Brian Thomas’ New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
- 63aR [They bring music to one’s ears … or a hint to 17-, 21-, 33-, 45- and 54-Across] HEADPHONES. Sure enough, the first words of those entries can be preceded (“headed”) by phone to name an example device of that technology.
- 17a. [Service organization with a wheel logo] ROTARY CLUB.
- 21a. [Prison unit] CELL BLOCK.
- 33a. [Domicile with wheels] MOBILE HOME.
- 45a. [Wiseass] SMART ALECK.
- 54a. [Action taken by a company in distress] PAY FREEZE.
Very straightforward theme—nothing wrong with that in a Monday—and an extremely fast solve.
- 2d [Smell] ODOR. Yay for neutral cluing.
- 3d [Dubious sighting in the Himalayas] YETI. Can we finally put this to rest? Or at least even further down in the believability department?
- 60d [Unpaid intern, jocularly] PEON. Ha, ha, ha.
That’s it. Not feeling compelled to extract or expound more on this. Pretty much a typical Monday.
CC Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Was easy enough to see the THEME (8d [Unifying idea]) after the first two circled entries (in my case 16a and 23d) were in. So much so that I was able to fill in the revealer sans clue and after just the first two letters.
- 56aR [Garment fittingly represented by this puzzle’s circles] OUTERWEAR.
- 16a. [Girt-wrapping need] CLEAR TAPE (cape).
- 10d. [Outdoor lot for cars] PARKING AREA (parka). Typically duplication of a lexeme like out wouldn’t be cause for criticism, but since it’s the crux of the theme here, it is an issue.
- 23d. [“Blurred Lines” singer] ROBIN THICKE (robe).
- 37a. [Hipster] COOL CAT (coat).
So. All are by definition external garments, and all are ‘draped around’ the theme phrases. For variety, we get various divisions of the letters: 1–3, 4–1, 3–1, 2–2. No repetitions, but let it be noted that three are four letters long and one is five letters long—and it isn’t even the ‘special’ one without a symmetrical partner (center across). Minor nit.
- 1d [Apple computer] MAC, 9a [Rectangular Apple] IPAD. That’s too much product placement by half, and to top it off they’re both in the first three rows of the grid. An alternative way to clue 1-down would be as the British raincoat but that’s …ahem… an article of outerwear. Nevertheless, there are plenty of simple alternatives for 1d/1a/2d. A sampling PAC/PATS, PAC/PITS/ILL, SAC/SETS/ELL, VAC/VETS/ELL, WAC/WITS/ILL.
- 18a [Country singer Steve] EARLE. I continue to take issue with that categorization.
- Fun sequential trio: 51a [“Don’t sweat it!”] RELAX, 52a [“Is that really your opinion?”] THINK SO?, 54a [Not wavering in the least] SURE.
- Likewise a sort-of simpatico crossing of 5d [Place of rapid growth] HOTBED and 26a [Home for a pride] LION’S DEN. All right, perhaps maybe not so close, but … um … they can both be edgy and dangerous?
- 34d [Mountaineer’s tool] ICE AX. Likely also to be wearing a PARKA?
- 60d [Color of most pomegranate seeds] RED. Those are fleshy ARILS, and the seeds are inside—are they also red, or white?
Overall a solid Monday offering.
Freddie Cheng’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Park Place” — Jim’s review
The Happiest Place on Earth is our theme today with the revealer at 63a [Attractions in Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai, and the ends of the starred answers]. My first thought was that DISNEYLANDS sure sounds strange in the plural, but if you break it up into two words then look at the ends of the theme entries, it starts to make more sense.
- 17a [*Pigs flying, for example] PURE FANTASY. Not a very in-the-language phrase to my ear. “Final Fantasy” (the video game series) or “Double Fantasy” (the Lennon/Ono album) would be stronger, but of course they’re too long to be symmetrical with the revealer, and “final” is in another theme entry.
