Meconya Alford’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review
I love this spin on a President’s Day puzzle! Each theme answer includes the name of a Presidential Pooch with the Prez in brackets. Thanks to Bryan in the comments and Tracy in my Email for alerting me to a glaring omission in my list of theme answers! I also missed that this is Meconya Alford’s NYT debut. When we have a constructor’s name in our list of tags, I figure they’re not new, and her name was familiar. That’s because I reviewed her Inkubator puzzle a few weeks ago. She’s been busy, especially since this puzzle must have been constructed after November 3.
- 21a [“Rush Hour” and “21 Jump Street” [Clinton] ] are BUDDY COP MOVIES. This sounds awkward to my ear. Buddy movies, yes. Cop movies, yes. Buddy cop movies?
- 26a [TV deputy of Mayberry [Bush 43] ] is BARNEY FIFE.
- 40a [The Buddha is often depicted meditating under it [Obama] ] is a BO TREE. How could I forget Bo? Not just a totally adorable dog but a reminder that kids remember everything you promise. In this case, they had help from all the publicity.
- 50a [C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, e.g. [Biden] ] is a MAJOR SCALE.
And the revealer at 56a, [What the starts of 21-, 26-, 40-, and 50-Across are, for the presidents in their clues]: WHITE HOUSE DOGS. When I came back to edit the puzle, I realized that the dogs appear in order of succession: Clinton, George W Bush, Obama, Biden. This is an even better puzzle than I initially realized!
I love dogs. One of the things I love about doing home visits is that I get to meet people’s dogs. Dog-centric puzzles make me smile even with one iffy theme entry. There’s a bonus puppy I’ll mention later.
A few other things:
- I enjoy the image of a Jewish wedding with people dancing the HORA on the beach at OAHU. Sounds like fun to me.
- I remember when MERV Griffin was a poor man’s Mike Douglas – and then came “Wheel of Fortune.”
- I always give money to people who BUSK in the subway even when they’re not very good. On another note (!), I think BUSK might be a tad obscure for Monday.
- ELSA crossing ELSE isn’t a dupe but it sure looks odd.
- I love our ROKU! We recently upgraded and now we can use Airplay to stream from our computers to our TVs.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that IKE had a dog named Heidi (bonus puppy!).
Stella Zawistowski’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Derek here subbing for Stella on a Monday LAT for a good reason: this IS Stella’s puzzle! Let’s list the theme entries:
- 17A [*Test of hand strength] PINCH GRIP
- 29A [*Ski resort purchase] LIFT TICKET
- 43A [*Accidentally call without touching one’s cellphone] POCKET DIAL
- 57A [Express lack of interest on Tinder … or a hint to the answers to starred clues] SWIPE LEFT
I am getting old and slow, so it took me a minute to “grasp” the theme, but the starred clues all start with a word that means swipe on the left side of the entry. Pretty simple for a Monday, and certainly easy by Stella standards. (Disclaimer: I have NEVER been on Tinder! But they “tell” me that if you swipe left it is a big fat no, but if you swipe right it is game on!) Nicely done for a Monday; it was only I that made it needlessly complicated! 4.3 stars from me.
A few more notes:
- 5A [Man __: 1920 Horse of the Year] O’ WAR – Nice entry that I have to make sure is on my list!
- 27A [Drink with a polar bear mascot] ICEE – It is in the single digits here in northern Indiana. No ICEEs or Slurpees for me in the near future! There is a new freeze at Taco Bell, too, and it can ALSO wait for warmer weather!
- 35A [It’s given in the form of a question on “Jeopardy!”] ANSWER – I WILL be on Jeopardy! one day. Hopefully!
- 7D [Not very much] A BIT OF – This is a 6-letter partial that the NYT I don’t believe would take. This one seems fine to me, and that rule, if it is still there, needs to go. Although clued this way, one could view it as NOT being a partial. The point is, it is easily gettable, and that is the key.
- 21D [NYC museum’s fundraising gala] MET BALL – I believe Stella is quite the fashionista, and that is what this ball is known for. Me, I wear what’s clean and hope the colors match!
- 55D [Omar of “House”] EPPS – Also, as another option, OMAR Sy is the star of Lupin on Netflix. I haven’t seen it yet, but it is supposedly good. I think it involves subtitles, so be warned.
Tune in on Tuesday for my usual LAT gig. Have a great day!
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
This was fun and not that hard! The long entries shine and the medium fill is also pretty solid, although the short fill wasn’t ideal. Quick writeup today:
The marquees are I’D RATHER NOT SAY and TRAPEZE ARTISTS, both with spot-on clues [Polite answer to “How much money do you make?”] and [Ones whose jobs are up in the air?]. PSA: if your colleagues ask you how much money you make, it may be because they suspect there is a gendered wage gap, and you should just tell them! Also, is this puzzle a morality play about officework? See parallel long downs GOOD HABITS [Meeting deadlines, being punctual, etc.] / RAN ERRANDS [Served as an office gofer]. The stacks in the NW and SE are also pretty good: WORK THAT / ON A LEASH / RETURNEE / INSULTED / GARNERED / STATUARY. I’d say WORK THAT is my favorite, and RETURNEE is kind of just there, but generally solid stuff
A few more things:
- Favorite clues:
- [Ones whose jobs are up in the air?] for TRAPEZE ARTISTS
- [Forward-looking person?] for SEER
- Fill I could live without: crossword staples NCIS/IZOD/ATRA, -ASE, SOT, ONE I
- Generationwatch: I tried to put in INCUBUS for 8-Down [“Drive” band] but it didn’t fit ?. Definitely did not know this song by THE CARS, listened to it and watched the video, and… am confused by it. It was not a particularly good time so instead here is WORK THAT by Mary J. Blige.
Overall, several stars for the long entries and solid cluing. See you Weds!
Zhouquin Burnikel’s Universal crossword, “QR Reader” — pannonica’s write-up
I spent a not insignificant amount of time editing this crossword’s grid to look kind of like a QR code with the intention of scanning it to see what the result might be. Unfortunately, my labors were in vain, as it lacks the identifying trio of concentric squares in the corners, and even had I inserted those, the grid possesses the wrong resolution. Plus, there are numerous other standards.
So on to the puzzle itself. The theme is simply two-word phrases with the initials QR.
17a. [Snake oil, say] QUACK REMEDY.
- 27a. [Short musical pause] QUARTER REST. Quarter notes rests defeated me in high school percussion class. I’m that inept.
- 47a. [Doha currency] QATARI RIYAL.
- 61a. [Monarch’s stand-in] QUEEN REGENT.
QUITE (27d) reasonable.
I mean, I suppose I could play around with that grid some more. Perhaps quadruple it and add those alignment figures and whatever else is needed … but frankly, that’s TOO (16a) much work dedicated to what is probably a fruitless exercise.
- 3d [Fall weather advisory that’s useful to gardeners] FROST ALERT. Freezing temps all over the South right now. 15a [Winter fishing shelter] ICE HUT. I bet there’s a bit of that going on right now too.
- 6d [Pole-vaulting paths] ARCS. I suppose, after the vaulter has left the ground?
- 7d [Where people may make a pyramid?] CIRCUS. This turned out to be a tricky clue for me.
- 57d [Some fluffy sandals] UGGS. Fluffy sandals confuse me.
- 62d [Cashew, e.g.] NUT. Of course, they’re really seeds, but colloquially they are considered nuts.
- 25a [Auto garage service] LUBE. I was thinking more about parking garages rather than repair/maintenance garages.
- 33a [Browser history contents] URLS. I bet the majority of QR codes are simply URLs.
- 45a Actress HANA Mae Lee is new to me.