Peter A. Collins’ New York Times puzzle — pannonica’s write-up
This is one of those multifarious themes, with entries of disparate lengths cropping up here and there, though they are of course symmetrically distributed.
A three-letter across revealer occupies the center of the grid: 38a [Word that follows each starred answer to complete a film title] MAN.
- 16a. [*Seizure in a driveway, maybe] REPO.
- 17a. [*Glass slipper wearer in a fairy tale] CINDERELLA.
- 25a. [*Valentine’s Day message] I LOVE YOU.
- 32a. [*Out of juice, as a battery] DEAD.
- 46a. [*Fe, in chemistry] IRON.
- 53a. [*26-mile race] MARATHON.
- 64a. [*Job done with a wrecking ball] DEMOLITION.
- 66a. [*Drought ender] RAIN.
I’ve seen five of the eight, and my favorite is Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man, followed by the cult staple Repo Man. Of the ones I haven’t seen—Cinderella Man, I Love You, Man, and Demolition Man—I can’t even begin to guess which would be considered the worst, but I suspect that it’s one of the latter two. The remaining three I deem good to well-above-average. If you care.
Good job by the constructor in the exclusion of other Man– following films from the rest of the grid, with the exception of one or two obscurities (One Man, a 1977 Canadian release that was LEN Cariou’s film début, anyone?) (30a).
The short, sharp, shock themers allow for some solid as well as some stellar long verticals. DONE DEAL alongside SIDE ORDER, ALIENATES with ARCADIAN, and the tenners POLO LOUNGE and DIME NOVELS.
Two notable film titles: 50a RAN (don’t like that the clue cross-references a theme answer—no mixing!), 37a MARTY.
Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
One might say that this crossword is pretty badass or patently beautiful, but I feel those would be overstatements. Yet calling it pleasantly bearable would be damning with faint praise.
60-down explains that PBS bills itself as [“America’s largest classroom” network … or, read as a plural, a hint to 20-, 28-, 46- and 53-Across]. Initials it is.
- 20a. [Ursine kiddie-lit character with a battered suitcase] PADDINGTON BEAR. Praised “biopic”.
- 28a. [“Love is a Battlefield” rocker] PAT BENATAR. Petite bandleader.
- 46a. [Superman’s “dressing room”] PHONE BOOTH. Perishing boxes.
- 53a. [Venerated dancer] PRIMA BALLERINA. Pati Behrs?
All those PBs and not a single J. For shame.
- WIND SOCK and LIBERATE are the long verticals. Solid. STAN LEE and ABRADED are there too.
- 36a [Bakery fixture] OVEN. Pleased to say that after some years without, I now have convenient access to an OVEN. It’ll be gratifying to start making baguettes, rustic loaves, pies, et cetera once again. Pastries, bread.
- 1a [Sourpuss’ expression] SCOWL. Hey Amy, have you seen what your man Gareth is saying about you?
Overall, the fill is clean, the theme though unimaginative is not atypical for a Monday, and the cluing workmanlike. Perfectly benign.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
A bit easier than a standard BEQ themeless, I thought. And that was despite having never heard of 1-Across. 1a. [Reality TV show catchphrase that means “leave”], “SASHAY AWAY”? I’m guessing it’s from America’s Next Top Model, but who knows. Google knows. Google tells me it’s RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Favorite fill: THE WILLIES, CALVINBALL (from Calvin and Hobbes), THINGS TO DO (which, well, is it actually a good crossword entry? I think “places to go, things to do, people to see” takes it there), and SYLVAN (just a pretty word).
Least favorite fill: I LOSE, OCEAN TIDES (the OCEAN seems a bit extraneous), ATIP ([Leaning precariously]) and ASLOPE, ON LEASE (which sounds not remotely familiar as a phrase), ENISLED, IN A TRAP, SET RATE, STEELIE.
Did not know: 31a. [Abstract expressionist ___ Martin], AGNES. I looked up some of her artwork, and see many fine designs for graph paper and ruled notebooks.
Also never heard of 9d. [Flanders red ___] ALE. Stupid sexy Flanders.
Two more things:
- 46d. [Crashed on the beach?], ENISLED. No, no, no. Don’t give me a question-marked clue that is only going to take me to a word I pretty much never see outside of crossword puzzles.
- My last square was the P in 11a. [On the cutting-edge, informally], POMO / 11d. [Ricocheting bullet sound], PING. I might’ve opted for a more specifically PINGy clue rather than one that could be a number of sounds.
3.5 stars from me.