I’m heading to a spring puzzle fest at a Chicago puzzle pal’s house this evening, so I’ll be late getting to the Monday NYT crossword. Feel free to discuss it amongst yourselves here.
Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword
Whoa! I’m impressed. This Monday puzzle is smooth as glass, has a fresh theme, and is by a newbie? You can get Robyn Weintraub’s story over at Wordplay (unsurprisingly, this polished debut was midwifed by crossword construction mentor Nancy Salomon). You know, I don’t expect too much from a Monday crossword, but sometimes they have fill that seems out of place in a puzzle for beginners. Not so for this one. I hear that Will Shortz is perennially low on solid, lively, easy Monday puzzles—perhaps Ms. Weintraub will join the ranks of the other Monday specialists like Lynn Lempel and Andrea Carla Michaels.
The theme is things with CHIPS: some OLD DISHES, POKER TABLES, greasy BRITISH PUBS, and your SHOULDERS. Okay, so they say “chip on one’s shoulder” in the singular, not plural SHOULDERS. That’s my one reservation about the puzzle, but it’s offset by the surprise factor of the metaphorical CHIP joining the other three tangible CHIPS.
P.S. If you’ve never had one of your crosswords accepted for publication (despite submitting some) and you haven’t been working with a seasoned pro to polish your skills, I do encourage you to reach out to someone. Start by joining the CRUCIVERB-L mailing list at cruciverb.com if you don’t know any crossword constructors, because CRUCIVERB-L is where many constructors hang out.
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Dressed Rehearsal”—Evad’s review
I believe I’ve seen a similar theme before, but putting the articles of clothing in the past tense makes them less obvious:
- If you have [Avoided something controversial], you have SKIRTED THE ISSUE. I like the imagery of putting an “issue” in a “skirt” to avoid it. “Nothing to see here…,” my skirted issue says.
- If you have [Exited unobtrusively], you have also SLIPPED OUT. I’m not at all familiar with articles of lady’s apparel, are slips still commonly worn?
- Money you have [Kept for a rainy day] has been SOCKED AWAY. I wonder if this term originates from the practice of hiding loot in a sock? Unless you’ve got some big feet, one could hardly keep his or her life savings there. Mattresses offer much more room.
- The rather specific [Completed a project's details] is also TIED UP LOOSE ENDS. I imagine most of us into puzzle-solving are list-makers and get a lot of satisfaction from completing tasks. I think there’s a Myers-Briggs category for us, no?
Other random thoughts in no particular order:
- Do they still make SAABS ([Swedish auto])? I had heard GM had bought them out, but threatened to stop producing them. Perhaps someone swooped in and saved the line by buying out GM?
- BAD REP ([It's hard to live one down, for short]) feels fresh.
- Are you familiar with [Late soul singer] TEENA Marie? Here’s a clip of her Lovergirl back from 1985.
- Liked the clue [Treat for a termite] (WOOD). I was thinking of some type of pesticide.
- Lot of backtalk in this puzzle: [Sassy one] was a SNIP and [Sass] was LIP.
- Disappointed to see DAVE clued as [Jazz great Brubek], but then I realized today’s constructor probably didn’t realize I’d be blogging her puzzle today….
P.S. from Janie — A/L version of today’s CS is available here.
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The theme is a very basic one, sort of an easy-Monday-Newsday type of theme: Four two-word terms end with words that also mean “wallop”:
- 17a. CLAW HAMMER. Mind you, the noun and verb hammer are pretty much the same word. A hammer hammers by definition. This one’s the outlier in the theme.
- 22a. WAFFLE BATTER, unrelated to battering. (Clue isn’t too Mondayish, though: [It's poured into an iron at breakfast] made me think for a bit.)
- 47a. BRITISH POUND, unrelated to pounding.
- 64a. BEAVER PELT, unrelated to pelting.
I wasn’t grooving on the fill as I solved. KOWTOWS and BOX KITE and TRAPEZE brought some Scrabbly interest to the table, but the sprawl of UCLAN OKIE DINO TSAR ETRE ARES ESTAS ORES EDENS ERS ENERO DIRK ACNE was losing me even before I hit the dreadful AH ME. 58a: [Words of woe]? No. Who says this? I challenge you to try that phrase out today. At the office, at home, while running errands, over the phone—anywhere you’re talking to someone else. “I think I’m coming down with another cold. Ah, me!” “Gotta work late today, Ah, me!” I guarantee you’ll sound like a weirdo.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Love the vertical stacks of 11s, but this puzzle was too easy for a Themeless Monday! Or maybe I’m just extra smart this morning.
Love 1d: SPORCLE QUIZ! I notified Sporcle via a tweet. Come on, @sporcle, retweet that link to Brendan’s puzzle to your 6,500 followers!
I sure didn’t know REIGN IN BLOOD the last time it was in an indie crossword. Sure, I still put in the wrong preposition this time, but the REI pointed me to the GN and BLOOD.
Mighty Scrabbly fill overall.QZXZZXKJK? That’ll play. Was not irked by the short fill (other than CMS, since the standard plural symbol for “centimeters” is just cm), perhaps because I filled the 11×3 towers via the 11s and bypassed most of the 3s. (I checked my crossings, though! I learned from making a mistake at the ACPT because I failed to check all the crossings for a mystery word.)