Stanley Newman’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Minimalist offering to start the week. Three theme entries total, one of which functions as the revealer. 53-across is [TV hookup option … or what you are by solving this puzzle?] DVD RECORDER. Especially as that’s also a DVD writer.
The other two are 21a [Eponymous star of a 1960s sitcom, the only American TV star with his three initials] DICK VAN DYKE and the grid-spanning 37a [Long-running western anthology, the only American TV series with its three initials] DEATH VALLEY DAYS. So as you see, there’s a TV connection underlying the singleton aspect.
The great majority of the grid is smoothly and deftly filled, but even so there are a few entries that snagged my snarl during the solve. Oh, you know the sort of thing: arbitrary Roman numeral MDLII, lesser-known school acronym VMI, partial IN IT, some initialismic stuff. More than I would have expected considering the amount of theme material.
- True, we do get some spiffy long downs with NERVE CELL and PAPA JOHN’S.
- Not much Scrabbliness, understandable what with all the Vs choking up the place. This is fine, helps keep the grid spry.
- 50a [New Hampshire senator Shaheen] JEANNE. Looks as if she’s up for reëlection this year, so the clue is timely. However I’d rather listen to some music from oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Q: What has two heads, three legs, one arm, and four hands?
A: Today’s LAT crossword by Jeffrey Wechsler.
- 17a. [Casino machines] ONE-ARMED BANDITS.
- 28a. [Novelty item whose user always wins a coin toss] TWO-HEADED NICKEL.
- 49a. [Cooperative picnic running contest] THREE-LEGGED RACE.
- 61a. [Game involving eight knights] FOUR-HANDED CHESS.
CLEAR (31d [Easy to grasp]) to SEE (64d [Understand]) how this progressive theme works. Just ADD (7d [Contribute]) one to each successive themer. Nothing META– (18d [Prefix with physics]) about it, just a solid Monday crossword, with four 15-letter theme entries.
- Gratuitous, LABOR [DAY]ed (8d) tie-ins: for 61a, there’s an extra knight in 36d GALAHAD; with three legs à la 49a one can really STEP ON IT (37d), whatever IT may be; two heads (of state) per 28a will undoubtedly have a contentious time trying to GOVERN (51d); a stereotypical bandit (see 17a) in the old west often had a CHEROOT (41d) clenched in his mouth. This bullet item brought to you by the Bottom Half of the Crossword™.
- 27a [Suffix with formal or custom] -IZE. Also with TERROR, which just happens to precede it in row 5. Hey, I just mentally put in a -QUE at the end of row 4, how do you like that?
- Relatively low CAP (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials) Quotient™.
- Didn’t look at the clue for 13a right away, had all but the second letter filled. Almost instinctively completed it as EBOLA: [ __ Gay: WWII bomber] ENOLA.
- Possible quasi-bonus entry across in the center of row 15: 70a [Twice five] TEN. After all, five continues the sequence. Nah, too far-fetched. Perhaps if 6-across had been NIL or ZIP …
Anyway, smooth Monday offering.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Marching Bands”
Ooh, a Marching Bands puzzle I can solve on screen! With the .jpz file opened by the Crossword Solver application, boom. The bands are clickable and the active square jumps to the first open square in a band, and when a band is highlighted, you can type the letters in traveling clockwise—no need to type a word backwards in its row. PDFs are for suckers, man. (PDFs are a hassle if you prefer solving via keyboard, especially if you then need to include the solution grid in your blog post. Screenshots for the win.)
The first row is great. STAT plus ICKY POO ([Gross, to a toddler: 2 wds.]) feeds Band A with STATICKY and POOREST, and all I can think about, as we head into winter with its dryer air and static electricity, is STATICKY POO.
The other rows are less exciting. I’m partial to Band B’s ALEX P. KEATON, Band A’s WEASEL OUT OF, Band D’s IN THE NEWS and SAID “SHH,” and an apt central Band E extending CONGRATS, clued [“You did it!” (appropriately)].
Favorite clue: Row 2 start, [“Can’t you see I’m driving here!?”] for FORE. I was thinking of cars and HONK or BEEP rather than golf. Runner-up: Band C’s 2nd, [Marine mammal that sleeps half the day away], MANATEE. I was just tweeting a picture of manatee 69 this weekend.
ORE CAR was really blah but overall the fill here is crisp and free of things relying on RE- or -ERS or -ED or -NESS affixes, free of obscurities. Four stars.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Matching Tests”—Ade’s write-up
Welcome to a new week of crosswords, everybody! Hope everyone had a good weekend.
Today’s grid was a good way to test our sharpness, because, well, it dealt with different types of tests. In the puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, each of the theme answers are two-word entries in which each of the two words in the answer are words that can precede the word “tests.”
- MATH APTITUDE: (19A: [Number skill])
- SMELL BLOOD: (26A: [Hungry sharks can do it])
- EYE MAKEUP: (35A: [Mascara, e.g.]) – Q: True or false? I own mascara. A: T. I’ve never used it, but, having to use makeup many times while on camera, I bought a makeup kit, and mascara was part of the kit. I know where it is, even if I don’t use it.
- STRESS DRUG: (49A: [Tranquilizer, e.g.])
- MEDICAL FIELD: (56A: [Neurology or nephrology])
How come I can’t see BELUGAS without thinking about the episode of Full House in which Danny Tanner (Bog Saget), I believe, sang about a baby beluga with his on-camera children (10D: [Caviar fish])? It’s actually a sad thing really that song is in my mind right now. Another thing in my mind is ROSE LEE, and how cool of an entry it is…as well as how cool it is to now think about burlesque (40D: [Broadway Gypsy]). So those two answers, and the thoughts that popped into my mind after seeing them, cancel each other out. I don’t think I took more than one EASY A while I was in college, but I definitely would have wanted to take a course on Mickey Mouse, if that was possible (36D: [Mickey Mouse course]). To wrap up, I mentioned that I do own mascara, but trust me, I don’t own NAIR as well (32A: [Hair removal product]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PUP (45A: [Nipper]) – Most NFL players, either in the preseason or in the regular season, hope to avoid the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, a designation in which players can be classified in if they are able to take part in all other football activities (meetings, using team’s facilities to rehab etc.) except for practicing or playing in games.
See you all tomorrow, and thank you for your time!