Jason Mueller’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
So very thrilled to encounter a golf theme today.
- 41aR [Items found at the ends of 17-, 23-, 53- and 64-Across] CLUBS.
- 17a. [Frodo’s portrayer in “The Lord of the Rings”] ELIJAH WOOD. Ooh, a golf theme with a Lord of the Rings overlay. It just gets better and better.
- 22a. [Battered appliance?] WAFFLE IRON. See also 33d [Breakfast items that come frozen] EGGOS.
- 53a. [Kylo Ren’s portrayer in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”] ADAM DRIVER. Wow, so close in feel to the first themer.
- 64a. [Iced tea garnish] LEMON WEDGE.
Let’s review: (1) trite (?) sports theme, (2) sport overrepresented in NYT crosswords, (3) lopsided cluing (two are of a very similar style and subject), (4) one of the clues—for no discernible reason—is GRACEd (32d) with a cutesy, question-mark-adorned clue.
Not looking good; this doesn’t add up to much 1a [Wonderment] AWE.
However… how.ever… I did have a sustained sense that the ballast content included more elevated and interesting fare than your average Monday. From the constellate cluing of the otherwise unremarkable STAR at 56d to the literary nods of O’Neil’s ICEMAN (15a), Hawthorne’s GABLES (50d), and—heck—even popular Irish scribe MAEVE Binchy (54d). And so on.
Long stuff: full name ELIE WIESEL (unable to readily determine if ELIE and the crossing ELI are related etymologically), DOWNGRADED, BROWNIES, and PARADISE. Not too shabby.
What else? How about 19a [Wister or Wilson] OWEN. The former often makes me think of famed photographer O. Winston Link—hey constructors and editors! Did you know his first name is (a non-offensive) OGLE?
Even accounting for my prickliness to the subject of the theme, the inconsistency of the execution (more in cluing than content) still significantly downgrades the whole affair.
Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
It’s a category type theme.
- 53aR [What a Geiger counter measures … or, as two words, what the ends of 20-, 26- and 48-Across are] RADIOACTIVITY, radio activity.
- 20a. [Lena Horne classic that begins “Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky …”] STORMY WEATHER.
- 26a, [Measure of a store’s visitors] FOOT TRAFFIC.
- 48a. [Bright spot in tough times] WELCOME NEWS.
Weather, traffic, and news. Yep, those are things one can expect to hear on a typical radio station. Their meanings in context of the answer phrases are essentially the same as their definitions-for-theme-purposes, as opposed to something more removed, such as NEWPORT NEWS. Not that much could be done with the others.
- Long down answers are STARS ON ICE and ON THE PROWL. Okay. LIBRETTO and RENOVATE are close behind.
- 31d [Practice fly ball, e,g,] FUNGO. Completely unfamiliar to me, which admittedly doesn’t cont for much.
- Solving experience: 1a [Birthstone betwe— ya that’s going to be OPAL (not even checking to see if the answer wants four letters.
Mostly clean grid, though fill such as ILO, SRTA, OOO, and ECOL are less-than-ideal.
Melina Merchant’s (Mike Shenk’s?) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Summer Songs” — Jim’s review
Short write-up today for a straightforward puzzle.
I don’t know what the weather’s like where you are, but where I live it’s cold and rainy. Bleh! So the songs of summer in this puzzle didn’t quite match what’s going on outside for me, but maybe you’re luckier than I am.
- 17a [1972 Alice Cooper song] SCHOOL’S OUT. The ubiquitous and ultimate start-of-summer song for every schoolkid. Featured lyrics: School’s out for summer. School’s out forever!
- 26a [1966 Beatles song] GOOD DAY SUNSHINE. Heart-healthy happiness from McCartney. Featured lyrics: I feel good, in a special way. I’m in love and it’s a sunny day.
- 42a [1982 Asia song] HEAT OF THE MOMENT. Featured lyrics: Heat of the moment, heat of the moment, heat of the moment, heat of the moment. Somebody flip on the AC for these guys; they can’t think straight enough to write lyrics.
- 55a [1948 Cole Porter song] TOO DARN HOT. A song from Mr. Porter’s Broadway musical, Kiss Me, Kate and which also appeared in the 1953 film adaptation. Featured lyrics: But I ain’t up to my baby tonight, ‘cuz it’s too darn hot. (Aside: 1948’s Kiss Me, Kate features a character named Lois Lane. Superman’s Lois Lane first appeared 10 years earlier in Action Comics #1. What’s up with that? New game idea: Six Degrees of Shakespeare. Superman > Lois Lane > Kiss Me, Kate > Taming of the Shrew > Shakespeare!)
