Randy Sowell’s New York Times crossword
I did this puzzle a few days ago, along with the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday puzzles—Will generously sent PDFs for use in the Chicago Crossword Tournament. So I have felt for days now that this is certainly no Monday puzzle. The theme entries are “famous” people whose last names are European cities:
- 17A. HAROLD ROME is [Broadway lyricist/composer who wrote “I Can Get It for You Wholesale”]. He…is…really not a Monday-caliber household name. But wait!
- Then there’s 33A: ELLEN GLASGOW. Who?? [Virginia-born Pulitzer Prize novelist of 1942], that’s who. I comforted the tournament competitors that they shouldn’t feel demoralized that this was the easy puzzle, because these first two names were not on the tip of my tongue either. I bet there was an awful lot of double-checking the crossings for 17A and 33A.
- 42A. IRVING BERLIN! Him I know. [“God Bless America” composer], yep.
- 61A. And JACK LONDON, also familiar. [“The Call of the Wild” author] should be known to pretty much anyone tackling the crossword.
I’m on the way out the door for dinner now, so I’ll come back later this evening to load the answer grid and whatnot.
Anyone else expect 1A: [Noisy bird] to be MYNAH instead of MACAW? I don’t expect to be duped at all by 1A in a Monday puzzle!
Wondering why this puzzle includes both SPED (22D: [Hurried]) and 1D: [Speedometer reading: Abbr.] (MPH), with two forms of the word speed? I quote Will Shortz: “The ‘speedometer’/SPED oblique duplication doesn’t really bother me. It doesn’t violate my rules, and I doubt most solvers will care (or even notice).” So there you have it. If your knickers get into a twist about such things, you may wish to gently untwist them.
If you solve this puzzle online, you miss out on a cute visual aspect in one of the clues. 38A clues ECHO with shrinking letters, where the second and third “home?”s in [Anybody home? … home? … home? …”] were successively smaller. Newspaper subscribers, have you seen this done before? I’m wondering if I’ve been missing out on typographical fillips like this all along.
Bruce Venzke & Stella Daily’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Off to Sleep at Last”—Janie’s review
“To sleep, perchance to dream…” So many ways to express it. In today’s three theme answers, the requisite synonym for “sleep” (with “off”) is the “last” word of a familiar phrase. How might you make your way to dreamland? You might drop off, nod off or drift off, as we gather from:
- 17A. CHERRY COUGH DROP [Halls product]. I was always a sucker for Ludens “Wild Cherry Cough Drops” myself.. Or the iconic Smith Brothers, both of which seemed more like candy than “medicinal” products.
- 38A. GET THE NOD [Be accepted].
- 64A. CATCHES THE DRIFT [Understands].
There’s a nice inter-generational appeal in the non-theme fill, particularly in the area of popular music. Working back from the most contemporary genre, we have [Snoop] DOGG [(“What’s My Name” rapper)], then LARS [Ullrich of Metallica]; to [“Turn! Turn! Turn!” band, with “The”] which is BYRDS; to far more middle-of-the-road vocalist EDIE [Adams who wed Ernie Kovacs], and the reminder that, back in the day, singers often CROONED their tunes [Emulated Perry Como]. Bing Crosby, notably, crooned. These days, Harry Connick, Jr., is known to croon a tune or two.
There’s also a contrast in kinds of leisure activity people engage in. While this game of strategy can be enjoyed on the computer, it has its origins as a board game with many “men” (and a queen). I’m speaking, of course, of chess, where the PAWN is the [Lowly chess piece] in question. At the other end of the spectrum is the video game world where [Halo experts, e.g.] refer not to heavenly beings or even shampoo mavens but to the GAMERS themselves. Here, “Halo” is one of the gazillion games them-as-enjoy-’em can participate in.
Mike Peluso’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Janie says (one inch above these words) that she can enjoy a day at the ballpark, so I’ll bet she likes Mike’s puzzle. The theme feels fresh and fun. Four familiar phrases are clued as if they have something to do with the Major League teams whose names are coincidentally found in the phrases:
- 20a. [San Francisco players not paying attention?] are SLEEPING GIANTS. If I played baseball, I would absolutely be one of those outfielders who pays no attention to where the ball is.
- 25a. [Minnesota players from old Bangkok?] clues SIAMESE TWINS. I hear the Twinkies have a new open-air stadium so Minnesotans can finally enjoy a summer day at the ballpark without losing access to summer weather.
- 49a. [Anaheim players tripping over their own feet?] are FALLEN ANGELS. The verb tense in the clue should be in the past tense, shouldn’t it?
- 57a. [Pittsburgh players from old Algiers?] are BARBARY PIRATES.
And now, comments on the rest of the puzzle:
- 18a. [Central Chinese tourist city] is XIAN. Wow, I never even saw this clue and answer. I filled in that section from the Down clues. Should’ve peeked to see what word was beginning with an X, though.
- 48a. [iPhone, e.g.] is used to clue PDA. Has any iPhone user (or seller) ever referred to it as a “PDA”? I think that term has fallen into obsolescence. “Smartphone” is far more common.
- 53a. [Word in an oxymoronic Michael J. Fox movie title] is FUTURE, as in Back to the Future. Mind you, “going back” can refer to both returning and moving in reverse, and returning somewhere can be forward movement. (See also GET BACK, or 43d: [Recoup].)
- 63a. [Eye, on the Eiffel Tower] is the French word for “eye,” OEIL. How awesome would it be if the Eiffell Tower had a giant all-seeing eyeball on top?
- 66a. [Double Dutch need] is a long jump ROPE. Double Dutch is cool to watch, but I never had the coordination to master the jumping part and could barely manage to turn two ropes in opposite directions.
- 5d. [Hack with a meter] is a TAXICAB. I was thinking the hack was the driver and not the vehicle but was glad to find that the horrible TAXIMAN was not the correct answer.
- 9d. [Mötley Crüe duo?] are the sham UMLAUTS in the band’s name.
- 55d. [Take again, as vows] is a nice substitute for the more common magazine-related clues for RENEW. Have you ever renewed your vows?
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
- 1a. [Virtually assembled group that performs confusing actions] is a FLASHMOB. Has this been in a crossword before?
- 17a-18a. [With 18-Across, “A Fish Called Wanda” star] is JAMIE LEE / CURTIS. If you’re going to split an answer into two entries, it’s so much more elegant to run them on the same line. Filling the line like this is a bonus.
- The slangy middle has both 33a: [“Nyuh-uh”]/NOOP and 34a: [“Gimme an effin’ break”]/JEEZ.
- I didn’t know there was a name for this: a QUIFF is what 42a: [Conan O’Brien’s haircut] is.
- 51a. [Knuckleballer Yoshida, currently the only professional woman pitcher in the U.S. (for the Chico Outlaws)] clues ERI. Terrific alternative to “Eri tu” clues…even if very few of us have heard of her.
- 9d. An EMCEE is [One who makes opening statements]. That was me at the Chicago Crossword Tournament. I was totally Shortzin’ it up.
- 36d. [Actor Steve of “The Big Lebowski”] is named BUSCEMI. I never remember how to pronounce that name, but I love that guy.
And…that’s all we have time for today. Time to edit!