Gia Bosko’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
Theme: Common “redundant” phrases with repeating terms.
- 18a [“The rules apply to everyone,” redundantly] – FAIR IS FAIR
- 23a [“Stick to the agreement,” redundantly] – A DEAL IS A DEAL
- 36a [“There can be no changing things now,” redundantly] – WHAT’S DONE IS DONE
- 47a [“We’ll just have to adapt,” redundantly] – IT IS WHAT IT IS
- 57a [“We all deserve to have our intimate relationships honored,” redundantly] – LOVE IS LOVE
Solid Monday theme that plays on tautologies that are also common phrases. 90% of this works well, although the constructor in me can always find some nits to pick. FAIR IS FAIR, A DEAL IS A DEAL, and LOVE IS LOVE all fit the exact same pattern of “[thing] is [same thing]”, which I think is where the redundancy of the theme shines. IT IS WHAT IT IS and WHAT’S DONE IS DONE break that pattern, particularly in the latter case where one of the words doesn’t repeat. (Also, the LOVE IS LOVE clue is hilariously wordy).
That all being said, I’m impressed by how well Gia fit all 5 theme answers into her grid. And there are some great extras too – MASTER KEY, SWOOPED IN, RATS NEST, DRYING UP. I’m a huge SPAMALOT fan too so that was a particular highlight for me. Yes, there are a whole pile of names down there in the SW corner, but they span a huge variety of knowledge bases, so hopefully even newer solvers won’t get too stuck. The only thing I’m annoyed at is REFILE, and that’s only because I finished my tax return about 5 minutes before solving the puzzle, and the thought of having to do it again is… not a positive one.
Happy Monday all!
Baylee Devereaux’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sweet Talk”—Jim’s review
Today’s theme consists of familiar phrases whose first words are also sweet treats though the phrases themselves have nothing to do with them.
- 16a. [Sweet-sounding padding built into an estimate] FUDGE FACTOR.
- 23a. [Sweet-sounding description of a lack of originality] COOKIE CUTTER.
- 49a. [Sweet-sounding imaginary reward for good work] BROWNIE POINT.
- 59a. [Sweet-sounding pipe dream] PIE IN THE SKY.
Nothing complicated here, which is just about right for a Monday. Fun theme answers. I had to look up the origin of BROWNIE POINT since it seemed to have no relation to the food item. And yup, it comes from the youngest of the Girl Scouts, the Brownies, and the points they were awarded for various achievements. But there are actually other theories as to the phrase’s origin.
I’m liking HOEDOWNS, REEL-TO-REEL, SCARLET, and TL;DR in the fill. PRINT MEDIA and TOWNSHIP aren’t bad either. I’m no fan of weird partials like OR WE, but that’s about the only piece of iffy fill. Weird seeing ENDPIN again after just seeing it for the first time last week.
Clues of note:
- 30a. [Treat like a bed or futon]. LIE ON. Kind of an odd clue if you ask me. And I’m never a fan of phrases ending in prepositions unless they’re already colloquial.
- 3d. [“Sorry, I’m skipping your extensive post,” in internet shorthand]. TL;DR. Speed solvers probably TL;DR’d that clue.
- 42d. [“Take hold on me, ___ shall be divided”: Shelley]. OR WE. With the OR__ in place, I really wanted to put OREO here.
Solid, straightforward puzzle. 3.5 stars.
Jon Pennington’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
The revealer at 55A, which I’ve heard more often with regard to basketball, is here clued with reference to the gymnastics GOAT: [Signature gymnastics move of Simone Biles, and the kind of repetition found in 20-, 27-, and 46-Across]. It’s TRIPLE DOUBLE, because each theme entry has three double-letter pairs in a row:
- 20A [Some virtual get-togethers] is ZOOM MEETINGS.
- 27A [Astronomer’s setup for outer-space transmissions] is an ANTENNA ARRAY.
- 46A [Never] is ON NO OCCASION.
In each case, at least one of the doubled letters crosses a word break, which is a nice touch, not that I had time to notice it because the puzzle as a whole was so easy to fill.
Rachel Fabi and Rebecca Goldstein’s Universall crossword, “Primal Urges” — pannonica’s write-up
- 58aR [Inherent behaviors, or what the answers to the starred clues are?] ANIMAL INSTINCTS.
- 3d. [*Part of the psyche dominated by impulse] LIZARD BRAIN.
- 7d. [*Visual acuity] EAGLE EYE.
- 11d. [*Supernatural feeling of imminent danger] SPIDER SENSE.
The left-right symmetry of the grid allows for the unusual—but more recently less so—arrangement of the theme answers and revealer. Additionally, such symmetry often leads to pareidolia, in which we may perceive a face among the black and white squares. Do you see some sort of animal face here?
