Alice Liang’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up
Theme: Each theme answer ends in a word that is also a part of the mouth.
- 16a [Explodes in anger] – HITS THE ROOF
- 29a [Tech for connecting wireless speakers] – BLUETOOTH
- 35a/37a [With 37-Across, native language] – MOTHER/TONGUE
- 45a [Chew on this!] – BUBBLEGUM
- 60a [What rumors are spread by … or a hint to the ends of 16-, 29-, 35-/37- and 45-Across] – WORD OF MOUTH
This is a classic Monday theme type – words that fall into a similar category – but it’s executed to perfection. I never realized how many mouth parts were words that could also mean other things! BLUETOOTH especially disguises the original word, but all four of the answers are solid. I like how MOTHER and TONGUE are right next to each other so reading across it looks like a single answer – I find that to be the most aesthetically pleasing way to split answers when need be. My only minor issue is with the revealer itself – I feel like WORD OF MOUTH can refer to news/reviews/general information and facts more than just rumors, like how you might hear about a good new coffeeshop. But maybe that’s just a positive rumor?
The fill overall is incredibly smooth, which I think led to my faster than usual time (that, and the 3-letter answer filled corners). There are a fair amount of middling two-word answers (OF NOTE, SEE TO, SELL BY), but nothing egregious. POT ROAST and GO FIGURE are standout answers, along with COOL IT. I didn’t know Buck ONEIL, or that the OPOSSUM is the only North American marsupial.
Congrats to Alice on a great NYT debut!
Guilherme Gilioli’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Total Defeat”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are 3-word phrases where each word starts with D. The revealer is DEES (65a, [Low grades, and the initials of the long Across answers]).
- 19a. [Prank that rings a bell] DING DONG DITCH. Fun one.
- 27a. [Time to go casual] DRESS DOWN DAY. New to me. I’ve heard “Casual Friday,” but not this.
- 43a. [Strict time limit] DROP DEAD DATE. Another good one.
- 53a. [It’s quite the challenge] DOUBLE-DOG DARE. And yet another goodie.
Mostly good, yeah? Especially if you’re familiar with that second one.
However, the revealer is of no help here. In fact, I think it detracts from the theme since it’s not addressing the triple nature of the theme answers. Why does DEES imply three? Answer: It doesn’t. I googled “Triple D” and aside from being a bra size, I found that #DDD is the hashtag for Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. That would have been a perfectly fine revealer in my book.
I’ve seen ARACHNE more than once recently, but the name makes for fun fill (though maybe not Monday-level). “OMIGOSH,” CATHEDRAL, PUB ORDERS, and SUN GODS are other highlights. Not so keen on DIALER and SSRS.
Clue of note: 22a. [Really enjoying an activity]. INTO IT. I can’t not think of that Seinfeld episode where George urges Jerry to suggest a menage a trois to his current girlfriend so that she’ll dump him. It doesn’t work out that way because it turns out, she’s INTO IT.
Nice puzzle but I’d prefer a different revealer. 3.25 stars.
Angela Kinsella Olson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
This puzzle is en fuego! The revealer at 63A [1980 Stephen King novel, and what the answer to each starred clue literally has?] is FIRESTARTER. One quibble and one personal-taste comment here: “what the answer to each starred clue literally has” would indicate that each theme entry should start with a synonym for FIRE, which is not actually what’s going on. Instead, each themer starts with a gerund verb that can be used to describe a fire. Personal-taste comment: When I think FIRESTARTER, I’m going to think of the 1997 song from The Prodigy.
- 17A [“She Don’t Use Jelly” band, with “The”] is FLAMING LIPS. I admit to having done this “with ‘The'” thing in clues myself a time or six, but I’m trying to quit — it feels inelegant to me as a solver.
- 26A [Mel Brooks Western starring Cleavon Little] is BLAZING SADDLES.
- 46A [Enthusiastic praise] is a GLOWING TRIBUTE. I thought this might be a little green-painty at first, but Brits actually have it in their dictionary so I’m going to shut my face now.
I enjoyed seeing LEO TOLSTOY, STUBHUB, and NIGHT LIGHT among the longer entries; having to remember the Bobbsey Twins with FLOSSIE was fine, but perhaps more appropriate to a midweek puzzle. (Especially since FLOSSIE‘s twin was FREDDIE, meaning that even a solver who knows old kiddie lit that well would need a crossing or two to rule him out!)
Josh M Kaufmann’s Universal crossword, “Take the Leap” — pannonica’s write-up
- 62aR [Get right to work, or a hint to 16-, 22-, 36- or 51-Across] JUMP ON IT. Id est, they are things one either literally or figuratively jumps on.
