Theme: Today’s puzzle involves JUMPSUITS – that is, each of the four suits in a deck of cards (hearts, clubs, spades, diamonds) is embedded into this puzzle, with the second half of the suit a row higher than the first. Thus, the suit is “jumping” up to the next row.
I really liked this theme! I’m a serious card player so anything card-related will make me happy, and the wordplay is solidly amusing. While I was solving, I noticed that the shaded letters contained the suits, but I didn’t guess the revealer until I got to it. Thus, I was able to use the theme to put in some answers, but I still got an aha moment at the end.
The only thing I didn’t love about the theme was that most of the “suit” entries were a little boring (with the exception being PIE CHARTS). I think this is because the amount of thematic material forced the constructors to use shorter words, which are oftentimes difficult to make stand out. Almost all of the “suit” entries have the suit in the beginning or the end of the word, with the exception of the HE in BEACHED. I wonder if allowing the suits to be anywhere in their respective words could have allowed more interesting options? Either way, if the fill had been a touch more exciting, I think this puzzle would have been elevated from “very good” to “truly amazing”.
- Maybe this is me, but I 100% would go with the “ufc/uturn” cross over KFC/KTURN. I was certain I had something wrong in the SE corner, especially when FETID also showed up! Given how isolated that corner is, I feel like there’s got to be more Monday-level fill.
- Besides the KTURN debacle, my biggest hold up today was “radio” over RADAR for [Air traffic control equipment]. Oh, and I also lost about a minute of time searching for an error, which turned out to be me mistyping OCELOTS.
- My favorite clues today: the meta [You’re reading one right now] for CLUE, and [Kings of Leon or Queens of the Stone Age] for BAND, which felt appropriate in a playing card related puzzle!
- I now have “My Heart Will Go On” stuck in my head, and I blame this puzzle. “NEAR, far, whereeeeeeeever you are…..”
Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend!
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Remote Learning”—Jim P’s review
The revealer is FINISHING SCHOOL (62a, [Where a young woman once learned social skills, and what each starred answer has]). The theme answers are familiar two-word phrases which end in (or “finish” with) a word that is also the name of an American university.
- 17a. [*Victoria’s place] BRITISH COLUMBIA.
- 24a. [*Door worker] LOCKSMITH.
- 52a. [*Luxembourg’s monarch Henri, e.g.] GRAND DUKE.
- 3d. [*Chinese restaurant offering] FRIED RICE.
- 35d. [*Mocha] DARK BROWN.
Nice straightforward theme for a Monday with just a smidge of wordplay. I caught sight of the school names after getting the top three theme answers but needed the revealer to tie it together. And that it did. My only nit is the title which I can’t seem to make work with the theme. “Remote Learning” implies something is separated or distanced, and that’s not a feature of this theme.
Not a lot of flash in the grid since we have a couple of theme answers in the Down direction, but the fill is smooth all around.
Clue of note: 4d. [David or Moses]. PAINTER. Not a Monday-level clue. Grandma Moses I sussed out, but the other…Jacque-Louis David, I gather? Not a name in the forefront of my mind, but I do recognize Napoleon Crossing the Alps.
John Lieb’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
I’ve worked with John Lieb for a couple of years now as a test solver for the various Boswords tournaments, so it’s a pleasure to see his byline on a puzzle. This one, I think, might have been better suited to a Tuesday or even a Wednesday than a Monday, but that’s not on him!
The revealer, which I had to hunt for, is the final Across answer, 69A [Superlative acronym spelled out by the starts of the answers to the starred clues], GOAT. Which in this case does not mean an animal with beards and a horn, but rather the acronym that’s short for GREATEST OF ALL TIME. And when you look at the starred clues — 20-, 34-, 42-, and 54-Across — the first word in each of the theme answers is GREATEST, OF, ALL, and TIME respectively:
- 20A [*Title of many compilation albums] is GREATEST HITS.
