Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
68-across decodes the situation: [Spy activities … or a hint to the answers to the six starred clues] COVERT OPS, as in “operations.” You read that correctly, by the way: a total of 7 theme answers (of moderate size) in a 15×15 grid. On a Monday.
The letter sequence OPS can be found in each of those six entries.
- 17a. [*Suddenly slam on the brakes] STOP SHORT.
- 26a. [*Top 40 music world] POP SCENE.
- 36a. [*”NYPD Blue” or “Miami Vice”] COP SHOW.
- 49a. [Tricky tennis stroke] DROP SHOT.
- 3d. [*Stolen car destination, maybe] CHOP SHOP.
- 38d. [*Opening segment in a newscast] TOP STORY.
Very consistent in that the trigram always spans the two words that comprise each answer, and always the same way: OP|S. Perhaps in a larger format crossword there would be room for more variety, like PLOT SYNOPSIS or, uhmm … OH NO! PSORIASIS. Okay, they should be non made-up phrases, but you get the idea.
Not only are there a lot of theme answers, but there’s still room for decent non-theme entries of moderate length: BEEF STEW, CAB STAND, TYPESET, and the not-so-stunning HOIST UP.
- 30a/43d [Means of music storage] ITUNES / CD RACK.
- Playful [Glum drop] for TEAR. (48a)
- Minor repetition: 52a [Paul of “Mad About You”] REISER, 11d [Emmy-winning AMC series set in the 1960s] MAD MEN, made more glaring as both are the titles of television shows.
- In line with the curtailed OPS of the theme, the grid seemingly abounds with kindred shortenings: MAV(erick), RET(ired), TACH(ometer), REG(ulation)S, PYRO(maniac), VEG(etate). Oh, and I’ll toss in SLO(w) while I’m at it. This, alas, is more a bug than a feature.
- 45d [Definitely a day to run the A.C.] HOT ONE. meh.
- Questionable Monday fare: unlabelled SANA variation (vs SANA’A), COHIBA cigars, DSO, possibly ERST.
Impressive puzzle, a substantial Monday.
David W. Cromer’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Slow-pitch Monday theme, phrases that begin with a word meaning “replete.”
- 20a. [Exhortation to the engine room] FULL SPEED AHEAD.
- 25a. [Had some wallop] PACKED A PUNCH.
- 49a. [Self-important sort] STUFFED SHIRT.
- 58a. [Interviewer’s booby-trap] LOADED QUESTION.
FULL, PACKED, STUFFED, LOADED, crammed, crowded, chock-full, brimful, saturated, surfeited, plenary, farci.
Basic theme, well executed. Nothing jaw-dropping in the rest of the grid; just stout, early-week fare.
- Unaesthetic opening, with abbrevs. SGTS and CPR as the first two acrosses.
- Row 11 FRA | KAPPA makes me think of Franz Kafka.
- 29d UHF, clued as [TV dial letters] seems to want a “bygone” in the clue, but perhaps the obsolescent “dial” takes care of that.
- Gentle trickery/ambiguity, Monday style: 33d [Tears] RIPS, 34d [Work on a column, say] EDIT, 21d [Train in a ring] SPAR.
54 theme squares in a 15×15 grid, while not exactly bursting at the seams, is a significant amount. Good puzzle.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy crossword, “Putting Heads Together” – Dave Sullivan’s review
“30 days hath September…” which means the end of another month of CroSynergy puzzles and we end on a high note with constructor Tony Orbach’s “head games,” where two words that can precede the word HEAD are “put together”:
- [Nemo in “Finding Nemo,” for example?] was a TALKING FISH – “talking head” (I think of the political pundits on CNN) and “fish head” (what you might wish you didn’t see on that plate that comes out of a restaurant kitchen). I’m trying to remember if Flipper spoke–perhaps I’m confusing him with Mr. Ed.
- [Quiet stretch of shore?] clued SLEEPY BEACH – “sleepy head” (what you might call someone that just woke up) and “beachhead” (what the Allies landed on on D-DAY). Aren’t most beaches sleepy?
- [Decoration on a rack of lamb?] was a CROWNED BONE – “crowned head” (another name for a royal) and “bonehead” (what I call myself when I have trouble with puzzles). Seems an odd thing to do, but, then again, it’s been done for margarine, so why not?
- [Dollhouse accessory?] clued SHRUNKEN BED – “shrunken head” (what island natives might do to a captured invader) and “bedhead” (what your hair looks like all smushed when waking up).
Typically, these type of themes clue phrases that aren’t made up, but I sort of enjoyed these unusual pairings and had fun envisioning them. I have to say the crossing of YUMMY ([“This is delicious!”]) and YUCKY ([“Icky poo!”]) made me smile as well. I also enjoyed the modern reference to TESLA as the electric car maker instead of the inventor Nikola, (though obviously, he was the origin of the manufacturer’s name as well). OWLY ([Big-eyed, say] is an unusual word; can’t say I’ve ever called anyone that. But my FAVE goes to the clue [Sound a person with a crook might hear] for BLEAT, since we’re talking about shepherds instead of criminals. My small nit is with APSO, which like ALAI can generally only be clued as the completion of a phrase.
Brenda N. Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Took me a while to see 1-Across (a boxer’s SQUEAK TOY) because the first letter of 2d: QADHAFI is a transliteration crapshoot, and I was convinced that 3d. [Water spirits] was ONDINES, when it’s actually UNDINES. Oof!
- 1a. SQUEAK TOY, when I finally got it.
- 24a. [Repeat visitor’s purchase], SEASON PASS.
- 60a. [Gross thing, in slang], ICK FACTOR. Although “thing” seems off base. Isn’t the ICK FACTOR more the grossness of a thing, rather than the thing itself?
- 1d. [“He’s getting away!”], “STOP HIM!”
- 49d. [Low-key], FOLKSY. Great word.
- 21a. [Oklahoma settler], BOOMER. Not SOONER? I don’t get it. Here’s the explanation. Am I the only one who’s never heard this usage?
- 48a. [Like many sports broadcasts today], HI DEF. I prefer high-def.
- 56a. [___ Danssen (Heidi Klum’s “Parks and Recreation” character)], ULEE. Had no idea.
- 42d. [Siren’s victim], SEDUCEE. Really?
Did not know Hemingway’s KREBS, JOSEF Anton Riedl, OLLIE Matson, KATIE Aselton, or SHA cha chicken. Plus this TV ULEE and the Oklahoma BOOMER? Way more “I had no idea” entries in this BEQ puzzle than I usually encounter. 3.5 stars from me.