Oh, dear. I’ve forgotten how to blog. I did the NYT crossword on the applet and then closed that window without taking a snapshot of the filled-in grid.
New York was great, and Lollapuzzoola 3 was several kinds of fun. I encourage—nay, urge—you to try out the Lollapuzzoola crosswords. They were so cool, I couldn’t pick one favorite out of the six puzzles—half were my favorites. I was especially partial to the charming Mike Nothnagel’s “Mixed Doubles” puzzle (he’s now creating these addictive puzzles for the Games magazine family of publications), Tyler Hinman’s wide-open themeless-with-a-twist, and Doug Peterson’s finals puzzle. Ryan Hecht and Brian Cimmet put on a helluva show with Lolla, and my only complaint is that there are no prizes for 4th through 10th place (I was 8th). Maximum puzzly entertainment value, though, and for the low, low fee of $20. Good times, good times.
Muchas gracías to Sam Donaldson and Jeffrey Krasnick for keeping the blog alive during my Extremely Neglectful Absence. (And thanks too to Janie and Evad for the CrosSynergy coverage.) I haven’t read their posts or the comments, and I haven’t done many of the crosswords they wrote about, but I’ll bet the rest of you kept up much better than I did.
Andrea Carla Michaels and Jennifer Nutt’s New York Times crossword
- 17a. LOOSE CANNON refers to, uh, he was that heavyset guy on some ’70s TV show whom I can’t distinguish from the guy from Ironside, right? Wikipedia to the rescue: William Conrad played Cannon, early ’70s.
- 24a. CASUAL FRIDAY delivers Sgt. Joe Friday from Dragnet, which I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen, not even the latter-day movie remake.
- 38a. BURN ONE’S BRIDGES pertains to…I don’t know. My husband suggests Don Johnson as Nash Bridges or maybe The Streets of San Francisco, which costarred the Golden Gate Bridge and the Oakland Bay Bridge.
- 48a. CAPUCHIN MONK(ey) cites Adrian Monk, Tony “He’s Not Italian” Shalhoub’s character on Monk.
This is a little inconsistent, right? Some of the detectives are private detectives and others (Sgt. Friday, Nash Bridges) are in the police department, and some are title characters (two last names, one using first and last name) while Joe Friday is not. Given my difficulty in figuring out who the heck the theme involves, it’s not feeling like a particularly Mondayish puzzle. There’s pop culture for every generation, but I think a great many people will not know both Cannon and Nash Bridges.
- 35d. [Divas have sensitive ones] for EGOS.
John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 17a. [Be inactive, like a volcano] clues LIE DORMANT.
- 26a. [Be in a favorable position] clues SIT PRETTY.
- 42a. If you [Don’t give in], you STAND FIRM.
- 55a. To WALK ON EGGS (or, much, much more familiarly, eggshells) is to [Proceed very cautiously]. My husband is now riffing on this WALK ON EGGS. “It’s so hard to be around you. I always have to walk on greasy fried eggs.”
So I like the theme except for these shell-free EGGS.
Nice inclusion of 25 non-theme answers in the 6- to 8-letter range. The word count of 74 isn’t crazy low for a Monday, but it is indeed fairly low.
Nancy Salomon’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Top Dogs”—Janie’s review
“WHEE!” [Cry of excited delight]. This was one of those easy, breezy solves that put me in awe of the art of construction. From start to finish, it’s simply a well-made puzzle in every way: terrific theme fill, terrific non-theme fill, terrific cluing. Nancy’s gone economical with the clues for the theme fill—they’re all the same [Top dog]. But she’s spared nothing where the fill is concerned and lavished the grid with:
17A. NUMERO UNO. My first fill here was NUMBER ONE, but how much livelier is numero uno.
10D. GRAND POOBAH. This one looks to be making its first appearance not only in the CS but in the major published puzzles as well.
24D. HIS HIGHNESS. Ditto.
62A. BIG KAHUNA. Did you know that Cliff Robertson played the role of The Big Kahuna—leader of a group of surfers—in the 1959 movie Gidget, and its use as a surfing term seems to date from that time? Sez so in Wiki, but if that’s the case, I’m wondering if maybe it didn’t originate earlier, in the 1957 Frederick Kohner book of the same name…
But by my reckoning, there’s also some bonus fill. By hook or by crook, “top dogs” are almost always [Surefire winners] SHOO-INS. So that’s one. Then, where there’s a “top dog,” there’s bound to be an “underdog,” and today that would be [Garfield’s whipping boy] ODIE. (And this theme naturally brings to mind the Suzan-Lori Parks‘s 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Topdog/Underdog.)
Look, too, at some of the lovely, lively ways Nancy’s filled the remainder of the grid. Up there at the top we get the [Churlish chap] cross of BOOR and LOUT (each of whom could be a “top dog,” too, come to think of it…). Both tend to be [Mean and nasty] BASE, in their own way, and each could probably deliver one seriously [Severe scolding] LASHING. I was surprised that this one wasn’t clued in conjunction with the proximate TONGUE (as in tongue-lashing) but instead it’s clued as [Taste buds’ place]. Perhaps in some earlier version…
NUNS [Some sisters] lives right next to APSE [Cathedral nook] in the grid (and where there’s a cathedral, there’re bound to be some nuns…). You can be sure most of them will have had more than a passing acquaintance with Latin, some basic words in which include SUMMA [cum laude (with highest honors)], AVIS (or “bird,” even though today it’s clued as [Enterprise rival]) and AMAS [Part of a Latin 101 conjugation]. But look what else we get. Building on amas, there’s also AMASS [Build up] and the off-by-one-letter AMISS [Not quite right].
I love the deadpan [Response to “Rough day?”] “DON’T ASK” combo and the [“Um…all right”] “I GUESS SO” pair as well. MESHED and MENNEN make a fine pair of grid-opposites, sharing the placement of three letters as they do.
So how did I really feel about this one? I go beyond the “OK” SIGN [Circular gesture with the thumb and forefinger] to offer RAVES [Great reviews]. Or, to be more succinct: “OH, YES!” [Enthusiastic assent].
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Not as challenging as some of Brendan’s themelesses—whew! Because after a five-day layoff and the mind-bending challenges of the Lollapuzzoola puzzles, I wasn’t yet in the mood for a really gnarly themeless.
- The longest answers gleam: RUSSELL BRAND and SPORTS DRINKS.
- 20d: BREITBART is a fresh answer, all right, but I take issue with the clue, [Muckraking journalist Andrew]. True journalists don’t pick one political side to chase with canards—they pursue the truth and they don’t use dirty weasel tactics in the process. Breitbart seems fixated on dirty weasel tactics.
- Nice multi-word answers include MR. MOTO, U.N. REP, and “IT’S OPEN.” These are the sorts of multi-word answers I like. On my “no thanks” list are the playground retorts (CAN SO, AM TOO, etc.) and flat prepositional phrases (SET AT, PUSH IN, etc.)—and I’m glad to have no such answers in this grid.
- 35d. [Bordertown kiss] is a cute clue for BESO, which is Spanish for “kiss.”
- 40d. [Dancer, e.g.] is one of Santa’s REINDEER. Love the clue’s potential for wrong turns.
- 31d. BAIO is clued as [Scott who played Bob Loblaw on “Arrested Development”]. This character was noted for having “The Bob Loblaw Law Blog,” and you have to try saying that out loud if you never watched Arrested Development.
Never heard of:
- 8a. OWL CITY, [One-hit wonder that totally ripped off the Postal Service for its 2009 #1 hit “Fireflies”]. Postal Service? “Fireflies”? Owl City? I don’t understand anything in this clue or answer.