Howard Barkin’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
It’s readily evident that the theme answers begin similarly, but 50-down refines the matter by revealing that they appear in diminishing order of size: [Eaten away, like the first words of 17-, 31-, 48- and 65-Across in order?] ERODING.
- 17a. [Colorado River landmark dedicated by F.D.R.] BOULDER DAM.
- 31a. [Novelty B-52’s song with the lyric “Watch out for that piranha”] ROCK LOBSTER.
Q With this album, you made a change in your moniker after 32 years: You dropped the apostrophe from B-52s. Why?
A It was not grammatically correct. It’s not like a possessive. It just seemed superfluous. Actually, we were trying to modernize our logo. Then we realized it was so good, why change it? We just dropped the apostrophe because it’s easier, and when you go on the web, it just simplifies things. (source)
Two: Does that lyric help, really?
- 48a. [California locale of several golf U.S. Opens] PEBBLE BEACH.
- 65a. [One covering a big story?] DUST JACKET.
Factette: Erosion and erode share the same etymology as rodent, referring to how things may be eaten away, or gnawed at.
- Very fine long downs: PAPER TRAIL, KNOW BY NAME, with the acrosses WINGSPAN and FOR A TIME in a supporting role.
- Misstep with 10-across and 10-down, [European automaker] OPEL, [“All right already, I get it!”] OK OK. I at first went with FIAT and FINE. Also erred at 41a [Carnival] F–––, popping in FEST before the correct FAIR; this was immediately evident with the straightforward clue for 43d [“Oedipus __”] REX.
- 9d [Former New York senator Alfonse] D’AMATO, 48d [Former House speaker Nancy] PELOSI.
- 64a [October birthstone] OPAL, unrelated to the surname OPEL (see 10a).
- 2d [Fe, to chemists] IRON; does the clue gently suggest the answer to the following 3d FEUD?
- 47d [Now, en español] AHORA, 59d [It is, en español] ESTÁ. 45d [Some World Cup cheers] OLÉS.
Good Monday. I won’t even accuse it of having a reductive theme.
Janet Bender’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bank Deposits” — Jim’s review
(Note: I’m traveling this week, so my WSJ posts might appear later and briefer than usual.)
Janet Bender is not a name we see very often lately, but she began her crossword career in the Maleska era and specialized in Mondays and Tuesdays in the NYT in the 90s and 00s. However, this is not her WSJ debut; in the past few years she’s had three of the old 21x Fridays, including two celebrating Mother’s Day.
But today she’s predicting the weather. Those Wall Street fat cats (do Wall Streeters call each other fat cats or just…cats?) thought this puzzle was going to be about asset allocation and interest amortization, but no. Janet pulls the switcheroo and gives us a weather prediction.
It’s SNOW that’s being deposited in banks, well, actually it’s already there in each theme answer. (Is there much SNOW on the ground in New York? Seems like it’s been a warmer-than-usual winter. Here’s a live webcam of Times Square to check for yourself.)
- 17A [“That doesn’t surprise me!”] WELL IT’S NO WONDER
- 27A [Subject of the 2014 Oscar-winning documentary “Citizenfour”] EDWARD SNOWDEN
- 45A [1960 hit for Elvis] IT’S NOW OR NEVER
- 58A [Lacks any influence or importance] CARRIES NO WEIGHT
- 65A [Bank deposit found in this puzzle’s four longest answers] SNOW
Typically, when pointing out hidden words in phrases, they span multiple (usually two) words. In two cases here SNOW actually spans three words (in exactly the same way). In another case it spans two words (but leaves the other two untouched). And in the last case (SNOWDEN) it’s not really hidden at all, is it? So there’s not a lot of consistency from that point of view.
I also like it when there’s some sort of “reason” behind the hidden word, like a “secret DOOR” or a “veiled attempt” (for TRY, perhaps). Here, the SNOW is just there, and that’s it.
But, sometimes crosswords can just be light, airy forms of entertainment, and in that, this puzzle succeeds. By the end we have piles of SNOW all over the place, and since it’s been a warmer-than-usual winter, probably nobody feels too badly about that.
Plus, check this out, the two fantastic long Downs, GOLD MEDALS and DEAD RINGER run through three themers! That’s very nice! Plus plus, DEAD RINGER makes me think of the British comedy series DEAD RINGERs (now cancelled) in which performers would act out sketches doing spot-on impersonations of celebrities, typically politicos. In the final episode for example, a recently-resigned Tony Blair regenerates into (the actual) David Tennant of Doctor Who fame. Gotta love British humour!
The rest of the puzzle is solidly made with things like RETINAS, ONSTAR, RENEWED, NICOLE, and READ ME. TOPE at 41A [Drink in excess] was new to me but the crossings were fair, thanks to Marisa TOMEI (whose name we stole for our first daughter!).
So on the whole, this was an enjoyable puzzle for me, not perfect, but light and fun. Just right for Monday methinks.
Have to close this with the aforementioned clip. Do yourself a favor and check out some other DEAD RINGERs videos. They do fantastic send-ups of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Ozzy Osbourne, George W. Bush and so much more.
