Stephen Hiltner’s New York Times Crossword — Sophia’s recap
Theme: Each theme answer is a famous TV neighbor.
- 17a [Neighbor on “Family Matters”] – STEVE URKEL
- 28a [Neighbor on “Full House”] – KIMMY GIBBLER
- 45a [Neighbor on “Home Improvement”] – WILSON WILSON
- 62a [Bygone TV host with a famous “neighborhood”] – FRED ROGERS
Congrats to Stephen on his debut! And if you’re wondering if you’ve been hearing those words a lot from me recently, it’s true – this is the 5th NYT Monday in a row that’s been a debut for at least one of the constructors! Love seeing new faces around Crossworld.
How you feel about this puzzle’s theme is probably going to depend on how much 90’s TV knowledge you have. I was born after the heyday of most of these shows, so to give you an idea of how much staying power each one has, STEVE URKEL and KIMMY GIBBLER were both instant gets for me, as was FRED ROGERS (although I did try to put in “Mr. Rogers” first before realizing it was too short). I have never heard of WILSON WILSON.
I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’re a constructor building an easy puzzle for a wide audience like the NYT has and your theme is based around pop culture knowledge, it’s good to include answers that span a wide array of times/knowledge bases in order to be solvable by more folks. Here, FRED ROGERS actually stands out as the only answer not to be based in the 90’s (or really a TV “neighbor” in the same way as the others, but he is famous as a neighbor and anyways I’m never going to complain about more Mr. Rogers.)
- Even if the theme might trip some folks up, the fill probably won’t here! Very clean and Monday appropriate. I like how few names are in the fill given the name-centric theme. Other than the odd suffix -IES and the retro DSL, there’s nothing to dislike here.
- I don’t think we needed the possible thematic tie-in of the AREA clue of 55d [Neighborhood]. It felt a little gratuitous.
- I thought the “suit” in 20a [Summer suit material] was going to refer to a swimsuit and tried “nylon” and “lycra” before the correct LINEN.
- Favorite clues: 31d [How fashionable people arrive, it’s said] for LATE and 44a [Lets down] for LOWERS – a nice Monday level misdirect there; I thought it was going to do with disappointing someone.
Favorite answers: COWGIRLS, and the two best cartoon characters with Y___I names, YOSHI and YOGI.
Happy pi day everyone!
Jill Denny & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pigtails”—Jim P’s review
Wife-and-husband duo Jill Denny and Jeff Chen GO WHOLE HOG (62a, [Pull out all the stops, and how to find the animals at the starts of 17-, 27- and 47-Across]) in this grid. The other themers are familiar phrases whose first word can precede “hog.”
- 17a. [Investment vehicles that may engage in short selling] HEDGE FUNDS. Hedgehog.
- 27a. [Guidelines settled on at the start of arbitration] GROUND RULES. Groundhog.
- 47a. [Cream used on a skin growth] WART REMOVER. Warthog.
Cute, huh? I didn’t catch on until I got to the revealer which made for a nice little twist rather than the usual these-words-can-precede-this-word variety.
Having only four theme answers frees up the grid for fun fill like SIDEWINDER, WOLF PUPS, LIP SYNCHED, ENTANGLE, and TUITION. Also good: MUFFLER and NEO-NOIR.
Clues of note:
- 46a. [Enjoy Stowe]. SKI. I wanted to put READ here. Anyone else?
- 57a. [“___ Gonna Do?” (1977 Pablo Cruise hit)]. WHATCHA. Didn’t recognize the title or the band, but I do recall hearing the song back in the day.
Smooth, clean puzzle with a cute theme. Perfect Monday fare. Four stars.
Zachary David Levy’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Today’s puzzle felt like a mismatch between grid difficulty and day of the week, although my final time of 2:10 doesn’t necessarily bear that out, especially since this grid is a 16×15. Let’s see where we get after we’ve talked this out…
First, the theme, which is pretty simple and is probably why this puzzle got slotted for Monday even though I might have chosen Tuesday or even Wednesday if I were in the editor’s chair. The revealer at 61A [Intermediary … or a hint to 23-, 35-, 42-, and 52-Across] is GO-BETWEEN, and each theme phrase has GO as the central word of a three-word phrase.
- 23A [Ride with wooden horses] is a MERRY-GO-ROUND. My favorite as a kid!
- 35A [“Let’s change the subject”] is DON’T GO THERE.
- 42A [St. Patrick’s day shout] is ERIN GO BRAGH. Here’s hoping the missing initial cap in “day” was fixed when this puzzle went to press. It wasn’t there in the Across Lite file I got and it made my eyes twitch.
- 52A [Without a care in the world] is HAPPY-GO-LUCKY.
So…sure, the theme entries certainly lead one to a Monday slot. They’re all more than well known enough. It’s the fill that, while totally legitimate, feels a little harder than Monday. We have ERRATA, which can nearly always be ERRORS if you haven’t got enough crossings, at 17A, right underneath a proper name. Also in that NE corner, RIM SALT is lively but I suspect might not drop quickly. We have the possibly tough spelling of EDVARD Munch at 24D, crossing what I think is a not-so-easy clue for ADELE [Singer with numbered albums]. 36D OHH could easily be AHA (and probably at least one other thing I’m not thinking of) if you’re trying to use that three to get a toehold. In the NW, FRYE feels like a niche brand, adjacent to Yani TSENG, whose name I didn’t notice while solving since I got her without crossings, but feels tough if you don’t follow golf. In the center right, although any one of CHE, CEDRIC, and TREBEK feels fine for Monday, having three proper names side by side, not so much.
