Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword
Okay! I got your Super Bowl counter-programming right here!
Well, except that my husband’s a rabid Packers fan, and the commercials are quite distracting. So maybe this won’t be the longest post.
I usually love any Monday puzzle by Lynn Lempel, but this theme’s execution left me cold. (Or at least distracted.) I was thinking the theme entries started with synonyms, but I see that instead, they begin with the progression of things you do as you’re waking up. That’s better:
- 18a. STIR FRYING. First you begin to stir.
- 24a. WAKE FOREST. Open your eyes, wake up.
- 37a. ROLLOVER IRA is so much more “in the language,” isn’t it? This verb + article + object phrase is jarring, this ROLL OVER A CD. Roll over and look at the clock.
- 51a. Stretch as you kick off the covers. STRETCH BRA is…not quite there. I’ve never called something a stretch bra. Googling…okay, they’re those unsupportive things that some prefer to the underwire variety.
- 58a. Love GET-UP-AND-GO. Quite possibly the best triply hyphenated word in existence. Yes, the last thing to do is get up and get out of bed.
Cute to have DAYBREAK in there, crossing two of the theme answers.
All righty, back to the TV for me.
Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Pant-omime”—Evad’s review
Constructor Tyler Hinman comes up with a pretty unique theme—the letter S is added to the end of three phrases, changing the final word into a type of “pants”:
- “Falling short” becomes [Pants that require a belt?] or FALLING SHORTS. Technically, shorts aren’t a type of pant in my book, they’re just, well, shorts. At a party last night, someone told me that the man who became famous for singing Pants on the Ground, General Larry Platt, had been beaten to death in a parking lot, but I’m glad to see that he’s still alive and kicking.
- “Beads of sweat” becomes [Decorations on pants?] or BEADS OF SWEATS when an S is added. Hmmm, don’t know too many that would wear sweatpants with beads on them.
- “Cut some slack” seems to be missing a “me” in there, but with an S added, it becomes [Do a little tailoring on pants?] or CUT SOME SLACKS.
I think the original idea here was a good one, but both the base and altered phrases lack a bit of sparkle and seem kind of flat. Some nice longer fill helps redeem the overall impression—the rarely-seen full name ARTHUR ASHE and UNORTHODOX, the latter clued in an unorthodox manner as [Off the beaten path]. Gotta love the Z action of seven-time gold medal winner, Mark SPITZ, who many would agree was [Really, really handsome] or DREAMY. I also enjoyed the rhyming [Cereal material] for OATS and [Ring up?] for WED. The late NY Giants co-owner Wellington MARA was a new name to me, but Wikipedia calls him one of the most influential and iconic figures in the history of the NFL.
Thomas Takaro’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The theme entries are idioms that end with EYES, NOSE, EARS, and MOUTH:
- 17a. Looking at something with a FRESH PAIR OF EYES is bringing a [New perspective] to it.
- 25a. [“Doesn’t bother me a bit”] clues “NO SKIN OFF MY NOSE.” I say “no skin off my back,” but that version would muck up the facial/head feature theme.
- 43a. To PRICK UP YOUR EARS is to [Listen very carefully]. I like the YOUR in lieu of ONE’S here.
- 57a. [How the poor live] is FROM HAND TO MOUTH.
Now, when I got to that last one and looked at 25a too, I noticed that they had two body parts in the phrases. Indeed, all four theme entries do, if you’re willing to consider a PAIR and PRICK to be body parts. I don’t know about you, but that cracked me up.
Seemed like there were a lot of capitalized words in this puzzle. I don’t mind a surfeit of names, but I know they vex many solvers who view them as unsavory “you know it or you don’t” trivia bits. Steve JOBS, LSATS (awkward plural?), the E.P.A., LEVI, PEROT, LOS Angeles, WaterPIK (apparently the company is Water Pik but the product is Waterpik, no space, hence the suffix clue), the OPRY, JEFF Bezos, Joan BAEZ, the S.D.S., TAPPAN Zee, ENYA, ITAR-TASS, FLOYD, N.A.A.C.P., OSCAR, SHARI, FRITO, Queen NOOR (who has a Twitter account!), Mt. ETNA, and OTTO Klemperer all join the party today.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
There are some terrific entries and clues in this puzzle but overall the more lackluster bits asserted themselves, displacing the goodies from the forefront. First answer in the grid was the “Man, I sure hope this turns out to be wrong” ITEM ONE. Unfamiliar French UNIE, mystery abbreviation PSC, brand name VIERA, LYE SOAP, the 4-letter words NCAR TENN BLAS NEET NLER OPAH ESSO? Meh.
On the plus side—and these are all big plusses:
- Two terms with recent Obama-ness: SPUTNIK MOMENTS (from the State of the Union address) and SHELLAC as a verb meaning [Beat badly] (from a presidential press conference after the November elections).
- Town + full name of state, HOPE, ARKANSAS. Know who else was from Hope? Bill Clinton. As Huckabee regains weight, Clinton continues to keep it off; I hear he’s a vegan now.
- NBC UNIVERSAL, in the news of late.
- PETER BUCK of R.E.M.
- [Some people take one out for a date] is a great clue for a WANT AD.
- Interesting clues for Gloria STEINEM and the lead character of No, No, NANETTE with quotes.
- Good clue for iTUNES: [Popular music arranger].