- 20a [Like a ride that has one holding on for dear life] – WHITE KNUCKLE
- 32a [Architectural diagrams] – BLUE PRINTS
- 40a [Knack for gardening] – GREEN THUMB
- 51a [Materials for a preschool artist … or a hint to 20-, 32- and 40-Across] – FINGER PAINTS
So, each theme answer comprises a color and part of the finger. Neat! I noticed the colors while solving but not the finger parts, at least until I came to the revealer. It’s very cool that such common phrases can be linked together like this; I love when crosswords show me new takes on everyday words and this puzzle does that well. I’m not sure what exactly the colors have to do with paint, but honestly I don’t mind it, the wordplay still comes through.
Maybe this is because I’m a crossword constructor, but my first thought when I opened the grid was “huh, that’s a weird black square pattern”. The extra black squares on the left and right sides of the puzzle are pretty rare to see – in my experience, they mostly crop up when working with theme answers of tricky lengths (like 14’s). These theme answers aren’t lengths that are too hard to work with, but they are a pretty well-defined set (in that none of them could really be switched out for another answer). Thus, I’m not surprised that it might take a strange configuration of squares to get optimal fill. I don’t love how this particular layout creates those 3×4 sections in the NW/SE corners though. Roy mentions in his construction notes that his original fill was quite different – I’d be interested to know if the black square layout was different too.
Fill highlights: HOT WIRES, PANKO, NPR NEWS, SHIP’S LOG, EGGNOG
Fill lowlights: There are minimal lowlights here actually! Nothing too esoteric for a Monday (unless you are anti-UK-crossword-words like SNOGS or NAE). I basically had no resistance throughout this puzzle, except for trying to put down “trounce” instead of THRASH for [Defeat soundly] once I had the T.
Favorite clues: Despite its aggressive wordiness, 35a [Lead-in to “Bop” and “Wolf” in hits by Cyndi Lauper and Shakira] for SHE. Also 9a [Award won by Paul Newman and Gary Oldman] for OSCAR, whose wordplay I only got while writing this recap.
Congrats to Roy on a great debut!
Dave Rus’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sporting Communication”—Jim P’s review
Dave Rus makes his cruciverbial debut with a smooth grid all about trash. The revealer is TRASH TALK (37a, [Taunting words for opponents, and a hint to the starts of 17-, 22-, 56- and 62-Across]). The other theme answers are familiar phrases whose first words can also be synonyms for “trash.”
- 17a. [Kitty’s restroom] LITTER BOX.
- 22a. [Slowly shrivel up] WASTE AWAY.
- 56a. [Place for memories] SCRAPBOOK.
- 62a. [Low-rated investments] JUNK BONDS.
Nice. The meanings of the words change just enough to make the theme work. This felt like a perfect over-the-plate Monday-level theme.
The grid isn’t all that flashy, but there are plenty of 7s to enjoy: AVOCADO, LOBSTER, BASMATI, PAPRIKA (I’m getting hungry), PROTEGE, TITANIC, UTOPIAN, and AGATHAS (the awards). I’m not familiar with the phrase ONE-PUTT, but then I don’t follow golf. With the clue [Be efficient on the green], it seems obvious it means to sink the ball on your first putt once you’ve arrived on the green. Fair enough.
Clues of note:
- 30a. [Narcissist’s problem]. EGO. But it’s not a problem for the narcissist, is it?
- 18d. [Jazz pianist Garner]. ERROLL. I was going to embed a video of Oscar the Grouch singing “I Love Trash” but let me break out of my norm and try to class the place up with ERROLL Garner playing “Misty,” which he wrote by the way. The song was later given lyrics and became the signature tune of Johnny Mathis.
Nice puzzle. 3.5 stars.
Justin Daneau’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Looks like we have a debut in the house!
Something else you probably have in the house: a television. In this theme, we have three ways to watch TV shows: a NETWORK, a CHANNEL, and a STATION.
- 16A [Where to watch pillars and frames?] is a SUPPORT NETWORK.
- 36A [Where to watch Stonehenge and Big Ben?] is an ENGLISH CHANNEL.
- 59A [Where to watch tracks and tunnels?] is a RAILWAY STATION.
The punny cluing means there’s no need for a revealer, although I think it might be a little harder to parse the theme than an average Monday. I say “I think” because…crosswords have themes? That you know about before you’re done solving the puzzle? What?!
