Ellen Lauschner and Victor Fleming’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Breezy little puzzle with five theme entries, including a central spanner. The gimmick is phrases ending in /dō/, which is spelled differently each time.
- 17a. [It’s kneaded at a bakery] BREAD DOUGH.
- 23a. [“Doonesbury” cartoonist] GARRY TRUDEAU.
- 35a. [Samuel Beckett play with an unseen character] WAITING FOR GODOT.
- 47a. [Vito Corleone portrayer] MARLON BRANDO.
- 57a. [1954 Hitchcock thriller] REAR WINDOW.
Basically, I see every spelling except -doe, as in ERNIE K-DOE, but that’s fine, since there are too many, or two few, names among the themers already. The round-up is: two real, full names; one play title (hinging on a fictional character’s name); one film title; and one everyday item. For me, that’s neither coherent nor varied enough. Perhaps it could have been made with names only? Brigitte Bardot? DJ Shadow? (Unfortunately, the only -dough person I could find is porn actor Jon Dough, who is too long to go with with DJ Shadow).
Otherwise, the puzzle is an extremely smooth solve, with that low CAP™ Quotient we like to see in all puzzles, but especially in early-week offerings. Despite the easiness of the solve (under three minutes is very quick for me), the constructors and editor don’t neglect to have some fun in the clues. Some examples:
- 40a [Convent inhabitant] for NUN coyly nudges the solver to think of habit.
- 56a [Speak like Sylvester] LISP. All those sibilants in the clue!
- 61a [Wrinkly fruit] UGLI. May as well have written wrinkli fruit!
- 4d [Meadow] LEA. Should meadow have been avoided? 24d [ __ list] TO-DO is iffy too; although it isn’t pronounced with a long o, it looks like one of the theme entries (47a).
- 52a [State north of Calif.] for OREG. is easily the ugliest entry, 61a notwithstanding.
- 26d [Baby deer] FAWN. Of course, DOE flickered through my brain.
Good, but not great puzzle.
Anna Gundlach’s Los Angeles Times Crossword – Jeffrey’s Review
Theme: 23A. [“__ silly question, get . . .”] – ASK A
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice,
And everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.
- 117A. [Baker’s sweetener] – GRANULATED SUGAR
- 26A. [Cinnamon blend for a Thanksgiving recipe] – PUMPKIN PIE SPICE. This sounds like a forced phrase. Judges?
- 43A. [“All finished!”] – THAT’S EVERYTHING. See you next time. Oh, wait. I’m not done yet.
- 57A. [1966 Beach Boys hit] – WOULDN’T IT BE NICE
- 37A. [Little ones who, they say, are made up of the ends of this puzzle’s four longest entries] – GIRLS
- 33A. [“The Sheik of __”: 1920s song] – ARABY
- 6D. [Dog also called a Persian Greyhound] – SALUKI. What are you doing here on a Monday?
- 18D. [Shepard who hit golf balls on the moon] – ALAN. Wrong. He only hit one golf ball. [Wrong. See comments]
- 41D. [Manners to be minded] – P’S AND Q’S. Alan minded his P’s and Q’s during the Q and A at the A and P. The circle of life.
- 54D. [Rocking Turner] – TINA
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Pattern Recognition” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Each of the three theme entries begins with a particular pattern:
- 20-Across: The [Itsy-bitsy garment of song] is the teeny-weeny yellow POLKA-DOT BIKINI. The song takes me back about 40 years. It was on a K-Tel LP I used to listen to all the time as a kid. The album was called “Goofy Greats.” It included “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and a dozen or so other songs I can’t seem to recall now.
- 37-Across: The CHECKERED FLAG is the [NASCAR finish line signal].
- 55-Across: [Obsolete prison garb] includes both the STRIPED UNIFORM and the ball-and-chain ankle accessory.
The eights sandwiching the central theme entry (FASTBALL and TIE SCORE) are cool, but when it yields adjacent crossings like BRS and AEC I’m not entirely convinced it’s worth it. The paired longer Downs were fun, especially CAISSONS. About the only thing I know about caissons is that [They went rolling along in old US Field Artillery song lyrics]. Good thing that was the clue! My dictionary says a caisson is a chest filled with ammo. They had to be wheeled out to battle, I’m guessing, which is why they would “go rolling along.”
I really liked the whole conglomerate of ZIPLOC, X-ACTO, SKI CAP, and Gary LARSON over on the west side. To me, these highlights were worth having LOESS, ENROL, and ASSNS in the lower-left corner. Sometimes, when it comes to fill, it’s all about the give-and-take.
Liz Gorski’s Celebrity crossword, “Movie Monday”
The theme is a star and two of the hit movies on her résumé:
- 15a. [Val Kilmer film in which 33-Across had a cameo: 2 wds.] is BATMAN FOREVER. I was thinking she played Poison Ivy, but that was Uma Thurman in 1997’s Batman & Robin, with George Clooney. Drew played Sugar (who?) in Batman Forever, but also starred in the 1992 thriller Poison Ivy.
- 33a. [“Going the Distance” star: 2 wds.] is DREW BARRYMORE. This 2010 rom-com is not one of the movies she has produced.
- 49a. [With “The,” Adam Sandler film starring 33-Across: 2 wds.] clues WEDDING SINGER.
Smooth puzzle overall.
Anyone have trouble with the crossing of 55a: [“__ One” (DJ Khaled song): 2 wds.] and 52d: [ABC’s morning show, for short]? I knew GMA, which is fortunate because the song title, “I’M ON One,” doesn’t make any sense to me.
Common crossword answer that may not be so familiar to people who don’t use tools a lot and are new to crosswords: An AWL is a [Hole-punching tool]. The most common crossword clues for this word are “hole maker” or “hole puncher,” “leatherworker’s tool,” “piercing tool,” and “cobbler’s tool.” If you’re making shoelace holes or belt holes, an awl comes in handy.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday 156”
Last night on Facebook, AmericanAcrostics.com‘s puzzlemaker Cynthia Morris mentioned that her two favorite shows right now are 19a: DOWNTON ABBEY and Breaking Bad, and “I didn’t realize how bizarre this is until I watched one episode of each on the same night.” (Good acrostics site if you like that puzzle type; online solving or printouts, whichever you prefer; all related to American history but not in a boring textbook way.)
Besides DOWNTON ABBEY, Brendan has loaded the puzzle up with other zippy answers. Jazz aficionados get AVANT JAZZ crossing JOHN ZORN (but not at the Z), a CAESAR SALAD that is ALL WASHED UP (less risk of food poisoning, yo), a BEDBUG (ick) who will JUMP BAIL, CITIZENS BANK, and “AIN’T IT?”
Strange-looking grid, no? Those 3×7 and 4×7 corners are the bread, but then the sandwich’s cheese is four rows of 3- to 5-letter answers. But the cheese hooks up with a bunch of long Downs and is surrounded by the lettuce and tomato of longer answers. The short fill is mostly pretty smooth, so yes, I remain a fan of the 72-word themeless and prefer it to anything in the 50s. 4.5 stars.