Happy August folks! And happy NYT debut to Garrett!
Theme: THE PRICE IS RIGHT – each theme answer has a word meaning “price” on the literal right side of the puzzle.
- 17a [Input for a barista’s grinder] – WHOLE BEAN COFFEE
- 26a [“Can you say more about that?”] – CARE TO ELABORATE
- 47a [Tactic employed by the Vietcong] – GUERILLA WARFARE
- 59a [Classic game show … or a hint to 17-, 26- and 47-Across] – THE PRICE IS RIGHT
If I’m killing time in a hotel room, THE PRICE IS RIGHT is one of my go-to morning shows. Given that, it took me a long time to find it as the revealer, especially given that I had already gotten the fee/rate/fare answers! “Classic game show” is kind of an amusingly vague clue for THE PRICE IS RIGHT. I’m sure many other puzzle folks like me have seen so many game shows in their lives that when I read this clue I thought “well, that could be literally anything”, and moved on to the downs. I like the theme quite a bit – it’s very cute and reparses the revealer phrase effectively.
It’s a nice touch that all of the theme answers are a grid spanning 15 letters long, because there are a LOT of phrases that end with these letters and otherwise the theme might have seemed too broad. That being said, I got CARE TO ELABORATE with only a few crosses and GUERILLA WARFARE with none at all. Getting to put in so many letters so quickly helped my time be under 3 minutes, which is rare for me on Mondays. CARE TO ELABORATE and THE PRICE IS RIGHT itself were my favorite theme answers – WHOLE BEAN COFFEE is certainly a thing, but it wasn’t an answer I was particularly excited about seeing. Were other folks more into coffee than I am more excited to see in in the puzzle?
- There isn’t that much bad fill today – I never love seeing III or AEIOU, and LEICA is a little rough right at the center of the puzzle. But overall the cluing of the puzzle ran kind of old (For example, 37a [“___ Abner”] for LIL and 57d [The Rolling Stones’ “___ a Rainbow”] for SHE’S). I was surprised when I looked up the author afterwards and saw that he was a teen.
- That being said, my other favorite thing in the puzzle was the reference to VENMO as a verb! And there were some…. oddly wordy clues in this puzzle, such as 41d [Word that would seem to be a portmanteau of “traveling groups,” but isn’t] for TROUPES and 23a [What baseball players, striking employees and pet dogs each do] for WALK. Not sure we needed all three examples there.
- My first NYT puzzle ever (2018) originally included the word LOLCAT, which I was asked to edit out. Every time I see it in a puzzle now I am just a liiiiiittle bitter.
Happy Monday all!
Matt Westman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Take a Rain Check”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Familiar phrases whose final words are associated with rain. The revealer is “AIN’T NO SUNSHINE” (51a, [Bill Withers hit, and a hint to the ends of 20-, 27- and 42-Across]).
- 20a. [Bootleg whiskey] WHITE LIGHTNING.
- 27a. [Four-time WNBA champs] SEATTLE STORM.
- 42a. [Prenuptial party] BRIDAL SHOWER.
Simple, straightforward theme suitable for a Monday. I enjoyed the revealer most of all and the opportunity it affords me to embed the video below.
I’m liking the fill, too, especially “I’M ONTO YOU, DUNGAREES, USER NAMES, MAGICIANS, and BEESWAX.
Clues of note:
- 46a. [How most energy drinks are sold]. IN CANS. I was going to ask what was wrong with cluing this with respect to the people of the Incan Empire, but a little research set me straight. “Incan” might be used as an adjective to refer to the empire or objects (pottery, art, etc.) coming from that empire, but the people are referred to as Incas or the Inca.
- 63a. [Horizontal graph lines]. X-AXES. I’m going to assume this clue is referring to multiple graphs since there’s only one x-axis per graph.
- 55d. [“…good witch ___ bad witch?”]. OR A. Is this a famous quote most people know? I’m going to guess…The Wizard of Oz? Yup.
Simple theme but enjoyable fill. 3.5 stars.
Paul Coulter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Sometimes you can take a very basic theme and jazz it up with a great revealer. I think that’s what the attempt was today, but IMO it didn’t succeed. The revealer at 56A [Anti-cruelty movement, and what the answers to the starred clues literally have] is ANIMAL RIGHTS — that is, there’s an animal on the right side of each of the theme entries.
- 20A [Clickable device with a light sensor] is an OPTICAL MOUSE.
- 35A [One who’s easily frightened] is a SCAREDY CAT.
- 42A [Simple riding toy] is a HOBBY HORSE.
IDK, y’all…even with the revealer, the theme just doesn’t feel tight enough. It’s not that hard to come up with three phrases that have an animal name as the second word. It would be cool if they were all big cats, or all sea creatures, or something like that. I also wish that the meaning of HORSE in 42A weren’t so literally similar to a living horse in a way that MOUSE and CAT in 20A and 35A are not.
