Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Experience with crosswords has primed me to look for completeness, tidy themes. That, along with hastiness, worked against me in this puzzle because I misled myself into expecting too much from it and getting all tantalized. Tell you about it after the run-down.
- 50d. [2012 Olympics locale, with a hint to the ends of the answers to the six starred clues] LONDON.
- 16a. [*Big gamble] CRAP SHOOT.
- 24a. [*Election day receptacle] BALLOT BOX.
- 37a. [*Result of a financial panic] BANK RUN.
- 40a. [*Tight braid] CORNROW.
- 51a. [*Series of changes from birth to death] LIFE CYCLE. This is more the lay sense than the biological type that first occurs to me. Briefly, it’s the sequence from inception (e.g., fertilization) through reproductive maturity. This should not be interpreted as a dismissal of senescence.
- 63a. [*Precipitous drop in cost] PRICE DIVE. The second expressly economic term among the them answers. Combined with the political 24a and the existential connotations of 16a and 51a, it leaves 40a CORNROW as feeling the odd one out.
The ends of those answers are of course categories of Olympic sports endeavor: shooting, boxing, running, rowing, cycling, and diving.
So, what I did was I naturally allied 50d with its symmetrical partner 4d [Two trios plus one] SEPTET. I failed to notice that there was no direction to link this answer to the theme. Further, I didn’t read the clue for LONDON past “… hint to the ends …” so I was uninformed that there were only six starred clues (and didn’t bother to count during the solve). With these oversights—and the inescapable media coverage, especially over the weekend—I assumed that there were seven events, and further assumed that they would be the components of the heptathlon. Women’s: 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m, long jump, javelin throw, 800m. Men’s: 60m, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60m hurdles, pole vault, 1000m. Not that I was familiar enough with the parts for it to to have helped during solving, even if I had used that strategy, or if that was the theme (which it wasn’t, as I believe I’ve mentioned).
The seemingly requisite Two Long Verticals (that’s how these puzzles often shake out, with themers running across, the need for flow in the grid, and (I assume) a desire for the constructor to provide variety and a little extra bang-for-buck) are a train conductor’s ALL ABOARD and the scenthound-clued SNIFFS OUT. Slightly shorter are TOO FAST and CALORIES in Column Eight. Interesting that the crossword-natural Chevrolet AVEO (manufactured 2002–2011) has only appeared three times in NYT puzzles (2007, 2011, and 2012).
The remainder of the puzzle has the expected early-week mix of easygoing clues and unspectacular fill, which means it hits the mark for a Monday.
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review
58-across is the theme revealer for this puzzle: [Fairy tale outcomes, or, in a way, what the last words of 20-, 37-, and 43-Across are] HAPPY ENDINGS. Two points: (1) I’m contractually obligated to make the observation that such an answer would certainly be clued differently in one of the edgier venues such as the Onion, or Brendan Emmet Quigley’s site. (2) in the unrevised and darker earlier versions, many if not most classic fairy tales did not have happy endings. See the critical writings of Jack Zipes, Maria Tatar, Bruno Bettleheim, and Marie-Louise von Franz (disclosure: I haven’t read all of those authors). Which reminds me, there was a recent modern anthology edited by Kate Bernheimer that I intend to get ahold of.
- 20a. [Guy for whom glasses are raised] MAN OF THE HOUR (happy hour).
- 37a. [One-eighty] ABOUT FACE (happy face). What, no [Uey] clue?
- 43a. [The cellar, sports-wise] LAST PLACE (happy place).
Yes, well, happy hour is the only one of those three I can really get behind. The others are a little too self-helpy for my liking. Hm, come to think of it, so is happy hour, although perhaps it’s more self-medicinal. Nevertheless, it’s more to my taste. And, it doesn’t rhyme with those other two smugsters.
- Row one provides an unpleasant narrative: ACID | GUSH | SIEGE. No, thank you.
