Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
Lynn’s guest appearance at the WaPo on Sunday was my favorite puzzle of the weekend. When I see her byline, I smile in anticipation of pleasure. I know the grid will be smooth and the theme will be solid and consistent. This one is no exception – although it took me a while to figure out exactly what the theme was.
The revealer at 36a is [Hamlet’s dilemma…with a phonetic hint for the last words of 17- and 29-Across and the first words of 45- and 63-Across]. The answer is TO BE OR NOT TO BE. The relevant theme answers:
- 17a [Equestrian outfit] is a RIDING HABIT.
- 29a [Children’s character who lives in a briar patch] is BR‘ER RABBIT. I hope those stories have been retired from kid lit; they’re thoroughly racist.
- 45a [“E-G-B-D-F” musical symbol] is the TREBLE CLEF. Everyone who took piano lessons in childhood is now reciting “every good boy does fine” in our heads.
- 63a [California golf resort that has hosted six U.S. Opens] is PEBBLE BEACH.
HABIT and RABBIT rhyme, and one has two Bs. Two Bs or not….same for TREBLE and PEBBLE. Cute!
A few other things:
- THIN MINTs are the best Girl Scout cookies. This is a fact.
- 3d [Undertake with gusto] is WADE INTO. I think of WADing INTO battle, and “gusto” to me implies enjoyment, so that doesn’t quite match up.
- Is REHEAR actually used by legal types?
- I aspire to APLOMB.
- Sigh. I remember theater and the ENTR‘ACTE.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that PEBBLE BEACH has hosted six U.S. Opens.
Evan Birnholz wrote a lovely interview with Lynn – you can read it here. It contains spoilers for Sunday’s WaPo puzzle.
Don Gagliardo’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
If this one took you a little longer than normal, take heart: It’s a 16×15 grid, so a few more words than normal. I also think that both fill and theme were a little more Tuesday- or Wednesday-ish than for a Monday, as I’ll get into below.
First, the theme, which is fun because it’s not the typical three-themers-and-a-revealer fare. There’s not a ton of thematic material for a puzzle of this size — three themers total — but I’m impressed that the constructor found this many entries that worked symmetrically! We’re dealing with letters in simple geometric shapes that are symbols for something or other:
- 21A [“Parking” image, on signs] is P IN A SQUARE. I’ll take the constructor’s word for it. I haven’t owned a car in 18 years and I hope never to have to own one again, so I’m not exactly on the lookout for parking most of the time.
- 39A [“Kosher” image, on labels] is K IN A TRIANGLE. Again, as a happy eater of pork, shrimp, and other trayf delights, I trust that this is true more than I know the symbol on sight.
- 59A [“Registered” image, on product names] is R IN A CIRCLE. Or “R-ball,” as we routinely refer to it in my advertising day job.
Straightforward when you look at it like that, but I do think when you run all the letters together, you have a good chance of confusing a beginning solver. (“What the heck is a PINA SQUARE?”) This is part of why I’d have run this puz later in the week.
I also think entries like AVANTI, SCREE, WAPITI, and especially SLOP SINK, which wanted very much to be SLOP PAIL at first, put this puzzle squarely in the too-hard-for-Monday category.
I enjoyed seeing MATERIALS clued with reference to the Philip Pullman His Dark Materials books, which I read for the first time last year (yeah, yeah, I know I’m extremely late) and loooooooved. SKULL ISLAND is also a fun long non-thematic entry.
Mark Danna’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Turning In”—Jim P’s review
Despite the title, there’s no turning of entries involved with this theme. Instead, we have circled letters that comprise a REVOLVING DOOR (60a, [Entrance of a sort, and a hint to the progression in the circles]). Each long entry has the letters of DOOR off-set by one square as they progress down the grid, with the final letter of an entry “revolving” to the front in the next entry.
- 20a. [Cinnamon sugar cookie] SNICKERDOODLE. I think we collectively owe a debt of thanks to whomever came up with that cookie name. It’s such a fun one to say.
- 36a. [Free way to create buzz] WORD OF MOUTH
- 44a. [Custom-created] MADE TO ORDER
Nice, lively choices for theme entries, and they execute the theme perfectly. We’re accustomed to seeing anagrams in situations like this, but this is harder to pull off since the letters must maintain their overall order except with the last letter is moved to the front each time. To do all that and still maintain entry symmetry and make it lively is a job well done.
Moving to the long fill, we find an INTERLUDE and MIDSTREAM. Nothing extra sparkly, but they’re solid enough. I like FELLAS, EUDORA Welty, and CHICHI.
