Kevin Christian and Andrea Carla Michaels’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up
Theme: Phrases in the form of [VERB] A [COLOR] [NOUN].
- 17a [Blabber continuously] – TALK A BLUE STREAK
- 27a [Harmlessly deceive] – TELL A WHITE LIE
- 47a [Be cause for serious concern, say] – RAISE A RED FLAG
- 62a [Broadcast booth analysis … or a hint to 17-, 27- and 47-Across] – COLOR COMMENTARY
This is a nice theme answer set, and all the words fit the pattern well… Assuming I’m understanding the pattern correctly, that is. I’m a little confused about how the revealer, COLOR COMMENTARY, fits into the theme. From the first two phrases, TALK A BLUE STREAK and TELL A WHITE LIE, I thought that the verb would always be a talking-related word, and that was what pulled in the word “commentary”. But RAISE A RED FLAG isn’t necessarily talking related. I usually love Kevin and Andrea’s puzzles, and I liked this one but I wanted a little *more* from it than just “phrases that are structured the same way”, especially given the potential in the revealer.
Great grid work as usual from these two. BUSY WORK, DARK MEAT, STENCH, and the “WHOSE Line…?” reference were the highlights for me. ROLLBACK is nice too, but because that word generally has a different meaning in my field of software development, it took me a while to get it from the clue of [Temporary price reduction to drive sales]. TITO Puente and Danny/Stubby KAYE were also new to me. I also (as a 90’s baby) didn’t know that folks were allowed to SMOKE on planes until 2000?? That’s wild to me.
Hope y’all had lovely weekends!
Gary Cee’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Gauging Interest”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are familiar two-word phrases where both words start with NE–. The revealer is ANY TAKERS (37a, [“Who wants in?”…and a phonetic hint to 20-, 29-, 49- and 57-Across]).
- 20a. [Constant worrier] NERVOUS NELLIE.
- 29a. [Virginia city where Navy aircraft carriers are built] NEWPORT NEWS.
- 49a. [Situation that’s more bad than good] NET NEGATIVE.
- 57a. [Computer system modeled on the human brain] NEURAL NETWORK.
A solidly decent theme for a Monday. I can’t say I got excited about it, but that’s quite a nice theme set, given the restrictions.
HYGIENIST and RAIN DELAY make for enjoyable marquee fill entries. ZERO IN ON ain’t bad either.
What was unfortunate was the crossing of GUANACO (last letter) and OTERO (first letter). Couldn’t remember the last letter of the animal and I never heard of the Texas county, so I left it for the very last square. I resisted the O because I thought maybe I was being influenced by the name “Quantico,” so I went with GUANACA / ATERO. When that didn’t work, the O was quick to go in. But still, that’s a tough crossing any day of the week, but especially on a Monday.
The other eyebrow-raiser was DRC [Nation once named Zaire: Abbr.]. At least the crosses were fair, but I had to think about it for a few beats post-solve before I realized it’s the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I’d say it’s fair game for a crossword, but it was pretty unexpected since it’s only ever appeared one other time as noted in the Cruciverb database (from a LAT puzzle two years ago). It’s not often you see a new three-letter entry, but this might be one that we’ll see again in the future.
Clues played it straight so I’ll leave with some frolicking guanacos.
Drew Schmenner’s Universal crossword, “Double the Work” — pannonica’s write-up
The thematic content is located in the clues, where the TERSE (38a) but reduplicative prompts all lead to the names of jobs.
- 17a. [Position position?] YOGA TEACHER.
- 27a. [Pursuit pursuit?] BOUNTY HUNTER.
- 43a. [Calling calling?] TELEMARKETER.
- 58a. [Post post?] MAIL CARRIER.
Feels very much a Monday sort of affair.
- 1a [Attention-getter in court] GAVEL. I’d confidently put in ORDER but was quickly disabused of that idea by 1d [Spanish painter Francisco] GOYA.
- 11a [In __ We Trust] GOD; a sometime motto of the United States. 40a [“Shop __ you drop”] TIL; perhaps a more accurate one? Both leave a lot to be desired and reflect poorly on us as a people, eh?
- 37a [“Asteroid City” director Anderson] WES. Saw this recently. My opinion of WES Anderson is unchanged. I’ve opined on this elsewhere.
- 65a [Air, water and food] NEEDS. Maybe this needs a qualifier; isn’t shelter another?
- 12d [Stench] ODOR. Yes, you know my opinion of this framing also.
- 28d [Dance to bounce music] TWERK. 53d [“Gotta bounce!”] CIAO.
