Alan Siegel’s New York Times Crossword — Sophia’s recap
Theme: Objects that have become obsolete due to the SMARTPHONE
- 16a [Morning waker-upper] – ALARM CLOCK
- 23a [Step counter] – PEDOMETER
- 37a [Orienteering aid] – COMPASS
- 40a [Trove of business contacts] – ROLODEX
- 51a [What many a home movie was once shot on] – CAMCORDER
- 63a [Device that can replace 16-, 23-, 37-, 40- and 51-Across] – SMARTPHONE
After spending most of the afternoon today watching Super Bowl commercials, today’s crossword reminded me of a classic one for the iPhone – “There’s an app for just about… anything!”. It is kind of wild to think about how many devices are made obsolete by the SMARTPHONE. In fact, that’s my biggest problem with the theme, because there are so many other items that could have been included! Also, some items are much more obviously replaced by a phone while others are still widely used – for instance, I use a physical ALARM CLOCK, but when I saw the word ROLODEX in the puzzle, my first thought was “well, that’s retro”. I do like how much thematic material is in the puzzle, as a high number of answers are needed to drive home the point. But overall I was left thinking “huh, that’s neat I guess” more than “wow, what an exciting puzzle”, which I guess isn’t too surprising when the theme is pretty much a list of household items.
I did like the fill overall in the puzzle! Everything was pretty clean and there was not too much in the way of junky short fill, which allowed me to break my Monday PR. Loved starting the puzzle with KPOP at 1a [Genre for the boy band BTS], and KERMIT the Frog and Lil NAS X references are always welcome. The long downs of STILETTO and PIE CHART are nice too (is the clue [Apt infographic for showing a bakery’s sales] cute or too cutesy? Please discuss). That being said, there was some crosswordese that might be difficult for newer solvers (I see a 5 letter upstate NY city and I immediately drop in UTICA, but it’s taken me years to learn that – ODEON is similar). I’m glad I got to the lovely southwest downs of CUBES, ATONE, and MANGA rather than the acrosses of BONA and ENGR.
Congrats to Alan on his debut, and happy Valentine’s day to all!
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Love Nests”—Jim P’s review
Theme: The word DEAR is “nested” within familiar phrases. The revealer is HOLDS DEAR (64a, [Cherishes, and what each of 17-, 24-, 40- and 51-Across does]).
- 17a. [Where a company draws most of its business] TRADE AREA. This doesn’t feel like a very commonly used phrase, but maybe that’s just me.
- 24a. [Destructive war policy] SCORCHED EARTH.
- 40a. [Pistol, say] SIDEARM. What a dumb way to refer to a weapon. As if you keep your regular arms at your front and back. (I’m joking. Sorta.)
- 51a. [Fled] MADE A RUN FOR IT.
That works. It’s Monday. It’s Valentine’s Day. And I know Mike Shenk likes to run topical themed puzzles around significant days of the calendar. I’ll admit I was hoping there’d be different terms of endearment in each theme answer, just for an added challenge, but the revealer makes that impossible. However, said revealer and the title do provide a solid basis for the theme.
I wanted “THAT’S GOOD” for 3d [“Glad to hear it”], but “THAT’S NICE” goes better with the theme. I also liked CENTAUR, SODA CAN, and HAIRDOS. I’m not sure why, but I was expecting a cardinal number for 36d [Anniversary for which china is the traditional gift], so I kept hesitating on the I in TWENTIETH. Anyone else?
Clues of note:
- 27d. [Remain]. BIDE. Tough for a Monday. Does anyone use this word other than in the idiom “BIDE one’s time”?
- 28d. [Sought by MPs, perhaps]. AWOL. I got caught on this one, as I was thinking of British Members of Parliament.
Paul Coulter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Today’s theme is so straightforward I almost wonder whether I’m missing something. There’s no revealer, but one isn’t really necessary since we’re just dealing with alliterative jobs, with the alliteration stated directly in the clues:
- 16A [Alliterative union litigator] is a LABOR LAWYER. Given that LAWYER is in this theme entry, I’d have preferred to see 30A, ATTS, clued without the word “lawyer.”
