Randall J. Hartman’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Quartet of terminal homophones for \ˈkrüz\.
- 17a. [City with a boardwalk on Monterey Bay] SANTA CRUZ.
- 27a. [General Motors sedan] CHEVROLET CRUZE.
- 49a. [Vacation on the Caribbean, perhaps] CARNIVAL CRUISE. Or, as business insiders often refer to the company—revealed by David Foster Wallace in his essay-cum-exposé “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”— Carnivore Cruise Lines.
- 65a. [Chain gangs, e.g.] WORK CREWS.
This very same theme appeared in the LAT just a couple of months ago, in a grid by Steven St. John. There, the answers were CHEVROLET CRUZE, AIRLINE CREWS, PENELOPE CRUZ, and PLEASURE CRUISE. In both puzzles, the element that allows the theme to be expanded beyond a mere three themers is the existence of the goofily spelled Chevy CRUZE. The earlier puzzle has more theme squares (AIRLINE and PENELOPE being longer than the correlated WORK and SANTA); the current puzzle has the advantage of avoiding the theme-unbalancing aspect of half the answers being associated with travel (that is, airplanes and ocean liners).
The remainder of the puzzle is Monday-smooth, with a minimum of crosswordese, abbrevs., and partials. My least favorite of those was 53a [Thick __ brick] AS A. Nothing particularly exciting among the ballast fill, so it’s a decent, steadygoing puzzle slightly diminished in impact (for rabid solvers) for repeating a recent theme in another venue.
Handful of notes:
- Fun rhyming at 10d [Mumbo-jumbo] CLAPTRAP.
- 9a [Gary Oldman or Paul Newman] ACTOR. This clue/answer combo was much better (and trickier) when it appeared without the given names in Patti Varol’s LAT puzzle from last Monday.
- 43d [Gets a job] HIRES ON. Shouldn’t that be [Gives a job]?
- Had to check to see if the cross-referenced duo for the Frankenstein exclamation IT’S | ALIVE was real or just one of those apocryphal misremembered and propagated lines such as “Play it again, Sam” (from Casablanca). It’s legit.
Okay puzzle, as said earlier.
Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review
48-down plays revealer: [Workweek start, or an apt title for this puzzle based on an abbreviation found in the five longest answers] MONDAY.
Each of the relevant answers is a two word phrase, the first word of which ends in -MON.
- 17a. [Light reddish shade named for a fish] SALMON PINK.
- 25a. [Children’s imitation game] SIMON SAYS.
- 36a. [Sticky breakfast sweets] CINNAMON ROLLS.
- 49a. [Grated citrus peel] LEMON ZEST.
- 58a. [Winter cause of sniffles and sneezes] COMMON COLD.
Not a whole lot to say about the puzzle in general. Fairly low CAP Quotient™ and early-week, Joe Friday just-the-facts cluing. Stacked vertical eights in the NE and SW (EAR CANAL / ANALYST, CODE NAME, I ADMIT IT), but they aren’t very exciting and almost beg for third partners (at 13d and 40(39?)d).
What else? Uhm, KYOTO crossing OSAKAN… PLUNK down a bet and “I’M IN”… ugliest fill: STK [Wall St. buy]… noticeably playful clue: [Dormitory, to dirty room] ANAGRAM.
This solver, a habitué of crossword blogs, will remain frozen like a statue, awaiting to see if tomorrow’s puzzle has greater virtue.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Very Exclusive!”- Sam Donaldson’s review
Only six-and-a-half minutes on a Bob Klahn puzzle?!? This week is off to a good start! The theme involves giving a “very-ectomy” to three common terms (that is, deleting the -VERY at the end of each common term to make three new, whimsical ones):
- 20-Across: “Voyages of discovery” become VOYAGES OF DISCO, or [Cruises with Donna Summer?].
- 34-Across: “General delivery” is abridged to GENERAL DELI, the [Four-star food shop?].
- 52-Across: “Exceptional bravery,” the source for some war medals, becomes an EXCEPTIONAL BRA, a [Wondergarment?].
It’s a bit strange to see a grid encumbered with only three theme entries to have both the Utah blocks and the Tetris Ts, but these patterns facilitated some terrific fill. There’s THROW RUG, I GIVE UP, NINE PINS, TOLD A LIE, IRON RULE, INHALER, and some yummy EMPANADAS. I also like the TIARA running down the middle, but that might have something to do with having seen this clip recently. The stacking of EDENIC, MEXICO, and PICK-UP in the southwest corner is also lovely.
The clues in this one didn’t feel as challenging–hence the comparatively rapid solving time. It is with pride that I plunked down FOO-FOO as the answer to [Miss Piggy’s white poodle]. I like how the clue for BITE, [Take the cake?], echoed the clue in the intersecting EASY, [Duck soup, or piece of cake]. Other highlights included [It lasts for days] for WEEK, [Curly syllables] for WOOS (think Curly of “The Three Stooges”), and [It’s been known to stop traffic] for a RED light.
Favorite entry = DUE SOUTH, clued as [Straight to Antarctica]. Favorite clue = [Salmon’s tail?] for ELLA. Now there’s an original clue for ELLA!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Lots of lovely long answers in this one: minty GRASSHOPPER, tasty BEAN BURRITO, gifted MATT GAFFNEY, the EDITORIAL “WE,” some non-Sigmundean SEA MONSTERS, TIM ALLEN, NAILED IT, BURBLES. Not sure if I like BIG STUFF; would play better with a prefatory THE, I think.
One of the commenters at Brendan’s blog said that 46d should be Spike Lee, not ANG LEE. So I checked that out: Spike was the director of his film school master’s thesis film, but had his classmate Ang serve as assistant director. Ernest Dickerson, also a director in his own right, was the cinematographer. Neat, no?
Typically Quigleyan fresh cluing throughout. Note the clues for NSA, [Grp. with a “Cryptokids” section on their website]; FANATICS, [Extended Director’s Cut Special Edition Gift Set purchasers]; RETYPES, [Confirms a Captcha]; REDEEMED, [Used, as a Groupon]; ELLIS, [Pitcher Dock who threw a no-hitter on LSD]; and LA-LA land, [Land of the lost?]. Web trivia and terminology, humor, contemporary settings like Groupon, drug sports trivia, a play on a familiar title—these are not the sort of clues you’d find in a Monday NYT crossword. They’re creative and demonstrate that Brendan thinks beyond the obvious dictionary-related sort of clues. All that lively fill, too—BEQ really is at the top of the game.