Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Zippy crossword to start the week. 61-across plays revealer, referencing a famous trope: [Why this puzzle is like “Seinfeld”?] IT’S ABOUT NOTHING.
Not the puzzle inandofitself, but the four remaining theme answers, which the astute solver will notice each contains a series of circled squares. When filled in properly, those sequences comprise a synonym for “nothing.” So in a literal sense, the remaining parts of the theme answers are about nothing. Superficially analogous to container clues in cryptic crosswords. As a welcome bonus, the inner words all span across the two words of each theme answer.
- 17a. [Instruments played at theaters during silent films] WURLITZER ORGANS.
- 23a. [Singer with the 1963 hit “If I Had a Hammer”] TRINI LOPEZ. Short for Trinidad.
- 36a. [First president to live in the White House] JOHN ADAMS.
- 55a. [Ha-ha producer in a sitcom] LAUGH TRACK. I prefer naught; call me Bartleby. A sort of callback, or perhaps a presentiment, of the revealer. Can’t recall if the program had a laugh track.
The grid felt distinctly cluttered with compressed, curtailed, and initialized fill. From USB/UAW at the outset to GTO/ECO– at the finish. Within, there are the likes of AMT, GMT, INIT, AKA, BYOB, IBMS, RPM, ECON, TUX, ALG, TPK, and so forth. Just looked up what GTO stands for; I correctly intuited that the GT stood for Gran Turismo, but the O is the new-to-me Omologato—Italian for “homologated.”
- 14a [Political commentator Colmes] ALAN. Who? Is this an appropriate ALAN for a MON (58a)?
- Flashy down in the northwest, SQUIRMY, but it doesn’t sufficiently atone for that aforementioned USB/UAW combination. The thematic WURLITZ… suggest that options may have been limited.
- Obsolescent clue at 37d [Area code lead-in] ONE, as there are fewer and fewer land lines. Mobile telephones don’t require that prefix, as all dialled calls include the area code. Non-international calls, that is.
- Tried FLAGGER prior to FLAGMAN (10d).
- Likes: LACONIC, DORMANT, SQUIRMY, ANKH.
Good theme, but too much flittery, annoying stuff for an unqualifyingly enjoyable solve. Fortunately, writing about crosswords is not a zero-sum exercise.
Kevin Christian’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
I’m liking this trend of Monday puzzles with fewer theme entries and better overall fill. Just three today, of 14–15–14.
- 20a. [Where to see stars in school] ASTRONOMY CLASS.
- 37a. [Where to see stars in the service] MILITARY UNIFORM. A later-week—more difficult—clue might have chosen “in a parade.”
- 53a. [Where to see stars in theaters] HOLLYWOOD MOVIE.
Incidentally, I count 7 unique S-T-A-R-S in the grid, Boggle-style, NO LIE (43a). Nine, if returning to a square is allowed.
A solid sextet of long down entries: TO-DO LIST, OLD SCHOOL, GLOSS OVER (featuring a very literal clue, [Like some conservative teaching methods]; another early-week concession), IN DEMAND, ALLEY CAT, DRY CLEAN.
- Even though there’s some less-than-stellar fill—e.g., abbrevs. ST PAT and NDAK, Latin partials et ALIA and rara AVIS, non-Latin partials pince-NEZ and new-AGER—none of it is even close to horrific.
- That said, THY | LEO |LAIC, ALS | ALTO | DDE and SLOE | RUE | ERG are not the prettiest of rows.
- 33d [Rotary phone part] DIAL; 55d [Abbr. on a phone’s “0” button] (or at its finger hole) OPER. 18a [Sacred] HOLY; 25a [Of the flock [LAIC. 43a [“Honest!”] NO LIE; 28d [“That’s a good point”] TRUE.
- 24a [Summer zodiac sign] LEO. Hey, that’s stars! And galaxies. Represents the Nemean lion from Herakles’ first labor.
Patrick Blindauer’s May Crossword, “X-Rated” — Matt’s review
With the usual caveat — that this is a Blindauer, so I might be missing some crazy extra layer — it looks like Patrick has gone relatively easy on us with his May puzzle. Which is not a bad thing.
The three long theme entries replace the letters TEN with IO, which stand for “10.” Those letters play normally on the down crossings.
17-A [Special affection] = IODER LOVING CARE
39-A [Sales tacks it on, at times] = EXIODED WARRANTY
61-A [Where the firm in “The Firm” is located] = MEMPHIS, IONESSEE
Nice, wide-open grid with a bunch of marquee fill: PEP TALK, STEAM ROOM, the late, great Sam KINISON, WAIT LISTS, MADE NOISES, AND THEN, SKIPS CLASS, SPARE ME, I WISH, OH YES and PINATA.
