Barbara Lin’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
I enjoyed this theme! It’s fresh and fun and still Monday-accessible. All the theme answers play on differences between American English and British English. I’m sure the Brits would say theirs is simply “English.”
- 17a [Traveled by subway?] WENT DOWN THE TUBE.
- 27a [“Would you call the elevator for me?”] is CAN I GET A LIFT?
- 48a [“Hand me the flashlight?”] is PASS THE TORCH.
- 63a [Use French fries as legal tender?] is CASH IN ONE‘S CHIPS. That one made me giggle.
All the phrases are solidly in the (American) language and all the clues are amusing. Nice!
A few other things:
- 3d [Amish cousin] is MENNONITE, which is a slam-dunk gimme for anyone who lives within 100 miles of me. We’re not in what is usually called “Amish country,” but there are lots of Mennonites here and when I make home visits in the western part of my territory, I pass Amish farms and have to follow Amish buggys down the road. WAZE does not account for horse-drawn conveyances when it calculates arrival times.
- 26d [Ending of seven Asian countries’ names] is STAN. Let’s retire that definition in favor of the current one referencing maniacal fans.
- I can’t be the only one who dropped in COIN for 27d [Item in a purse]. Turns out it’s COMB.
- I guess people move to the Caymans for TAX RELIEF. I think of it more as a DODGE, myself.
- I just looked at the keypad on my phone, and the 0 button doesn’t say OPER. It has a + sign under the number. Speaking of definitions that should be retired….
Matt McKinley’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Oh boy. I don’t even know where to start about this puzzle. I can tell you right now I’m not going to say anything about the quality of the fill or how well executed the theme is, because the theme is, as 37A [What the answers to starred clues are (their creator turned 85 this month)] states, WOODY ALLEN FILMS.
We’re cool with Woody Allen now? I’m not. “Innocent until proven guilty” applies in a court of law, not to how individuals deal with each other. Thus, it’s on you and me, and the constructor and the editors, to decide whether someone accused of sexually abusing a child, and who most definitely had an affair with his less-than-half-his-age stepdaughter back in the day, is worthy not only of mention in a crossword puzzle, but of centering an entire theme around. And then everyone should act accordingly.
I, for one, think the allegations are credible enough that I found it incredibly distasteful to solve this puzzle.
Maybe you still like his movies. (I’m not much of a movie nerd; I’ve seen two or three of them and wasn’t a fan.) I can understand that; watch them at home if you like. But pay him tribute in a major newspaper puzzle? WHY?
The theme of this puzzle is so easy to understand that I’m not even going to bother to explain the themers like I usually do. What is not easy to understand is why this puzzle ran. Not my favorite. At all.
Chris Gross & Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Shake It Up”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Synonyms of TWIST AND SHOUT are found in pairs of well-known phrases. The revealer at 35a is clued [1964 Beatles hit, and a hint to the circled letters in this puzzle].
- 17a. [Laundry room fastener] CLOTHESPIN. SPIN can be a synonym of TWIST.
- 25a. [City and its surrounding region] METRO AREA. ROAR can be a synonym of SHOUT.
- 51a. [Bombers and fighters] WAR PLANES. WARP = TWIST.
- 61a. [American fashion designer] PERRY ELLIS. YELL = SHOUT.
Nothing too fancy, but it works. However, it would be more elegant if there was some ostensible reason that synonyms of TWIST and SHOUT should be hiding in other phrases.
Solid long fill in FRONT ROW, UMBRELLA, MARTINI, and SAFE BET. And the grid is loaded with nice 6s like EAT OUT, PANERA, “YES I AM,” and DWARFS, etc.
It being Monday, cluing was very straightforward, allowing me to clock in at what is a pretty speedy time for me. I did like [Chain that makes a lot of bread] for PANERA and [It goes up when it comes down] for UMBRELLA.
A decent Monday theme and a quick solve. 3.5 stars.
