Emily Carroll’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
It’s a group theme.
- 61aR [Influential sorts … or a hint to the starts of 17-, 23-, 39- and 50-Across] TASTEMAKERS.
- 17a. [Archfoe] BITTER ENEMY.
- 23a. [Profanity] SALTY LANGUAGE.
- 39a. [Golden parachutes, e.g.] SWEETHEART DEALS.
- 50a. [Popular movie theater candy] SOUR PATCH KIDS.
Well, that’s the obsolete quartet. The current thinking—which may itself be obsolescent—provides for five basic tastes, and by the way it’s a myth that they’re localized to various provinces of the tongue. Yes, this is a predictable and perhaps minor criticism, but I nevertheless feel obligated to point it out.
[Note to self: insert umami joke here.] Also, does the ‘classic four’ usually get recited in a particular order? I want to say it’s “sweet, sour, salty, bitter” …
- I predict there will be some raised eyebrows at the top-row neighbors of POP OFF and ZIT (5a & 11a). The former is clued as [Run one’s mouth], which is a usage I can’t say I’ve heard much. I think of it as describing leaving in a hurry, and even suggesting only a brief excursion. Then again, the Hiphopopotamus had glowing phosphorescent flows poppin’ off his esophagus …
- So, 49a [Pas’ partners] are MAS, but 9d FEM is the [Opposite of masc.]? Doesn’t seem quite complementary. Do not see also 26d [Neuter, as a stud] GELD.
- Not sure if there’s an intentional connection between 43a [Title like “The Santa Clause” or “Knight and Day”] PUN and, immediately beneath, 47a [Galahad or Lancelot] SIR.
- A few entries I wouldn’t expect in a Monday NYT, including: 37d [Charles Lamb’s “Essays of __”] ELIA, 31a [“The Witches” director Nicolas] ROEG crossing 32d [Depardieu of film] GÉRARD—I’m almost disappointed the nearby 42a ANDREI was clued as Nobelist Sakharov and not Lenin and Golden Lion winner Tarkovsky!—and perhaps 57a [Like the stage after larval] PUPAL.
The grid has good flow, with mid-length vertical entries stitching the works together. UP TO SPEED, ONE BY ONE, RUSH WEEK, WARM SPELL, TOSHIBA and NEATNIK. Despite misgivings about the theme, it’s a good crossword.
Harold Jones’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “The Name is Familiar…” — Jim’s review
- 18a [Portrayer of Superman on TV’s “Lois & Clark”] DEAN CAIN
- 27a [“Ain’t No Half-Steppin'” rapper] BIG DADDY KANE
- 42a [“Alfie” star] MICHAEL CAINE
- 53a [Candidate of 2016] TIM KAINE
I’m sure you’ve spotted the similarity by now, so I won’t spell it out. Very serendipitous this lot. All different spellings yet our constructor was able to achieve grid symmetry.
The only one I didn’t know was BIG DADDY KANE. I should though, since he was big in the ’80s. I can’t say as I’ve ever heard “Ain’t No Half-Steppin'” either, though Rolling Stone rates it as number 25 of the 50 greatest hip-hop songs of all time.
You might also argue that BIG DADDY KANE is just a stage name where the others are all real names. Au contraire, mon ami. MICHAEL CAINE was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite and DEAN CAIN was born Dean George Tanaka. So in fact, TIM KAINE is the outlier.
TIM KAINE is obviously very timely and the impetus for the puzzle, but I’m just so impressed with the elegance of this set of themers. Simple theme, but impressively done. Would’ve been nice if CAROL KANE got in there somehow, though.
But we get interesting stuff like STRONG MAN, AMISTAD, FLATCARS, FUN-RUNS, and BACKSIDE. And how about that PINTAIL duck! Gorgeous!
Very clean puzzle all around. In fact, I can’t find anything iffy at all. It’s pretty male-heavy though with the four themers plus UNITAS, CHICO, ROMEO, SEGER, ELI, JEAN Renoir, and OMAR Khayyam, but we do get ONO, BESS Truman, and best of all, Bernadette PETERS.
Nice puzzle all around with a simple but elegant theme and clean fill.
John Doering Sr. & C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
- 62aR [Fries, slaw, etc. … and what this puzzle’s circles represent] SIDE ORDERS.
- 18a. [Paper or plastic choice] GROCERY BAG (gag order). Or you could bring your own.
- 24a. [Waitstaff boss] MAÎTRE D’HÔTEL (mail order).
- 40a. [Misfortune] BAD LUCK (back order). Followed immediately by 42a [Tales of __: misfortunes] WOE.
- 51a. [Popular climb from Lone Pine, California] MOUNT WHITNEY (money order).
The bookending circles are present on both sides of each theme answer, the words they form can all precede “order”.
