Greg Johnson’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
A crossword that celebrates the error-prone. Not a bad way to begin the week.
- 20a. [Muzzle-loading firearm] BLUNDERBUSS. From old Dutch for “thunder-gun”.
- 51a. [Promotional ballpark giveaways] BOBBLEHEADS. Or ‘Ballpark promotional giveaways.”
- 11d. [Big pollinators] BUMBLEBEES.
- 29d. [Second-rate prizefighter] STUMBLEBUM.
Look at that consistency and balance! All are single compound words, half are singular and half are plural. No sloppiness or incompetence there.
To round out the theme, the central across entry is 37a [“Oops!”] for MY BAD, and it’s situated between 6d [“Oops!”] SORRY and 49d [One who might cry “Oops!”] KLUTZ. This trio feels a bit like overkill to me, but it doesn’t impact the fill negatively, so why not include them?
More theme-ish material includes: 30a [All wound up] TENSE, 42a [Topple] UPEND, 42d [“I’m in trouble now!”] UH-OH.
Antithetical to the theme content are 46a [Self-confidence] APLOMB, 24a [Surgical instrument holders] TRAYS, 37d [Sensual ballroom dance] MAMBO, 45d [Magician’s cry] PRESTO.
A few weak entries, but very little to cause upset. Let’s say there’s a minimum of missteps in this well-pitched Monday offering.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
This week, we’ve got a pretty grid, a four-petaled flower with 64 words in it. There’s excellent flow throughout the grid, but the low word count doesn’t accommodate a lot of splash. Best entries:
- 14a. [Winners of the 2013-14 Premiership, for short], MAN CITY.
- 31a. [Pad name], KOTEX. As brand names go, this is 85 times more welcome in my crossword than RINSO or IPANA. It’s a huge brand, it’s still in all the drugstores, it’s got a nifty K and X, and there are few Americans over the age of 14 who don’t know the brand. If men menstruated, does anyone think that we’d never see KOTEX in a crossword? Heck, masculine hygiene products would probably be funded by the government and free to all. And PMS wouldn’t exist as a concept, because men behaving crankily once a month would be defined as normal, not a treatable syndrome.
- 38a. [“It’s all good, man”], NO WORRIES.
- 42a. [Beverage company that celebrates ChaiDay Friday], TEAVANA.
- 13d. [Six-time Grammy winning DJ born Sonny Moore], SKRILLEX. Do you listen to EDM? I don’t.
- 25d. [Song played by Elvis Costello on “SNL” that led to his twelve-year ban], “RADIO RADIO.” Here’s the story.
Did not know: 46a. [Old-fashioned clothes presser], SAD-IRON. From the old sense of sad meaning “weighty.”
Did know, but I’m not proud of it: 26a. [Purple poodle in the “Clifford” series], CLEO. Got it off the E. PBS Kids, man.
Wasn’t a-lovin’: AMID, AMONG, ANEW, AGO. These are not as fun as ASKEW and AKIMBO and AMOK would have been.
Didn’t care for the clue: 28a. [Setting for an affair to remember], HAREM.
Liked the triple play of CAMPUS, DORM, and HOT PLATE. I had a hot pot rather than the hot plate.
A 7-letter partial, IN SMOKE? Eh.
Steve Marron and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Normally I find early-week puzzles with limited-scope themes to be stronger and more enjoyable than those that try to cram too much theme into the grid. This one, with three entries and a full-size revealer conforms to that profile yet didn’t please me. The stakes are higher when the theme is more concentrated.
61-across lays it down: [Performances in a big tent, where you’d see the ends of 17-, 27- and 47-Across] CIRCUS ACTS.
- 17a. [Schoolroom cutup] CLASS CLOWN.
- 27a. [Pachyderm in stereotypical hallucinations] PINK ELEPHANT. I might have chosen ‘archetypal’.
- 47a. [PDF file creation program] ADOBE ACROBAT.
Clown, elephant, acrobat. Type of human performer, name of animal, type of human performer. Now, I’m the first to assert that humans are essentially just another species of animal, but this seems a woefully unbalanced trio. Perhaps an entry with juggler or strongman could have been employed instead of the proboscidean?
Among the downs I really liked the stacked nines in the northeast and southwest: SASQUATCH, ALTERNATE, LORD BYRON, INCORRECT. GLAMOUR and BRAILLE, an across pairing, aren’t too shabby either.
My only misstep was to drop in ALPE before MONT for 36a [French peak].
Decent fill overall, but the unsatisfyingly lopsided theme gets no oohs or aahs from this solver.
Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Male Bonding”—Ade’s write-up
I hope you all are doing well to start another week of crosswords! Today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Jeff Chen, adds a little extra male touch, as each of the theme answers is appended by adding the letters “XY,” which are also the sex chromosomes that lead to producing male offspring.
- MAGNUM PIXY: (17A: [Spin-off featuring Tom Selleck’s mini-me?]) – My first time coming across this spelling of “pixy.”
- BOXY PEEP: (24A: [Square-shaped shepherdess?])
- OLD PROXY: (51A: [Creaky stand-in?])
- GALAXY BALL: (61A: [Bash that’s out of this world?])
Meeting up with my old biology teacher tomorrow, so a very fitting puzzle to do as I get ready for that. As for the grid, loved some of the down answers, including BIG KAHUNA (3D: [Top banana]) and GANG PLANK (32D: [Walkway used for boarding]). As I’ve been watching parts of The Simpsons marathon on FXX, I’ve seen many advertisements of the reboot of the character Ali G from Da Ali G Show that used to air on HBO, with the main character being played by SACHA Baron Cohen (5A: [_____ Baron Cohen of Les Misérables]). I caught Da Ali G Show late during its run on HBO, but definitely found it to be really funny, so I’ll probably take a look at the reboot. A couple of days ago, I asked if anyone wanted to fess up if they ever had a bottle of Bartles & Jaymes. Today, I ask you all if anyone wants to admit if they drank a bottle of ZIMA at any time as well (41A: [Alcopop brand]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OLLIE (21A: [Skateboarder’s jump]) – An ollie, a jump where the skateboarder and his board go into the air without the use of the skateboarder’s hands, is named after the inventor of the trick, Alan Gelfand, whose nickname is “Ollie.” Another famous sports Ollie is Kevin Ollie, the head coach of the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team who led the Huskies to the national championship this past April.
See you all on Tuesday!