Brad Wiegmann’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up
Theme: Phrases in the form of “[VERB] THE [ANIMAL]”
- 17a [Antagonize a powerful figure] – POKE THE BEAR
- 27a [Become absurdly outlandish, as a TV show] – JUMP THE SHARK
- 43a [Chat idly] – SHOOT THE BULL
- 58a [Gesture rudely, in a way] – FLIP THE BIRD
Happy Monday all! It’s a relatively simple theme today, all phrases that are structured the same way. I wish there was more of an “aha” moment, but they’re all pretty interesting phrases though! The hardest for me to get was SHOOT THE BULL, since that is, uh, not the “shoot the” phrase that immediately came to mind. I had a bit of an issue with the clue on JUMP THE SHARK, since the phrase doesn’t really refer to a show becoming “outlandish” per se…. just something irrevocably different and worse than what it had been. Like, did Scooby Doo get more outlandish when Scrappy was introduced?? This is very nitpicky though, and most people who don’t think as much about TV terminology as I do shouldn’t mind :)
Some great longer fill today, including JOE COOL, LETS SLIP, and WORD SALAD. Overall I don’t see many areas that aren’t Monday friendly…. mayyybe ARCO/RCA and SLRS/ROTC, but at least those are all words that come up enough that they will be helpful for newer solvers to learn if they don’t know them already, and they cover lots of different knowledge bases.
Fave clue: [Field of vision?] for OPTOMETRY!
Julia Garibaldi’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Print Pieces”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are familiar phrases whose first words can follow “Paper.” The revealer is PAPER PRODUCTS (48a, [Print material, and a hint to the starts of 19-, 34- and 39-Across]).
- 19a. [Cockpit worker] AIRPLANE PILOT. Paper airplane.
- 34a. [Kids’ play places] DOLLHOUSES. Paper doll. I wouldn’t really call these “places,” though. More like “structures.”
- 39a. [Store window material] PLATE GLASS. Paper plate.
When I think of PAPER PRODUCTS, I think strictly of food-serving items (plates, napkins, cups, etc.). I’ve never considered print material to be a paper product. But maybe that’s just me.
That’s a small nit because I really liked this puzzle. The revealer provided a satisfying aha moment, and the three main theme entries are each nice in their own right.
Plus the grid felt big and airy with lots of smooth-flowing white space. And then we get a lovely GIFT BASKET and a slapsticky BANANA PEEL in the long fill. There’s an international section with MOOSHU and LAGOS crossing CASBAH and GHANA. I thought that was fun to suss out, but I wonder if it might be a trouble spot for newer solvers.
Clues of note:
- 15a. [Cheddar or salsa option]. MILD. Sharp and spicy respectively for me, thanks.
- 23a. [Fortress in a North African city]. CASBAH. We also would have accepted [African fortress in a hit song by The Clash].
Good clean puzzle with a satisfying theme. Oh, and it’s a debut, too. Nicely done! 3.75 stars.
Karen Lurie’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
The theme here is sliiiiightly harder to parse than usual for a Monday, but the grid is so smooth that the puzzle practically solves itself even if you don’t have the theme. The revealer at 56A [Happy cry on a fishing trip, and what can be said about the end of the answer to each starred clue?] leads us to THAT’S A KEEPER. The reason I say that the theme is slightly harder to parse is that it doesn’t have a placement indicator word like FRONT or LEFT or TOP, but the last word in each theme entry can precede the word KEEPER to make a new word:
- 20A [*Vegetable tops used to make soups and stews] is TURNIP GREENS. A GREENSKEEPER takes care of a golf course.
- 28A [*Comedian who hosted “Full Frontal”] is SAMANTHA BEE. A BEEKEEPER takes care of…duh.
- 49A [*”Quite the slump there, huh?”] is OFF YOUR GAME. A GAMEKEEPER is a person employed by rich people with estates big enough that there needs to be someone to make sure there’s enough game animals on them for hunting.
Very smooth grid with almost no stumbling blocks. (62A NIFTY was clued in a way that doesn’t rule out the ubiquitous NEATO, so perhaps that’s only a stumbling block if one has been solving too many puzzles and has the crosswordese stuck in one’s head.)
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Universal crossword, “I Crack Myself Up!” — pannonica’s write-up
In the same row, the end of one entry and the beginning of the next span the gap to spell a synonym for, uh, farceur.
- 17a. [Pay earned after taxes (Note the last 4 letters of this answer + …)] NET INCOME.
19a. [Grammy winner Ross (… the first 4 of this one)] DIANA.
- 29a. [Language of World War II “code talkers” …] NAVAJO.
31a. [Heater fuel …] KEROSENE.
- 46a. [Simple and unsophisticated …] HOMESPUN.
47a. [Backs of boats …] STERNS.
- 59a. Actress Green of “The Goonies” …] KERRI.
60a. [Spouse, humorously …] OTHER HALF. Fitting way to end, no?