I have argued myself into this puzzle being more appropriate for another day of the week, which of course is on the editor, not the constructor.
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword Themeless Monday #663— Jenni’s review
Hi and happy Pi day! I’m filling in for Matthew and I do not have pie, worse luck. There is no pie in the puzzle, either.
This fell a bit faster for me than I expected. It helps that I actually knew the film and music references, which rarely happens for me with Brendan’s puzzles. Lots of good stuff!
- 14a [HUAC members?] is UNAMERICAN – I guess the letters are members of the name of the committee.
- I was also aided by my years of marriage to a geologist. 17a [Era when animal domestication began] is the MESOLITHIC. I actually knew this.
- ROBERT PATTINSON sits in the middle of the grid. Even I have heard of him and I know he’s the latest Batman.
- Music references I knew: Dave MATTHEWS, Mendelssohn’s “St Paul” ORATORIO, Spinal Tap’s BASSISTS (also a movie reference – two for one!), Beethoven’s EROICA, and I know that Antonio Carlos Jobim is from RIO.
- UNSUNK gives us one note of INELEGANCE.
Speaking of Beethoven’s Third, I once listened to an audiobook of short stories in which this symphony was a major plot point. Unfortunately, the narrator consistently pronounced it as the EROTICA. Oy.
What I didn’t know before I solved this puzzle: I didn’t know that Andy Serkis play Alfred to Pattinson’s Batman.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today puzzle: Fall Back– malaika’s write-up
Good morning folks, quick write-up today as things are broken at work and I must fix them. Today’s theme featured answers which contained the word FALL inside of them, backwards. VANILLA FUDGE, ELLA FITZGERALD, and PULL A FAST ONE. All three are lovely entries. Have a good Monday!
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
In brief, fave fill: SWIPE LEFT, BLUE SKIES, SWISS BANK, WENT ALL IN. Less keen on: “BE A PAL” (feels overused in grids), SWELL OUT and POKES AT and HOLD TO, POLITEST, OP ART, STENO.
49a LOLA Bunny was created for Space Jam … because the filmmakers felt they needed a female cartoon character to objectify. In 2021’s Space Jam reboot, Lola Bunny is a hotshot basketball player instead of … a rabbit with a pair of boobs and a skinny waist.
Fave clue: [Secretly espouse?] for ELOPE.
3.5 stars from me for this 66-worder.
Christina Iverson’s Universal crossword, “More, Please!” — pannonica’s write-up
Really need to try to keep my personal animus for the theme subject at bay (33a [Howl toward] BAY AT). I’ve proclaimed on numerous occasions that “mayonnaise is the ichor of the devil”, YET (62d [“That said …”]) such is my task this morning to deal with this.
- 59aR [Sandwich request added on the side in 18-, 27-, 36- and 47-Across] EXTRA MAYO. The letters M-A-Y-O are prefixed to those theme answers, altering the meanings of the phrases.
- 18a. [Types who frequent shopping centers?] MALL SORTS (all sorts).
- 27a. [Colleague’s expression of agreement?] AMEN AT WORK (men at work).
- 36a. [Rising agent for Adam and Eve?] YEAST OF EDEN (East of Eden).
- 47a. [Online journals about a Mediterranean morsel?] OLIVE BLOGS (live blogs).
must stay calm … must not snap … concentrate on mechanics of puzzle …
All the pieces work, and the wackified phrases are suitably entertaining.
- 10d [Covered with small rocks] STONY. Surprisingly difficult to quickly parse, requiring a few extra beats.
- 11d [“This can wait”] NO RUSH; 29d [“This can’t wait!”] ASAP. 12d [Not too late] IN TIME.
- 39d [Catching catfish bare-handed] NOODLING. I knew this. Unfortunately I now also know that there are catfish and pasta (with mayonnaise!) out there, if the internet is to be believed.
- 6a [Innovative spark] IDEA, 20a [Arrives at, in a brainstorm] HITS ON.
- 40a [Divide, as a bill] SPLIT. At first I thought this was about legislation, then decided that it was more likely about something like a restaurant check.
- 50a [ __ catcher (paper fortune-teller)] COOTIE. During the solve I thought it referred to a person, but now I suspect it’s a regional name for one of those folded things with writing underneath various flaps—sort of like an origami precursor to the Magic 8-Ball. Let’s see if I’m correct … yes! Also called chatterbox, salt cellar, whirlybird, or paku-paku. Far as I know, when and where I grew up they were just called fortune tellers, as the linked Wikipedia article is titled.
- 56a [Infinite __ (web feature that its inventor apologized for)] SCROLL. I’m guessing that the creator of infinite scream holds no regrets. Coincidentally, it’s my internal response to the subject of this crossword puzzle. See? It all comes back around.
No more, please.