Carl Larson’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s recap
Theme: QUEENS of different genres of music
- 1a [Honorific given to 17-, 27-, 43- and 58-Across] – QUEEN
- 17a [Disco] – DONNA SUMMER
- 27a [Soul] – ARETHA FRANKLIN
- 43a [Jazz] – ELLA FITZGERALD
- 58a [Country] – LORETTA LYNN
I’m a NYT web-app solver, and today that interface really came in handy. I read the 1a clue, saw that the first two related, highlighted clues were “disco” and “soul”, and thought “oh, so it’s about the queens of various genres, that’s cool”, and then I was off and running. Thus, my “aha” moment in the puzzle occurred before I put in a single letter. Do I wish this puzzle had given me a bit more to figure out? A little, but I also got a super fast time, so I’m not mad. In fact, the only thing that slowed me down this whole puzzle was not knowing how to spell EINSTEIN.
If you don’t know one of the women, the clue doesn’t give you much to go on, but honestly all of these women are so famous across all generations that I doubt folks will have much trouble with their names. I will say that if you google “queen of country” the first hit is Dolly Parton (also 11 letters!) instead of LORETTA LYNN, but there was a movie made called “Dolly Parton: Queen of Country” so that probably inflates her stats a bit. I also think that it could have been cool to put another theme-adjacent answer at 66a – “music”, maybe? – but I understand not doing that if the fill would have been negatively impacted.
Speaking of fill! I thought it was pretty good overall. I really liked THE FLASH, SKI SLOPE, and ROPE LADDER – actually, there is an impressive amount of long non-themed fill given that there are 4.5 theme answers. The only cross I see that could be problematic is SLR/AMAHL, the former of which I only know from crosswords and the latter I had never heard of. I think the clue on 11d [Good name for a postseason football game sponsored by General Mills?] for CEREAL BOWL is a liiiiittle forced, but I don’t mind it. The grid is also well-laid out given that two of the answers are 14 letters long, which can be hard to work with – it doesn’t feel swamped by three letter entries, and the middle in particular is nice and open. Overall, a very enjoyable Monday for me!
Jerry Edelstein’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Give this puzzle a CHANCE and you’ll surely come through, since it’s a nice easy Monday. Going down to the revealer at 60A [Bumping into someone, say … and what the end of each answer to a starred clue can have?], we get CHANCE ENCOUNTER. I could wish for a revealer clue that’s a bit shorter, but anyway what that means is that the last word in each theme entry can be added to the word CHANCE to make a new phrase.
- 17A [*Swing from the get-go] is COME OUT FIGHTING. I didn’t love this theme entry, as COME OUT SWINGING is the more common usage (Google agrees with me, with about 6x as many hits for SWINGING), and the clue feels awkwardly worded. But I suppose I should give it a FIGHTING CHANCE.
- 23A [*Well-made] is BUILT TO LAST. That’s more like it — a tight clue, an in-the language answer. This is not your LAST CHANCE to evaluate the theme, though.
- 30A [*Early pudginess usually lost by one’s teens] is BABY FAT. I think this could’ve been clued more elegantly, although the entry itself is totally legit. FAT CHANCE, by the way, is the appropriate response if I were to say to you, “I’m going to snatch this 125-pound barbell!”
- 43A [*Continue to avoid, as alcohol] is STAY OFF. On the one hand, I appreciate the constructor’s will to include lots of thematic material in this puzzle; OTOH, this entry teeters on the edge of green-paint territory for me. DRAW OFF, FEND OFF, GIVE OFF or others would have been better IMO, although I’m not sure whether it’s an OFF CHANCE or more than that that one of those would work.
- 47A [*”Don’t go yet”] is WAIT A SECOND. Nothing to nitpick here, and I do love SECOND CHANCE in its .38 Special top-ten ’80s hit sense.
So: Lots of thematic material here, although I think some sacrifices were made to get there. The fill is nice and easy, with nothing harder than ASHER to get in the way of a quick Monday time.
