Gene Newman’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
As I tackled this directly after waking from a nap, it’s sort of doubly apt to say that I solved the puzzle refreshingly. For indeed, even though I was a bit logy, its inherent élan was palpable.
‘Only’ four theme answers, arranged pinwheel fashion, with a very long step formation—the bulk of it consisting of five-letter words—from upper left to lower right.
And the theme? Oh, just some very good Tom Swifties, which I do have a fondness—some might say a weakness—for.
- 18a. [“You forgot to water the plants,” Tom said ___”] WITHERINGLY.
- 28d. [“Being a bit lazy, I prefer automatic,” Tom said ___”] SHIFTLESSLY.
- 61a. [“Oh, I just fed the alligator,” Tom said ___”] OFFHANDEDLY. Bit gratuitously gory, this one. At least it seems so to me.
- 3d. [“As much as I’d like, you’re not getting any of my estate,” Tom said ___”] UNWILLINGLY.
Little bit of that double-Swifty action going on. Not sure they all work consistently on the same level, though. Hey, as bracingly refreshing as it might be, the puzzle didn’t pull my cognitive pants up all the way (as witnessed by that awkward attempt)!
More aspects in the crossword’s favor:
- Very little junky, clunky, plunky fill. What, a couple of affixes (-OLA, TRI-), a few abbrevs. (YTD, plurals STS, TDS), couple bits of classic crosswordese (EWER, LEA), one partial (A FEW)? Hardly objectionable.
- More freshness with the ripped-from-the-headlines clue for NEPAL, 25d [2015 earthquake locale]. See also, 9d [Earth-shaking] SEISMIC.
- Fortuitous juxtapositions in STEREOS above DISCO (55a, 60a), and PLAIT above TUXES (68a, 71a)—the former in this context evokes shirtfronts and cummerbunds.
Really, a tidy little crossword to start the week.
Tom Uttormark and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
A minor twist on the two-words-precede-another-word theme. Compound names of two sorts of things from one category to create a phrase describing a new thing.
- 17a. [Whole-grain food … or two universities] BROWN RICE.
- 40a. [Soviet military force … or two ants] RED ARMY.
- 64a. [Bridal bouquet flower … or two waters] WHITE ROSE.
- 11d. [Immigrant’s document … or two rooms] GREEN CARD.
- 35d. [Aristocrat … or two moons] BLUE BLOOD.
If it weren’t for the fact that the first word in each theme answer is a color, 22d [Doomed one, in slang] DEAD MEAT could have been clued similarly as [Doomed one … or two balls]. Even with that distinction, the compound nature of the entry and its length conspire to glaringly—at least to me—impede on the theme. Good luck contriving a workable clue in this format for 25d TIME LAGS (what about 30a MALL COP?). Incidentally, by presenting the dyads so minimally the clues more or less evade the “type of cucumber = SEA” problem discussed in the comments this past Thursday.
Feels like brunch in here! 33d [Sidewalk eatery] CAFÉ, 54d [Coffee lure] AROMA, 1a [Prepare, as water for tea] BOIL (not to mention WHITE ROSE), 12d [Broiling spot] OVEN, 3d [Waffle cookers] IRONS, 9a [Toaster waffles] EGGOS (ntm 49a [Toasty] WARM, maybe even 35d [Swiss cheese] GRUYÉRE, plus 32d [Desserts with crusts] PIES and 1d [Spongy sweet cake] BABKA. Whew!
- 36a [GPS display] MAP, 42a [GPS suggestion] RTE – meh.
- 26a [Dispatches, as a dragon] DOES IN crossing 47d [Delight at the comedy club] SLAY – better.
- 50d [Baseball Hall of Famer Sandburg] RYNE. Seems a stretch in a Monday, no? Some might say that the OORT Cloud (34d) is too obscure as well, but I’ve always liked the odd name and have trouble being objective about it. Other potential snag spots for newer solvers are AGRA, DALY, EMER, A OR B.
