Derek J. Angell’s New York Times Crossword — Sophia’s recap
Theme: Dinosaurs, as clued by what their name means.
- 20a [Dinosaur whose name means “swift seizer”] – VELOCIRAPTOR
- 36a [Dinosaur whose name means “winged finger”] – PTERODACTYL
- 42a [Dinosaur whose name means “three-horned face”] – TRICERATOPS
- 58a [Dinosaur whose name means “thunder lizard”] – BRONTOSAURUS
I’m so glad I get to review today’s puzzle, because anyone who knows me knows how much I love dinosaurs. Seriously, it’s reached “my friend gave me a glow-in-the-dark dinosaur blanket as an apartment-warming gift” level. So, I really enjoyed getting to put in so many dinosaurs into the grid today! That being said, even a dino-lover like me didn’t know the meanings of each name off the top of my head – maybe you’d have to love both dinosaurs and Greek for that. With the exception of TRICERATOPS, which I figured had to be the most famous three-anything related dinosaur, the clues for each animal didn’t help me much. I mostly solved each theme answer by getting a few of the letters via downs, thinking of a dinosaur that could fit in the slot, and then trying to retrofit their name back to the meaning. I’m also not sure what exactly TREX is doing down there in the bottom of the puzzle – is it meant to be part of the theme? A revealer? Just a fun bonus tie in? Whatever, I’m not mad about it.
- High points in the fill – EYEROLL, MADONNA, PRNDL (if only because it made me think of this “Suite Life of Zack and Cody” scene).
- I wasn’t sure about 67a [Fully cooked, as steak] for a bit because I wanted it to be “well done” rather than just WELL, which feels a little off to me.
- It could have been cool to clue BIRD as related to the dinosaurs, as some cool theme-related trivia!
- I kind of wish there was another wordplay clue or two in this puzzle – with such a straightforward theme, having some clever clues might have given solvers some extra “aha!” moments. Just because a puzzle is aimed to be easy doesn’t mean the clues have to be basic or devoid of personality!
Hope you all had a lovely weekend!
Adam Vincent’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Opening Lines”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Things with EYEs (31d, [Feature shared by 16-, 22-, 50- and 61-Across]).
- 16a. [Its 31-Down is about the size of a dinner plate] GIANT SQUID.
- 22a. [Its 31-Down may be hundredths of an inch] LEATHER NEEDLE. Never heard of this one. Apparently these are longer and thicker than regular sewing needles. I can’t imagine the EYE being much different in size though.
- 50a. [Its 31-Down can be 20 to 40 miles across] TROPICAL STORM.
- 61a. [Its 31-Down might be similar in size (and function) to a pea] SEED POTATO.
Since the clues seem to be focused on the sizes of the eyes, it would have been nice if these were presented in order from smallest to largest or vice versa. Instead they go from large to tiny to enormous to small. And why the focus on size, anyway? Three of these eyes aren’t used for seeing. That to me is more interesting. If a fourth could be found, that would be a more consistent theme.
Also, I have yet to figure out how to apply the title. If you’ve sorted it out, fill us in. Otherwise, I’m going to give this theme a meh.
I like the fill better. There’s STARLINGS, CREAM CAKE (I wanted CREAM PIES), GAME PLAN, SEA FLOOR, ROULETTE, and ALLEY OOP (which I feel like I’ve seen a lot lately). Also: GO COLD, PRO TIP, SET OFF, and NOT FAR. Plenty of nice stuff there and almost no gunky fill anywhere.
Clues fell on the straightforward side, so I will leave things there. Still have no idea with the title other than the fact that eyes are things you open, but beyond that…¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Chris Sablich’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Here’s a theme of a type that was much more common in the aughts when I started solving, and feels like it’s fallen out of favor these days: the change-a-vowel. No revealer here; instead, each theme entry starts with a word of the pattern B?LL, and the theme words go through the five vowels in alphabetical order:
- 17A [Rolling friction-reducing part] is a BALL BEARING.
- 24A [Type of pants with a flared leg] is BELL-BOTTOM.
