Jill Singer’s New York Times puzzle – Sophia’s write-up
Theme: Bug-related idioms about agitation.
- 17a/58a [With 58-Across, “I’m so nervous! There are …”] BUTTERFLIES IN MY STOMACH
- 24a [“I can’t stop thinking about it! There’s a …”] – BEE IN MY BONNET
- 48a [“I can’t sit still! There are …”] – ANTS IN MY PANTS
- 36a [“Why the troubled look?” … or a hint to 17-, 24-, 48- and 58-Across] – WHAT’S BUGGING YOU?
This is a top notch Monday theme, in my opinion. The revealer is what brings it up from just being a list of bug-related idioms. WHAT’S BUGGING YOU is a great (15 letter!) phrase that explains what connects the theme answers, while also adding in the “bug” wordplay. All the theme answers are well known but I had never thought to connect them this way, and so even though they were Monday-easy enough to put in quickly, I still got an “aha!” moment even as an experienced solver.
At first when I went through the puzzle, I missed the “With 58-Across” part of BUTTERFLIES IN MY STOMACH and thought, “huh, that’s slightly inelegant to only have half the phrase”. So I was thrilled when the second half showed up later in the puzzle! I don’t mine that the phrase needs to be split or that the two halves are far away from each other – they’re symmetric, the phrase breaks evenly, and it will possibly give newer solvers a foothold into the bottom half of the puzzle.
Given the 5 theme answers, the fill is quite high quality. The standout downs are PITA BREAD, MASTODON, BY MISTAKE, and SICILIAN. That last one took me a while since I recently ate Detroit-style pizza, which is also thick crust and square, so I kept trying to make that fit. The middle of the puzzle is a little weaker than the rest, with IONO, BUT I, ENTO, UNI, and UNUM all next to each other, but the crosses are fair.
Overall, a stellar NYT debut from Jill. Can’t wait to see more of her work soon.
Katie Hale’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Round and Round”—Jim P’s review
Theme: RUNS IN CIRCLES (55a, [Wastes one’s efforts, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme]). The other theme answers are familiar phrases with synonyms for “runs” found in the circled letters.
- 20a. [Prenuptial events] BRIDAL SHOWERS. Dashes.
- 34a. [Show-offy strokes by pool players] TRICK SHOTS. Trots.
- 41a. [Toppers for Laurel and Hardy] BOWLER HATS. Bolts.
Just for kicks, I turned on the timer for this solve. I’m not as fast as others around here, but I do okay. Anyway, what that means is that I wasn’t really paying attention to the theme while solving. Afterwards, I sorted it out and liked what I saw. The revealer entry is fun, and the other theme entries are solidly in-the-language as well. Nice job.
I love the long fill as well today: “HOLD STILL,” LAWYERS UP, MORSE CODE, and HOVER CARS [Futuristic vehicles]. Man, they’ve been futuristic for 70 years now! When’s it gonna happen? Those and jetpacks. I mean, come on!
Clues of note:
- 2d. [“The Kominsky Method” creator Chuck]. LORRE. I may have heard of this Netflix show, but I’m not familiar with it. It stars Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin (in the first two seasons). Any good?
- 11d. [Wire tapping system?]. MORSE CODE. Very nice clue there.
Lovely grid to get our Monday rolling. 3.75 stars.
MaryEllen Uthlaut’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
I often don’t notice a puzzle’s theme until after I’ve solved it. Here’s one where I REALLY had no idea what was going on, even after I had entered the revealer, OOHS, at 67A [Cries of delight, and what each of the answers to the starred clues literally are?]. As it turns out, the final syllable in each of the theme answers is pronounced such that it rhymes with OOHS, and the clues are written as “cries of delight”:
- 17A [*”Drinks are on the house!”] is FREE BOOZE.
- 25A [*”Just what I wanted to hear!”] is GREAT NEWS.
- 36A [*”Eyes like Paul Newman!”] is BABY BLUES.
- 51A [*”Check out those Outback hoppers!”] is KANGAROOS.
- 60A [*”There’s the star of ‘Top Gun’!”] is TOM CRUISE.
