Tom McCoy’s New York Times crossword puzzle — pannonica’s write-up
- 18a. [Ban-Ki Moon’s predecessor at the U.N.] KOFI ANNAN.
- 30a. [“Two and a Half Men” co-star starting in 2011] ASHTON KUTCHER.
- 44a. [Sporting champion with a drive for success?] MARIO ANDRETTI.
- 53a. [“The Fast and the Furious co-star”] VIN DIESEL.
What’s the connection? The final across answer, 67a, helps resolve the matter: [Minnesota baseball team … or what 18-, 30-, 44- and 53-Across all are] TWINS. Ohh, so who’s twins with whom? Is it Ashton and Vin? Kofi and Mario? Oh, oh, oh. I see. Each person is one of a set of twins. He’s a twin, and he’s a twin, and he’s a twin, and he’s a twin too, so collectively they’re all twins. Just not with any of the others. Hey I just typed “he” a lot. That’s right. Four fellas, no gals. Half of them are actors, and both are identified as ‘co-stars’. Seems kind of lopsided. And is it really worth it to invoke a sports team in the clue for the revealer? Especially when (just) one of the four theme answers is identified as a sports figure? That seems a bit “off” to me as well.
- Bonus twin-like material: 39d [10-10 or Q-Q] PAIR, 49a [Of course you’re right] YES, YES.
- 36d [Part of a table setting] PLATE; 11a [Place __ ] (part of a table setting] MAT. I was all set to say something about place MAT as two words rather than a single compound word, but a Google Ngram indicates that I’m in the minority with my preference. Also interesting to notice that neither term had much currency before the 1940s.
- 42a [Country singer Steve] EARLE. You know, when he started out, he was too hard and rock-y for country, and for the last 20 years or so he’s been more a post-folk Americana guy. “Country” was never the most appropriate label for him, yet that’s inevitably how he’s identified in crossword clues; sometimes it’s “country-rock”.
- Pretty good long downs: MONSTROSITY and the hey-let’s emphasize-the-gender-inequality-of-the-theme-answers CHICK MAGNET [Sexy guy].
- 20a [Jeopardize] RISK. I’d have clued it with the board game, as 62-across is [Verb-forming suffix] -IZE. Jeez.
- IVANS, 34a [Two Romanov czars]. Unlikely to have been twins. No one really loves plural names, especially uncommon ones, so I’d have gone with the lesser evil of a fill-in-the-blank and evoked Andrei Tarkovsky’s acclaimed 1962 début, Ivan’s Childhood. Then again, I suppose that isn’t quite Monday-level fare.
About average CAP Quotient™, about average cluing. Less-than-thrilling theme.
Timothy L.Meaker’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Low-key execution of a theme.
- 22a. [Acid indigestion, familiarly] HEARTBURN.
- 51a. [Go-between] MIDDLEMAN.
- 3d. [Stripe that equally divides the road] CENTER LINE.
- 30d. [Early computer storage term] CORE MEMORY.
And of course, there’s one more, located in the expected spot:
- 36a. [Auto wheel covers] HUBCAPS.
No revealer, normal words and phrases, pinwheel arrangement of the theme answers, and a sextet of non-theme answers as long as or one letter longer than the shortest – these all serve to subsume and downplay the theme. I like the effect; this puzzle has an understated style.
No-nonsense cluing is typical of an early-week offering, but some of the fill is decidedly not Monday fare: 10a [Post WWII commerce agreement acronym] GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), 49a [NRC predecessor] AEC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Atomic Energy Commission), 34a [Ottoman governors] BEYS, 35d [Israeli diplomat Abba] EBAN, 25d [“Elephant Boy” actor] SABU.
Very crosswordy feeling northwest (introductory) corner, with Ernst MACH, Mort SAHL, Jai ALAI, and OLEO.
10d [Male turkey] GOBBLER. Oh, right. Thanksgiving’s just around the corner.
Feels more like a Tuesday, or even possibly a Wednesday, but an enjoyable and refreshing Monday.
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Dancin'”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning everyone! Ready to start another week of crosswords?
