Janet R. Bender’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s observational synopsis
2:56 is pretty much the lower limit of my speed-solving capabilities, despite having accomplished it here mere moments after waking from sleep.
The oh-so basic theme here is obvious, straightforward: two-word phrases whose initials are composed of the letters OS.
- 17a. [Words from Ali Baba] OPEN SESAME. I imagine the history of this well-accepted phrase has some twists and turns.
- 25a. [Beavers’ school] OREGON STATE.
- 37a. [Windows or Unix] OPERATING SYSTEM. The longest themer, spanning all fifteen columns, and the one phrase most commonly referred to by the OS designation.
- 47a. [What Jesus is said to have been born without] ORIGINAL SIN.
- 57a. [Cranberry juice brand] OCEAN SPRAY. Callback to 25a? Cranberries are a major “crop” in Oregon, although I have the sense that Ocean Spray has East Coast origins, and both New Jersey and Maine are notable for their cranberry harvests.
In general it was an easy puzzle, pitched at a level appropriate for novices, although it incorporates some hoary crosswordese (notably OMOO and RUR) which might constitute temporary obstacles for non-seasoned solvers. Author Hammond INNES is also a bit obscure (though I did read The Wreck of the Mary Deare in my late teens (incidentally, DEARE features often in crosswords).
- Up top, FIJI paired with OMOO conjures a palpable South Pacific vibe. Actually, it doesn’t but I needed to say something, and it is kind of nifty to see them next to each other. See also 34d ATOLL.
- 62a [Descartes who wrote “Cogito, ergo sum”] RENÉ. Brings to mind one of the more academic always-have-to-wait-for-further-crossings bits of a puzzle. With three letters, will it be the Latin sum or the translated English I am??
- Intentional segue in 9d and 10d? [Is the lead singer of] FRONTS, [Singer Ronstadt] LINDA.
Honestly, there’s nothing else to say about this puzzle. Solid, stolid, noncontroversial. Spot-on average and what’s expected of a Monday.
Brenda Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Four-star puzzle. Let’s take it by categories.
Things I didn’t know:
- 31d. [Ballet Russe dancer Léonide] MASSINE. Don’t recognize the name at all.
- 24d. [Damson or mirabelle alternative], CHERRY PLUM. Tell me more! I like plums, I like cherries, but I don’t know of this cherry plum.
- 21d. [“Life of Pi” actor Spall], RAFE. Didn’t know the crosser ILE [__ d’Yeu, France] either, but it seemed plausible.
- 1d. [Celtic Sanders in the Basketball Hall of Fame], SATCH. I can work a SATCHel or a SATCHmo, but didn’t know this guy.
Zippiest fill: ROAD RASH, HITCH A RIDE, JUST MY LUCK, sportsy JIM ROSE, DEATH GRIPS, GUNSHOT.
Easter special: We’ve got the STIGMATA and the word RISEN.
Easter brunch special: There’s SALAD and QUICHE on the menu.
None of this week’s clues called out to me with “wow, what a great clue!”—just an overall clean set of clues with a fair degree of challenge, but not too tough. Is this thing a 62-worder? Did I count right? Because it felt zippier than the typical 62-worder, with precious little in the way of roll-your-own words (other than that JOINT, of course).
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Late availability of puzzle yields delayed write-up. Just got back home. No announcement of the theme (that is, no revealer), but it’s easily discernible from the three longest answers, which each starts with a different homophone for the wye sound.
- 17a. [Many a coffee shop, vis-à-vis Internet access] WI-FI HOTSPOT.
- 37a. [“No need to hurry, is there?”] WHY THE BIG RUSH. Because the puzzle’s late, that’s why! >type type type<
- 61a. [Gender-determining heredity unit] Y CHROMOSOME, which is echoed in the crossing 58d [Male heirs] SONS and is regrettably not touched on in the also-crossing 48d [Like a single-performer show] ONE MAN.
This gentle theme provides a commendable armature on which to hang some unusually varied (for a Monday) ballast fill. Look at ICED (with the ‘d’!) TEAS and NO SLOUCH, which—despite feeling a teensy bit partial—is not slouchy fill. Behold WHAT’S NEW and HOME TEAM in the opposite corner! Witness the Pooh-like OH, BOTHER (see also 57a ALAS) and HIGH BEAM. Marvel at NAHS and YEH … okay maybe not those. Listen, I’m just happy 49d [Leads, as to a seat] was USHERS and not USHES.
Refreshingly bright Monday crossword.