Alex Silverman’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Unaware if there’s any significance to the date for this crossword, so in any—whatever—event, here is a Beatles-themed crossword. It features a quintet of 15-letter song titles.
- 14a. [Navy captain’s favorite Beatles song?] YELLOW SUBMARINE.
- 17a. [Empty nester’s favorite Beatles song?] SHE’S LEAVING HOME.
- 35a. [Sexagenarian’s … ?] WHEN I’M SIXTY-FOUR.
- 55a. [Author’s … ?] PAPERBACK WRITER.
- 58a. [Early riser’s … ?] HERE COMES THE SUN.
The first and final two are stacked—impressive construction—while the central one does minor double-duty as a contributor to bonus content: 32a [With the circled squares of 35-Across, subject of this puzzle] FAB | FOUR.
Plenty of opportunity for theme creep, or miscegenation, but they’re avoided. 46a [Apr. 15 addressee, for many] IRS (what was I saying about dates?] vis-à-vis “Taxman”, for instance. Or 51-across as “I Me MINE“. Or the so-called White ALBUM (27a). Or Back in the USSR (31a). You get the idea. I approve of this non-miscibility approach.
What I’m less inclined to like, however, is the mass of atypical fill engendered by the constructing feat. Answers that have no business in an early-week puzzle, and others that are aesthetically challenged. Just look at the first three downs: SYST, LEHI, ELEM. More down downers are SEEST, -SAUR, RHEUM, RUHR, NBAER, IT SO, NEUR-, and ERNS. Among the acrosses we’re treated to AUSSI, ETAS, BRAVAS, SRA, LISLE, and L-BAR. Tha’ss a lotta frass. In the absence of knowing the song titles much of this fill would be quite difficult for newer solvers to get.
Kind of a stunt puzzle. Weird for a Monday.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday #311”
There’s a little crosswordese holding this 68-worder together—I’m looking at you, ERSE and EPODE.
Let’s go straight to the bulleted list:
- 1a. [Words under a slipping man], PISO MOJADO. You’ve seen it a hundred times—the iconic slipping man, with WET FLOOR and PISO MOJADO giving warnings in English and Spanish. Piso cake!
- 20a. [Polish sausage], KIELBASA. There are other Polish sausages, of course, but nobody needs to go there.
- 30a. [Numbing experience], NOVOCAIN. That’s a trade name; the genericized word is usually spelled novocaine.
- 36a. [Surviving species of an otherwise extinct group], RELICT. Wonder why fairly uncommon RELICT and and HEART were used instead of RELICS and HEARS. To avoid the inelegance of a final-S crossing? To jack up the challenge level?
- 43a. [Alley denizen], BUM. Had the M in place and instinctively filled in a TOM cat. Not this time.
- 51a. [Start shooting], OPEN FIRE ON. Was hoping this would be a camera/filming term, but no. Now I’m thinking of that murder-by-cop a week ago.
- 2d. [Tray letters], IN/OUT. Those aren’t “letters,” they’re words. I reserve “letters” clues for things that are pronounced letter by letter, like SOS or IOU.
- 8d. [Ismailis‘s leader], AGA KHAN. Anyone else hearing Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You” now? Extraneous S in the clue—plural possessives take the apostrophe without a trailing S.
- 21d. [Event where many people see things], LSD TRIP. Can multiple people be on a single LSD trip, or is each person on their own trip?
- 30d. [Neighborhood of Chicago where the Magnificent Mile is located], NORTH SIDE. Ehhh … I wouldn’t really call it that, as the Magnificent Mile’s southern end is solidly in the Downtown/Central category. “Near North Side” is more accurate, emphasis on the “near.” Also, the North Side isn’t a neighborhood. It’s got dozens of densely populated neighborhoods within it.
Four stars from me. Enjoy your Monday!
Ray Hedrick and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
- 17a. [King of ragtime] SCOTT JOPLIN.
- 23a. [Presley film set in Sin City] VIVA LAS VEGAS.
- 49a. [One chasing outlaws for money] BOUNTY HUNTER.
I have a bad feeling about this.
