Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Wow! Or, more appropriately, Oh!
This was a peach of a crossword, so lively and smooth, and most critical for an early-weeker, interesting! Running through this puzzle was like having a conversation, with perceptible trends, comments echoing off each other, and discernible wit. And without the sort of things that can drag a puzzle into a murk, like heavy-handed cross-references, answers that don’t ring true, or too a high a CAP Quotient™ (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials).
The theme inandofitself is not particularly amazing—interjectory phrases starting with the word OH, each clued with a terse quotation—but the casual feel of the phrases outweighs the onus of seeing the word OH five times in the grid. It’s the ballast fill that makes this puzzle a winner. More on that later, first the rohll call:
- 16a. [“Incidentally …”] OH BY THE WAY. Oh by the way, this exact entry was part 6 of the stepquote announcement in yesterday’s Hex puzzle.
- 38a. [“Holy cow!”] OH MY GOD.
- 61a. [“Never mind”] OH FORGET IT.
- 10d. [“Let’s be serious here …”] OH COME ON. Let’s be serious here, a theme consisting of answers like this would be hard-pressed to come across as stale.
- 32d. [“You’ve gotta be joking!”] OH BROTHER.
- Interesting fill like RAY-BANS, SLIM JIM, full name YO-YO MA, bits with currency such as TASE, PERP, THE HELP.
- Non-cross-references: 18a [Performs in a play] ACTS, 49d [Performing in a play, say] ON STAGE; and better yet, 30a [Pairs] DUOS and 44a [Pairs] TWOS—they’re a symmetrical pair! I wonder if it was intentional that the clue for 45a ERRORS (which can be clued so many ways) is [Goofs], which sonically echoes the answer for 51d [Large fishing hooks] GAFFS (not to mention its homophone, gaffe). I believe it was, which indicates conscientious constructing and/or editing.
- Some slightly challenging fill, to help keep it interesting: AVILA, a [Walled city in Spain]. DENNY clued (to me) obscurely and lengthily as [1968 A.L. M.V.P. and Cy Young winner ___ McLain] rather than something like [Musician ___ Laine ] or (yuck) [Breakfast chain namesake]. And some newer solvers might be unfamiliar with the Biblical CANA or figure skating’s LUTZ.
- Icing on the cake: the last across answer is [Rear end] PRAT. Nice touch.
All told, an excellent puzzle and what Monday offerings should aspire to.
Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review
Happy Victoria Day from Victoria, B.C. Don’t miss the parade! And congratulations to today’s constructor, Jeff Chen, who got married this past weekend.
Theme: The trouble with electricity
- 20A. [Add a little gin to a party drink, say] – SPIKE THE PUNCH
- 25A. [Game requiring full 25-square coverage to win] – BLACKOUT BINGO
- 46A. [Efficient, wordwise] – SHORT AND SWEET
- 52A. [Front page staple, and, in a way, what 20-, 25- and 46-Across begin with] – CURRENT EVENTS
Quite shocking for a Monday.
- 9A. [Salami and turkey jerky, e.g.] – MEATS
- 14A. [Steak and hamburger, e.g.] – BEEF
- 58A. [Salami type] – GENOA. Today’s puzzle is not for vegetarians.
- 32A. [“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” composer Jerome] – KERN
- 50A. [Minnesota’s “crazy” state bird] – LOON. So crazy it is on the Canadian dollar coin.
- 64A. [It may lose its mate in the laundry] – SOCK. My theory is that dryer lint is composed of odd socks.
- 5D. [Tight game] – SQUEAKER. Fun to say.
- 54D. [Ellington/Strayhorn’s “Take __ Train“] – THE A
- 59A.[“Dang it!”] – OH NO! – R.I.P. Robin Gibb
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “O Captain! My Captain!” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Here’s a puzzle to Marvel over–it features five common terms that begin with the surname of a famous Captain. Call me a Caveman but I really enjoyed it. Let’s start with the theme entries:
- 18-Across: AMERICA WEST is the answer to [It merged with US Airways in 2005]. Captain America is one of the many superheroes you can see in the current blockbuster, The Avengers. Calling all superhero movie lovers: I feel like I need to see both Captain America and Thor before I see The Avengers. Is that right? Or can I enjoy The Avengers without seeing those other films first?
- 23-Across: The [Hospital location on “ER”] is COOK COUNTY. That’s where Chicago sits. Captain Cook, of course, is the noted explorer famous for leading the first European contact with Australia. I remember learning that Cook had asked the natives the name for that strange, big-eared, small-handed marsupial that could leap great distances, to which they replied, “Kangaroo.” But “kangaroo,” roughly translated, meant “I don’t understand you.” I wonder if that’s true or just a fun legend.
- 39-Across: Speaking of Kangaroos! One place [Where it’s hard to get a fair trial] is a KANGAROO COURT. Captain Kangaroo was one of my childhood staples, but I confess I watched the show only for Mister Moose and the classic ping pong ball drop. Looking back on it, all I can say is I was easily amused.
- 55-Across: [When the pressure mounts], it’s CRUNCH TIME. Captain Crunch, or, more accurately, Cap’n Crunch, was not one of my childhood staples. I was more of a Cheerios and Raisin Bran kid who occasionally got to dabble in the crack that was Count Chocula.
- 60-Across: The [U. of Texas slogan] is HOOK ‘EM, HORNS. Captain Hook is best known in crosswords as the associate of Smee.
I really liked the execution of this theme. Five theme entries, and all of them have a certain inherent zip beyond their captain-ly connection. They’re surrounded by a bevy of 6’s that include SMOOCH, I ROBOT, and some ORTEGA salsa. There are some compromises to make it all work (hello CIRC, ORAN and RHOS), but none is especially jarring. I would have added TYS to that list of unseemly entries, but the clue, [Cobb and Burrell] name-checks one of the most underrated comic talents on television today. (That’s right, Ty Cobb is a regular cut-up.)
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Not my favorite BEQ themeless, but that doesn’t mean it’s a terrible puzzle. It just means Brendan’s bar has been set way up there, and this puzzle is down more at regular people level.
I liked the profusion of Vs in the upper left corner, with VA VA VOOM and STEVE VAI dropping five Vs. I liked AM I BOTHERING YOU, though the clue ([“Got a minute?”]) sounds more like it wants CAN I BOTHER YOU FOR A SEC; I’d ask AM I BOTHERING YOU if I were, say, running a Dustbuster in the room where someone’s trying to work. I wished KEVIN DURANT’s name would have presented itself to me before I missed him as a Learned League trivia answer, though the clue doesn’t mention that he was the NBA scoring leader. Love YOGA MATS.
When I test-solved this puzzle, I suggested changing ONE KARAT (which had different clue) to ONE CARAT and rejiggering 47a and 50a. Instead, Brendan wrangled the [Like an extremely impure gold alloy] clue out of the talented Frank Longo. Good for a laugh, right? Whereas a straight-up ONE CARAT diamond clue just sits there amusing no one. Good call, BEQ.
Had no idea there was such a thing as LOWER CANADA. Canadians, does the [Quebec’s location] clue pass muster, or is Lower Canada strictly a historical, not geographic, designation?
The clues and fill included a few only-in-crosswords things. ARA is the constellation of the ALTAR. [Turkish inns] are IMARETS. [Elemi and copal] are crosswordese RESINS (and thank goodness elemi and copal are in the clue, not the grid). DIAPASON, the [Full-toned organ stop], is hardly crosswordese, but it is a word I know only from crosswords. The organs I know about are anatomical.