Eric Sydney Phillips’ New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
As this is a début crossword, I can’t help but wonder if it’s partially autobiographical. The thematic entries are all about … well, let’s allow them to speak for themselves:
- 18a. [Words to a local success story] I KNEW YOU WHEN.
- 24a. [What a local success story achieves] CELEBRITY.
- 39a. [What a local success story comes from] HUMBLE BEGINNINGS. Not necessarily, but yes for the stereotypical narrative limned here.
- 49a. [What a local success story does] MAKES GOOD.
- 60a. [Local success story] HOMETOWN HERO.
The puzzle played a bit tougher for me than the typical Monday, and my solve time reflects that. Not only that, but I was further assuaged when after realizing the grid is an expanded one, 16×15.
The fill ALL TOLD (23a) is strong, though there’s a fair bit of crosswordese, abbrevs., and partials (e.g., YEGGS, ENZO, SER., HRE, TRY A), making for a slightly elevated CAP Quotient™ but not nearly enough of one to sour the solving experience.
Last square to fall for me was the crossing of the roller coaster EL TORO and [Livid], and fill-in-the-blank [“__ have to wait”], which I expected to be HE’LL or WE’LL. Had to wait until the lower left was completed, showing me that [Livid] was IRATE and not some hypothetical variant of WRATH that was escaping me—then it was enough to see that the needed contraction was IT’LL.
Long non-theme entries are HR HALDEMAN and NINE MONTHS [Pregnant pause?], though I didn’t find the latter’s playful clue able to withstand analysis too well.
Matt Skoczen’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Standard-issue Monday theme, phrases whose starts can all precede the same word for new phrases, with a revealer. 64-across [Director’s “We’re done,” and a hint to the starts of 17-, 27- and 48-Across] THAT’S A WRAP.
- 17a. [Boil out of the pot] BUBBLE OVER.
- 27a. [Present in lieu of cash] GIFT CERTIFICATE.
- 48a. [Doctors doing reconstructive work] PLASTIC SURGEONS.
That’s bubble wrap, gift wrap, and plastic wrap. Solid, sensible if unexciting theme. Pretty much what’s expected this time of the week. Pepped up a bit with the middle two answers spanning the full 15 columns.
- Symmetricalness! 15a [Frau’s home] HAUS offset with 67a [Frau’s mate] HERR. In German, Frau does double duty as Mrs and woman, while there are distinct male analogues: Herr and Mann. So while there’s perfect locational symmetry, it’s marginally less tidy conceptually. But this isn’t an issue worthy of [Sturm und __ ] DRANG. See also 61d [Word with spray or style] HAIR and 22a [Goethe classic] FAUST (following 21a [Goes] LEAVES).
- Lovely longdowns: SQUAD CAR, ECSTATIC, FRIED EGG, ESSAYIST. The latter’s clue invokes Charles Lamb, indirectly keeping the crosswordese ELIA exercised.
- High count of abbrevs., some crosswordese, fewer partials.
- More nice incidental fill: EAR WAX, MUESLI, ROBUST.
- Never a fan of appendant (can I call them ‘syncategorematic’?) fill phrases such as 53a [Where to find Houston St. and Penn Sta.] IN NYC and 38a [Where serve-and-volley tennis players win a lot of points] AT NET, though the latter is more ROBUST.
Good puzzle, nice theme, a bit too much frass in the grid.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Compression Chamber”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to a new week!
By this time, I’m sure a lot of you are experiencing the foliage around your area and neighborhood change into its autumnal shade, something very similar to OCHRE (32D: [Earth hue]). While the leaves change color, the quality of the crosswords here remain at the same top-quality level. Today’s grid, offered up to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, includes three 15-letter entries in which the last word in each of the entries are synonyms.
- CELEBRITY CRUSH: (20A: [Infatuation with an idol]) – Who was/is your celebrity crush? Come on, I know you all have/had one!!!
- SPAGHETTI SQUASH: (36A: [Vegetable that resembles pasta])
- BOYSENBERRY JAM: (47A: [Fruity toast topper])
Outside of the theme answers, the entries that I really liked the most were TITLE PAGE (4D: [It comes before Chapter I]) and TWO-BIT (5D: [Small-time]). Two things that I do not like at all on a sandwich, or in general, are bacon and mayo, so BLTS are an absolute no-no for me (47D: [Sandwiches that often come with mayo]). I haven’t performed too much on stage since about sixth grade, but in the times that I have, I can say that I never FROZE in front of the audience and I banged out my lines with usually no problems (46D: [Got stage fright]). Had originally put “oasis” instead of OASES, but that was an easy fix after seeing the intersecting down clues (31D: [Where to find dates in deserts]). So after doing this puzzle, I definitely thought of having THAI food, but that always happens after I see that word in a grid (14A: [Spicy cuisine]). Don’t know how I picked up such a craving for Thai, especially since this just started about a year ago. But I’m pretty sure that you’ll be able to find me in a Thai restaurant if you look hard enough in New York in the next couple of days during lunch time!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: STAG (34D: [Party animal?]) – Any athlete that plies his or her trade at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn. is a STAG, which happens to be the university’s mascot. The Stags almost had their finest sports moment in 1997 on the basketball court. The men’s basketball team finished in last place in their conference (MAAC), but made a cinderella run to win the conference tournament and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. In the Big Dance, the Stags almost defeated top-seed North Carolina as they held a seven-point halftime lead and stayed close throughout the game before succumbing to the Tar Heels. That game happened to be the game in which legendary North Carolina head coach Dean Smith tied former Kentucky head coach Adolph Rupp for the most coaching wins in Division I history, at 876.
Thank you all for your time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
A mix of good stuff and meh stuff. The good: REJIGGER, CLIMATE JUSTICE, UNIQLO, BOSTON MARATHON, LATE LUNCHES, I SURE HOPE SO, ATALANTA.
Awkward: LP INSERT, A B OR C
Foreign: ARRIERE crossing URSI
Short ones with an N and two vowels: ANA ANO ENO ONO
Rare-in-crosswords abbrev: 1d. [Org. for kings and queens?], FIDE. World chess federation.
Not as much “hey, wow!” stuff as I expect to see in a BEQ indie 72-worder, to tell you the truth. 3.5 stars because it wasn’t as entertaining as so many other BEQ themelesses.