Zachary David Levy’s Universal crossword, “E-I-E-I … Oh!” — pannonica’s write-up
So, nothing to do with Old MacDonald’s farm here. Instead, it’s homophonic hijinks, with each theme answer having an E replaced by an I. The meaning is changed, but not the sound.
- 19a. [Terrible note in a scale?] DESPICABLE MI (Despicable Me).
- 32a. [Ornate architectural band’s border?] FRIEZE FRAME (freeze frame).
- 38a. [Evaluations of an ocean fishing spot?] PIER REVIEWS (peer reviews).
- 50a. [Delivery at a postseason game?] PLAYOFF BIRTH (playoff berth).
Serviceable. I don’t expect much innovation from early week themes, so this is more than fine.
- Appreciated the full answers of both 14a [Sushi fish] AHI TUNA and 58a [Wild Draw Four or Skip] UNO CARD. Typically we just see parts of those in grids.
- 22a [Text msg.] SMS, which stands for short messaging service, so this is technically a duplication.
- 35a [2013 Spike Lee film] OLDBOY, which I have not seen but know to be a remake of the 2003 Park Chan-wook film, which I have seen.
- 37a [Chinese dumpling] WONTON. I highly recommend A. Zee’s book Swallowing Clouds. The title is a reference to the literal meaning of wonton (餛飩).
- 23d [One may be “bottomless” at brunch] MIMOSA. Sounds good to me.
- Actually, it’s a rather boozy crossword: 33d [Offering in a deli or a bar] RYE. 6d [Rum brand] BACARDI. 5d [Chilling, like champagne] ON ICE. 47d [Like some whiskey barrels] OAKEN.
- The only place of difficulty I had in the puzzle was 39d and 51d; needed to wait for enough crossings of the theme answer PLAYOFF BERTH before learning that the [Movement between yoga poses] is a VINYASA—which rings a bell—and that [“Riverdale” star Reinhart] is LILI.
Elizabeth Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
This one didn’t take me as long to solve as some other recent Monday New Yorker puzzles, but it’s definitely got some challenging material in it. I did not know these four at all:
- 7a. [Energy-rich snacks for keto dieters], FAT BOMBS. Those of you who know keto, give me an example of a FAT BOMB. Right now, I’m just picturing a hearty serving of butter.
- 2d. [Oleta Adams hit with the lyrics “You can make it in a big balloon / But you better make it soon”], GET HERE. Given the balloon, I tried GET HIGH first.
- 54a. [2021 Jason Mott novel that follows its protagonist’s cross-country tour to promote his best-seller], HELL OF A BOOK. Heckuva title, that.
- 58a. [Nib holder on an oblique calligraphy pen], FLANGE. Liz is terrific at calligraphy, so I imagine this is a really familiar FLANGE context for her.
Fave fill: SHOPLIFTING. Less filling: STERES / NCR (tough crossing if you don’t know your crosswordese), SHADOWER, STANDEE, EARLESS, CRANIATE, OVI-.
Two more things:
- 60a. [What Quinquagesima comes forty-nine days before], EASTER. New movie alert! There’s a movie in theaters Friday called Easter Sunday, and it’s the first American studio picture with a predominantly Filipino-American cast. (There are also East Asian, South Asian, and African American costars.) I don’t know when it will make it to streaming, but I’m looking forward to seeing it when it is!
- 3d. [Start to finish?], ANTONYM. Great clue.
3.25 stars from me.
Good morning, folks! I had a great time solving this puzzle because I had one with the same theme. That always makes me feel like the constructor is my friend. (Although in this case, it helps that Rafa actually is my friend.) (My puzzle became lost in the abyss of Oh I’ll Get Around To That Eventually Oh Shit Now It’s One Year Later And I Still Haven’t Gotten Around To It.)
I suspect me and Rafa started in the same place– TAYLOR SWIFT— and then tried to come up with a revealer and matching entries. He went with “Right Quick,” referencing the fact that a synonym for “quick” appears on the right side of the phrase. In my Abyss Puzzle, I had come up with “Rushed Endings.” The other two entries here were VISUAL PROMPT and RAMADAN FAST. I am trying to remember what I had decided on…. I believe “cut to the quick” and “hot breakfast” but I like Rafa’s choices much more. I like how FAST ends up a totally separate word, and I love how all three entries use a double meaning.
The resulting grid is far more asymmetrical than it needs to be– he could have gone with what I like to call “one square asymmetry” but instead we got some funky Tetris shapes on the top and some diagonal chains on the bottom. There are sooo many long bonus entries in this puzzle! GOTTA RUN, PLAYLIST, DEADLINE, WINE GLASS, VINDALOO, PANORAMA!! Even EDAMAME and COMMENT!! That’s EIGHT whole entries in addition to the themies– I feel like in the past I’ve solved actual themeless puzzles with fewer exciting long entries.
Cluewise, some things to call out:
- I don’t recall seeing AMY Schneider, Jeopardy queen, in a puzzle before
- I absolutely hate the game WAR precisely because it is luck-based (the game is over once the cards are dealt) so thank you to this clue for calling that out
- [Holder of reds and whites] felt a little tricky for USA Today!