Stanley Newman’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
This is a straightforward Monday theme that didn’t add anything to the solving experience.
- 18a [Australian wind instrument] is a DIDGERIDOO. I knew the answer but couldn’t remember how to spell it.
- 38a [System of underwater mountains] is the MID–OCEAN RIDGE.
- 60a [Wedding attendant] is a BRIDESMAID.
I had no idea what the theme was until after I finished and then I saw 62d [Two forms of them are found in 18-, 38-and 60-Across]: IDS. So that makes sense. It’s a solid, consistent Monday theme and clearly it was possible to solve the puzzle without any idea what the theme was.
A few other things:
- I made things more complicated by dropping in SCAR for 5a [Sign of a wound’s healing]. It’s SCAB.
- 12d [Severe place of confinement] is an IRON CAGE. Well, yes, but is that a phrase people actually use?
Joseph A. Gangi’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Looks like we have a debut!
Let’s go to the revealer first: 61A [Ensemble playing in this puzzle’s circles] is a STRING TRIO. And if you go to the circled letters of each theme answer, you find that in each case they spell out a stringed instrument:
- 17A [Sacred, as a promise] is INVIOLABLE, which is hiding the VIOLA, which I used to play.
- 36A [University leader] is CHANCELLOR, which is hiding the CELLO.
- 42A [High-ranking foreign diplomat] is an AMBASSADOR, which is hiding the BASS.
Tell me how to feel about this theme, y’all. I’m impressed that all the thematic material fits into single words that can be clued with brevity — often, the LAT theme clues get quite wordy on Monday to keep things easy for solvers, but here the clues are both short and clear.
…but, how many STRING TRIOs do you know that are written for that combination of instruments? VIOLIN doesn’t fit nicely into any 10-letter phrases…but it is pretty damn ubiquitous in string chamber music. A violin, a viola, and a cello? I buy that. Two violins and a cello? Check. But a viola, cello, and bass without a violin? I’m not going to say it’s never happened, but it seems like an unlikely TRIO to me.
Sean Biggins’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Squeeze In”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Phrases/names that have the word LEMON hidden inside. 56a, LEMON WEDGE, reveals all with the clue [Garnish for a glass of water, or a literal feature of 17-, 29-, 35- and 42-Across].
- 17a. [Start of a math exam] PROBLEM ONE
- 29a. [Grammy-nominated singer with roles in “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures”] JANELLE MONÁE
- 35a. [Lady Gaga fan, familiarly] LITTLE MONSTER
- 42a. [Accessory for a person under house arrest] ANKLE MONITOR
That works well for a Monday. I especially like the modern touches including Lady Gaga and JANELLE MONÁE (whose last name is usually all that makes it into a grid).
Fill highlights include PICKLE JAR, NUISANCES (which echoes the LITTLE MONSTER entry), TIME SLOT, and LATINX. Not a fan of weird TOS [Talking-___ (reprimands)], but I do like all three of its crossings, so I guess I can live with it.
Clues of note:
- 46a. [Books including Chad, Georgia and Jordan]. ATLASES. I honestly didn’t see the clue during the solve, but I think it would have thrown me pretty well. Nice misdirection.
- 24d. [Casper product]. MATTRESS. I wasn’t expecting this to refer to the mattress company, but I sure couldn’t think what a friendly ghost would produce.
Decent theme, smooth fill. 3.6 stars.
I leave you with Janelle Monáe’s powerful political anthem which was born out of a call from Stacey Abrams to help get out the Black vote in Georgia. Read more about it here. (Plus, I love those cool glasses she’s sporting.)
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Another cool grid shape today — more evidence that the New Yorker offers constructors the flexibility to play with “cheater” squares to make unique creations in their grids. This one is particularly interesting, blocking of the corners to make an almost round grid? I’m into it.
One effect of this design is that instead of your normal NE/NW/SE/SW grid corners to fill and explore, we have long entries in the N/S/E/W, plus a grid-spanning (15) through the middle. The central entry, MISSISSIPPI GIRL, is not a song I’m familiar with, but I listened to it just now for science. I can’t say I particularly *enjoyed* the song, but it’s a good entry! Lots of S’s. Other long stuff that I liked includes ILLUMINATES in reference to decorating medieval manuscripts; SENSIBILITIES [They may be offended], and EMPTY BED BLUES, which I enjoyed more than MISSISSIPPI GIRL.
A few more things:
- Was not familiar with the acronym BPOE, which is turns out is short for the “Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks”
- I’m of two minds about the clue for ANTIGEN — on the one hand, COVID is dominating our current reality, and of course it’s going to creep into puzzles. On the other, I think a lot of people solve crosswords for the escapism and to have a few minutes disconnected from the bleakness of pandemia. I’m curious what other people think about this!
- Every time I’m reminded of the existence of GOOP I just have to laugh. What a thing! That actually exists!
- Some less-than-ideal fill was needed to facilitate this grid shape (ITAL, DICT, BPOE), but I’d say it was worth it!
Overall, lots of stars from me for the funky grid design and mostly clean fill. See you on Weds!
Amanda Rafkin and Ross Trudeau’s Universal crossword, “Just a Heads-Up” — pannonica’s write-up
Alerts, reinterpreted for wacky factor.
- 17a. [“You must be this tall to ride the roller coaster,” e.g.?] FAIR WARNING.
- 27a. [“Use the squat rack as instructed,” e.g.?] EXERCISE CAUTION.
- 42a. [“No black-soled shoes in the gym,” e.g.?] COURT INJUNCTION.
- 55a. [“Keep your eyes on your own exam,” e.g.?] FINAL NOTICE.
Solid, but a little dry.
- 36a [Fire signal at a hospital] CODE RED. Medical emergencies are code blue and bomb threats are code black.
- 12d [Big name in yogurt] DANNON. “Danone was founded by Isaac Carasso, a Salonica-born Sephardic Jewish doctor, who began producing yogurt in Barcelona, Spain in 1919. The brand was named Danone, which translates to ‘little Daniel’, after his son Daniel” (Wikipedia)
- 42d [Realm for Garfield] CATDOM. Anyone try COMICS? I had enough letters in place to avoid that pitfall.
- 53d [Brown house, perhaps?] DORM. Referring to the university.
- 19a [Doll who has had 40+ occupations] KEN. Pales in comparison to Barbies more than 200.
- Liking the symmetric pair of 20a [Bits of progress] INROADS and 51a [In the direction of] TOWARDS.
- 21a [Seabird within “water nymphs”] TERN, “of Scandinavian origin; akin to Danish terne tern”. Whereas the sea eagle ERNE is from “Middle English, from Old English earn; akin to Old High German arn eagle, Greek ornis bird”. (etymologies from m-w.com)