Ian and Katie Livengood’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
An easy-peasy Monday-level theme by the new(?) cruciverbal team of Livengood & Livengood.
Across the center we have 40a [Misfit … or what you get after the sequence described by the ends of 17-, 21-, 57- and 63-Across?] A FISH OUT OF WATER. And that sequence is
- 17a. [Film designed to attract Academy Awards consideration] OSCAR BAIT.
- 21a. [Like most TV shows starting in the 1960s] COLORCAST.
- 57a. [Problem with teeth alignment] UNDERBITE.
- 63a. [Projection room item] MOVIE REEL.
Bait, cast, bite, reel (in). Then unhook and (a) throw back or (b) put on ice or (c) fillet and have no-wait sushi. Was a bit distracted by the first and last themers being film related; then those two augmented by the television reference in the second makes the third one the real fish out of water.
A bunch of long non-theme answers, A whopping six among the verticals and two more in the acrosses. DECK CHAIR, the I’ve-never-heard-that-in-my-life COACHES UP, TOUCAN SAM, the tricky-for-a-Monday D STUDENTS, POLICE VAN, STATE SEAL, plus the chewy CHECHNYA and the shiny BLACK EYE. That is a lot of content in addition to the five theme answers.
- Playful clues, always refreshing in early week offerings: 60d [Gambling game whose name spells a gambling town when the first letter is changed] KENO; 66a [Country whose name sounds like a Jamaican’s cry] OMAN; 12d [Suffix with Oktober or Ozz] –FEST.
- 26a [Fireplace residue] ASH, followed by 28a [Go out, as a fire] DIE. 13a [“__ wide” (dentist’s directive)] OPEN, 11d [Dental string] FLOSS.
- Favorite clue: 7d [Author of “The Optimist’s Daughter,” to those with dyslexia?] WETLY.
- 24d [Informal goodbye] CIAO / 52d [Formal goodbye] ADIEU.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Oof! I assume 6a was Brendan’s seed entry (he said in his blog post that someone showed him something at Lollapuzzoola that was perfect BEQ fill), but I’ve never heard of QLEARQUIL, [“The Powerfully Effective, Take It Only When You Need It, Sinus and Allergy Medicine”]. Apparently it’s a line of over-the-counter cold/allergy combos that can be obtained much more cheaply via store brands (Claritin, Benadryl, Sudafed/Tylenol … these QlearQuil things are nothing special aside from the dreadful spelling).
I was never one to play Risk, so 10d. [Risk battle], ROLL, wasn’t coming to me easily. Roll of the dice = battle? Duly noted.
- 16a. [Swiss mathmetician Daniel whose eponymous principle led to the carburetor and airplane wing], BERNOULLI. “Eponymous principle” was so helpful to me here, and I learned something.
- 31a. [Fed proposal, often], RATE HIKE. Crisp, non-stale fill.
- 60a. [It can have you going in circles for an hour], SPIN CLASS. It’s just your feet traveling circular routes.
- 1d. [Classic R & B tune that inspired the “stroll” dance craze], C.C. RIDER. I don’t know how to do the stroll but now I want to very much.
- 6d. [4th-and-inches plays, often, in brief], QB SNEAKS. Great entry.
Tougher than usual for me. For you too? Or are you up on your Risk and OTC allergy med advertising? Four stars from me.
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Four sizable theme entries, including the revealer.
- 17a. [1962 hit by The 4 Seasons] BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY. The opening BIGGIR deceivingly looks wrong in-grid. The band is more typically written with a spelled-out FOUR; not sure why the numeral was used here, as space doesn’t seem to be an issue.
- 25a. [Underpass drainage channels] BOX CULVERTS. Not the most common phrase, but unquestionably a real thing.
- 43a. [Products with “Walgreens” on the label, say] STORE BRANDS.
- And tying them all together—packaging them, you might say—is 55a [Target convenience, and a hint to the first words of 17-, 25- and 43-Across] ONE-STOP SHOPPING. That’s BIG | BOX | STORE.
In my ignorance I thought big box store meant outfits such as Costco and Sam’s Club, but it turns out that those are a subset of the category, namely warehouse club stores. Nevertheless, I still don’t care much for the theme, especially in execution. I dislike the singling out of a particular VENDOR (28d) in the revealer, which feels somehow promotional. Further, the phrase of the third themer strikes me as bleeding over into the “answer” part of the theme (and it also mentions a particular retailer).
And what else did I find most noticeable during the solve? That would be the preponderance of words and names found far more often in crosswords than anywhere else: APER, ELOI, ADES, INGE. Hm, that’s only four—not much of a preponderance. Seemed like more during the solve, but I was being rather rigorous while reviewing the entries to compile that list. Hey, this is a subjective exercise.
Two other snag spots. First, 63a [Makes simpler] EASES – that’s a rather obscure definitional sense for a Monday puzzle. Second, 37a [Provide, as with quality] ENDUE – this is a word I often forget or ignore because (1) early on I thought it was a corruption of endow (though I later learned that they have distinct etymologies), and (2) it also resembles imbue, so it misleadingly looks as if it could be a corruption of that. That’s two strikes against the word, regardless of their ultimate invalidity.
The rest of the clues and fill are essentially okay and early-week appropriate, but they fail to outweigh the shortcomings I perceived.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Catching Fish”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everyone, and Happy Monday!
My apologies to you all, as I can’t stay too long on here. In Connecticut as we speak covering some women’s tennis on the campus of Yale University, but definitely can offer a quick overview. So yesterday, I was bracing myself for a Bob Klahn Sunday puzzle, only for that not to transpire. The second I let my guard down, then BOOM! Here Mr. Klahn comes, this time to begin the week. Will admit, though, that today’s fare wasn’t too bad, with the theme being that there’s different types of fish hidden within the four theme answers.
- PAPER CHASE: (17A: Hare and hounds])
- CASH ADVANCE: (29A: [Early scratch])
- THE ELEMENTS: (45A: [Weather])
- OSCAR PARTY: (60A: [Golden-guy gala])
Obviously, it helps if you’re on the same wavelength as the constructor with a difficult puzzle, and, thankfully, I was today. The entries that helped open things up in which I knew the wordplay from the get-go included UNDERARMS (10D: [Secret targets]), MUSSEL (48D: [Mighty mollusk]) and HUT ONE (46D: [Call before a hike]). Time’s too short to explain why “hut one” is an outdated term, as the cadence that football quarterbacks use before the snap (hike) is 486 times more complex than people playing backyard football and yelling out “hut one, hut two” on Thanksgiving. And if you’re Peyton Manning, as we’ve documented before on here, you’re much more likely to yell out OMAHA before a hike (54D: [“Up in the Air” setting]). Any reference to a song title in a clue I’m automatically going to put down ADELE (4D: [“Turning Tables” singer]). I can’t say this was a NO-HASSLE grid for me (6D: [Trouble-free]), but got through it relatively unscathed.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GOAT (59A: [Billy the kid?]) – Earl “The Goat” Manigault (1944-1998) was a streetball basketball player in New York City for many years, and probably the most memorable streetball player ever, as he helped to spark the fascination of outdoor/summer basketball in New York City. His nickname, GOAT, is actually an acronym which stands for Greatest Of All Time. So if you hear a sports great/legend be referred to as “goat,” it’s probably not alluding to he/she being the reason his/her team(s) lost. It’s a term of endearment. But yes, many times, goat has a negative connotation in sports. I’ll explain that in this space the next time “GOAT” appears in a grid.
Bye for now!