Zhouqin Burnikel and Dennis Ryall’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The final across answer serves as a revealer. 69-across [“Freeze!” or, when broken down into three parts, how the answer for each of the six starred clues goes] STOP, or literally S TO P, as the clue’s labored explanation spells it out. Mondays.
- 1a. [*Obstetrician’s action on a newborn child] SLAP. Not so much, these days.
- 18a. [*Goal an N.H.L.’er shoots for?] STANLEY CUP. Presumably.
- 20a. [*Go swimming in one’s birthday suit] SKINNY DIP. Kind of hearkens back to one-across.
- 40a. [*Visit to Vail, maybe] SKI TRIP.
- 56a. [*Sharp mind, figuratively] STEEL TRAP. Steel rusts, you know. Less so with stainless and galvanized.
- 61a. [*Setting for “Meatballs” or “Friday the 13th”] SUMMER CAMP.
And surely it’s no coincidence that the central down answer is STP [Indy letters]? (36d). I can’t say that the theme or the theme answers are exciting or interesting. Very ho-hum. The revealer has a small amount of panache, but overall this has a very pedestrian feel.
EST’D, the ERL King, ALAE, PDAS, Jackie OAKIE, ACT I, A GUN, and my perennial cruciverbal nemesis ESAI Morales. These are not the type of fill I want to see in a crossword puzzle, and especially not a Monday.
- Liked the marc and franc duo in the clue for EURO (14a).
- 42a [Down, on a light switch] OFF. Usually.
- 55d [Contented cat sound] PURR. Yes, but they are also wont to do so when they are injured or in deep distress. It’s a much more complicated phenomenon.
- 11d [Quickly take the lead] RACE AHEAD, 34d [Sports car with a Spider model] ALFA ROMEO. Nice symmetrical pairing. Fiat also made a Spider, and Spyders have been offered by Porsche, Lamborghini, Mazda, Toyota, and Chevrolet.
- 19d [F equivalent, musically] E SHARP. E# is also how Downtown mainstay Elliot Sharp sometimes billed himself.
- 8d [When prime time ends on most Fox stations] TEN PM. What an utterly odd, odd clue.
Gary Schlapfer and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Regional orography! Who’d have thunk it, especially for a Monday.
- 56a. [Pacific Northwest range, three of whose peaks end 17-, 24- and 47-Across] THE CASCADES.
- 17a. [Beer named for an American patriot] SAMUEL ADAMS.
- 24a. [Girl who found a wolf in her grandmother’s clothing] RED RIDING HOOD.
- 47a. [Monaco ruler married to Grace Kelly] PRINCE RAINIER.
Adams and Rainier are in Washington, Hood is in Oregon. The big peaks in California are Shasta and Lassen. Baker, St Helens, and the Three Sisters are also quite well-known.
- Jaded me filled in –LERS for one-across [Royals and Giants, e.g.], but it turned out to be the relatively prosaic TEAMS. And even before that, I had ASEPTIC for 5d [Like operating rooms] when the correct answer was STERILE.
- Nifty tricky clue at 34a [Clock radio letters] AMPM, not AMFM. Clock radio, ouch.
- 61a [Skirt named for a letter] A-LINE. May also refer to dresses and even coats. Symmetrically paired with 14a A-LIST.
- Long down answers consist of a pair of full names—MATT DAMON and JUAN PERÓN—and the fairly interesting DISCO ERA and AWAY GAME.
- 28a [Temper tantrum during a flight] AIR RAGE. Is this enough of a “thing” to be crosswordworthy?
The crossword as a whole is solid, with an acceptable amount of abbrevs. and partials. Decent Monday.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
This 64-worder has one really zippy answer, which I assume was Brendan’s seed entry: OCULUS RIFT (40a. [What can go to serious gamers’ heads?]). It’s some sort of gaming headset/glasses doodad that a bunch of people plowed money into on Kickstarter, and then the maker sold to a big corporation and all the “I wanna help the little guy” gamers felt like chumps.
