Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
How about we let the revealer do its revealer-y thing? 59a [Title held by the people who lent their names to 17-, 24-, 38- and 49-Across] PRESIDENT (of the United States of America). Would that be better as ‘office’ (even though the emphasis is on nomenclature)?
- 17a. [National health insurance overhaul] OBAMACARE.
- 24a. [Supply-side fiscal policy popularized in the 1980s] REAGANOMICS.
- 38a. [Statement such as “The misunderestimated me”] BUSHISM.
- 49a. [Depression-era shantytown] HOOVERVILLE.
All but BUSHISM are solid portmanteaux, in my estimation. For the record, my in-browser spellchecker approves of the first two but not the latter pair.
- Good to see gentler, less offensive clues for HOBO and OGLE: 2d [Wanderer in search of work], 62a [Gaze longingly upon]. Commendable editorial trend, I think.
- Bunch of long vertical fill today. 11d [Submarine in a Tom Clancy best seller] RED OCTOBER, 29d [Sentimental] SOFT-BOILED, 6d [Walks with a brash air] SWAGGERS, 39d [Nonbelievers, to believers] INFIDELS, 22d [Nobody at all] NOT A SOUL, 25d [Added (up to)] AMOUNTED.
- 31a [Cat’s cry] MEOW above 37a [Dog’s bark] ARF.
- Favorite clue: 40a [Competition in which the winner always gets the last word?] BEE (of the spelling variety).
Solid albeit unexciting Monday.
Charles Oldham’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Selling Points” — Jim’s review
It’s a fact of modern life that we are constantly bombarded with advertisements—from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until sleep reclaims us at night. We see and hear ads, labels, logos, jingles, and now…crosswords.
Today’s puzzle has two-word phrases in which the second word is a synonym for “selling”. The clues are wacky-style re-imaginings of that phrase if the second word is being used in lieu of “selling”. Ergo:
- 20A [Advertising Rolaids?] RELIEF PITCHING
- 38A [Advertising travel to England?] BRITISH SHILLING
- 52A [Advertising Sondheim?] STEPHEN HAWKING
The theme works well and is consistently applied. Only three theme entries, but that usually means a cleaner grid and more interesting non-theme fill.
I think I like RELIEF PITCHING best. It is exactly on point if you’ve ever seen a Rolaids commercial (do they still have those?). You know, the ones where they ask, “How do you spell ‘relief’?” And the poor sap replies R-O-L-A-I-D-S.
BRITISH SHILLING sounds just a tad off since the SHILLING hasn’t been legal tender since 1990. (Prior to that it was worth 5 pence since decimalization occurred in 1971 and prior to that it was worth 12 pence.) Did you know the SHILLING is still legal tender in Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda?
STEPHEN HAWKING is also good, but I feel the clue misses an opportunity. STEPHEN HAWKING was a near-nightly occurrence on The Colbert Report. (But then again, maybe the WSJ-readership never watched The Colbert Report.)
Pretty good long Downs in the grid with STOPLIGHT, THRESHOLD, SQUIRREL, and TOM DELAY. The Q in SQUIRREL gives us the challenging QUAI d’Orsay, which I didn’t know and which seems like a tough entry for a Monday (especially with the I crossing XIS). That NE corner could have been easily cleaned up, but then maybe it wouldn’t be as interesting.
I also like MISER crossing BRITISH SHILLING right in the center of the grid. Of course, it makes you think of [Scrooge, for one], but my favorite Christmas-time MISER has to be this guy:
Cluing is Mondayish, i.e. pretty straightforward. There are a couple cute ones: [One might go out on a limb] for SQUIRREL and [The going rates?] for FARES (for a moment I was thinking of fees for using a restroom). I don’t quite get the clue for STOPLIGHT [Don’t go there!]. A STOPLIGHT also tells you when to go in addition to when to stop. Maybe the clue needs a ?.
Can’t get enough Heat MISER. Let’s go out with a song:
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Phrases ending in onomatopoeic avian emanations.
- 18a. [Cares] GIVES A HOOT.
- 28a. [Girl who lost her sheep] LITTLE BO PEEP.
- 48a. [Short online message visible only to approved followers] PRIVATE TWEET.
- 62a. [Get lovey-dovey] BILL AND COO.
That last one explicitly references birdy things, in both parts of the answer as well as the clue. But it’s an adequate enough theme.
- 24a [BBC time traveler] DR WHO. As has been remarked many a time before in these virtual pages, convention has it that the title (honorific?) is never abbreviated, but see this Wikipedia article on a pair of 1960s Peter Cushing films.
- 47a [VCR format] VHS. In which V stands for ‘video’ in both instances. Video cassette recorder, video home system.