Theme-adjacent: 60d [“That’s funny”] ODD. 61d [“That’s funny”] HEH.
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword — Jenni’s write-up
Reminder: if you don’t like Natan’s crosswords, you don’t have to do them! We all have favorite constructors and constructors we don’t vibe with. Just ’cause you don’t like their puzzles doesn’t mean they are bad puzzles.
This is a good puzzle with one glaring exception. It went a bit faster (!) for me than most of Natan’s Monday offerings because for once I knew the longest entry. The cultural references that were new to me were all shorter and the crossings were straightforward.
- 5d [Longest-running survey of American art] is the WHITNEY BIENNIAL.
- 10a [Bigwigs] is POOHBAHS. Or is that POOH–BAHS? Took me a while to get this because in my head it’s spelled POOBAH. The Ngram viewer says I am in the minority, although not by much.
- 15a [Devo tees, e.g.] is MERCH and is one of my all-time favorite clues. Love this.
- 35a [U came after him] is DAG. U Thant succeeded DAG Hammarskjöld as Secretary General of the UN.
- 7d [Feigns modesty, in a way] is HUMBLEBRAGS and it’s a nice match for its symmetrical partner at 21d. [Nonchalant aesthetic quality] is SPREZZATURA, which I confess I did not actually know the meaning of until now. To me the apotheosis of SPREZZATURA is Jeremiah Brent. Yes, I watch a lot of HGTV. Why do you ask?
Lowlight (the glaring exception I mentioned above): 32d [“Time’s a-wasting!”]. The expression comes from racist imitation of Chinese speech. I don’t care how you clue it. Just say no. If your grid requires it, start over.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: SPREZZATURA. I also did not know that Megan Thee Stallion sang with Cardi B on WAP.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — Matthew’s write-up
Tough one, with a satisfying grid and clues tuned up a bit. This is my kind of puzzle! I generally liked most everything in the grid, so right to clues – I have a LOT to touch on:
- 1a [What a collector collects] OLD DEBT. Right off the bat, I was looking the wrong way on “collector.” Not the wildest misdirection, but enough to keep someone guessing.
- 8a [“Hadn’t thought of it that way”] I’LL BE. This might as well have been my late father-in-law’s catchphrase, though his use was a little more “Gee whiz.” It’s a versatile phrase!
- 13a [Honeycomb alternative] CHEERIOS. Much like the entry right above it, “Honeycomb” is just general enough to need a minute to nail down the right angle here.
- 16a [Surfaces, e.g.] TABLET PCS. I don’t watch football anymore, but when NFL teams first started using Surface tablets on the sideline, it was fun to watch the Microsoft branding get more and more visible, to head off folks calling them “iPads.”
- 19a [Razer rival] ASUS. Perhaps you can tell I had trouble in this corner! I’m plenty familiar with ASUS, but not with Razer, which I at least knew wasn’t the scooter (“Razor”) or the old Motorola cellphone (“Razr”).
- 20a [NFL coach Pederson] DOUG. Apparently no longer of the Philadelphia Eagles, as I thought, but now coaching the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not to be confused (though fun to imagine) with crossword constructor Doug Peterson.
- 28a [The Rock, vis-a-vis Dwayne Johnson] RING NAME. A name he took up in honor of his father Rocky Johnson, also a pro wrestler.
- 42a [North African stews named for the pot they’re cooked in] TAGINES. My parents bought a tajine in my teenage years, and I can promise you that making the same dish in a pressure cooker or the like doesn’t come close.
- 48a [Pasta frola, e.g.] TART. This dish, made with quince, is new to me but looks delicious.
- 49a [Parker who was Facebook’s first president] SEAN. Played memorably by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network
- 57a [Women’s basketball star Angel ____] REESE. Reese and her LSU team are reigning national champions, and have a group of impact transfers joining for the coming season to help their quest for a repeat title.
- 1d [Parts of speech, e.g.] OCTAD. If you say so, but perhaps I should remember a middle (grade?) school lesson better.
- 2d [Urban center with the Potala Palaca] LHASA. Shares several letters with “Dhaka.” Ask me how I realized that!
- 4d [Mems. of a convention] DELS. I had to look this up post-solve, but here it’s short for “delegates;” “Mems.” is short for “members.”
- 14d [Contumely] SCORN. *Completely* new word to me, unsurprisingly marked as “archaic,” and nicely disguised as a noun with adverb’s clothes. Rhymes with “roomily.”
- 21d [Neutral expression] GAME FACE. I might be unlearning three decades of something here — I always thought putting on a game face was setting a determined, imposing image so opponents knew you meant business. But maybe it’s something more to keep an even keel. What’s your all experience with that?
- 33d [Voltaire was incarcerated there] BASTILLE. A few days early, but in the right week at least. Not that I don’t want to see the entry at other times of the year, either.
- 36d [“Succession” patriarch] LOGAN. On one hand, I didn’t know this. On the other, it helped to specify the -g- or -j- spelling of TAGINES