C.W. Stewart’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Revealer at 58-across: [“Smile!” … or a hint to the ends of the answers to the five starred clues] SAY CHEESE. Rather than types of cheese, the relevant bits describe some of the shapes that the comestibles may be obtained in.
- 17a. [*Club used in a bunker] SAND WEDGE. More golf: 52a [Golf ball propper-upper] TEE, 64a [3, 4 and 5, on a golf course] PARS.
- 32a. [*1980s hand-held puzzle craze] RUBIK’S CUBE. I maintain my no-theme-and-regular-fill-mixing stance: 55a [What 32-Across has six of] FACES.
- 41a. [*Many a countertop] MARBLE SLAB.
- 3d. [*Inability to recall something] MENTAL BLOCK.
- 26d. [*Riverboat propeller] PADDLE WHEEL.
So, six medium-long theme answers, and the grid doesn’t groan horribly with the weight. Impressive. Further, it’s all rather Scrabbly, despite lacking J, Q, and V.
As for the answers themselves, probably cubes or cubed would be better than just cube. It’s kind of the odd one out, anyway, more akin to slices, or shredded. Saaay, do you think the grid layout is sort of divided into … chunks?
- 29a [Cracker spread] PÂTÉ. Not cheese. Not even head cheese.
- 25d [Big shot] NABOB, 40a [Corp. bigwigs] CEOS. Big cheeses.
- [Stop] 2d/4d CEASE, END. [Many, many years] 11d/42d EONS, EPOCH. 6d [Waffle] HEDGE, 7d [Waffle ingredients] EGGS, plus the crossing 15a [Toy building block] LEGO, suggesting the Eggo brand waffle slogan, “Leggo my Eggo!” Kind of a downer that ‘block’ in the clue dupes a key theme element in 3d.
- 29d [Contented cat sounds] PURRS. I’m going to keep pointing out clues that promulgate this erroneous notion. Okay, it isn’t completely erroneous but it’s insufficient enough to promote a lot of misunderstanding. Cats purr for many reasons, including when they’re frightened or ill-at-ease and definitely not contented. This to me seems distinct from a clue such as 14a [Back end of a hammer] (oh I just noticed that that answer intersects with 4d END) for PEEN; there are plenty of hammer designs that have a claw—or another face—there, so PEEN isn’t accurate in all instances but the insufficiency doesn’t strike me as egregiously misleading.
- Favorite clue: 16a [Like some screws and translations] LOOSE.
Kevin Christian’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Grab your gear and hold your breath—oh wait, no need for that second part. 35a [Underwater activity that requires the ends of 16-, 20-, 53- and 58-Across] SCUBA DIVING.
- 16a. [Ineffectual executive, metaphorically] EMPTY SUIT.
- 20a. [Flashy ’40s–’60s Cadillac features] TAIL FINS.
- 53a. [Identity-concealing attire, in a Dumas novel] IRON MASK. “Attire”?
- 58a. [Brainstorming institution] THINK TANK.
Seeing 1-across FREE, I can’t help but think of the very recent disappearance and strongly presumed death of Natalia Molchanova. And then I looked at its symmetrical complement, 65a SOON, and wondered if it could be altered to SKIN.
More theme-incidental fill: 5a [Marina vessel] BOAT, 45a [Saint-Tropez sea] MER. I’ll skip 35d and 54d, except to mention that there’s a significant clue-answer dupe between 45a and 35d.
Quite a lot of abbrevs. and fill-in-the-blank/partials today. LDL, OSU, IDA, ANAT, STDS, AMT, LDL, IRA, THE A, SITU, HAW, KHAN, EINE, ELSE, FREE, MILLI, ESPRIT, END OF. Obviously, not all had to be presented as such. And to be clear, such clues aren’t inherently bad or unwelcome, but too many can wear on a body.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Not Again!”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! I hope you all had a pretty good weekend once again. Now…who doesn’t want to start their week of crosswords with Mr. Bob Klahn?!? Well, even if you don’t want the crunchy stuff at the beginning of the week, you just got it anyway! (Ha!) As for today’s Klahn special, each of the four theme answers are puns created by excising the beginning letters of “RE” from the usual term/phrase, leaving the puns as the answers.
- VERSE ORDER (20A: [Reason to rhyme?]) – From “reverse order.”
- CORD BREAKER (29A: [Cutter of the apron strings?]) – From “record breaker.”