I hate to be this down on a theme, but boy, did those clues feel contrived to me. The theme entries themselves are lively and fun, but the shared final sound and the clues weren’t enough of a connection to feel like a theme to me.
The grid is pretty good — I could do without ERSE in the bottom right, but quite a few easy 7s make the grid as a whole very Monday-appropriate.
Wayne Harris’ Universal crossword, “Edge Pieces” — pannonica’s write-up
The title alludes to a different type of puzzle from crosswords, but it’s well-applied here.
- 52aR [Hair frustrations, or what the words broken across the starred clues’ answers are?] SPLIT ENDS.
- 20a. [*Ball pits’ spots] PLAY AREAS (peas).
- 35a. [*Debt instrument backed by a tangible asset] SECURED BOND (second).
- 42a. [*Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween,” e.g.] SCREAM QUEEN (screen).
That’s split peas, split second, and split screen. Very nicely done. Nice demonstration of how a theme doesn’t need to overdo it or be extensive to make for a satisfying crossword—just four total theme answers, and two are a mere 9 letters long.
- 2d [Large primate] APE. Even gibbons, so called ‘lesser-apes’, are relatively large.
- 10d [Unwritten?] ERASED. Great little clue. 60a [Spoken] ORAL.
- 28d [Recliner part for a lower limb] LEG REST. Weird editorial decision to use the singular ‘a lower limb’ in the clue. A recliner’s LEG REST is for both legs, and that’s common knowledge.
- 31d [Common day to vote: Abbr.] TUE. In the United States, that is, where it is inexcusably not a holiday. p.s. VOTE
- 33d [Civil rights icon Parks] ROSA. There’s a new feature documentary of her life. I haven’t seen it, but it seems to be widely acclaimed.
- 50d [Groups often named after fierce predators] TEAMS. I’ve been imagining a time in the not-so-distant future when such names will refer to extinct species.
- 61d [Sunshine or hope “unit”] RAY.
- 18a [Z, in sorority names] ZETA, crossing 7d [ __ blocker (heart drug)] BETA.
- 49a [Newfoundland’s output] DROOL. The dog breed here.
- 50a [Word before “garden” or “party”] TEA.
Paolo Pasco’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap
Southeast Asia is often overlooked in the US, with East Asians sort of being the default for “Asian” in some people’s minds. I appreciate that the last Paolo puzzle I did had leche FLAN clued as a Filipino dessert, and today I learn about a [Filipina doctor who invented a bamboo incubator to help families in areas without electricity], FE DEL MUNDO. I had not heard of Dr. del Mundo before; here’s her Wiki. She was still working as a pediatrician at age 99! I would welcome Filipino references in far more crosswords—representation matters. (My husband and son are Filipino. Also, UBE should become broadly familiar in the US because it’s delicious!)
Fave fill: CAT TREATS ([Burmese delicacies?], fun clue), GETS STONED, SWEAT IT OUT, ENTRY VISA, REESE’S (try the potato chip Big Cup peanut butter cup, friends), CAP OFF, WROTE IN on a ballot, new-to-me SPAGHETTI CODE, and CAR RIDE. Lots of other crisp fill in this 66-worder.
Did not know: [Body parts where naths are worn], NOSES. Here’s an article about wrangling a nath on your wedding day. Also didn’t know [“Claws” actress Karrueche] TRAN; more Southeast Asia representation via this Vietnamese/Black actress.
4.25 stars from me. Appreciated learning a few new things, all with crossings that got me over the finish line.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Challenger puzzle – solution grid
Hello! I could have sworn I wrote this up, but I can’t find it anywhere now that it’s tomorrow. BEQ posted an old grid from another of his outlets while he continues to troubleshoot hosting issues. It’s a 21x Themeless Challenger, available quarterly to higher-level supporters of the Patreon-based Hub Crosswords, formerly by BEQ and Cox/Rathvon (and formerly formerly known as “CRooked Crosswords,” and now BEQ and Joon Pahk. I *believe* the regular weekly subscription is delayed-by-a-few-weeks copies of puzzles that appear in the Boston Globe, but don’t quote me on that. Anyway, this is a big BEQ themeless from 2020 – you know what you’re getting. Two pairs of grid-spanners are the highlight; MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE, APPLES OF THE HESPERIDES, PENNY WISE POUND FOOLISH, and WITH A GUILTY CONSCIENCE. As we see more 21x themelesses, I’m learning what I do and don’t like, and that I definitely don’t need too many of them. This grid will satisfy me for a good while, and I hope that website issues are resolved without too much more stress for BEQ.
