Robert S. Gard’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Matter of Degrees”—Jim’s review
Theme: Things that are “hot.” The revealer is HOT STUFF (61a, [1979 Donna Summer song, and a description of 17-, 23-, 31-, 43- and 49-Across]).
- 17a. [Climax of a film, perhaps?] SEX SCENE.
- 23a. [One getting taken for a ride?] STOLEN CAR.
- 31a. [Things often smoked in Mexico?] JALAPEÑOS.
- 43a. [Newfound enthusiasm?] LATEST FAD.
- 49a. [Spot for a sweater?] STEAM ROOM.
Nice. Each entry uses a slightly different meaning of the word “hot” and the entries make for a fun set. I’m not so sure we needed all the wordplay in the clues, though. It made the solve a lot tougher than is usual for a Monday, and it isn’t essential to the theme.
Along those lines, I had a number of rewrites in the fill which made everything take just a little bit longer. I tried EDITOR IN CHIEF then COPY WRITER then COPY EDITOR for what eventually became COPY CHIEF (a new-to-me term). I tried WISE GUY before WISE ASS and I needed all the crossings to get CHAMPED [Did some munching]. (We don’t usually see that word without a “bit” nearby.) I’m not really complaining, it’s just this was slightly more difficult than what I’ve come to expect from a Monday puzzle.
Clues of note:
- 1a. [Mobile home, familiarly?]. BAMA. This set the tone for trickiness in the grid. I think I got this from the crosses without realizing this was about the city in Alabama.
- 8a. [Eaves dripper]. ICICLE. Now this is a nice Monday clue. It’s playing with the word “eavesdropper” but without being tricky.
- 7d. [Last letter in the Latin alphabet]. ZEE. Oh, that’s our alphabet. I tried ZED at first.
A nice puzzle. Maybe more apt for Tuesday or Wednesday as clued. But it got me to rewatch this scene from The Full Monty, so it’s all good. 3.75 stars.
Jennifer Nutt’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up
Theme: phrases where the first word is the homophone of an ocean sound
- 18a [Got hitched] – TIED THE KNOT
- 24a [Not require fees to be paid] – WAIVE CHARGES
- 52a [Fruity breakfast biscuit] – CURRANT SCONE
- 62a [“Saturday Night Live” cast member from 1980 to 1984] – EDDIE MURPHY
- 40a [Something you might hold to your ear in order to hear the first parts of 18-, 24-, 52- and 62-Across?] – SHELL
It’s a good thing the revealer for this puzzle is placed in the middle, because it was very useful for the final two theme answers! I like that all the theme words refer to specifically moving water, as that is what would be heard in a shell. I also think that the homophones as a concept relate neatly to the fact that you literally “hear” the sound of water in the shell even though it’s not actually there. TIED and WAIVE reminded me a little more of oceans than CURRANT and EDDIE did (I guess I think of those more as river words?)
Great bonus fill in ANYTIME NOW and MALODOROUS, although I misspelled the latter multiple times. The puzzle feels a little segmented into small sections, but the fill is for the most part very clean.
- Was AURAL a secret extra theme answer??
- Multiple biblical name clues in this puzzle, for ENOS and LEAH. Interesting to go in the same direction for both.
- I’m sad the clue for SLIMES had no reference to Nickelodeon, kings of sliming.
- I didn’t know EDDIE MURPHY was only on SNL for 4 years! Somehow I thought it was more. I was not alive for his tenure there, but I watched his hosting appearance from a few years ago, and yeah, I understood why he was such a star there.
Bill Thompson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Once again, the Monday theme is so simple that it could run in USA Today if the revealer were its title rather than embedded in the puzzle. 50D, [Cozy lodging hinted at by 18-, 23-, 36-, 50-, and 55-Across] is B AND B, because each theme entry is a two-word phrase in which both words start with a B:
- 18A [Some barbecue ribs] is BABY BACKS.
- 23A [Safest courses of action] is BEST BETS.
- 36A [Star of classic TV’s “The Incredible Hulk”] is BILL BIXBY.
- 50A [Nickname of boxer Ray Mancini] is BOOM BOOM.
- 55A [Cartoon rabbit with a Brooklyn accent] is BUGS BUNNY.
This one wasn’t my favorite. I would’ve preferred, say, one fewer theme entry and have the themers both be longer and have more of that elusive “sparkle” — the three pop culture references are on the older side. BALANCE BEAM, BIG BROTHER, BO BURNHAM…there are tons of possibilities. Entries like BOBBY SOX and CLEM Kadiddlehopper definitely added to the musty feel.
Zachary David Levy’s Universal crossword, “It’s a Living” — pannonica’s write-up
- 33dR [Supposedly low-wage occupations … or, parsed another way, a clue to this puzzle’s theme] MCJOBS.
- 16a. [Marketing position whose salary could be $72,000, per Glassdoor] MARKETING CONSULTANT.
- 21d. [Postal position whose salary could be $42,000, per Glassdoor] MAIL CARRIER.
- 24d. [Film position whose salary could be $63,000, per Glassdoor] MOVIE CRITIC.
These titles all have the initials MC.
- 37a [Subgenre of a Jamaican music style] SKACORE, which I had not previously heard of.
- 6d [Browser memories] CACHES. Not a user’s own memories, but an aspect of the storage function of the browser program.
- 30d [Golf prop] TEE. Easy to misread as Golf pro, which amazingly I did not do during the solve.
- 52d [Sch. groups] PTAS. 17d [Court org.] NBA. 10d [Court org.] ABA. Do these count as duplications, as in each instance, the ‘A’ stands for ‘Association’?
Solid crossword, okay theme. Kind of comes across as promotion of Glassdoor, but I understand the need for demonstrating a reference for these salary estimates.
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
I’m always delighted when the Monday New Yorker byline is Natan Last. I know I’m in for a treat, and this one was no different. Wasn’t really timing myself, but it felt a lot more challenging than usual. The only entries that were unknown to me was the airline AVIANCA and [Jazz pianist Keiko] MATSUI (familiar with the surname from ex-MLB player Kazuo Matsui, though).
Raise your hand if you tried to get KADIR NELSON to fit for the painter at 29a. The most recent New Yorker issue to land in my mailbox had a Nelson painting on the cover. It’s the other famous K painter, KEHINDE WILEY.
Fave clue: [Place to take courses for a minor], KIDS’ TABLE. I wanted HIGHCHAIR, which would also work for this clever clue that’s not at all about college classes.
Was gonna list my fave fill too, but I’ve gotta run. Four stars from me, lots of good stuff here.