Billy Ouska’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Ladies’ Night”—Jim P’s review
The title is “Ladies’ Night” not because “Night” has anything to do with the theme, but because the structure of the title is exactly the same as it is for the theme entries: a possessive first word followed by a noun. And in this grid, all of the first words are women’s names.
- 17a. [First lady Washington’s winemaking operation?] MARTHA’S VINEYARD. If you told me MARTHA’S VINEYARD was named after Martha Washington, I would’ve believed you. Hey, I’m a West Coast kinda guy.
- 24a. [Author Brontë’s section of the internet?] CHARLOTTE’S WEB.
- 41a. [“Game of Thrones” co-star Turner’s interpretation of her character?] SOPHIE’S CHOICE. Sophie Turner portrayed Sansa Stark.
- 54a. [Spice Girl Beckham’s bit of juicy information?] VICTORIA’S SECRET.
Solid theme with a consistent structure and instantly familiar entries. A good set for a Monday grid.
The supporting grid is Monday-clean (with one exception—for me, anyway) with nice entries PASSIONS, EXTRA PAY, ORNAMENT, and SHIVERED. The one exception was HAY MOW [Barn area], which I had to return to again and again to ensure all the crossings checked out. I know a hay loft, but not a HAY MOW (apparently, they’re the same thing). I found this on The Word Detective.com:
The “mow” in “hay-mow” (rhymes with “cow”) is a completely unrelated noun meaning “a heap or stack of hay, grain, corn, etc.” or “a place, especially a part of a barn, where hay or corn is heaped up and stored.” This “mow” is also a very old word (“muga” in Old English) that comes from Germanic roots meaning “heap.”
The more you know…
What else? Ah. Clues!
Well, they’re mostly straight over the plate, but I do like [General assemblies?] for ARMIES.
An entertaining and edifying grid. 3.75 stars.
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Comic Relief” — pannonica’s write-up
Puns involving surnames of comedians.
- 16a. [Spelling clarification for comedian Groucho?] MARX WITH AN X (marks with an ‘x’).
- 24a. [Where comedian Samantha learned her routines?] BEE SCHOOL (B-school, i.e., business school).
- 37a. [Someone completely different from comedian Amy?] POEHLER OPPOSITE (polar opposite).
- 45a. [What comedian Redd wore on his hand?] FOXX GLOVE (foxglove).
- 58a. [Adoration of comedian Eric?] IDLE WORSHIP (idol worship).
- 14d [High heel or high-top] SHOE. Or, you know, both.
- 14a [Give an unfriendly wave?] SHOO. Cute clue.
- 34d [Green ice cream flavor] PISTACHIO. I like pistachio ice cream, but prefer it to not be artificially green. All right, it’s naturally a very, very pale green/off-white. You know, just A TAD (35d).
- 15a [Gasteyer of “Mean Girls”] ANA. Too intrusive on the theme for my liking.
- 22a [Name that drops “tav”] GUS. Never occurred to me that GUS was short for anything other than names in the August vein.
- 57a [“The Crying Game” star Stephen] REA. It’s getting to the point where he’s in ESAI Morales territory for me, especially since it’s always the same reference.
Solid Monday offering.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — Matthew’s recap
Two long answers in today’s BEQ themeless: the in-and-out-of-the-news HAVANA SYNDROME (19a- Unexplained health problem whose symptoms include ringing ears, fatigue and dizziness) and WHAT’S IT GONNA BE (47a- “How can I help you?”). I’m not sure the clue matches the tone of the latter entry, but it’s a nice seed, for sure.
Between those big entries, there’s limited connectivity thanks to all those black squares in the middle. I find in grids like these that I’m more likely to see every clue. Today, I moved generally clockwise, ending in the West, near hockey player SERGEI Bobrovsky (38a- Two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Bobrovsky).
Unfortunately, there were lots of eyebrow-raisers for me moving through the grid: TWO HIT, IN A NET, OPEN ON, prefix API-, abbreviations GDS, TOC, and LAR.
- 36a- (City near Cooperstown) ONEONTA. I’m always bemused by the overrepresentation of New York towns (especially Central New York towns) in puzzles. At least ONEONTA wasn’t clued to its 6,000-student SUNY university this time.