- QUEST DENIED (45A: [Stamp on a document seeking permission to search for the Holy Grail?]) – From “request denied.” Im my mind, I’m thinking more “access denied” than anything else.
- TAIL OUTLET (54A: [Discount store for the three blind mice?]) – From “retail outlet.”
To be honest, I believe Bob went easy on non-speed solvers like myself today. (Here’s hoping he won’t turn up the heat for next time!) Though I didn’t put it in immediately, I was very confident that CB’S was the entry to start off the grid (1A: [Trucker trackers]). But, as per usual in puzzles from Bob, I jumped around to see if I could get a foothold somewhere, and I definitely got that in the Southwest, with BENATAR being the first to fall there (40D: [“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” singer Pat]). Another music-related clue adjacent to it also was a gimme, and that really opened it all up to start. (See “sports…smarter” section to know which one I’m talking about.) The across clues in that area were pretty much layups after that, with TATAMIS (57A: [Some judo mats]), PG-RATED (63A: [Like “Ice Age” and “Frozen”]) and my personal favorite down there, ON A DIME (60A: [Instantly, idiomatically]). As a sports broadcaster and part-time play-by-play broadcaster, I know that I’ve used the phrase “stopped on a dime” a few times in the past while on the air! Overall, there wasn’t one clue in which I was totally lost, even after filling in the answer. And yes, that includes DIDY, as I didn’t confuse “nappy” for a slang term for a baby’s siesta (21D: [Nursery nappy]). But this is the first time I’d ever heard of the word “didy,” and now I’ll be saying that word in my head anytime I see a parent change a baby’s diaper. Loved the fill (and the clue) of ARMRESTS (41A: [Targets of hostile elbow exchanges]) and really appreciated the trivia nature to VANESSA (19A: [First name invented by Jonathan Swift, for his paramour, Esther Vanhomrigh]). Is it possible that I actually had fun while doing a puzzle from Bob?!? A labor of love, instead of just labor?! All kidding aside, given the struggles I always have in making headway in any of his great puzzles, I really was on his wavelength today, which made things much easier! Ok, now on to that other music clue that I referenced earlier…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MUSTANG (39D: [“All you wanna do is ride around Sally” ride (Wilson Pickett lyric]) – “Ride, Sally, Ride!” Though this clue gave me the best earworm to have of any music-related crossword clue in a long time, I thought about how Mr. Klahn could have made this a tougher clue, and all he would have to do is bring sports into play. If the clue read “Cal Poly athlete” or “Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson, as a collegian,” would you have been able to get MUSTANG from that? Well, Mustangs is the nickname of both the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo collegiate sports teams, as well as the teams at Southern Methodist University (SMU), the university that Eric Dickerson attended.
Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you tomorrow…from Montréal no less!
Themeless Monday #327 by Brendan Emmett Quigley – Gareth’s Review
Generally this is a solid themeless, with two prominent 3×11 stacks. The stacks themselves have about 1 1/2 top answers each – the best answers tended actually to be distributed amongst the shorter fill. There were few clunkers, the biggest of which is the contrived plural chemical suffix (!) ENES.
Bits that warrant extra commentary:
- [Diazepam treats it], ALS – aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease – pretty sure Diazepam (aka Valium) merely controls symptoms.
- [BBC Philharmonic director Juanjo ___], MENA
- [“Should I Stay or Should I Go” singer], MICKJONES – rhythm guitarist JOESTRUMMER was usually the lead singer in the Clash. Luckily he doesn’t fit!
- [She sang with Azalea on “Black Widow”, ORA. Rita Ora and Iggy Azalea.
- [UFC fighter with the fastest title round finish (14 seconds), RONDAROUSEY. Needed all the crossers. Still, nice that the puzzle acknowledges the popularity of the sport. At the moment UFC itself doesn’t even seem to be acceptable fill. Her Wikipedia article suggests she also achieved success in Olympic judo and WWE.
- [Prepared food?:Abbr.], GMO. Another TLA you’d expect to see more in contemporary puzzles.
- [Birds in the bush], EMUS. Bush is South African slang for uninhabited areas. It was appropriated by the Aussies at some point.
- [2015 World Cup Golden Glove winner], SOLO. Hope Solo.
- [Rajasthan’s capital], JAIPUR. The Rajasthan Royals play out of SMS Stadium, Jaipur if that helps…
Cheap clue: [Place to pick up some roses?], WINESTORE deliberately leaves out the accent. Was still pretty obvious.