Guy Tabachnick’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Well, looks like another début. Straightforward theme, but exceedingly well-executed. Each long answer contains a word denoting an ectoplasmic being.
- 20a. [Rapper who came to prominence as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan] GHOSTFACE KILLAH.
- 25a. [Former Republican-turned-Democratic senator from Pennsylvania] ARLEN SPECTER.
- 43a. [Form of sparring] SHADOW BOXING.
- 53a. [Whiskey or vodka] DISTILLED SPIRIT.
Two fifteens, two twelves, all … erm … solid phrases. No hinky inconsistencies, either. By that I mean that each one is spelled properly (none of that homophones-for-some stuff) and there isn’t any discrepancy with singular or plural forms. Two people, two generic nouns, decent mix. The only thing, and it’s the teensiest thing, is that the first themer is the only one in which the poltergeisty synonym is not a separate word.
As is expected for an early week puzzle, a smooth fill with a relative minimum of crosswordese, abbrevs., and partials (what I refer to as the CAP Quotient™). Not to say that such items are nonexistent: AGHA, OLIO, -ENT (in suffix form), arbitrary Roman numeral CIV, and OKLA. And you too, SNEAD.
What is surprising, though, is the edginess of the fill. Maybe it’s a riff on GHOSTFACE KILLAH, but there seems to be more than the standard amount of the hip and the hip-hop therein. 30d [Homies] BROS, 53d [Extraordinary, in slang] DOPE, 45d [One playing hoops] BALLER (an unadorned term I’ve not heard before, not with that meaning anyway). At the next tier are HOOK UP, RUG RATS, and SCOOB [Shaggy’s nickname for his canine friend]. Daring to have that as the opener at one-across. Zoinks! 47d GRILLE is clued as [Cover on the front of a car] rather than [Contemporary dental adornment], though I believe that’s commonly spelled without an e at the end. And obviously 17a ICIER couldn’t be clued as [More like a rapper, perhaps?], despite what Messrs Cube, T and Vanilla might say to the contrary. Other highlights: DIALECTS, CODEINE, ELIDE over DELIA.
Favorite clue: 7d [Words below the Lincoln Memorial] ONE CENT. And if you have 50 pennies… never mind.
Refreshingly enjoyable Monday offering.
p.s. I have no idea why I nearly wrote in WONKA for 14a [“A Fish Called __”] WANDA, but, I tell you, it would make a heck of a movie.
David Steinberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Angela’s review
Hey, everyone, PuzzleGirl here — did you miss me? I don’t even really remember how to blog any more so bear with me. What we’ve got here is a Monday LAT puzzle. Mondays, obviously, aren’t super flashy so if you’re looking for a lot of sparkle, you’re going to be disappointed. Basically, I want a Monday puzzle to be smooth. I want a simple theme and clues that might make me stop and think, but only for a second — not, like, all day. And no crazy-ass words. A little crosswordese to help people who are just starting out to get a foothold here and there and help build their confidence. When I finish the puzzle, I want there to be some clue/answer pairs I haven’t even seen, because I got everything solidly through crosses. Using these criteria, this puzzle is a big winner.
I have to admit, the theme made me chuckle. The very first puzzle I ever submitted to the New York Times had a similar theme. In fact, WALLA WALLA was the first theme answer. One of the other themes answers was SUGAR SUGAR, which I really liked a lot. The other two … well, let’s just say the other two theme answers were not impressive. And the fill sucked. David, on the other hand, chose much better theme answers and his fill doesn’t suck. Which is why we’re even talking about this puzzle.
