Finn Vigeland’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The sort of theme we’ve seen before—a days of the week sequence—but with some deft additions that takes the execution a step farther in both impressiveness and satisfaction. 68a [First light … or a phenomenon suggested by this puzzle’s seven sets of circled letters?] DAYBREAK. The standard three-letter abbrevs. of the days are ‘broken’ across a black square, formed by the end of one entry and the start of another. Not only that, but they appear in every other row, thus forming a regular pattern. As this crossword has the standard grid size of 15×15, the septet is also symmetrically placed overall. It’s a very tidy, very appealing package.
MON is formed by ICE STORM | ONEIDA, TUE by STU | ELITIST, WED by WOW | EDDA, NEOLITH | UNITARD, CLEF | RIO, MOMBASA | TDS, AIRBUS | UNFASTEN.
And of course the crossword’s week begins with Monday—it’s a Monday puzzle.
- 1a [Ang Lee film about a shipwrecked boy and a tiger] LIFE OF PI. Just below that is 15a [Weather phenomenon with freezing rain] ICE STORM. Strong suspicion that the original clue was something like [Ang Lee film based on a Rick Moody novel, with “The”].
- 6d [Comic Sans, e.g.] FONT. No, it’s a typeface. Specify a size and style, then you have a font. (This is simplification.)
- AWE crossing WOW, with dissimilar clues. 25d [Astonishment], 29a [“That’s amazing!”]. Compare 27d [Put on, as weight] GAIN, 36d [Take off, as weight] LOSE.
- 37d [“The Last of __” (1973 murder mystery] SHEILA. Rather obscure for an early-week specimen, no? Top-notch cast and crew, generally well-received, but how well-remembered?
Unnecessary duplication between 41d [The Big Apple, for short] NYC, and 16a [New York lake named for an Indian tribe] ONEIDA. As this the New York Times crossword, a simple “Upstate” could have sufficed, though that might be of concern for republication. More alternatives: [Iroquois Confederacy tribe], [Flatware giant], [City between Syracuse and Utica], et cetera.
- 9d [Like jack-o’-lanterns or meaningless victories] HOLLOW. More evocative than your usual Monday clue. Ditto, the crossing 9a [Press conference danger for an unguarded comment] HOT MIC.
- Further atypical items: 35d [Trompe l’__ ] OEIL, plural variant CELLI (48a), possibly 39a [Stone Age tool] NEOLITH.
- 54d [“Love ya!”] MWAH, but I had SWAK first.
All six major regions of the grid (four corners, two lateral flanks) provide largish, stout stacked areas; that’s good stuff. An impressive feat of construction and an enjoyable solve. Very good Monday.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
This is what happens when a sleep-deprived blogger solves a puzzle: The dog-show people become the AKA instead of the AKC, which turns 32d [Domain abbr.] into AOL (whut?) instead of COM (technically, neither one is an abbreviation and .com is a “top-level domain” rather than a “domain abbr.”; ORG gets the same clue as 11d) and 41a. [Card game named after a world leader] becomes LAO instead of MAO, but in my defense, I’ve never heard of that card game. Wondering when the indie puzzles will drop CAH into the grid on a regular basis—now there’s a card game for you.
Fave fill/clues: Bronko NAGURSKI. TURBOTAX, [File management program?]. GET WORD. NAME OF THE YEAR, [Shamus Beaglehole won it in 2014]—you can vote on names in this year’s NOTY brackets here, and smart money is on Malvina Complainville to advance. DICK JOKE. SIX WAYS TO SUNDAY—feels like a good description of today’s NYT puzzle. LOVE TAP.
- 63a. [Like a dik-dik], ANTLERED. I believe the antelopes are all horned (horns are not shed) rather than antlered (antlers are shed). Pannonica?
- 50a. [Kiribati’s locale], ASIA. What? No. Any geography Sporcler worth her salt knows that Kiribati is part of Oceania.
- 52d. [Sales rep’s clients, for short], ACCTS. I reserve a “for short” clue for things that are actually used as words. If you don’t pronounce ACCTS with one syllable, it needs an abbr. tag instead.
- YUP is fun and I use it routinely, but it does dupe YES AND NO.
- Despite the 72-wordness, it felt like there was a bit more 3- and 4-letter blah stuff than usual.
