Note: No WSJ puzzle due to the holiday.
Bruce Haight’s New York Times puzzle– Sophia’s write-up
Theme: The final word of each theme answer is something worn or carried by the STATUE OF LIBERTY.
- 17a [Handing responsibility to someone else] – PASSING THE TORCH
- 22a [Major accomplishment in baseball or horse racing] – TRIPLE CROWN
- 34a [One way to deal with a pain in the neck] – ASPIRIN TABLET
- 50a [Two interacting communities in the home of a college] – TOWN AND GOWN
- 57a [New York City landmark suggested by the ends of 17-, 22-, 34- and 50-Across] – STATUE OF LIBERTY
This is a very apt puzzle to come out on July 4th! The publishing date feels like it elevates the theme beyond the standard “these words all fit into the same category”. I really liked the first two theme answers – PASSING THE TORCH and TRIPLE CROWN – but ASPIRIN TABLET felt a little clunky to me. It didn’t help that it was crossed by the LILI/EDER/COSI section, which was one of the hardest in the puzzle for me. But overall, a nice cap to a holiday weekend here in the US.
Some of the fill in this puzzle was really nice – WE’RE HOME and SURE HAND were standouts to me, and I like the conversational feel of THAT TOO. I mostly know ARC LIGHT as the name of a movie theater I went to once in Los Angeles, so I always forget that it has another meaning as well.
I do believe, though, that this puzzle has a bit too much of two of my least favorite types of fill – phrases with weird conjugations/prepositions and tough proper nouns. In the former category, there are three phrases in the puzzle with AT – AT BOTTOM, YAP AT, and SWAT AT. I generally don’t care much about dupes, but it made the puzzle feel like it was full of the same types of words, which made it less interesting as a solver. Throw in FETED and A TAB and A TON and feels even more that way.
In the latter category, LORRIE, BOYD, and AGEE were new to me. I’ve already mentioned the LILI/EDER/COSI section – I want to dislike the overly wordy LILI clue of 23d [Woman’s name that looks like Roman numerals for 51 + 51], but honestly it’s the only reason I ever got a foothold. In terms of propers I did like, it was great to see KAHLO, WOOLF, and LESLIE Jones.
Happy 4th of July!
Catherine Cetta’s LA Times puzzle– Matthew’s write-up
Stella’s on vacation, so Matthew filling in here on a holiday-themed puzzle from Catherine Cetta today, for those that celebrate the 4th of July.
Our revealer is at [59a Fourth of July noisemaker … and the function of the black squares in lines 3, 6, and 10] FIRECRACKER. In those lines:
- 16a [Half-___: rhyming coffee order] and 17a [Closing line after presenting an argument] CAF/IRESTMYCASE
- 28a [Nebula award genre] and 30a [One way to get caught] SCIFI/REDHANDED
- 47a [North American evergreen] and 50a [Say “I do” without the ado”] BALSAMFIR/ELOPE
We’ve got “FIRE” “cracked” in each of the three theme rows, and as I’d expect, along three different ways to break the word. And breaking the theme across entries leads to some pretty colorful entries — I’ve tried for a similar theme in the past, but with the letters of FIRE inside a single themer.
Nothing’s really jumping out at me for notes, but a clean, smooth puzzle with a well-executed theme is always a good start to the week.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday puzzle– Matthew’s write-up
Throwing the solution grid up, may have to come back later for more of a review.
The two long entries — BO DIDDLEY BEAT and MADAME DE FARGE — are each new to me, but fun to learn, and otherwise I found this puzzle from BEQ an easier run through a wide variety of knowledge bases — how about motor oil HAVOLINE stacked with ELUL and AVA Michelle and crossing an Eve Ensler (of The Vagina Monologues fame) clue?
Kevin Shustack’s Universal crossword, “Pop Quiz” — pannonica’s write-up
Left-right symmetry for this one. Puns involving soft drinks.
- 19a. [About to drink some soda?] PICKING UP THE TAB. Discontinued in 2020.
- 48a. [Soda you might drink from a flask?] SECRET CRUSH.
- 33d. [Soda for when you’re on the go?] TRAVEL MUG.
- 36d. [Soda for when you’re staying in?] HOME SLICE, which is quite dated-sounding slang; I’m going to say mid- to late-80s?
I like how there’s a variety of flavors: cola, orange soda, root beer, and lemon-lime.
- 15a [Math’s __ Prize] ABEL. New one on me. Nice change from a biblical reference and film director Ferrara,
- 29a [ __ sci (study of the mind, informally)] COG, for cognitive. Even though it’s a fill-in-the-blank and an abbrev., it’s a (another) nice change, this time from the mechanical or employment clues.
- 35a [Go against the grain, perhaps?] SHAVE. I guess you can SHAVE wood, yes? Some other materials as well?
- 65d [“Black hole of the ocean”] EDDY. Is this something specific, or just an analogy?
- 4d [Brand for many first-time truck owners] TONKA. Cute.
- Row 7: 5d [Growing on the inside?] PREGNANT, 46d [Magazine that named Kate Upton its only Sexiest Woman Alive] PEOPLE. So one of the latest outrage-salvos in the so-called culture wars is the phrase PREGNANT PEOPLE. If you have a problem with that, maybe pause and think about it a bit?
