Sam Buchbinder’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up
Happy Monday folks! I’d say the week is off to an… auspicious beginning with this puzzle :)
- 17a [Miles Davis classic that’s the all-time best-selling jazz album] – KIND OF BLUE
- 24a [“Oh, I’m not messing around!”] – JUST YOU WAIT
- 47a [Big member of the string section] – UPRIGHT BASS
- 60a [Neon, argon and krypton] – NOBLE GASES
- 38a [Having initial success … as suggested by the beginnings of 17-, 24-, 47- and 60-Across?] – OFF TO A GOOD START
So, each of the theme answers has a first word that can mean “good”: KIND, JUST, UPRIGHT, NOBLE. This is a totally solid theme, and I like the (grid-spanning!) revealer with it. I wish the theme answers were a little snappier, given how many synonyms for “good” exist. But I do like how all of them twist the “good” meaning of their words into something else. I didn’t know KIND OF BLUE was the all time best selling jazz album, that’s pretty cool.
This puzzle played pretty easily for me, even though that’s not reflected in my time since I had to spend ~40 seconds error hunting (turned out to be “dig” instead of DUG :( ). The bottom third of the puzzle or so barely required a single down answer. The top felt much harder for me, particularly the DAHS/ULAN/MONO stack in the upper right. Did other folks feel the same way?
Grid highlights: DUMBWAITER, MINECRAFT, BABKA
Clue highlights: 2d [Sexiest Man ___ (annual award)] for ALIVE, 61d [Letters that bookend the phrase “Google Maps,” aptly] for GPS.
Happy 4th of July EVE to those in the USA!
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Picnic for the Fourth”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are red, white, and blue foods.
- 18a. [Grilled entree for the Fourth] RED SNAPPER.
- 20a. [Poached entree for the Fourth] WHITEFISH.
- 34a. [Pie choice for the Fourth] BLUEBERRY.
- 38a. [Seasoning for the Fourth] RED PEPPER.
- 50a. [Libation for the Fourth] WHITE WINE.
- 55a. [Salad dressing choice for the Fourth] BLUE CHEESE.
I suppose that’s as good a way as any to make a 4th of July puzzle. Why two of each color? I don’t know. I guess because they fit, and one of each color wouldn’t be much of a puzzle. But finding six appropriately colored food items that fit symmetrically in a grid has to count for something.
Of course, if your picnic was restricted to red, white, and blue foods like these, that’d be a pretty bizarre picnic.
Having six theme answers is always tough to fill around, but we still have some goodies here like SPLITTER, OIL WELL, and especially SMARTASS. On the other hand MOTETS [Sacred compositions] is pretty tough fill for a Monday especially when the first letter crosses a proper name (MAILER). I wasn’t helped by my brain insisting that Gustav MAHLER was the author of “The Naked and the Dead” instead of Norman MAILER.
Susan Gelfand’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Currently doing my solving on a train in Sweden, so apologies for the brevity. Coming down to the revealer at 53A [Imitate, and what the last words of 18-, 26-, and 42-Across can do], we get FOLLOW SUIT: That is, the final word in each theme answer can be placed after the word SUIT to make another phrase (or compound word, in one instance).
- 18A [Hardcover protector] is a DUST JACKET, leading to the formal article of clothing, SUIT JACKET.
- 26A [Solve a mystery] is CRACK THE CASE, leading to SUITCASE. Mine is packed pretty efficiently, if I say so myself.
- 42A [Like some home repairs] is DO IT YOURSELF, leading to SUIT YOURSELF.
Super smooth grid, leading to a well-under-two-minute solve, which is just right for Monday. Nice!
Sam Buchbinder’s Universal crossword, “Letter Openers” — pannonica’s write-up
- 34aR [Prefaces … or a hint to the first two letters in both parts of 16-, 23-, 47- and 56-Across] FOREWORDS. The referenced entries are two-word phrases in which the first word begins with FO– and the second begins with RE–. So I guess that can be parsed as “FO, RE WORDS”?
- 16a. [Investigative journalist’s filing] FOIA REQUEST. Freedom of Information Act.
- 23a. [Warning that affects consumers, in two ways] FOOD RECALL.
- 47a. [Traditional cure] FOLK REMEDY.
- 56a. [Zebra running on a field?] FOOTBALL REFEREE.
I wasn’t wowed by this as a conceit to hang a theme on, but it’s certainly adequate and sufficiently entertaining.
- 11d [Writing on modern elevator buttons] BRAILLE. How modern is modern? I recall seeing them all my life, but I also know that the Americans with Disabilities Act, which I presume would have mandated this at the federal level, dates only to 1990.
- 21d [Glances over] SCANS. I avoid using this word, because it has two contradictory meanings.
- 37d [Announcement awaited by many a student (and teacher!)] SNOW DAY. These are as far as I know becoming obsolescent, with online/remote learning capabilities becoming more prevalent.
- 43a [Sawed logs] SNORED. This was made somewhat trickier with the omission of a “so to speak” sort of qualifier.
- 52a [Big-eyed birds] OWLS. 61a [One of two on a face] EYE.
Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword — Jenni’s write-up
Happy Monday! Happier now that I’ve done Kameron’s crossword. I like the New Yorker vibe and this is a good ‘un.
I like the sort of pinwheel shape to the grid and the long answers in the center are fun.
- Took me a while to see SQUARE DANCE for [Pursuit for a group of eight].
- Hope that square doesn’t include any SLEAZEBALLS.
- I’m amused by SOLAR ENERGY crossing NIGHTMARE FUEL. I always wonder if juxtapositions like that are deliberate.
- The clue for 33a didn’t mean much to me at first. [Name applied to both a period following the Second World War and a period in the early twenty-first century] is the GOLDEN AGE OF TV.
- 50a [Cut together, maybe?] is COEDIT. On a plane yesterday I watched “Turn Every Page” about the relationship between Robert Caro and his longtime editor Robert Gottlieb. Fascinating. I’ve read some of Caro’s pieces in the New Yorker (which were there because Gottlieb was the editor) and never his books. Now planning to fill that gap.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of novelist ALI Smith.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — Matthew’s write-up
I didn’t find this very smooth, but it also wasn’t the hardest themeless we’ve seen from BEQ lately, so an interesting experience. The long stuff didn’t really land with me — ZERO FUCKS GIVEN and [Post cards?] for PRESS PASSES are highlights, but the stacks in the NE and SW didn’t move the needle.
Difficult-ish crossing of [Actress Glaudini] LOLA and [“Past lives” actress Greta] LEE, though now that I’m a few minutes post-solve, I suppose L is a reasonable first guess there. I’ve seen almost nothing featuring either actress, though looking at their filmographies, that’s very much on me. I’m never a fan of the “grunting” cluing angle around women’s tennis, as we see for Monica SELES in this puzzle.