Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
No revealer necessary for this theme, which is quite evident.
- 17a. [Bank heist group] STICK UP MEN.
- 24a. [Sweet rum component] CANE SUGAR.
- 37a. [Indy 500 leader] POLE CAR. Not yet realizing the theme, I originally had PACE CAR here. POLECAT might have been nicer, but (1) compound word, and (2) theme + ballast fill ramifications.
- 47a. [Company downsizings] STAFF CUTS.
- 57a. [British rocker with the 1979 #1 hit “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy”] ROD STEWART, whom the Beatles (read: John Lennon) backpedalled on saying they were bigger than, sort of.
What? No crook, no baton, no lituus, no thyrsus, no shillelagh? Never mind, I’ve no wish to spar.
- 16a [Frat house party wear] TOGA. The shadow of Animal House looms long and large in crosswordland.
- 21a [Tiny type size] AGATE.
<checks day of the week>
- 31a [Appurtenance for Santa or Sherlock Holmes] PIPE. Whoa, appurtenance and not, say, accessory?
<checks day of week again>
- 61a [Japanese dog breed] AKITA. Whar SHIBA? Whar TOSA? Whar KAI? Whar NORA (cinephile joke)?
- Atypical Monday clue: 1d [Opposite (or synonym) of worsts] BESTS.
- Obliquely playful clue: 29d [Eton johns] LOOS. Favorite clue here, even though I’ll always welcome a reference to author Anita.
- Fresh, colloquial entry: COME GET ME (11d [“I’m stranded and I need a ride”]).
- 25d [Not very much] A WEE BIT. Unlike the margin of the recent Scottish independence referendum.
- 52d [Results of using eHarmony] DATES. Really? Ha? Ha-ha?
- 3d [St. Teresa of __ ] AVILA; 26d [To no __ (in vain)] AVAIL.
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
55-across holds [Cop’s night stick, and what the beginnings of 18-, 25- and 43-Across could form] BILLY CLUB. Better than average revealer, suggesting the three fellows below might get together on weekends to kick back.
- 18a. [Selling point for a house on the coast] OCEAN VIEW. Billy Ocean, né Leslie Sebastian Charles (1950).
- 25a. [Sin forbidden by the Second Commandment] IDOL WORSHIP. Billy Idol, né William Michael Albert Broad (1955).
- 43a. Fortuneteller’s tool] (or prop, if you will) CRYSTAL BALL. Billy Crystal, né William Edward Crystal (1948). Hey, whaddaya know? He’s the only one of the three that hasn’t changed his name.
Kind of reminds me of the 1992 Loudon Wainwright III song “Talking New Bob Dylan” with the verse:
Yeah, I got a deal , and so did John Prine, Steve Forbert and Springsteen, all in a line.
They were lookin’ for you, signin’ up others,
We were “new Bob Dylans” – your dumb-ass kid brothers.
Well, we still get together every week at Bruce’s house –
Why, he’s got quite a spread, I tell ya – it’s a twelve-step program.
Along for the ride are crunchy long entries SCALAWAG (see also 62a SWAG) and FOLKLORE.
- 31d [School kid] PUPIL, 53d [high schooler] TEEN, 63a [Jackets named for an English school] ETONS (which anagrams to ONSET, appearing two rows directly above).
- Not ideally Monday-appropriate entries: ÉGAL, IONA, ASANA, but really not much junk in the grid, certainly not anything ungettable (via ruminating or crossings, or both) for new solvers.
Good puzzle, hope this didn’t come across as gruff.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Brendan warned me that his testers found this one nigh impossible to finish, so I was prepared for a fierce challenge. And then it took me a standard amount of BEQ-themeless time after all! Thank you, Entertainment Weekly, for allowing me to see FKA TWIGS and not think it looked horribly wrong (though I needed the crossings for a great many of the letters anyway). FKA twigs is an avant-R&B artist, and you can see her ethereal video for “Two Weeks” here. And thank you, Wikipedia, for telling me the name means “formerly known as twigs.” I think I can remember that now.
