Jim Holland’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Tidy little theme, with a very apt revealer: 59-across [Tic-tac-toe win … or a hint to the starts of the answers to the starred clues] THREE IN A ROW. The referenced theme entries all begin not just with three-letter runs, but trigrams that are in alphabetical order.
- 19a. [*Carrier to Amsterdam] KLM AIRLINES. (11th, 12th, and 13th letters of the English alphabet.) Crossed by 6d [Dutch bloom] TULIP.
- 10d. [*David Muir … or Peter Jennings, once] ABC ANCHOR. Crossed by 36a [“O Canada,” for one] ANTHEM. Back even before Peter Jennings’ anchorhood, when networks signed off in the wee hours (see also 47a [Doesn’t go to bed] STAYS UP), they played the national anthem, the Unitedstatesian one. Jennings was Canadian, just to muddle things further.
- 33d. [*Diplomatic contretemps during John Adams’s administration] XYZ AFFAIR. “The name derives from the substitution of the letters X, Y and Z for the names of French diplomats Hottinguer (X), Bellamy (Y), and Hauteval (Z) in documents released by the Adams administration.” Errr… okay! crossed by 57a [Not working] OFF, much as the American diplomatic commission and French contingent failed to even approach common ground and broke OFF negotiations prematurely, which led to an undeclared ‘Quasi-War’.
I like this theme and its execution.
- STEAMS, TEEM, AS A TEAM (4d, 12d, 43d). Let’s go farther: 23a SEAMS, 39d REDEEMED. Okay, now let’s just ride the double-E express: ALBEE, DEED, EELY, SMEE, REELS, RE LEE, SEEN. (15a, 44a, 29d, 30d, 53a, 52d, 66a)
- In addition to the Peter Jennings retro inclusion, 53a [What old movies came on] REELS (preceded by 51a [Full-lenght movie] FEATURE), 55d [Kind of call that didn’t used to need an area code] LOCAL. (“didn’t used to” is a bit of a mouthful, wouldn’t you say?)
- Favorite clue: 3d [Middle of 100,000?] COMMA. Mainly because it isn’t dryasdust. Runner-up: 24a [Court rendering] OPINION. Least favorite clue: 35d What this means: :-( SAD. So overtly, desperately demonstrative, but mainly because I remain staunchly anti-emoticon (and your little emojis, too!). Runner-up: 63a [Adorable “Sesame Street” character] ELMO; obviously the clue was supposed to read [“Adorable” Sesame Street character]. [correction: the clue reads monster, not character]
- 58d FRET crossing 68a STRUM, but with unrelated clues. [Worry], [Play a guitar casually]
- 7d [Good-looking guy] ADONIS, which is like a superstud, right? Or perhaps you’re gymnophobic and would prefer not to see such an individual in his full glory? See also 56d [What you do in a sauna] SWEAT?
Mostly clean and smooth fill, not overly fusty. Solid Monday offering.
Robert E. Lee Morris’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Windmill/pinwheel arrangement of theme entries, revealer in the lower right, and short one across in the center. 61-across [Employment opportunity, and a hint to the first word of the answers to starred clues] JOB OPENING.
- 17a. [*Malicious prank] DIRTY TRICK (dirty job).
- 11d. [*Humor among friends] INSIDE JOKE (inside job).
- 37a. [*Winter storm school closing] SNOW DAY (snow job).
- 27d. [*Employee who does the firing] HATCHET MAN (hatchet job). Not comfortable with the clue directly referencing employment, trespassing on the ‘hidden’ theme. Furthermore, it exposes an undermining seam among these answers – that ‘man’ can almost as easily fulfill job’s job, in context: hatchet man, snow man, inside man, and—less convincingly—dirty man.
The central themer is braced by an offset pair of nine-letter answers: FACE CARDS and HOLY SMOKE. Moderately shorter are the members of the HOT SPOT, SO-AND-SO, TAG SALE, ANTENNA quartet.
- ALOHA (1a) is a pleasant way to begin the first puzzle of the week. I believe the opening montage of the original Hawaii 5-0 featured a clip of a team of paddlers in a [Boat with an outrigger] CANOE (symmetrically opposite, at 68a); no idea about the rebooted series.
- 32d [Barnyard female] EWE; 5d [‘… have you ANY wool?”].
- ONES, A NOSE, ATONE, T-NOTE … SIGH. (20a, 28a, 53d, 65a … 10a)
- 57d [Animal Crackers feline] LION. I recently learned that, of the 37 to 53 types/shapes to have populated the iconic Nabisco/Barnum’s boxes since 1902, only four have persisted without discontinuation: lion, tiger, bear, and elephant. However, I can find no authoritative confirmation for this factette, nor (as indicated) apparently is there a reliable accounting of how many there have been.
- Why use the awkward [One doing simple math] for ADDER when the snake will do? It isn’t as if it’s that obscure, even for a Monday.
