Susan Gelfand’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
56-across says [Achieved great fame … or what 20-, 28-, 35- and 48-Across did?] MADE THE A-LIST. That’s because each of these famous people have first and last names that begin with the letter A. So I suppose you could say they’ve all made the list twice. During the solve, I thought the theme was going to be AA related, but that’d be too much of a downer, especially at the start of the week.
- 20a. [Second first lady] ABIGAIL ADAMS. As opposed to the “first” first lady, 24a EVE [Garden of Eden woman]. I haven’t seen the acclaimed HBO miniseries about the Adamses starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, perhaps I’ll put it on my own list.
- 28a. [American Dance Theater founder] ALVIN AILEY. On a regular basis, I used to walk past the new (opened 2005) building on 9th Avenue and 55th Street and sometimes it was arranged so that rehearsals could be seen through the floor-to-ceiling windows at sidewalk level.
- 35a. [Oscar-winning actor for “Little Miss Sunshine”] ALAN ARKIN. For 2006, after previously being nominated for 1966 and 1968.
- 48a. [Tennis champion with a stadium named after him] ARTHUR ASHE. Not Andre Agassi.
In the name of equality of gender representation, it might have been better if ALVIN AILEY or ARTHUR ASHE had been replaced with the ten-letter ANNE ARCHER, though that would have introduced the problem of two actors among the themers…
We get some surprisingly lively fill for a Monday, with the vert-stacked ANOMALY / BOBSLED and TREMOLO /STRANDS. Plus the long downs CANBERRA and non-partial NAVY SEAL. Also quite nice are the acrosses ENZYMES and REVERIE.
- Up top there are some more AA-type answers, RAJA, ALAS, and ATLAS.
- RAH and OLÉ. 23d & 63a.
- Good, interesting but level-appropriate clue for 58d HOAX [April 1 news story, maybe]. My favorite in the puzzle.
- 55d [Witty put-downs] ZINGS.
Very good Monday offering.
Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review
It’s vuwil progression time! Each of the five theme answers begin with BxLLY, where x=A, then E, then I, O, and U.
- 16a. [Big stink] BALLYHOO.
- 20a. [Amateurish dive] BELLY FLOP.
- 37a. [Bearded fairy tale trio] BILLY GOATS GRUFF. Nice fifteener!
- 50a. [Mumbai-based film industry] BOLLYWOOD. It’s a portmanteau word. Mumbai used to be called Bombay, so B(ombay-H)ollywood. See also Nollywood et al. (and it’s quite a lot of al., if we’re to believe all of them are established!).
- 58a. [Hired hoodlum] BULLY BOY. This was the least familiar to me, but it sounded vaguely familiar, more as an epithet from old films than anything else. But it’s easy to suss out the origin.
The long downs are ROUND-ROBIN [Tournament in which you play everyone at least once] and MELLO YELLO, a [Mountain Dew competitor], which is … you know, let’s not go there, ok?
- 36a [Maine college town] ORONO is crosswordesey for an early-week puzzle.
- It crosses 36d [Made goo-goo eyes at] OGLED, but see also 56d [Viewed] EYED.
- I might just start pronouncing 62a ICEE with a hard sound, as in 63a IKE, and the way I sometimes jokingly say bikikyle. (Un)fortunately, I’ve never had occasion to utter the word ICEE, and have no intention of changing that circumstance.
- 9d [“The Tao of Pooh” author Benjamin] HOFF. Not to mention the sequel, The Te of Piglet. But more intriguingly, he wrote about the mysterious and controversial Opal Whitely.
- 22a [Opposite of a big star] NOBODY, but with only the N and B in place I watched in horror as I started to fill in NEBULA. Whew.
Nothing else to say. Basic theme, basic clues, a Monday.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Bare Back” – Sam Donaldson’s review
It’s a new month, so Name That Puzzle Month has been retired. I was guessing constructors in August and puzzle titles in September. What, then, does October bring? Meh, nothing special. I intend to enjoy this month’s slate of CS puzzles as the CS gods intended: with constructor names and titles right up top. But I think I’ll resurrect the old “Favorite entry / Favorite clue” gimmick at the end–it makes for a nice sign-off when I don’t know what the heck else to say.
Onward! With two seconds to spare, I beat my self-imposed solving goal for a Bob Klahn puzzle–this week is looking up! The theme involves a reversal of the letter sequence B-A-R-E into E-R-A-B (hence, “Bare Back”). To make the theme harder to spot, you’ll note the reversed letter sequence spans two separate words in each theme entry:
- 17-Across: [They hold memory makers] refers to CAMERA BAGS.
- 29-Across: The WHITE RABBIT is the [Carroll critter] that occupies just as many squares as CHESHIRE CAT. That initial mistake consumed a fair amount of solving time.
- 47-Across: To [Meander] is to WANDER ABOUT.
- 64-Across: OPERA BOXES come with the clue, [They’re in areas where arias air]. A tongue-twister for the mind!
Very smooth fill here, highlighted by gems like HOP ON POP, MAMA’S BOY, RIP-OFF, TYPE B, SUCKA, and EASY ON. [Hypnotist pioneer Franz] MESMER was a complete unknown for me, but maybe he conditioned me to forget his name. Not all proper names were foreign to me, though–thanks to crosswords, “Uta” was the only word I needed to see in the long clue [Uta who played Martha in the 1962 premiere of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”] to plunk down HAGEN.
As usual, lots of great clues here. Among the best: [One of nine for eighteen holes] for a set of IRONS in a golf bag, [Chanel No. 1?] for COCO, and [What some men do behind their wives’ backs] for SNORE. Is it Orcas season already?
Favorite entry = MISS A BEAT, to [Stumble momentarily]. I missed several here, but I’m still happy to come in under the 10-minute mark. Favorite clue = [Superman’s sandwich] for HERO. Those dual-purpose clues tickle me every time.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Quickly, as it’s past time to be blogging the Tuesday NYT and I’ve not yet blogged this Monday puzzle—
- 19a clue, [[Head desk]]. You can close up the space between the words if you wish. If you see *headdesk*, it means the person who typed that is figuratively banging their head on their desk because something is SO DUMB.
- Lively fill includes DEATH METAL (lively, ha!), THE ACADEMY, a DROID APP, AMY POEHLER, HUMBLEBRAG (“I’ve been procrastinating on replying to my fan mail. There’s just so much of it, it seems like a never-ending chore.”), and “HOLY TOLEDO!”
- 23d. [Achilles spiel], The ILIAD. When’s the last time you saw a clue that rhymed with Achilles heel?
Mehs: AROO OLAV ATPAR ENOL YSER. Not that any of them stumped me. (Not a humblebrag. Just a statement of crosswordese encountered.)