Erik Agard ad Paolo Pasco’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Tidy little 14×16 grid with bilateral symmetry.
- 53dR [With 58-Down, head-in-the-clouds place … or a hint to each answer that has four circles] LA-LA | LAND.
- 16a. [Kuala Lumpur’s locale] MALAY PENINSULA.
- 22a. [Titular California district in a Steinbeck novel] TORTILLA FLAT.
- 29d. [1980 Winter Olympics host] LAKE PLACID.
- 31d. [Washington city with a repetitive name] WALLA WALLA.
I liked this; a little gem of a Monday. Not afraid to mix it up a teensy bit.
Not part of the theme: 10d [Mrs. George Bush] LAURA. 18d [Deep bow] SALAAM, 62a [Hideout] LAIR (see also 9d [Hideout] DEN).
- 15a [Animal whose name is a synonym of “parrot”] APE. Neither in their primary sense.
- 20a [“Calvin and Hobbes” conveyance] SLED. This seems like an oddly idée fixe clue, perhaps peculiar to one of the constructors? Not that it isn’t a recurring theme in the strip.
- 27a [Kind of diet regimen based on nonmodern eating habits] PALEO. SUPPOSABLY.
- 30a [Dominique ___, 1996 Olympic gymnastics gold medalist] DAWES. Because MOCEANU didn’t fit. Do you know about this kind-of-amazing story?
- 6d [Odor] SMELL. I’m contractually obligated to mention when it isn’t presented pejoratively.
- 17d [Sporting a natural] AFROED. I’m guessing this a NYT début. Not going to check at
- 28a [Contents of el océano] AGUA, 26a [Setting for much of “Moana”] SEA.
- 12d [At 0% battery] DEAD, 35d [At 50% percent, to a pessimist] HALF EMPTY.
- 56d [October birthstone] OPAL. By far the most popular semiprecious stone in crosswordland. I won’t complain.
Julian Thorne’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “It’s About Time!” — Jim’s review
Theme: WATCH WORDS as revealed by 59a [Guiding principles, and the ends of the starred answers].
- 17a [*Basic emoji] SMILEY FACE
- 21a [*The devil’s workshop, so they say] IDLE HANDS
- 32a [*Cirrus cloud component] ICE CRYSTAL
- 41a [*Group of amateur rockers] GARAGE BAND
- 51a [*Medulla oblongata’s place] BRAIN STEM
That’s a BUSLOAD of theme material, and it’s all good. I guess we’re going old school in this grid since there are no apps involved. Did you hear about the Red Sox using an Apple Watch in a scheme to steal opponents’ hand signals?
Nothing substantial to complain about except maybe RDAS. Other than that, a super smooth grid with lots of theme material and sparkly fill. A good start to the week. Stay safe out there!
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
A list type theme that must have been done many times over, but probably with a novel revealer.
- 62aR [Saturated like the ends of 17-, 23-, 39- and 50-Across] WATERLOGGED.
- 17a. [24-hour broadcaster that keeps you up-to-date] NEWS CHANNEL.
- 23a. [Music from Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, et al.] BIG BAND SOUND. Tried SWING first.
- 39a. [Ship’s area for medical assistance] SICK BAY.
- 50a. [Singer dubbed “King of Country”] GEORGE STRAIT.
Each is framed differently from their oceanographic features.
- 1a [Amount to] COST, 44a [Bills at bars] TABS.
- 4d [Nuclear restraint topic] TEST BAN. How … quaint. >sob<
- Liked those long downs. 11d [“Just in case” strategy] BACKUP PLAN, 28d [Consumes enough to nourish mother and unborn child] EATS FOR TWO—highly literal clue there.
- 16a [Wall St. specialist] ARB, 5d [Globe shape: Abbr.] SPH. Yeeks, those are some ugly shortenings, especially early on in a Monday offering. ARBitrator, SPHere.
- 25d [Postwar supermodel Parker] SUZY. Hadn’t realized how slim the pickings are for famous Suzys. Also from the dusty archives, but more familiar to the solverati: 53d [Silents star Bara] THEDA.
- 35a [Last Marx brother, alphabetically] ZEPPO. Unless you go by birth names, in which case it’s GUMMO. Someone long ago (okay, seven years, but that’s long enough in the digital era) capitalized on a moniker that I’d previously considered as a secondary persona (or something, I don’t really know, which is why I never did anything about it,but that’s probably more information than you wanted to know about anyway, am I right?*): Typo Marx. Alas, it seems to be lying fallow in both Twitter and blog realms.
*8d [Talked nonstop] RAN ON.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword—Laura’s write-up
Hoo-boy. I [14a: Began eagerly]: HOPPED TO IT, but this ended up as TORTURE, though not because it was a [35d: Miserably boring task, seemingly]. Not boring! Not miserable! But a peak-Fireball-level challenging task (and rated as “Hard” on BEQ’s site). Maybe it was the lack of coffee, or an off morning. I had so many cognitive blocks that kept the answers from resolving: didn’t want the THE on THE DEAD SEA [15d: Lowest point on Earth’s surface], thought LONDON EYE [39a: Thames attraction] had to be EYE OF LONDON, could only think of GROANS instead of WINCES for [23a: Reactions to some puns]. Really wanted NORMAN BATES to be the [52a: Character with mother issues] rather than OEDIPUS REX. Got the whole NE fine, though it felt a little unusual to see ELBA clued as [10a: Tyrrhenian sea resort], given how Idris ELBA has been in so many grids recently (with data to prove it). And ROPE STITCH — I knew it had to be a STITCH, but given that my fiber art of choice is knitting, I’m not as familiar with that term for a [17a: Bit of embroidery]. And then a handful of proper names that I knew, but not in association with the clues given: NORRIS, SPENCE, HESSE, EDAN.
When it comes to portmanteau words having to do with clothing and adornment for bodies that have been assigned the female gender, I greatly prefer tankini (tank + BIKINI [12d: Two-piece suit]) to vajazzling (vagina + bedazzle) — no PASTE [41d: Vajazzler’s stock] for my parts, thank you.
What I didn’t know before solving this puzzle: I did indeed know that a PARSEC [41a: Distance equal to 3.26 light years] is a unit of distance, not time, and so I always figured that Han Solo’s boast regarding the Kessel Run was just a result of sloppiness on the part of George Lucas. But apparently there’s an entire field of research dedicated to accounting for the Millennium Falcon’s seemingly impossible capacity to bend the space-time continuum: