James Tuttle’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Each of the theme answers is either a two-word phrase or a compound word; between each element, the word “time” can be added to, on the one hand, follow the first or, on the other hand, precede the second. 63-across describes it like so: [Vacation lodging purchase … or an arrangement between the two halves of the answer to each starred clue?] TIMESHARE. It’s a good literal description of what’s happening in the puzzle.
- 17a. [*Flying] AIR TRAVEL (air time, time travel).
- 24a. [*One placed between warring parties] PEACEKEEPER (peacetime, timekeeper).
- 32a. [*Contestant’s help on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”] LIFELINE (lifetime, timeline).
- 45a. [*King, queen or jack] FACE CARD (face time, time card).
- 52a. [*Piece of furniture that might be under a chandelier] DINNER TABLE (dinnertime, timetable).
If only the derived parts of that last answer had been separate words like those of the first and fourth—then there would have been absolute consistency. As it is, the theme remains robust both in concept and execution. Am marginally aesthetically bothered by “between” in the clue for 24-across; something like [Ironically named Intercontinental Ballistic Missile] would have pleased me more, but perhaps the clue and the item aren’t Monday-level.
- Clue that threw me the most: 40d [Bit of pasta, for short]. Was pretty sure that 39a [Softly, in music] was DOLCE—even though I think of that more as smoothly or sweetly—which made the first letter going down a C. Since I was focussed on shapes, I didn’t think of CARB for quite a while, not until making a second pass and reading the clue more closely.
- 34d [Eponym of a number series that begins 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 …] FIBONACCI. I thought the merits of sequence vs series were discussed at length recently on this site, but it must have been some other crossword blog. The other long answer is CLEOPATRA, clued via the 1963 film.
- 9a [Hypermasculine] MACHO crossing 12d [Guys] HES; 55a [“There __ is, Miss America” SHE.
- Eastern seaboard: EMEER, R AND D, AMA, OATEN—that’s a big lump of ugly.
- 13d [First number dialed when calling long distance] ONE. Obsolescent clue, as fewer and fewer landlines are in use.
- Sing along with me: ♪♫ … ENO ENID EDENS ADEN AENEID … ♪♫ (47a, 25d, 57d, 68a, 58a)
In sum, good puzzle, about average. ♪♫ ADIEU! ♪♫
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword “Audible Audubon” — Dave Sullivan’s write-up
I could spend some time talking about how I thought themes like this one weren’t done anymore (stringing together the names of things that have something in common (here, birds named after the sound they make)), but instead I thought I’d just share a picture and a little information about each bird that appears in today’s grid.
The first is the KILLDEER. From Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, it is a shorebird you can see without going to the beach. Killdeer are graceful plovers common to lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, and parking lots. These tawny birds run across the ground in spurts, stopping with a jolt every so often to check their progress, or to see if they’ve startled up any insect prey. Their voice, a far-carrying, excited kill-deer, is a common sound even after dark, often given in flight as the bird circles overhead on slender wings.
The next is the PHOEBE. Looks like there are 3 types of phoebes–Eastern, Black and Say’s, but I believe they all make a raspy “phoebe” call. Again, from Cornell: These brown-and-white songbirds sit upright and wag their tails from prominent, low perches. They typically place their mud-and-grass nests in protected nooks on bridges, barns, and houses, which adds to the species’ familiarity to humans. Hardy birds, Eastern Phoebes winter farther north than most other flycatchers and are one of the earliest returning migrants in spring.
The next is a species we’re very familiar with in Vermont, the Black-capped CHICKADEE as it’s the only bird that we see here at our feeder in the winter (other than the odd jay). I’ve actually not heard them chirp (we’re generally inside during the cold weather that attracts them to our feeders), but I guess they too are named for their distinctive call.
We all know the CUCKOO and the distinctive sound it makes. These seem to be categorized according to the color of their bill, whether yellow or black. Looks like the first cuckoo clocks were built in the early 1600’s!