- Crosswordese rivers: AAR & ODER. Bit tough for an early-weeker, but the crossings keep them honest.
- 56d [Shake on it] AGREE. With the A–––– in place, thought it was A DEAL; happy that it wasn’t that partial.
- Longish non-theme fill: SATURATE, UPSTARTS.
- Little-known fact: ENTs such as [Tolkien’s Treebeard, for one] can diagnose resinous post-nasal drip.
- 5d [Colonel Sanders trademark] GOATEE. But perhaps they should update the image to a gallinaceous mohawk rather than a caprine beard?
Good puzzle, modest theme. Typical Monday.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Double Headers” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Well, the easiest thing about this puzzle was guessing its constructor. And that’s good, because this is Day 6 of Name That Constructor Month. I was so sure this was a Bob Klahn puzzle that I didn’t even bother to think of anyone else for my other two guesses. If I owned a farm, I would have bet it too. No one else would have a puzzle with so many twisty clues.
The theme was simple enough. The three longest Across answers are all common terms beginning with a word that can also precede “double.” Thus, each of those lead-in words is also a “double header:”
- 20-Across: The [Popular place for a puzzle] is the DAILY NEWSPAPER. Fans of parimutual wagering, Jeopardy!, and parimutual wagering on Jeopardy! are all familiar with the “daily double.”
- 35-Across: One who is [Taking a tour] is SEEING THE SIGHTS. But one who spends too long on the activity may well be “seeing double” before the day is over.
- 54-Across: [Fodder for the jury] is the BODY OF EVIDENCE it must weigh in its deliberations. Interestingly, a common alibi used by criminal defendants is that the offensive conduct was committed by a “body double.” (Okay, so it’s not common. I’m trying to make some smooth segues here, people, and it ain’t always easy.)
Two 14s and a 15 make for 43 theme squares, so that gives Bob lots of room for jazzy fill. I liked OVERDO IT, KEEP TABS ON, MAGNUM OPUS, EURO BOND, HEAD-ON, SAVE UP, and USE UP, though it occurs to me now as I type out this list that there’s an awful lot of prepositions in this grid. There’s no limit to the number of prepositions one can have in a grid, of course (were I to set a number, 14 feels about right), but the double occurrences of UP and ON is highly unusual.
I can always count on a Bon Klahn puzzle to teach me something I don’t think I ever knew. Today it was GELEE, the [Sticky styling stuff]. Is that–is that the formal name for hair gel?
As mentioned, the signature feature of a Bob Klahn puzzle is the host of trikcy clues. Here were some of my favorites: [Mathematics degree?] for NTH, [She’s “born again,” literally] for RENEE (re-nee!), [This could be a lot] for an ACRE, and [Cereal for regular people?] for BRAN. Talk about a clue that passes the breakfast test!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
My favorite clue today is the winkingly meta 50a: [First of 12 popes (just put the Roman numeral in now and get the name from the crossings)]. Somebody I. Working crossings… ah, PIUS I. Joon would know if there are other pope names that have been used 12 times but most of us wouldn’t have the foggiest idea.
- The lively entries “ADMIT IT,” CHICK-FIL-A, THE MAGI, “YEAH, OKAY,” HIT TOWN, VEER OFF, GAG REEL, and KATNISS.
- 37d. [Food additive that was included in Time’s 50 Worst Inventions], OLESTRA. Is there any other food additive that can come close? I say no.
- 51a. [Entire “Glengarry Glen Ross” cast, e.g.], MEN. Good movie/play, but it completely flunks the Bechdel Test. And it’s a good clue.
Lows: “I WANT ‘EM” feels contrived to me. TEHEE seems to live only in crosswords and dictionaries (I prefer tee-hee; also, please do not ever type “hehe” to represent laughter). 43a: [Ordered to go into court], HALED—archaic verb. AGER isn’t really a noun anyone uses outside crosswors, is it? ADEPT AT lacks the in-the-languaginess of VEER OFF.