Sam Buchbinder’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme revealer is WE’RE ALL SET, which is a phrase that could be spoken by the theme entries as a group (if they were things that could talk). A BROKEN BONE can be set by the orthopedist, a VOLLEYBALL is set by a player, the DINNER TABLE is set by whoever has that chore, and an ALARM CLOCK is set. Solid theme.
I’m less enamored of the fill, with all the repetition of little words: I’M BEAT preceding an “I’m” clue, DARE ME + ME TOO, IN ON IT beside NOT IT and also echoing IN OIL. There’s also an awful lot of non-Mondayish fill: KALB, AMIE, E’EN, LEO I, MAIA, ROANS, NEN, AMO, ELSA’S, KEA, MYA. Oh, yeah—Latin AMO and French AMIE share that “love” root, too.
That center 11, DINNER TABLE, mandates those blocks splitting the middle of the right and left sides into those 6s and 7s. Of course, the 7s could have been divided into 3s, ***#***, which would have meant losing the very nice 7s and 8s, but in a Monday puzzle, it’s seldom a bad idea to go shorter and easier.
7d. [How foods are often fried], IN OIL. “Often”? Please tell me what substance foods are fried in less often.
3.2 stars from me, mainly because of the fill. No objections to any of the theme, and the revealer is much zippier than merely plunking SET in the bottom of the grid.
Gabriel Stone’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Washed Up” — Jim’s review
Today’s byline has appeared numerous times in the WSJ and looks to be another cruciverbonym from editor Mike Shenk. The letters are so favorable to anagramming that my go-to anagram server returns 57,180 possibilities. Among those are “Blog Trainees” (a possible dig at us here at the Fiend) and “Genital Robes” which sounds cozy. My favorite for now though is “Easter Goblin”.
So what did the Easter Goblin bring us today? Well, when’s your laundry day? If it’s over the weekend and you haven’t gotten to it, today’s puzzle is a reminder that you’re running out of clean underwear.
The revealer is at 34d: [What each of the four longest Across answers ends with]. The answer is DETERGENT.
- 17a [Chaotic fight] FREE-FOR-ALL
- 25a [It lifts boats in a marina] RISING TIDE. And it lifts ALL boats in an idiom, but I guess that would’ve duped ALL.
- 47a [Strikingly large] BIG AND BOLD
- 61a [Derisive sound] BRONX CHEER
Not an original theme; there is at least one other instance of this theme in the cruciverb database. But it’s solid and clean and easy for a Monday.
As a phrase, BIG AND BOLD doesn’t feel as strong as the others. I’d’ve rather seen GAIN or ERA used.
As if to go along with the theme, the rest of the grid is remarkably clean. We even have a reference to the place where one does one’s laundry: a CLEAN ROOM (haha) (3d: [Controlled research environment]).
More great fill: EGG DROP (“Oops!”), GILLIGAN (“Skipper!”), and AIRBORNE (“Airborne!”). There’s even an EVIL BURLY TROLL and a ROTTEN DOODAD.
Not much to grumble about either except maybe ONE-A and AN EAR. I’m sure some will grumble about DMX (52d, [“Party Up (Up in Here)” singer]), and plenty of WSJers will grumble about OBAMA appearing in the grid. But overall this was a smooth and easy grid that’s great for puzzle newcomers.
And now for some Leon Redbone:
Brendan “Birthday Boy” Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”—Amy’s write-up
Brendan’s a longtime Bowie disciple, so he’s broken BOWIEESQUE into crosswords, likely for the first time anywhere in this country. (Conceivably used in the UK already?) I like that IEE in the middle, a pattern also found in Wookiee.
Favorite fill: “NEVER FAILS” (prefer it with a prefatory “it” but OK with it either way), DANIELLE Brooks (love her work as Taystee on OITNB, and she’s also a Tony nominee for her current The Color Purple role), URL MASKING, a quaint TISANE (so Hercule Poirot), HOMILIES, and WEST END.
Favorite clue: 56a. [Vehicle that moves millions], ARMORED CAR. Dollars, not passengers.
Least familiar entries, for me: METRIST, DOGFOODING ([Scenario in which a company uses its own product to test and promote the product]), the ELROY on Community, and SPURGE ([Tree with a bitter, milky juice]).
3.75 stars from me.
Vivian O. Collins’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Tight little theme here. One-word film titles that are synonymous with ‘entranced’, which is an apt way to initiate the week, no?
- 17a. [1987 Cher film] MOONSTRUCK.
- 64a. [1945 Ingrid Bergman film] SPELLBOUND.
- 10d. [2005 Nicole Kidman film] BEWITCHED.
- 37d. [2007 Amy Adams film] ENCHANTED.
Note that, although they’re all clued via the female leads, those characters aren’t always the object of the titular condition.
- Longish fill with the antonymous acrosses SAMENESS and DYNAMISM. Sixes and a seven vertically in the central nugget.
58a [Capital of Lithuania] VILNIUS, 70a [Latvian capital] RIGA. WHERE IS TALLINN?? LIMA go home (34d).
- 33d [Watch over, as sheep] TEND, 50d [Sheepish youngster?] LAMB. 44a [Painter Chagall] MARC – ah, if only it were later in the week, or a CHE crossword!
- 40a [Put on the payroll] HIRE, 5a [Give the heave-ho] EJECT.
Mostly clean grid, tidy theme. Can’t ask for much more in a Monday offering.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Spare Change” —Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everyone! We’re more than halfway through May?! My goodness! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, is more fun with anagrams, as each of the first four theme entries are multiple-word answers in which the first four letters are anagrams of the word “tire.” The fifth theme entry, TIRE SWING, acts as the reveal (58A: [Backyard recreation (and a clue to the starts of 17-, 23-, 37-, and 45-Across]).
- ITERATION (17A: [Repetitive procedure])
- TRIED HARDER (23A: [Amped up the effort])
- RETIREMENT PLANS (37A: [401(k) and 403(b)])
- TERI HATCHER (45A: [She played Susan Delfino on “Desperate Housewives”]) – Whatever happened to Nicollette Sheridan? Remember when she was the one that everyone was talking about from that show, especially after her risqué appearance in a Monday Night Football opening skit with Terrell Owens?
I was worried about the breakfast test when I posted that link above, but since it’s dinner time, I guess I’m straight, right?! As for the grid, very easy to navigate through, and also very east to be hungry for some Skyline CHILI (6D: [Hot dog topping]), especially with the presence of CHEESE in the grid as well (22A: [Harzer or Limburger]). Thank goodness I don’t drink coffee, because I definitely can’t envision having some joe at TEN AM (45D: [Coffee break time, for some]). Definitely understand and get that coffee is the fuel so many people need to get themselves going to start the day, but I missed out on that. Looks like I’ll have to get edified about the TOP the next time I end up in Wisconsin after seeing its clue (58D: [Toy with a museum in Burlington, Wisconsin]). I can’t say that I’ve ever held a top in my hands before. (As I’m thinking about it, haven’t held a dreidel ever before as well.) How much did I miss out as a kid?!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MOOCH (9A: [Sponge]) – Former National Football League head coach Steve Mariucci, nicknamed MOOCH, spent time as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions in the 1990s and 2000s. As a NINER (57A: [Colin Kaepernick, for one]), “Mooch” led San Fran to the playoff in four of his six seasons. He first made waves in coaching as the quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers from 1992-1995, the years where Brett Favre evolved into one of the best signal-callers in league history.
Thank you so much for the time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!