Andrea Carla Michaels’ New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Not entirely sure if I’ve got the theme right here. As with last week’s Monday, there are just three theme answers, although this one’s total 41 squares versus a mere 37 in its predecessor. In today’s offering, each is a two-word phrase beginning with the name of a US State.
- 20a. [Jackie Gleason’s role in “The Hustler”] MINNESOTA FATS.
- 38a. [Common sushi orders] CALIFORNIA ROLLS.
- 58a. [Cigarette associated with women’s tennis] VIRGINIA SLIMS. I believe said relationship is historical but not current.
Okay, states. Easy enough to see. The second word in each is one syllable and ends in -s. In context, they’re plurals, but I may be wrong about the first one, FATS. I think it is, but it functions as a descriptive personal epithet. I guess you can call someone who’s tough “Nails” (which is unquestionably a noun), and “Fats”—at least to my mind—is a correlate.
Beyond that observation, here’s where the message really gets 47a MIXED for me. Perhaps primed by MIXED’s symmetrical partner at 30a, [Fifth tire] SPARE, I see how FATS and SLIMS could be related to each other in terms of weight gain or loss. With that in mind, plus the SPARE tire imagery, it isn’t difficult to conceive of ROLLS of fat. But that can’t really be the theme because it doesn’t hold together well enough.
So. My inclination at this point is to conclude that I’m overthinking it all, that it’s nothing more complicated than three phrases that start with the names of US states. Okay? Okay! Done? Don— oh, I have to write some more about the crossword.
It’s a pangram, but it doesn’t feel particularly forced or that it suffers for the achievement. The longish verticals are “GODSPELL” and LIFE VEST, both fine entries.
CHUCK Norris and JESSE Ventura in the same puzzle? What a way to start the week.
- ZOOM IN, SEEN IT, USE TO (partial), EYE OF (partial), COME TO, NOT BE (partial), NO I (partial). “I SAY” indeed!
- Speaking of which, 29d [Londoner, e.g.] BRIT, followed by 31d [Small coins for 29-Downs] PENCE. And from there we find 15a [Multinational currency] EURO, and 24a [Kyoto currency] YEN.
- Slightly awkward UNSHY and UNITER [Minister, e.g., at weddings].
- 26d [Like Ogden Nash’s llama vis-à-vis a lama].
Okay, roughly average Monday.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Feature Feature”- Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s puzzle honors four female celebrities noted for certain body parts that come in pairs:
- 20-Across: ANGELINA JOLIE is the [Oscar winner with famous lips] (two lips). I’m equally entranced by her eyes, but her right leg is a bit of a media hog.
- 36-Across: BETTY GRABLE is the [1940s actress/dancer with famous legs] (two legs). I’m convinced that The Flintstones character Betty Rubble is named for her.
- 42-Across: DOLLY PARTON is the [Singer/songwriter with a famous bosom] (two breasts). Does anyone else fit this clue?
- 58-Across: KIM KARDASHIAN is the [Reality star with a famous bottom] (two cheeks, though perhaps “cheeks with a case of the mumps” is more apt here). When I use “star” and “famous” to describe Kim Kardashian, a little piece of me dies.
Rats–only one second separated me from a Roger Bannister solving time. I think I lost two seconds misspelling Kim Kardashian’s last name. For some reason I thought there was another H in there somewhere. Had I stuck with phonetics, I might have cracked the four-minute mark.
Favorite entry = FREE TIBET, the [Rallying cry of an Asian independence movement with the same name]. Why settle for ON SALE TIBET or DEEPLY DISCOUNTED TIBET when FREE TIBET is just around the corner? Favorite clue = [Former Cambodian leader with a palindromic name] for LON NOL. Never noticed all the despots with palindromic names before. IDI Amin, LON NOL, and RELTIH HITLER.
Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Solving roughly top to bottom, the first themer I got was 17a [Hollywood] TINSELTOWN. “Oh,” I mutterthought to myself, “it’s a Christmas theme.” Then the next one fell, 24a [Outdoor seating option] CANE CHAIR, at which point I was metaphorically distracted by the shiny object of consonance: first T-T, then C-C.