- Strangest clue: 52d [Blackjack surface] TABLE. Maybe because it was 52?
- Long non-theme fill: STAND TALL, DOG CHEWS, THE ROOTS, LIVED A LIE.
A modicum of panache in the clues, some clunkiness and crosswordese, and it ends up being typical Monday fare.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “It Takes All Different Types”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! Not sure where you are in the country, but, man, it definitely DOES NOT feel like Christmas just yet, at least here in the NYC area. Temps in the high 50s and low 60s in the middle of December? Yikes! Well, that’s a different conversation for a different day. Today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, features clues to the theme entries that are homophones of the actual words that actually would describe the theme answers, with each clue having a “Type _” pattern.
- CAPITAL OF TAIWAN (17A: [Type A?]) – Taipei.
- NOVEL BY MELVILLE (39A: [Type E?]) – Typee.
- PRINTING MISTAKE (64A: [Type O?]) – Typo.
Didn’t warm up to the theme too much once I knew what it was, but definitely straightforward enough to fill in the other two theme entries once you got your first theme, which, for me, was the middle (Novel by Melville). Mr. Ross might be a baseball fan, with the entries of ALCS (1D: [Baseball semifinals, for short]) and MANAGER (60A: [Baseball boss]), as well as AAA, though this refers to batteries instead of the highest rung of Minor League Baseball (44A: [Tiny battery]). I’ve caught myself using the term “Debbie DOWNER” a whole lot recently, and I don’t know why (47D: [Bad mood inducer]). It’s probably more the alliterative hook than it is the Saturday Night Live character, as I heard someone use the term (and liked it) before I knew that it came from the show. Before I gave up soda for the most part, I definitely had a legit fixation for SUNKIST soda (20A: [Orange brand]). Honestly, it was a borderline addiction to it! I’ll buy a one-liter bottle here and there right now, but that’s it. I think. I hope. OK, I’m buying a Sunkist today. Ugh…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SPIKE LEE (4D: [“Malcolm X” moviemaker]) – Outside of being one of the most accomplished directors of all time, SPIKE LEE, as many of you know, is probably the most visible and famous fan of the New York Knicks. Lee gained the most notoriety of his fandom when, in the mid-1990s, he sat in the front row of Madison Square Garden and traded barbs with future Hall-of-Fame guard Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers when the Pacers and Knicks squared off in both the 1994 and 1995 NBA Playoffs. Here’s an example of the love that they shared…
Thank you all for the time, and I’ll see you all tomorrow!
David Steinberg’s BuzzFeed crossword, “Video Killed Thom Yorke”—Andy’s review
If you knew that Thom Yorke is the lead singer of the British band Radiohead, then the title might have given you a bit of a head start on this puzzle. The same information was in the clue for 60a, though [“Karma Police” band…or a hint to the initials of 17-, 27-, and 44-Across]. So, let’s look at the initials for those answers:
- 17a, ALPHA MALE [Ultra-macho dude, just like your average crossword constructor]. A.M. [Radio]. For those of you coping with alpha males, I’ve heard good things about this book.
- 27a, FACEBOOK MESSAGE [Alternative to writing on someone’s wall]. F.M. [Radio]. Probably a hipper “F.M.” reference than Farley Mowat.
- 44a, XYLOPHONE MALLET [Stick used to play a scale of wooden bars]. X.M. [Radio]. The only other common “X.M.” I can think of is “x-ray machine,” but this was a good 15-letter find.
Easy Monday theme, executed nicely as usual. Really clean fill (my one quibble is with EXACTO — the knife brand is “X-ACTO,” and I’m not sure that “exacto” as an exclamation is really “a thing.” Still, extremely easy to infer). Every Clue Has Gotten A Ton of Attention (And I Mean Every Clue). What else is there to say, besides well done?
Happy Monday. Go watch DOPE.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
This clematis blossom of a grid began with the French phrase in the center of the grid, BIEN PENSANT, or 34a. [Right-thinking]. New to me. I dunno, Brendan—was this really well thought out?
Tough crossing for those who don’t know their literature (I think it’s reasonable to expect solvers of toughish puzzles to know KAZUO Ishiguro) or their foreign actresses of little import here (Patsy KENSIT).
- 15a. [Assert positively], AVOUCH. Archaic word! The KENSIT/AVOUCH pairing is not my favorite.
- 20a. [“The ___ Eight”], HATEFUL. I don’t know the reference here.
- 23a. [Response to “Did you read on [such-and-such site]?”], “I SAW.” Clue feels off to me. “Did you get a load of that picture/video/gif/article about [such-and-such]?” Just asking “Did you read on Reddit?” is too incomplete.