As one of the first crosswords of the week, it’s an easy sort, with nothing standing in the way. No, nothing restraining here. No pecking around the grid, no batting tricky clues away in frustration. You could even say that I made short work of it. All right, feeling nearly out of control here—time for an executive decision—I’ll cease and desist. Don’t want to court disaster. You have my word on it. Should have known better than to open that can of worms. Must. Stop.14
- 3d [Legumes used in cook-offs] CHILI BEANS. Not a familiar collocation to me, but there’s more than adequate support for the phrase. Guess I usually think of pinto, pink, navy, great northern, or whatever kind end up as “chili beans” in the namesake dish.
- 47a [Carrier that added “ways” to its name in 1997] US AIR (duped by 67a [West Point initials] USMA), 64d [Carrier to Copenhagen] SAS, 1d [Old TWA rival] PAN-AM. Bonus: right alongside that last is 2d [High-speed Amtrak service] ACELA. “High-speed” being a relative term (this country hasn’t had great train infrastructure and service for decades upon decades).
- 20a [Detective Pinkerton] ALLAN.
- The other long answer is 29d [Ultimatum words] NOW OR NEVER.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Is There a Doctor in the House? ” —Ade’s write-up
Happy Monday, everybody! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, made me think of the Thompson Twins’ “Doctor! Doctor!” as I was solving, which isn’t a bad thing at all. In the grid, each of the four theme answers is a multiple-word entry in which the first word can also come after a fictional doctor. Well, I guess Dr. Pepper is, in a sense, non fictional, but you get what I’m saying.
- NO MAN IS AN ISLAND (17A: [John Donne line])
- PEPPER GRINDER (26A: [Saltshaker cousin])
- FEEL-GOOD STORY (43A: [Inspirational tale])
- WHO WOULD’VE THUNK (58A: [“Don’t that beat all!”])
There have been so many times I’ve been in bookstores and have seen the “Diary of a WIMPY Kid” books that I’ve always prepped myself to see a reference to that in a puzzle (1A: Like a milquetoast]). Well, one day, it will come to fruition. Not sure why this was the case, but my parents had a lot of KLM bags just laying around the house when I was growing up, and its logo was burned into my memory because of it (32D: [Airline to Holland]). Actually, if I remember correctly, my dad used one or two of the bags as a place to put things he didn’t use anymore, and those bags were just so visible around the house. I think flying on KLM when I hope to make my long-awaited return to Europe will put a bow on that little faux saga. Will be covering a whole lot of tennis in the next 2-3 weeks, so I’ll be seeing a lot of DROP SHOT attempts on tennis courts in New Haven, CT, and then Queens for the U.S. Open (39D: [Finesse stroke in tennis]). Actually, I’ll be going to a media event in Central Park the day before the US Open starts in which some players will hold tennis lessons for members of the media. I hope to be better at the drop shot, as well as other strokes, after that! As I said before, I’ve had the Thompson Twins in my head as I’ve been doing this blog, so, to sign off, here’s the actual song for you to listen to as well. You’re welcome!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BAMA (10D: [The Crimson Tide, for short]) – Can’t believe that it’s time once again for college football. The preseason AP Poll just came out yesterday and BAMA, short for the University of Alabama, is ranked as the No. 1 team going into the new season. Last season, Bama won its 11th national championship in the polls era (AP Poll or Coaches Poll) after defeating Clemson in the national championship game. Alabama has also made an NCAA-record 62 bowl appearances.
Have a good rest of your Monday, and thank you for your time today!
Themeless Monday #377 by Brendan Emmett Quigley – Gareth’s write-up
The most obvious thing I feel I want to say about this puzzle is that boy were there a lot of gimmes: [Shredding moment], GUITARSOLO; [Rabbit’s friend], POOH; [Brand with the slogan “Put a Tiger in Your Tank”], ESSO; [Really enjoy, as a joke], ROARAT; [Put in the cellar, say], AGE; [Syllables sung in the song “Jock-A-Mo”], IKO; [“Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” band, for short], CSN; [Martes, e.g.], DIA – and that’s just the acrosses. With all those, the puzzle mostly played like about a NYT Wednesday, but a lone troublesome section put my time back towards Thursday / Friday. I put HIKEBACK for [Trek home?] (Clue of the puzzle BTW) not BIKERACK. That made BARITONESAXES and ERIKESTRADA more than a little opaque, and mystery man STENDHAL was not helping either…
As indicated in the accompanying blogpost, MRBREXIT seems to have been the seed. I don’t claim to understand the connection between Trump and BREXIT, but okay. In that corner, GUITARSOLO is also a fun answer, though the crossing of BGAME and BFLATMINOR (with a second U2 reference in two weeks…) at a floating B is a little sketch… The top-right has MOONRAKER, though also unlikely plural POSTAGES… The bottom is more solid with BIKERACK/ERIKESTRADA flowing into TRUTHBOMBS.