Tom McCoy’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
LADIES FIRST is precisely the title I would have expected for this puzzle, had it had a title. But as it’s a daily New York Times offering, no title is to be had. Instead, the phrase is folded in as the revealer in the expected place, the last long across answer (59a).
The gimmick is that famous (heterosexual) couples have their constituents reversed from the conventional phrasing so that the female name leads. Each clue is suffixed with a parenthetical “hint: 59-Across“.
- 17a. [Classic learning-to-read stories] JANE AND DICK.
- 23a. [Virginia university] MARY AND WILLIAM.
- 37a. [Grimm fairy tale] GRETEL AND HANSEL.
- 52a. [Shakespeare play] JULIET AND ROMEO. Not CRESSIDA AND TROILUS, not CLEOPATRA AND ANTONY.
I suspect that [ ♂ ] and [ ♀ ] is the prevailing arrangement (thanks, patriarchy!), but exceptions certainly exist due to reasons of atypical power balance, verbal mellifluousness, or random arcana. Victoria and Albert is one that springs immediately to mind. Oh, also Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.
- 13d [Prepares in a wok, as vegetables] STEAMS. Sure, if you put your bamboo steamer in the wok, but a rather bizarre clue for an early-week puzzle!
- Lots of black in this grid. 42 black squares. Those quadruple-and triple-threes (across and down) in rows 1–3 and 13–15 are very noticeable.
- 48d [What the “O” in OPEC does not stand for, surprisingly] OIL. What a presumptuous clue.
- Is 45d OJIBWA too tough for a Monday? I hope not. One of the few genuinely interesting answers here.
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Standard-issue “follows-the-word” theme, revealed via 59a [Conforms, or what each last word of 16-, 27- and 44-Across little does] FOLLOWS THE CROWD. Literally, technically, they follow CROWD, sans definite article, but … leeway and such.
- 16a. [Unnamed news supplier] ANONYMOUS SOURCE (crowd-source).
- 27a. [Automatic setting for highway driving] CRUISE CONTROL (crowd control).
- 44a. [Christmas display] NATIVITY SCENE (crowd scene).
One verb, two nouns. Only the last can conceivably take ‘the’. Not much else to say about the theme.
- Fine long non-theme entries. ICONOCLAST, RHINESTONE, NOSE JOB, TIME WAS, PEP BOYS.
- 45d [Sicily’s country] ITALY, followed by 46d [Sicily’s wine], which at four letters is definitely not NERO D’AVOLA – it’s just VINO.
Nothing else particularly remarkable—good or bad—in the ballast fill. Essentially workmanlike, middle-of-the-road material through and through, placing it as an average Monday.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday #312”
Finished up in the left center where all the names interlaced—Sophia LOREN, LEDA, and Chuck HAGEL crossing ALLEN Toussaint (slowed myself down with ALVIN) and 27d. [“Principles of Geology” author Charles] LYELL. Good think SHIPLAP had an anagram clue (34d. [Overlayed joint between two boards joined edge to edge (LAPPISH anag.)], ugh; should also be “overlaid,” no?), as I spaced out on what position Panetta had and who followed him (note: Panetta served two presidents in four positions as well as serving in Congress, and thus had five successors).
Top fill: TAX BITE, “PLASTICS,” PIFFLES, FOX NEWS, PANJABI, GRANTLAND. Much of the rest of the grid felt more rote.
Three more clues:
- 14d. [Wings and nachos, stereotypically], GUY FOOD. Not so sure about the gender essentialism here.
- 47a. [Habit for Truth or Dare?], PJS. Typical slumber party game.
- 33a. [Belgian conceptual artist Quinze], ARNE. Never heard of him. I’m not up on my Belgian conceptual artists, I confess.
This 72-worder has good flow in the grid, but I found myself getting mired in various unfamiliar names. 3.5 stars from me. Missing the usual BEQ marquee entries’ entertainment value.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Opposition Party”—Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everybody! A wet beginning to the week here in New York, but I guess it was to be expected after a few glorious days. But today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, is far from a washout, as each of the theme answers are common terms that are altered by adding the word “CON,” creating puns – and also creating a situation where I wish I received some free sneakers!
- GRAND CONTOUR (20A: [Template used at the Steinway factory?]) – From “grand tour.”
- VOCAL CONCORD (29A: [Harmony in the choir?]) – From “vocal cord.”
- BLOOD CONTEST (43A: [Rumble with the Crips?]) – From “blood test.”
- FREE CONVERSE (52A: [Sign at a sneaker giveaway?]) – From “free verse.” I think I own only one pair of Converse sneakers, but it’s a pretty nice pair, hence wanting to possibly get more Converse sneakers. Anyone giving away size 15 sneakers?!?!
Definitely got our nature/wildlife fix on with this grid, with the presence of PEACOCK (5D: [Strutting show-off]), ELK (35A: [Antlered animal]) and, in a way, TENTACLE (8D: [Octopus feeler]). One of these days, I’m going to remember the Hebrew alphabet so TAV will one day be a slam dunk (49A: [Last Heberw letter]). Initially had ‘taw,’ as I believed I had seen it spelled like that before, but that entry didn’t make sense since VESPA had to be one of its crossings going down (51D: [Scooter brand whose parent company is Piaggio]). Maybe I’ll recite the Hebrew alphabet while riding on a Vespa in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. Or, better yet, maybe not! The two rows of four three-letter entries caught my attention a little bit, as well as the rhyming intersection of AKA (25A: [Criminal record abbr.]) and OK OK (22D: [“I get the picture”]). Fun crossword to begin the week!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MAYS (59A: [Willie with 660 homers]) – Since talking about Willie MAYS and his accomplishments would take up a couple of pages, let’s just focus on the clue, as well as talk about a very popular crossword entry in the process, A-ROD. Alex Rodriguez currently has 658 home runs and is scheduled, by the language of his current contract, to receive a $6 million bonus once he reaches 660, the same number as the Say Hey Kid. But some outlets are reporting the Yankees are going to balk at that, given the year-long steroids suspension that he served, as well as reportedly contending that 660 home runs isn’t a milestone – or not viewed as much as a milestone as it used to be before the steroid era. Sorry to bring you A-Rod drama, as most of you -myself included – just want to move on. All in all, this is about Mays, and I wish I had a chance to see him play either in New York or San Francisco!
Have a good day everyone, and I will see you tomorrow!