Monday, May 24, 2021

BEQ tk (Jenni) 


LAT 2:08 (Stella) 


NYT 3:05 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 5:30 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


WSJ 4:36 (Jim P) 


Adrienne Atkins’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

Adrienne Atkins makes her NYT debut with this puzzle and it’s a good ’un. I look forward to seeing more of her work! Each theme answer is a two-word phrase made up of body parts. Very Frankenstein, not at all monstrous.

New York Times, May 24, 2021, #0521, Adrienne Atkins, solution grid

  • 17a [Harmonica] is a MOUTH ORGAN.
  • 25a [Place to get some barbecue] is a RIB JOINT.
  • 38a [Dummy] is a KNUCKLEHEAD.
  • 51a [Negative repercussions] are a BACKLASH.

And a revealer at 61a – [Stand-in during a film shoot…or a hint to 17-, 25-, 38-, 51-Across] is BODY DOUBLE. I like this theme! While it may well have been done before in some version, I don’t remember seeing it. It’s consistent and accessible. A good Monday!

A few other things:

  • I like the long Downs: SERVICE DOGS and STAKE A CLAIM.
  • 12d [Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera, for two] is LATINAS. I was looking for some version of POP DIVAS.
  •  I missed 35d [Apt letters missing from “_tea_th_”] when I was solving because I filled it in from crossings. The answer is SLY. This is a cryptic/Puns and Anagrams-style clue that has no place on a Monday. If you put the letters back in where the blanks are, you get STEALTHY, which should have been the clue.
  • I enjoy Twinkies and HoHos and I really like Yodels, and even I think SNO Balls are disgusting.
  • 46d [Three-ingredient lunchbox staple, familiarly] is P B AND J. I always think of it as PB&J.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the OCEANs make up roughly 71% of the Earth’s surface (and what’s with “roughly 71%”? Couldn’t that be “roughly 70%”?)

Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

LAT 5/24/21 by Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke

LAT 5/24/21 by Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke

I’m gonna need a little SPACE for this posthumous effort from Gail Grabowski and (still very much alive) Bruce Venzke. Some BACKSPACE, that is. That’s the revealer at 36A [PC key with a left-pointing arrow … and a hint to the last words of answers to starred clues], which tells you that BACKSPACE means that the BACK, or second word of each two-word theme entry, is a type of SPACE.

  • 18A [*Major tennis tournament played on clay] is the FRENCH OPEN. OPEN SPACE is something I enjoy when I can get it, as a Brooklyn resident.
  • 23A [*Vegas vacation valuables holder] Say that five times fast! Probably easier to say HOTEL SAFE five times fast, or SAFE SPACE, a popular concept these days.
  • 52A [*TV headline ticker] is NEWS CRAWL. A CRAWL SPACE is probably the most restricted of the SPACE phrases you get from these theme entries. Claustrophobes beware!
  • 58A [*99-year-old Emmy-winning actress with eight-plus decades in show business] is an awfully long clue for BETTY WHITE. I work in advertising, so I appreciate the value of WHITE SPACE, judiciously used.

I could stand to see Ted DANSON clued with a more modern reference than Cheers. (Hello? The Good Place was amazing, and Mr. Mayor seems to be doing all right.) I also think Brian ORSER and ELIN Hildebrand are out of place on a Monday. On a more positive note, fave clue: 1D [Mask wearer at home] for CATCHER. Given the year-plus we’ve all had, it gave me a chuckle.

Ezra Brauner’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Tuneup”—Jim P’s review

Today’s theme entries END ON A HIGH NOTE [Quit while ahead, and what 19-, 28-, 36- and 48-Across do].

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Tuneup” · Ezra Brauner · Mon., 5.24.21

  • 19a. [Particularly strong shot, say] DOUBLE ESPRESSO
  • 28a. [Interstellar cloud in Taurus] CRAB NEBULA
  • 36a. [Cheesy pasta dish] BAKED ZITI
  • 48a. [“My lord!”] “HOLY TOLEDO!”

Of course, whether or not these notes are high depends on the octave, but at least they’re higher than re, mi, and fa. I’m going to assume that do is high do (if that’s a term) and not low do.

One doesn’t need this many theme squares to get the theme across, but these are fun entries, especially when you try to sing them.

