Michele Govier’s Universal crossword, “Oho!” — pannonica’s write-up
Since I hadn’t read the title beforehand, the small twist of the revealer genuinely surprised me. I’d expected a fourth [Well] clue, but instead it compiled the other three.
- 20a. [Well] SATISFACTORILY.
- 25a. [Well] DRILLING SITE.
- 42a. [Well] FIT AS A FIDDLE.
- 48aR [Phrase you may say after the clues to 20-, 25- and 42-Across] WHAT HAVE WE HERE, as in “Well, well, well …” (or “Oho!”).
That turns a kind of humdrum theme into something a lot more exciting.
- 7d [Org. that launched the Hubble telescope] NASA. But the Webb ’scope is the one that’s grabbing all the attention now.
- 26d [Birds aren’t __ (satirical conspiracy theory)] REAL. It walks the line between credulity and absurdity quite well. The Wikipedia page is a good clearing house for information and links if you’re curious.
- 27d [Nickname for archaeologist Jones] INDY. Would have appreciated a ‘fictional’ qualifier.
- 37d [Where oil prices aren’t exorbitant?] ART SALE. Depends on what kind of sale it is!
- 1a [Sparks may fly from it] FLINT. Can’t embed, so here’s a link to Annie Gosfield’s “Flying Sparks and Heavy Machinery” over at the Internet Archive.
Solid Monday offering.
Joe Deeney’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
56A [“What have we here?” … and 20-, 36-, and 42-Across] is WELL, WELL, WELL. And indeed, what have we here? Theme entries at the locations referenced in the revealer that can be used as definitions for WELL, each in a different sense of the word. Get it?
- 20A [Hale and hearty] is IN GOOD HEALTH.
- 36A [“Any time now!”] is I’M WAITING.
- 42A [Gathering spot for thirsty animals] is WATER HOLE. This reminds me of one of my favorite jokes: Where did the mansplainer get his water? Well, actually…
The revealer really elevates the theme here — this could have been just a puzzle with the theme in the clues, in which the same clue is used for multiple theme entries, but instead the themers all got different clues and all is revealed in the end. And the grid is super clean, with a couple of longer entries (FUDGE FACTOR and SPILL THE TEA) that I’ll forgive for being longer than two of the themers because they’re fun.
Michael T. Buerke’s New York Times crossword — Darby’s write-up
Theme: Together, all of the theme answers go through all of the vowel sounds, with PR beginning of their respective last words.
- 17a [“Eagles, falcons, hawks, etc.”] BIRDS OF PREY
- 24a [“Major Formula 1 race”] GRAND PRIX
- 39a [“‘Sorry for being so nosy!’”] I DIDN’T MEAN TO PRY
- 49a [“Instructor with a racket”] TENNIS PRO
- 61a [“Pulitzer Prize-winning author of ‘The Shipping News’ and ‘Brokeback Mountain’”] ANNIE PROULX
Five themers on a Monday! And one in AEIOU order! I loved that I DIDN’T MEAN TO PRY spanned the grid here. BIRDS OF PREY and ANNIE PROULX were also really fun to see. I thought that this was a great Monday theme, not too difficult with a very FEE-FI-FO-FUM vibe when all pronounced aloud together.
Additionally, the fill itself was really smooth. From 1a [“Dip for tortilla chips”] SALSA, it was easy to move throughout the puzzle. Of course, I’m always excited to see a reference to 1d [“Buffalo hockey player”] SABRE (or Buffalo anything). I stumbled for a second over 9d [“Place to store a loaf”] BREAD BIN because I had BREAD BOX. However, YETIS and I DIDN’T MEAN TO PRY quickly made me realize my mistake. The other place that I struggled was near 61a [“1977 Steely Dan album with a palindromic title”] ANA crossing 64a [“__ Ventura, former governor of Minnesota”] JESSE. However, the J is apparent enough in a first name that it was a tough but fair sort of crossing.
Other fill I enjoyed: OR IT (in 59d [“‘Pics ___ didn’t happen!’”]), LOLLIPOPS, and SAD-FACED.
Also – this looks like Michael T. Buerke’s debut! Congratulations on a lovely and fun puzzle!
Four stars for me on this Monday!
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “In the Vault”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Familiar phrases are bookended by synonyms of “vault” or “spring” (where both of those are verbs). The revealer is SPRING BREAK (64a, [Collegians’ getaway time, and a hint to this puzzle’s circles]).
