Eric Bornstein’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
The puzzle is easy enough for a Monday. The theme seems a little opaque to me, or maybe just a little thin. There’s a revealer at 13d: [Subject of this puzzle], ECONOMICS. The circled letters read SUPPLY and DEMAND.
- Then we have 1d [Y-axis], PRICE
- And we have 62a [X-AXIS], QUANTITY
- Oh! And there’s ADAM SMITH at 32d, [“Father” of 13-Down].
Is there more that I’m missing? Yes. Yes, there is. The Y axis, PRICE, and the X axis, QUANTITY, are placed accurately and thus what we have is the supply/demand graph in all its glory. And you all now know that I did not take economics in college.
A few other things:
- Thanks to the constructor and editors for cluing PLAYMATE as [Schoolyard friend].
- ESO Beso turns up a lot in crosswords, doesn’t it?
- [Golden state?] is a great clue for UTOPIA.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Philip AHN has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Martha Kimes’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Not a lot of people my age are named Stella. As a result, I tend to answer when my name is called (by contrast, my husband, David, is far more likely to respond to “Zawistowski!”). And since old-timey names like Stella are back in vogue, there are lots of small children in Brooklyn who share my name…and dogs who do, too. This makes it rather awkward when I hear my name shouted and it turns out someone is just trying to get their child’s or dog’s attention.
What does all this have to do with today’s LAT? Well, when it’s a dog and not a little kid being yelled at, today’s theme is dog commands that sometimes follow my name when people in Brooklyn are yelling. (Can I tell you how weird that was the first few times it happened? Snapping my head in the direction of my name being called and immediately being told to sit? It’s weird.) So explains the revealer at 62A [Where a puppy may learn the starts of 17-, 29-, and 46-Across], OBEDIENCE SCHOOL.
- 17A [“Make yourself comfortable”] is SIT BACK AND RELAX. I don’t have a dog, but SIT is the first thing they usually learn, right? Feels right that it should be in the first theme position.
- 29A [“Don’t be a stranger!”] is STAY IN TOUCH.
- 46A [Regardless of how things go] is COME WHAT MAY.
As with last week’s Monday, I would’ve been happy to trade the revealer for one more theme entry (HEEL-TAP REFLEXES? LEAVE IT TO BEAVER? DOWN ON ONE’S KNEES?).
I love any reference to PAULA Abdul, I’m not sure how modern a TEXT message is anymore, and it’s nice to see a NIHAO on Monday!
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Turning Colder”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Each Down theme answer has ICE UP (59a, [Freeze over, and a hint to a feature of 5-, 6-, 10-, 25- and 33-Down]) inside of it.
- 5d. [2017 Tom Hanks thriller] THE CIRCLE. I remember seeing ads for this which film which stars Emma Watson, but I would never have remembered the title.
- 6d. [They’re not in government positions] PRIVATE CITIZEN
- 10d. [Fall quaff] APPLE CIDER
- 25d. [Mentioned earlier in the text] ABOVE-CITED. Hmm. I don’t know about this one. “Aforementioned” seems far more commonplace.
- 33d. [“Gunsmoke” setting] DODGE CITY
I appreciate that each entry has the hidden word spanning both theme answer words, but I just didn’t get much out of this theme. One, with the title being “Turning Colder,” I was expecting something to turn. I guess since the theme answers are vertical, they’re “turned” from the usual Across direction? Meh. Two, it’s spring, and most places are generally getting warmer (despite the intense hail storm we just had). Why not run this in the fall? Three, hidden word themes that have the same hidden word in each theme entry are less interesting than when the hidden words are all different.
I’d say this might be a good puzzle aimed at new solvers, but the cluing certainly didn’t seem that way, or else I was just on the wrong wavelength. The long Across entries also made it seem that the theme was to be found there, not in the Downs. I do like those entries though, LIVER SPOT and METRO AREA especially. I could do without RIVE [Split apart violently] (I wanted REND) and CANO [Baseball’s Robinson] on a Monday (I wanted JACKIE).
I just didn’t find much to get excited about in this puzzle; hopefully your experience was different. Three stars.
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
True to the label, this was a challenging puzzle! I earned one of my slowest times yet on a New Yorker puzzle, but I’m proud to say I did not have to google. Just… struggle. I didn’t know either of the long names in the N, although I am happy to have learned them, but the crosses were (mostly) fair. The trickiest part of this puzzle, for me, wasn’t the long unfamiliar names but rather the exceptionally high count of excellent misdirecting clues. There were so many good ones! To be discussed below.
First, the long entries. Actually, first, this grid design: Natan is one of the only people I’ve seen regularly stack a 14/15 and 15/14 like this, and I think it’s cool and weird and must be hard as hell to construct. Ok, now the long entries: GARTH GREENWELL / VALERIA LUISELLI / SOCIAL BUTTERFLY / INTERNATIONALE. As I said, I didn’t know the names, and I also didn’t know left-wing anthem The INTERNATIONALE (this is, after all, a Natan Last puzzle ?), and the clue on SOCIAL BUTTERFLY was a brilliant misdirect, so these long entries took me *forever*, but I got there eventually by chipping away at the downs. I think it’s not unlikely that some solvers would get tripped up on the VALERIA LUISELLI / Atul GAWANDE crossing — even if you know GAWANDE, it’s not obvious that the first vowel is an A and not an E, so you could easily end up with VALERIE, which looks equally plausible. VCHIP is also not a thing I have heard of, but I think the V was harder to miss on VALERIA.