I should mention that the April Blindauer just won Crossword of the Month at my blog, beating out some especially tough competition. That puzzle was wickedly complex and multi-layered, so I don’t mind at all that he’s thrown us a (relative) softball for May. My brain enjoyed it.
4.IO stars, of course, keeping with the theme.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Lots of goodies in the grid today:
- 1a. [Serving of Meat Loaf], POWER BALLAD.
- 17a. [New wave #1 hit with the repeated line “That ain’t working”] MONEY FOR NOTHING. Some radio stations won’t play this Dire Straits because of its F-word. Not that F-word. The other one.
- 25a. [DJ’s flub], DEAD AIR.
- 58a. [Airport connection?], WI-FI HOTSPOT.
- 1d. [Fruit drink brand named after its main ingredient], POM. Pomegranate juice.
- 12d. [Post historian?], PHILATELIST. Post = mail, philately = love of postage stamps.
- 38d. [“I’m as surprised as you are”], “WHO KNEW?”
Just a handful of other notes:
- 28d. [“Thirteen Ways of Looking ___ Blackbird” (Wallace Stevens)], AT A. Never read the poem before now. I’m partial to this perfect line: “It was evening all afternoon.”
- 29d. [Thunder thighs], BLIMP. Would rather clue BLIMP as the dirigible and not with name-calling.
- 51d. [Crossword clue, for short], DEF, short for “definition.” I hate calling the clues “definitions.” So often, a crossword clue is not a definition at all. For example, [“I’m as surprised as you are”] for WHO KNEW, [Garbage collection, maybe?] for BOX SET of music, a FITB like [___ Mode (Prius button)] for ECO, or [Michel Martelly is its president] for HAITI. None of those clues is a definition of the answer. They’re clues. Now, a cryptic crossword clue will contain a definition/synonym along with the wordplay portion of the clue.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Between Black and White”—Ade’s write-up
Good day everyone, and welcome to a new week!
There definitely aren’t gray skies in the air to start the morning here, but doing this grid may leave you thinking there might be some lurking. There’s four shades of gray in this puzzle by Ms. Lynn Lempel, with four of the theme answers ending with words that can come after the word “gray.” The reveal clue is the fifth theme answer.
- JAMES BEARD: (17A: [Longtime New York chef and writer who hosted the first food program on TV])– When I grow out my goatee (as it is right now), I’m definitely sporting some salt and pepper hair on this whiskers. From “graybeard.”
- CRY WOLF: (37A: [Raise a false alarm])– Maybe the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves should change their name to Gray Wolves and see if that turns around the franchise’s fortunes. From “gray wolf.”
- PICNIC AREA: (11D: [Luncheon on the grass spot, maybe]) -To be honest, I can’t tell you/remember the last time I had lunch (or any other meal) at a picnic area or sitting on the grass in the park. Maybe that drought will end this coming summer. From “gray area.”
- MAJOR SCALE: 28D: [C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, for one]) -From “grayscale.”
- GRAY MATTER: (58A: [Brain substance, and a hint to the ends of 17- and 37-Across and 11- and 28 Down])
A very smooth solving experience, one where you could be on the beach and GET A TAN while doing it (43D: [Lie in the sun, perhaps]). While at the beach, you might spot a STUD or two playing volleyball as well (54D: [Retired Churchill Downs racer]), though if you actually saw a horse on the beach, that may be a little weird…especially if it was playing volleyball. Loved some of the down fill, from the longer variety in SAVE FACE (22D: [Manage to avoid embarrassment]) to the four-letter cheek with MY MY (31D: [“Well, whadya know!”]). Here’s a new slogan I thought of just now: “METE: It’s what’s for crosswords.” (35D: [Apportion, with “out”]). And you can’t forget to have meat (well, mete) without the cheese, and that’s taken care of with ASIAGO (10D: [Smooth or crumbly Italian cheese]). Only thing that really slowed me down was having Earl instead of CARL (25D: [Kasell on “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”]),which found me in a little spot of bother as I was getting ready to polish off the puzzle. Also stupidly had caret for a few seconds instead of FACET (49A: [Diamond feature]). Definitely went LA LA on that one (60A: [Land for loonies]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: FLO (40A: [Olympian track star ___ Jo])– “Flo Jo” was the nickname of the late track-and-field great Florence Griffith-Joyner, who is widely considered the fastest woman of all time. Flo Jo won three gold medals at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, including in the 100 and 200 meters. She still holds the world record in both races, setting the 100-meter record in July of 1988 and the 200-meter record at the Seoul Olympics in September of 1988. She was hounded by skeptics constantly who thought she had taken performance-enhancing drugs during the 1988 season, though she never failed a test. Griffith-Joyner died in her sleep due to an epileptic seizure in 1998.
Thanks for the time, and I’ll see you all tomorrow!