Other unusual letter sequences abound in this puzzle:
- 28a. [Cold sorrel dish], SCHAV.
- 42a. [First prime minister of Ghana], NKRUMAH.
- 5d. [Gossip show], TMZ ON TV. The TMZ website is the one that released the Ray Rice elevator video to the world.
- 13d. [Silvery color], LIGHT GRAY. GHTGR is the spelling of a clearing of the throat.
Other entries of note:
- 1a. [It has a face for radio], SMARTWATCH. Smartwatches have radio?
- 17a. [Most bearish?], GRIZZLIEST. The adjective grizzly means gray or gray-haired, but GRAY is in the grid so that clue approach is out.
- 51a. [Pitcher known to break down walls], KOOL-AID MAN. For a while, I thought this would be some baseball player I’d never heard of named KARL KIDMAN.
- 28d. [Tony Stewart’s vehicle], SPRINT CAR. I believe Sprint in car racing has to do with how the cars are raced and not with the telecom company.
- 29d. [Buzzfeed parody site run by The Onion], CLICKHOLE. They do some funny stuff.
- 11d. [“The Shooting of Dan ___” (Robert W. Service poem)], MCGREW. McGrew is not a common name, so this one was tough, especially crossing FKA TWIGS as it does.
I wonder how much Brendan eased up the clues after his testers saw this puzzle. Did you make your way through it in your usual BEQ themeless solving time, or did the unusual names stop you in your tracks?
3.75 stars from me.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Four Cups of Coco”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everyone, and Happy Monday to you all!
First off, my apologies for not being able to be around for the Sunday Challenge yesterday, as the weekend work of filming and reporting while on the road got a little too much to be able to come on here. But enough of me, and let’s talk crosswords, specifically this offering from Mr. Randall J. Hartman. Each of the four theme answers are 15-letter entries in which each of the words in it start with “Co.” No need to break out the cocoa yet this time of year…well, unless you’re in Amy’s part of the country, where I think the weather in the Chicago area is already on the nippy side, at least during the evening hours.
- COMPUTER COMPANY: (17A: [Apple, for one])
- COST CONTAINMENT: (26A: [Corporate finance technique])
- COLLISION COURSE: (44A: [Kamikaze run]) – Just considering the word’s origin, and not relating it to World War II, I always love seeing the word “kamikaze.”
- COLOR COMMENTARY: (59A: [Play-by-play accompaniment]) – This current play-by-play broadcaster has always appreciated the people who have joined me on the radio/TV as a color commentator. Without them, I’m a bore to listen to just by myself. I’ll send you my audio clips to prove it.
Each of the four themes are pretty strong, especially the two in the bottom of the grid. Outside of that, it took a while to dust off MIATA, as I was thinking of how many Mazda models that I know off the top of my head (1A: [Mazda model]). Eerily, the first thought I had seeing SEPTUM was how many people get that area pierced on their nose to get a nose ring (10D: [Dividing membrane]). Yikes! I was more than aware of the nickname “Uncle Miltie,” but didn’t know BERLE went by this other moniker (64A: [Comedian known as “Mr. Television”]). Probably my favorite non-theme entry in this grid was TIPPY-TOE (4D: [What a child might stand on]). To wrap up, if you’re not a sports/Major League Soccer fan, then seeing the first few letters of D.C. UNITED would have definitely made you scratch your head (40D: [Soccer team nicknamed the Black-and-Red]). But surprisingly, despite the mention, D.C. United is not the subject of the “sports…smarter” moment of the day, as that honor belongs to…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PENN (66A: [Ivy League school in Philly]) – If you’re in the Philadelphia area and are a sports fan (and even if you’re not in the Philly area), I encourage you to go to the PENN Relays, the oldest track and field competition in the United States, one of these days. (The first Penn Relays were staged in 1895.) It’s held every April at Franklin Field, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, and you will get so much bang for your buck as a myriad of track and field events are held. I believe more athletes compete during this event than any other track and field event, and when I was there, the place was packed with athletes, spectators, etc. It’s one of the best times to spend part of your spring if you’re a sports fan.
See you all on Tuesday!!