Gary Cee’s New York Times crossword
Clever yet simple theme for a Monday: five compound words/phrases that start with synonyms for “clever.”
- 17a. Samsung Galaxy or BlackBerry], SMARTPHONE.
- 41a. Devious trick], FAST ONE.
- 65a. What an optimist always looks on], BRIGHT SIDE.
- 11d. Easily made profit], QUICK BUCK.
- 36d. [Abrupt left or right], SHARP TURN.
Mild ding for SMARTPHONE being a single word and the other four being two-word phrases, but a very mild ding. The theme answers are mostly zippy, lively creatures, and the theme is straightforward enough to need no revealer (at least, I hope newbies can SUSS out the theme without assistance—but then, our puzzle reviews always explain the themes because even basic themes will be elusive to someone whose mind isn’t running on that track).
I’m surprised to see AGA (44a. [Turkish official]) in a Monday grid. I took a few seconds (literally—I don’t think I used even a full minute) to refill that small section with I’M SET (which I don’t much care for as fill), MEH (which I like but I think plenty of solvers would disdain), partial AT A (meh), and CARHOP (roughly on a par with BAR-HOP) crossing IMAC and MEGA. I don’t like Gary’s AGA but I don’t like my replacement much either. Your thoughts on Monday AGA with easy crossings?
Likes: HOTFOOT, BRETHREN (and what is the sisterly equivalent of this brotherly word?), BAR-HOP. Not-so-fonds: that AGA, UGLI, LILI as clued (how many crossword newbies are old enough that 1953 movies are gimmes?). Question: How broadly familiar is SUSS (29d. [Figure (out)])? I bet a lot of solvers were scratching their heads over that one. I like it, personally, but don’t know if it’s Monday fare.
Retro flashback: 15a. [Dial button sharing the “0”], OPER. “Dial”? Not “phone keypad”?
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Getting Your B.A.”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning everybody, and happy Monday to you!
Over this past weekend, other than it being Mother’s Day, thousands of students across America reveled in their commencement ceremonies while they officially became college graduates. So this puzzle, composed by puzzle constructor magna cum laude Tony Orbach, is not just a timely grid, but a pretty fun solve to begin the week. In it, common terms, celebrities and even a historical figure has the letters “BA” attached to the beginning of the entry, creating puns. Definitely no BOOS (45A: [Razzes]) being casted down from my end after finishing this grid.
- BACON ARTIST: (17A: [Breakfast side craftsman])– Was tempted to Google search whether there are actual artists that have use bacon as a medium, only to resist that urge and spare myself from looking at bacon art for at least an hour. From con artist.
- BASIN CITY: (24A: [Handle for a big showroom that sells bathroom sinks])– Reading that clue was definitely an eyeful, just like the experience of walking on the Vegas Strip. From Sin City.
- BALANCE SERGEANT: (37A: [Yoga class taskmaster])– A military head barking orders to get into a downward facing dog pose is something I would love to hear! From Lance Sergeant.
- BAKING TUT: (51A: [Sound of disapproval from a pastry chef])-Who knew the boy king could cook as well? From King Tut.
- BARON HOWARD: (62A: [Epithet for business magnate Hughes])– From Ron Howard.
At first, I thought I was looking for two word answers in which the first word started with a B and the second with an A, and after Bacon Artist, totally was locked into that. Went down to the rest of the theme answers, and once I knew that wasn’t the case, definitely wanted to GO CRAZY and know what the trick really was (26A: [Let it all hang out]). Other than that, had a pretty smooth go of it. No answer was better, in terms of looks and nostalgia inducement than MARKY MARK, even without his Fun Bunch (34D: [Old sobriquet for Wahlberg]). Another pretty good actor is in this grid with the presence of Marisa TOMEI (11D: [“My Cousin Vinny” Oscar winner]). Have rarely heard of a dollar referred to as a SMACKER (48A [Buck]), but have heard smackeroos and smackeroonies more often.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OVAL (27A: [Racetrack shape])– The month of May is a HUGE month for sports that take place on ovals. Two of the three legs of horse racing’s Triple Crown, The Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, are on ovals, as well as American motor sports premier event, the Indianapolis 500, which takes place on the Sunday before Memorial Day.