But alas, it is a Christmas theme. And so it begins. At least this one has a specificity to it, as explained by the 13-letter answer in the center of Row Eight: 34a [Festive centerpiece adorned with the starts of 17-, 24-, 49- and 57-Across] CHRISTMAS TREE.
The other two are [All the details, casually] BALL OF WAX, which harkens to 1d [Most current news, with “the”] LATEST, and [Venezuelan natural wonder] ANGEL FALLS, famously the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall (aka Salto Ángel, aka Kerepakupai Vená).
I realize this isn’t an expansive 21×21 grid, that it has no fancy Gorskian bilateral symmetry suggesting the A-FRAME (55a) shape of a CHRISTMAS TREE, but nevertheless it’s a weeny bit irksome that the ANGEL is at the very bottom here. And, it FALLS! Eek! Actually, perhaps that bit of anarchy is good. Did you keen boys and girls spot the weihnachtsgurk? It’s at 42-across. Stretching the idea further, how about the TRE magi (29a), visiting the MAN
AGER (21a), near the TENNE RNbaum (9d)? No? Okay, you’re right. I’ll stop.
- Stacked longish downs: ROSEANNE (Barr) and INTRIGUE—two things I’d never think to associate with each other; the perennially-impossible-for-me-to-remember-how-to-spell Nadia COMANECI and HAULED UP (e.g., on charges).
- 63a [Pub game] DARTS, innit?
- New-to-me clue for NGO, usually described as the acronym for non-governmental organization, but here [“Stop-__”: UGK hit], which means the answer makes sense as N-GO. And who are UGK? I know it can’t be Urge Overkill, so it’s off to the internets…ah! Underground Kingz, a Southerrn gangsta rap duo founded in the late 1980s. They two kings.
- I completely pathologized the clue for 28d [Drinks in the a.m.]; turns out to be the harmless OJS.
- 52a [Group of eight] Would it be OCTET or OCTAD? OCTET or OCTAD? The suspense was bearable and not killing me. OCTAD. Such is the tao of crosswords.
Surprisingly fun puzzle.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
The puzzle doesn’t usually feature something my kid wants for Christmas. He hasn’t been asking for AUTO PARTS or an IPAD (he has access to his parents’ as well as using one in the classroom), but he’d love some BEATS BY DR. DRE headphones. Terrific, fresh entry. Also? TSBYDRDR is a stellar run of letters.
I wonder if Brendan considered CHASE UTLEY at 1a instead of CHASE FIELD, which I know nothing about other than that it was the first retractable-roof baseball stadium in the country. Crosswords, they teach. (Crosswords, after all, are the reason I have heard of Chase Utley.)
- CONCORDE supplementing its dull generic, SST.
- The SCARLET LETTER.
- DOUBLE-SPACES is solid, but don’t term papers usually need to be double-spaced anyway? I was thinking [Pads out, as a term paper] would be TRIPLE-SPACES WITH 1.5″ MARGINS.
- PEABO Bryson! “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again” is one of my very favorite schmaltzy love songs from 1984. (“Let’s Hear It for the Boy” wins the title for favorite schmaltzy upbeat pop song of 1984. I bet Brendan and I have an astonishing degree of overlap in musical tastes, amirite?)
- FORD DEALER makes me sad. The not-inconveniently-located dealership where I bought my FUSION ([Word with Asian or jazz]) went out of business and it’s a schlep to the ‘burbs for the next closest FORD DEALER. I will be trying a neighborhood shop for that AUTO PART I need put on my car, and I won’t be able to finagle it for free.
- “AYE, CAPTAIN” is, of course, a brief excerpt from the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song.
- BABA BOOEY means less to me than CHASE FIELD, but it’s an inherently entertaining crossword entry.
- BLAGO! If I had a nickel for every time I have accidentally typed “Brendan Quigley’s blgo crossword” and thought of Blago, I reckon I would have over a dollar by now.
Meh countdown: 10. Plural TNTS. 9. Partial A POKE. 8. Star I learned from crosswords ALTAIR. 7. Old Latin hymn title word IRAE. 6. Old English hymn title word E’EN. 5. Adjective I never need EELY. 4. Crosswordese EFT. 3. KARR, [Evil “Knight Rider” vehicle] I never heard of. 2. Crossword man ELIA. 1. Abbr. dir. ENE.
3.5 stars and an appreciative DAP to Brendan.