Dan Schoenholz’s New York Times puzzle — pannonica’s write-up
Didn’t catch on to the theme until seeing the revealer, and even then it took a few beats. 53-across is [Milestone birthday, informally … with a hint to 20-, 31- and 41-Across] THE BIG FIVE-OH. That’s “fifty” to you and me. Those three answers contain five Os as their only vowels.
- 20a. [2011 Tony-winning religious satire, with “The”] BOOK OF MORMON. Somehow it seems more like cheating when a “the” is excised for an entry when that article would add an unwelcome letter when the theme is contingent on not having such a letter, rather than simply for reasons of length.
- 31a. [Hypothetical way to campaign] DOOR-TO-DOOR.
- 41a. [Black magic item] VOODOO DOLL.
Maybe the constructor or editor thought it was cute, but the central vertical entry 35d [Tic-tac-toe winner] OOO strikes me not as coy commentary to the ‘OOOOO’ theme conceit but as an unwelcome, distracting funhouse mirror reflection of it. Kitchen brand OXO might have been too tricky to shoehorn there, but crossword perennial Yoko ONO is a cinch, and no-one’d be the wiser.
- Doubled Os from the grid: 14a [“Yippee!”] WAHOO (see also 3d [“Goody!”] OH BOY), 4d [Conned] TOOK, 39d [Rowdy soccer fan, for one] HOOLIGAN, 45a [London lav] LOO. Interestingly, perhaps, these four entries consist of two intersecting pairs.
- On the same tack: 29d  BOND.
- Long non-theme entries: the aforementioned HOOLIGAN, SORORITY, AREA CODES, WHITE RICE.
- To show how sheltered I am, I thought 60a [Boingo service at airports] was TAXI, not WI-FI. Ha, ha?
Brock Wilson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Offset two-part revealer in the southwest: 46d [With 57-Down, multifunctional office machine suggested by this puzzle’s circles] ALL-IN | -ONE.
- 18a. [Dodger pitcher with three 1960s Cy Young Awards] SANDY KOUFAX.
- 31a. [Friar from Assisi] FRANCISCAN.
- 41a. [Short exercise dash] WIND SPRINT.
- 56a. [X-ray imaging technique] FLUOROSCOPY.
The circled squares bit is rather superfluous, as the various functions consistently appear at the ends of the theme entries. This being a Monday offering, however, explains the rationale behind the overly demonstrative reveal. An additional nice touch is that all four ‘hidden’ words are incomplete parts of longer ones and are etymologically unrelated to the host words.
- Some glaring dupes: 1d [iPhone add-ons] APPS, 21d [Text messaging devices] PHONES. 16a [ __ San Lucas: Baja resort] CABO, 26d [ __ Diego] SAN. 7d [Prefix with European] INDO-, 51d [India’s continent] ASIA. 5d [Wrinkly Chinese dog] SHAR-PEI, 38a [National Gallery architect I.M. __ ] PEI (though the original logograms are distinct and (I assume) have different meanings). For the most part, these can be laid at the door of the editor, either for sloppiness or simply not having as a priority the reduction or elimination of unnecessary duplications.
- Long non-theme entries: DEMOCRATS, SWISS ALPS. Pretty nice.
- Least favorite fill: 25d [Oct. contest whose winner goes to the World Series] ALCS (American League Conference Series).
- Enjoyed the echo of PFFT and PSST (27d/33a), not to mention OOPS and TSK (19d/9d).
Not the most exciting theme, and a too many dupes for my liking, but it gets the job done. Functionality!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
This 70-worder makes room for lots of fresh material:
- 1a. [Cuisine grilled at the table], KOREAN BBQ.
- 15a. [Government program whose phone number is 1-800-F1U-CKYO], OBAMACARE. Yes, indeed. Healthcare.gov is at 1-800-318-2596.
- 34a. [“Pokemon” theme], GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL.
- 59a. [Burrito filling], BROWN RICE. Not many foods contain the names of two major universities. (See also: 12d. [Tex-Mex staple], TORTILLA. Getting hungry yet?)
- 6d. [They’re often busted mid-March], NCAA BRACKETS.
- 13d. [John Steed’s partner], EMMA PEEL. From the old TV version of The Avengers. British spies, not Marvel superheroes.
- 21d. [Sterling Cooper bombshell], JOAN HOLLOWAY. On Mad Men, which I’ve never seen.
- 30d. [Steamed dumplings], DIM SUM. No, really, who wants to meet for lunch? I know it’s only 8:47 a.m. but this puzzle has so much food in it.
I don’t know about this one. 14d. [Power outage repair], RESTORAL? My power company uses the standard “restoration.” JEST AT feels awkward, and BY NOON is a tad contrived (would you accept BY NINE and BY TEN?).
Beer! Forget lunch. Let’s meet for a beer:
- 31a. [Draft pick?], IPA. Crossing NCAA BRACKETS, you could be excused for thinking the clue was about sports and not draft beer.
- 57a. [Amstel’s conduit?], TAP. The Amstel is a river, a conduit is a water channel … and Amstel is a beer that might be on tap.
I like the dismal literary reference lurking in 16a. [Famous sledder Ethan], FROME.
I don’t get 62a. [Horsefeathers], BANANA OIL. Dictionary tells me “horsefeathers” is an exclamation of disbelief or frustration, while “banana oil” is a chemical solvent used in flavorings.
3.75 stars from me.
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Know Your Onions”—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone!! It’s now finally starting to feel like autumn, at least around where I am. Thank goodness for that, as it had gotten real hot and humid in New York this past week.
Today’s grid, presented to us by Ms. Sarah Keller, puts a tear to our eyes because we have to deal with handling all types of onions. Each of the theme answers are two-word entries in which the first word is also a type of onion. To be honest, when shopping, I don’t really notice too much the type of onions I’m buying since I buy yellow onions almost all the time. Guess I’ll keep my eyes open more the next time I’m at PathMark supermarket.
- SPANISH ARMADA: (20A: [Fleet sent against England in 1588])
- GREEN BERETS: (37A: [Elite military unti])
- PEARL HARBOR: (44A: [Naval base near Honolulu])
- BERMUDA SHORTS: (59A: [Alternative to Capri pants])
I think I have to first give a shout out to the entry ABBE, as not only is it sound crossword fill but also a reminder to how beautiful and talented of a person/singer she is (22D: [Cugat’s onetime mate Lane]). Been listening to a lot of Xavier Cugat lately and also have been coming across their on-stage performances and they are so captivating to watch. A good number of their Latin numbers were in the rumba style, so not sure they did too much, or any, SALSA numbers (1D: [Chip dip]). I wouldn’t think so. Favorite fill in the grid is FLASHBULB, and, although it should have been past my time, I used a camera with a flashbulb during my photography class way back when and thought it to be very useful…and blinding (36D: [Outmoded shooter’s accessory]). Oh, and one of these days, I hope to say that I once took the METRO while in France, and not just the Metro in Washington D.C. (31D: [Paris subway]). Overall, a very clean grid and no real trouble spots in the solving experience.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BAIUL (32A: [Gold medalist Oksana]) – Ukrainian figure skater Oksana Baiul was the 1993 figure skating world champion as well as the 1994 gold medalist at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway – the Games in which the dominating storyline in women’s figure skating going into it was the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan fiasco. In winning that gold medal, Baiul became the first Olympic champion representing the independent Ukraine.
See you all tomorrow, and thank you for your time!