- 19A: Capital of American Samoa – PAGO PAGO
- 51A: South Pacific resort island – BORA BORA
- 9D: Hawaiian food fish – MAHI MAHI
- 10D: “Va-va-voom!” – HUBBA HUBBA
- 27D: Washington city famous for sweet onions – WALLA WALLA
- 37D: Disease cause by vitamin B deficiency – BERI BERI
The only real clunker I saw was SAWERS [25A: Lumberjacks, often]. My favorite entry is BULLSEYE [40A: Archer’s target]. Then one that made me stop and think (but not too long) was GRADE B [49A: Like the darkest maple syrups]. I guess I’m not much of a maple connoisseur. With the DEB in place I thought maybe the darkest maple syrups come from some Eastern European country or something. Which, of course, makes no sense.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Food Chains” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Warning: solving this puzzle will make you hungry. I just ate a couple of hours ago and I already have the munchies. (For the record, it’s entirely attributable to this puzzle and not at all to any other munchie-inducing substances. Dude, c’mon.)
Doug forms four food trios that double as three-word headlines you might see in the newspaper :
- 17-Across: [Popeye’s gal conks him in the head with a fastball?], in headline form, is OLIVE BEANS HONEY. To which Popeye replied, “Well blow me down!”
- 26-Across: Why say [Computer company burns out some iPad components?] when you can just say APPLE FRIES CHIPS?
- 43-Across: The answer to [Bad actor cuts a scene from a Broadway flop?] is HAM PRUNES TURKEY. Eww, prunes.
- 57-Across: BACON DATES BERRY is the headline when the [“Footloose” star goes out with the “Catwoman” star?]. Especially scandalous given that at least one of the parties is married. I think they both are, but it’s sometimes hard to keep up with Halle Berry.
I really like this theme. Foods as nouns, verbs, and objects! The fill was equally enjoyable, with gems like WHOOSH, BUGABOO, TEN-SPEED, and the unabridged EZEKIEL. Even those who care little for proper names in their crossword fill may like GOMEZ Addams, the lovely Mila KUNIS, and the swimmingly beautiful Veronica LAKE. Those three are infinitely more familiar to me than the crossing [Spanish surrealist Joan] MIRO and the [“Utopia” author Thomas] MORE (brows don’t get lower than mine), but with a couple of crossings in place I was able to figure them out in fairly short order.
Could have sworn [Little guys] would be LADS and not TADS, but I’m even more sure I haven’t eaten LURKEY before, so eventually I succumbed to TADS (my dictionary confirms a “tad” is synonymous with a little boy). Tricky clue!
The most surprising clue, you (didn’t) ask? I had RYAN in the grid without ever reading the clue. In writing this review, I scrolled through the clues afterward. As I got to RYAN, I expected a clue along the lines of [Nolan of the Rangers]. (Doug’s a big baseball fan, you see.) But no! [Seacrest of “American Idol”]! Well blow me down!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
You heard it first here, folks: The 1-Across seed entry in aan upcoming BEQ themeless will be PUSHUPBRA. We’ve had the TRAINING BRA and now we’ve moved on to the SPORTS BRA ([Support for an athletic rack?]), so clearly PUSHUPBRA’s coming soon.
No idea what this ZERG RUSH thing is, so I just Googled it. Ha! Go ahead and type “zerg rush” into your Google search bar and watch what happens. Cute—I’m glad I did that.
- 15a. CHRIS PAUL is a current full-name entry but I wouldn’t know him if he dunked on me (unless he was wearing his jersey—but then, how many other people wear that jersey too?).
- 37d. [Make Mad money, say] clues SATIRIZE. You know Patrick Merrell, the crossword constructor? He has made Mad money with his illustrations, I believe.
- 66d. INSTAGRAM, fresh answer, yes. I just don’t see the appeal of the Instagram photo treatments. This makes me either old or particular.
- 11d. A LOAD is an undistinguished partial but I think Brendan put it in here ON PURPOSE for educational reasons; there was some discussion over on Facebook recently. It’s “Take A LOAD off, Annie,” not “…Fanny.” I will continue singing it wrong to the end of my days.
Anyone else mangle the lower portion of the puzzle by having BREAKS IN at 39d for [Interrupts, as a broadcast]? Ai, that killed me. PREEMPTS!
Never heard of ALEXA, [The Web Information Company]. Please don’t disabuse me of the notion that Alexa Ray Joel has started her own Web Information Company.