No WSJ puzzle, presumably, due to holiday (official observance of New Year’s Day).
Chuck Deodene’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
21d. [Really revel … or a hint to the words formed by the circled letters] clues PARTY DOWN (which is a phrase that’s useless to me as well as the title of a short-lived Starz sitcom I liked), and the four long Downs include FEST, GALA, BASH, and FETE in the circled squares. Those long answers include LIFESTYLE CHOICE, RADIO GALAXY (dang, that’s difficult material for a Monday puzzle), WABASH RIVER (have non-Midwesterners heard of this river?), and SCHOOL CAFETERIA (my one and only food fight was in a Carleton College cafeteria). The theme plays rather dry for a PARTY DOWN theme, no?
Top fill: The TABASCO, “I GOTCHA,” “NOT THAT!” stack. Clapton’s LAYLA. CICADAS, so annoying in the summertime but come winter, you’d trade the quiet freeze for the warm noise.
Meh fill: Un-American SOYA, plural RCAS, SRA, BEL clued via Bel Paese cheese (I bet a sizable percentage of solvers have never eaten that), singular ALP, racist-origins “AH SO,” Latin ESSE. On the “not obscure but dull and seen more in crosswords than they need to be” list, we have AWL IRE OBOE IMPS IONS OPIE—most of these are hard to have any fun with in cluing. And that plural TOBACCOS feels awkward, no?
3.3 stars from me.
Neville Fogarty’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Been a while since I’ve solved a Neville Fogarty puzzle! This one is super-smooth and breezy, perfectly hitting the Monday sweet spot. The theme is perhaps a tad too subtle for a Monday, but the fill is so crisp. DUCK DUCK GOOSE is the 56a. [Kids’ game hinted at by the starts of 20-, 36-, and 42-Across], and those long answers are DEAD RECKONING (“dead duck”), LUCKY CHARM (“lucky duck”), and fun SILLY PUTTY (“silly goose”).
Perhaps the toughest fill in the whole puzzle is KLM, EEO, Ernie ELS, and DELTA DAWN. I never even saw the clues for KLM and EEO since the stack of 5s crossing them was easy.
- 32d. [Retail outlets with many loafers?], SHOE STORES. Question-marked clue, but really not so tricky.
- 20a. [Longtime navigation method], DEAD RECKONING. Yeah, I read Moby Dick, but it doesn’t mean I understand this.
- 36a. [Rabbit’s foot, perhaps], LUCKY CHARM. Strikingly unlucky for the rabbit, of course. Do they still sell rabbits’ severed feet like they did when I was a kid?
- 2d. [What a two-fingered “L” represents], LOSER. This is so junior high.
Four stars from me.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Is There an Echo in Here?” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everybody. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, is a puzzle you occasionally see a couple of times a year while solving various crosswords. Homophones are used in succession as the entries, creating puns from the unique scenarios posed in each of its clues.
- RAZE RAYS RAISE (20A: [Erase a Tampa player’s salary bump?])
- METE MEET MEAT (28A: [Dole out cold cuts at a track event?])
- HE’LL HEAL HEEL (49A: [Encouraging sign in a shoe repairman’s shop?])
- PIQUE PEAK PEEK (59A: [Glance at the worst part of a tantrum?])
Once you know the gist of the theme within a few seconds of the start of solving a puzzle, sometimes, I have a tough time concentrating on the rest of the grid. With this one, I hopped down to the rest of the theme entries first once I answered the “raze…” entry. That said, I can appreciate CHEESE NIP, as the constructor and I share a love for orange, square-shaped, cheese-flavored snacks (11D: [Small, orange Nabisco cracker]). Grid gets an extra star from me for a reference to Africa in it, and this particular one has MALI featured (14A: [Niger neighbor]). Alright, I’m OFF to Manhattan to do a little shopping for camera equipment (33A: [Not quite right]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CLAY (6D: [Ali’s former name]) – I’m getting ready to watch the Rose Bowl right now, and one of the teams to feature in the game, USC, is currently coached by CLAY Helton, a former college football quarterback in the 1990s with Auburn and Houston. Helton was named interim coach of the Trojans on a couple of occasions, but had the interim tag removed last November.
Have a good rest of your Monday!!