Christina Iverson and Andrea Carla Michaels’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s recap
Theme: Today’s theme describes the steps of having a child:
- 17a [Traditional end of summer] – LABOR DAY WEEKEND
- 27a [Dare to exceed normal limits] – PUSH THE ENVELOPE
- 46a [FedEx or DHL] – DELIVERY SERVICE
And the revealer…
- 56a [1967 hit by the Tremeloes suggested by the starts of 17-, 27- and 46-Across] – HERE COMES MY BABY
I love both of these constructors, so I was very excited to solve today’s crossword! This puzzle reminded me a bit of the “Mother’s Day Concert” Sunday puzzle from earlier this year, although I enjoyed this one a bit more. It’s elegant that all of the answers are 15 letters, and they’re all solid phrases, although I find the first two a bit more interesting than the last (Maybe that’s just because I’m slightly annoyed at FedEx this weekend for delaying a package I’m waiting for). I didn’t know the Tremeloes song immediately so the revealer didn’t mean much to me, although when I looked up the song after finishing the puzzle I did recognize it. There are popular covers by a bunch of different artists, including Cat Stevens and Yo La Tengo, so if the title and artist didn’t connect with you immediately I’d recommend giving it a listen and seeing if it comes back to you. It’s a really fun song too!
The fill and clues today are… aggressively fine. There’s nothing bad in the grid exactly (well, except for maybe ELEM and WVA), but nothing that particularly excited me either. I believe Downton Abbey is the most modern thing mentioned in either the grid or the clues, and that show ended in 2015. This isn’t me advocating for a bunch of proper names or pop culture to necessarily be put in the grid; I just think that the puzzle could have tried a bit harder (especially given that its revealer is about a song from 1967) to bring a modern, relevant vibe to the fill and clues. For example, TARGETED is clued as [Aimed at] here, which is a passable clue. But why not clue it in reference to TARGETED advertisements, to highlight a more modern usage of the word? But I DIGRESS. This is a solid Monday crossword, even if not the most exciting.
- I’m a little worried about the GASX/ORYX crossing for newer solvers. I personally only know both of these words from crosswords, and I’m not sure X is at the top of anyone’s mind when thinking of potential letters.
- A tradeoff to the sparkly 15-letter themers is the amount of three letter words stuffed in the corners of the puzzle, which again are very clean but hard to make interesting. That being said, I did like corn on the COB, BLT, and the clue for ARK – [Setting for a couples cruise?]
- 15a [Accessory for a witch] for BROOM felt very appropriate for the start of October and spooky season!
Chris Gross’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
I feel like my sub-two-minute time is in spite of this puzzle’s theme and fill, not because of them: The theme doesn’t jump out at you quite as much as Monday themes tend to do, and there are a few entries that I would have either clued differently or asked the constructor to revise out for a Monday.
To figure out what’s going on, we go to the revealer at 59D [Concludes with no clear winner … and what each answer to a starred clue does?], which is ENDS IN A TIE. That is, each theme entry has a word that is a type of TIE at the end, although never in a word context.
- 17A [*Yellow tomato with red swirls] is a BIG RAINBOW. A BOW is a kind of TIE, and appears as part of the second word in the theme phrase.
- 27A [*”Our group doesn’t agree”] is WE THINK NOT. A KNOT is another kind of TIE, and bridges the second and third words of the theme entry. I don’t love this clue, as I read it at first as “Our group has internal disagreement,” not the “Our group disagrees with you” that is meant. It’s fair, but I’m all for eliminating such ambiguities on Monday.
- 44A [*Phillie Phanatic, notably] is a TEAM MASCOT, which has ASCOT, the third kind of TIE, as part of the second word in the theme phrase. Is the constructor or editor baiting me for a good review with this clue? Phanatic and I are almost exactly the same age (he made his debut on April 25, 1978, just over two months before I made mine) and I’m from Philadelphia and I own this shirt:
Obviously that’s how you clue that theme entry.
I think for Monday it would have been kind to use circled squares in this theme, given that the theme words aren’t used in a word context. I also think it would have been kind not to have EERO (with apologies to Nate Cardin’s exceedingly cute pupper of that name), ELBE (yes, I know it showed up in one of my grids recently, but that was on Friday!), nor OGEE crossing the historically-correct but less-commonly-seen spelling IGLU and a pretty niche cluing of YIPS [Golfer’s putting jitters, with “the”]. Please note that I do not mean that everyone should keep using the Anglicized spelling of IGLOO; I think if OGEE could’ve been got rid of, that would’ve been good to do.