- 56a [Director Kazan] ELIA, 60a [Bombeck of household humor] ERMA. “Paging Mr Morales to the grid, Paging Mr Morales, paging Mr ESAI Morales to the Los Angeles grid …”
Gerry Wildenberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fruit Salad” — Jim’s write-up
Today’s puzzle from Gerry Wildenberg sounds delicious! Let’s tuck in.
- 17A [Fruity bicycle part] BANANA SEAT
- 26A [Fruity library gadget] DATE STAMP
- 41A [Fruity raw bar item] CHERRYSTONE CLAM
- 51A [Fruity center of attention] LIME LIGHT
- 66A [Fruity tech retailer] APPLE STORE
So, we have phrases which start with a reference to a fruit though the fruit is not directly involved.
We’re playing a little fast and loose with the phrases. BANANA SEAT and APPLE STORE are both named after their fruits. DATE STAMP and LIME LIGHT have no connection etymologically to their respective fruits. CHERRYSTONE is used as one word where the other fruits are all separate.
Do you know your CHERRYSTONE CLAM from your littleneck from your quahog? I sure didn’t. I’m not a CLAM aficionado, so this was a new, but interesting, phrase to me.
LIME LIGHT comes from the theatre and was a special lamp used as a spotlight. Prior to electrical lights, an oxyhydrogen flame was passed through a cylinder containing quicklime (calcium oxide). This resulted in an especially bright, focused light. LIME in this case comes from the Germanic languages and refers to the calcium-containing material. It is also related to the word loam. The fruit LIME comes from Arabic and Spanish.
Since we’re getting all etymological, DATE, as in time and date, comes from the medieval Latin datus, meaning “given”. The Roman custom of ending a correspondence by writing “given” with the day and month evolved into the word we use today. The fruit DATE comes from the Greek daktylos, meaning “finger” or “toe” and is related to the word “digit”.
Anyhoo, back to the puzzle. Good stuff includes CAN OPENER, EXTREME, and TRACKER. Odd stuff includes BLIND COPY (I normally see BLIND carbon COPY or BCC) and OVERSEA which looks really strange without an ending S.
Less than great stuff includes several partials (AN ERA, AS ICE, NEED A) and the usual cast of rogues and scalawags (ALAI, EMO, ELAN, SHO, EMS, TSE).
Other items of interest:
- MIG and MIR are symmetrical in their placement. MIR means “peace”, and a MIG (an acronym for aircraft manufacturers Mikoyan and Gruevich) is an instrument of war.
- LASS and LAD both make an appearance, though not symmetrically.
- The clue for 56D TILDE [Spanish squiggle] gave me pause. Strictly speaking the clue is fine, but the TILDE is used as more than just a diacritical mark and in more languages than just Spanish.
A good entry-level SO-SO Monday puzzle. 3.5 stars. There is an unusual dearth of musical allusions in the puzzle (aside from EMO), so this looks like a good place to leave this:
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Liked the puzzle, didn’t quite love it. Favorite fill: ROAD RAGE (we see this entry fairly often these days, but you know what? I do much of my finest swearing in the car, and I’m sure the catharsis improves my overall mood), SHOT UP (clued nicely as a kid growing rather than someone using heroin), DIGITAL WALLET, SWAINS, HIT THE JACKPOT, literary LENORE/LOLITA, L-SEVEN (despite the spelled-out number), SHIBA INU (remember the doge2048 game? I just now scored 16,440), VAN HALEN, sudoku GIVENS, and CAPTCHA. Bonus points for ILENE Chaiken, since Ilene is also the name of my BFF’s mom, who recently passed away. It’s nice to see her name in random contexts.
Low points: Does anyone actually say that their printer has a “JAM-UP“? It’s just a printer jam/paper jam. ORAL LAW is unfamiliar to me, and repeats the law of the lawsuit in the DAMAGES clues. AGORA, ENL, the hideous I-RAILS, UNLET—these don’t enhance my solve one bit.
Did not know actress IVANA Baquero or model GEENA Rocera. *making mental note*
3.6 stars from me.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Keystone Copped”—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everybody! I hope everyone is having a good start to the new week. We have another puzzle from Mr. Bob Klahn, and I tried to anticipate that the theme might be just reading the title. Let’s say that believing that there might be the letters “PA” either added to or excised from common terms was slightly off. (PA being the postal code for Pennsylvania, the Keystone State.) Instead, each of the four theme entries have “ARC” appear consecutively in the grid – though spanning two words – and in the middle of the entry, which somewhat resembles an actual keystone, with the stone at the middle/top of an arch.
