Desirée Penner and Jeff Sinnock’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up
Theme: GLUED TO THE TV – Each theme answer contains the string “ITVI”, and no other I’s are in the puzzle at all.
- 20a [Travel papers for those just passing through] – TRANSIT VISAS
- 28a [Home for Tolkien’s Bilbo and Frodo] – HOBBIT VILLAGE
- 49a [Home workout selection] – CROSSFIT VIDEO
- 56a [Where your eyes might stay during a suspenseful scene … or the only place you’ll find the “eyes” in this puzzle] – GLUED TO THE TV
Cute theme and nice theme answers to boot. I am a big TV watcher and know the term GLUED TO THE TV (I’ve also heard “glued to the screen”). However, I did not know the theme of this puzzle until I got to the reveal – I didn’t even notice the lack of I’s! That’s a real testament to the quality of the fill today. HOBBIT VILLAGE is my favorite answer, and I was not familiar with TRANSIT VISAS but it was easy to puzzle out.
As mentioned before, the fill in the puzzle is pretty clean given the constraints, particularly in the top half. There is some worse stuff in the bottom – AEONS, SHOATS, maybe every 4 letter starting with E piece of crosswordese I know (EENY EROS ETAL ETRE ESPY) – but it’s all clued fairly and won’t be a problem for most folks.
Fave fill: PASTELS, BLITHELY, SHRILL
New to me: That a FLEA can jump more than 40 times its body length!
Jay Silverman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Later!”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are two-word phrases with the initial letters C and U. The revealer is “SEE YOU!” (64a, [“Later!” (and a phonetic clue to this puzzle’s theme)]. A second hint is at 1a: COPPER [Element number 29 (and a scientific clue to this puzzle’s theme)].
- 20a. [Turning to 11, as volume] CRANKING UP. This is okay, but “cracking up” would be a funner theme answer.
- 28a. [New York saloon featured in a 2000 movie] COYOTE UGLY.
- 43a. [PAW Patrol, e.g.] CANINE UNIT.
- 52a. [Totally fall apart] COME UNDONE. We also would have accepted the clue [Duran Duran top 10 hit of 1993].
I didn’t see the theme until I hit the revealer. It works for a Monday. Not terribly exciting, but it works fine, and I do like the dual, symmetric theme revealers.
Fave bits of fill include “OKAY, OKAY,” BAD GUY, EURO POP, and “NOT NOW!” Not sure about TOOK IT [Heard criticism without pushback] which seems odd on its own.
Clues of note:
- 17a. [Frequent collaborator of McCartney]. LENNON. If you’ve been living under a rock the past few days, you may have missed the latest Fab Four collaboration. “Now and Then” started out as a demo by John, but it required the aid of film director Peter Jackson and some AI to process it into something usable by the rest of the group. The result was released just a few days ago.
- 7d. [Wearer of a black hat in a western, traditionally]. BAD GUY. We also would’ve accepted [Billie Eilish hit of 2019].
Solid theme. Smooth, clean fill. 3.5 stars.
John Michael Currie’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
The revealer is an absolute necessity in this puzzle, as it’s not easy to identify what these theme answers have in common (or even identify every theme answer, since one of them is only 8 letters long and identical in length to the entry directly below it). 60A [Mail that doesn’t need an envelope, and where both words of 12-, 20-, 34-, and 51-Across can be found?] is POSTCARD. That is, each of the two words in each theme entry can go after, or “post,” the word CARD to make a new phrase:
- 12A [Place in a house where one might find a cue or Clue] is a cute clue for GAME ROOM, which yields CARD GAME and CARD ROOM.
- 20A [Many a corporate decision-maker] is BOARD MEMBER, yielding CARDBOARD and CARDMEMBER.
- 34A [Investor who has shares in a company] is a STOCKHOLDER, yielding CARD STOCK and CARDHOLDER.
- 51A [Seating chart designation] is TABLE NUMBER, yielding CARD TABLE and CARD NUMBER. Just confirming that making seating charts is a pain in the ass, and I’m glad I’ve had to do it only once in my life.
Between the less-obvious-than-usual theme and the many bits of factual knowledge in the grid (I count four references to movie and TV roles — not movie or show titles, roles — alone, with ENOLA Holmes, DARLA from Finding Nemo, Elizabeth SWANN from Pirates of the Caribbean, and RUPERT clued as the teddy bear on Family Guy), I thought this puzzle belonged on a later day of the week.
Daniel Hrynick’s Universal crossword, “The Way the Cookie Crumbles” — pannonica’s write-up
Once again, the relevant letters are both circled in the grid and explicitly named in the clues, which I am once again not replicating here.
- 15dR [Baked treat that’s aptly dividing five hidden words in this puzzle] ANIMAL CRACKERS. Since I’d already filled in 3d [Where a pie may be set to cool] WINDOW SILL, my mind was elsewhere when it came to “baked treat” in this clue (I hadn’t consulted the title).
- 18a. [Tooting orchestra group] HORN SECTION (horse).
- 25a. [Mark for misconduct] DEMERIT (deer).
- 38a. [The date of the Qixi Festival is based on it] CHINESE CALENDAR (seal).
- 48a. [California’s __ Valley] SILICON (lion).
- 58a. [Officers’ territories] POLICE BEATS (bat).
The theme works and the grid is flowing and smooth.
- 32d [Cooped-up cats, e.g.] INDOOR PETS. The clue comes across as pejorative, but perhaps I’m biased. p.s. my cat has opportunities to explore outside, but after kittenhood has decided to be less adventurous.
- 46d [The __ (pop star Justin, to fans] BIEB. That’s fill I don’t wish to see too often.
- 7a [Period of inactivity] STASIS. It’s a phenomenon of negligible overall change, which doesn’t preclude activity at all. <consults dictionary> Okay, I see there are two definitions, with one as I’ve described and the other closer to the clue’s, although it looks to be more like relative inactivity.
- 17a [Eight plus two] TEN. It doesn’t get more straightforward than that.
- 65a [ __ Trung Thu (festival)] TET. Tet translates to ‘festival’. The big one—and that which is generally referenced in our crosswords—is Tết Nguyên Đán. Here’s the Wikipedia page for Tết Trung Thu.
Elizabeth Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap
Your vocabulary word for the day is 51a. [Rite of sprinkling holy water], ASPERGES. (Meh.) No relation to Hans Asperger, whose name may relate to the German town of Asperg.
Fave fill: CHIMERA, BAGEL SLICER, DARKROOMS (tried GROW ROOMS first), SNUGGLE, DEV PATEL, BIRD’S EYE, EEYORE, IRKSOME (weird clue, [Pestiferous]), THREE-BAGGER.
Bit of an “older crossword” vibe here, with EPSOM Downs, L-DOPA, THEA, OESTE, RHEAS, ADIA, STENO, CRT, EL-HI, and LES ASPIN (who served for barely over a year).
Fave clue: 49a. [Refrain from preschool], E-I-E-I-O.
Three stars from me.