It’s a short write-up, so my apologies. A busy day running around on my end, but I’ll make sure to come back with more meat and harder-hitting stuff for tomorrow!
Jennifer Nutt’s Los Angeles Times crossword
This theme plays out much better than most of the “These words can precede that other word” themes I see.
- 18a. [*Pre-performance audio test], SOUND CHECK.
- 25a. [*Area marked with police tape], CRIME SCENE.
- 50a. [*Disturbing potential, as of a gory film scene], SHOCK VALUE.
- 61a. [*Best possible poker hand], ROYAL FLUSH.
- 3d. [*Lasers at a rock concert, e.g.], LIGHT SHOW.
- 36d. [Cause a sensation, or what the first words of the answers to starred entries may do], MAKE WAVES. Sound wave, crime wave, shock wave, the royal wave as seen when Queen Elizabeth greets her subjects, light wave.
The theme answers themselves are a zippy batch of phrases (although SOUND CHECK and LIGHT SHOW had me thinking the theme was about rock concerts), and the “waves” they make include three from physics, one from the social sciences, and one from waggish royal-watchers.
Top fill: YAHOO, HOT AIR, ACROSTIC. The fill I didn’t care for was rather sparse—ELL, plural abbrev WTS, SLOE, partial A TO, NACRE, and the possibly troublesome crossing of proper names RAVI and AVIA. Given that the puzzle’s got six 9- and 10-letter themers intersecting so much fill, I would not have been surprised to encounter much more scowl-worthy fill.
I don’t like the ATTN clue: 15a. [For whom the memo is intended: Abbr.]. Seems awkwardly worded to me.
Four stars. The theme’s a winner and we even get that bonus ACROSTIC.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Lots of smiles for me in this puzzle:
- 42a. [Big balls], AUDACITY. I started with TEMERITY and when the correct answer worked its way in, I couldn’t help but think of The Big Balls of Hope. (Disclaimer: Women, who usually have no testicles at all, can have more fortitude and daring than men.)
- 51a. [“Long time no see”], “WHERE YOU BEEN?” Yes, people do talk like this. No, it’s not the apocalypse.
- 57a. [Guys who have extensive collections of colorful toy horses], BRONIES. Male, non-child fans of My Little Pony, which I hear is a really good show as such things go. My son has a brony friend who’s an honor student.
- 60a. [Poker night location], MAN CAVE. That’s where all the big balls are stored, I assume. Excellent crossing with the CLUB CAR.
- 4d. [Depresses], BUMS OUT. Is it wrong that this pleases me?
- 11d. [Brand that sets your locks], AQUANET. The essential hair spray for ’80s big hair.
- 12d. [Sign of spring], BUD. Botanical sign, not zodiacal. Yay, flowers! My crabapple trees have burst into bloom.
- 27d. [Disney Channel offering], ZITCOM. If I knew this term (for teen sitcoms), I forgot it. Love it!
- 31d. [Site for anal examinations], UFO. Now, I had the central F in place, and all I could think of was KFC.
- 35d. [China’s home], SIDEBOARD. Little-C china cabinet, not big-C China in Asia.
- 53d. [’70s classic that begins “Young man, there’s no need to feel down”], YMCA. People! If you never saw the Village People movie Can’t Stop the Music, check out leatherman Glenn Hughes singing “Danny Boy” as the “Indian chief” and Steve Guttenberg.
Mystery word: 1d. [Golf shot that hits more ground than ball], BAFF. I suspect I have seen this before and been mystified by it before.
Mystery name: Didn’t read the news stories about this last week so I needed the crossings for 13d. [Marshall who was the voice of Tony the Tiger], LEE.