- 31a. [Rubber], ELASTIC BAND. What? No, I’m not seeing that as a dictionary definition of “rubber.” Feels backwards. A hair elastic could be called a rubber band, but elastic band ≠ rubber.
- “JESSIE’S GIRL,” SRI LANKA, “BEAT IT,” JANE DOE, “WOE IS ME,” KICKER, J-LAW, and FLYING START are my favorite fill here. RES as a plural, SPIRO as part of a Latin state motto, L-BARS, and letter run NOP are my least liked.
- 3d. [Colorful freshwater sunfish], REDEAR. Never heard of this. I’m reminded of the Wordplay scene where Merl Reagle looks up “redtop” in the dictionary to see if it’s legit fill.
3.75 stars from me.
If some influential Republicans have their way perhaps MITTEN could be counted as a theme entry when this puzzle goes into syndication.
I really liked the theme. I could do without the revealer, but on a Monday such things are needed. Fun puzzle!
Excellent Monday theme. Simple and clean but not one I had seen before, coupled with solid fill. My only quibble would be that the reveal isn’t necessary. If you don’t know that Obama, Reagan, Bush (the younger), and Hoover were PRESIDENTs, maybe you should be paying more attention to things other than crossword puzzles). Of course, maybe Mr. Polin looked in vain. Regardless, one of the more enjoyable Mondays in a while. Kudos!
Randy’s CS was a clever idea. It would have been terrific if there were a “B” example instead of “E” for the middle one. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had this in mind when he came up with the seed entry. Four stars from me.
I liked the theme entries in the NYT, although the inclusion of PRESIDENT as a revealer seemed unnecessary. Maybe that’s because there’s no other themer that would go in its place. Very little crosswordese in this one.
SOFTBOILED meaning sentimental isn’t something I’ve ever heard of.
And why do we need a kinder, gentler clue for OGLE? Ogling is a distasteful activity, isn’t it?
re: OGLE. My comment was originally going to frame the ‘gentler’ approach as a two-edged sword because I was less welcoming to that entry. But after consulting some dictionary definitions for it, I decided that a lot of the distastefulness comes from all the connotations that are so ingrained in our contemporary experience. So in the same spirit that I decry implicit pejoratives for words that eclipse their inherent neutrality (ODOR is a common one here), I left the observation itself relatively objective.
Thanks. It seems to me that ‘ogle’ has almost exclusively seedy connotations, whatever its historical use may be.
Do you see the comic strip Brewster Rockit? It has an intermittent alien character O-Dor of Uranus. Stupid and childish, so naturally it makes me laugh every time I see it.
LAT: QUAI crossing XIS does not belong in anything less than Friday IMO (or anywhere for that matter).
Also, Colbert took over for David Letterman on the Late Show recently (I suppose that hasn’t hopped the pond?), so he is now relevant to a larger audience. His ratings are pretty low compared to other late night shows, so maybe not.
When the WSJ dailies started, I think Mike Shenk had said the puzzles weren’t necessarily going to follow the standard weekday progression difficulty-wise. A pattern has in fact emerged, but I guess he doesn’t feel bound to stay within that framework. So while that QUAI/XIS corner could be easily cleaned up, my only guess is that he found it interesting with STYX, YANG, and SQUIRREL in there. Just a guess.
No, I can’t easily watch The Late Show where I live, but as a fan, I knew about the move. I referenced the Report because Colbert’s constant touting of products was an ongoing gag on the show. He doesn’t do that on the new show, does he?
I did find STYX, YANG, and SQUIRREL interesting fill, but thought that QUAI/XIS ruined that corner, but I see your point, so fair enough.
In spite of being a fan of the Colbert Report, I’ve only seen small portions of a couple of his Late Show episodes, so I am not actually sure if he continued his “Colbert Bump” hawking shtick still takes place.
He did pretend CBS was making him promote Sabra hummus products on the debut of the new show. Don’t know if that continued.
Loved the ROLAIDS RELIEF answer. MLB had an annual award from 1976 through 2012 called the “Rolaids Relief Man Award” that went to the best relief pitcher in both the American and National leagues.
Why are derogatory words like “junkie” and “sot” accepted in this community without comment? I’m just askin’.
Actually, they’re not accepted without comment. Amy has frequently made exactly the point you just made.
Really? I don’t recall that discussion.
Google “crossword fiend” and a word like WINO, SOT, or DTS and you will find some of my distaste for such things.
I’ll take your word for it.
I liked the BEQ, but it helped to have had both Latin and French!
ArtLvr – agreed! But I’m still miffed at myself that I could *not* for the life of me come up with what an “nop” was. grr.