- 25A [Alliterative craftsperson] is a WOODWORKER. I appreciated the gender-neutral clue.
- 47A [Alliterative marriage specialist] is a MATCHMAKER.
- 60A [Alliterative accompanist] is a PIANO PLAYER.
Can’t say that this theme was my favorite. It doesn’t feel quite like wordplay, so as much as I sometimes say I’d rather have another theme entry than a revealer, this puzzle I think could’ve benefited from a clever revealer to produce more of an aha moment at the end.
The fill is overall quite good, with UBER EATS, CHIRPY, SOUNDTRACK, OVAL OFFICE, and KAPUT catching my eye. And WILLA Cather is pretty much baiting me to like the fill, right?
Eric Hougland’s Universal crossword, “Musical Adaptation” — pannonica’s write-up
Today we have ostensibly familiar two-word phrases in which the first part also happens to share the name of a music genre. They’re punnily clued in that sense.
- 16a. [Days in the studio for Cardi B?] RAP SESSIONS.
- 30a. [Spots to dance to Celia Cruz] SALSA BARS. I hadn’t heard of these, hence the ‘ostensibly’ in my intro.
- 48a. [Place to pick up Motley Crue’s latest?] METAL SHOP. I checked the various versions of the crossword and none has the arbitrary metal umlauts: Mötley Crüe.
- 64a. [Spot for Kac
- ey Musgraves to pluck some chords?] COUNTRY CLUB.
Pretty straightforward theme. Nothing exciting, nothing upsetting.
- 6d [Breeze (through)] SAIL. As I did with this crossword.
- Longdowns: 10d [Slippery covering for a fruit] BANANA PEEL, 29d [Thriller elements] PLOT TWISTS.
- 17d [With 54-Down, common pronoun pair] SHE | HER. These are a symmetrical pair as well.
- 49d [Chinese fruit: Var.] LITCHI. This happens to be my preferred spelling.
- 65a [Arabian instrument that’s a twosome backward] OUD.
- 15a [Step below MLB] AAA; 21a [Several steps below MLB?] T-BALL.
- 53a [“Didn’t expect to see you!”] OH HI. This has rapidly become the crossword darling clue in the past couple of years; I see it so often now, and with very similar cluing. It’s wearing a bit thin for me.
Let’s make it a pair; here’s another OUD DUO piece (with additional percussion).
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday Crossword — Matthew’s recap
Fun grid with some toughies today from BEQ. Maybe a little more short stuff than we’re used to on a Themeless Monday.
Fave fill: OPP [33a 1989 rap hit that sampled the Jackson 5’s “ABC”], FLAME WARS, USS WASP, FALSE FLAG
Tough spot: I PURITANI crossing LINN. The former I’m fine to chalk up to my not knowing much opera. The latter I’ve only seen in puzzles, but I think it’s gotten me on the L- before, and it was pretty clear the crossing had to be a consonant.
Stuff I learned: How to spell APPOMATTOX (though we’ll see if I’ve *actually* learned it); actress Catherine DENEUVE (seems like a pretty big miss on my part, not to know her); the relationship between TIPPI Hedren and Dakota Johnson.
Still don’t get: PASTE for [47d Ersatz sparkler]
Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
I started out clicking through the Across clues, stumped till the fourth one was something I knew. Thank you, JA RULE feat. Ashanti, for a song I don’t much care for, but it’s WGCI’s favorite older song. I pretty much solved the puzzle clockwise from the JA RULE northeast and eventually back around to 1-Across’s corner. Did not play like a New Yorker Monday, though—felt more like one of their Fridays to me.
Fave fill: COLOR IN, THE BASEBALL GODS (I’m partial to the parking gods), LATEST CRAZE, WORD ON THE STREET, PREMEDS, BABY TEETH, MAD HATTER, EUROZONE.
Six more things:
- 26a. [Dazzling, in a bad way], GAUDY. The clue is spot on. Would you say some of the Olympic figure skaters and ice dancing skaters wear gaudy costumes on the ice?
- 34a. [Many a little black dress], SHEATH. I appreciate constructors/editors who are familiar with women’s fashion and don’t pretend it’s beneath their notice.
