Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Striking visual element to the theme today. Instead of the customary 180° rotational symmetry the grid possesses reflective symmetry about a diagonal axis extending from upper left to lower right. All of the blocks—with the necessary exception of two—are the same shape in the same orientation. In geometry this is called translation.
These L-shaped blocks composed of 3 squares are meant to represent birds (or perhaps airplanes?) flying in formation. It isn’t the pattern as per 18a [Flier in a V formation] GOOSE; however, the blocks themselves each resemble Vs rotated 120°, so they can be thought of as a formation of Vs.
Reinforcing the theme’s subject are the longest across answers.
- 13a. [Ones that are alike] BIRDS OF A FEATHER.
- 30a. [Gather as a group] FLOCK TOGETHER. Gather and together share the same etymology (Middle English gaderen, from Old English gaderian; akin to Middle High German gadern).
- 49a. [Give the go-ahead from the control tower] CLEAR FOR TAKEOFF.
Obviously the first two most commonly appear united as a single adage, but they’re clued unrelatedly. I assume this was so there wouldn’t be a blatant imbalance among the three themers, with a pair flocking together and the third left out in the cold.
The two non-conforming blocks appear at the right and bottom edges. Had they been bracket-shaped like the others, two single, uncrossed squares would be created – we can’t have that. Alternatives would be eliminating them completely or reducing them by one square, but this would firstly ruin the second themer and secondly be fiendishly difficult, entailing double- or triple-stacked fifteens. Good luck with that!
The long downs, mirroring the positions and lengths of the across themers, are 1d [Right guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment] JURY OF YOUR PEERS (seems more natural with ONE’S as the possessive), 4d [It might show wreaths and candy canes at Christmas] WRAPPING PAPER, and 7d [In any manner necessary] BY HOOK OR BY CROOK (I’d have chosen “via” instead of “in”).
Strong stacking—sixes, sevens—in three of the four corners.
This is all quite impressive, and what makes it more impressive is that the grid isn’t populated with off-putting junk or very awkward fill. Monday puzzles have to be very user-friendly. The least of them are AYLA, IRED, BEY (given an au courant clue, which also echoes another clue, 34a), ABBÉS. (12a, 11a, 16a, 35a)
Refreshing, very enjoyable crossword.
Bruce Haight’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Here he is again, but unlike the New York Times crossword this one has conventional grid symmetry. The theme, too, is a return to basics: black and white.
- [Black-and-white cruiser] PATROL CAR.
- 25a. [Black-and-white puzzles] CROSSWORDS. But of course.
- 30a. [Black-and-white music makers] PIANO KEYS. [insert McCartney–Wonder video here]
- 45a. [Black-and-white companion] DALMATIAN.
- 50a. [Black-and-white flag] JOLLY ROGER.
- 64a. [Black-and-white ocean predator] ORCA WHALE. Strange-but-not-unheard-of construction, that. Usually it’s orca, unadorned, or killer whale. Or Orcinus orca. ORCA WHALE is vaguely redundant. For form’s sake I’ll mention that it is the largest extant member of the dolphin family, in the Order Cetacea, and, yes, technically they are whales.
- As commenters Gary R and Margaret have already mentioned, of the two primary incarnations of brownies, the FUDGEY version is denser than the CAKEY one. William Greenberg, anyone?
- 21a [Teensy bit] AT–– was not ATOM but A TAD. That was crossword autopilot taking over: “not IOTA … so it must be ATOM.”
- Speaking of pilots, 19a [High-tech prefix with space] CYBER- ultimately derives from the Greek word for pilot. Also, pilot whales (Globicephala spp.) are in the same taxonomic family as orcas, and are of course somewhat smaller.
- 29a [Actor DiCaprio, familiarly] LEO, 4a [Hotelier Helmsley] LEONA. Too dupey.
- 53d [Bassoon relatives] OBOES. Black and white, or black and silver? The latter, I feel.
- A few entries that don’t look nice, especially in an early-week crossword. You know, stuff like cruciverbal habitués OCALA and ELD, partial BORA, ATRAS. Not many.
