Andrea Carla Michaels’ New York Times crossword — Amy’s write-up
The theme is phrases where a single and double L meet up to make a triple:
- 17a. [Cézanne’s “The Basket of Apples,” e.g.], STILL LIFE.
- 23a. [Radio station identification], CALL LETTERS.
- 51a. [“Momma” cartoonist], MELL LAZARUS. Does that strip still run?
- 63a. [“A beast,” according to Ogden Nash], TWO-L LLAMA. You may have seen a video clip of that two-llama chase in Arizona this past week, but if you didn’t see the sped-up version accompanied by “Yakety Sax,” you owe it to yourself to watch this.
Simple and straightforward theme for a Monday.
Five more things:
- 34a. [Andrea, Carla and Michael], NAMES. Hey! I went to school with people with those names. Speaking of names, this puzzle has quite a lot of them in the grid.
- 6d. [Perfume container], PHIAL. This spelling of VIAL is mighty surprising to see in a Monday puzzle.
- 52d. [Pioneering 1960s communications satellites], ECHOS. Say what? Because ECHOES is the correct spelling if you’re not talking about a proper noun, we get a little 50-year-old technology? Had not heard of Project Echo before; probably tough for many a Monday solver if it was tough for me.
- 22d. [Confederate soldier, for short], REB. I feel like I haven’t seen this answer in any puzzles lately. And now it’s got me thinking of R.E.M.’s “Swan Swan H,” the lyrics of which mention Johnny Reb.
- 68a. [Longtime Syrian strongman], ASSAD. Whenever I hear the word “strongman,” I expect to see a curly mustache. I’m not alone in that, am I?
3.6 stars from me.
Dave Sullivan’s Fireball contest crossword, “Extended Care”
The contest prompt was “What Nobel Peace Prize winner is hinted at by this puzzle?” There were six answers that ran off the grid, either starting late or ending early:
- 18a. [Composer of “Les Troyens”], HECTOR BERLI(oz).
- 27a. [Pertussis], (who)OPING COUGH.
- 45a. [Marsupial toon], TASMANIAN D(evil).
- 58a. [Last run-through], (dre)SS REHEARSAL.
- 10d. [2013 Best Picture nominee], (phil)OMENA.
- 51d. [Pizzeria shakerful], OREGA(no).
Dr. Oz is that cardiac surgeon who’s lost all credibility by hyping diet supplements on his TV show. Doctor Who is a TV show; and no, the World Health Organization has not won the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Evil is Austin Powers’ film nemesis, with Mike Myers portraying both. Dr. Dre is a noted rapper, producer, and entrepreneur. Dr. Phil is a TV psychologist. Dr. No is a James Bond movie and nemesis. So six doctors that don’t fit within the puzzle’s borders signals Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières, who won in 1999.
Four more things:
- 15a. [Chip, to Dale], CRISP. So Dale is supposed to make us think of British English? I have no idea why. Dale Evans and Dale Earnhardt, both very American.
- 23a. [Had an exchange with a pen pal?], OINKED. Fun clue!
- 36a. [Pin number], THREE. Why? There are 10 bowling pins, including a three. Is that it?
- 12d. [Jennifer of “Fifty Shades of Grey”], EHLE. She plays Ana’s mother. Why, this may be her most notable part since the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice series! If she’s also in the sequel(s), her name will be less of an “Are we really supposed to know this name?” entry in crosswords.
Top fill: MOJITO, ROAD TRIP, NEXIUM. Bottom fill: Lots of abbrevs and initialisms in the 3(+)-point range, like MBA IRAS DOA DDT TNT TDS MSRP APO. Also: TUNA OIL!
Four stars from me.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Brendan billed this one as clued a little easier than usual and I’d concur with that assessment.
Fill I liked best: MOBILE DEPOSIT (the [Photograph that’s worth money?] is a picture of a check you’re depositing in the bank via phone, and I love submitting checks for deposit that way). PIRATE FLAG and SEA TURTLES offer just the right sort of nauticalism for me. THE CONGO. “GUESS WHO?” “I WANT OUT!” BELUSHI. And INARRITU, though I saw Birdman last night and I’m not altogether convinced it was the best movie of 2014.