- 16a. [Modern meeting] ZOOM CALL. Unlike the other theme entries, this one is explicitly couched in work terms.
- 22a. [What only “knocks once”] OPPORTUNITY. Arguably, but not explicitly, work-related.
- 36a. [Cause whose support is growing] BANDWAGON.
- 51a. [Plank at a pirate-themed pool party, perhaps] DIVING BOARD.
Works for me.
- 2 [How satellites travel] IN ORBIT.
- 9d [Where hybrid classes are partially taught] ONLINE. Via a ZOOM CALL, perhaps?
- 14d [Shoe company founded in Denmark] ECCO. 15a [Breakfast pastry] DANISH. This feels like duplication, but I’m not 100% positive.
- 23d [“__ into the wild blue yonder …”] OFF WE GO. 13a [At large] ON THE RUN.
- 27d [Turned bad?] DAB. A straight-up reversal of bad. Cryptic-influenced clue.
- 29a [“The Killing” actress Mireille] ENOS. New ENOS clue to me.
- 66a [Wavers?] FLAGS. This would be a good, tough clue without the question mark.
Overall, the experience felt a bit choppy, due to the preponderance of three- and four-letter entries.
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
As is often the case in one of Anna’s puzzles, there’s a good deal of literature: 50a TIGGER, 59a Eckhart TOLLE, 60a DAVE Eggers, 62a John Kennedy TOOLE, 1d publisher FSG (Farrar Straus Giroux), 2d “Elle et LUI“). And art: NEODADA, NAN Goldin, EOSIN dye in Van Gogh’s red paint, UNE in the title of a Magritte. Also film: NOAH Baumbach, Diana SPENCER, Pam GRIER, Norman BATES, RUBY DEE. And music, for good measure: GIRL GROUP (clue was unhelpful for me, [3LW or SWV, e.g.]–SWV is 1990s R&B, Sisters with Voices, and 3LW is 2000s R&B, 3 Lil Women), Bonnie RAITT, Edwin STARR, Lou Reed’s song mentioning the Warhol crowd’s transgender icon CANDY DARLING (props to Reed for respecting trans people’s pronouns way back in 1972), Mary J. Blige’s “REAL / LOVE,” and Jill SCOTT. The puzzle is one-fourth arts!
Did not know that sea goddess Sedna is INUIT.
Fave fill: COPAGANDA (see below for John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight about the Law & Order franchise fluffing up cops), SWAG BAG, CROWDFUNDING, CANDY DARLING, and cosmetic LIP FILLER with a cautionary clue, [It may cause “trout pout” if used in excess].
New Yorker annoyance: using the spelling extoll in the clue for LAUD. I am so over the magazine’s fetishization of using British spellings in an American publication. Be proud that you’re in New York and not York!
Four stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — Matthew’s write-up
This grid felt more segmented mid-solve than I thought it would on first blush – the middle stairstack is particularly connected, but each corner quickly becomes a dead-end.
That said, there’s a lot to like in here – I keep seeing another entry upon this review that I liked. The CREEPYPASTA, SWEETHEARTS, REACTION GIFS stack is delightfully internet-ty: CREEPYPASTA is a trope, kind of like an old campfire tale about a hitchhiker or an evening walk past a cemetery, while REACTION GIF(S) lends itself to all sorts of fun wordplay, and to my knowledge has only appeared in the New Yorker, as major, major puzzle outlets go. (Brooke Husic did have REACTION VIDEO in a USA Today puzzle, as well).
WE COOL, PLASTICWARE, PLEASE STOP, END OF AN ERA, the maybe-slightly-forced DO IN A PINCH were all highlights to the grid as well. And hey! A non-AHAB Moby-Dick reference at 11d [“The Spouter-___ (“Moby-Dick” setting)] INN. I love the AHAB references too, but especially the non-AHAB ones.
Wide mix of source material fitting into this puzzle: Carmen, The Hunger Games, a famous moment in sports history ([He scored “The Goal” during the 1970 Stanley Cup finals] for Bobby ORR), weird biology (SEA OWLS). I’m looking for something that didn’t quite land for me, and it’s not really there — you all know I have a bit more tolerance for the BEQ-maybe-not-a-word thing; in this puzzle ROOMILY and RESWAP.
[20d Private practice?] for SECRECY had me leaning something Army for quite awhile – that misdirection might be more on me than BEQ but satisfying to push through anyway.
All in all a particularly pleasant puzzle, for my money!