Erika Ettin’s New York Times puzzle —Jenni’s write-up
This is Erika’s NYT debut. In the constructor’s notes on Wordplay, she says it came on her 40th birthday – I’m not sure if that was 6/6 when the puzzle dropped or 6/7 on the official pub date, but either way, happy birthday! Thanks for giving us a present. I didn’t know what the theme answers had in common until I got to the revealer.
- 17a [Sleuth for hire] is a PRIVATE EYE.
- 23a [Perform and act of kindness, in a way] is PAY IT FORWARD.
- 36a [1977 Eagles #1 hit] is HOTEL CALIFORNIA.
- 46a [It might catch a thief or a speeder] is a HIDDEN CAMERA.
And the revealer at 57a [Be willing to accept whatever…or a hint to the ends of 17-, 23-, 26-, and 16-Across]: ROLL WITH IT. EYE ROLL, FORWARD ROLL, CALIFORNIA ROLL, CAMERA ROLL. Everything is solidly in the language and the theme is consistent. A very nice debut! I look forward to seeing more from Erika (especially if she uses her punning expertise in her themes).
A few other things:
- 10a [Lines at the cash register, for short?] are UPCS. The plural seems off to me. Aren’t all the lines one UPC?
- I would rather have FROYO than a PLAYA bowl or TARO chips.
- At least with the snowman I know it’s OLAF. With the Scandinavian king, I never know what the last letter is supposed to be.
- We have [Popular berry] for ACAI and [Popular Berry] for HALLE.
- NERDS may be [Crunchy, colorful commercial candies] but they taste terrible.
The puzzle gave me an earworm and it may not be the one you expect.
John R. O’Brien’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
It’s June, so it must be time for a baseball puzzle, right? As 38A [With “the,” rare batting feat whose components begin the answers to starred clues], CYCLE, tells us, this puzzle is about the four hits that are part of “the cycle” if they’re hit by the same person in the same game: SINGLE, DOUBLE, TRIPLE, HOME RUN.
- 17A [*Selling point for a used car] is a SINGLE OWNER.
- 28A [*Going out with another couple] is DOUBLE DATING, which is fun if you pick the right other couple and excruciating if you don’t.
- 44A [*High club in a deli] is a TRIPLE DECKER, as in a club sandwich with three layers of bread. “High club” is cute, but not Mondayish IMO.
- 58A [*Metaphor for the perfect person for the job] is a HOME RUN HIRE. This entry was a clunker for me. Put quotes around it and it gets fewer than 25K Google hits, which is an indicator that it falls in the GREEN PAINT category. I’d have gone with HOMER HICKAM, or perhaps HOMER PLESSY — although Plessy v. Ferguson was a deplorable decision, HOMER PLESSY was on the side of good in the case.
Some tough entries for a Monday: TWO BOB, ANEMO-, EFREM, KUDU, GEOS. Favorite clue: [Work bound to sell?] for BOOK.
Overall: Not my favorite. Baseball themes have been done enough times that it’s hard to find a fresh take.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Boosters”—Jim P’s review
Theme: UPLIFTS (25d, [Elates, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme]. The other theme answers (in the Down direction) are comprised of phrases that hide the word LIFT when parsed from the bottom up.
- 3d. [Dryer part] LINT FILTER. Hmm. Is that what you call this? I think I normally hear “lint screen” or possibly “lint trap.”
- 14d. [Indie studio’s production, often] LOW BUDGET FILM.
- 16d. [Pie features] FRUIT FILLING.
- 31d. [Highly classified record] SECRET FILE.
Meh. I know it’s Monday, so this is probably good for the newer solver, but having the same hidden word in each entry is a lot less interesting than when the words are all different.
Further, the fill feels rather staid as opposed to the typical Burnkel grid, starting with “GOT YA!” [“Oh, now I see”] which most people would write as “gotcha!” Elsewhere, there’s IMED, IMUS, ANON, INCAN, and DSL. In the long fill, STORM DOOR is nice and “DON’T LET GO!” is fantastic, but for me, those don’t make up for the minuses. Maybe it’s not fair, but I’ve come to expect a lot of sparkle when I start a Burnikel puzzle.
