Eric Rollfing’s New York Times puzzle – Sophia’s write-up
Hi folks! It’s gonna be a short write up today as I am both on vacation and currently watching the Super Bowl. But the Monday NYT puzzle waits for nobody!
- 18a [*Colorful cereal with the mascot Toucan Sam] – FROOT LOOPS
- 24a [*”Uh-oh, ___!” (classic line in commercials)] – SPAGHETTIOS
- 52a [*Bulk purchase of Gouda, e.g.] – CHEESE WHEEL
- 58a [*”Ice Cream of the Future” since 1988] – DIPPIN DOTS
- 37a [Nutritionist’s recommendation … or what the answers to the starred clues make up, to an overly literal person?] – WELL-ROUNDED DIET
In general I like this theme, although CHEESE WHEEL feels like the odd man out, since it’s not a brand name and also not something the average person can just pick up in the grocery store. Replacing CHEESE WHEEL with a different answer would have also tightened up the theme a bit, since there are of course a lot of round foods that weren’t included here.
I luckily knew that FROOT LOOPS is not spelled like the word “fruit”, but that answer might be harder if you don’t. DIPPIN DOTS were a food I always wanted in my childhood, but now that I’m older I don’t really understand the appeal – I’ll stick with the ice cream of today, thanks.
Notes on the puzzle:
- ERIE and EIRE in the same puzzle? Bring on the crosswordese! I lost about a minute of time error checking, which turned out to be “Erin” over EIRE. I did like the LAKE ERIE cross reference.
- Do people say AHS at the dentist? I thought that was more of a doctor’s office thing.
- Unlike last year, I have yet to see a single CRYPTO ad during the Super Bowl, which is a great thing.
- Favorite entries: HEAVENS NO, TWINKIE, IN DENIAL
- Favorite clues: [Bert and Ernie, for one] for DUO, [Subject of many baa-a-ad puns?] for EWE.
Congrats to Eric on a great debut!
Garrett Herzfeld’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “I’m Fine”—Jim P’s review
Theme revealer: “ARE YOU OKAY?” (57a, [“Everything all right?” and a phonetic hint to the circled letters]). The other theme answers are familiar phrases with circled letters RU and OK.
- 17a. [Drink that becomes a Cuba Libre if you add lime juice] RUM AND COKE.
- 25a. [Distinctive element of many Van Gogh paintings] BRUSH STROKE.
- 38a. [Appliance manual, for example] INSTRUCTION BOOK.
- 46a. [Lucy pulling the football away in “Peanuts,” e.g.] RUNNING JOKE.
Cute theme and fun theme answers. At first I thought the circled letters would be spelling a word (possibly an anagram or something), so it took a couple of entries for me to see the question being asked. I like the idea of someone repeatedly and annoyingly asking the question to finally get an exasperated “I’m fine!” (as seen in the title). I would have enjoyed it if this angle was played up more, but I can pretend that it was.
There’s not a lot to highlight in the fill today, and nothing longer than six letters. Five theme answers aren’t so much that they preclude at least a couple long marquee answers. I did notice some uncommon partials: A LOSS, IS AN, O HOLY (crossing OH YES) and the near-duplicates COO and KOO.
Clues of note:
- 1a. [Poker chip pile]. STACK. Hmm. A pile seems less orderly than a STACK. This put me off to a slow start.
- 33d. [Doing a great service?]. ACING. Nice one.
Erik Agard’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
The theme here is simple, but not easy to find. There is no revealer, the theme entries are not the longest entries in the puzzle (the long Downs at 3D, 5D, 27D, and 37D are longer), and they add up to only 32 squares’ worth of material. But it’s pretty cool to find four two-word phrases of the form ?AKE ?OLD:
- 26A [Dessert-shaping aid] is a CAKE MOLD.
- 33A [Inspire fearlessness in] is MAKE BOLD.
- 46A [Start to have an effect] is TAKE HOLD.
- 52A [Cheap jewelry material] is FAKE GOLD.
I can see why Erik shopped this theme to LAT rather than run it in the USA Today: It doesn’t lend itself to a title, and it does take a little thinking to find it. (At least, it did for me.) You can see his signature in KANAKAMAOLI, which is likely to be unfamiliar to many solvers but is crossed fairly everywhere. Two basketball clues in a row with UCONN at 58A and LISA clued as [Basketball great Leslie] is also very Erik.
Drew Schmenner’s Universal crossword, “Double Texts” — pannonica’s write-up
First of all, apologies for not having full write-ups for the two Saturday crosswords I’m responsible for.