Like most of you, I knew the first three songs, but not the last one, so here it is:
- Highlights: ANNIHILATE, DOODADS, and TOYS ‘R’ US.
- ANCHO is not really a Monday word (14a [Mild Mexican pepper]), but it’s interesting.
- 50d [M’s top agent] is BOND, subject of Friday’s WSJ crossword contest.
- Most terrifying clue for me since I was sitting in a hospital waiting room while solving: 9d [People who might have a change of heart?]. Answer: PATIENTS. Not today, thank you.
Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “The Best and the Brightest” —Ade’s write-up
Hello everybody! Hope you all will enjoy the first day of summer! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Jeff Chen, is, literally, a very smart theme. Each of the first four theme entries have the same exact clue, which asks for a different term to describe a prodigy. The final theme entry is a nod to all the parents (and other guardians) who look at their children and think the same exact way about them.
- BOY GENIUS (17A: [Prodigy])
- WUNDERKIND (28A: [Prodigy])
- WHIZ KID (36A: [Prodigy])
- PHENOMENON (44A: [Prodigy])
- YOUR CHILD (57A: [The biggest prodigy of all])
Definitely had a few flashbacks to my childhood television viewing when seeing AZRAEL in the grid (48A: [Feline antagonist of the Smurfs]). Doesn’t the word (Azrael) translate to death in some language? Looking it up now. Wow, it’s the Archangel of Death in Hebrew, Islam and in Sikhism. I guess if you loved to name your pets after figures denoting death, Azrael might be the name of choice! So does Gargamel have any meaning or associated with some agent of destruction in any language?!? Fun grid to solve, and I had my only hang-up when I put in “jam” instead of DAM (49A: [Obstruction]). Though we are heading into summer, I’ll be heading to Texas for a couple of weeks in July, and the over 100 degree weather I’m sure I’ll experience is definitely KRYPTONITE for yours truly (3D: [One’s undoing, in slang]). I don’t mind summer, but seeing triple digits each day on a seven-day forecast is a bit much for me.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SCOTT (63A: [Dred _____ v. Sanford (landmark Supreme Court case]) – Former Major League Baseball pitcher Mike SCOTT was one of the most dominant pitchers in the 1980s, winning the National League Cy Young Award in 1986 while a member of the Houston Astros. Scott, who was drafted by the New York Mets and played his first four seasons in the Big Apple, found his best form after arriving in Houston in 1983. Probably the biggest highlight of Scott’s career was in his Cy Young Award-winning season of ’86, when he pitched a no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 25 to clinch the NL West Division title for the Astros.
Thank you for your time, and have a good res to your Monday!
PIP PIP (53A: [Brit’s “See you later!”])!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday” — pannonica’s write-up
Solved this one this morning without an eye toward blogging it, yet here I am for another go-round.
The grid’s got four hefty blocks, but aside from them the structure is wide open, with a lot of flow. So very good cluing, and two excellent clues.
- Ripped-from-the-headlines entry: 37a [Element named after a state] TENNESSINE.
- Cinematic trivia: 40a [Cecil B. DeMille, to Anthony Quinn] FATHER-IN-LAW. The link is Katherine DeMille, who was an adopted child.
- Favorite clues: 31a [Spots for runners] HALLS, 36a [Pillow stuffing?] ELLS, 4d [Get the word out?] CENSOR. Also good are 44a [They’re so yesterday] MEMORIES, 46a [Time to look yur best?] EYE TEST (cross referenced by 34d [Prepare for a 46-Across, say] DILATE).
- Excellent clue no.1: 40d [“I’m driving here!”] Neither HONK nor BEEP, despite the superficial complimentarity to RATSO Rizzo’s famous line in Midnight Cowboy. No, it’s golf clue (yes, I realize I was less-than-thrilled with the golf theme in today’s NYT): FORE.
- Obscurities: 30d [Czech martyr who was an early Christian reformer] JANHUS; don’t even know if this is a surname or full name … (be right back) … full name. Worse for me was the crossing of 25a [Statesman Syngman and family] RHEES and 21d [2002 PGA champion Rich] BEEM. Damn golf!
- Also not enamored of plural AD INS (15a) and is-that-enough-of-a-thing DENSE JUNGLE (17a). What about 26d [Like a planetarium projection] FULL DOME? Is that a ‘thing’?
- Excellent clue no.2, the really excellent one: 29a [Contests where opponents take turns simultaneously] DUELS. Of the firearm sort, but see also 23d [Like an épée blade] THREE-SIDED.
That’s all, As is typical, a welcome challenge on a Monday.