Being Monday, clues were on the straightforward side throughout. I did like the KIA clue [Seller of Souls, Sorentos and Sedonas] which makes you think something devilish is going on at first.
Ari Halpern’s Universal crossword, “Rise for the Cause” — pannonica’s write-up
This puzzle is part of the Universal Pride Month series.
- 70aR [Org. fighting to end AIDS … and a hint to what’s hidden in reverse, and progressively higher, in 34-, 21-, 9- and 11-Down] ACT UP. Whew, got all that? It stands for AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, so there’s a nested acronym inside that acronym.
- 34d. [*It might record a biker’s stunt] HELMET CAM.
- 21d. [*How best-sellers sell] LIKE HOTCAKES.
- 9d. [*What may be aimed at a loud fan] T-SHIRT CANNON.
- 11d. [*”No rush”] IT CAN WAIT.
Explicitly naming the clues and asterisking them? That’s like wearing suspenders and a belt, or [insert STD prophylactic reference here]
The ACTs rise by 2 rows, 3 rows, 4 rows, and 4 rows again, but the slope looks different than that sounds because of the column spacing.
- 19a [Quickly look over] SCAN. [insert pedantic discussion of definitions here]
- 44a [Multicolored cat] CALICO, 73a [Multicolored horses] ROANS. The former derives from Calicut, India—which is now called Kozhikode. I just listened to the pronunciation of that, which to my ear sounds a lot like kodkod.
- 26d [E, F or G, but not H] NOTE, though I understand H is used for B natural in some European countries.
- Speaking of ACTing, 61a [Stage fright, say] NERVES. This is the best I could do for a musical selection (kind of an obvious but reliable choice, I guess).
- 64d [“__ questions?”] ANY.
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
Natan’s stair-step corners allow him to anchor the grid with 13s and 14s, and these long entries are all terrific: the MARRIAGE STORY movie, the animated series BOJACK HORSEMAN, ABRAHAM LINCOLN as a literary character in Lincoln in the Bardo, and PLANE GEOMETRY citing Euclid’s Elements. I like that common thread through these four, all referring to things that were written. That written vibe continues through George Eliot’s SILAS, a Lawrence WELK bio, songwriter/actor ICE-T, Milne’s EEYORE, songwriter/rocker Chrissie HYNDE, singer/songwriter Justin BIEBER, Walker PERCY, doctor/writer ATUL Gawande, poet Marianne MOORE (here’s “Poetry”), Latin CANO from The Aeneid, the film HER. Now, you know me, I enjoy puzzles packed with names because I tend to know the references. There will be dissenters who shriek that this crossword is a “trivia quiz” if they happen to not know the names and titles.
Other fill I liked: LIKE A BOSS, BATTING CAGE, and these lively bits of vocabulary, PAUNCH, PEEVE, MOLLIFY, and PERSNICKETY. Are those last four not great words? Love ’em.
Five more things:
- 22a. [Mandarin equivalent of “dad”], BABA. As the world becomes ever more connected and the U.S. grows increasingly diverse, I appreciate this sort of clue approach. My son has grandparents he calls Lola and Lolo. What goes to the heart of our humanity more than basic words for family?
- 29a. [Problems in old wooden buildings], DRY ROTS. Hmm, a plural form? Is that legit?
- 41a. [Mucilaginous], GLUEY. I’m always here for a mucilage reference.
- 5d. [Region whose highest point is the volcano Emi Koussi], SAHARA. I didn’t know the Sahara had any volcanoes, but the volcano name had an Arabic/North African vibe and the crossings pointed me in the right direction.
- 27d. [Source of the words “spunk” and “trousers”], ERSE. Never keen on seeing ERSE in a grid, but this clue is perfection. Who doesn’t like a little casual etymology?
4.25 stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1372), “Themeless Monday #623” — Jenni’s review
Harder than usual! Just me?
There were some things I just didn’t know and some I found difficult to figure out, and when two of those crossed, I struggled. I’m not sure JIM BEAM HIGHBALL is a thing. I’d be willing to do the research and report back. Here’s the grid. I was on call last weekend and I’m signing off.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of GAME JAMS.