- 51a. [Waiting lists?], ORDERS. As in restaurant orders, taken by the servers who wait tables.
- 4d. [Acrobat launcher], ADOBE. Coincidence or hijacking? When I was in the space next to this entry, Adobe made the browser lag while it popped up its window demanding that I uninstall Adobe Flash using their Installer. Pardon me! I am in the middle of doing a crossword, on the clock, and I don’t appreciate your bossiness!
- 8d. [Rock style with a Czech sound to it?], PROG. Prog(ressive) rock, sounds like Prague. Playful!
- 13d. [Orgo students, often], PREMEDS. Orgo = nickname for organic chemistry.
4.5 stars from me. Incredibly smooth for a 64-worder! Those four corners are spacious but don’t have any bogus roll-your-own words or phrases or wildly obscure vocab.
Rebecca Goldstein’s USA Today puzzle, “The Category Is…”– malaika’s write-up
Theme: I did not really get the theme on this one, so I asked someone– it’s a reference to the show POSE, as seen here. I like that it references the opening words of the opening number, and the theme answers have these words as the opening words of a phrase.
- Take extreme risks– LIVE ON THE EDGE
- Colleagues with an extra-close relationship– WORK SPOUSES
- Start a discussion in a seminar, maybe– POSE A QUESTION
Wanted to shout out DOG PILES and WORMHOLE, but don’t have time for a write-up beyond that unfortunately. Thanks Rebecca, for a fun puzzle!
I enjoyed the NYT, and one thing I appreciated is that the constructor didn’t say the smartphone had made all these items obsolete, but that it “can replace” them. If you’re going backwoods camping, for instance, you could use your phone as a compass, but it would be foolish to rely on it exclusively. The compass isn’t obsolete. The alarm clock falls into a similar category, as Sophia notes.
Absolutely agree. A very original theme and very enjoyable.
Same. I was a little disappointed that Sophia read that into the theme and thus dinged it when it explicitly wasn’t there. Great idea for a Monday.
BEQ – Hi Matthew – a fake gemstone (ersatz sparker) is frequently called PASTE, especially in old/noir films.
His question piqued my interest, as to why it is called “paste”… I’d heard the term and thought of it pretty much as costume jewelry.
It isn’t made of glue :) .
“Paste is a special type of cut glass which emulates a variety of gemstones.” and “Pastes were used extensively from the 1700s to the early 1900s and were a desired material in themselves, not a replacement for diamonds and gem stones. Invented by Georges Frederic Strass (1701-1773) in 1730.”
Very cool. Thank you both!
BEQ – 33A (1989 rap hit that sampled the Jackson 5’s “ABC”). The song came out in 1991, not 1989.
Amy, I think ORGO is short for Organogenesis, particularly if the students are PRE MEDS. I had ro go to Google for that.
In my college experience, ORGO always meant Organic Chemistry, a class I was lucky to never have to take. Would also accept OChem, but ORGO was more common.
Orgo was Organic Chemistry when I was in school (but that’s 45 years ago, so things may have changed).
Organogenesis comes up a lot in a Google search for ORGO because it’s the stock symbol for Organogenesis Holdings, Inc.
As a topic of study, I’m inclined to think that organogenesis would be more for actual Med students vs. PRE MED – or maybe grad students in biology.
My sister is a doctor, I’m a PA – both of us, and everybody we know refer to organic chemistry as ORGO. (Yes, believe it or not, I had to take it too.)
I stand corrected by all of you, but when I took Organic Chemistry I never came across the word ORGO. I loved both Chemistrys, I was an undergraduate and it was about 55 years ago.
anything else is just wrong (from mid 1960’s – 2020’s) where I come from
ORGO sounds like the speaker doesn’t really know what OUZO or ORZO are
I hold an advanced Chemistry degree and an M.D.
Doctor Butler would have reacted very badly to ORGO
Should I stay OR GO? is that so hard?
Must be regional
Many of us in the X world would like to become accustomed to seeing regular reviewing of the Sunday LAT puzzle. Just want to compare notes. Too much to ask? Maybe a different reviewer?