- 34A [*Not at all talkative] is OF FEW WORDS.
- 42A [*Taylor Swift song with the lyrics “You can’t get rid of it / ‘Cause you remember it …”] is ALL TOO WELL.
- 54A [*”There’s no way to know yet”] is TIME WILL TELL.
I think the not-so-typical theme trope, plus some tougher answers in the grid like SOLFA, DOTH (which could easily be HATH as clued), PYRITE, OREM, and ECCO mean this puzzle would make more sense on a later day of the week. But again, that’s no fault of the puzzle itself.
Sara Nies and Ross Trudeau’s Universal crossword, “Gallic Travels” — pannonica’s write-up
No wordplay in the title, FAR (64d) as I can tell.
- 60aR [Annual bike race, and a theme hint] THE TOUR DE FRANCE.
- 17a. [Trip to a celebrated wine region?] CHAMPAGNE FLIGHT.
- 29a. [Clothes to pack for the Riviera?] NICE THREADS.
- 49a. [Luxury hotel in the City of Light?] PARIS HILTON, which pretty much recapitulates the ‘joke’ of the socialite’s name, right?
Theme feels kind of insubstantial to me.
- 1a [Like a recently robbed bank vault’s door, say] AJAR. I was so confident it was simply OPEN.
- 28a [Jiro of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi“] ONO. I liked the documentary, but ironically found the aesthetics (of the film, not the sushi) somewhat wanting.
- 44a [College app letters] RECS. Not software, just the letters of recommendation for the entrance application.
- 11d [Bones and tennis balls, e.g.] DOG TOYS. Strangely, it took a while for this one to register for me.
- 31d [Cal Poly city, for short] SLO. This must be San Luis Obispo.
- 46d [Ludicrous] COMICAL.
Good morning, squad! I feel like this puzzle has bonded me and Neville bc now we have both collaborated with Erik on a USA Today puzzle that features an “Abbott Elementary” actress as a theme answer. In this one, we’ve got SHERYL LEE RALPH, who (as the title suggests) has the initials SLR. The other theme answers are STATE LINE ROAD, SRI LANKAN RUPEE, and ST. LOUIS RAMS which were new-ish to me (e.g., I didn’t know they used rupees in Sri Lanka) but easy enough. (I did try “lane” and “land” before LINE, the latter makes much more sense.) I am wowed at how they crossed the central theme answers while maintaining symmetry and clean fill.
Other fun stuff in here were some repeat clues (“Name that sounds like two letters” for KATY and ELLEN, and “Word in two / four U.S. state names” for CAROLINA and NEW) and mid-length fill like CAMERA and SUNBATHE. That last one was a nice reminder that I will be on vacation in three short days.
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
What have we here? A 66-worder from Natan.
New to me: 36a. [Figure in Greek mythology whose name roughly means “manifestation of God” and who gave birth to the ram with the golden fleece], THEOPHANE. The THEO- part was inferrable but no, I don’t know the Greek root pertaining to “manifestation.”
Fave fill: GALADRIEL, BOOT CAMPS (clever clue, [Military trials?]), KALE CHIPS, QUARRIES, CATCHES AIR, GOTCHAS, TABLE-HOPS, AMANITA mushrooms.
Not keen on “I’M A FOOL,” “NO TIME,” KHANATE.
Three more things:
- 16a. [“I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false ___ in the windowpane”: “Pale Fire”], AZURE. Clearly I’ve never read this Nabokov novel, because I had no idea it was written in verse (as a 999-line poem written by a core character).
- 1a. [Owning the ___ (conservative strategy of performatively inflaming Democratic outrage)], LIBS. One of my favorite examples of owning the libs is when there was a Nike ad or statement that riled the right-wingers, who proceeded to burn the Nike merchandise they had already paid Nike for.
- 3d. [Frequent accessory for Isaac Asimov], BOLO TIE. Yuck. Asimov deterred so many women from participating in science fiction via his groping.
Four stars from me.