Now let’s get into those clues! My favorite misdirects were:
- [Birthstone?] for HOME PLANET
- [One likely to vote for a third party?] for SOCIAL BUTTERFLY. I love the implication that there have been two parties so far and the SOCIAL BUTTERFLY would obviously vote to have a third.
- [Offered some hindsight?] for MOONED – this is a fun new angle (lol) on this entry
- [They often have chair lifts] for HORAS
- [Sample text?] for TAKE ONE (as in, the text that might accompany a sample tray at a grocery store or other place where, pre-pandemic, sample trays existed)
Other clues I loved that were not misdirects:
- [Places to buy false thumbs] for MAGIC SHOPS – I didn’t know about false thumbs and just spent some time on their wikipedia page and now I will never be fooled by a magician again!
- [Adjective in many a land acknowledgment] – STOLEN. Land acknowledgments recognize the colonial displacement of indigenous peoples. If you’re interested in learning more, see here, and here for a map of indigenous lands.
- [“I’ll have a half double decaffeinated half-___, with a twist of lemon” (Steve Martin, in “L.A. Story”)] for CAF – I have never seen this movie but this is hilarious
A few more things:
- RAWR tripped me up– I put MROW. How many [Faux-sexy cat noise]s are there??
- Remembering the “It’s a kick in a glass” as the slogan for TANG brought me back to watching Nickelodeon in the 90s. Those commercials featured chimpanzees on skateboards, right?
- Googled the MIRÓ painting after solving just for fun. It’s cool!!
That’s all the time I have for this writeup, but overall, I’d say despite (because of?) the challenge, I very much enjoyed the puzzle. Natan’s voice came through loud and clear, and I also enjoyed that. Tons of stars from me.
Roland Huget’s Universal crossword, “Once or Twice” — pannonica’s write-up review
The theme is recursively self-explanatory:
- 17a. [One’s history, redundantly] PAST RECORD.
- 26a. [Warning, redundantly] ADVANCE NOTICE.
- 43a. [Misrepresentation of fact, redundantly] FALSE PRETENSE.
- 55a. [Fresh face at boot camp, redundantly] NEW RECUIT.
The theme is recursively self-explanatory.
Sometimes pleonastic phrases have rhetorical value, so these aren’t necessarily undesirable tics.
- 29d [Punishment for bad service perhaps] NO TIP. Only in the most extreme circumstances, please. Otherwise it’s incredibly RUDE (54a).
- 40d [Tijuana tongue] ESPAÑOL. Was not expecting that to be in the language itself, so my initial first try was SPANISH.
- 24a [Like the piper of Hamelin] PIED. That’s in reference to his attire, which was multicolored. Most representations seem to omit this nominal detail, distressingly.
- 42d [Business case?] ATTACHÉ. This gets a question mark, for some reason. As does 16a [Sticking point?] TINE. Chalk it up to hand-holding on Monday, I guess.
- 36a [Downed a sub, say?] ATE. This one merits the question mark symbol, in my personal opinion.
- 33d [Greek god who fought Hercules] ARES. Or Herakles, if you will. 50a [British “Bye!”] TA-TA.
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1346), “Themeless Monday #611” — Jenni’s review
As Kelly mentioned in the comments, this was a terrific puzzle. I forgot to turn the timer on so I don’t know how long it took me to wrestle this to the ground. It felt like a long time and I enjoyed every minute.
Puzzles always feel harder when the NW doesn’t yield right away, and especially when it’s the last to fall. I had a blank grid until I got to the bottom half and then worked my way back up counter-clockwise and found myself starting at a nearly empty NW corner. I finally saw DO UP for [Make pretty] at 16d and then the rest fell into place. We see Desi ARNAZ in crosswords fairly often, almost always with reference to Lucy. This time we got [He had a breakout role in “Too Many Girls”] during which he met, you guessed it, Lucille Ball. If you’ve forgotten – or didn’t know – that she was an absolute knockout, just take a look.
Other fun things:
- I was looking for something COY for [Vamped] at 12a. It’s LOOPED, which I presume refers to the accompanist played the intro over and over until the singer is ready to start. Back in my musical theater days, we used to call that VTR – vamp till ready.
- A good hard puzzle includes clues like [Last], which could be last as in “final” or “part of a shoe” and here is SURVIVE.
- [Bottom lover] is TITANIA. Characters in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream]. Get your mind out of the gutter.
- [Some lead sheltered lives] is POOCHES, which is true no matter how you read it.
- 49a [Arousing sadness in a melodramatic way] is THREE–HANKY.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of Hendrik SEDIN even though he won two NHL honors in 2010, did not know that William the Conqueror is buried in CAEN, and I’ve never heard of Cluj-Napoca, a city in RUMANIA.