I also appreciate that the revealer is an awkward 14-letters in length, requiring it to go in the 12th row and causing the other themers to squish together with only one row separating each. THUS we get entries like NOI and KOO, but considering the constraints, that’s not too bad.

I never knew a TATTOO GUN was called such, but now I do. TENEMENTS is somewhat of a downer, but since it’s crossing three themers, I’m sure there weren’t a lot of choices that would work there. Elsewhere I liked the MOLE RATS / SLINKYS mash-up.

Clue of note: 63a. [Cranium and hearts, e.g.]. GAMES. Tricky. Do people play the Cranium games much anymore? We’ve played a number of them over the years. One of our favorites is Whoonu which is very simple to pick up but is fun for everyone—adults and kids. What’s your favorite Cranium game?

A light theme, but a lot of theme material. Some kludgy fill is to be expected, but on the whole, it works well for a Monday. 3.6 stars.

Michael Lieberman’s Universal crossword, “Animalgrams” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 5/24/21 • Lieberman • Mon • “Animalgrams” • solution • 20210524

Theme’s essentially what’s advertised. Not animal words but animal-anagrams.

  • 20a. [Oily fish that spends more time on the ocean floor?] SANDIER SARDINE.
  • 25a. [Burrowing animal in clothes?] GARBED BADGER.
  • 46a. [Most kind bug?] NICEST INSECT.
  • 55a. [Snake that lives in the moment?] PRESENT SERPENT.

Much like our ophidian friend, these theme entries seem just kind of there. Or maybe that’s a reflection on my current state—it’s Monday morning and I’ve AWOKEn (19a) exhausted from troubled dreams, not to find I’ve been transformed into some kind of INSECT or a vermin {Minerva}, but merely to feel present. I won’t make it melodramatic and say I’m acutely feeling the burden of existence or anything, I’m just kind of … there.

©Sirtuuna (at DeviantArt)

  • 3d [Jellyfish attack] STING. Oftentimes it’s just a defense mechanism. I’d venture to say 100 percent of the time in encounters with humans rather than prey.
  • 28d [Actress Pompeo] ELLEN. Only knew this because it’s the same clue/answer combo that appeared in a crossword over the weekend.
  • 57d [Left or Right candy] TWIX. We all know this is an advertising scam and that there’s no difference in ingredients between the two halves, yes? 27d [Word after “candy” or “coffee”] BAR.
  • 61a [Home __ from home] AWAY.
  • Favorite clue: 67a [Flames that burned out?] EXES.
  • 68a [Bananagrams cry] PEEL. Speaking of anagrams.

I feel this crossword would have felt crisper and cleaner if other animals had been eliminated from the grid (not to mention the clues). Looking at 4d HOT DOGS {gods}, 13d APE {pea}, 40d BEE {–}, and not-really 50a LYON {only}.

Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up

New Yorker crossword solution, 5 24 21

Wow, heckuva way to start the puzzle, with a 10-letter French word associated with a psychoanalyst of yore. [Feeling of enjoyment that “begins with a tickle” and “ends in a blaze of petrol,” per Jacques Lacan]—that’s an awfully long clue to provide me with no path to the answer! The French word ending was inferrable, somewhat, but whoof, the rest of JOUISSANCE flew over my head.

Crossing that was an utter gimme for me that may have vexed some anti-current-pop-culture solvers: 18a Desus & MERO (love them!) meets REMY Ma.


Fill that felt a little iffy to me: OATINESS, ABSTAINERS, DOES A TOUR, SECURER (not sure anybody anywhere has ever used that roll-your-own word to refer to a safety pin), RETOP. And then STENOS feels old. If you add some A.I. to STENOS and mix it all up, you end up with OATINESS.

Three more things:

  • 58d. [Tony-winning “A View from the Bridge” director ___ van Hove], IVO. I’ve never heard of him, but a friend’s teenage kid is named IVO and it’s neat to learn of a somewhat notable person by that name. The young Ivo is a pool hotshot and will maybe make it into a crossword someday!
  • 51a. [Sign of interest?], PERCENT. Cute! I hear mortgage interest rates are around 3% now, and that’s a percent sign, all right.
  • 7d. [Michael who played Kane on “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”], ANSARA. He was born in the Middle East, so naturally Hollywood cast him in all sorts of non-white roles, figuring one brownish person would suffice? Ansara played Cochise and assorted other indigenous roles. He played King Kamehameha of Hawaii. He played lots of characters with Spanish names.