- GUITAR CHORD (17A: [What solid circles on vertical lines in a 4-by-5 grid depict])
- BAR CHART (29A: [It’s composed of parallel rectangles])
- CAR CHASE (45A: [Cop film staple])
- STAR CHAMBER (60A: [English court created to ensure that laws were fairly enforced against prominent people])
Oh, that tricky Klahn, with CIALIS being a possible trap being that the second and third letters of it are also in common with Viagra (45D: [ED med]). No, we’re not going to be talking about ED now, but I will say that the entry was pretty easy to get – even if you were tricked by the Viagra/Cialis deal, with some gimmes at a couple of the crossings, most notably SSN (65A: [PIN kin]). Honestly, if you haven’t eaten an UTZ potato chip – do yourself a favor and grab a bag…that’s, if you’re a fan of potato chips (36A: [Ruffles rival]). So good! Probably the toughest time I had in this grid was in the Northwest, so I just started from the bottom and went upward. Actually, I pretty much started with the cheeky clue, and the entry, for RUSS (33D: [Apt USSR anagram]). I’ll take the free answers I can get when doing a Klahn puzzle. Probably toughest entry was the one for FERRARI, as I can’t say that I’m up on all my actors from Casablanca (9D: [Signor _______ (Sidney Greenstreet in “Casablanca”)]). Not too strenuous of a grid.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CAGE (1D: [Animal house]) – Former NBA player Michael CAGE is currently the color commentator (radio broadcaster) on television games for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Known for being a ferocious rebounder, Cage led the league in rebounding in the 1987-88 season as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, as he averaged 13 rebounds per game that year.
Have a great rest of your Monday and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Finn Vigeland’s BuzzFeed crossword, “Safe Words”—Andy’s review
Happy Monday! I’m choosing to read 14a, KRAV(is) MAGA, as a shout-out to me.
Straightforward theme this week — five theme answers have a word in them related to S AND M* [2011 Rihanna song… or a sexual practice that connects five answers in this puzzle]. Themers:
- 17a, COUCH GAG [Feature of the opening credits of “The Simpsons” that changes how the family sits around the TV every episode]. My favorite couch gag.
- 23a, WHIP MY HAIR [Debut single by Willow Smith that gave me neck pains when I tried it]. Listen and learn. She was all of ten when this song went Top 40.
- 34a, FRENCH CUFFS [Stylish accoutrements to some dress shirts].
- 45a, PADDLE BOAT [Popular rental for a Central Park lake].
- 52a, MUDSLING [Talk shit about]. You don’t often hear mudsling used as a verb without the -ing, do you?
*The Rihanna song is written as S&M, as is the sexual practice (usually). A minor peccadillo, and certainly not a new one in crosswords (see also AANDM, SANDP, RANDD, RANDB, BANDB, JANDJ, etc. etc. etc.). Also, be forewarned: The song is about S&M, and so is the video. So, you know. Click the link thoughtfully.
I love Finn, but this is a pretty ho-hum puzzle to me. The theme is of a variety we see a lot of, especially in early-week puzzles. Credit for having five theme entries plus a revealer, but most of the novelty of this puzzle is in the sex-y nature of the theme that no other daily venue could get away with running.
The cluing has gone meta: 1a, CLOAK gets the NGOTB-inspired clue [Invisibility ___ (third Deathly Hallow) (days without a Harry Potter reference: 0)]. The “days without a Harry Potter reference” count has become sort of a running gag in the NGOTB commentary on PuzzFeed cluing — with good reason, clearly.
There were some really enjoyable clues, like the ones for LIE [Say “C-SPAN 3 is my favorite channel,” probably], FIN [Appropriate word for me to end this puzzle on (even more appropriate if I were French)], and ALOHA [2015 film that bombed because Emma Stone, a white actress, played an Asian/Hawaiian character]. I liked both SMH [“So stupid,” in textspeak] (this stands for “shaking my head”) and KRAV MAGA [Martial art used widely by the Israeli Defense Forces], but I’m guessing some non-text-savvy solvers found that crossing un-Mondayish. Some other cool fill in here like AXEHEAD, LIL KIM, WOLF CUB, THE OC, most of the theme answers, DROP IT, SHIITE on top of HILLEL, PLUS ONES, and CHICHI.
In the minus column, URBS and SAUER were my least favorite fill. The crossing of SEPT and SST just got infinitely harder with the clue [Great ___ of Baelor (origin of Cersei Lannister’s naked walk of shame in “Game of Thrones” Season 5)]. Very much not common knowledge to GoT outsiders, and completely unguessable. Granted, BuzzFeed’s audience is more likely to know this than the average crossword solver, but this seems like the kind of esoterica that drives many tyro solvers away from crosswords.
I’m really not sure how I feel about 37d, ER DOC [Professional who helps vics after an EMT]. It looks gross in the grid, but it’s a real enough thing. I think I’d say “ER doctor” any time I had reason to. Similarly, I don’t know how I feel about the clue for ACK [“Blurgh! How is Cathy going to spell actor Nicholson’s name without using a J?”]. Cute, or too cute? Also, the clue for FLARED UP [Came roaring back, like the herps] — I’ve only ever heard “the herp” for herpes, not “the herps.” Am I officially an oldster, or is “the herp” still what the kids are saying these days?
Until next time!