- 24a [Humanity’s home] EARTH. The only one we have, so maybe… uh… work a little harder at ensuring it remains habitable? 27a [Prevent, as disaster] AVERT. 43d [Pragmatic sort] REALIST.
- 2d [“Throwaway” period of a blowout game] GARBAGE TIME. 65a [Throw away] TOSS OUT. But you can also TOSS OUT ideas to a group, so I think the repetition is intentional.
- The other long non-theme entry: 12d [Walks in the woods, e.g.] NATURE HIKES.
- 13d [Wintry mix] SLEET. That phrase always sounds as if it should be a seasonal offering from the Chex people.
- 25d [Crispy cookie brand] TATE’S. First time I’ve seen this in a crossword.
- 28d [ __ Davis, the first Black woman to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting] VIOLA. It’s johnny jump-up season right now where I am.
- 61d [That’s corny!] COB. One of the most meta clues I have ever encountered. It’s undeniably terrible, which I intend as a compliment here.
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
Did the northwest corner fight you, too? Kinda felt like [Putting forth] wanted to be EXERTING, as in effort, with a BMX crossing at 2d, but no, it’s AVERRING (that inflection of the verb looks so weird!) crossing ATV. And that all-crossings, never-heard-of-it [George H. ___ Company (onetime publisher of Arthur Conan Doyle, P. G. Wodehouse, and Virginia Woolf)], DORAN??? And roll-your-own AIRER, which at least was easier than those others.
Fave fill: DATA DUMP, BLUE CHECKMARK, ESTROGEN, SHIKSA, THE JONESES, SIGHT RHYME (trickyish clue, [Height and weight, for example]–English is so wildly erratic, with letters assigned to multiple sounds, and sounds assigned to multiple letters), MINNELLI, PAGEBOY, and SPA PACKAGE.
[Film voted the greatest of all time in a prominent 2022 critics’ poll, familiarly], JEANNE DIELMAN? LOL. A 1975 Belgian movie with a street address in the full title. [Joachim Trier’s ___ trilogy], OSLO? He’s Norwegian and I’ve not heard of his movies. I want to know if the perennial “why should I know pop culture” complainants feel better about these European films.
Vocab alert: 36a. [Banger], BOP. Slang brought to us by the younger generations, I reckon. A banger or bop is “an energetic song that is very striking or extraordinary” (per Merriam-Webster’s banger clue), one about which you might say “it slaps.”
2.75 stars from me.
NYT: I thought it was a great Monday. It’s interesting that all these tautologies are about accepting reality, even if we don’t like it.
IT IS WHAT IT IS seems to me to be a newer addition to the language. I just checked it out and it appears to take off in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, and was voted the sports cliche of the year in 2004.
I happen to love IT IS WHAT IT IS. Though poo-pooed by grammarians, I find it to be a great phrase.
Too many people whine about what would/could have happened. To which I reply IT IS WHAT IT IS. Get over it!
Hmm. I’d never thought of LOVE IS LOVE as “about accepting reality, even if we don’t like it,” but that’s an apt description.
I enjoyed the puzzle, but two days of literally clichéd NYT themes was perhaps a bit much. It might have been better to schedule the two puzzles further apart.
Did the NW of TNY fight me, too? Hardly just that. I found almost everything obscure. Last to fall was Aubrey Plaza, where I also myself would never say UNDERDO for undercook and don’t find ICE DAM in my dictionaries.
Did Jeanne Dielman and the Oslo Trilogy cheer me up as a pop culture hater. Not in the least, and they wouldn’t be on my radar or best film list either. Certainly not Beaches for that matter, universally panned.
I, too, wanted to put several question marks after DORAN, and here I’d have thought I’d know something like that. I just looked at Woolf on my shelf, and 3 or 4 books are copyright Harcourt Brace & World (later Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), the fourth by the author and Leonard Woolf. The classic biography by Quentin Bell (also published by HBJ) does have a single reference to it, as the American publisher of The Voyage OUT and as turning down a book culled from her notebooks.
New Yorker: The only way I finished was by liberally checking answers I had. The NW was indeed the hardest part. I should have a better handle on Nobel winners (especially Peace Prize winners), but Abiy Ahmed doesn’t sound any more familiar than the George H. Doran Company or “Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles.” The title was particularly hard to parse; give me JEANNED___ and I’m going to think of Joan of Arc.
THE JONESES was also hard to get; that -ESES just looks weird. (But it’s a perfectly good answer, straightforwardly clued.)
It took me way too long to see MINNELLI. I much prefer her version of “New York, New York” to Sumatra’s, but I’ve never been much of a Sinatra fan.
The other three-fourths of the puzzle went the way a challenging puzzle should go: I’d stick in a letter or a short word and the answer to something else would be obvious. Overall, the clueing was good.