Four more things:
- 65a. [Reminder to stick to one’s story?], STET. Not sure that “stick to your story” can be repurposed for “don’t make that editorial change.” STET is such dry fill, though, you can’t blame a guy for trying to liven it up with a question-marked clue.
- 26a. [UFC star Shamrock], KEN. Not so many KENs in the UFC-fighter age group.
- 44d. [Lakers co-owner Buss], JEANIE. All crossings for me here, too.
- 30d. [Standard, e.g.], OLDIE. Had the O in place and couldn’t get Standard Oil out of my head. Glad it turned out to be an OLDIE song and not, say, OILCO.
3.8 stars from me for this 70-worder.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “What the Butler Saw”—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone, on this first Monday of March. Today’s crossword puzzle to start the week is brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, and it deals with the classic movie, Gone With the Wind. Each of the four words in the movie’s title is the start of four of the theme answers in the grid, and the fifth theme answer, TARA, is the reveal (67A: [Fictional plantation, and a hint to the starts of 17-, 27-, 45-, and 59-Across]).
- GONE BANANAS (17A: [Flipped])
- WITHOUT A TRACE (27A: [One way to vanish]) – This is also a title of a drama on CBS, right?
- THE ROUNDTABLE (45A: [Setting for some famous knights])
- WIND BREAKER (59A: [Ball field jacket])
In a way, I liked the two long symmetrical down answers, since a lawyer that TRIED A CASE (11D: [Did some prosecuting]) would have WORKED LATE probably more than a few times (27D: [Did some overtime, say]). There’s little tribute to the cold that’s gripping the country, with ARCTIC (5A: [Pole position]) and ICE HOUSES (32D: [Cold storage places]). I think Ice House is also a brand of beer, am I right? Speaking of alcohol, I initially put ‘lime’ instead of SALT, so that shows what I know about a certain drink (1A: [Margarita garnish]). Oh, and does anyone own anything made by BOSE (47D: [Big name in audio])? I only ask because I remember seeing so many advertisements on television from Bose about its sound products, probably more than any other company that made audio products. This was about 15 years ago, and, to this day, have never owned anything made by Bose. But always wanted to try it out and see what all the hubbub was about.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MET (62A: [Got together]), JET (35D: [Jacuzzi feature]) – Between 1964 and 1983, a New York MET and New York JET were co-tenants, as the Mets and Jets both played their home games at Shea Stadium. In December of 1968, the Jets won the AFL Championship at Shea against the Oakland Raiders en route to Super Bowl III, with the “Miracle Mets” completing their magical run to a World Series title with their Game 5 win against Baltimore Orioles in the World Series at Shea just 10 months later.
Have a good day everybody!
Roland Huget’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Colorful theme—literally. Six theme answers are verbs beginning with colors:
- 17a. [Give the okay], GREEN-LIGHT.
- 27a. [Bring lunch from home, say], BROWN-BAG.
- 46a. [Dismiss from the job], PINK-SLIP.
- 59a. [Alter a manuscript, e.g.], BLUE-PENCIL.
- 11d. [Gloss over], WHITEWASH.
- 34d. [Ostracize], BLACKLIST.
There are some sparkly bits in the fill—WINDBAG, SLURPED, that SPYHOPping that whales do. Overall, though, I’m wishing that the puzzle had included just four theme entries so that the rest of the grid could have a little more breathing room. When your 1-Across is STDS crossing partial TO RIO and uncommon abbrev SAE, when you have crosswordese AITS crossing crosswordese NACRE, when you have crosswordese city APIA crossing an unusual and also dated partial A WAC (41a. [“Never Wave at __”: 1952 film] … and A WAC also crosses NYACK, population 6,898) … it’s time to rethink priorities. I recognize that plenty of solvers don’t give a rat’s bum if the fill is unthrilling, they just want a nifty enough theme and a grid they can fill. But I would rather pare back the theme and have fresher vocabulary filling the grid. I always envision someone trying out the crossword for the first time, and LIA Fail, LOGE, NACRE, and APIA don’t exactly welcome in the solver with limited knowledge of crosswordese.
So 2.6 stars from me.