Gareth Bain’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Grr. There was something wrong with the .puz (Across Lite) file, so I had to use the interface on the Times’ website. As has frequently occurred when I’ve done so, there was a long delay before the grid and clues loaded, but the timer had started already. To make matters worse, I had been fiddling with the .puz file earlier and something having to do with that popped up right when the grid finally loaded. The end result is that nearly a minute had elapsed on the ‘official’ timer before I’d even started solving. The time reported above reflects my actual time, which is pretty good considering I hadn’t used that particular interface in a long time. Oh, the puzzle itself? Pretty good. Three 15-letter themers, vintage phrases beginning with homophones of \ˈther\.
- 17a. [Famous debate words from Reagan to Carter] “THERE YOU GO AGAIN.”
- 37a. [Churchill’s description of the Royal Air Force during W.W. II] THEIR FINEST HOUR. The initialism RAF gets a lot of play in crosswords.
- 58a. [Endorsement from Tony the Tiger] “THEY’RE GRRRRREAT!” Not aware if there’s an official, scripted amount of Rs in the tagline’s “great,” so perhaps the constructor was able to play a little loose with it?
No revealer, but the commonality should be readily evident to most solvers.
- Spring flowers! 19d [Some daisies] OXEYES, 35d [Droop, as flowers] WILT, 57d [Bloom’s support] STEM.
- 1d [Pay to play, as poker] ANTE, 46d [Pay to play, as poker] BUY IN, 7d [Gambler’s note] IOU, 56d [Low poker holding] PAIR. Yet not 36d [Word with potato or chocolate] CHIP. Whew, was starting to worry that Gareth (or Will) had a gambling problem but it seems they knew when to hold/fold that hand.
- 8d LUGE and 10d LUGER are unrelated etymologically; the former comes from French and the latter German.
- 49d [Assault with a knife] STAB is mildly strong stuff for “the breakfast test”, particularly to start the week. But then again in America we’re all right with violence.
Not only the theme answers, but the great majority of the fill and cluing skews “old”. Pat BOONE, PAYOLA (it still may take place, but the scandals were in the 195s and ’60s), retiring Jay LENO, ERIE [Canal of song], these are typical of the vibe. The most modern feeling entries are FOODIE, RIC Ocasek of the Cars, REESE Witherspoon and Macaulay Culkin in “Home ALONE.” Fine Monday puzzle.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrossSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Hamlet’s Initials”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everybody! Here’s hoping the case of the Mondays isn’t setting in too bad just yet. And even if it has, this very artful theme execution by Patrick Blindauer should lift your spirits at least a little bit. In a tribute to the famed fictional Prince of Denmark, each of the first letters of each word in the theme answers eventually spell out the beginning line of the famous soliloquy from Hamlet, “To be or not to be…”
- THROW OUT: (17A: [*Discard])
- BALD EAGLE: (21A: [*North American bird of prey])
- OEDIPUS REX: (26A: [*Tragedy by Sophocles])
- NICK OF TIME: (50A: [*Very last second])
- THE OSCARS: (56A: [*Big awards show, familiarly])
- BLACK EYE: (66A: [*Shiner])
What made this an even more enjoyable experience was that I didn’t get what was happening until at least 90 seconds after completion. It just wasn’t coming while in the midst of solving, but then when I was done – and gave the grid a couple of once-overs – I decided to see if the first letter of the first starred theme meant anything. Voilà!
(Mid-post addendum: This happens to be Mr. Blindauer’s final CS puzzle, but in no way will that mean you can’t come across more of his engrossingly enjoyable masterpieces. Puzzlefest is his new endeavor, and for very, very cheap prices, you’ll get a bundle of crosswords in various categories: Xword University, Vegas Puzzlefest, Musical Puzzlefest, Summer Puzzlefest and Holiday Puzzlefest. Keep ’em coming, PB!)
Climbing to the top of this puzzle wasn’t nearly as difficult as NORGAY had it when scaling Mount Everest (19A: [Hillary’s Sherpa guide Tenzing]). If you like your geometry, then you’re in luck with both RHOMBI (4D: [Some parallelograms]) and RADII (32D: [Circle measurements]). Also a win for those that prefer RYDER (43A: [Name on some rental trucks]) instead of U-Haul when relocating. A couple of stumbles on answers I should have gotten off the bat: put in bashes (and mashes) before HASHES (8A: [Chops up]) and web site before WEB PAGE (18D: [Surfer’s destination]). Of all the recent portmanteaus of celebrity couples, I think TOMKAT got under my skin the most (52A: [Tabloid couple married from 2006 to 2012]). “Bennifer” (Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez) and “Brangelina” (Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie) are far from eye-pleasing, either, but something about TomKat was beyond tacky – other than Tom Cruise holding that poor girl, Katie Holmes, hostage, err, I mean, dating her.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SLO (29A: [Word before mo and Blo])– Most of you have probably last watched a slo-motion instant replay at least once in the past 24 hours. In American sports broadcasting, instant replay made its debut during the Dec. 7, 1963 Army-Navy football game on CBS. The innovative technology was only used once during the telecast, replaying an Army touchdown run late in the game. It actually proved to be confusing to viewers, as the replay was shown at the same speed as the actual play, causing viewers to think Army scored twice in rapid succession. After some perfecting, slo-motion instant replay has proven to be one of the most important innovations in television history.