- 38A [“The Science Guy”] is BILL NYE.
- 52A [Cotton-picking pest] is BOLL WEEVIL. Not sure about this clue. It sounds like the weevil is picking the cotton, which it doesn’t. Or is it meant as “to those who pick cotton, a BOLL WEEVIL is a pest”? I think [Cotton-infesting pest] would’ve been better.
- 63A [Stubborn but fun-loving dog breed] is a BULL TERRIER. Oh, that’s what those are! Awwww, whosa good doggo?
I think when you do one of these, the individual theme entries have to be really lively to make me take notice. All of these are legitimate in-the-language phrases, but IMO only BULL TERRIER rises to the level of putting a smile on my face. Coupled with the fill lowlights of ARBS, two RE-verbs (REGROW and REDUB), DRYS, COREL, and ODE TO, this wasn’t my favorite Monday.
Jeff McDermott’s Universal crossword, “State Your Name” — pannonica’s write-up
Right off the bat (40d [Guys who it the ball in cricket] BATSMEN) I want to say how impressed I am with this innovative theme using one of the more venerable subjects of crossword themes, US states. It’s a really fresh spin.
What we have are phrases beginning with the nickname—the key element, anyway—of a state immediately followed by the two-letter official abbreviation of said state.
- 3d. [Like a minor burn] FIRST-DEGREE. Delaware (DE) is “The First State”.
- 18a. [Biblical idol] GOLDEN CALF. California (CA), “The Golden State”.
- 26d. [Region not developed through planning] NATURAL AREA. Arkansas (AR), “The Natural State”.
- 54a. [“I’m enjoying your house tour!”] SHOW ME MORE. Missouri (MO), “The Show-Me State”.
- 15a [When doubled, a child’s train] CHOO. (‘Gatagoto’ (ガタゴト) is Japanese for ‘rattling’. I believe it’s onomatopoeic.
- 20a [Like idyllic country life] PASTORAL. Seems as if the grid wants me to front-load the write-up with musical selections. Going to forgo the obvious Beethoven for some moderately knotty post-bop jazz.
- 34a [Territory with a massive rock] GIBRALTAR. It’s made of limestone. (Yes, I’m still having flashbacks to that Friday Los Angeles Times crossword.) Along with the mountain Jebel Musa in Morocco, it forms the ‘Pillars of Herakles’.
- 36a [Some smartphones] LGS. The company has recently gotten out of the mobile phone business.
- 37a [Birds last seen in the 17th century] DODOS. I recently read about efforts to ‘de-extinct’ the species via DNA analysis and cloning technology. I have serious misgivings about such efforts for ‘marquee species’ when thousands of species are going extinct every year, and their habitats are being systematically destroyed. Yes, science focusses on more than one endeavor simultaneously, but I’m deeply skeptical of bringing back woolly mammoths, dodos, and other long-vanished animals.
- 39a [Climber’s clip] CARABINER. 2d [Climber’s cutting tool] ICE AXE.
- 61a [Philosopher Descartes] RENÉ. 49d [French home of Lacoste] PARIS.
- 7d [Move like a boccie ball] ROLL. 36d [Cornhole venue, perhaps] LAWN. Turns out boccie is usually played on dirt, not grass as I’d thought.
- 9d [Nighttime medication that anagrams to “late sun”] LUNESTA. Hmm.
- 44d [Series of solved puzzles] STREAK. Playing to the audience!
- 46d [Gives lip to] SASSES. This is like the archetypal entry for this location, the lower-rightmost down answer. All those esses as plural endings help the constructor fill in the area.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday Crossword — Matthew’s recap
First things first, it was beyond lovely to see folks in person again–or in many cases for the first time–at ACPT this weekend. I’m still coming down from the high as I weave my way to JFK for the journey home.
