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.