDEN SAFE (52a, [Spot to stash your cash, and a feature of 15-, 20-, 33- and 45-Across]).
- 15a. [Feels warm to the touch, say] RUNS A FEVER
- 20a. [Fights with someone] GOES A FEW ROUNDS
- 33a. [Weighing almost nothing] LIGHT AS A FEATHER
- 45a. [Homicide and kidnapping, often] CLASS A FELONIES. A surprisingly dark clue for your Monday morning. [The most serious of crimes] would have sufficed for me.
Actually, three of the four entries have dark overtones: sickness, fighting, and crime. The grid-spanner is a much-needed antidote to those heavier entries. But overall, a solid set for a hidden-word theme. I generally prefer it when the hidden word varies from entry to entry, but this makes for good Monday-level fare and should help the newer solver finish the grid.
BANANA SHAKE and ORIGINAL SIN make for strong marquee fill entries, and I like the scientific feel of SATURATE and RHEOSTAT next to them.
I’m surprised to see SAVE at 14a since it’s clearly related to SAFE.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
It’s Monday! I’m sleepy! Let’s crossword.
Today we have a challenging puzzle from Elizabeth C. Gorski that I finished in close to my Wednesday New Yorker average… except with an error that it took me up to about my Monday average to identify 🤦♀️. I’m a huge fan of the pinwheel grid design, which gave us a bunch of fun medium-long entries and a highly segmented grid. I definitely struggled with some of the proper nouns in this puzzle, but that’s to be expected on a New Yorker Monday, and for the most part of the crosses were fair (1-2 exceptions noted below).
The fun longer stuff includes: DON’T MISS OUT / MICHELIN MAN / TRISYLLABIC / WHISTLE-STOP. I particularly loved the clues on MICHELIN MAN [Tired-looking mascot?] and TRISYLLABIC [Like gangbusters?], both of which are excellent examples of misdirection/word play.
A few more things:
- Crossings I struggled with: CURAD (never heard of her) and MACHT and TONE LOC.
- I love everything about WABI-SABI. The meaning, the sound of it, and most of all the meta-concept of such a word being needed and created.
- Error that added literally five minutes to my solve: DEIST/GES. I had DAIST/GAS and just assumed DAIST was an alternate spelling of DEIST because of course [Some ranges] had to be GAS. In retrospect I see why this is wrong, but I scanned past it *many* times during my extremely frustrating error hunt.
- As a bioethicist, I regret to inform you that your clue for DID HARM, while correct in spirit, is a reference to a phrase that is technically not included in the original Hippocratic Oath, as it in fact did/does not contain the words “first, do no harm.” There is a line about “I will abstain from intentional wrong-doing and harm” in there, but also, let’s be real: doctors do harm all the time and it’s not a violation of the Hippocratic Oath. E.g., a surgeon cuts someone open to take out their appendix. That cut is a harm! But it’s cool because taking out an appendix justifies it. Anyways, could talk about this for a while but will spare you. (Also shout-out to Matt Gritzmacher, you know why).
- Representation: nothing stood out to me while solving, but we’ve got TONE LOC, Rachel Brosnahan, Issa RAE, and a reference to the fact that Ft. BRAGG‘s name is problematic, and a few others, but probably not the strongest showing on this front that we’ve seen from recent New Yorkers.
Overall, lots of stars from me for a pretty, solid, delightfully-clued grid. And a nice break from the New Yorker puzzles that derive their challenge rating entirely from arts-and-culture proper nouns! See you on Weds.
Daniel Patrick Scott’s Universal crossword, “Film Direction” — pannonica’s write-up
This appears to be a début, so I’m especially regretful that I don’t have the time or energy to give it a full write-up.
What we have are four films with geographical directions in reference to locales as their titles. Not so amazing, but check it out—all of them are 15 letters long. And there’s real variety in the directions. That’s good curation and construction.
The ballast fill is smooth and well-clued, so it’s really a very good crossword.
- 17a. [Movie title that could be interpreted as “driving northeast toward Cleveland”?] GOODBYE COLUMBUS.
- 26a. [ … “driving south from Canada”?] COMING TO AMERICA.
- 43a. [ … “driving northwest toward Reno”?] LEAVING LAS VEGAS.
- 56a. [ … “driving east from Pakistan”?] A PASSAGE TO INDIA.