Next up is the CURLEW, which has a long bill and is native to the grasslands in the Great Plains and Great Basin. It’s our largest shorebird and makes a distinctive sound that sounds like a whistle to me–take a listen yourself.
Finally, we have the BOBWHITE. And yes, it’s not hard to imagine that’s what they are saying when they call to one another. From Cornell again, it’s quite a bit harder to spot a Northern Bobwhite, as the bird’s elegantly dappled plumage offers excellent camouflage. They forage in groups, scurrying between cover or bursting into flight if alarmed. Bobwhites have been in sharp decline throughout the past half-century, likely owing to habitat loss and changes in agriculture, and they are an increasingly high priority for conservation.
Hope you enjoyed today’s avian romp as much as I did!
Patti Varol’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Standard-issue compound theme. In this case the operative word is the timely SKI, with a perfect revealer: 63a [Time relaxing in a chalet, and where the first words of 17-, 25-, 39- and 51-Across may appear] APRÈS-SKI, which literally means “after skiing.”
- 17a. [Hitchhike] BUM A RIDE (ski bum).
- 25a. [Far from being in agreement] POLES APART (ski poles).
- 39a. [What a pep talk is meant to do] LIFT ONE’S SPIRITS (ski lift), which incidentally—and again literally—is what frequently happens at après-ski bars.
- 51a. [Graduation garb] CAP AND GOWN (ski cap).
Tight, tight theme. All of the ski phrases are robust, all work consistently with the “after” conceit. Swathes of snowy white drifts in the northeast and southwest corners, strong moderate and longish non-theme fill, solid cluing.
The weakest and least Mondaylike fill are: ORNE [Normandy river], the partial A DUEL [“I challenge you to __!”] which I nearly answered with the redundant A DARE, and AL-ER (or is it AL’ER?) [K.C. Royal, e.g.]. Not very much, and none are made egregious by unfair crossings.
Absolute favorite bit: 40d [Italian dessert sometimes made with espresso] TIRAMISU—which literally (there we go again) translates as “lift me up!”—crossing the T in (ski) LIFT. Further, another means of getting to the top of a ski hill is via a T-bar lift.
Very good Monday offering.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
It’s getting late in the day, so 10 things:
- 18a. [“Why not?”], “WHAT THE HELL.” My favorite entry here.
- 35a. [Forest vine], LIANA. I put this in with the crosswordese. See also: LEHI if you aren’t Mormon.
- 40a. [Split to join], nice clue for ELOPE. Possibly not original to this puzzle, but not remotely “oh, man, that clue again?”
- 46a. [Inland sea whose name means “island”], ARAL. Etymology clues always interest me. Now, why did they name the sea “island”?
- 55a. [It’s on track], RAILROAD TIE. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the track on the railroad ties rather than vice versa?
- 62a. [One Direction member who named the band (like you know any of the other members)], HARRY STYLES. Well, let’s see. There’s a Zayn … Zayn Malik, maybe? And a Niall, probably with an Irish surname. And … hmm. George? Nigel? CLIVE? I just quizzed my son, who had no school today because of the DAMNABLE ARCTIC COLD, and he has the exact same knowledge of 1D members’ names that I do. Google tells me the three mystery boys are Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, and Niall Horan.
- 6d. [Its state song is “Old Folks At Home”: Abbr.], FLA. Heh. I imagine they chose the song before so many millions of snowbirds retired there.
- 25d. [Director’s role, often], BIT PART. Nice entry.
- 26d. [Beat. In. To. The. Ground.], OVERUSE. As in, say, ARAL in crosswords.
- 32d. [Rapper who won the 2014 Best New Artist Grammy], MACKLEMORE. Technically, it’s “Macklemore and Ryan Lewis,” but I have no idea what Mr. Lewis’s contributions are. Macklemore did all the rapping in the Grammy performance last night. (The performance that took a short break so Queen Latifah could officiate at a mass wedding. Verklempt!)