One clue of note: 35d. [Inadvisable place to change horses]. MIDSTREAM. Is there a metaphor going on here that I’m not recognizing? Who’s changing horses in the middle of a stream? Or should the answer to the clue really be “midstride.” Ah, never mind, I just looked it up and see it’s an idiom I never heard before.
A clean grid and a well-executed theme. 3.8 stars.
The New Yorker crossword — Rachel’s non-writeup
The New Yorker crossword
Hi team — the New Yorker Union is has authorized a strike, so I won’t be solving their puzzle until the strike authorization is resolved. I *will* probably go back and solve after the fact, so I’d be happy to update these posts with short write-ups once the strike is over. (Edited to reflect that they aren’t currently on strike)
Union negotiations are continuing in good faith, and they ask that we not stop blogging the puzzles while negotiations continue so that solvers don’t miss out on the hard work of the constructors. Here’s the writeup of Natan’s puzzle!
I really, REALLY enjoyed this one. I love the shape that facilitates a 14/15/15/14 marquee set, and I extra love all four of the marquees: A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN / DEAD TREE EDITION / GWENDOLYN BROOKS / LUCILLE CLIFTON. These last two were clued in reference to specific poems, both of which I actually knew (!!), which made this puzzle much easier for me than your typical New Yorker Monday. This puzzle was also chock-full of references to other things I love. Some examples:
- [Janet’s fiancé in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”] for BRAD
- [“Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my ___ friends”] for SHAM
- [Thai curry with a zesty kaffir-lime flavor] for PANANG
- The clue/riddle [Where you might ask for change in quarters, not get any coins, and still be satisfied?] for HOTEL
- [Creator of the Three Laws of Robotics] for ASIMOV, which will always hold a special place in my heart for being the final Jeopardy answer I had wrong but still won with
Overall, tons of (belated) stars for this puzzle.
Beth Rubin and Tracy Bennett’s Universal crossword, “For Food Lovers” — pannonica’s write-up
Food and romance. They go together well.
- 18a. [*Messy sandwich the couple enjoyed first] SLOPPY JOE.
- 27a. [*Cheese-topped bowlful they enjoyed second] FRENCH ONION SOUP.
- 46a. [*Fried seafood they enjoyed third] BUTTERFLY SHRIMP.
- 60aR [What the couple shared before enjoying more pieces of candy separately, and a hint to the starred answers’ starts] FIRST KISS. And there’s the explanation. Sloppy kiss, French kiss, butterfly kiss.
As a theme answer, the revealer is the weakest of a fantastic bunch. But as it does double duty it’s more than adequate.
Bonus: 44a [Dined] ATE.
For those who aren’t aware, butterfly kiss as a term dates back to at least 1883 and is defined as “the act or an instance of fluttering one’s eyelashes against another person’s skin”. This is an especially apt name as the mouth is not involved, and butterflies lack mouths. They ‘taste’ with their feet and ingest through their proboscis.
- 1d [Two husky sounds] ARF ARF. If you need some weirdness in your life, have a look at Arf! Arf! Records. We also get 48d [Greets like a dachshund] YAPS AT.
- Female vibe to the fill, including choices such as 7d [Angela Bassett’s Ivy] YALE, 19d [Mitsuko Uchida’s instrument] PIANO, 28d [“Song of Solomon” or “The Color Purple”] NOVEL, 16a [Like Earhart’s flight across the Atlantic] SOLO, 20a [Actress Larter] ALI, 41a [They don’t lie, per a Shakira hit] HIPS; even 2d [Padded envelope] MAILER and 43a [Straw bundle] BALE.
- 43d [Cliché artist’s hat] BERET. Spent a good few beats pondering whether a cliché artist was like a bullshit artist, after which I parsed it as intended.
- 45d [One tossing darts, say] THROWER. >moue<
- 21a [Sibling of Huey and Louie] DEWEY. It’s so neat that the three rhyming names are spelled quite differently.
- 39a [Covers up for safe travel?] PAVES. That’s pretty good, I guess.
Overall, a very nice and enjoyable crossword.
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1352), “Themeless Monday #614” — Jenni’s review
Quickly – need to go back to work.
Here’s the grid. Highlights for me:
- BLITZKRIEG clued with reference to the Ramones instead of the Nazis.
- 8d [Causes a power outage?] for DETHRONES.
- BLACK TWITTER can be a point of entry for White folk who want to listen to Black voices. Note: I said listen.
- [Underground metal band] is ORE. For once in a BEQ puzzle, it wasn’t an indie band.
- 48d [Ride or die, e.g.] for VERB.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that BRENNER Pass is between Italy and Austria, or that diamonds and clubs are MINOR SUITs in bridge.