Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
In the center, 39-across [Puppy amuser … or the end of the answer to each starred clue] CHEW TOY.
Unusual set-up for those four starred entries – they’re intersecting long answers in just two of the corners, the upper left and the lower right. Definitely a change of pace in an otherwise pro forma theme.
- 17a. [*Party with disguises] MASKED BALL.
- 3d. [*Food item often dipped in ketchup or tartar sauce] FISH STICK.
- 59a. [*Barrier outside a popular nightclub] VELVET ROPE.
- 35d. [*Inaptly named part of the elbow] FUNNY BONE. But the bone is a puppy amuser. (note to self: insert Joe Pesci Goodfellas scene here, pander to the crowd)
This atypical design allows more flexibility in the non-thematic corners, and there’s a broad river flowing from the northeast to the southwest. It all FEELS (51d) more activated and punchier than your average NYT Monday offering.
- Underwhelmed by branching THEs in the middle, emanating from square 33 (THE NBA, THE NERVE).
- Conversely, 44d [Money, in Mexico] DINERO crossing 65a [Money in Mexico] PESO is dandy.
- 66a [Birds whose heads can move 270°] OWLS. Wonder which species this refers to, and also what the variation is among strigids.
- Is this a Monday-level clue? 5d [Actor Braugher of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”] ANDRE.
- Awkward cross-reference in 6-down [Lower parts of 18-Down], LOBES for [Headphones cover them] EARS. Honestly, I’d have preferred an independent clue about the brain, or the lungs, or the liver, or the kidney …
- Dupey fills-in-the-blanks: 21a [“… and yet here we __”] ARE, 34d [“__ comes trouble!”] HERE. Indeed.
Super-clean fill. There is literally nothing to complain about on that score. The cluing I feel could be a little cleaner, but is still pretty smooth. A very nice Monday.
Mark Danna’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Order in the Court” — Jim’s review
Nice to see Mark Danna’s byline. Mark is editor Mike Shenk’s assistant at the WSJ. The last publication I found from him online dates back to 2003, a gap of 13 years. Good to have you back!
Simple and sweet theme today from Mark, just right to get your synapses firing on a Monday morning.
- 20A [Manipulate rules for a desired outcome] GAME THE SYSTEM. Great phrase to use as a themer.
- 36A [Strive for] SET YOUR SIGHTS ON. Kudos for not using the generic “one’s”.
- 55A [Intellectually compete against] MATCH WITS WITH. I’m not a fan of phrases ending in prepositions, but I like MATCHing WITS WITH a constructor.
What’s the connection? Tennis. GAME SET and MATCH. There’s a little hint at 8D [Competed against, as in tennis].
The theme is perfectly fine, but the only thing I might say is that the phrase GAME, SET, and MATCH has an air of finality to it; you usually say it when something is done. Therefore, it might have been a bit more poetic if those words came at the ends of their phrases, ala THE CRYING GAME or THREE ON A MATCH, etc.
Anyone following the Australian Open currently going on? The time difference to where I live makes it very difficult to catch anything live, so I haven’t watched it in a few years. If you’re on the East Coast, it might make for an interesting diversion while you’re holed up in your snow cave. Serena Williams will face Maria Sharapova tomorrow in another match-up as part of their long rivalry.
The grid seems pretty squeaky clean. I especially like the NW and SE corners with the 6-stacks. They’re very clean yet have interesting words like SANGER, CLEAVE, ESSEX, OSIRIS, EXHALE, and SWAMI.
The anchoring long Downs are ZOOM LENS (with its misleading clue [Aid for long shots]) at 11D and TUNA MELT at 38D. The Z in ZOOM is handled well with BOZOS on a U-BOAT.
That’s about it. Like I said, simple and sweet. In honor of 67A, here’s a little DITTY:
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Ship Ahoy”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, has four puns as themes, as the four entries are phrases/proper nouns in which the first word is also the name of a famous ship.
- ENTERPRISE ZONE (20A: [Area around the first nuclear aircraft carrier?])
- CALYPSO MUSIC (32A: [Entertainment provided by Jacques Cousteau?])
- BOUNTY HUNTER (40A: [Someone searching for Captain Bligh?])
- ARIZONA ICED TEA (50A: [Refreshment on a historical Pearl Harbor battleship?])
