Theme: Each answer starts with a type of makeup.
- 17a [Pale pink vineyard offerings] – BLUSH WINES
- 25a [Practice punches with an imaginary opponent] – SHADOW BOX
- 52a [Barrel of explosive stuff, or a situation that’s ready to blow] – POWDER KEG
- 61a [Writings on an album sleeve or jewel case insert] – LINER NOTES
- 50d [Reconcile after a quarrel … or a hint to the starts of 17-, 25-, 52- and 61-Across] – MAKEUP
Well, I didn’t get the theme until after I had solved the puzzle and actually took the time to fully understand the revealer. It’s a cute idea! These are all very common types of makeup so even folks who aren’t too familiar with it should still get the concept. My one qualm with the theme is the vagueness of LINER NOTES – there are so many different types of makeup liners that not specifying “eye” or “lip”, etc., made it feel a little unsatisfying. I kind of had the same problem with SHADOW BOX. That being said, I liked both of those answers themselves a lot (despite dropping in “track lists” for 61a without a second thought).
There’s a lot of long fill in the puzzle, so I was surprised when I saw that the puzzle was a full 78 words. There are a lot of three letter answers but they’re pretty spread out (well, besides the NE and SW corners), so it didn’t feel like big chunks of the puzzle were swaths of boring fill. SAILBOAT and SNOWSUIT were my two favorite non-theme answers. The downside is that there are a lot of less great answers, particularly in the A SEC/ART I area.
- Heyyyy NYT, when Wikipedia (among many other sources) calls LAPP “a dated and controversial term for the Sámi people”, maybe don’t use it?? Change the cross to “larp/rho” or rework the corner? It seems… very easy to not use this word.
- I think of [“___ It Romantic?” (Rodgers and Hart classic)] for ISN’T as that movie starring Rebel Wilson from a few years ago where her life becomes a rom-com. It was pretty great, I recommend!
- If we have to have OPIE in a puzzle, I enjoy the RON Howard cross-reference.
- I still have no idea what 61d [Biblical fellow with a salty wife?] for LOT is referring to. Enlighten me?
Stella Zawistowski & Joanne Sullivan’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Strike a Pose”—Jim P’s review
Theme answers are familiar phrases whose final words are also yoga poses. Entries are clued wackily based on the first word in the phrase.
- 17a. [Yoga pose practiced by royals?] KING COBRA.
- 28a. [Yoga pose practiced on Saturdays and Sundays?] WEEKEND WARRIOR.
- 46a. [Yoga pose practiced in New York’s most populous borough?] BROOKLYN BRIDGE.
- 61a. [Yoga pose practiced on FaceTime?] PHONE TREE.
Fun theme even for someone who has only done a minimal amount of yoga. I like the consistency, the lively phrases, and the use of simply-named, common poses that many people would know.
Elsewhere, ROTUNDA and STAGNANT are fun words, and I like seeing DIWALI, not least of all because it’s fun to say.
Clues of note:
- 13d. [Lugers ride them]. SLEDS. “Lugers” as in those who ride luges, not the European pistols.
- 60d. [“Stand” band]. REM. Notable only because I need a second bullet for my list and just to add a musical interlude here, not that I’m particularly enamored of the song or video.
Enjoyable theme and a clean grid to start your week. 3.75 stars.
Beth Rubin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
So much for CARPE DIEM–this puzzle is about the more modern expression of that idea, YOLO. YOLO is the revealer at 73A, clued as [“Carpe diem” acronym spelled out by the starts of the answers to the starred clues], since the first word of each theme answer is a word in the initialism:
- 20A: We get the YOU from [“I can’t capture how amazing that was!”], or YOU HAD TO BE THERE.
- 35A: We get the ONLY from [Fallible in very ordinary ways], or ONLY HUMAN. I dearly wish that The Human League had titled one of the greatest ’80s songs “Only Human” instead of “Human,” so the phrase could’ve been clued with that reference.
- 46A: The LIVE comes from [Spend extravagantly], or LIVE LARGE.
- 57A: ONCE comes from [Very rarely], or ONCE IN A BLUE MOON.
Cute theme, though it requires me to set aside my distaste for the underlying phrase. It’s been said that the free-spirited grammarian’s version is YLOO, or “you live only once,” since “only” should come directly before the word it modifies. YUP!
Jon Pennington’s Universal crossword, “Five-TimeRs Club” — pannonica’s write-up
Title’s a bit strained, but the theme idea is solid enough. Each of the longest across answers contains five instances of the letter R distributed across two-word phrases.
- 17a. [Type of naval ship in “Top Gun”] AIRCRAFT CARRIER.
- 26a. [What a paper jam may cause] PRINTER ERROR.
- 46a. [Bram Stoker or Stephen King, e.g.] HORROR WRITER.
- 60a. [Railroad container for perishables] REFRIGERATOR CAR.
Three of these have *RR*R words with the other word possessing two additional Rs. The fourth is exceptional, having four Rs—none of them doubled—in one word and just a single R in the complementary word.
Another thing I would have liked to have seen would be the absence of Rs elsewhere in the grid, but there are plenty. No doubt it would have entailed too many compromises in the fill for an easy-pitch crossword.
- 5d [Red wine that lost market share after “Sideways”] MERLOT. Haha, good times.
- 10d [Surname of studio co-founders Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack] WARNER. Never knew those names.
- 35d [Bulbous-bottomed fruit] PEAR. You’d think there’d be a technical or Latin- or Greek-derived word to describe this shape, but I can’t seem to find one. I did, however, learn that a secondary sense of pear-shaped is “[of a vocal tone] free from harshness, thinness, or nasality”, so that’s interesting. (m-w)
- 55d [Snakebite __ (hiker’s safety set)] KIT. I enjoy seeing clues that seem to reflect the constructor’s personality or experience.
