Ross Trudeau’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
If you like Ross Trudeau’s puzzles (and I do!), check out his website Rossword Puzzles where he posts new puzzles for free every Sunday and writes about those puzzles and life in general. He’s a generous mentor and a cogent observer of Crossworld. Today’s puzzle is a solid Monday offering – accessible and enjoyable.
I didn’t figure out what was going on until I got to the revealer.
- 17a [*Joe cool?] is ICED COFFEE. Love this clue! Also love iced coffee, which I gather is a Yankee thing (according to my Southern friends).
- 30a [*Amenity for jet-setters] is AIRPORT WIFI.
- 37a [*What investigators really want to know] is THE INSIDE INFO. This one sounds clunky to me. I would say either THE INSIDE SCOOP or INSIDE INFO.
- 46a [*Aromatic fragrance with a French name] is EAU DE PARFUM.
What do all these things have in common? 60a [Fairy tale chant from a giant … or the ends of the answers to the starred clues] is FEE FI FO FUM. I like that the spellings are accurate as well as the sounds.
It’s been a long (and good) day so I’ll stop here. Hope everyone is enjoying the warm weather we’ve got in PA!
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
We lost Gail Grabowski in December, but clearly she still had one or more puzzles in the hopper, so it’s nice to see her byline again, together with my former constructing partner Bruce Venzke’s. This puzzle, as 69A [Ray Charles’ genre, and a hint to the answers to starred clues] states, is about R AND B, although the theme isn’t musical at all, just two-word phrases with the initials R.B. Such as:
- 17A [* Dilapidated car] is a RUST BUCKET. I haven’t owned a car since 2003, but back then I drove a 1993 Ford Tempo GL that was pretty close to RUST BUCKET territory. Ah, memories.
- 27A [* Bowling alley’s “start over” device] is a RESET BUTTON. But I would just start over with a different game, because I stink at bowling.
- 46A [* Unscrupulous 19th-century tycoon] is a ROBBER BARON.
- 62A [* High-fiber cereal with dried fruit] is RAISIN BRAN, blecccch. (That’s a personal-taste don’t-give-me-raisins-unless-they’re-golden bleccch, not a this-is-a-terrible-entry” blecccch.)
The theme and the fill seem mismatched with each other. The theme certainly does lend itself to Monday; “phrases with the same initials” is pretty common and straightforward. I don’t even know that you need the asterisks, given that there are no fill entries longer than the themers. But KETCH, ELKE, YSER, OGEE, DENEB all seem like they don’t belong in a Monday puzzle. ELAND also, because at five letters [African antelope] could lead you as easily to ORIBI if you have no crossings, and even though an OKAPI isn’t an antelope, you can be forgiven for not keeping your five-letter mammals straight on a Monday morning.
I did like seeing LAURA DERN in the puzzle. Love her!
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Shift Key”—Jim P’s review
TOP GEAR is the revealer (37a, [Popular BBC show, and a hint to 3-, 8-, 24- and 26-Down]). The other theme answers (in the Down direction) have a car gear as the first word (i.e. at the top).
- 3d. [Orchestra’s concertmaster] FIRST VIOLIN.
- 8d. [Drill command used for solemn occasions] REVERSE ARMS. Whoa. Never heard of this one. Apparently, it’s a drill position in which the rifle is carried upside-down as a mark of respect or mourning. Watch this video if you want to see it in action.
- 24d. [Criticize by hindsight, say] SECOND GUESS.
- 26d. [Buffer between Federation and Romulan space] NEUTRAL ZONE. Fun entry, though neutral isn’t really a gear.
Well, it’s not a complete set of car gears; you’d need third and fourth (and maybe fifth), assuming we’re talking about a manual car. But for what it is, it’s fine. I like the choices of entries, including the one I’d never heard of before.
In the fill, there’s a mini-Florida theme with SARASOTA, SEMINOLE, and controversial governor RON DeSantis. Apart from that, I liked LAGOONS and LOSING IT. There’s very little to scowl at as well.
Clues were clearly on a Monday level, allowing for a zippy solve time, but that also means I didn’t spot any noteworthy ones.
A fine grid and clean fill. 3.7 stars.
Mark McClain’s Universal crossword, “Connect the Dots” — pannonica’s write-up
- 18a. [… Visiting relative or a friend …] HOUSE GUEST
- 26a. [… Hotel amenity …] ROOM SERVICE
- 42a. [… Music-playing service? …] CALL WAITING
- 55a. [… Deer or elk, in hunting season (hint: this puzzle’s theme answers from a circular word chain) …] GAME ANIMAL
Thus, house guest, guest room, room service, service call, call waiting, waiting game, game animal, animal house, house guest …
I’m really souring on the term “game animal” and associated implications these days.
Theme’s a less common style, but not unprecedented. It’s done well here.
