Jill Denny and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
49-across puts it in glaring relief: [Holiday suggested by the starts of 20-, 26-, 36- and 42-Across, literally] FOURTH OF JULY.
- 20a. [Longtime F.B.I. chief] J EDGAR HOOVER.
- 26a. [Van for moving day, maybe] U-HAUL RENTAL.
- 36a. [Drug used to treat Parkinson’s] L-DOPA. L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine.
- 42a. [Male characteristic] Y CHROMOSOME. This has been discussed here previously.
So, as the name July is composed of four letters, it stands to reason that each one constitutes one-quarter of the word, literally a fourth. Also duly noted is that each of these theme entries begins with the requisite letter as a stand-alone.
The V of VROOM (14a) looks distinct but certainly isn’t separate from the rest of the letters; it’s just like the more familiar 60a CZAR. It’s iffier, but quite defensible, with 39a [Crossed (out)] XED—Merriam-Webster presents the preterite of the verb form orthographically as “x–ed also x’d or xed“, presumably in order of preference. (Interestingly, the present participle is given as “x–ing or x’ing” with no xing. (American Heritage merely offers x’d and x’ing.) How about 35a [They’re exchanged at the altar] I DOS? That’s a small problem. Entries composed only of letters (i.e., initialisms) such as 3d IOU and 21d DHL strike me as unassailable. 40d MCAT is arguable, as it’s an acronym typically pronounced by isolating that first letter and grouping the other three together, marginally mimicking the structure of the themers; however, I’d reject it based on how it’s written without separation.
Did I get carried away again? I think I got carried away again. Didn’t even get to 41d TS ELIOT!
- 2d & 38a [… 1920s–’30s design style] ART | DECO. 8d & 23d [… leader of a sightseer’s group] TOUR | GUIDE.
- Not-quite-a-dupe, but it’s-notable-because-they’re-in-direct-sequence: 59a [Caesar’s accusation to Brutus] ET TU, 60a [Russia’s Nicholas I or II] CZAR.
- Long downs: 4d [Much-ridiculed pants for women] MOM JEANS. Unnecessary gendering in the clue, as men (such as, oh for example, President Obama) have gotten grief for wearing MOM JEANS which are in fact made for and marketed to men. Yes, dad jeans is also used. That the arguably default or generic term is gendered is an issue that might be worth debating, but that isn’t my complaint here.
- 38d [Greek god of wine] DIONYSUS.
Wine. Hey, that sounds good.
Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Am I missing something here?
- 17a. [Pre-exam review session] REFRESHER COURSE.
- 27a. [Multinational military alliance] COALITION FORCE.
- 49a. [Reporter’s trustworthy contact] RELIABLE SOURCE.
- 63a. [Coin-operated kiddie ride] MECHANICAL HORSE.
Two-word phrases. Second word is one syllable and they all rhyme.
But: initial, longer words are of inconsistent syllabification (3, 4, 4, 4). Core spelling of second word has only two variants, -ourse and -orse (in alternation)—consistent, though not overly remarkable.
Further, the meanings of the four phrases have nothing obvious in common. The initials of the phrase words seemingly have no connection: RC, CF, RS, MH; last words only: CFSH.
Next, attempting to link it to today’s Independence Day holiday. They don’t rhyme with “fourth”. Again, nothing incorporating the semantics of the themers, in whole or part.
Nope. No AHAS or unmitigated AAHS (54a, 22a). Maybe it;s just the rhyme, with the ABAB spelling pattern?
- As far as the holiday goes: 9d [GI show grp.] USO and 42a [Medal of Honor recipients] HEROES are more in line with Memorial or Veterans Day.
- Long downs: BEHAVIOR, SQUADRON, POLISHED, OVER EASY. All are good.
- Playful Monday clue: 36d [Magazine you can read forward or backward?] ELLE.
Pleasant puzzle, even if it seems a little mysterious to me. Please, exercise SAFE | BEHAVIOR when it comes to yourself, your children, and your pets (3d, 6d). Between pyrotechnics and drunk driving, and more, it’s one of the most dangerous days of the year.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”—Amy’s write-up
Brendan used an old Matt Gaffney grid with three interlocked 15s crossing corners with stacked 7s and 8s. The results are solid. Top fill: The immortal MARIETTE HARTLEY (you’re excused from knowing the name if you’re under 35, but you missed out), JOHN CALVIN, SKYNYRD (plenty of people do drop the “Lynyrd,” though the clue could use a “familiarly” tag), DRESS SHOES with its hushed center, “WHERE DOES IT HURT?”, SNOW DAYS, the never-heard-of-’em THE CHAINSMOKERS (the song in the clue is catchy, though), HANGRY, and Count CHOCULA. I also like TCB, “taking care of business.” Every day!
31a. [Wi-Fi company that named itself after an architect], EERO—I first heard about this Wi-Fi booster sort of gizmo via Joon Pahk. It costs about $500, but I hope it’s successful because a household brand name would make EERO more accessible as crossword fill.
The longs are offset by 30 3-letter answers, which are mostly unexceptional and unobjectionable.
That’s all from me. Four stars, let’s call it. Enjoy your holiday!