Jean O’Conor’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Vertical themers for a change of pace today. But it isn’t simply an idle choice, as it’s much more sensible per the revealer. 31d [Like alpine peaks … or what each half of 3-, 7-, 9-, 37- and 44-Down can be?] SNOW-CAPPED.
- 3d. [Surface for a dry-erase marker] WHITEBOARD (Snow-White, snowboard).
- 7d. [Shellfish hors d’oeuvres] CRAB BALLS (snow crab, snowballs). Implicitly raising the question, Which is less common: ‘crab balls’ or ‘snow cakes’? Hmm, the answer surprised me. but as you can see from the graph, CRAB BALLS are definitely a johnny-come-lately, only taking hold in the 1960s.
- 9d. [Farmer with oxen] PLOWMAN (snow plow, snowman). Isn’t the snowman in Frozen named Olaf? Pretty sure I’ve been seeing that as a clue this past year. This puzzle has 52d [Five Norse kings] for OLAFS.
- 37d. [Easter costume] BUNNY SUIT (snow bunny, snowsuit).
- 44d. [Heist of a sort] BANK JOB (snow bank, snow job). I think this is my favorite of the five.
Densely packed theme here, but easy enough to blow through in a swift time, clearing a path to the solution. Oriented vertically, the SNOW element literally caps the other words.
Not much space left in the grid for other stuff to spread out, but even so there’s a sextet of sevens: a pair each in rows 4 and 11, and a crossing pair in the center. Say… if this grid had had reflective symmetry as well as rotational symmetry it might have resembled a snowflake… but that’s a lot to ask for.
- 26d [Word in every “Star Wars” title] EPISODE. Clue needs an emphatic “, now” qualifier to appease a certain contingent of the fan base.
- Other words that could follow ‘snow’: 21d [Tops of waves] CRESTS, 69a SLABS.
- Big dupe from 8a [ __-ski] APRÈS and 22-across.
- Ya, there’s some junk in the grid that also RANKLES (57d), such as Get AN A on (ace), WYO, EZEK (those two together remind me of Woyzeck), -ITE, and, oh-sure-why-not EEG.
- I’m done.
Mostly good crossword.
Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Wow, it took me, embarrassingly, more than several moments to comprehend the theme. The final long across answer acts as revealer, but I thoroughly misinterpreted it.
- 17a. [Military bed-making features] HOSPITAL CORNERS.
- 28a. [Classic jazz vocal group originally composed of four siblings, with “The”] MILLS BROTHERS. Ladies and gentlemen, I present possibly the most sublime minute-and-a-half in the history of popular music:
It’s from 1972 (the questionable word in the lyrics is in keeping with the aesthetic of the album; it is not in any way meant to offend in this context)
- 46a. [“Special” lobbying function] INTEREST GROUP.
- 61a. [UN organ … or what the first words of 17-, 28- and 46-Across comprise?] GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
Okay, here’s what happened to me. I took those first three words, HOSPITAL MILLS INTEREST, and tried to figure out which of the many organs of the United Nations it made. UN·ICEF, the Children’s Fund? UN·HCR, the High Commissioner on Refugees? And so on; I just wasn’t getting anywhere. So then I looked at the words themselves, Hospital, Mil… itary? Int…ernational? What the hunh?
Eventually it dawned on me that I’d neglected to apply the “UN organ” part of the clue to the answer itself, that is, the GENERAL ASSEMBLY. You know, the most fundamental of the six major organs of the system? (The other five are the Secretariat, the International Court of Justice, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and the Trusteeship Council.) I was looking for a tree when I should have been keen for a copse, or even a forest. So, for the official record, GENERAL can precede the first word of each of those three theme answers to make a familiar phrase. They can be assembled that way, and all three have been assembled for this crossword, The resolution is passed.
Nothing overly remarkable in the ballast fill or the REST (13d) of the clues, either positive or negative, which is typically how it goes on Mondays.
