Peter A. Collins’ New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Five phrases in which the first, short word is homophonic to a letter. Said letters, as per the revealer at 64-across [Leave no room for misinterpretation … or what the first words of the answers to the five starred clues do, literally] SPELL IT OUT. Yes, they spell I-T-O-U-T.
- 17a. [*What a good speaker maintains with the audience] Unremitting dominance … I mean, EYE CONTACT.
- 25a. [*Golfers’ bookings] Chiropractor appointments … I mean, TEE TIMES.
- 30a. [*”Man!”] OH BROTHER.
- 45a. [*”Wait, wait … go back”] What elephant? I mean, YOU LOST ME.
- 51a. [*Bit of Boston Harbor debris in 1773] TEA CHEST. That would be jetsam, not flotsam. Perhaps some of the lagan ended up near the future site of the airport.
One of the less common of the approved Monday-style themes, so on the refreshing side inandofitself. Decent phrases, good reveal: well executed.
- Continuing the theme vein: 69a [Letters between jays and ells] KAYS. Not quite: 27a [Somewhat] A BIT; 35a [“August: __ County” (2008 Pulitzer-winning play] OSAGE; 50a [Cross through] X OUT; 55a [Second stringers] B TEAMS; 67a [German automaker] OPEL; 7d [Put into law] ENACT; 52d [Course for which you hardly need to 51-Down] EASY A.
- Most surprising fill for a Monday: 53d [Maudlin] SOPPY, not SAPPY. Cross is the easy 60a [Regular] NORMAL.
- Long downs: LOW-IMPACT, BOB MARLEY, STYMIES, OUTLINE, TICKETS, RIO LOBO. Pretty good stuff.
- Fr. abbrevs. STE and MLLE in the same 15×15 grid? Plus ÉTÉ? Non! ROUX, you can stay.
- Best clue by a mile: 13d [Enjoys Joyce, Carroll or Oates] READS. That’s a top-tier turn right there, dear readers, for any day of the week. One that puts a puzzle over the nearest crest of achievement.
Jerry Edelstein’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
A more typical early-week theme format from the West Coast today, words that can be added before/after a key word.
- 18a. [Large-group legal proceeding] CLASS ACTION.
- 24a. [Lens for a panorama] WIDE-ANGLE.
- 34a. [Wooing period] COURTSHIP.
- 40a. [Secure method of payment] BANK DRAFT.
- 48a. [Craft with an outboard] POWERBOAT.
What’s the tie-in? 57-across [The third “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie (and where you might find the first part of 18-, 24-, 34-, 40- and 48-Across] AT WORLD’S END. Hence world-class, worldwide, World Court, World Bank, world power.
Decent theme, nothing special. Biggest impression during the solve was the choppiness of the experience, due primarily to the overdose of three-letter fill. Those stacks in the northwest and southeast set the tone and cadence for the entirety: MAC / ABE / CAD, IGA / DES / ERE. Uninspiring stuff, to say the least.
The long down answers are good, but not enough to shake the pervasive pall. SLINGSHOT, HAND TOWEL, and I suppose the nearby stacked sevens (HACKETT, OUTAGES, KEYNOTE, DESERTS).
Not to beat up on the puzzle, but back to the negatives: toss in the presence of substandard entries like ILA, KANS., TYS, ORD, ULT., and more, well that adds up to a disappointing crossword. Use of ABACI (2d) not required for this calculation.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
This one didn’t sit quite right with me, as a few entries ran afoul of 10d: RANG TRUE. These ones felt awkward as fill, didn’t ring true to me:
- 23a. [Early bird, e.g.], ARISER. And one who sleeps till noon eventually arises, too. Nobody says “ariser.”
- 24a. [Words said with a coy wink], “AIN’T IT?” Not sure it’s quite up there with other colloquial spoken phrases we find in crosswords.
- 35a. [“This time, but only this time”], JUST FOR ONCE. “For once in your life,” yes. “Just this/the once,” yes. “Just for once” feels like a bastard hybridization to me. Googles OK, though.
- 54a. [Heavy snowstorm], BLANKETING. Who calls snowfalls “blanketing”?
- 28d. [Sound of “father”], SOFT A. Isn’t the “ah” sound more often called a short O? Not familiar with the application of “soft” to vowels rather than consonants. Perhaps this is a Britishism Brendan’s picked up from his spouse?
