Emma Craven-Matthews’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
Very quickly – not much time this evening. This is a debut – welcome, Emma! The revealer tells us that the theme is [Place associated with the answers to the starred clues]: CANADA. The starred clues:
- 4d [*Leafs-watching time, maybe] is HOCKEY NIGHT. The Toronto Maple Leafs.
- 18a [*Restaurant chain known for its coffee and doughnuts] is TIM HORTONS.
- 27d [*Important step after erring] is SAYING SORRY. Are Canadians known for apologizing?
- 62a [*Pancake topping] is MAPLE SYRUP which is why the hockey team is referred to as the Leafs in the first clue.
Kurt Krauss’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
My reviews of Monday puzzles tend to be devoid of ranting or raving, since as many of you know, the hardest puzzles are what I’m really passionate about, and therefore I generally evaluate Mondays in a pretty workmanlike way: Was the theme consistently executed? Any clunkers in the fill? Check, check, done. It’s rare that, after finishing a Monday, I think, “Oh, that was super fun!” This time I did! So, nicely done by Kurt Krauss. It’s not easy to make me crack a smile on Monday and he did it.
How did he do it? With a simple numerical theme that needs no revealer; each theme entry is a phrase with a number in it, if you read it the right way.
- 17A [Big burger chain, literally?] is GUY GUY GUY GUY GUY. That is, Five Guys. Not my favorite burger chain in terms of how good the burger tastes (I’d pick Shake Shack or In-N-Out), but the one that works with the theme.
- 27A [“I Can’t Help Myself” R&B group, literally?] is TOP TOP TOP TOP, which is (The) Four Tops. You’ve got that song in your head now, haven’t you?
- 44A [Many a sports car, literally?] is SEATER SEATER, or a “two-seater.” Here’s where you get to laugh at me: I haven’t owned a car since 2003, so the first thing I put in here was SEAT SEAT SEAT, and I thought, “what the hell kind of car seats three?”
- 58A [Exec’s dressy suit, literally?] is PIECE PIECE PIECE, or “three-piece.” I wish this had been clued as “Like an exec’s dressy suit, literally?” since “three-piece” as a noun rather than an adjective seems a bit contrived. Quibbles!
I could do without NEHI, RECUE, and IWO, but otherwise this is a nice clean grid to boot.
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Resounding Effect”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Vowel progression.
- 17a. [Celebrity chef seen on several Food Network shows] BOBBY FLAY
- 26a. [Beach biter] SAND FLEA
- 36a. [Mosquito eater] DRAGONFLY
- 53a. [Business concern] CASH FLOW
- 63a. [Chronic fatigue syndrome, dismissively] YUPPIE FLU
As vowel progression themes go, I thought this was pretty nice. Each entry is interesting in its own right and I even learned the term YUPPIE FLU, which is new to me.
The rest of the grid is solid, if not exactly sparkly. I liked HERMANO, “YOU’RE ON!,” PARK AVE., and STYMIE. Nothing set off the scowl-o-meter, so that’s a good thing. Well, plural first name EDS isn’t great, but it’s not like it’s way out of the ordinary. And CLOSE IN for [Prepare to capture, maybe] feels odd without a final “on.”
A couple other things:
- 1a. [Saturn or Mercury]. Since PLANET didn’t fit, I fell for the GOD trap. The correct answer is CAR.
- The title is pretty generic and would apply to any sound-changing theme, but I’m not sure there is a good way to title a vowel progression puzzle.
Smooth and breezy Monday. 3.5 stars.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
This took me a pretty long time, but I suspect that had more to do with my own undercaffeination than with the puzzle itself. We’ve got huge chunky corners with four stacked 9s in the NW and SE, and some 9s and 10s running down in the NE and SW. My favorite corner is probably the SW with POISON OAK, SUGAR CUBE, BUSH LEAGUE, some fun trivia about SOUSA, and the maybe-redundant UPSURGE (can you have a surge that is not UP?). Other favorite long entries include SKIP A BEAT, CUP HOLDERS, I’LL TAKE IT!, and ONE-ON-ONES.
A few more things:
- I’ve never heard of TED BAXTER (nor his co-worker Mary Richards) or the Eddie Murphy movie NORBIT, so there were some guesses for me in the SE.
- Also did not know NUDNIK / LUMET, so the U was a guess
- I’m not sold on the clue for ATE IN [Cleared home plate?], which feels like it’s trying a little too hard to be clever at the expense of really matching the entry!
- I haven’t really heard RAP SINGER in the wild, so I appreciate the Patrick Berry cited his sources, and that his sources were Lil’ Kim and Missy Elliott!
- Fill is super clean!
Overall, tons of stars for a clean, interesting, challenging puzzle! See you all in December (!!).
David Alfred Bywaters’ Universal crossword, “Bowling Mix” — pannonica’s write-up
So, this is a theme about bowling—not a subject I know much about. Further, I’m not understanding the reference in the title, even after searching on the phrase “bowling mix”. I found some musical remixes, and I guess bowling balls made out of … mixed colors and/or resins?
Anyway, these are puns.
- 17a. [Charge per bowling segment?] FRAME RATE. Original phrase refers to how fast a screen refreshes.
- 25a. [Source of bowling alley noise?] ROLLING PINS.
- 40a/43a [… the two components of a certain bowling score?] SPARE | PARTS.
- 52a. [Beginning bowler’s milestone?] FIRST STRIKE.
- 66a. [Challenging targets for bowlers?] SPLIT ENDS.
These punny interpretations aren’t full wacky; they’re more like staid reinterpretations, which is also fine. On the whole, this crossword didn’t bring me much joy.
- The six long down answers are all strong: CLASSICAL, SPECIALTY, BEDSPREADS, FORTISSIMO, EASY TO SEE, PRURIENCE. That last (37d) is clued as [Lasciviousness] and with PRU in place I was instinctively ready to put in some inflection of the opposite, prudishness. So I wondered if in some perverse way these opposites shared an etymology. Short answer: no. m-w.com says of the former that it derives from Latin prurient-, pruriens, present participle of prurire to itch, crave; akin to Latin pruna glowing coal, Sanskrit ploṣati he singes, and probably to Latin pruina hoarfrost — more at FREEZE, while the latter comes from French: good woman, prudish woman, short for prudefemme good woman, from Old French prode femme. But that doesn’t seem completely definitive, as it raises the question of the etymology of prode (although it still looks distinct from the pruina/pruna stuff).
- 1a [“Goldberg Variations” composer J.S.] BACH, crossing the aforementioned CLASSICAL, clued as [Post-Baroque]. Bach was of course one of the archetypal Baroque composer/musicians. You can also check out the Open Goldberg Variations, a project from Ishizaka Kimiko.
- 24a [Dorm workers, briefly] RAS. Resident Assistants. I’d wager this has never been clued as RAS Records – Real Authentic Sound – a reggae label.
- 47a [Dawn’s counterpart] DUSK.
- 68a [Buddhist concept symbolized by an endless knot] KARMA. Here‘s an intro, courtesy Wikipedia.
- 72a [Brönte’s Jane] EYRE. Factette: EYRE is also a legal Scrabble word, because as everyone knows, it’s “a circuit traveled by an itinerant justice in medieval England or the court he presided over”. But it puts me in mind of EYRA, which is another name for the jaguarundi, Herpailurus yagouaroundi. Not to be confused with the tayra, Eira barbara, but that’s another story.