Monday solvers! Lovers of smooth, breezy crosswords! Hurry up and check out Patrick Blindauer’s Kickstarter for Piece of Cake Crosswords. The Kickstarter deal’s deadline is 4:17 pm Eastern/12:17 pm Pacific on Monday. Patrick’s been posting sample puzzles, and the third one is right here in PDF form. Give it a whirl, and you’ll probably sign yourself up for a year’s subscription of Piece of Cake puzzles! (I count no fewer than four entries in the Monday NYT below that Patrick is unlikely to go near in the Piece of Cake Crosswords.)
John Guzzetta’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Start your week, start your day.
- 58aR [Breakfast-time TV fare that usually includes the ends of 17-, 28-, 36- and 44-Across] MORNING SHOW.
- 17a. [Virginia city known for its shipbuilding] NEWPORT NEWS.
- 28a. [Flow of narcotics] DRUG TRAFFIC.
- 36a. [Not feeling so hot] UNDER THE WEATHER.
- 44a. [Killjoys] SPOIL SPORTS.
News, traffic, weather, sports. That covers the basics. Not sure why it’s specified as television rather than radio, but I suppose that reflects my own bias.
Quick run-through for editorial fodder:
- 1a [Molars usually have four of these] CUSPS. Human molars.
- 15a. [Final stanza of a ballad] ENVOI. Not Monday crossword fare. Ditto 30a [Money in Yemen] RIAL.
- 5d [One often seen standing just outside a building’s entrance] SMOKER. Had STATUE first.
- 6d [Problem after a trans-Atlantic flight] JETLAG. Seems a fusty rendering of the adjective in the clue; transatlantic is fine nowadays. Don’t know what the Times’ style guide suggests. Perhaps the answer should be JET-LAG.
- Speaking of orthography, 38d [Feature of the earth’s axis that causes the seasons] TILT. Planet name not capitalized? Merriam-Webster indicates that it’s often capitalized, American Heritage says often too, and Wikipedia’s hive mind has rendered it as such throughout the subject page.
- Long down answers: ALGORITHM, TOP SECRET, IN A SECOND, ADOPTIONS.
- In addition to three of the four (non-revealer) themers having a downer vibe, the grid’s dictator pair of Manuel NORIEGA and MAO Zedong, plus a bunch of other clues/answers (e.g., BIER, SEWER, PAP, SMOKER, DETESTS) have a draggy effect on the early-week solver.
Er, happy Monday.
Gerry Wildenberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “You’ve Got It Coming!” — Jim’s review
We start the WSJ puzzling week with a category theme. This time around: things that are delivered.
- 17a [Emotional delivery] FIERY SPEECH
- 28a [Rare delivery] MULTIPLE BIRTH
- 45a [Office delivery] FEDEX SHIPMENT
- 59a [Tricky delivery] KNUCKLEBALL
Essentially your theme answers are these things: a SPEECH, a BABY, a PACKAGE, and a PITCH. But those aren’t very interesting theme entries, so they’re embellished with various adjectives.
That’s all fine because of the cluing consistency, but my real problem is with one of the entries. FEDEX SHIPMENT really brings down the room like a party pooper. The rest are fine, even good, (FIERY SPEECH is on the edge, but I’m inclined to let it pass.) But FEDEX SHIPMENT is not a phrase like the others. I would’ve gone with CARE PACKAGE [Loving delivery] and paired that with NEWBORN BABY [Crying delivery].
You could take it even a step further and have the second word in each phrase be one that follows “deliver a”. You can deliver a SPEECH, deliver a BABY, deliver a PACKAGE, and deliver a PITCH. This would require changing KNUCKLEBALL to INSIDE PITCH [Close delivery], say, but it works and makes for a more consistent set.
Non-theme highlights: UNDER-HANDED, CLEAN FORGOT (though its clue [Allowed to completely slip one’s mind] seems awkward; doesn’t [Couldn’t remember at all] work?), OMNIBUS, SLY FOX, NARNIA, DWELLERS, AEROSOLS, and “I WON’T!”
Lowlights: IDEE, ACH, RST, LVI, ON NO, and singular SCAD. Plus all the IN things: INS, INSTEP, INLAID, and IN CANS (oops, that’s INCANS).
Overall, not a bad puzzle, but a few changes could’ve helped make the theme more consistent.
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
As if in counterpoint to today’s NYT offering, the LAT is positively genial:
- 64aR [Ideal party thrower described by the first words of 17-, 27- and 49-Across] PERFECT HOST.
- 17a. [What snowbirds seek in winter] WARM WEATHER.
- 27a. [Ready-to-send correspondence] OUTGOING MAIL.
- 49a. [Liqueur holder] CORDIAL GLASS. Which itself is something not unheard of at parties.
Obviously not an exhaustive list of such qualities.
- Posting a Traveling Wilburys song the other day primed me to think of George Harrison at the initial crossing of 1a and 1d [“Handle __ care”] WITH / [Electric guitar effect] WA-WA. The former was the title of the Harrison song that prompted the formation of that supergroup, while “Wah Wah” is one of the memorable tracks from his 1970 opus All Things Must Pass.
- 5d [Worry about something, colloquially] SWEAT IT. Almost always presented in the advisory “don’t sweat it”, though someone is often said to “sweat bullets” or perspire in other specific and colorful ways.
- Skewing old! 45a [Buster Brown’s dog] TIGE, 68a [Richard of “A Summer Place”] (1959) EGAN, and a few other marginal entries.
- 27d [First fairy tale word] ONCE, 28d [Second fairy tale word] UPON; 41a [Folksy account] TALE. Really?
- 26d [Little lie] FIB. And an even littler lie is a fibula. Honest. It’s speculated that “fib” shares an etymology with “fable” (see above). Honest.
- 56a [Potpie veggies] PEAS. Have been seeing this reference disproportionately in crossword clues for PEAS and PEA the past couple of years. Am tired of it now. #nytguacamole
- 66a [Cutoff point]
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s crossword THEMELESS MONDAY #387 – Gareth’s write-up
Notable features of this grid include four seven-stacks, connected to an open-feeling grid, though BEQ notes a technique in his blog for compartmentalizing it.
It played harder than most BEQ themelesses for me, though that may be due to a couple of persistant errors: MoosE not MAPLE; trENT not GHENT; and kilOTON then gigaTON before MEGATON.
I don’t see a whole ton of obvious seeds here: INLIEUOF and KTOSLIN had surprising letter combos that made them surprisingly tricky to “see”.
Most irritating clue: [Berry with anti-aging benefits], ACAI– marketing hype with almost no credible backing. They have polyphenols, which while anti-oxidant, are not part of any endogenous anti-oxidant system and thus mean diddlysquat. Step away from Dr. Oz.