- 9d [Kind of] A BIT. 22a [Lots and lots] A TON.
- 20d [ __-bitsy] ITSY. 64a [Microscopic, cutely] EENSY.
Solid liquid offering.
Will Nediger’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
I’d wish you a happy Fourth of July, but the easy availability of assault weapons has spat on the holiday.
Easier puzzle than I was expecting for a “challenging” Monday New Yorker puzzle. There was one entry I didn’t know: 37d. [Web site that bypasses paywalls for research papers], SCIHUB. Paywalls in sites for scientific and medical journals are bonkers—I’ve seen ones where you can get a PDF of one single, solitary article for something like $30.
Fave fill: GILD THE LILY, WOMEN IN STEM, OUT OF GAS, BAD DATE, GAME NIGHT, DEATH METAL, and 46d. [Upper Midwestern exclamation of dismay], “UFF DA!” I learned that last one while going to Carleton College in small-town Minnesota. The crossings look solid for those of you with less Scandinavian American slang familiarity.
RECONFIRM, RECAST, and PREMIX lent the affair a bit of a prefix-heavy vibe.
3.75 stars from me.
Brooke Husic’s USA Today puzzle, “Scattered Petals”– malaika’s write-up
Hey folks! Today’s puzzle uses one of my favorite theme types, which is “anagrams of words.” In this case STAPLE (from NEVILLE STAPLE), PASTEL (from OIL PASTEL) and PLATES (from TECTONIC PLATES) all anagram to PETALS (from the title).
I also really enjoyed this grid layout which first of all is very pretty, second of all has my favorite type of asymmetry, “Just The One Square Asymmetry.” There were a noticeable amount of three-letter words in this (28), but also lots of fun long stuff like POLE SPORTS, DIVE BAR, and WAVE CAP.
NYT: Tough situation, I guess, when you have a pretty obscure answer (do you know anyone named LILI?) that’s hard to get rid of because it spans two themers. But then you clue it badly – 51+51=102 where I come from, and that would be CII in Roman numerals. Ugh!
A decent Monday puzzle, but 23-D was a clunker.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex aka Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have a daughter named Lilibet, who they call LILI. Surely this is not so very obscure in the USA?
But I thought the clue was clever. LI + LI = LILI.
23-D: “One year old daughter of the sixth in line to the British throne, familiarly.”
Better clue ;-)
Thanks, Pannonica. I thought of that song, too.
From the constructor’s notes on Wordplay, it looks like the somewhat awkward Roman numeral clue for LILI came from the NYT editors. I assume Bruce Height’s original clue referred to an actual or fictional LILI, and it was changed because the puzzle already had a lot of clues of that nature.
As did I.
I had no trouble at all getting it, and I don’t think it matters how many people in the known universe are named LILI, although it seems like an ordinary name to me. But LI + LI made it easy. Maybe I’m too big a cryptic fan, but it was sure easy for me. In fact, were this not a Monday, I’d have found that too much information, meaning TOO easy.
Just to be clear, my complaint wasn’t that the entry was too hard – I didn’t have much trouble getting it, either (though it’s probably hard “for a Monday”) – but I groaned when I put it in.
As for “Lili” being an ordinary name, so far we have the great granddaughter of the Queen and the fictional subject of a WWII-era song (and how many people familiar with the song know she’s “Lili” and not “Lily”).
I realize it’s a tough spot for the constructor/editors. If you don’t want to rework a themer, you’re trying to fill L – – I. There aren’t a lot of good choices.
I suppose if they’d gone with “… Roman numerals for 51, repeated” I still would have groaned, but at least it would have been more accurate.
Maybe you’re looking too hard for a famous person to justify the name? To me, it’s just a name, a variant on Lily, and while we can disagree on how common, surely within bounds.
FWIW, my first association is Lili Palmer, an actress well before our time, but Pannonica has a nice insight that they shied away from proper-noun identifying, so not really relevant.
Lili Taylor and Lili Reinhart, two actresses working today. Taylor is middle-aged, been in movies and on good TV since the 1980s. Reinhart is on teen hit “Riverdale.” Neither is obscure.
Also, besides the other Lilis listed here, there were two big twentieth-century movies: Lili, starring Leslie Caron, and Darling Lili, starring Julie Andrews. I know that items from before 2015 are disapproved of, but with the roman-numeral clue there is no problem at all.
I’m not complaining, it was a solid puzzle, but I thought NYer on Monday was supposed to be pretty darned tough. Solved like a Wednesday NYT for me, I have fits with Monday NYer’s usually.
Enough to throw me, particularly making sense of the Taboo clue (as I didn’t know it’s a game). I still haven’t made sense of AXEMAN for “slash.”
Let me add that the Midwestern cry, Caribbean country, C-suite, and OKINA were also new to me. Actually RUCHES was too but easier to get. None of it unfair, though.
I suspect it’s Slash – stage name of the lead guitarist for Guns ‘n’ Roses. AXEMAN is slang for a talented guitar player.
Thank you. I didn’t know that he was called Slash. (Ax for guitar I do know.)
“Slash” as in the Guns N’ Roses guitarist?
I finished clean which is very unusual for me on a Monday.
They must be emotionally and physically strong, and able to be unaffected by what they see, whether in the past or in the future.