Now off to the stores to see what I can get for my father’s birthday, which is tomorrow (he’ll be 67 years young). Any suggestions????
Take care, and I’ll see you guys tomorrow!
P.S. Again, click here to be forwarded to Mr. Blindauer’s Puzzlefest web site.
Sean Dobbin and the CHSVT Cruciverbalism Class’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The note to the puzzle reads, “Sean Dobbin is an English teacher at the Community High School of Vermont (CHSVT) in St. Johnsbury. His cruciverbalism class, for which students earn fractional credit, involves vocabulary, writing, and other areas of English. 12 students worked with Mr. Dobbin on today’s puzzle.” Standard-caliber Monday theme, with cute-as-a-button three-letter revealer in the center: 40a [Cavity-filler’s letters, or, said another way, a hint to 17-, 29-, 49- and 65-Across] DDS, which per the first part stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery. As per the second part, the long answers referenced are two-word phrases whose components each begin with the letter D.
- 17a. [Hand Vac maker] DIRT DEVIL.
- 29a. [Special “Jeopardy!” square] DAILY DOUBLE.
- 49a. [A&E reality series featuring the Robertson family] DUCK DYNASTY.
- 65a. [Computer component] DISK DRIVE.
That’s three commercial items and one obsolescent one (more so if one excludes CD drives). By no means egregious, but perhaps a bit blah. On the more positive side, I like the overlapping long words for each of the four themers: OFF AND ON, CHOP SUEY, ISOTONER, NUTSHELL. Avoiding the heavy-duty Scrabble letters—more precisely not going out of the way to include a lot of them—makes for a smoothly flowing grid. Which is not to say there aren’t any at all (X, Z, K, V, but no Q, J), so there’s still some excitement. A few too many short abbrevs. for my liking. AST, OTC, IED, ESL, KMS, CPR, LSAT, plus the obligatory DDS, and I’ll toss in SSS [Puncture sound] while I’m at it. Overall, roughly average Monday, and it’s always very good to see younger folk participating in this little pastime.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website puzzle, “THEMELESS MONDAY #262” – Gareth’s review
It’s an interesting gambit by BEQ to go with two idiom-type 15’s to anchor the grid. MAYBEYOURERIGHT is perfect in that regard; DOANINJUSTICETO is a little on the padded side. I had GOLLYYOURERIGHT for quite a while, and confirmed it by filling [Source of erratic shots?] as SHAnking instead of the much more suitable for the clue SHAKYCAM. Having nyU not KSU as my [Manhattan sch.] didn’t help. That’s sneaky for us non-Americans!
The puzzle felt more conservative than most BEQ’s. He managed to place several at least a few choice answers in each of the top corners. In the top-left SHAKYCAM is great, and I kind of like MISSOULA even though I only recognize it as a name and HIMMEL too – a long German word that is actually commonly-known is fun to have around! ODYSSEUS, AMSCRAY and yet another idiomatic phrase, the confrontational ISTHATSO appear in the top-left. AGHA was a downer in that side – AGA is perfectly fine with me, but the H spelling is something I only see in crosswords!
The bottom half was less shiny. Despite being a plural “-er” word I liked seeing GREASERS. It reminds of this classic Springsteen tune. LORDE from her first hit was destined for crosswords. So it’s no surprise to see her today. ERODER unlike GREASERS is the one horrible answer in that corner.
Some clues to highlight:
- [It can help you see the sites], SAFARI is a tricky, but ultimately defensible clue. Normally, one considers a SAFARI as a self-undertaken trip, but it can also be something organized for tourists that is highly orchestrated.
- [Insults] desperately wanted to be ABuSES, but FuT is not a word.
- [Solitary, for one: Abbr.] is gorgeous as a clue, even if the answer is SYN, an abbr.
- [Org. whose motto is “God, Home, and Country”] led me to uAR first before DAR!
- [Good place to play cricket], OPENAREA – a bizarrely specific clue for a very generic answer!
- [Miracle worker?], JESUS. Strange use of the “?”. Either you’re Christian and the “?” is incorrect, or you’re not and the clue itself is incorrect “?” or no, yes?
Very clean puzzle. Not as pizzazzy as many BEQ’s, although it feels churlish to hold himself to a different standard! 3.5 Stars