My eyeballs and eardrums are tired. We spent the day at the Museum of Science and Industry with my sister-in-law’s family and we closed the joint down. When the giant Tesla coil makes lightning, my god, is it loud. Imagine, if you will, a gigantic electrified vuvuzela on steroids. Lots of cool new permanent exhibits there now—if you haven’t been there for a year or more, it’s worth another trip. Just bring earplugs.
Freddie Cheng’s New York Times crossword
I have a few reservations about this puzzle. First, there’s a lot of fill that seems out of place in a Monday puzzle. TANTALUM? (That’s the [Element with the symbol Ta].) STELAE? (Not-often-seen plural form of a crosswordese word, [Upright, inscribed stone tablets].) BIMODAL? ([Having two methods], neither of which yields a familiar word?) GERANIUM is plenty familiar, but this is more of a Saturday clue: [Flower also known as a cranesbill]. And LEADY! The word dates to the 14th century, but has it been used much since then? When a clue such as [Like some old water pipes] fits the LEA*Y pattern, aren’t 99.9% of solvers going straight for LEAKY?
Then there’s the way the theme plays out. There are four types of “special offers”: TRIPLE MILES, THREE FOR ONE, FREE REFILLS, and NO MONEY DOWN. Okay, the first two both include that 3 business, which is needless repetition, and one of them stretches the bounds of belief. Where is the supermarket that has three-for-one offers? That’s buy one, get two free? Unheard of, at least in my experience. Buy one, get one at half off, that’s more typical; or a BOGO, buy one, get one free. TRIPLE MILES for an airline, FREE REFILLS for a diner—those work. Do car dealerships offer a lot of NO MONEY DOWN deals for new vehicles? And to tie it all together, we get a partial at 52d: [“What ___!”] A DEAL. I could do without the partial.
Going back to the fill, can you have plural LYES ([Corrosive alkalis])? KIOWA is clued as a [Midwest tribe]; but they’re more of a Great Plains tribe than a Midwestern one. Coastal types may bundle us all together, but the Great Lakes part of the Midwest is so different from the Kansas/Nebraska/Dakotas vibe.(Honest.) BALMORAL, the [Scottish castle for British royals], is a name I wouldn’t have known 5 or 10 years ago. Monday!
John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 17a. A SMILEY FACE is a [“Have a nice day” emoticon].
- 60a. [Blackbeard’s flag] aboard the pirate ship is the JOLLY ROGER. It’s not jolly, but the word JOLLY is thematic.
- 11d. [Shakespeare’s women of Windsor] clues MERRY WIVES, which isn’t much of a stand-alone phrase.
- 28d. [Bar discount times] clues the odd plural HAPPY HOURS. If you talk about multiple happy hours, you may have a drinking problem. Ask you doctor.
I don’t care for the doubling of two-word bits in the upper left corner—AS IF and OR SO feel like overkill together.
In the bottom center, the JOLLY/OLLIE/LOLL/BLABS combo makes me want to be a blob lolling about. (This isn’t about Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog.) Get some BOFFO GORILLA TORPOR going there, if you know what I mean. Maybe burrow down into a HIDEY HOLE.
15-Across amused me. An [Elephant gone amok] is a ROGUE, and I’m picturing Sarah Palin “going rogue” and stampeding about the savanna, trumpeting all the while.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Famous and Fulfilled”—Janie’s review
Being famous is one thing; being fulfilled at the same time—feeling content with oneself and satisfied in one’s accomplishments—is quite another story. Today’s theme fill is made up of the names of five famous folks whose first names (which also happen to be nouns) can take the suffix “-FUL.” This leaves them as adjectives, and lexically, if not literally—well, see the title if you need more of an explanation. Randy does a great job, too, with the grid, stacking the first two and the last two pairs of names so that they overlap each other with eight letters. Today’s guilty parties are:
- 18A. ARTFUL TATUM [Cunning jazz pianist?].
- 20A. FAITHFUL HILL [Loyal country singer?].
- 36A. GRACEFUL KELLY [Elegant and charming actress turned princess?].
- 54A. WILLFUL SMITH [Stubborn rapper turned actor?].
- 59A. JOYFUL BEHAR [Very happy comedienne and TV host?].
I think this is a terrific set of theme fill, and the adjectives more or less well-matched to their subjects. Graceful Kelly seems particularly apt; joyful Behar is funny to me because she’s so acerbic, and “very happy” is not the description that comes to mind when I think of her—nor willful for Mr. Smith. But for the purposes of the puzzle, the clues and fill are spot on.
While the cluing as a whole is perhaps too straightforward, the grid’s corners, with their 3 x 6 columns in the NW and SE corners (and double stacked plus triple-columned sixes NE and SW) gave Randy a chance to show off some. Fave fill from these areas includes SHTICK and SPHINX (try saying that rapidly!); CALIPH, CHALET and CACHED; ARAFAT, ASIANS and ATTLEE; LATVIA and LA CASA.
We get a nice pair of trios with TROIKA [Three-person team] and TRIUNE [Consisting of three]. And I like the way ALS is clued as [Capp and Capone], and ERMINE and ERMA sit next to each other in the grid. The aural build in the clue and then the fill give the puzzle just a little goose.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
After solving, I read Brendan’s post wherein he says he was striving for the smoothest 64-word fill he could get. Hey! It didn’t play like a 64-worder. The crossing chemicals ESTER and STYRENE felt blah, but overall the puzzle came across as a 68- to 72-worder, with bright and shiny fill. Look at that—only two 3-letter words, there in the middle, and they combine to make a single word: LEA+DER.
- 14a. OBAMACARE = [Reform enacted on 3/30/10].
- 22a. ONE CAN HOPE = [Phrase of wishful thinking]. This is one of those rare things people say where “one” sounds much more natural and familiar than “you.”
- 49a. SNOB APPEAL = [It’s cultivated by indie labels].
- 57a. “ME SO HORNY” = [#83 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop]. I’m pretty sure I’ve never even heard the song, but the title phrase has absolutely entered the vernacular.
- 59a. PROVOLONE cheese = [Deli purchase]. Yum.
- 1d, 4d. COCAINE = [Sherlock Holmes’s vice] and IMOGENE = [“Your Show of Shows” comic Coca]. I like the surprise of Coca/COCAINE combo.
- 10d. APESHIT = [Completely crazy]. I was stuck in that corner until this answer came to me off of the H.
- 15d. ERECTED = [Threw up], as in “threw up a building on that spot.” I had EGESTED, which shared 5 letters with the right answer. Oy! I like clue trickery.