Kevin Christian’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
1-down informs the solver thus: [With 61-Down, Jimi Hendrix’s first single … or a hint to the starts of 20-, 28-, 45- and 50-Across] HEY | JOE. So the first parts of the specified answers can be preceded by JOE to form a recognized entity.
- 20a. [1899–1901 uprising in China] BOXER REBELLION.
- 28a. [Style of “iPhone” or “eBay,” typographically] CAMEL CASE. Not a term I’ve heard, but it appears to be the standard for what I’ve long been calling ‘intracaps’ (which doesn’t seem to be in use at all, though ‘InterCaps’ is close). See also 49a [YouTube video additions of 2007] ADS.
- 45a. [“Great!”] COOL BEANS. Does this have any saturation beyond New England?
- 50a. [Vacillate] BLOW HOT AND COLD.
Not personally thrilled by the theme, but it’s robust enough. Hey, “joe user” gets over 62,000 Google hits; 62a [Manipulator] USER. Not sure how that compares to the theme answer phrases, and I’m not checking.
- 16a [ __ Ant (cartoon superhero)] ATOM. His heyday was the late 1960s.
- 41d [This, and no play, make Jack a dull boy] ALL WORK. Shouldn’t the clue read makes? </proofreading>
- Symmetrical serpents: 5d [Snake charmer’s snake] COBRA, 49d [Puff ___ (snake)] ADDER.
Kristian House’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “D&D Characters” — Jim’s review
Grab your dodecahedron dice, cuz today we’re playin’…oops, scratch that. No elves and clerics today, just cartoon characters with the initials DD. But this one’s right up my alley!
- 17a. [Short-tempered toon who’s part of the Three Caballeros] DONALD DUCK. This excludes Daffy Duck from the theme.
- 23a. [Sneaky toon who races along with his canine lackey Muttley] DICK DASTARDLY. I think they still show Wacky Races on Boomerang.
- 51a. [Dimwitted toon with a horse named Horse] DUDLEY DO-RIGHT. This is the only one I didn’t know right off the bat. Of course, I eventually remembered him from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, but I never cared for those segments. I was a much bigger fan of Peabody’s Improbably History and Fractured Fairy Tales.
- 61a. [Villainous toon who battles the Fantastic Four] DOCTOR DOOM. Also, an occasional foe to Spider-Man.
Is there something about the double-D that makes for a villainous or less-than-perfect character? Of course, DICK DASTARDLY and DOCTOR DOOM are straight-up villains, but both DONALD DUCK and Daffy Duck act the foil to their main characters (Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny respectively). Even DUDLEY DO-RIGHT, I would argue, is so goody-goody that you almost start rooting for Snidely Whiplash.
So for me, the theme is fun even though it’s just a list. Aside from that I like WINGDINGS, clued as [Lively shindigs] and not the font, BUM’S RUSH, BEER SNOB, KEYSTROKE, and SOUL FOOD clued as [Chitterlings, collard greens and the like]. But why not use “Chitlins”? “Chiterlings” sounds so pretentious.
I also love FYODOR Dostoevsky, which has gotta be one of the funnest author’s names to say.
Not a fan of RESEE and SAGER and AVGS, but there’s not enough gunk to detract from the theme. ONE FLOOR seems rather arbitrary, but clued as [Characteristic of a ranch house], it just ekes by. Also, I’m becoming a non-fan of LEDA [Mother of Castor and Pollux] who has nowhere near the myth-cred as HERA [Wife of Zeus].
But overall, this was a fun puzzle with a light, tasty theme to start the week off right.
Shannon Summer’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Homophone time! Each time it’s a phrase beginning with \ˈtōd\. Only three themers, with a combined 39 squares. Modest, which is fine in my book, especially for early-week offerings.
- 20a. [Brought in for repair, as a disabled car] TOWED TO THE SHOP.
- 35a. [Obeyed strictly] TOED THE LINE.
- 52a. [Milne play about an amphibian] TOAD OF TOAD HALL.
You’d think that a light Monday theme would go hand in hand with super-smooth fill, but things turn out to be a bit choppy.
To be sure, there are some solid long downs on display: IMITATED, DISH TOWEL, I PROMISE, STAND FIRM, TOP NOTCH, LABRADOR, RIOT ACT. Plus triple-stacked sixes in the northwest and southeast. But, but but but… crosswordese ERLE, abbrevs. MOS, TEL (despite its clever clue,[Either “T” in “AT&T” …]), ESTH, IRE (inexplicably!), and more. Plus a bunch of partials and prefixes. Oh, and the repeated I-formations of I PROMISE, I SAID, I HAD (we’re excluding SO AM I). The creaky THEE, E’ER, AEON. None of these aspects are inherently bad, but cumulatively it gives the crossword a ramshackle quality.
All told it’s a good puzzle, just not as polished as I’d expect on a Monday.