Heads up! Patrick Blindauer’s monthly website puzzle for July has been posted. PDF only (“yay!” for everyone with a printer who likes convention-bending puzzles, “aww, sorry” for those without printer access) once again. Matt Gaffney’s ready to blog this puzzle, but we wanted to give you a chance to do the puzzle before running into the answers here.
Bernice Gordon’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
This puzzle’s theme plays like a Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, either a low-rent version or a slumming one, depending on your estimation of said puzzles. Anyway, it goes like this: six-letter French author’s surname + anagram thereof, connected with a possessive apostrophe s. Why French authors? No idea. Can’t find any reason relating to the date (2 July), so I’ll be content with the cohesiveness it provides.
- 20a. [French writer’s apprehension by the police?] SARTRE’S ARREST. See? No need to be apprehensive about the theme, it’s easy to apprehend.
- 25a. [French writer’s state of drunkenness?] PROUST’S STUPOR. Last seen demanding he be served the finest madeleines available to humanity, no doubt.
- 43a. [French writer’s two-under-par holes?] LESAGE’S EAGLES. Least recognizable author requires the most specific anagram. That’s responsible cluing
- 49a. [French writer’s boardwalk booth operator?] RACINE’S CARNIE. No, I do not like that spelling. Not at all. “Carny” is by far the most mainstream, with “carney” a distant second and then “carnie.”
The thirteen-letter themers are most, but not entirely responsible for the eight cheater squares in the grid, contributing to the large number of blocks (46); the meagre pair of three-letter answers separating (they indeed separate more than they connect) each of the upper and lower themers is also a factor. Oh, and it’s a pangram. I’d say the crossing of 23a [1970s TV’s “__ Ramsey”] HEC and 5d [Ovid’s book of love poetry] AMORES will prove the most difficult for new solvers. Least expected fill for a Monday puzzle: the older spelling variant PHIAL for a [Small lab container] at 25d.
- Double-duty clue [Backside] at 19a and 49d, for HIND and REAR.
- 14a [Famous __ cookies] AMOS, 60a [ __ of Sandwich] EARL, 57a [Creme-filled cookies] OREOS. Sandwich … cookies! What? I’m trying here.
- Row Eight: OINK / HAZES / EAVE. Sounds like the skeleton of a disturbing story. Speaking of which, nice longer fill at 9d NARRATES [Gives an account]. Hmm, perhaps Row Nine’s story is even more disturbing.
- I’ll do my best to end this run-down on a HIGH NOTE by evoking 37-down.
Verdict: decent but far from great Monday offering, the most detrimental aspects being a relatively obscure themer, an unpopular spelling variant in another theme entry, and a lot of black squares. J’accuse?
Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review
What a tidy little puzzle! Plus, an incredibly smooth solve. A real gem of an early-week offering. 44-across, in the center of Row 9, serves as the revealer: [Jettas and Beetles, or an apt title for this puzzle] VWS. It sits nestled at the bottom of a big black V in this grid with left-right symmetry. That symmetry also allows for none of the other theme entries having the same overall length: 13, 4+4, 5+5, and 15. And those four are all famous women with the initials VW.
- 20a. [Venerable woman of literature] VIRGINIA WOOLF.
- 23a… [With 24-Across, voguish woman of bridal fashion] VERA | WANG.
- 49a… [With 51-Across, vivacious woman of game show fame] VANNA | WHITE.
- 59a. [Voluptuous woman of stage and screen] VANESSA WILLIAMS. And of record, I seem to recall.
Cute flourish, each of the clues incorporating a “v[adjective] woman,” emphasizing the supposed v-woman title. Other potential players: Virginia Wade (12, repeats VIRGINIA), Vivienne Westwood (16, too long), Victoria Woodhull (16, ditto).
As for ballast, topdeck are two oceangoing clues: 17a [Ocean motion] TIDE and 9d [Ocean makeup] SEAWATER, the latter complemented (physically, anyway) with 5d REDIRECT. The nearby 15a [Disappear slowly but surely] ERODE also evokes the maritime. Appealing longfill at 27d with the good SNAKE VENOM and the very good 29d HIT THE WALL [Reach one’s endurance limit, in a marathon]. Cruciverbal veterans might appreciate the knowing nod (veritable wink?) of TEE-HEE and TEEPEE in what would be paired positions in a gird with normal rotational symmetry; it’s also nice to see them in their more standard forms rather than the somewhat bastardized versions (bigraphic first syllables) that more commonly populate crosswords.
Also in the non-theme department are a bunch of other female celebrities: DEBRA [Winger of “Black Widow], GISELE [Supermodel Bündchen], [“SNL” alum Cheri] OTERI, [Tuesday, and others] WELDS. [“Fame” star Cara] IRENE. There are men in the puzzle, but for the most part they’re clued indirectly (STOOGES) or appear as initials (TSE) or nicknames (IKE); the exceptions are the biblical ENOS, and PHIL [Rizzuto of the Yankees]. My sense is that this aspect of the puzzle is accidental, but why should that stop me from bringing it up?
The very low CAP Quotient™ (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials) also adds to the enjoyment of the solve.
My favorite part? 30d [Accustom (to)] with the initial E already in place, so there was no angsty delay in learning if it was INURE or ENURE.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Pretty Corny” – Sam Donaldson’s review
The last word in each of the four theme entries can precede “corn:”
- 17-Across: A [Certain Ohio baseballer] is a CLEVELAND INDIAN (Indian corn).
- 27-Across: The [Roaring Twenties hit tune] is AIN’T SHE SWEET (sweet corn).
- 49-Across: To [Choose not to go steady] is to PLAY THE FIELD (field corn).
- 65-Across: The [Confection that’s often cane-shaped] is PEPPERMINT CANDY (candy corn). Makes me wish there was a “patty corn.”
I won’t spend too much time parsing this one, lest I be accused of stalking the crossword. I’ll just say there were a number of entries that were pleasing to my ear, like ALL CLEAR, TEN-SPEED, YEAH YEAH, TIMEX watches, and I LIED. (No, it’s true. I liked them. I swear.)
It was a little weird to see INDIA in the grid when CLEVELAND INDIAN sits just five rows above. I’ll share this kernel of truth: it feels like a duplication. Otherwise, however, the grid was smooth as silk.
Brendan “The Emmett” Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Last day to make a deposit into the BEQ tip jar and receive that 21×21 themeless puzzle that plays the part of the art museum tote bag or public radio mug. Support the cruciverbal arts!
There is sparkle in this 72-worder, yes, but also a bunch of answers that really didn’t do much for me. The likes: portmanteau BREASTAURANT, the WORLD BANK with a current clue, SAUSAGE PIZZA (no Snausage pizza?), the Hutchless STARSKY, “HUT TWO,” SCREEN CAP (see image at right) and UBERGEEK (hang on, is this answer the real reason that Joon’s photo is in Brendan’s post? Because physics + trivia overlord = ubergeek). Also delighted by LOBSTER clued as [Sunburn shade]—I got a little sunburned at a parade the weekend before last, but it was that tomato burn that really hurt. Tomatoes: they’re dangerous, people. Especially fresh from the pizza oven.
ALPACAS reminds me: Someone posted a picture of a shaved llama on Facebook the other day. Did you know there’s an entire website for that? But they’re open to non-llama animals in awkwardly shaved incarnations. This cat is funnier.
In the “meh” box, we have the INVADER, SPARRER, and NEGATOR, who EASELED up some NON-ART (actually, I like the NON-ART). Plus RST, TRA, UTA, RAI, OLAN, AMAT, and UPSA.