Mike Buckley’s New York Times puzzle — pannonica’s write-up
As 19-across estimably presents it, the date is the 800th anniversary of the MAGNA CARTA [Document issued on June 15, 1215]. To put that in proper perspective, that’s eighty times as long as this blog as been around, give or take a couple of days—oh, and don’t forget the changeover from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian. Only eighty. Doesn’t seem so impressive now, does it?
Additional theme material:
- 20d. [Where 19-Across was sealed] RUNNYMEDE.
- 38d. [He sealed 19-Across] KING JOHN.
- 10d. [Pope who issued an annulment of 19-Across] INNOCENT. That’s Innocent III.
- 57a. [Heart of the U.S. legal system, with roots in 19-Across] DUE PROCESS.
The theme clues studiously avert (“sealed”, “issued”) duplication with 42a [Step down from a position] RESIGN. Though the Magna Carta was far from a royal resignation, it did limit the king’s power to a degree, at LEAST (29a) in regard to the nobles. Tempting as it is, it would be a stretch to consider 1a [Groups plotting coups] CABALS or 68a [Preliminary versions of a paper] DRAFTS as tangentially theme-relevant.
- 23a [German prelate who was the first person to be canonized, A.D. 993] ULRIC. This, in my Monday NYT crossword??
- 50d [Google’s image organizer] PICASA. Can’t remember encountering it in a crossword before, but it makes for useful fill. I do wonder how well-known it is, though. I have the sense it’s already becoming obsolescent.
- Both AS A TEAM and the symmetrically located IN A SUIT strike me as less-than-sturdy standalone phrases. Their clues are [Not individually, in sports] and [Dressed for the office, say]. Neither is especially convincing. (14a, 66a)
- 7a [Places where yachts are docked] MARINAS, 55d [Tie up, as a boat] MOOR. 37a [Pig sound] OINK, 44a [Cow sounds] MOOS.
Mark McClain’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Each of the four theme answers begins with a word meaning, more or less, superannuated.
- 17a. [“Three strikes you’re out” place of song, with “the”] OLD BALL GAME.
- 27a. [Civilization of Plato and Aristotle] ANCIENT GREECE. It’s like a P&A hangover from Sunday’s CRooked crossword.
- 45a. [Many an elder statesman] SENIOR SENATOR.
- 61a. [Spanish doubloons, e.g.] ANTIQUE GOLD.
That isn’t the only thing that feels musty here. I’d wager this theme has been done before, many times before. Perhaps that explains why the theme answers here are less-than-stellar. Three are two-word phrases, one is a three-word partial. Two share the same initials, which is a distraction. None of them have much punch. It simply feels dreggy, dreg-esque.
Add in the small-scale northeast and southwest corners, the many partials and abbrevs. (e.g., AGR, EST, DST, STNS, BLDG, -ADEE, SNO-cone, shoo-INS, “For HE’S a jolly …”, “It’s ALL A big mistake!”, “give me AN I!”, plus the thoroughly atrocious [“… ring, I THEE wed”]) and the result is a rather dispiriting crossword. There just isn’t much sparkle. I mean, look, CFL [Grey Cup sorts org.] is the central across entry. Dismal.
There are some mildly interesting long verticals FIGURED OUT, CHRISTENED, WHAT A GUY, SIBERIAN, but the overall sense is still flat.
An underwhelming experience. Let’s call this an adequate crossword.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Mov-E Time”—Ade’s write-up
Hello there, crossword fans! It’s a very wet and raw start to this Monday here on the Northeast, so I’m hoping the weather is better where you are. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, is a twist on common phrases, as an anagram is used instead of the word that usually ends the phrase. The anagrams have the effect of transposing one of the “E”s inside of the last word used. Ok, I botched the explanation up, but you get what I’m saying, right?
- CASE OF THE CREPES (17A: [Large order from a French bakery?])
- WORLD AT ONE’S FETE (36A: [Spectacular turnout for your big party?])
- TAKES A QUICK PEKE (57A: [Opts for a speedy toy dog from the pet store?])
Not sure too many people would fall in love with the puns made with each of the themes, so that could have taken away from the solving experience a little. I know it did for me, but definitely doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the grid overall. One thing that definitely gave my fits was the intersection of ORARE (33A: [“_____ Ben Jonson!”]) and PURL (23D: [Knitting loop]). I know ‘purl’ is a bit of crosswordese that has found it’s way into grids time and again, but it didn’t come to mind immediately. Oh, and remember what’s on the headstone of an English playwright? Ouch! That might have been down your alley, but it sure wasn’t down mine. Other than that hang-up, it was pretty straightforward of a solve, and nothing too much stood out. BIJOU was a toughie to start of, and I had to start elsewhere before coming back to that in the Northeast (1A: [Jewel of a movie theater]). Oh, and yes, while the BRONX is great, nothing compares to the borough that I live in and will love always, Brooklyn (27D: [Where Jennifer Lopez grew up]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LACY (50D: [Delicate]) – After a great first couple of seasons as a professional, Green Bay Packers star Eddie LACY has established himself as one of the best running back in the NFL. After being a part of three national championship teams at the University of Alabama, Lacy was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Packers. Lacy ran for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns in his rookie year, earning him the Associated Press’ Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Last season, he ran for over 1,000 yards as well (1,139) as the Packers just missed out on making the Super Bowl, losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game in overtime.
