Peter Gordon’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Aside from the amount of time needed to complete it, much of this crossword screams “not Monday”. Nonstandard grid proportions? Check. Quasi-literary, esoteric theme? Check. Tough-ish entries in top left corner? Check.
- 18dR [What 17-, 33-, 47- and 66-Across exhibit, despite appearances to the contrary] ALLITERATION. Yes, they achieve the same sounds via different letters. Call it parallelism or convergence if you like.
- 17a. [Nickname of Gen. Burgoyne in the American Revolution] GENTLEMAN JOHNNY. Both words start with /j/ or /dʒ/ depending on your preferred pronunciation system.
- 33a. [End of a close race] PHOTO FINISH. /f/
- 47a. [Dish made with romaine lettuce, croutons and Parmesan cheese] CAESAR SALAD. /s/
- 66a. [Coiner of the phrase “alternative facts”] KELLYANNE CONWAY. /k/ These are more accurately known as lies or falsehoods.
And now I’ve just learned that there is an Indonesian Journal of Pharmaceutical Science and Community (Jurnal Farmasi Sains dan Komunitas) and that it’s abbreviated JFSK.
So that upper left section? 1-across is [Three-syllable foot, as in “bada-bing”] ANAPEST. 14a is [German measles] RUBELLA (the R in MMR). Seriously, with all that and the theme I went ahead and completed 3d without referring to the clue, surprised when it wasn’t ABNEGATION; consultation confirmed it to be the [Rare blood type] AB NEGATIVE. Ah, so close.
- 52a [Irritable] TETCHY. I enjoy using this word. Further non-Monday seeming material: 71a [“Le Misanthrope” playwright] MOLIÈRE, 28d [Unit of conductance] MHO.
- 45d [Sombrero, e.g.] HAT, 54a [Sombrero-wearing musician] MARIACHI. I don’t know why the callback strikes me as forced; both are natural-sounding clues.
- 16d [Henry ___, British Army officer who invented the exploding shell] SHRAPNEL. I belatedly recalled that I knew it was an eponym. Easy to think otherwise, as it echoes ‘sharp’ and ‘shell’ and ‘apart’ and who knows what else.
- 31d [Electrically flexible] ACDC.
- 35d [Place sheltered from worldly realities] IVORY TOWER. Hey, academics are among the most strident voices advising everyone to take their heads out of the sand when it comes to the undeniable (unless you subscribe to ‘alternative facts’) perils of climate change. And let’s not get into ivory, please.
Mary Wolfe’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Talking Turkey” — Jim’s review
It’s Turkey Week, so it looks like we’ll have several days of Thanksgiving-themed puzzles starting with this one. Today there is a [Turkey found in the four longest Across answers], i.e. TOM.
- 16a [In toto] WITHOUT OMISSION
- 26a [Body expert] AUTO MECHANIC
- 40a [Kitchen tool] POTATO MASHER
- 51a [Founder of Italian Fascism] BENITO MUSSOLINI
I can’t say I was thrilled by the theme, but the simplicity suits a Monday.
The simple theme and unrecognized byline had me thinking this was a debut. But the name anagrams to “Mayflower,” so it appears to be another pseudonym for editor Mike Shenk.
This is a 72-word grid, unusually low for a themed puzzle. Why so low? I’m thinking the theme entry lengths (two 15s and two 13s) made block placement difficult.
Despite that challenge, the fill is mostly clean though there aren’t any eye-catching long Downs. It doesn’t get through unscathed, though; the low word count is undoubtedly responsible for entries like LEM, LENTO, and IS HE, unusual bits of crosswordese, especially early in the week.
The end result is that there isn’t a lot of sparkle in the grid despite its low word-count and relative cleanliness. And the muted theme didn’t do enough to excite, so in the end, the puzzle, while solid, left me flat.
Kurt Mengel and Jan-Michele Gianette’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Theme was easily self-evident as the crossings developed, never had a need to read their clues. As it’s a common sort of theme, I suppose it FITS (25a [Is the right size] well in the Monday slot.
- 17a. [Hand from the audience] ROUND OF APPLAUSE.
- 27a. [Group one likes to hang with] CIRCLE OF FRIENDS.
- 48a. [Area in which one has power] SPHERE OF CONTROL.
- 63a. [1970 Temptations hit with the subtitle “That’s What the World is Today”] BALL OF CONFUSION. As relevant as ever. What goes around comes around, you know. There’s a contemporary video featuring a seizure-inducing performance if you’re interested in seeing some psychedelic grooviness. I’ve long felt it was strongly influenced—down to the propulsive bassline which undergirds it—by 1966’s “Compared to What” which reached its apotheosis in a live version at Montreux in 1969. Here’s footage of that instead:
Some rigor in the execution: all four at fifteen letters span the grid completely. Speaking of which, “sphere of control” (15) vs “sphere of influence” (17):
- 15a [Texter’s modest “I think …”] IMHO. Go back, you missed the sarcasm. More quotes maybe?
- 29d [Insect trapped in a “motel”] ROACH. How about quotes for trapped while we’re at it?
- 53a [Indian nurse] AMAH. Thar’s relatively hardcore crosswordese for a Monday.
- 59a [Frightened, in dialect] AFEARD. This spelling achieves more internet hits than afeared or afeart.
- 49d [Sufficient, in texts] ENUF. Filled in ENOW, my mind going to texts ancient rather than SMS.
- 62d [Genetic carriers] DNAS. The plurals, it sting.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — Laura’s Writeup
For your solving pleasure, a NICE [29a: “Sw-e-e-e-et!”] 66-word wonder which is definitely not ONE STAR [1a: Poorly rated], though I wouldn’t say IT’S LOVE [8a: Moonstruck phrase]. (This is the Moonstruck phrase I’m most familiar with.) Stuff I knew and was glad to see:
- [54a: Co-writer and star of HBO’s “Insecure”]: ISSA RAE. A name made for crossword grids, replete with vowels and esses, and a talent made for comedy. I first encountered her work on her webseries The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl — check it out.
- [57a: 2002 George Clooney sci-fi film]: SOLARIS. A remake of the 1972 Soviet film by Andrei Tarkovsky, based on the 1961 novel by Stanisłau Lem.
- [9d: 1989 World Series winners]: THE A’S, or more precisely the Oakland Athletics, who beat the San Francisco Giants — the “BART Series.” Game 3 of the 1989 Series was notoriously interrupted by the Lomo Prieta earthquake, the first to be broadcast live on television. The Bay Bridge and part of I-880 collapsed, scores of buildings were damaged in the Bay Area, and there were 63 fatalities and nearly 4,000 injured. I remember hearing at the time that there were likely fewer injuries and fatalities because people stayed home or went to local bars to watch the game, instead of driving in rush hour traffic.
Stuff I didn’t know and was glad to learn:
- [14d: Actress who plays Sue Sue Heck on “The Middle”]: EDEN SHER. Another good name for grids. Is she Sue Sue or just Sue?
- [40d: Sports division that’s home to FC Barcelona and Real Madrid]: LA LIGA. Is that Spanish for the league? Related personal note: some time ago some crossword blog commenters (not here) chided me for not knowing who FC Barcelona star forward Lionel MESSI was, then like a few days later someone gave my son a MESSI jersey as a gift, then recently I used his name (both my son’s and MESSI’s) in a grid.
- Music stuff: [23d: Like a song with three sharps in its signature]: IN A; [37d: Twice, in music]: BIS.
- [10d: One who doesn’t stop thinking about tomorrow]: SEER.