Mark Danna’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Spy Verses Spy”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Singers of theme songs for BOND films get a rhyming adjective. The revealer at 63d is clued [Protagonist of spy movies for which the four featured singers have performed title songs].
- 18a. [Versifyin’ singer Carly?] RHYMIN’ SIMON. This actually is Paul Simon’s nickname, so I’m thinkin’ this one should’ve been converted into somethin’ else. CHIMIN’ SIMON maybe?
- 28a. [Less lenient singer Tina?] STERNER TURNER.
- 49a. [Chic singer Billie?] STYLISH EILISH.
- 64a. [Cheeky singer Shirley?] SASSY BASSEY.
I’m just not seeing the connection between BOND films and rhyming. I note the pun in the title with the use of “verses” (i.e. song lyrics) instead of “versus,” so I get that it’s alluding to spy songs, as it were. But I fail to see how that gets us to finding rhymes for the singers of those songs. Maybe I’m just overthinking it.
Fill faves: SHORT STORY, FOLK HERO, and NEITHER ONE [Not the former and not the latter], though I wanted NEITHER NOR for the latter.
Clue of note: 16a. [Caribbean nation struck by earthquakes in 2010 and 2021]. HAITI. The poor people of Haiti have been through a lot lately, haven’t they? You can choose to help out by donating to Hope for Haiti.
Olivia Mitra Framke’s Universal crossword, “Musical Group” — pannonica’s write-up
This is a sort of theme we’ve seen many times before. Simply, it’s the names of musical instruments found in phrases.
- 17a. [Location where ships are said to disappear] BERMUDA TRIANGLE.
- 26a. [Device for capturing audio] TAPE RECORDER.
- 46a. [Procrastinate, say] FIDDLE AROUND.
- 61a. [Attracts customers] DRUMS UP BUSINESS.
A rather disparate group: two percussion instruments, a stringed instrument, and a wind one.
The first two are nouns, the second pair are verbs. As verbs, there’s a direct correlation to the namesake instruments. The TRIANGLEs share the same shape (obviously), and the two senses of RECORD are ultimately closely linked.
These alliances don’t constitute dings, but they seem worth pointing out.
I am, however, disconcerted by the presence of 24d [What can be heard when a herd moves] COWBELL. Despite the admirably homophonic and evocatively pastoral clue, it seems less a bonus entry or commentary on the theme and more an intrusion, as it’s a rather common percussion instrument.
Digression: I found a website called ultimatecowbell.com which purports to be a comprehensive database of songs containing cowbell. But it’s poorly designed and lacking what should be basic features. F’rinstance: the song I’ve shared above has a “Bell Score” of 3.59899, but there’s no indication of what the scale is or how the score is determined. Also, there’s no way to sort the 4,000+ songs on the metric of this “Bell Score”. Further, there’s isn’t a discernable search feature, only an index (and not by song title but by band name!). Moreover, once you’ve started exploring, there’s no simple way to get back to the home page (you’d think that clicking the banner up top would accomplish this, but nooo). The site’s ‘features’ are the proprietor’s personal list of top 50 cowbell songs, a listing of newly-added songs, and a random song pointer. In short, it’s a mess. More organization! </rant>
- 8d [Middle-earth land that “one does not simply walk into”] MORDOR. There used to be a Google Maps easter egg about this. And that, readers, constitutes the entirety of my LOTR content for the year.
- 30d [Fix plot inconsistencies in (CORNET anagram)] RETCON, which is a portmanteau of retroactive and continuity. Not also another musical instrument making an appearance.
- 51d [Gravity, e.g.] FORCE. I have a feeling there’s a lurking “well, actually” response to this.
- 33a [Opposite of “attract”] REPEL, 48d [Squash, as a rumor] DISPEL. These two share a Latin etymology: pellere ‘to beat against, push, strike, rouse’.
- 41a [Default character in “Minecraft”] STEVE. Why STEVE? Or is the answer, why not STEVE?