Today’s themeless from BEQ is lighter than his killer Puzzle 5 from the tournament, but clearly I’m out of practice from rigorous solving, because for a moment I didn’t think I was going to finish the NW corner. Eventually replacing “Poitier” with the correct OLIVIER [13a Actor who cofounded London’s National Theatre Company], and “potions” for ELIXIRS [2d Apothecary’s creations] settled things nicely. But how about that trap there! I was helped by having seen a wall of spurs, some with ROWELS [1d Spiked disks on spurs] at the Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio last fall (highly recommended), but one simpler error seemingly confirmed by another made that area tough to unravel. Oh, and while I can usually rely on sports knowledge for college-related clues, it took a while to see WIDENER [15a University in Chester, Pennsylvania].
Stepping back a moment, this grid shape is among my favorites for themelesses. If a constructor can nail the crossing staircases in the center, the corners are a nice middle ground of “not too open” and “connected enough to the center” that it’s possible to not have anything too yucky in the 6- and 7-letter fill. I didn’t love LINTS or POUTER, but there can be worse in themeless grids, especially … whoa, 62 worders. I did not realize the word count was that low until just now. Just lovely.
The true, true highlights of this grid for me today, though, were two clues that are each among my favorites in a while, and in the same puzzle:
- 23d [They’re one hit after another] POP CHARTS.
- 30d [Some cricket players] DART TEAM. This is a brilliant misdirect, if you ask me. The rules of cricket (the darts game) somewhat make sense to me, but when I play, I’m generally happy to hit the same half of the board I’m aiming for. The rules of cricket the bat and ball sport make a bit more sense, but I’ve never been compelled to watch anything more than highlights.
No additional notes today. Have a good Monday!
Tough puzzle today – especially with some post-ACPT puzzle burn out added in. A wonderful weekend – but I could’ve gone a day or two without solving. The bottom half of this puzzle fell first for me, with BLUE RIBBONS and DIAGNOSIS MURDER the easier long answers for me to get. I also enjoyed OH GOD NO and YOU KNOW THE DRILL. I always like seeing talk-y answers in a puzzle.
Some favorite clues:
34D [Load-bearing device?] DRYER
50A [Some music-festival volunteers: Abbr.] EMTS
37D [Tank top] TURRET
35A [Home wrecker?] TERMITE
Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Good morning everyone! Here is a reminder that if you don’t like reading my reviews, you can simply stop reading right now. Have a great rest of your day <3
Theme: Each theme answer contains the sound “aye” one, two, or three times. Also, this puzzle contains a lot of Maya Angelou references, and runs on her birthday.
- “Rohingya” filmmaker– AI WEI WEI
- “Yes, ma’am” on a ship– AYE AYE CAPTAIN
- Last three lines of the Angelou poem that starts “You may write me down in history / With your bitter, twisted lies”– I RISE I RISE I RISE
- Maya Angelou’s is April 4, for short– BDAY
- “I Know Why THE Caged Bird Sings”
- Maya Angelou has one on the St. Louis Walk of Fame– STAR
- “Oh Pray My Wings ARE Gonna Fit Me Well”
- I never thought about STATS being palindromic! And I studied STATS for four years. Good stuff. At a party this weekend, a stranger told me that I seem very numbers oriented, a comment which will haunt me forever I think.
- This clue refers to GIN as a “liqueur” but I would call it a “liquor.” Liqueurs tend to be sweetened and lower proof.
- Who else read the clue for BANE and immediately thought of “You are the bane of my existence and the object of all of my desires” and Anthony Bridgerton’s wet shirt and the broken bangle at the wedding and an instrumental cover of “Wrecking Ball” and etc etc.
- I DOS (clued as “Two-word wedding vows”) is not the best plural
- Xe/ XEM pronouns are for people who are non-binary but do not want to use they/ them for various reasons. For example, in languages other than English, there are gender neutral pronouns that are specific to individuals. Whereas in English, “they” is used for both individuals and groups. So using “xe” brings that specificity back.
- INUPIAQ is one of the official languages of Alaska. The language is declining, and only has about 2,000 speakers currently.
- “Kayn aynhoreh” is a phrase in Yiddish that wards off EVIL. You might also see it spelled as “kineahora”– when languages don’t share an alphabet, translations typically have various spellings.