2.75 stars from me.

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17 Responses to Monday, May 24, 2021

  1. pseudonym says:

    The RUFF/MERO/FROG cross in the TNY is simply terrible. I’d say an editor must’ve been asleep at the wheel, but TNY puzzle prides itself on proper noun spam.

    • JohnH says:

      Agreed. The whole puzzle was one obscurity after another, even for someone like me who likes Dutch painting, has read Lacan, and dimly remembers Boulanger. But the NE with RE_O crossing _ERO was a DNF. If I had to, I’d have guessed an N, since then both entries are at least familiar proper nouns in other contexts. And is YIN YANG (without an “and,” say) a legit entry?

    • marciem says:

      I was ok, with that particular corner. Ruff was easy and the rest fell for me.

      That first one (1A) , though. Never heard of Lacan or the word jouissance so the NE was pretty much DNF and turn on “show errors” to guess letters. Nadia was also unfamiliar to me..

      Dine and dash??? I thought that was when you ate and skipped out on the bill by hook or mostly “crook”.

      • pseudonym says:

        Even if you know RUFF, MERO and FROG are still guesses if you know neither. It speaks volumes for TNY that FROG was clued as a proper noun.

        • marciem says:

          I don’t see it as a proper noun, “the princess and the frog” . I thought the literary name of the story was “the Frog Prince” but that takes the duo out of the title.

          the downs that cross that corner are gettable once you have ruff, the Remy a gimme without knowing rappers, . Remy Martin is the only thing I know about cognac.

          • just stopping by says:

            I believe the literary duo being referenced is intended to be “Frog and Toad,” by Arnold Lobel.

            “Desert after dessert” did imply to me that one has skipped out without paying. They have “deserted” the restaurant after eating their “dessert.”

  2. Gerry Paul says:

    The New Yorker: On Friday, Rachel said that was her last day. Will there be a replacement?

  3. marciem says:

    NYT: Jenni, I had to laugh at your comment about “71% of the earth’s surface”. In the Bay area, at least for quite a while, the fine for illegally using the HOV lane was $271.00. Okie doke, why not 270 or 280? Or $271.63, if you’re pulling out random numbers? :D

    • huda says:

      When I first came to the US, I was so confused when I’d walk up to the register and the price of merchandise would be something like 17 dollars and 51 cents… Why, I wondered. It took me a while to understand that taxes were being added and that the tax rate was variable between places and could not be pre-computed and rounded up or down… Before that, I had never bought an item that didn’t have a round number price…

  4. marciem says:

    WSJ: Grrr on SO, that’s all I have to say.

    Even Julie Andrews would have spelled it “sew” as a needle pulling thread…

    Get SOL in there somehow and it would be a nice theme and revealer.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Amen marciem … as an amateur choral singer with some solfege training, this is a pet peeve of mine. I blame Oscar Hammerstein.

  5. e.a. says:

    MERO/UVEA could vex someone, MERO/FROG as clued could vex someone, i feel like choosing to call out MERO/REMY suggests that “anti-current-pop-culture”-ness (which, 1, there’s a non-pop-culture hint in the REMY clue, 2, these are both Black people with large Black followings, let’s not ignore how that plays into this) is a legitimate position worth giving equal airtime

    • pseudonym says:

      The NE corner’s a disaster area easily fixed. As I said above, that it passed the editor’s desk without even the clue for FROG being changed from a proper noun speaks volumes.

    • R says:

      A comment that is less than 10% of the review is “equal airtime.” Interesting math!

      • dhj says:

        Seeing as how math is now considered racist by the extreme progresssives, I think the math checks out here. Love it how the wokesters continually strive to prove Orwell right

        • R says:

          Calm down, pal, it’s not Orwellian to dislike other people’s opinions. It’s just dumb to pretend that mentioning a perspective you don’t like is “giving equal airtime.”

        • pannonica says:

          What what what? You are constructing strawwindmillmen to snipe at.

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