As for this offering, I was all set to say how I’ve heard of subtexts and pretexts, but not double texts, and was going to speculate on the validity thereof. After bare-minimum diligence, however, I see that it is indeed a Thing. Basically, it’s texting someone twice without having received a response from the other party, and there are etiquette guides as to when and whether such behavior is taboo.
For the purposes of this crossword’s theme, it’s the appearance of the bigram IM (for instant message) twice in a name or phrase,
- 37aR [Diminishes in function … or a hint to what’s found in 17-, 23-, 49- and 59-Across] IMPAIRS, IM pairs.
- 17a. [“That blew me away!”] I’M IMPRESSED.
- 23a. [When life wasn’t as complicated] SIMPLER TIMES.
- 49a. [“Transformers” hero] OPTIMUS PRIME.
- 59a. [ABC late-night host] JIMMY KIMMEL.
There are a couple of stray singleton IMs elsewhere: 11d [“… that’s not a joke!”] AND I MEAN IT, 37d [Mosque prayer leader] IMAM.
- 28d [Squads known for their strength in defense?] LEGAL TEAMS. With all the sports going on, you’d be forgiven for being led astray by the misdirection.
- 40d [“Gangnam Style” singer] PSY. Even though the song was a massive worldwide phenomenon, it seems to be receding dramatically from public consciousness, so that this clue/answer feels quite dated.
- 50d [Vatican VIPs] POPES. 24d [Daddy] POPPA.
- 61d [Name that sounds like a grassy field] LON. Pronunciation clues are always flirting with danger. Lon and lawn are close but do not work for me.
- 1a [The “T” of LGBTQ+] TRANS. On Twitter I see a lot of justified concern about the massive avalanche of anti-trans legislation being introduced all across the nation. It’s very worrying, because if you think it doesn’t affect you, you’re wrong. There are probably trans people in your life, or in your friends’ lives. And of course such movements never stop with just one marginalized group.
- 43a [Payment for a deal?] ANTE. Doesn’t really need the question mark, but I guess it helps nudge the novice solver.
- 45d [It falls in autumn] LEAF. I still remember the gag I saw in a Peanuts cartoon from when I was young (and it was already reprinted in a book): one character comments to another how the leaves are flying south for the winter, per the logic that south is down on a map.
- 66a [Beauty’s fairy-tale love] BEAST.
Brooke Husic’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
Difficult, as advertised, but I made it through with a sub-Stumper solving time. Certainly there were things I didn’t know, but the crossings led me to the answers. New to me:
- 1a. [“MCE (Man Crush Everyday)” trio], SWV, short for Sisters with Voices. They’re an R&B group who had some big hits in the 1990s. Weird to clue via a 2015 song that did not chart anywhere. Why would you do that?? Thinking that MCE would evoke an abbreviation-looking answer?
- 25a. [___ de Casha (wealthy greyhound-headed merchant in a children’s book by Madonna)], LOTSA. Had to be LOTTA or LOTSA, right?
- 30a. [Beyoncé song that samples the gospel group the Clark Sisters], CHURCH GIRL. Inferrable via gospel. Song is on her current hit album, so every dedicated Beyoncé fan will know it.
- 57a. [The New York Botanical Garden’s ___ A. Haupt Conservatory], ENID. A horticultural philanthropist.
- 4d. [“Cidade de ___” (2002 Brazilian crime film)], DEUS. Portuguese title of the movie called City of God in its US release.
From the files of 21st-century life and language, we get TYSM (thank you so much; I think TYVM also works), DIDN’T DISAPPOINT (would have preferred it with DID NOT), WEAK TEA, I HATE THIS, END OF RANT, and the entertaining SNATCH GAME (it riffs on Match Game but with more figurative wig snatching; thank you for the reminder to watch last Friday’s Drag Race, Brooke). Also liked HOW’D IT GO (conversational but not limited to recent years) and IDRIS ELBA.
Re: 2d. [Grain that isn’t used at the restaurant Owamni because it was introduced to the Americas after the arrival of Europeans], WHEAT – I’ve read a couple articles about the Minneapolis restaurant Owamni and its Indigenous foods menu. Here’s the New Yorker’s look at the restaurant and its founding chef.
Cute clue: [Rock out?] for CRAG, as in a rock sticking out from a mountain.
4.25 stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword—Matthew’s review
Really satisfying difficulty for much of this grid – love [Spooky house? Abbr.] for CIA; MA KETTLE and SAM SMITH and MANESKIN (orthographically Måneskin FWIW) all in the same grid is a lot of fun. I don’t know that I’ve ever ever seen PFUI before, anywhere, not just in grids, and I’m not sure how AGER words for [Family drama, e.g.], so that corner took a lot of time to resolve.