- 69a [Delivery co. with a white arrow outlined within its logo] FEDEX. Two things: it’s more properly called negative space, and the clue unnecessarily dupes the white of the nearby WHITE ROSE.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Mind the Gap”—Ade’s write-up
Hello there, and welcome to another week of crosswords! I’m about to take the New York City subway, so today’s crossword, brought to us today by Mr. Tony Orbach, is very apropos. In it, the six theme answers are two-word entries that have the word “GAP” spanning across the two words. I guess being in England and taking the train would be more apropos, given the title.
- TOGA PARTY (17A: [“Animal House” event]) – Toga! Toga! Toga!
- YOGA POSITION (24A: [Downward dog, for one]) – Yoga! Yoga! Yoga! (OK, that might not have the exact same ring to it.)
- GOING APE (33A: [Losing it])
- BIG APPLE (46A: [New York City nickname, with “the”])
- GROWING APART (53A: [Having less and less in common])
- MEGA PRIZE (65A: [Huge lottery payoff, perhaps])
Now who saw the PINA COLADA entry and not have that Rupert Holmes song in your head afterward (30D: [Cream of coconut concoction])? I know that’s in my mind as we speak. This is now the second time I can think of that I had -LA filled in in a grid and thought Alabama (ALA) instead of Florida (FLA) as the abbreviation needed (5D: [Neighbor of Ga.]). Unlike that last time though, the crossing entry, FOOD, along with its clue, made it much more obvious to make the change necessary and not get stuck (5A: [Vittles]). I never had a chance to come across MOME since I only have read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and not the sequel in which that Jabberwocky poem resides (29D: [“Jabberwocky” word]). Not that I would probably be smart enough to understand what that poem is trying to convey with words like “mome” strewn all around. The only Jabberwocky I really know are the Jabbawockeez, the dance troupe. Here’s them in action, and, if you notice, the opening narration plays off the opening verse of the actual words of the Jabberwocky poem. Nonsense poetry and hip-hop unite!!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BASS (1A: [Paul McCartney’s instrument]) – This is somewhat timely because of recent news in the world of sports. Garo Yepremian, former kicker of the Miami Dolphins and one of the first soccer-style kickers in the NFL, passed away this past Friday. Alone being one of the best kickers in the 1970s, he was most known for his ill-fated pass attempt after his field goal was blocked in Super Bowl VII against Washington. The ball slipped out of his hands while throwing it and was picked up by cornerback Mike BASS (pronounced like the fish), who returned it 49 yards for the only touchdown Washington would score in the game. Though it wasn’t ruled an interception, Bass had 30 career interceptions, along with four career touchdowns – three on interception returns.
Have a good rest of your Monday, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Couldn’t hit my stride in this one—too many clues that didn’t deliver me to the answers as quickly as I’d like, some oddball word forms, and a band I’d never heard of.
- 1a. [Dropping off aid], ADVIL PM. A hyphen in “dropping-off” would have helped me here. (The OSCAR-WORTHY clue also could have used a hyphen in “year end lists.”)
- 20a. [One who often works with big numbers], EXAGGERATOR. “Works” suggested something more occupational than personality-based, and “exaggerator” is not a commonly used noun, is it?
- 24a. [Nutritionist Elkaim], YURI. Who??
- 55a. [Crappy?], EXCREMENTAL. Use that adjective in a sentence, if you please. I never have.
- 59a. [Unable to escape], IN A TRAP. Phrase feels contrived, but I’m sure it’s been in numerous other crosswords.
- 11d. [Indie rock band with the 2015 album “Ivy Tripp”], WAXAHATCHEE. The band I don’t know.
- 14d. [Grand Prix distances], METRES. Hmph. For a race that involves going about 300 km, I’m pretty sure the distances would be measured in km and not m.
Trick I fell for: 44d THEIRS is clued [They handle returns], and it’s not a possessive pronoun, it’s the phrase THE I.R.S.
ABSCONDS is a great word, isn’t it? I’m not sure it has any cognates, or that there are other common English words that share the same Latin -cond portion.
3.33 stars from me.