Johanna Fenimore’s New York Times crossword — Matt’s write-up
Monday crossword, a little thing called the New York Times Crossword, let’s see how we do! Matt filling in for pannonica, BTW.
Theme is: colorful phrases that mean and are clued as: Left speechless! They are:
1A/66A [Left speechless] = BLEW AWAY
25-A KICKED IN THE HEAD. Is that a thing? Probably.
43-A KNOCKED FOR A LOOP. Hmm….THROWN FOR A LOOP outGooglez it 180k to 20k. Mandatory ding, but still fun.
58-A GOBSMACKED. Great word. English is a phenomenal language.
So that’s pretty good. I’m not GOBSMACKED by this theme but I’m semi-happy to see it in print.
The solve was pretty quick, 5 minutes and 21 seconds on your FM dial. TAKE THAT, ONE SEC, CAESAR, DO-RE-MI-, ONE SEC, GREEK GOD and HOOKAH were all the 6- and 8-letter entries in the entire grid. Awesome stuff, but there were no sevens so everything else was 5-and-under-land. Tough to impress there, but KNACK was nice.
As pannonica would say: average Monday. But BVDS and SFPD were vowelless standouts. 3.40 starrage.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “On/Off”—Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everyone, and welcome to a new week of crosswords! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin, is more fun with puns, as each of the four theme answers are created when excising the letters “on” out of common/proper nouns. Or something like that.
- LEG OF MUTT (17A: [What Disney’s Tramp shakes when he’s in a hurry?]) – From “leg-of-mutton.” Didn’t catch on to the theme for a while since “leg-of-mutton” didn’t come to me too quickly.
- DISCOUNT COUP (27A: [Revenge on the cheap?]) – From “discount coupon.”
- CAMPAIGN BUTT (45A: [Political scapegoat?]) – From “campaign button.”
- THE RED BAR (59A: [Mao’s favorite tavern?]) – From “The Red Baron.” Is it odd that I know the real name of the pilot nicknamed The Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen?
As I said up top, I didn’t really get a hang of this grid, in terms of what the theme was, until I pretty much finished the puzzle. Saw two of the answers end with the double T, and thought there was something there. (Of course, if you add “ON” at the end of it, then it makes total sense!) The clue for PIG LATIN has me chuckling for a bit, so definitely appreciated that (38D: [Anguage-lay of this ue-clay]). I also like seeing HENSON and The Muppets, even for a couple of seconds, in a short clip for the latest American Express on-air ad which spliced all the different TV ads for the credit card over the years (43A: [Muppet master Jim]). Also, the clue to ARM REST couldn’t be any more spot on, especially with the subtle jostling that I’ve had to do recently with passengers when I traveled extensively last month for March Madness (5D: [Subject of an airplane skirmish, maybe]). Honestly, it seemed like for every flight I was on last month, I ended up sitting next to a serious arm rest hog! But, hey, I had my aisle seat for each flight, so I shouldn’t complain too much.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HULL (48A: [Boat’s bottom]) – Probably the greatest father-son combination to ever play the game of hockey is the tandem of Bobby (father) and Brett (son) HULL, both enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Bobby won the Stanley Cup in 1961 with the Chicago Blackhawks and was credited with being the first person (along with Stan Mikita) to play with a curved blade – which was initially banned because of the danger to the unmasked goaltenders due to the unpredictability of the trajectory of the shots coming from the curved stick. Brett ended his career with 741 goals, with 86 of those coming in his MVP season of 1990-91 season for the St. Louis Blues. In Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals, Brett scored the Cup-winning goal in overtime over the Buffalo Sabres. (Sorry, but I don’t have time to explain why Sabres fans still think to this day that it shouldn’t have been a goal.)
Have a good rest of your Monday!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday #313”
Fairly easy as BEQ themelesses go, no? Not much “need to know things in Brendan’s wheelhouse” material. LATERGRAM, that’s an Instagram picture that’s not posted right after the picture’s taken. CHRIS PAUL, you need to know your NBA stars of the past decade. Most of the rest of the grid’s more general material, and not concealed behind wicked-hard clues. Now, MALRAUX was tough, but in the category of “French authors,” I know the name (8d. [“Les Noyers de l’Altenburg” author]).
Likes: SWAT TEAMS, EARWITNESS, HEAVY HAND (though HEAVY-HANDED would feel a bit stronger), the lovely UNSUNG HERO, and RED STATERS (though the clue’s wrong: 12d. [They’re always right] is inaccurate because Red States don’t have 100% GOP voters, they just tend to have a majority of voters voting Republican).
Unlikes: XKE, ENS, GRO, STELE, MERER, GISMO, TEC, TOR, SMEW, ONE G, SYR, and ALDO. Bit more of that stuff than I expect in a 72-worder.
3.6 stars from me.
Mark Bickham’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Quintessential Monday-style theme. A variety of phrases unified in an “all can precede x” way. 62-across tells us that ALL THUMBS is [Clumsy … or what the ends of 17-, 37- and 42-Across are?]. That is to say, the ends of those entries are not inandofthemselves clumsy but that they are all ‘types’ of thumbs.
- 17a. [Color named for a fruit] LIME GREEN. So are avocado green, olive green, and perhaps others. More interesting, in my opinion, is that the basic color orange is named for the fruit.
- 37a. [Legendary Lady Godiva watcher] PEEPING TOM. The 1960 Michael Powell film of the same name is quite an experience. At least as good as Hitchcock’s Psycho, which it is often compared to, and which it preceded in release by a few months. Cruelly, it’s relegated to cult status while the Hollywood film is more or less canonical.
- 42a. [Stiff from horseback riding] SADDLE SORE. c.f., bed sore.
As said above, a Monday-typical theme, realized competently. Not much more to add on that front.
- Some very long verticals: a pair of twelves—HORN OF PLENTY and PRAISEWORTHY—as well as tens and niners, EL CAPITAN, CAT BURGLAR, I HAD NO IDEA, TIDAL WAVE.
- Must take issue with the poor cluing of that last, though. 36d [Seaside disaster cause] TIDAL WAVE. Pretty sure we’re seeing an example of the chronic conflation of tsunami with tidal bores, which tend not to be particularly destructive. Color me irked.
- Keeping with topics maritime, 9a [Arctic or Antarctic] for OCEAN strikes me as rather oblique cluing for an early-week appearance.
- 44a [Soon, quaintly] ANON, followed apace by 45a [Set aside a day for] PLAN ON.
- 14a [“Are you asleep yet?” response] I’M UP. Not working for me. In my experience “I’m up” is hypnopompic whereas more characteristic responses to the that hypnogogic query would be “I’m still awake” or “Not yet.”
- Question: Anyone else look at ITCHY below BALSA in the northeast and think it’s sophomorically funny?
- 61d [Moose relative] ELK, which is what the holarctic species Alces alces—what we call a moose—is known as in the Old World (the Palearctic). Common names will get you into trouble every time.