- 22a [Quarterback’s shout before a long pass] GO DEEP. 52d [Succeed at a high level] GO FAR.
- 68a [Vehicle with treads] TANK. Also called continuous track or caterpillar track. And I learned several weeks ago that the etymology for caterpillar is “Middle English catyrpel, from Anglo-French catepelose, literally, hairy cat” (m-w, again)
Nice challenge from BEQ today; even when I was moving quickly, I felt I was getting lucky — SUNNY SIDE UP today after appearing in the New Yorker Friday, for example, and I’ve no clue where Mal de SIECLE was living in my brain.
I’m going right to notes, because it’s what I want to do today:
- 16a [Chile’s longest river] LOA. I can’t keep Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea straight, so I don’t mind finding another angle, but this seems a bit of a deep cut for me. Ben Stiller’s TOWER HEIST is potentially a helpful crossing for some solvers, but not for my film-starved brain.
- 26a [405, in some dates] CDV. I’m not much a fan of Roman numerals in puzzles, but I’m told they allow for the mind to travel into a deeper thought of calculation. And while BEQ doesn’t do it here, some folks even enjoy that they allow calculations to be inserted into clues.
- 29a [24/7] DAY AND NIGHT. Yes, that’s a much better answer than “day in and out,” which I blithely tried, ignoring that I was going for “day in and day out.”
- 35a [1847 novel that starts on the island of Nuku Hiva] OMOO. I am always here for Melville content, as perhaps you know by now.
- 36a [Purple poodle friend of Clifford the Big Red Dog] CLEO. I do not remember this character in the books–is it possible she first appeared in the TV series? My childhood dog (not a poodle) was named CLEO, so this was nice. I’m also grateful that BEQ’s daughter Tabitha does not appear to watch Caillou enough for that children’s show to make it into his grids!
- 40a [Like writers of hard puzzles] EVIL. Hard disagree.
- 41a [State whose official rock song is “Hang on Sloopy”] OHIO. The McCoys, who first played the song, were from Ohio, but as is true of most things in Columbus, this has an Ohio State connection, as the Ohio State Marching Band added it to their repertoire, and the rest is history.
- 1d [Retired fleet] SSTS. I’m a simple man; I see “retired fleet,” I bash my hand against the S and T keys for a moment, and move on.
- 7d [Vegetarian diet preferred by Rastafarians] ITAL. This is new to me! I much prefer it to an abbreviation of “italics.”
- 27d [“Your order’s at the next window”] DRIVE AHEAD. I like this entry a whole bunch.
- 45d [She beat Margaret once, and Billie Jean and Chris twice each, for her five Wimbledon championships] EVONNE. This is the great tennis star EVONNE Goolagong Cawley, an indigenous Australian who won 14 Grand Slams: 7 in singles, 6 in doubles, and 1 in mixed doubles, and won 81% of her career singles matches. The other women referenced in the clue are similarly tennis superstars: Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, and the odious and hateful Margaret Court.
- 60d [L for the Angels?] LOS. This is in reference to the Los Angeles Angels baseball team, abbreviated “LAA”
Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
The Monday New Yorker puzzles usually land in the 6- to 8-minute range for me, suitably tough and akin to a tough Saturday NYT. A 4:18 finish here places this at the easier end of the Friday NYT spectrum, so not as hard as I expected. Could be a wheelhouse thing. Was it easier than usual for you?
Fave fill: INNER CIRCLE, PINTEREST (which mystifies me, not up my alley), “LAH-DI-DAH,” GIFT SETS, LIFETIME channel, IKEA CATALOG, CARPOOL LANE, HEAVY FLOW (great clue: [Periodic intensity?], and yes, this is about menstruation), KURDISH, THEME PARTY, KOALA.
New to me:
- 14a. [Wasted part of a weekend, maybe?], BOOZY BRUNCH. I know the concept, not necessarily the phrase. There was a time when people were trying to make drunch happen.
- 24d. [Longtime adult-fiction site with a portmanteau name], LITEROTICA. Good stuff?
- 11d. [Challenge for a pickup artist?], CRANE GAME. This is the thing the little aliens were in, shrieking “The claw!!,” in Toy Story. I know the thing, didn’t know the generic name is crane game. Makes sense, though.
Three more things:
- 35a. [Instrument that shares its name with a figure from Zulu folklore], MARIMBA. Not that I’m familiar with the folklore figure. Please do click through to read about Queen Marimba if you’re also unfamiliar.
- 5d. [Flat in London, perhaps?], TYRE. As in a flat tire. I like the clue. I would have said “Cute clue!” but some people loathe that usage.
- 32d. [Hashtag for weekly reminiscences], TBT. That’s Throwback Thursday.
Four stars from me.
Good morning, folks! This is a puzzle where I say a lot of things that I frequently say: It is so hard to make a symmetrical USA Today puzzle because the standard for fill is so high, so that’s impressive. (This is *almost* up-down symmetry, just off by one block.) And same with using four themies– I always do just three to make my life easier. Neville had FIVE today!!
These were lovely answers, by the way, all of which are bookkended by LO and OP, such that the rest of the answer is “in the loop,” as our title tells us. LOVE ON TOP, LOLLIPOP, and LOFI HIPHOP would all be welcome additions to a themeless grid. LOIN CHOP as one term is new to me, though I know the two words. And LOCAL STOP speaks to my little train-loving heart. I rode the train four times today! Standard stuff for my lifestyle. (I live on an express stop though.)