3.66 stars from me.
Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times Crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Quick write-up for a quick, breezy crossword. 56-across lets us know that the [Process for selecting theatrical performers, and a hint to the first word of the answers to starred clues] CASTING CALL.
- 20a. [*Manhattan site of Strawberry Fields] CENTRAL PARK.
- 39a. [*Prepare for printing] TYPE-SET (often a compound word).
- 11d. [*Untrustworthy, as a business] FLY-BY-NIGHT.
- 29d. [*Word processor error finder] SPELL-CHECK (also spellcheck, spell-checker, spellchecker, spell checker).
Central casting, typecasting, fly-casting, spell-casting. Ta-da.
- Nitpickery: 24a [Young horse] COLT, which is specifically a young male horse, though the term is occasionally applied more broadly (broadcast?). 32a [Small swallow] SIP, though that’s a figurative sense, as sipping doesn’t necessarily entail swallowing; in Monday-level crosswords I prefer greater clarity. Didn’t notice this one while solving: 69a [Filled (in), as a comic strip] INKED; that seems to more accurately describe COLORED, though inking often involves some filling too.
- 50a [Michelangelo masterpieces] PIETÁS. The most famous is his first, the one that stands (or sits) in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Incidentally, they’re cut and sculpted from marble, not CAST in bronze.
- AAH & HMM, ahem. (55a, 46a)
- A smattering of lesser fill, including SQ(uare) MI(le), Chou EN LAI, EQUI-, IN B, and so on. Possibly a skooch too much for a Monday, but I’m not inclined to KVETCH to EXCESS at the moment. (5a, 16a, 65a, 10d; 4d, 51d)
Okay crossword, average.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Playing with the Rich and Famous”—Ade’s write-up
Welcome to a new week..and the opening to a new baseball season!! I think with most of the crossword world, baseball is probably the most popular among the crowd of cruciverbalists (with tennis and or international soccer surprisingly edging out football for second place). Anyways, today’s crossword puzzle is brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, and he uses common phrases as the themes but clues them as puns, using the last names of well-known moneybags. I actually have come across two of the four people referenced in the grid.
- CUBAN CIGAR (17A: [Entrepreneur Mark’s smoke?]) – First Met Mark Cuban when he was a panelist on a game show I competed in years back. Nice guy. And he hooked me up with free tickets to a Mavs-Knicks game in early 2002.
- TRUMP CARDS (49A: [What “The Donald” deals?])
- THE SAME PAGE (11D: [Google’s Larry who hasn’t changed?]) – Came across Page in Palo Alto when I was covering a Stanford University football game back in 2009. Someone had to tell me who he was.
- PEARLY GATES (25D: [Heavenly hued philanthropist Bill?])
We have a little bit of an homage to the opening of baseball season, with the entry of TOPPS (23D: [Big name is baseball collectibles]) and the reference to hardball in MSNBC, even though it’s a political show and not a stitched, wound-up baseball (43D: [Where to watch “Hardball”]). For some reason, I saw ILL AT and was reminded of the much-talked about ‘illin’ entry that caused so much consternation in a NYT puzzle a while back (24D: [____ ease]). Was a little confused by using TIPPERS instead of ‘tips,’ given the way the clue is worded, but I eventually came to grips with it (23A: [Waiters like them big]). My initial rationale: Waiters would like their tips big, not their tippers big, right? The latter would assume that every person that a waiter serves is a tipper, and we’ve definitely heard stories of customers stiffing waiters of tips before. At the very least, saying that waiters would like their tips big makes sense, in comparison to wanting their tips small. Mini-rant over.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: O’LEARY (27A: [Chicago lady who had a cow]) – It’s the start of baseball season, so we have to have some baseball in this spot, right?! Former Major League outfielder Troy O’LEARY played 11 seasons in The Bigs, with his best season coming in 1999 for the playoff-bound Boston Red Sox. In that season, O’Leary hit 28 home runs and had 103 RBI, and, in the deciding game of the American League Division Series matchup against Cleveland, hit two home runs (including a grand slam) and helped to send Boston to an ALCS meeting with the Yankees.
For it’s one…two…three strikes you’re out, at the old ball game!! Have a great day!