- 6d [The __ State (Oklahoma)] SOONER. Had some crossings and was mentally completing it as SONNET before referring to the clue, which led to the amusing notion of a more poetical prairie existence.
- 12d [Only basic sense that ends with a vowel] TASTE. “It’s trivia, but not as we know it.”
- 40d [Luxury automaker whose model names end with X’s] ACURA. ditto
- 27d [Unpleasant smell] ODOR. You all know my complaint here.
- 28d [Epps in “Traffik”] OMAR. Not to be confused with the earlier and more high-profile film, Traffic, which itself was adapted from a British television series called … Traffik.
- 34d [Ice mass] BERG, 50a [Less cordial] ICIER. Really?
- 63a [Well-traveled routes] PATHS.
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Helloooo very quick writeup today because I have a six hour drive ahead of me. Bullet points only!
- The corner stacks today were GIRL CODE / OK BOOMER / POSSIBLE // CALLISTO / KNEE DEEP / SEX SELLS, the two long acrosses were IMMODESTLY and SEDER PLATE, and the two long downs are COIN DEALERS / TOTEM POLES. I’m not convinced GIRL CODE is a real thing, but OK BOOMER and SEX SELLS are fun
- I really struggled in the NE, being unfamiliar with AO SCOTT or NORA and not being able to parse SEMINAR or AIMS TO until the very end. I also don’t really like the clue on DEPORTED [Banished, in a way] — feels a little off to equate a fairy tale concept like banishment with the very real and traumatic experience of being DEPORTED
- Always love to see Janelle MONAE in puzzles
- Not sure a SKULKER is a distinct thing
- Fill I could live without: ILS / IKO / SEL / TEL / NOS
Overall, not my favorite New Yorker, but still decent! Several stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1362), “Themeless Monday #618” — Jenni’s review
Tougher than the last few have been! Dinner is nigh again, so here’s the grid and my hot takes:
- 11d [Small snow shovel?] is a COKE NAIL. Cocaine users are purported to keep one fingernail long to facilitate sniffing.
- 19a [Chihauhua, e.g.] is BORDER STATE. Mexican geography, not annoying little dogs.
- 31a [Warrior who’s better than everybody, perhaps?] is MVP. I presume this is basketball.
- 63a [Ready to pour] is OVERCAST. Clouds, not liquid. Well, not liquid you drink.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: oh, so many things. That Tupac SHAKUR was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, that YAO Ming is president of the Chinese Basketball Association, that Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was born in ASSISI, that the seven of diamonds is called the BEER CARD.
NYT: The theme was fun and Monday appropriate, but the fill was rough at times by Monday standards.
I was surprised at seeing SFO literally above the “FO” in the revealer of a theme where endings with F are the whole point. I’m sure it was dictated by the constraints of the construction but it was not esthetically pleasing.
Yes, the last themer and revealer dictate M__F for that entry. I guess the NYT isn’t ready for MILF in their grid yet.
Universal: Since when is CALL WAITING a “Music playing service”? Is he referring to the music you sometimes hear when you are placed on hold? That’s a different thing… “Call waiting” was the service that gave you a beep when you were on the line and another call was coming through, and you could choose to answer it or not. There wasn’t any music involved, that I’m aware of.
I totally agree … At a minimum, that’s a really awful clue/answer combination. I’d call it flat-out wrong. I wondered if anyone here would comment on it.
Straight from the constructors mouth – my clue was: “Cause of a tone while on the phone” which I thought was a pretty catchy rhyming clue, but obviously the editor had other ideas.
Thanks for chiming in, Mark. Yes, your clue is much, much better … not to mention that it’s a legitimate clue for the answer.
For those who would like to know, I got this from Kevin McCann this morning:
I have very sad news. Nancy Salomon passed away yesterday. Her sister informed me today.
Nancy was a very special person and important member of our crossword
community. She has mentored countless up-and-coming crossword
constructors. She contributed “sage advice” articles for cruciverb.com.
She was a giver and had much respect from all of us. She will be missed.
We never met in person but I can tell you that I feel a deep loss. I
will remember her generous spirit and words of wisdom for the rest of my
It’s a somber day in Crossworld … First, a reminder that the late, great Gail Grabowski is no longer constructing puzzles and now the news of Nancy Salomon’s passing. We’ve lost two of the masters of the art of creating quality early-week/easy puzzles. RIP
Universal-I loved the call waiting answer! It’s 8 down that has baffled me, and the internet was no help. Funny couple=ENS. What the heck does ENS mean in this context?
Two occurrences of the letter “n” spelled en.
BEQ: I confidently dropped in “owls” for 28a (Parliament group?) which got me off on the wrong foot immediately. Oops :) . I am too old, or un-hip, to immediately associate the word edible with weed though I got there, along with coke nail (is it one word or two?). Tups was new to me as far as rams go, looks like it is a breeding term somewhere.
Pretty tough all around, along with the things Jenni noted.