- 53a- (Speechwriter who coined the phrase “a kinder, gentler nation”) Peggy NOONAN. Showing my age, but here’s something else I’ve learned only from crossword puzzles.
- 4d- (Steep slope) ESCARP. Escarpments are really cool geological formations — I grew up near Niagara Falls, and that same cliff runs from the eastern end of Lake Ontario all the way round to Door County, Wisconsin.
Claire Rimkus’ USA Today puzzle– malaika’s write-up
Title: First Run
Theme: The first word of each theme answer can precede the word “run”
- 16A: Car dealership trial– TEST DRIVE
- 35A: Workplace with a very short commute– HOME OFFICE. I’ve been working from a home office up until two weeks ago and I have found it very lonely and unproductive. I am very much Team Office Building.
- 42A: Excessively word– LONG WINDED
- 64A: Playful– FUN LOVING
This was a cute title to see after the NYC marathon yesterday! I did not run in it, but one of my friends did so I waved at him as he ran by. He had actually signed up to run it well over a year ago, but last year’s race was cancelled. Congratulations to anyone who participated yesterday, or did any type of long-distance running recently! It is a serious athletic feat. Even a half marathon is completely incomprehensible to me.
- “Shiva Baby” is a film directed by EMMA Seligman (1A). A few people have told me that some of the marketing makes it have rom-com vibes, but it is very much not a rom-com. One friend described it as horror, and another friend described it as a psychological thriller.
- Shabu-shabu (5A) is thinly sliced meat that is brought to the table raw, and then cooked in a pot of hot broth. I heard of this food because it is the name of J Kenji Lopez-Alt’s dog. (He’s a food blogger for places like Serious Eats and the New York Times.)
- Luk thung is a genre of THAI music (19A)
- A CAT (46A) can be polydactyl, meaning that it has an extra finger or toe
- You have probably heard of MASHing potatoes… MASHing buttons (3D) refers to slamming randomly on the keyboard in frustration, so you get something like l;aksjdfl;sakjdfl;kasjdf;
- Misir wot is an Ethiopian STEW (12D) made of red lentils
- Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu is a community leader and preservationist who was born in OAHU (55D). I enjoyed reading their Wikipedia page, which I’ll link here.
Thanks Claire, for a super clean post-marathon puzzle!
Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
This grid layout is so cool! The 15s linked by a 13 that pierces an eye- or almond-shaped center, a different vibe and great flow. Super-smooth fill, too.
Fave fill: RIP TORN, ABSOLUTELY NOT, FLANEUR (a [“Gentleman stroller of city streets,” per Baudelaire]—I flaneured this very morning and it was gorgeous out, likely the last sunny/62° day of 2021), IMPECCABLE TASTE, TCHOTCHKE, NO PICNIC, and LINER NOTE (which I’d prefer to be in the plural).
Seven more things:
- Did not know DANIELA, 52a. [Latin music’s Romo, whose “Todo, Todo, Todo” is a line-dance standard]. Here’s her Wiki, which tells us that song is popular at Filipino events.
- 33d. [Fetching praise?], “GOOD DOG!” Good clue.
- 3d. [Discrimination for which one cannot be faulted], IMPECCABLE TASTE. Great clue.
- 41a. [Blair of exorcise videos?], LINDA. Meaning actress Linda Blair of The Exorcist fame. What do you like to do for cardio exorcism?
- 40a. [Strike down or shoot up], SPIKE. Interesting clue. I think the first part pertains to spiking a ball (as in volleyball), smacking it sharply downward, while the second part connotes something increasing sharply—people’s interest in something, or COVID case counts when Delta moved in.
- 14d. [Hot rock spot], LIME KILN. Don’t put your citrus fruits in it. Apparently this is a structure that converts calcium carbonate into the caustic chemical quicklime. Ick.
- 50d. [Org. concerned with keeping labels honest], FDA. My demographic, organ transplant recipients, pays close attention to the goings-on at the FDA these days. I’d love to get some preventive protection against the covid virus via monoclonal antibodies, I tell you—immunosuppression at this level often doesn’t let vaccines do their job.
4.25 stars from me.