Jennifer Nutt’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Timely theme topic, considering the recent exposé of working conditions in nail salons, and New York State Governor Cuomo’s ensuing legislation.
The proceedings are summed up with 57a [Appropriate exclamation upon solving this puzzle?] I NAILED IT. So, the last parts of the theme answers we have, in order, steps involved in a manicure—or, considering 43a [Full complement of toes] TEN, a pedicure.
- 17a. [Excerpt shown on TV] VIDEO CLIP.
- 23a. [Wastebasket, jocularly] CIRCULAR FILE.
- 33a. [Visitor at a railroad museum, say] TRAIN BUFF.
- 39a. [Product of a backwoods still] MOONSHINE. One-word answer, unlike the others.
- 45a. [What a boor sorely lacks] SOCIAL POLISH. Not a commonly heard collocation. It compares poorly to both social skill and social grace, though it occurs more frequently than social nicety.
Including six thematic entries doesn’t leave much wiggle room for fireworks elsewhere in the grid. And that’s precisely what we see: nothing special. The longest non-theme fill is a pair of sevens, STORIED and BABYLON. Apart from a quartet of six-letter entries, the rest of the grid is populated by three-, four-, and five-letter answers. And a scooch more clunkers and crosswordese than a typically smooth Monday: PRIERS, ALAR, TRINI, TIKIS. The combined effect is that of peripherally palpable oppression. Not overwhelming in the death-by-a-thousand-cuts vein, but a dismalness nonetheless.
- 1a [Put up, as a painting] HANG. Not a NAIL answer.
- Notable playful clue: 47d [What banks always have interest in?] LOANS. But they haven’t had much of an interest in issuing them in recent years.
- 51a [Comment] REMARK.
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
An abstracted twist on a MEMORIAL DAY theme. 61a [Late-May observance, whose first word can follow each answer to a starred clue]
- 17a. [*Cause championed by Martin Luther King, Jr.] CIVIL RIGHTS.
- 26a. [*Military branch] AIR FORCE.
- 51a. [*Five-sided figure] PENTAGON.
- 18d. [Bearded Mount Rushmore president] LINCOLN.
- 35d. [*Iconic WWII flag-raising island] IWO JIMA.
Not the most awe-inspiring answers, but they all reflect national interest, and fit the theme’s mechanics. Three are explicitly military. One is partially so, and one has a militant aspect.
Theme-relevant material in 14a [Olympics chant] USA USA (crossed by NAG NAG, ha!), and 31a [Capital of Libya] TRIPOLI.
- Stacked eights in the northwest and southeast corners—WAIT HERE, LIVE A LIE, NEAT IDEA, EL DORADO—and triple-stacked sixes in the complementary corners—PAN FRY, GREECE, AISLES, SPEEDO, KENNEL, INROAD.
- That last is clued as [Damaging encroachment] though it could just as easily describe a productive or promising one. I suppose this version is in keeping with warlike theme.
- 27d [Spain and Portugal] IBERIA. Poor, poor Andorra.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Oof. When you’ve never heard the term at 1-Across (GAMING MOUSE is a thing?), uncleverly entered the wrong word for 10d (FIEF instead of SERF, and I knew that [One under a lord’s protection] wasn’t a good clue for FIEF), weren’t sure what to do with some tricky clues, and put in the wrong plausible verb in 2d (HAD A MEAL is just as bad as ATE A MEAL, both feeling contrived)—well, you have that top section blank for a while after everything else has been filled in.
Favorite fill: TELECASTERS, ST. PAT’S, G STRINGS, XANAX, “AIN’T NO THANG.”
Solving experience not enhanced by: SLATTED, AGT, SER, CENTS OFF, MAIO, OUTWEAR ([Exhaust]—the answer is in the dictionary but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before), ELDON.
Three more things:
- 41d. [Windy City transports], EL TRAINS. You mark yourself as not from around here if you call it an EL TRAIN rather than “the El/L” or “the train.”
- 36d. [Pass the mat], GO IN. Pass (over) the welcome mat/doormat. Clue confused me till after I’d finished the puzzle.
- 6d. [Its flag has red, gold, and green bars with a black star], GHANA. I knew it had to be somewhere in Africa, had the final A in place, and couldn’t move my thinking beyond Kenya (whose flag is red, green, and black with a shield in the middle).
3.5 stars from me.