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
This was a tough one! Possibly my slowest New Yorker ever? The long entries took me *forever*, so it was hard to gain a foothold anywhere. I’m not sure if this is a reflection of the puzzle, or my undercaffeination when solving, or a general decline in my solving skills (aging!), but the challenge was mostly enjoyable regardless. I like hard puzzles, even when I’m bad at them (which I why I played in the Stormy division of Boswords despite DNFing several puzzles this season). I think there were a couple of crosses that I’d call less-than-fair that elevated the difficulty today, and the cluing was often quite tricky, but the mental exercise of finally cracking this puzzle was still darn satisfying.
The long entries today were SAN LUIS OBISPO, RENT CONTROLLED, EVANGELICALISM, and GENDER STUDIES. Of these, the clue on RENT CONTROLLED was very clever and very hard for me [Resistant to hiking, in a way], and I’m not a huge fan of EVANGELICALISM as a word. I think I want it to be “EVANGEL…ISM”, although I gather they have different meanings, in that one is a “movement.” ABOLISH ICE (which I *know* I have seen as a revealer recently and cannot remember where) and HATEMONGER are also solid entries.
A few more things:
- The tricky crosses for me today were HEINE/EVA, EVA/CHICANED, and RETRORSE/PEN. I’m glad to have learned these things, but the E was 100% a guess for me at the intersection of HEINE/EVA.
- Favorite clues:
- [Property takers, usually] for ONELS
- [Resistant to hiking, in a way] for RENT CONTROLLED (once it finally clicked, that is)
- Fill I could live without: TBAR, PHAT
Overall, several stars for a satisfying solve! See you Wednesday for a (hopefully) somewhat easier puzzle.
Gary Larson’s Universal crossword, “Football Action” — pannonica’s write-up
Formula is: plural noun phrases RECAST (18d) as American football position + present indicative verb.
- 17a. [Football player gets ahead in line?] CENTER CUTS.
- 28a. [Football player sings loudly?] SAFETY BELTS.
- 44a. [Football player fights in a ring?] TACKLE BOXES.
- 59a. [Football player complains bitterly?] GUARD RAILS.
Okay, theme works.
- 5d [Villainous looks] SNEERS, 16a [Look at creepily] OGLE, 51d [Rude look] STARE.
- 38d [Kind of fork] SALAD. A salad is a kind of fork? News to me.
- 45d [2006 film about a dragon rider] ERAGON. I presume the sequels are called Fragon and Gragon.
- 47d [Look for a body part in this clue’s answer, say] SEARCH. Sort of a weird hybrid meta clue. There’s an ARCH in there.
- 10a [Breakfast place’s meat and potatoes] HASH. More literally than figuratively, I’d say. But who knows.
- 21a [Caught on a nail, say] SNAGGED. ouch
- 62a [It may be 0.7 millimeters wide] LEAD. I believe this is the preferred mechanical pencil thickness for some competitive crossword solvers?
- 63a [Largest member of the dolphin family] ORCA. I’ve seen some sources use the caveat ‘extant’ but I’m not (casually) aware of any larger prehistoric species. Did find some interesting information on a newly-described organism, Ankylorhiza tiedmani, so there’s that.
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1320), Themeless Monday — Jenni’s review
We know some of you have missed the reviews of Brendan’s puzzles. Thanks for the push. I’m serious – I’d stopped doing Brendan’s Monday puzzles and they are so good. I’m glad I did this one. I make no promises about the future, but I have time today, so here we go.
There was a lot I liked in this puzzle! A few of the entries I enjoyed:
- ONE CAN ASSUME for [“In all likelihood”].
- I WANT OUT for [Quitter’s phrase].
- The amazing Cannonball ADDERLEY.
- OKAY GUY for [“Sure thing there, pal”].
- One of my favorite figure skaters ever, KATARINA Witt.
I also loved 35a [Author of a best-seller that used only 50 different words]. I was expecting some odd Modernist writer I’d never heard of. Nope. It’s SEUSS. Hah.
I’m not sure about ELIST, defined as [Tool for some Patreon users]. I subscribe to several Patreons and haven’t heard the term. Maybe it’s something the creators use?
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle and was absolutely delighted to learn: that the FBI spent over two years studying the lyrics to “Louie, Louie.” I hope they moved on to “Wooly Bully.”