Greg Johnson’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Everso slightly outré theme for a Monday. Not in a risqué sense or anything, it’s merely refreshingly off the beaten path.
Vertically in the center we have the nine-letter revealer (what was that thing I said last Monday?), 20d [Playoff series finale … or an apt title for this puzzle considering the number and length of its theme entries]. Leaving nothing to chance, or opaque, with that clue! GAME SEVEN.
So. Very evenly situated around the grid, one space in from the perimeter, are six of them, and the seventh crosses the revealer in the center, naturally.
- 15a. [It’s played with mallets and wickets …
- ] CROQUET.
- 16a. [ … with 108 cards] CANASTA.
- 27d. [ … with black-and-white disks] REVERSI.
- 60a. [ … with steelies and aggies] MARBLES.
- 59a. [ … with dashes on paper] HANGMAN.
- 22d. [ … with cues and 22 balls] SNOOKER.
- 36a. [ … with a mat with colored circles] TWISTER.
Those ellipsis-bearing clues might be confusing for the solver who hasn’t encountered the “first” one before the others, but it’s all fairly evident.
Really beefing up the grid is how each of those six peripheral themers is sandwiched between two other answers also of seven letters. Better yet, they’re all pretty good. That is, none of them comes across as weak or forced, and some are actually spiffy of their own accord.
- If you’re going to have cross-referenced clues, either explicit or implicit, it’s appealing to have them near to each other. 31a [One whose job is to park 25-Across] VALET is just below 25a [Autos] CARS. 4d [Leg-building exercises] SQUATS followed immediately by 5d [Biceps-building exercises] CURLS.
- Least Mondayish fill: 9d [Philippine island in W.W. II fighting] PANAY.
- Surprisingly few examples of crosswordese, abbrevs., and partials. Which is not to say there aren’t any—because there are—but they don’t jump out and sour the solve.
Carol Hacker’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Straight-ahead two-word initial theme, revealed at 51-down with [Place for Winnebagos … and for the answers to the starred clues?] RV PARK.
- 18a. [*MTV staple] ROCK VIDEO. Is this still accurate? I was under the impression that that isn’t the sort of programming they’ve done much of for the last decade or two. Also, yawn.
- 31a. [*Oral indication of anger] RAISED VOICE.
- 47a. [*Trip to somewhere you’ve been before] RETURN VISIT. Really not an advisable clue for a Monday crossword, whose themes tend to be predictable and seen-before. No need to call attention to this.
- 62a. [*Selling point of a home on the Hudson, say] RIVER VIEW.
Serviceable but ho-hum theme answers. Not sure how the PARK of the revealer is supposed to be “a place for” these four phrases.
- 20a [D-flat equivalent] C SHARP, 34a [Nickname of AA co-founder William Wilson] BILL W (is that a partial dupe?), 71a [Distance runs, briefly] TEN-KS.
- 13d [Mel’s Diner waitress] FLO; 26a [“Blazing Saddles” director Brooks] MEL. >bzzzt!<
- Least favorite clues: 24a [Syst. with hand signals] ASL; isn’t that more than a bit of an insult, to characterize a rich language has being comprised of “signals”, or am I misinterpreting the “with” in the clue? 36a [Home for a bird] CAGE; really? That’s quite disparaging and narrow-minded too.
- ESAI Morales atop José Maria SERT. I bet you can guess how I feel about these crosswordese all-pros appearing like this, especially in Monday. nb: This has nothing to do with their being Hispanic (Puerto Rican/American and Spanish (Catalan) for the latter) or their artistic endeavors (acting, painting) and everything to do with their crossword notoriety in the abstract.
Blah theme, what feels like slapdash editing. Underwhelmed by this one.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “It’s Loud in Here”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to a new week!
Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us today by Mr. Randolph Ross, might have served as our alarm clock this morning, as the three theme answers each feature “FFF” consecutively, or, in terms of music dynamics, the loudest indication possible, or “forte fortissimo.” Well, I guess there can be more than three F’s on a music scale, but it’s a rare sight, I think.
- STAFF FUNCTION: (20A: [Company holiday party, e.g.])
- PLAYOFF FOOTBALL: (37A: [January excitement for many sports fans]) – Playoff football is less than three months away now. Man, time flies by so fast!
- JEFF FOXWORTHY: (52A: [He asked if you know as much as a fifth grader]) – “You might be a redneck…”
Of course, I have some pretty weird thoughts when I finish puzzles or during my solve, and my first overriding thought was about the James Bond movie Live and Let Die, and how Jane Seymour played the Bond girl, an oracle named SOLITAIRE (58A: [Singular game]). I think many people have switched over to HULU in some manner for their entertainment viewing, but I’m still one of the few – well, more than just a few – still hanging on to cable television (7D: [Net source of TV shows]). One of my favorite elementary school teachers was a woman named Mrs. CASALS, who taught English (4D: [Superb Spanish cellist]). Well, outside of taunting me in the classroom in 1994 when the New York Rangers (her favorite hockey team) defeated the New Jersey Devils (my favorite hockey team) in the Eastern Conference Finals, driving me to near tears in the classroom in the process, she was one of my favorite teachers. If you’re a sports fan, let me know if you are in agreement with me that DHS (designated hitters) should be eliminated from the American League, having both leagues require the pitcher batting (6A: [Some batters, for short]). It brings more strategy to the game, and, thus, more excitement. And this is coming from a person born after the introduction of the designated hitter, which was in 1973.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TYS (65A: [Professional athletes Cobb and Law]) – One amassed 4,191 career hits and is regarded as one of the greatest baseball players ever. The other amassed 53 career interceptions in the regular season and six more in the postseason, including one he returned for a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVI. In short, these guys could play sports very well! By the way, I was inside of the New Orleans Superdome the day the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI over the heavily-favored St. Louis Rams. As a sports fan, it was the greatest game I ever attended. As a New York Jets fan, that game burned my eyes more than any other game I’ve ever watched, in person or on television.
See you all on Tuesday, and thank you for your time!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Busy day ahead—let’s get straight to the bulleted list of eight things:
- 1a. [Travel website with a lot of home pages?], AIR BNB. Brendan says he dropped the mic with this clue but I dunno, the clue was pretty easy for me.
- 16a. [Comienza el primero de enero], AÑO NUEVO. No idea if the Spanish grammar works out here.
- 28a. [Word with band or dance], LAP. Lap bands are bands applied laparascopically to the stomach to reduce stomach capacity.
- 55a. [Spot checker?], SPAYER. Hmm, does this mean “veterinarian who checks Spot and also spays female dogs,” or “veterinarian who spays dogs to end their menstrual spotting”?
- 3d. [Close a port again], RECORK. Guess that works. Are there screw-cap bottles of port wine?
- 7d. [Youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize], MALALA YOUSAFZAI. Well! That is speedy including-of-a-new-fact-in-a-crossword, Brendan, but Peter Gordon beat you with his subscription-only Newsflash puzzle last week.
- 8d. [Chocolate and sprinkles candy], SNO-CAPS. I used to love Sno-Caps but they’re not doing it for me anymore.
- 12d. [Lip service], MERE TALK. Fully a lexical chunk, yea or nay? I’m unconvinced.
Lots of flow in this 72-worder. 3.75 stars overall.