- 66a [Wafer brand whose name hints at its flavor] NILLA. Anyone else misread the clue as ‘water’?
- 67a [Part of RIP] REST. Rest in peace/requiescat in pace.
Kind of a comfy, familiar, slouchy Monday offering.
Rebecca Goldstein’s USA Today puzzle– malaika’s write-up
Theme: The theme answers are all going down, so you have types of shakes (fair shake, handshake, milkshake) going vertically in the grid.
- BLK & Bold offering: FAIR TRADE COFFEE (this was my favorite theme answer, what an awesome spanner)
- Given in person: HAND DELIVERED
- Facial features in some dairy ads: MILK MUSTACHES
Good morning, solvers! This theme took a little bit for me to parse because I have not heard of the term “fair shake” before, and I usually associate puzzles with the title “up” as having terms spelled backwards in the long down answers. If I’ve misrepresented it in any way, let me know in a comment and I’ll update the post!
These are a few of my favorite things:
- 16A: “It’s an honor just to be ASIAN” is a lovely quote from the legendary Sandra Oh. I enjoyed her performance in “The Chair” and am now watching “Killing Eve”
- PIANO BAR (18A: Lounge with a performer on the keys) and FLASH MOB (58A: Sudden public performance) are great uses of those eight-letter slots.
- 39A: AUDRE Lorde said “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” I love this quote about how people can (or rather, can’t) successfully fight against systems of oppression.
- 40D: UNC is always fun for me to see in a grid because I grew up in Chapel Hill. During March Madness, our teachers would play the UNC games during class.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — Matthew’s recap
Only 60 words from BEQ today, and it means two patches of wide-open space in the middle of the grid.
Low-count grids like this are reminders of how much one word can jump-start a breakthrough, or two tough clues near each other can hold you up for a while; I moved fine through one half of the grid, and ultimately spent almost half my solve on the open area on the southwest side.
Nothing particularly flashy in the longest answers for me this puzzle, though as usual for BEQ the grid has solid entries throughout. I wasn’t sure about a handful: Is I’M DOING IT (2D- “Already on the case!”) something anyone would say? I mellowed on SLEEVING (1d- Storing, as vinyl in paper) as a verb and TALEBEARERS (21d- Gossip spreaders) after looking them up; both were just new to me.
- 25a- (Trout group) refers to the Los Angeles ANGELS baseball team, whose star player is future Hall-of-Famer Mike Trout.
- 39a- (“Like hell it is!”) MY EYE. Do folks actually say this? I’m certain I’ve never encountered it outside of puzzles. (On the flip side, my mother says both 18a- (Confuzzled) and its answer IN A DITHER all the time.
- 10d- (Lentil and tomato stew) DAL. I’d like to think I eat dals (and curries) somewhat frequently, and I’m not sure I’ve ever had it with tomatoes, to be honest!
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker themeless crossword—Amy’s write-up
Lovely 66-worder, though it played more like a Wednesday New Yorker (I prefer Mondays to be more rigorous than this). Bit of an automotive vibe: MOTOR NEURON, STREET-SMART, STATE ROAD, TIRE TREAD, and hey, NOT SO FAST.
Fave fill: GO TO THE WALL, SHOOK ON IT, GYM SHOE (sneakers are things whose naming is highly regionalized, but Chicago is GYM SHOE land; you can keep your “tennis shoes” worn for a zillion other sports, m’kay?), GREEN EYES (which is not at all green-paintish).
Five more things:
- 4a. [Late visitors?], GHOSTS. Cute clue.
- 39a. [Brushes], KISSES. I had MISSES first, thinking of near misses being brushes with disaster. 39d [Awesome, slangily] makes far more sense as KILLER than MILLER, though!
- 48a. [Word that, though not found in the Declaration of Independence, does appear in the excerpt inscribed on the Jefferson Memorial], INALIENABLE. The original text has UNalienable.
- 1d. [Warning on the links?], NSFW. Great clue! Without the question mark, it’s golf and FORE. With it, we’re taken to hyperlinks.
- 8d. [It’s worn while making doughnuts?], TIRE TREAD. The question mark doesn’t really work with the clue as worded, does it? [What’s worn…?] would feel better. Can’t quite articulate why it feels off to me.
4.25 stars from me.