- 17a. [One might be dipped in cocktail sauce] JUMBO SHRIMP. Jump.
- 40a. [Sneaker style] HIGH TOP. Hop.
- 11d. [Bark instructions to] BOSS AROUND. Bound.
- 30d. [Rewards good service] LEAVES A TIP. Leap.
Solid Monday theme made evident by the first entry alone. It’s clear and readily accessible to new solvers.
That JUMBO SHRIMP phrase sure does a lot of extra duty, doesn’t it? It’s oxymoronic, hides “jump” on the outside, and “bosh” (twaddle or nonsense, to a Brit) on the inside. Thanks for that phrase, universe!
Zhouqin seems to always include fun, colloquial phrases in her grids. Today we get “GOTTA RUN” and “GO FOR IT!” I also like SCHUSS and TOBACCO (for its Scrabbly B and double-C). Elsewhere, that CUSS / BELCH / STAGGER triangle made me LOL.
Clues of note:
- 26a [Budget offering]. RENTAL. Budget, the car-renting company.
- 28a [Dinner table no-no]. BELCH. I’ve always heard that belching at the dinner table is an act of respect and satisfaction in some countries. Which countries exactly (if anyone here knows)?
- 52a [Hangout after a day on the slopes]. LODGE. I read that first word as a verb until the crossings made it clear it was a noun.
- 5d [___-Caps (movie candy)] and 62d [___-Ball (arcade game)] for SNO and SKEE, respectively. Interesting that you can switch those two answers (phonetically) to get two new phrases.
A pleasant Monday outing. 3.5 stars.
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
Another enjoyable themeless from Natan, a 66-worder. Nice flow throughout the grid.
Fave fill: GO SOUTH, FUN-SIZE, CHEST BUMP, SAUNTERED, JOCKSTRAP, SCATMAN (because I always liked Scatman Crothers), A BIENTOT, GUN FOR, JA RULE (those of you who asked last week if Ashanti is still relevant—here she is with Ja Rule again), SOLANGE Knowles, BOOZE CRUISES, THE BUSH ERA, ANTHROPOCENE.
Didn’t really know JUKED, [Faked out, on the gridiron]. Tried DEKED, which is ice hockey’s “faked out.” Really slowed me down in seeing JUST ONCE and FUN-SIZE.
Four more things:
- 1a. [Lightweight option for surfing], TABLET. As in surfing the web. I recently read a New Yorker article about a big-wave surfer, so it took a while for the light to dawn here.
- 47a. [Life-form that reddens Senegal’s Lac Rose], ALGAE. There’s a non-zero chance that Natan has seen Lac Rose in person. I didn’t know of it before. Here’s its website, with photos. That site explains: “Its distinct pink colour is caused by the Dunaliella salina bacteria [sic], which is attracted by the lake’s salt content. The bacteria produces a red pigment in order to absorb the sunlight, thus giving the lake its unique colour.” (D. salina is a micro-algae, not bacterium.)
- 8d. [Sch. whose yearbook is called the Gumbo], LSU. Fun little bit of trivia! Where else but Louisiana would a yearbook be called the Gumbo?
- 35a. [“The state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter,” per Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi], FLOW. I saw an example of this yesterday in watching the online finals of the Boswords crossword tournament. With the harder “sizzling” clues, the puzzle took me over 8 minutes, tougher than a tough Saturday NYT. For the champion, Will Nediger? A little under 3 minutes on the same puzzle. Watching the letters populate his grid on screen at such amazing speed was a sight to behold, and I’m pretty sure Will was in a state of flow.
4.25 stars from me.
Hello everyone! I got to see quite a few crossword friends at Boswords yesterday. So much love to the Boswords team for the event, and their continuous, year-round events. They make it seem pretty effortless!
Today we’ve got a puzzle with three theme answers, SUN SALUTATIONS, MOON LANDING, and RISING ACTION. The title (“early”) indicates that the first word is the connection. This sounds like an astrology theme and I know very, very little about astrology. I believe each person has a SUN sign, a MOON sign, and a RISING sign… however I do not know what these are. Someone smarter than me will explain in the comments, I am sure.July 25
Deeply, aggressively asymmetrical grid here, which allowed for some fun entires like NONBINARY and LIL NAS X. I’ve been on a Megan kick lately, so I was just listening to “DOLLA SIGN SLIME” this morning.