The grid is pretty clean although some of the clues I think lean toward a Tuesday-Wednesday level (for example, if you don’t have any crossings, [Big name in ridesharing] could lead you to LYFT or the correct answer, UBER, at 20A). I thought at first that this hadn’t affected my solving time, but now that I realize I was at a typical Monday time even though this grid is a slim 14 squares across, not 15, it probably did.
Chase Dittrich’s Universal Crossword, “Fragile” — pannonica’s write-up
- 17a. [Imaginary theater boundary] FOURTH WALL.
- 27a. [Professional advancement hurdle] GLASS CEILING.
- 45a. [Invisible limit of a sense] SOUND BARRIER. Judging by the awkwardness, this must have been difficult to clue without infringing on the revealer.
- 60aR [Things to handle with care, or what 17-, 27- and 45-Across are] BREAKABLE. Additionally, they’re all intangible and/or invisible, but that seems coincidental? Or maybe just a little bonus.
This was an exceptionally smooth crossword; it practically filled itself in.
- 26d [Athens’ location] GEORGIA. Probably the trickiest clue in the puzzle. GREECE obviously does not fit.
- 30d [African river to the Mediterranean] NILE. 63a [ __ firma] TERRA. I feel it’s unnecessarily exacting to point out the duplication contained therein, but here I am doing so—although not dinging the constructor or editor for that.
- 16a [Like an 1856 Flying Eagle cent] RARE.
- 25a [Likely time to see a 35-Across] NIGHT. 35a [Vampire in flying form] BAT. Let’s say mythical vampires are just a misdirection in the clue. All three genera of vampire bats—Desmodus, Diaemus, and Diphylla—are exclusively nocturnal, so that’s okay. I’m just going to belaboredly digress to say that some FRUIT (3d [Apples and oranges]) BATs are diurnal rather than nocturnal or crepuscular.
Good morning, friends! Here we have four answers that all start with an even ordinal. (I think that’s the word for this? Where it’s SECOND rather than “two.”) Anyway, we have SECOND HONEYMOON, FOURTH WALL, SIXTH SENSE, and then EIGHTH GRADE which doesn’t feel arbitrary because it is clued as a film title. (I haven’t seen it, but I did very recently watch Bo Burnham’s Netflix special and I went through a phase where I listened to “Welcome to the Internet” like twenty times a day (not an exaggeration) and considered moving to a remote island and never touching a screen again. Here it is, if you’re feeling a little existential.)
I liked MAMMALS and Y’ALL (the clue compares it to “yinz” which is specific to Pittsburgh, I believe) and HOUSE SIT.
Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
Tough one, as promised for the Monday slot. Lots of pop culture, which I like, sometimes with tricksy clues, which makes it fiendish.
Did not know: 55a. [Stance with one’s back hunched and arms akimbo, in fashion-speak], COUTURE POSE. To amuse yourself, do a Google image search of couture pose. It’s an unhealthy look!
Fave fill: EAGER BEAVER, TWITTER BOTS, “WHATEVS,” the TV show about fast cars called TOP GEAR ([Long-running show on which models are put to the test]), CANADA GOOSE, NEW FACES, HIVEMIND (would have preferred not to see “mindless” in the TWITTER BOTS clue) and BOGART clued as the [Hog] verb.
Five more things:
- 1a. [Initial scheme], PLAN A. I really don’t care for PLAN A as an entry. It’s used far less in speech than plan B, no?
- 33a. [Spot trouble?], FLEA. I absolutely filled in ACNE first.
- 2d. [What a settler leaves behind?], LAWSUIT. As in one settling a lawsuit, rather than a colonizer.
- 4d. [“The ___” (1995 Sandra Bullock thriller in which a sun-damaged floppy disk disrupts the protagonist’s life)], NET. I haven’t seen the movie but enjoyed Lindy West’s in-depth and funny recap.
- 12d. [Vision, for one], AVENGER. He’s the red guy, and he’s Wanda’s husband in WandaVision. I barely watched any of the Avengers movies he was in, but I did like the WandaVision series.
Four stars from me.
Will have to come back to flesh out the review. Fun puzzle with varying difficulty across the regions for me — the upper left was just the right amount of resistance I look for in a tough themeless, the bottom felt smooth but I would have liked a bit more pushback from the clues, I think, and then the upper right socked me in the face with that JALOUSIE / IME UDOKA pairing, with WOUK crossing. And not helped by ARM wrestling instead of MUD wrestling at 8D, of course. Or by a struggle to see COMMON STOCK, for that matter. I’m not a big NBA fan, but have enough general sports knowledge to vaguely know Mr. Udoka, and I just couldn’t pull the name.