Low-word-count puzzles look prettier empty than full. When full, they tend to look hideous, with obscure terms and roll-your-own words and whatnot. This grid’s pretty solid, actually, if not particularly thrilling. (I will always prefer Brendan’s 70s and 72s for their crisply au courant fill.)
- 13a. [Pet name for a little one], PEANUT. When I had PE**UT, I was surprisingly mystified here. A case of the Monday-morning slows.
- 20a. [Group known for noodling], JAM BAND. I wonder if Brendan knows Mr. Noodle. “Goddammit, Mr. Noodle.” (I think the story is actually fake, because where on earth is there a motel where the only TV channel it gets is PBS?)
- 32a. [“___ is fleeting, but obscurity is forever” (Napoleon)], GLORY. Words to live by. For true immortality, strive for obscurity.
- 37a. [Progressive opponent], ALLSTATE. Insurance companies, not Teddy Roosevelt in 1912.
- 45a. [Toss-and-catch string game], DIABOLO. If you’re like me, you know this one only from crosswords.
- 51a. [File uploaders in torrenting], SEEDERS. Feels like a roll-your-own formation, but with a clue that makes me feel like I don’t know anything about BitTorrent and whatnot.
- 9d. [Followers of cues?], ARS. Would rather see an Ars Technica or Ars Poetica clue than plural spelled-out letter name.
- 21d. [No rival], BOND. Dr. No, James Bond. Love this clue. It kept me wondering.
- 38d. [Trick shot?], EFFECT. As in special effects in movies, I assume.
43d. [“Can’t you see I’m driving here!?”], FORE. Tried TOOT first, assuming car driving rather than golf.
4 stars from me. Not all that fun, not like one of BEQ’s 72-worders, but surprisingly smooth and solid for a 64-worder.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Getting the Hang of It”—Ade’s write-up
Welcome to another week of crossword puzzles! Hope all is well with you as we’re just 10 days away from Christmas. Today’s puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin, is a straightforward theme in which each of the last words in the four theme answers are also objects that can be used as mounts for hanging up pictures. Well, at least the first three are. The last one actually is the frame itself, instead of what is used as a mount to hang it.
- CAPTAIN HOOK: (21A: [Smee’s boss])
- UNDER THE WIRE: (26A: [Just in time])
- GOES TO THE MAT: (43A: [Fights tenaciously])
- FREEZE FRAME: (50A: [Cinematography technique seen at the end of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”]) -Or, how I would have clued this, “1982 hit by the J. Geils Band”.
Nice little trivia tidbit with ELLEN (17A: [Groundbreaking sitcom originally called “These Friends of Mine”]). Good move to change that title, don’t you think?! Oh, and speaking of trivia, even this sports nut was caught off-guard a little by the note at GREECE, even though I had somewhat of a prior working knowledge of that beforehand (43D: [Country that always leads the Parade of Nations at The Olympics]). I think it’s time I’ve had some falafel with my PITA – well, at least the next time I have a meal in pita bread (19A: [Falafel container]). The smell emanating from the food carts in New York City that sell falafel dishes is enough to bite off a chunk of your right arm sometimes. The entry which clue mentions the end of a classic movie is intersected by BOYZ, which also has a very memorable, if not, very sad ending (41A: [“N the Hood” fellas]). Loved the clue to EYE LEVEL, although, for some idiotic reason, I put in “eye sight” to start (37D: [Height at which h artwork is commonly hung]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OILER (62A: [Pre-1999 Titan]) – Before the Tennessee Titans’ NFL team moved to their current location in 1997, they were in Houston and called the Oilers. Running back Earl Campbell and quarterback Warren Moon were probably the two greatest OILER players. Houston was a founding member of the American Football League in 1960, and won the first two AFL championships (1960, 1961). Oh, and they had a fight song. A very cheesy fight song…
Thank you for the time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!