- 29d [“You’re something __!”] ELSE. 38d [“How could one say such a thing?!”] THE NERVE.
- 41d [It can get the knots out] MASSAGE. This was in my opinion the toughest clue, and it isn’t too tough. Monday!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — Matt G’s write-up
Tough one here – I had no footholds in the NW corner, and started on the right side before working counter clockwise. The completed grid doesn’t look as tough, but there’s a slightly tougher mix in the names in this puzzle, and GREEN ZEBRA [Tomato cultivar with distinctive stripes] is a classic 1-Across for a tougher themeless, but the clue helps out a bit, with “stripes.” I’m not sure how well-known the logic game STAR BATTLES is – I thiiiink when I first encountered it a few years ago, it was accompanied by a note from Will Shortz that he had recently learned the game from a Japanese source. But maybe I’m getting wires crossed.
- 19a [Flock’s area] PARISH. This metaphor is a common misdirect in puzzles, and even so I liked this simple misdirect today.
- 54a [Moreno who was the first Mexican-American to own a MLB team] ARTE. A name that I did ok with, but may be tough. Moreno owns the Los Angeles Angels.
- 5d [Hockey Hall of Famer ___ Stewart] NELS. Playing career 1925-1940
- 12d [Frequently] ON THE REG. I’ve seen this angle for REG here and there recently, but this I believe is the first time I’ve seen the whole phrase.
- 29d [First name in auto racing] ARIE. This is in reference to ARIE Luyendyk, who won two Indianapolis 500s in the 1990s. Formula 1 and IndyCar are both seeing substantial viewership gains in the US market, so maybe we’ll have more current motorsports references in grids soon.
- 35d [“A slow, enduring force straining to win the sky” per Antoine de Saint-Exupery] TREE. What a lovely quote! And a lovely use of a poetic quote to clue something other than “art” or “love” or whatever
Liz Gorski’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
I had a feeling of foreboding when the third Across answer was UNIVAC, and nothing really popped out to enchant me in the rest of the puzzle. With GIRDLE and EBAN, SUCRE and DOLOR, the crossword had an older-puzzle vibe.
The swirled diamond of open space in the center included three entirely unfamiliar entries, plus a common word with an uncommon clue that perplexed me. [Early Saka king] MAUES was Indo-Scythian, Wikipedia tells me, and thank goodness the Wiki has a map. I don’t recall ECCLES CAKES from Great British Bake Off; they’re also called squashed fly cakes, despite not being cakes at all. The [Irish Sea inlet that forms much of Wales’s west coast] is CARDIGAN BAY; one of the coastal villages is Cwmtydu (!). I think [Crystal forms] cluing BALLS is a geology thing? Maybe? Not really seeing any discrete balls made of mineral crystals. If this is about crystal balls, I don’t like the clue; so many “crystal balls” are made of glass, which isn’t a crystal.
Despite these rather obscure entries (plus RED BUCKEYES, RESINLIKE), odd word form INEBRIATING, I finished the puzzle more quickly than I’d expected. If you didn’t know those middle Acrosses either and struggled with the crossing Downs, it probably didn’t fall swiftly for you.
2.5 stars from me.
Dan Caprera’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Here’s what feels like a new spin on an old trope. I’ve seen quite a few puzzles themed around cards, specifically around KING, QUEEN, JACK, ACE, and sometimes TEN at the beginning or end of theme phrases. Here, the revealer at 59A [Prepare a deck before dealing, and what the answers to the starred clues literally do] is CUT THE CARDS, meaning that KING, QUEEN, JACK, and ACE are “cut” by the middles of their theme phrases:
- 16A [*LGBT+ organization founded in 1990] is QUEER NATION, which splits QUEEN up. The name of the organization forces the awkward “LGBT+” rather than “LGBTQ” or “LGBTQIA+,” a small price to pay for this cool entry.
- 24A [*”Chin up!”] is KEEP SMILING, which splits KING. I am the correct age to immediately think of “That’s What Friends Are For.”
- 36A [*Musical film about a convict who learns to play the guitar in prison] is JAILHOUSE ROCK, which splits JACK.
- 49A [*Completely unapproachable] is AS COLD AS ICE, which splits up ACE. I am also the correct age to think of the Foreigner song.
I thought some of the fill and clue choices were a bit more mid-week than Monday, such as MOT and VAMPIRIC (VAMPIRE, sure; the adjectival form seems tough) and cluing A LA MODE in the fashion sense rather than the ice cream sense.