David J. Kahn’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
This one was a breeze to solve, but I was having the darnedest time, scratching my head, about the theme. Then I noticed there was a note accompanying the puzzle.
“The last names of eight U.S. presidents are hidden in this puzzle’s completed grid, reading across, back, up, down and diagonally, word-search style. Can you find them all?”
Yeah, whatever. I don’t do word searches. I get it, it’s President’s Day. I suppose this is a nice, idle cherry-on-top for the Monday solver who wants a little something else to do after filling in the grid. I’ve neither truck nor animus with that.
I will say that it’s well done, as the superficial fill remains Monday-smooth; I didn’t notice too much hinkiness during or post-solve. On the other hand, there aren’t any ‘regular’ theme entries to constrain the grid. And I’m guessing the eight hidden theme answers will include the presidents with the shortest names (including BUSH, FORD, POLK, TAFT, OBAMA, ADAMS, GRANT, HAYES ?), so I wonder how much of a constructing feat it really is. Despite my non-efforts, I can see that each of the long answers contains a surname reversed (CARTER, OBAMA, TAFT, FORD – okay, he isn’t reversed).
As peripheral we see 6a [Site of the 1968 Democratic convention, informally] CHI and 39d [New __, site of the 1988 Republican convention] ORLEANS. Each of these is compromised: one is an abbrev. (when the Greek letter would normally suffice) and the other forced as a partial. Also: 15a [Campaigned] RAN; 20a [Instrument for Bill Clinton, informally] SAX; 22a [ __ Party (modern political group)] TEA (though I’d hardly call them modern, if you know what I mean); 35a [National Medal of __ (honor bestowed by the president) ARTS; 43a [Like “All the President’s Men,” originally, per the M.P.A.A.] R-RATED; 7d [Political __ (partisan sorts)] HACKS; 24d [Polling figures, e.g.] DATA.
Bob Dole was the GOP nominee in 1996; he appears quite obviously in 61a [Apportioned, with “out”] DOLED. The clue dupes long non-themer OUT OF ORDER (29d).
Lowest lights: 45a [Lip-puckering, as kraut] SAUER – seriously, can you even do that? and 42d [Scented] ODORED. While I’m on the record as strongly advocating for odor to lose the stigma of being considered purely a negative phenomenon, I find ODORED to be a decidedly lame word, and Google’s Ngram supports this.
Other things noted: 56a PREEN over 59a BIRDS in the lower left corner; 37a [Cleared, as a garden] HOED and 51d [Unwanted garden growth] WEED. The rest? Standard, Joe-Friday-just-the-facts-Monday-cluing.
Gary Morse’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Revealer is dispensed with for this Monday offering, and with good reason. Those paired Zs at the end of each long answer are not only dramatic in spelling but are visually arresting.
- 17a. [Teen’s budding facial hair, informally] PEACH FUZZ. Peaches are pubescent vis-à-vis nectarines. Soft, non-androgenic human hair is called vellus.
- 56a. [Speculation leading up to a February 22 awards extravaganza] OSCAR BUZZ. So that makes this the final Monday before the ceremony, and probably the reason why this puzz was scheduled for today. Not the lack of cross-reference to the non-thematic MOVIE directly below at 62-across [Theater offering] – as mentioned in other instances, I am very much in favor of no cross-pollination between theme and non theme material. When I was younger I’d be horrified if one food type touched another on the same plate; I’ve long since abandoned that behavior but it persists in this one context. It’s high time to find a good name for it.
- 11d. [Semi-autobiographical Fosse film] ALL THAT JAZZ.
- 25d. [Bubbly plum-flavored drink] SLOE GIN FIZZ. Interesting that the clue didn’t mention that it’s an alcoholic cocktail.
ZSA ZSA Gabor at 45-across isn’t explicitly allied to the theme, but it’s a nice echoic (see clue) touch. And it doesn’t contravene my earlier stipulation/potential complaint. In that vein, the paired terminal Ns of the last across entry SWANN – resembling Zs rotated 90° – also please. It wasn’t necessary to make those last two three-letter entries beginning with Z ZIN and ZEN – there are plenty of alternatives – so I suspect this was intentional.
Not a whole lot to say about the rest of the puzzle, which is mostly smooth and Monday-appropriate, so I’ll just provide a lengthy, alternative, Shakespearean context for 47a [Florida State player, for short] ’NOLE.
My mistress with a monster is in love.