- 34d. [Hydrotherapy session], HOT SOAK. Is that a thing? Maybe this is English-inflected too? Certainly 46d: TOT UP is a British usage.
On the plus side, there’s all this:
- 9a. [Melon containers], BRAS. Dammit, I was thinking of melon = head.
- 20a. [Lean breakfast choice], TURKEY BACON. Some in my fridge right now.
- 44a. [Spineless ones sometimes taken for suckers?], OCTOPI. That clue!
- 35d. [Dutch painter who did “Skittle Players”] JAN STEEN. I want to play skittle! I don’t know what it is and I don’t like Skittles, but still. (Minus one point for the dupe with crossing JAN, 55a. [Painter Jan van der ___] MEER.)
- 36d. [Who said “A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier”], MENCKEN. Good lord, if you read the readers’ comments on the articles in pretty much any paper other than the NYT, a tour of America’s lowest common denominator is in store.
- 49d. [Summer’s sign], PLUS. One doing sums, not zodiac signs for the summer months. I know a lot of you tried to get LEO to work here.
No “hey, wow, that’s a new entry!” words or phrases ripped from current pop/internet culture, which is a tad surprising for a BEQ puzzle with 68 (or 70, or 72) words.
3.33 stars from me.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “…with a Twist of Lime”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everyone! Today’s the last day for me in California, so have to take advantage of the sunshine before heading back to New York to get ready to see the ball drop. (Well, I’ll be at home seeing the ball drop, as there’s no way in H-E-double hockey sticks that I’ll physically be in the zoo that is Times Square during New Years’ Eve.) So our last three puzzles of 2014 starts with today’s offering from Ms. Donna S. Levin, in which the letters “L-I-M-E” are the first four letters in each theme answer, but in a different order each time.
- ELI MANNING: (18A: [New York Giants quarterback and member of a football family]) – For Giants fans, the 2014 season is now mercifully over, with the team finishing 6-10.
- EMIL JANNINGS: (26A: [Winner in 1929 of the first Academy Award for Best Actor])
- MELINDA GATES: (47A: [Cochair of one of the world’s largest philanthropic foundations])
- MILEY CYRUS: (60A: [“Bangerz” babe]) – A twerking extraordinaire, apparently.
My first exposure to Robin Williams was watching him play his character from ORK, Mork, on Mork & Mindy, and definitely was a fan of his way back when, even when I had a hard time as a young child figuring out what that show was about (36A: [Planet where “na nu, na nu” is a farewell]). Had a lot of fun doing this puzzle, given there was very strong fill, with each of the theme entries standing out. In a welcome change, it was nice to fill in POPE LEO instead of Leo and/or the correct Roman numeral corresponding to him (51A: [Vatican figure instrumental in saving Rome from Attila]). Also liked the fill, as well as the clue, to FAN MAIL (46D: [Transmission to the stars]). Speaking of stars, though far from an expert in Greek mythology, seeing Sirius in a clue immediately made me think of ORION (52D: [Sirius’s master]). Please don’t hurt me, but I have never watched Fantasia in full, so getting HIPPO was a tougher than expected, though I knew it was going to be some sort of animal in the very end (15A: [Tutu-clad dancer in Disney’s “Fantasia”]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PINE TAR (24A: [Sticky stuff at the center of a 1983 George Brett baseball “incident”]) – A lot of sports fans know about the infamous “Pine Tar Game” between the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees on July 24, 1983, in which a home run hit by George Brett was nullified when Yankees manager Billy Martin successfully appealed to home plate umpire Tim McClelland that Brett’s bat had too much pine tar, going all the way up to the label of his bat. What most people forget is that, after the game, the Royals protested the game…and won the appeal. The game was restarted, on August 18, 1983, from the point of Brett’s home run. Kansas City ended up officially winning the game, 5-4. As a side note, Yankees manager Billy Martin, upset that his team had to make up the game, decided to put many of his players in positions that they weren’t used to playing, including putting first baseman Don Mattingly, a left-handed thrower, at second base, a position lefties rarely play. Also, Martin put star pitcher Ron Guidry at center field.
Have a good day/evening everyone, and I’ll see you tomorrow!