Have a good rest of your Monday, and hope the Case of the Mondays hasn’t set in!
Erik Agard’s American Values Club crossword, “Have a Blast!”
Read that title as “have a B last” and you’ve got the theme: Familiar phrases change their meanings entirely if you change the last letter to a B.
- 19a. [“Father, meet Mr. Odenkirk”?], “DAD, BOB.” Play on dadbod, a term that has just broken out. It describes a male physique with some pudge and little overt muscling.
- 25a. [Hydrate the rapper nicknamed the Based God?], WATER LIL B. I don’t know Lil B, but I know waterlilies.
- 32a. [Primo real estate on the outskirts of the city?], FIRST-DEGREE BURB. Burn.
- 49a. [Like opponents of marijuana legalization?], ANTI-HERB. Antihero.
- 52a. [Boxing astronaut’s maneuver?], SPACE JAB. Space Jam.
- 64a. [What you might go to a Beyoncé or Isley Brothers concert for?], THE AMAZING R AND B. The Amazing Randi. Minus .05 for the AND where we’d customarily see &.
- 73a. [Steal pigeon meat?], JACK SQUAB. You don’t hear everyone using “you don’t know jack squat,” but I think I picked that up from Chris Farley. Tommy Boy or motivational speaker Matt Foley on SNL?
- 84a. [What an irate Republican congressman might shout at President Obama?], “YOU LIB!” A play on that schmuck who shouted “You lie!” at the State of the Union address.
If you take the letters that are changed to a B, they spell DYNOMITE. That is the classic ’70s TV catchphrase from Jimmie Walker on Good Times, and Good Times is the answer to this meta. Erik (this is his first puzzle as a member of the AV Club puzzle roster) could have made a 15×15 with fewer theme answers and no meta, with the title serving as the rationale for the theme. There are a lot of gems in there, which is not always the case with change-a-letter themes. Instead, Erik elevates the concept to a higher level, with DYNOMITE suggesting dynamite, which is used in blasting, so “Have a Blast!” has both the explosive and “B last” angles in it.
Six more things:
- 1a. [Engagement party?], FENCER. Even with the question mark warning me away, I still answered FIANCE first.
- 29a. [Bündner schist mountain], ALP. No idea what the clue means. This is a particular type of rock found in the Alps? But the German screamed ALP.
- 82a. [Unattractive people, jocularly], UGGOS. Coincidentally, also the name for shearling waffles.
- 4d. [Clark the ___ (pantsless MLB mascot)], CUB. Sigh. Nobody wanted this.
- 38d. [Dark green?], BRIBE. Neat clue.
- 66d. [Rhetorical device exemplified by the Daft Punk lyric “Let’s raise the bar/And our cups to the stars”], ZEUGMA. Ooh, nice.
Did not know: 56d. [Title character played by Jared Leto in a 2009 sci-fi film], MR. NOBODY.
Freshest fill: FOMO (fear of missing out), TARYN Manning (Pennsatucky), “I’M TALKING,” BATGIRL, MR NOBODY, “OK, I’LL BITE,” UMOJA, EDM.
4.7 stars from me. Erik, you are off to a grand start with AVCX!
Brendan Quigley’s website crossword, “Themeless Monday #32”
Did the puzzle this morning and am now highly distracted. So a quick and unfocused post is in store for you.
Names pile-up in the top middle—DOUG Ellin and ANNE Washburn, not names in my head, crossing GEEK with a not-entirely-obvious clue (and I tried DEFLATED before DEFEATED there), crossing SUKARNO where I was thinking of SUHARTO. Tough for you, too?
Had not seen the marquee entry, UNFUCKWITHABLE, but I like it. Also like SHILLELAGHS, XANTHINE (know your caffeine precursors!), BREAD KNIVES, and the RIOT GEAR/FLAK SUIT combo. Oh! And ON FLEEK was totally on fleek (on point). Another constructor was asking last week if ON FLEEK with a proper name crossing the F would be fair game for an NYT submission, and Francis Heaney said he was hoping to be the first to use ON FLEEK. Brendan couldn’t let that happen, could he? (If you are mystified by the word, here’s an explainer for you.)
I liked a lot of the clues when I solved this.
Could do without NEON GAS, TEENIE, V-TEN. NENES gets a Portuguese babies clue—better than the Hawaiian geese, if you ask me.
Four stars. Brendan’s puzzle game is on fleek.