Today’s crossword, brought to us today by Ms. Sarah Keller, gets us on the dance floor as each of the four two-word theme answers ends with a word that also is used to describe the name of a dance. Of the four, I’m pretty sure I’ve done three of them, but have stayed away from the Irish folk music one for now. Maybe some day!
- CHUNKY SALSA: (17A: [Heavy tortilla chip dip])
- SPINNING REEL: (26A: [Fishing rod attachment])
- GREASE MONKEY: (47A: [Auto mechanic, slangily]) – I’ve only done this once, when trying to mimic the cartoon character Johnny Bravo, who does this the dance and says, “Do the monkey with me” in the show’s opening theme.
- FRENCH TWIST: (61A: [Rolled-up hairdo])
After getting the first theme, Chunky Salsa, I just went down the grid to each of the other themes to see which ones I could fill in without crossings, and Grease Monkey and French Twist were there for the taking for me. Made the solve much quicker for me after that. Probably my favorite fill outside of the themes was DISRAELI (9D: [Former British prime minister Benjamin]), with INKLINGS coming a close second (5D: [Faintest notions]). I’ve been in Philadelphia a couple of times in the past month, so have gotten much more familiar with taking SEPTA, the Philadelphia area public transportation authority (11D: [Nasal dividers]). Seeing ELECTRON just made me miss the days we used microscopes when in biology class in high school (38D: [Kind of microscope]). If I remember correctly, our class used these dirt cheap microscopes at the beginning of Bio lab before we graduated to the electron microscope later on in the semester. What a difference!! We can’t leave without a little KAHN in her Lili von Shtupp role, right (2D: [Madeline of “Blazing Saddles”])?!? I knew you’d agree with me!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MESA (42A: [Large flat-topped hill]) – Today, I’m mentioning former Major League pitcher Jose MESA, a two-time All-Star who led the Majors in saves (45) as a member of the Cleveland Indians in 1995, a year that saw the Indians make the World Series. Mesa had at least 40 saves four times in his MLB career. One of his nicknames, which I think was given to him by ESPN anchor Kenny Mayne, was Joe Table, as his name translates to “Joe Table” from Spanish to English.
Stay warm, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
It’s not generally a harbinger of joy when one’s first answer in the grid is a word one pretty much never sees outside of crosswordese circles. 9a. [Clunky clogs] are SABOTS, and the most interesting thing about that word is that it’s the root of sabotage. Next time you’re wearing clogs and you kick something, be sure to pat yourself on the back for your willful sabotage.
- 33a. [“Just stop it”], “OH, BEHAVE!”
- 35a. [Phrase said while shrugging one’s shoulders], “WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?” Not sure I ever shrug my shoulder for that one. More of a quizzical head tilt.
- 8d. [When ties are inappropriate], DRESS-DOWN FRIDAY. Aka Casual Friday, which I think is the more common term.
- 26d. [A perfect score in this game is 1,575], YAHTZEE. I … have never scored 1,575. I also have never heard of the “bonus chips” required to reach that total.
- It’s cute to put a BERET, presumably Green, on top of the MARINES.
There’s a clue/entry dupe here: 4d. [Swinger’s stick] clues BAT, while SWING SET is in the grid (14d. [It can make you go back and forth]). I love seeing SWING SET in the grid but preferably without “swing” or “set” in a clue.
- 3d. [Decorate, as with buttons], BESTUD. I’m sure this would have been BESTED if that didn’t cause a dupe with crossing BEST CASE. BESTUD is pretty terrible, no? It’s in some dictionaries, but who uses it? Clearly, bedazzle has stolen its place.
- 48a. [Spanish linen (in ALLERGIC REACTION)], CREA. When you need the embedment hint or an anagram hint, it’s not your most savory fill. The added hint is definitely needed for non-Spanish speakers given the relative unfamiliarity of 36d. [“Krazy Kat” cartoonist George] HERRIMAN.
- 26a. [Rapper ___ Joc], YUNG crossing 13d. [1983 Indianapolis 500 winner whose nickname is “The Gas Man”], TOM SNEVA. YUNG sounds like “young” so it’s more plausible than other letters, but Sneva isn’t a common surname so if you’re not up on your hip-hop or Indy racers of yore, tough crossing.
- GAGS ON and ENEMAS are fine separately, but in the same puzzle …
3.66 stars from me.