NYT- great puzzle but Tuesday time here. I can’t begin to describe my mistakes and corrections but it was very enjoyable. More please, Jill.
NYT: SUPERB, indeed.
And I liked the way you encapsulated the theme, Sophia– “Bug-related idioms about agitation “.
NYT: Sophia, I was right there with you on wondering where the IN MY STOMACH was. (I don’t always read the clues as closely as I should.)
And I remember reading somewhere in the past few months about the rectangular pizzas found in Detroit, but I couldn’t remember what the city was. I guess it’s just as well, since it would have been wrong.
I”m on record as being suspicious of on-consecutive circled letters, as making it easier on the constructor. So I got a big smile when, in the WSJ, “in circles” was part of the revealer. (I worked this one top to bottom, so it came as a payoff.) The fill also has AROAR, but nothing’s perfect.
I did go down a big rabbit hole. When I got early on CALLS IT, I thought it had to be “calls it quits” or some search, meaning the misswing word might require taking a 90-degree turn, maybe into circled letters. So I wasted a bit ruling that out.
I thought the WSJ was a rather blah “so what?” puzzle until I hit the revealer and had to laugh out loud. A wonderful Monday-level puzzle. That’s hard to pull off.
I always look forward to the Monday New Yorker puzzle. But this one (to me, at least) was off-the-charts difficult — along the lines of a tough Saturday Stumper.
Or maybe I was just tired from that extra hour of sleep. 😉
NEW YORKER: Way too tough for me. With Monday New Yorker puzzles, I often circle the clue words and answers I’ve never heard of and likely could never guess. Almost twenty today were completely unfamiliar–several crossing each other. Doing the “Reveal All” after throwing in the towel just confirmed that I’d never have made much progress. A generational thing, I think, with this old fart just not knowing many of Paolo’s references. But…the memory of his October 29th Halloween masterpiece, “Upon Reflection,” in the WSJ fondly lingers in my brain…as does Evan’s great Halloween WAPO puzzle from the 30th. So, I’ll keep trying. David
The New Yorker puzzle was harder than any I’ve done in a long time. It’s amazing how being stuck on one little answer (“own” rather than END for 21A) can keep you from seeing the surrounding words.
It didn’t help that I was guessing on ALICE Walker, needed almost every cross to get the They Might Be Giants song, and had no idea on Dr. DEL MUNDO.
Aside from that one corner, I did well.
This Boomer was happy to get as much of this puzzle as I did (all but 5 squares). Like David Steere, there were just too many references that were completely unfamiliar.
I’ve struggled over a long time to get what I have, and my NE is still blank (including the last 3 letters of the Filipina doctor). One heck of lot of answers where I’ve just no idea. The Hong Kong event word could be practically anything starting with B: BEAR, BOAR, BOAT . . . (“Heh” itself can mean almost anything.) The rest I don’t even have that one letter.
New Yorker: Nothing overly difficult about it but way time consuming as anything is when there’s too many guesses. As put on another blog, too many PPPs. Highly unenjoyable.
LAT: This really worked for a Monday for me. I got the theme after the first two answers (BOOZE/NEWS) and it was a quick fun solve, I enjoyed it a lot!
“available quarterly to higher-level supporters of the Patreon-based Hub Crosswords”
It’s well to note that BEQ will send you a 21x themeless and a regular themed 21x when you donate to him through one of his “drives” he posts on the website. So in a way this is a half-preview of what you’d see if you toss some money his way during one of those times.
4* for me on this one. Well executed and clean as always for these puzzles when I’ve seen them.
I had an error in the top left corner at S_WBUG?_HSHUTUP. Chose A, not O. I’m not familiar with the insect name — perhaps a regional thing? Nice puzzle except for that one spot.
It’s me, someone who’s several days behind. IMO Paolo’s TNY was a masterpiece of cluing and exactly what I want in a tough themeless.
+1, very satisfying challenge