David Liben-Nowell’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up
Happy Monday everyone! DLN was actually my advisor at Carleton College when I attended, so I’m thrilled to get to write up his puzzle (and promise to only be a little biased).
Today’s puzzle is a sandwich theme: stacked from top to bottom we have:
- SLICE OF BREAD
- RASPBERRY JAM
- PEANUT BUTTER
- SLICE OF BREAD
I actually don’t much like either peanut butter or jelly (or JAM, I guess?), so I won’t comment on the minutia of the sandwich structure :) I will say that I love how the non-square grid gives immediate impact – the solver is excited to see what’s going on here, which is great to draw in newer solvers on Monday. The repeated SLICE OF BREAD is both sandwich-ly correct and gives a fun moment of thematic repetition that early-week puzzles don’t always have. I do think would have been great to get “pbj” somewhere in the puzzle to tie it all together, but that’s a minor comment.
Given the wacky shape of the grid, I’m impressed by the high number of long non-theme answers that appear. STRIKEOUT, TOP NOTCH, AERIALIST are all great. Love seeing BEEHIVE clued via Amy Winehouse, and as a former theater kid EPONINE was a gimme for me (although the E could *hypothetically* be a hard cross for those not up on their French). The awkwardly plural EEGS and HEYS are the only issues I had with the rest of the grid – actually, it might have been cool to clue HEYS as a homophone of HAZE, which sits below it in the grid.
Susan Gelfand’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
It’s all good in this puzzle, whose theme is old-school in that there’s no revealer, but the clues are written such that the puzzle doesn’t need one, IMO. Each theme answer is an in-the-language phrase that starts with an adjective that means “very good” or “the best” in some way, and clued in a punny way that brings that out:
- 18A [Exceptional lithograph?] is a FINE PRINT.
- 27A [Exceptional place to play tennis?] is a SUPREME COURT.
- 44A [Exceptional job vacancy?] is a GRAND OPENING.
- 55A [Exceptional plantain?] is a TOP BANANA.
Cute, and a nice change from the typical Monday revealer with a paragraph-long clue. A note on the clue for 56A [Commandment word], NOT, which refers to all the “thou shalt nots” in the Ten Commandments: I recently learned while researching some trivia questions of the 1631 “Wicked Bible” (also known as the “Sinners’ Bible” or the “Adulterer’s Bible”), a KJV that made the very important typo of leaving out NOT in one of the commandments. So, according to this Bible, thou shalt commit adultery!
George Jasper’s Universal crossword, “In the Blender” — pannonica’s précis
- 53aR [Healthy drink, and a hint to the word scrambled within each starred clue’s answer] PROTEIN SHAKE.
- 20a. [*Act of civil disobedience] SIT-IN PROTEST.
- 32a. [*Space to entertain guests] RECEPTION ROOM.
- 39a. [*Something worth seeking on a critical issue] EXPERT OPINION.
These theme phrases are strong.
Solid crossword (ironically!).
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — Matthew’s write-up
This played tougher for me than it looks in retrospect. New to me: EMBER DAYS, shoe brand Hoka (in the clue for FILA), this celestial use of LIMB
Highly recommended: the musical “Six,” referenced in the clue for LUCY
Brooke Husic’s New Yorker crossword—Jenni’s writeup
Our esteemed blogmistress is laid up and I certainly owe a lot of people of a lot of favors, so here’s today’s New Yorker and few quick highlights.
- I loved [Catch on the bounce?] for ECHOLOCATE.
- I had the BREAK at the beginning of [Message that might end with “over”] and figured it had something to do with CB radio. Nope. It’s BREAKUP TEXT.
- I’m on record as loving conversational clues, so I enjoyed [“Sure!”] for WORKS FOR ME.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that PEET‘s coffee is named after Alfred.