Near to her close and consecrated bower,
While she was in her dull and sleeping hour,
A crew of patches, rude mechanicals,
That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,
Were met together to rehearse a play
Intended for great Theseus’ nuptial-day.
The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort,
Who Pyramus presented, in their sport
Forsook his scene and enter’d in a brake
When I did him at this advantage take,
An ass’s nole I fixed on his head:
Anon his Thisbe must be answered,
And forth my mimic comes. When they him spy,
As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,
Or russet-pated choughs, many in sort,
Rising and cawing at the gun’s report,
Sever themselves and madly sweep the sky,
So, at his sight, away his fellows fly;
And, at our stamp, here o’er and o’er one falls;
He murder cries and help from Athens calls.
Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears
Made senseless things begin to do them wrong;
For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch;
Some sleeves, some hats, from yielders all
I led them on in this distracted fear,
And left sweet Pyramus translated there:
When in that moment, so it came to pass, 1065
Titania waked and straightway loved an ass.
– Puck, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (III,ii)
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Wow, is it just me or was this one much easier than the usual themeless by BEQ?
- 1a. [Former Virginia senator Jim eying a potential 2016 presidential bid], WEBB. Who??
- 24a. [Card that can get you around Boston], T-PASS. Not a term I’d seen. Are people in Massachusetts who live well away from the coast MA INLANDERS?
- 33a. [Situation where things are constantly breaking?], MEDIA CIRCUS. Favorite entry.
- 51a. [Sticking to one’s ribs?], BAYONETING. Gross.
- 4d. [Air-cooled machine guns], BRENS. Blech. I guess fans of violent video games or military weaponry know their BREN and STEN but the rest of us see them as crosswordese.
- 28d. [One offering a lethal punch?], LACER. How often is a drink laced with something deadly, as opposed to lacing something with booze or with a temporary unconsciousness-maker? Also, LACER is rather a roll-your-own noun.
- 34d. [Former world leader with the title Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution: var.] QADHAFI. What a mess over there now, with ISIS. Can’t help wondering if leaving dictators like Saddam Hussein and Qadhafi in place would have actually worked out better for the people in the region. Evil, brutal dictators who mostly (putting aside Iran and Kuwait) didn’t try to destroy people outside their borders … sigh. Good clue, anyway. Didn’t know that title.
SPINAL TAP and SIREN SONG provided a little musical content here.
-EST, OF NO, AS AN, SGTS, ERTES, BRENS … those I was not loving. 3.8 stars overall.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Lickety-Split”—Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everyone! I’m now officially wanting to stay in my bed until April, or when these arctic winds and bitter cold finally pass for good. (And this is from a person who spect more than four years living in the tundra that is Central New York.) Today’s crossword , offered up to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, has three three answers in which the first word also happens to be names of candies/sweets.
- LOLLIPOP GUILD (20A: [Diminutive trio in “The Wizard of Oz”])
- CANDY CANE LANE (38A: [Where people go to see Christmas lights])
- SUCKER PUNCHES (57A: [Cowardly blows]) They sure hurt, don’t they?!
Did I tell you about the time SEAN Hannity stared right at me for about three seconds when we crossed paths at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York this past August (24A: [Conservative commentator Hannity])? He definitely couldn’t have known me from somewhere, could he? Well, I guess he could make the argument that I stared at him first, but by the time I looked at him, he already was looking at me. So HA! There was a lot more politics in this grid, with the appearance of AL GORE (2D: [Loser in the 2000 headlines]), and some British politics, in a sense, with NAY (35D: [Parliamentary vote]) and YEA (25A: [Parliamentary vote]). I definitely had my share of HYDROX cookies back in the day for sure, and the entry brought back some memories (43A: [Oreo predecessor]). Speaking of flashbacks, how about DIAL O (65A: [How to start a collect call])? Would love to know from people when was the last time they made a collect call!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PATS (69A: [Three (now four)-time Super Bowl winners, to fans]) – After winning Super Bowl XLIX earlier this month against the Seattle Seahawks, the New England Patriots, or PATS, obtained their fourth Super Bowl title in franchise history. I had the pleasure of watching New England’s first Super Bowl win in person, when it defeated the St. Louis RAMS in Super Bowl XXXVI (1A: [“The Greatest Show on Turf” team]). Here’s a little memento I still have from that February day in New Orleans in 2002. By the way, should I put these on eBay and make a profit?
Have a good rest of your Monday, everyone! Stay warm, especially to those here in the Northeast!