- 59a. [Counter wipers, or what the starts of 16-, 23- and 49-Across are] PAPER TOWELS.
Urp. A theme about paper towel … brands? Look, I know that novel crossword themes can be difficult to come by—sometimes it seems as if everything under the sun has already been done—but this? This is not wiping the counter, this is pulling the oven away from the wall and getting all nittygritty with the blackened muck. This is bottom-of-the-barrel stuff. A theme should be more brawny, have more sparkle.
- Very nice long verticals in CRAIGS LIST, TRUE LOVE, and CAFÉ AU LAIT. That last is cross-referenced to 17d [Morning cup] JAVA, spills of which are often the advertised targets of paper towels.
- No cross-referencing for 42d [Nevada city] RENO. This adheres to my non-miscegenation criterion for themes. Bravo.
- 55d [Second of four rhyming Greek letters] ZETA. The first is (are) BETAS (1a [Software versions that usually have bugs]. The others are ETA and THETA. β ζ η θ
- 18a. [California’s Santa __ Mountains] ANA, crossing 11d [Legendary sleigh rider] SANTA. Really? Tut, tut.
§§ Cleanup in Aisle 11 … Cleanup in Aisle 11 §§
- Not much better is how the northern section has been quilted together: 6a [Deer sir?] STAG right atop 14a [Tractor brand] DEERE, stitched with TEL and ARI (7d, 8d)?
Ballast fill’s solid, pitched properly for a Monday, though perforated with more abbrevs. than I prefer to see. It failed to absorb my interest in any meaningful way.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “4-Down”—Ade’s write-up
Welcome to another week of crossword solving! Hope you have a good weekend, and also hope that you enjoyed today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Doug Peterson. In it, there are four long down answers in which each of the entries are different definitions/descriptions/interpretations of the word “down.”
- FLUFFY FEATHERS (14D: [Down]) – While up in Syracuse, goose down comforters were all the rage in dorms and houses of fellow students, since the weather was freezing for seemingly half the year.
- FEELING SAD (30D: [Down])
- OUT OF ORDER (7D: [Down])
- SWALLOW QUICKLY (9D: [Down])
Whew, it’s a good thing I ended up looking up The Hunger Games on Wikipedia the other day, though I’m pretty sure I would have gotten KATNISS using its crossings (46A: [Jennifer’s role in “The Hunger Games”]). I guess I wouldn’t know too much about HALF CAF since I’m not an espresso drinker – or a drinker of any coffee for that manner (27A: [Espresso option]). I’m already a ball of energy without any aides, so giving me an espresso would probably just make me climb walls. I’ve finally mastered the art of using HASHTAGS to get more followers and interaction on Twitter, but this was after being such a social media klutz for so long (58A: [Symbols seen in Tweets]). Oh, and I have to do this on here now after seeing RIC in the puzzle (21D: [Flair of professional wrestling]): Wooooooooo!!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SHIFT (52D: [Graveyard, for one]) – If you watch baseball on a regular basis, you are definitely familiar with the infield SHIFT, a defensive ploy in which you overload one side of the infield with an extra infielder, usually either moving the shortstop to the right of second base or the second baseman to the left side of second. Though the original shift concept was reportedly employed in the 1920s, Cleveland Indians manager Lou Boudreau is credited with bringing the shift into the national consciousness in 1946, when he would regularly put an extra infielder to the right of second base when Red Sox slugger Ted Williams stood at the plate.
Have a good rest of your Monday!
Brendan Quigley’s AV Club contest crossword, “Theater in the Round”
This is basically a themeless crossword with a word search puzzle in it. I see some of the play titles hidden in the bands: the musical AIDA, CABARET, MAME, HAMLET, ARCADIA … and I’m not finding it fun to look for the rest. So I didn’t submit a contest entry for this one. I dunno, people: If your puzzle needs a SODA CRATE (I guess that’s a thing) to accommodate ARCADIA, is the game still fun? This one left me cold. NICK ADAMS and SNITCHES are great entries but overall I wasn’t loving things.
Did you find all 8 and/or 10 shows hidden in the bands?