- 23a [*”Not today…”] MAYBE TOMORROW.
- 40a [*Summer blockbuster movie genre] ACTION-ADVENTURE.
- 51a [*Space, to Trekkies] FINAL FRONTIER. Okay. But to Trekkers, it’s The FINAL FRONTIER.
If you’ve never been to any of the Disney theme parks, you may not know that each one is divided up into different “Lands”: Fantasyland, anchored by a (Sleeping Beauty’s?) castle, Tomorrowland, featuring Space Mountain and other futuristic rides, Adventureland, where you’ll find the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean (depending on the park), and Frontierland with attractions like Big Thunder Mountain railroad and Tom Sawyer’s island.
Cute theme which worked for me, having been to three separate parks in my life. Some people are Disney fanatics, and you probably know someone like that, but others probably wouldn’t be caught dead at a Disney park. For me, since my parents took me when I was a kid, I get a wonderful feeling of nostalgia when visiting a park. It recalls a simpler, happier time, and it’s comforting to see and ride all the familiar attractions, as well as discover new ones. You don’t go to Disney for the ultimate thrill rides, but for the family atmosphere which has something for everyone. Assuming you can stomach the crowds and long lines.
Beyond the theme, what stood out to me was a higher amount of crosswordese in the fill: RECS, MOTET, ERATO, ULAN, EDNAS, singular TAPA, plural SSNS, and ESTS. That’s unfortunate, because I felt they overshadowed finer entries DARTMOUTH, OUTDRINKS, and PIEMAN. But all told, I like the theme, so the plusses outweigh the minuses.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, if you were lucky enough to see the Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade when you were, say, about 7 years old, you would know what a sight to behold that was. There is no more perfect age and no more perfect event at Disneyland to thrill and delight your inner child’s sense of wonder and imagination. Even hearing the music now would send you right back to that night when you gaped in awe and utter happiness at being a kid in Disneyland. So, here it is, the soundtrack to the Main Street Electrical Parade…in French.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — Laura’s Writeup
The UGLY SWEATER [1d: Bad cover at a Christmas party] is now a multifaith phenomenon. Ugly sweaters are now standard holiday fare for Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and Festivus, and all are worthy of a POLITE STARE [2d: Non-threatening look]. I’ll WASTE NO TIME [28d: Start immediately] with my remarks on this one: Several repeated letter strings in this grid; ONE ROOM [67a: Like some rural schoolhouses] and ONE PINT [41a: Pub order] (note: not if you’re buying the round); EARHART [66d: Pilot whose first book was “20 Hrs., 40 Min.”) crossing EARTHA [48d: “The Fabulous ___” (1959 jazz album)] (note: this is the second time in a month that BEQ has used EARTHA in a grid, the last being November 27, clued as [“That Bad ___” (1957 vocal jazz album)]); and ON A TOOT [16a: Carousing around town] crossing ON A STRING [9d: Like the proverbial puppet] (note: hadn’t heard of the former phrase).
- [17a: Colombian herder]: LLANERO. Per Wikipedia, “The name is taken from the Llanos grasslands occupying western Venezuela and eastern Colombia. The Llanero were originally part Spanish and Indian and have a strong culture including a distinctive form of music.”
- [47a: Perry’s chronicler]: ERLE Stanley Gardner, author of books about lawyer/detective Perry Mason.
- [29a: German river]: WESER. Could’ve been any of many five-letter rivers in Germany.
- [69a: The University of the South, familiarly]: SEWANEE, in Tennessee (as distinguished from Suwannee, which is a Georgia/Florida river).
- [18a: 1979 #1 song that begins “Looks like it’s over, you knew I couldn’t stay”] SAD EYES by Robert John. What’s your favorite soft rock hit of the 70s? Mine is “Sometimes When We Touch” by Dan Hill, although I’m also partial to “Please Come to Boston” by Dave Loggins and “When I Need You” by Leo Sayer.