Katelin Anderbery’s BuzzFeed crossword, “Oh Baby”—Andy’s review
If I’m not mistaken, this is the debut puzzle for Katelin Anderbery. Congratulations!
This is pretty much the BuzzFeediest BuzzFeed puzzle to ever Buzzfeed. My alternate title: “5 Celebrity Baby Names You Won’t Believe Are Real.” The semi-revealer here is 41d, UNUSUAL [Like many celebrity baby names], and we also get these five starred clues:
- 18a, BLUE CARTER [*Beyoncé and Jay Z (Ivy is her middle name, right?)]. Never seen Blue Ivy’s name without the Ivy. Clue tries to save it, but I probably would’ve swapped this one out.
- 23a, APPLE MARTIN [*Chris & Gwyneth]. Super nitpicky thing: This is the only “&”, but the mixture of “and”s and “&”s bothers me (probably too much). I’m not sure how Katelin/Caleb decided which person in the celebrity couple would go first, but I appreciated that it wasn’t always man-first.
- 37a, SAINT WEST [*Kim and Kanye]. Would’ve confidently plunked NORTH WEST in here (with whom I share a birthday!) if I didn’t already have the initial S. North makes a mini-appearance at 38d, [Nickname for 38-Across’s (sic) big sister].
- 53a, REIGN DISICK [*Scott and Kourtney]. Double the Kardashians, double the fun. I knew Disick right away, but Reign was the only baby name I hadn’t heard before. The crossings on that are kind of tough, especially since those new to crosswords are probably going to put DICES instead of RICES. REIGN is a better name than DEIGN, for what that’s worth.
- 59a, SURI CRUISE [*Tom and Katie]. Also the proper response to the question, “Do you cruise?”
I’ve probably said it before, but list themes aren’t my favorite. That said, for a Monday, for the BuzzFeed audience, this theme is right down the middle. Other than the Ivy hiccup I mentioned earlier, these are (or were at the time of naming) indeed five unusual celebrity baby names, so it’s fairly solidly executed.
The rest of the fill is pretty squeaky (ANGSTS as a plural noun being my least favorite entry — I’d have bought it as a verb, mind you). I probably would’ve gone with DOT/TUG rather than DON/NUG, but it’s a good excuse to squeeze in a weed reference, if that’s what floats your puzzle boat. I appreciated the Clueless reference in the clue for 5a, “AS IF!”. In spite of it being crossword convention, I strongly suspect BuzzFeed commenters are going to react negatively to “BHO” referring to Barack Hussein Obama in the FDR clue [President often compared to BHO in that THEY’RE BOTH SECRETLY SOCIALIST!!~!!].
Signature Caleb clue at 65a, for MAINE [“My ___ man!” (greeting to your close friend from the Pine Tree State)]. Another one in the same vein (and my favorite clue in this puzzle) was 45d, [Quick alternative to boxerly?] for BRIEFLY. In a close second was 1a, MASH [Game that accurately predicted that I would become an inventor, marry Frankie Muniz, and live in a mansion in Antarctica with our seven kids]. I also really liked the clue for GRAPE [You could use it to make a thimbleful of wine].
Is it just me, or is the use of “e.g.” in the TOTED clue [Carried around, e.g. teacup poodle in a shoulder bag] flat out wrong? I learned that it should be replaceable with “for example,” but it doesn’t work that way here.
Until next time!
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Loso Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Another Monday-typical words-can-follow theme. Today’s offering, per 56-across [Spots for airline magazines … and, literally, what the first words of the answers to starred clues can all have], is SEATBACKS. Very annoying that 56-down SPOT [Washday woe] duplicates the clue of the revealer, which starts in the same spot. ‘Locations’ wouldn’t have been a good alternative, as it would have duplicated 10d LOCATES.
- 20a. [*Mattress support] BOX SPRING.
- 39a. [*Light, friendly punch] LOVE TAP.
- 11d. [*Wishful lifetime agenda] BUCKET LIST.
- 27d. [*Slapstick slipping cause] BANANA PEEL.
Box seat, love seat, bucket seat, banana seat (think bicycles). Yep.
- 41a/63a [Sitter’s handful] IMP, BRAT.
- Analog lesson! 43a [When the big hand is on two] TEN PAST.
- Here’s another clumsy dupe: 34a [Parisian partings] ADIEUS, 6d [Capital on the Seine] PARIS.
- 64a [Modern mil. treaty violation] N-TEST. See Korea, North.
- 57d [Nesting site, perhaps] EAVE. Tried CAVE first.
Average Monday, except for the unnecessary duplications.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”—Amy’s lack of a write-up
Here’s the solution grid. I didn’t actually solve the puzzle, but I’m pleased to see AMMOSEXUAL in the puzzle. I misread VENTILATE as VENTI LATTE; weren’t those two in a puzzle, maybe a Peter Gordon or Peter Wentz grid? Or (see below) maybe not? Or perhaps years ago? Other cool fill: GPS TRACKER, QUEEN MAB, WANNA BET, TIC TACS, PLEASE SIR. Never excited by ROLEOS but its crossings are good. And ATTU!! Good gravy, and blurgh.