The first entry going down, EMK, was definitely a toughie to start, at least for me (1D: [Monogram of “The Lion of the Senate”]). Knew it referred to Ted Kennedy almost immediately, but figuring out his given first and middle names made me rely on the crosses to bail me out there. Speaking of names that could be tough to get in the grid without crosses, how about EPATHA (45A: [“Law & Order” actress S. ______ Merkerson])? Have seen the opening credits to the show enough times to know the name, but remembering the spelling was a little tough. One other name on here should get people in a mood to sing, Roger DALTREY (4D: [Lead singer of The Who]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: UPTON (27D: [Author Sinclair]) – Wouldn’t you like to be Justin UPTON, Major League Baseball outfielder right about now. Last week, Upton, the younger brother of current San Diego Padres outfielder Melvin (B.J.), signed a six-year, $132.75 million deal with the Detroit Tigers.
Have a good day, everyone, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Mary Lou Guizzo’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Today’s crossword theme is brought to you by the letters S and P, as per 68a [“500” Wall St. index … and a hint to the answers to starred clues] S AND P (Standard and Poor’s). See also 13d [Financial page abbr.] NYSE.
- 17a. [*Game where one might have an ace in the hole] STUD POKER.
- 36a. [*Financial page listing] STOCK PRICE.
- 43a. [*Only woman ever elected governor of Alaska] SARAH PALIN.
- 61a. [*Stack of unsolicited manuscripts] SLUSH PILE.
- 11d. [*Informal surveys] STRAW POLLS.
- 29d. [*Touchy topics] SORE POINTS.
Kind of a dull, Monday-typical theme, but I wouldn’t say that it’s particularly grating—like, say, sandpaper. Of the six theme answers, SORE POINTS seems the weakest, while STOCK PRICE hews too close to the revealer.
Other than that, the most notable aspect for me was the relative prevalence of fill above the usual Monday level, probably as a result of cramming so many theme answers into the grid. 22d [ __ dixit: assertion without proof] IPSE, crossing 26a [“Coulda been worse!”] W/PHEW, albeit not on trickiest letter (E). 65a [Gum treatment, briefly] PERIO. 66a [Former president of Pakistan] ZIA. 32d [Flashy displays] ECLATS. And then, the preponderance of abbrevs., initialisms, and little-word strings, including: IS IT, ATE IT, HAS IN, NOT A, SO FAR, LET ME, ASCAP, SADD, HTS, USPS, PAC, OKED, SSNS.
- Even with all the theme-izing going on, there’s a couple of long down answers: PEP TALKS, OPEN SHOP.
- 39a [Team in 40-Across] CARDS, 40a [Arch city: Abbr.] STL.
- 31d [Saltpeter, to a Brit] NITRE. Why not cut out the middleman and clue it [Saltpetre]? It isn’t as if this crossword doesn’t already have some non-Monday material.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Brendan’s riffing on Kameron Austin Collins’ gorgeous 60-worder in the Saturday New York Times by using the same grid and concocting his own fill. Let me talk about it quickly, since the Tuesday NYT is out already and I need to get on with blogging that pronto.
Brendan’s got some cool stuff here—RADIO JINGLE, quaint TIN SOLDIER, TOP DOLLAR, “EASY NOW,” CLAMDIGGER, ZILLIONS. But it’s offset by a number of those “this is a 60-word grid” compromises. OSH, SUER, -ATOR, perhaps-not-so-familiar names like DOLAN and HAUSER, EMBARRED, END AT, awkward POINT C, MERER, five words with an -ING ending.
Had never heard of a [Harbor seal] being called a SEA CAT. I suppose that’s no weirder than sea lion.
Question: 8a. [Working space?], ROM. Does this refer to digital “read-only memory”?
I like the clue for PORGY, 43d. [Bess man]. Yes, grammatically, you want the possessive there, but as is, it sounds a lot like an indistinct “best man.”
3.33 stars from me.
David Phillips’s BuzzFeed crossword, “Don’t Get Emotional”—Andy’s review
Sorry for the lateness of this review — been out all day. This is going to be a lightning-fast review.
Fun, easy theme: Each themer has an INSIDE OUT, 62a [2015 Pixar movie that totally had me pulling for Sadness… or a hint to what 16-, 23-, 39-, and 50-Across have]. See?:
- 16a, PROVO, UTAH [Home to Brigham Young University].
- 23a, TECHNO-UTOPIA [Hypothetical paradise brought about by scientific advancement]. Is this a real phrase? My first time hearing it.
- 39a, NO U-TURN [Warning that you can’t go back].
- 50a, STOP IT YOU TWO [“Don’t make me come back there!”].
Favorite entry: YOINK! That should be in more puzzles. Solid puzzle, enjoyable solve.
Until next time!