- Tagalongs, the Girl Scout cookies with the peanut butter coated with chocolate? Yum!
- Holy cats, where did March 2010 come from? Isn’t it still November? And maybe 2003?
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s New York Times crossword
- 3D. [1676 Virginia uprising] is the BACON REBELLION, which I’ve never heard of. Is this about a person named Bacon or the meat? Is this something the Monday solver is expected to know, or are they merely expected to work the crossings and use the theme and 3D clue to piece together BACON REBELLION?
- 5D. TOASTMISTRESS is a [Woman presiding at a banquet].
- 19D. [Cosmetic applied with a damp sponge] is PANCAKE MAKEUP.
- 11D. COFFEE-TABLE BOOK is clued as [Photo-filled reading matter in the living room].
I don’t know why the theme entries run vertically (Brendan?), and I wonder if many people will be eyeballing the long Across answers and trying to glean a theme from them. “Profit falutin feet scales? Paper high rabbit weigh? Wha…?”
Overall, I was not crazy about the fill here. Besides PFUI/[“Bah, humbug!”], which so riled up Rex Parker a few years ago, and a plural UGHS/[Terse critiques], we have:
- Partials—the concatenation ONE I, I IN, IN A. What, no A-ONE to hit for the cycle?
- Supra-Monday fill which I would not object to later in the week—TIMBAL/[Kettledrum], German FREI/[Costing nothing, in Cologne].
- Crosswordese, both general (EMIR, SERIN, ALEE) and name-heavy (ENOLA, ONO, OTT, OTERI).
- Weird word—SEEPY/[Tending to ooze]. This is, it goes without saying, a word one wishes to keep far away from a breakfast theme.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Turn Around”—Janie’s review
“Turnabout,” as the saying goes, “is fair play.” So, too, is “turn around”–and this idea is borne out beautifully in today’s puzzle. Martin has taken three (grid-spanning) in-the-language phrases and (kind of spoonerism-style) has played around with the placement of the first and last words. The result is three new phrases, more whimsical than solidly “vernacular” in nature. Whimsical works for me.
- 17A. If you get the majority of sales, you corner the market. If you [Put a nook up for sale?], you MARKET THE CORNER.
- 33A. Adorable children and animals are often known for stealing the show. In the aftermath of a burglary that’s been caught on camera, it’s possible to [Air the video of a robbery?], or SHOW THE STEALING.
- 51A. An athlete whose accomplishments surpass those of his competition breaks the record. If s/he then goes to Disney World to celebrate–and then maybe takes a cruise to nowhere, say–s/he may need to [Keep track of vacations?] and RECORD THE BREAKS.
This is a very well-made puzzle. I really do like the grid–and the way it has lots of opportunities for nice, long fill. Standouts include that central Down, HOUND’S-TOOTH [Checked pattern in fabric], KING AND I [Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, with “The”], ONE-IN-TEN [Long odds] and OBSTACLE [Roadblocks]. HARSHENS [Becomes more severe, as weather], however, sounds clunky to my ear. Not illegit, just clunky.
But the symmetrical placement of two southern states more than makes up for it. We get ALABAMA [Georgia neighbor] in the NW and FLORIDA [Key setting] in the SE, bookending the Across clues.
Down in the SW we get some entomological variety, where MIDGE [Gnatlike insect] crosses TSETSES [African flies]. (Is it kosher to then have AFRICA [Kenya’s place] in the grid? Seems like tsetses should have been clued sans mention of the continent.)
We also get some greenery with both IVIES [Wall climbers] and FERN [Terrarium plant]. I’m afraid we may be past peak where those LEAVES [Fall collection] are concerned.
The fill that surprised me most? BON-AMI [Comet competitor]. First available in 1886, I hadn’t thought it was still around–but it’s still here. Nice to see that not everything is “improved” out of existence!
Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Like the NYT puzzle, this crossword has the theme entries running vertically, but this time it’s part of the theme: the last word in each theme entry can form a compound word with 57D: FALL, so it makes sense to have each phrase FALLing downward in the grid. Here’s the theme:
- 4D. [“Cutting to the chase…”] clues “LONG STORY SHORT…” This theme has no shortfall.
- 28D. [Like here-today-gone-tomorrow businesses] clues FLY-BY-NIGHT. I didn’t do this puzzle after nightfall; I waited for morning.
- 8D. The famous [“The Price Is Right” signature phrase] is “COME ON DOWN!” A collegemate of mine did not have his downfall on that show; in fact, he won an Alfa Romeo in the Showcase Showdown.
- 15D. If it’s DEAD IN THE WATER, it’s [Going nowhere]. If you go over a waterfall in a barrel, are you DEAD IN THE WATER?
FALL isn’t just a stand-alone unifying answer for the theme—it has a symmetry partner across the grid, EDEN/[Notable 57-Down site]. I don’t think this adds anything to the theme, personally. But 56D: KEELS/[Topples (over)] has a good FALLing vibe.
Today is African geography day: NAMIBIA is a [Country west of Botswana], down south near South Africa, and GHANA, Kofi Annan’s homeland, is an [Ivory Coast neighbor] in West-central Africa. Did you know that Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana are the world’s top producers of cacao beans? They are. I’ll bet the folks at HERSHEY (47A: [Provider of kisses?]) know that.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Heh. 1A was a gimme for me because I read somewhere that this was the oddest detail in Jennifer Love Hewitt’s book, that she “VAJAZZLEs” herself. Apparently this is a portmanteau of “vagina” and “the Bedazzler,” but I hope like hell that it’s a misnomer and she’s actually bedecking her general vulval region rather than the vagina proper. You’re gonna need a speculum to appreciate true vajazzling, am I right?
So, my solving time on this puzzle labeled “hard” is in the same range as most of the puzzles Brendan labels “easy”—which is to say that these ones are all medium to me.
Favorite entries, besides 1A: the webcomic XKCD, ZZ TOP, JOT DOWN, EDDIE clued as Izzard, “I DIGRESS,” DJ BOOTH, and LATE START. Plus I love my CREDENZA(S), though it’s my office furniture rather than in the dining room.
59A: [Prefix with blast] clues OSTEO. Medical/scientific terminology where I wasn’t expecting it, but quibble-free. It’s right below 54A: [Story full of horseshit?]/OATER—that’s one way to liven up an answer like OATER.