- Not a pleasant experience seeing usual crosswordy suspect OKRA first thing, at one-across [Pod used to thicken gumbo].
- Similarly, I’d prefer not to see both ALAR and AGAR in a crossword, let alone an early-week one. (52d, 67a)
- Pair of poets in Stephen Vincent BENET and EZRA Pound. (29d, 47d)
- 38d PARADROP. Tough to clue this (especially Monday-level) without duplicating either element of the portmanteau, hence the charmingly awkward [Send down using chutes, as supplies].
- Favorite clue: 57a [Ride without pedaling] COAST. A teensy bit evocative there, very welcome here.
Good Monday offering.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “That Ain’t Hey!”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! On my way to D.C. to cover a game, though it’s really cool to be able to be in our nation’s capital during Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
In today’s crossword puzzle, offered up to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, homophones are used to replace words in familiar phrases to create puns, with the homophones being used all four-letter words with the letters “EE” in the middle of them. They replace the original words, which all have “EA” as the middle two letters. Or something like that…
- MEET MARKET (17A: [Online dating site?])
- REEL STAND-UP GUY (25A: [Honest angler?])
- FEET OF STRENGTH (44A: [Kickboxer’s attribute?]) – A friend of mine who took up Muay Thai once kicked me on the thigh to see if I could withstand the force of his kick. My right leg almost fell off!
- BEET POETRY (58A: [Verses about red vegetables?])
It’s only fitting that with the Australian Open tennis tournament starting that we have GRAF in the grid, winner of four Aussie Open championships in her illustrious career (32D: [1991 Wimbledon champ Steffi]). And how’s this for synergy: Her husband, crossword favorite Andre Agassi, also won four Aussie Open titles. My other main thought was which famous artist/title do you go with for PAPA: The Temptations or Madonna (51D: [“____ Was a Rollin Stone])? Speaking of music, definitely loved seeing the full name of EDDIE MONEY in the grid (26D: [Baby Hold On” singer]). The first theme answer was no problem once I filled in some of the crossings, but the other two were harder to parse for me. After getting a foothold in the Southeast and getting the final theme (beet poetry), the EE’s were pretty easy to fill in and then figure out the other themes. There were a lot of money/money management-related clues in the grid as well, with ATMS (1D: [Dough dispensers?]), AT PAR (1A: [How some stocks are sold]) and NO-LOAD (46D: [Like some mutual funds]). Now, time to perform a little magic with the “sports…smarter” moment right now…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SAWA (16A: [“You look like you ____ ghost!”]) – Some of you might have done a double take at the two-word fill of “SAW A,” but let’s use sports to turn it into something educational. Women’s soccer player Homare SAWA is the captain of the Japanese women’s national soccer team, and she was the captain of the team that won the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, defeating the United States in the final in Frankfurt, Germany. In that World Cup, Sawa won the Golden Boot award as the top goalscorer in the competition (5 goals) as well as won the Golden Ball award for the overall best player in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup gets underway in June, with Canada being the host country.
Have a good day everyone, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Brendan’s 300th self-published themeless! Congrats, buddy.
- Likes: “OH, GREAT,” SQUELCH, THE AZORES, and LEVITRA, even though it certainly can’t make me stiff (no “provided you have a penis” caveat in the clue).
- A PRALINE is clued as a [Southern chocolate treat], though they’re typically pecans with, like, butter and sugar or cream and sugar. Not sure I’ve encountered chocolate pralines but boy, would I be willing to eat them.
- 48a. [Tank top tag abbr.], LGE? Uh, no. Sizes on t ags are generally XS, S, M, L, XL, etc. The tags don’t use the crosswordese size abbrevs.
- Meh: ELAM, LGE, V-SIX, SEP clued as the month that’s usually abbreviated as Sept.
- Did not know: 32d. [Part owner of the LA Lakers ___ Buss], JEANIE. And also AXLE PIN, a truly dull entry in my book.
Gotta run now. 3.66 stars from me.