Solid Monday offering.
Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Pop Tops”—Ade’s write-up
Hey hey everyone! I hope you’re doing well to start your week and/or I hope you’re dealing with your ACPT hangover as much as possible. Honestly, I couldn’t have had a better time, and, even more exhilarating, I got a chance to actually meet a few of you guys who regularly read and/or comment here on Fiend. It was even more of a pleasure meeting you in person as it was for you to meet me, and you can trust me on that! Thank you all for contributing to such a great week in Stamford.
So, of course, the first crossword that I have to complete and blog about the first day ACPT ends is a grid by Jeff Chen, who was the constructor of big, bad Puzzle No. 5 for Saturday’s session. But today’s puzzle is considerably toned down in difficulty, as the puzzle has three down entries in which the first word of the entry also is a synonym to ‘dad.’ Now if only I had caught on quickly to your Puzzle 5 like I did today’s puzzle…
- DADA ART MOVEMENT (3D: [Hans Arp and Max Ernst were involved in it])
- THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA (5D: [With 32-Down, Hemingway classic])
- FATHER CHRISTMAS (10D: [Seasonal man in a red suit])
If anything, the synonyms are also in order of what you would call your dad chronologically, from birth until old age. When you speak your first words, you say “dada,” when you’re an adolescent who might be somewhat rebellious or have a cool relationship with your dad, you’ll call him “the/my old man,” and when you’re older than that, you’ll just say that he’s your father. I might be the only one to think that, which is still ok…
I originally wanted to put in ‘Dada movement” going down, but took a minute to tell myself that you might want to add ‘art’ to that and maybe you’ll actually be right, as it pertains to filling the entry in. Having been on the anchor’s chair a couple of times professionally, as well as during my time in journalism school, I absolutely appreciate the fill of TV CAMERA (23A: [It may focus on anchors]). No real tricky spots in the grid, though I didn’t speed through the puzzle. For some reason, I see GO ON IN, and I just want to turn that into somewhat of a gerund, goonin,’ an action taken by muscle men in shakedown attempts (39A: [Encouragement to enter]). Person 1: “Why did you beat that man so senseless in trying to collect his debt to our boss?” Person 2 (Goon): “Just goonin,’ that’s all.” Oh, and please tell me you thought of this when you came across GOSSAMER (58A: [Light and filmy]):
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MIR (29A: [“Peace,” in Russian]) – Mixed martial artist Frank MIR is a former two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title holder in the heavyweight division. Mir has a black belt in both American Kenpo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and, during one of his wins in UFC against fighting legend Tank Abbott, became one of the few fighters to win a UFC match by toe hold submission. Oh, there’s a story and an accompanying vine of his toe hold that he used to win that day, along with a YouTube-embedded explanation on how to perform the hold by UFC legend Bas Rutten? Yes, there is, and here’s the link to it, from BloodyElbow.com!
Again, it was such a pleasure being in Stamford and to get some of you there! Thank you so much, and I hope to continue to keep in contact with you guys over and over, whether on Fiend or elsewhere! Have a good day, everyone!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Not remotely in blogging mode yet. Still in ACPT recovery phase 1, recuperating from travel and sleep deprivation.
Marquee entry LADYCATION is new to me, but I love a good LADYCATION so what the hell, I’ll take the word.
Love QUICK FIXES and CURLY FRIES but do not like their corner, where IRANI and ETAPE cross LIANAS. Groanable crosswordese! Bleh. LST, FARO, ADAR, a little more crosswordese action.
FRAT BOY/FONZIE good. QUIET PERIOD feels a little “Is that a thing?”-ish to me. Plural OEDS, meh. SAY MASS and SNIVELING, good. PASEOS, tough but takes me back to San Antonio’s Riverwalk. XANAX a gift of the gods. YESTER weird.
62 words? Not enough! Pretty grid, but 62-worders are seldom clean enough for my liking. 3.75 stars. Good for a 62-worder but I don’t grade on a word-count curve.