Jacob Stulberg’s New York Times crossword — Amy’s write-up
It’s Amy filling in for pannonica, who is otherwise occupied this evening. The theme is “London Bridge Is Falling Down,” and LON, DON, BRI, and DGE in the circled squares are FALLING DOWN in the grid. LONG-STEMMED, STAND ON ONE’S HEAD, SOCIAL LUBRICANT, and WENT OVER THE EDGE are the answers containing those trigrams.
67 theme squares is a lot to work around and still end up with Monday-friendly fill. I mean, 49d. [Stefan ___, influential Austrian writer of the 1920s-’30s], ZWEIG, that’s pretty out there. That would be tough fill in a Saturday puzzle! And with two names (very dated SUZI Quatro and the GTO) crossing it, good luck to any solver who can’t get the Z and G from the crossings. (pannonica mentions that ZWEIG has had a bit of a resurgence in recent years thanks to The Grand Budapest Hotel, which I never saw because Wes Anderson movies do not much speak to me.) My solving time’s longer than I would have expected for a Monday puzzle, so I’m not sure why the fill didn’t push this one to at least Tuesday.
Surprising duplication: N.Y. GIANTS and NYU in the same area. The NY portion is identical.
Three more things:
- Who knew that Pontiac brought back the GTO name for a 2004-2006 car? If not for the brief attempt to resuscitate the brand, we’d have two car-that-ceased-production-by-1975 answers here, with the Jaguar XK-E. Does anyone under the age of 60 get excited to see 40-year-old cars in the puzzle? (See also: Miss ELLIE from ’80s TV instead of current pop singer Ellie Goulding, who won a Grammy Award last year.)
- 45a. [“Little” folk tale character with lazy friends], RED HEN. Feels like a partial, that it’s Little Red Hen. Red Riding Hood and Bo-Peep feel workable without their Littles, but I dunno.
- 43a. [Put (together), as a jigsaw puzzle], PIECED. I have done plenty of jigsaw puzzles but never once used this word to describe what I was doing. I piece together a story that’s lacking all the details, sure. Your hair can be pieced.
3.4 stars from me. Would be a notch higher if this puzzle hadn’t been scheduled on a Monday.
Melina Merchant’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Puff Piece” — Jim’s review
Today’s puzzle is a simple list of CIGAR chompers, as we find out at 47d [Puff piece associated with this puzzle’s four long answers].
- 18a. [Comedian born Nathan Birnbaum] GEORGE BURNS. I guess Burns is representing comedians here since there are several of them known for their cigars including Groucho Marx, Milton Berle, and Alan King. Certainly Burns almost always had a cigar with him, but I would’ve gone with Marx because it, along with the eyebrows and mustache, is essential to his persona. By the way, Marx probably never made this quip to a “You Bet Your Life” contestant.
- 26a. [TV character whose armchair is in the Smithsonian] ARCHIE BUNKER. Not only is his chair there (as well as Edith’s), but there’s a can of “Best Quality Beer,” an ashtray, and a cigar.
- 42a. [“The Interpretation of Dreams” author] SIGMUND FREUD. He may or may not have said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” There is no direct evidence that he ever did. (Is it coincidence that 34a is ORALS?)
- 53a. [26th of July Movement head] FIDEL CASTRO. Apparently he gave up smoking in the ’80s, but that didn’t stop a Cuban tobacconist from rolling a 90-meter cigar in his honor for his 90th birthday.
I like the re-use of the title for this puzzle, but otherwise there’s no wordplay involved here, so it’s hard for me to get excited about a simple list puzzle. Beginning puzzle solvers might enjoy this more.
However, there is some tough Monday fill: 4d [Irish exclamation] BEGORRA (which I’ve always heard as “Faith and BEGORRA!”), 37d [Disk of cartilage in the knee] MENISCUS crossing 37a [“My Dinner With Andre” director Louis] MALLE at the M, and 43d [“Vincent” singer Don] MCLEAN, a proper name crossing four other proper names (SIGMUND, former Florida governor Charlie CRIST, fictional SILAS Marner, and FIDEL).
Favorite fill: PIT BOSS and JUNIORS.
Here, watch this:
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”—Gareth’s write-up
BEQ notes this a 72-worder, and that more good entries can be selected using this approach. Yes please! Fun stacks! ERICCARTMAN (didn’t recognize the quote initially, possibly because it needed to be spelt ‘mah’) over inferrable unknown BRANGELEXIT. ATHINGORTWO/CEREALBOXES/TWENTYYEARS is a more everyday kind of stack, though very lively too, perhaps even because of it. Plus there are other fab entries scattered throughout like SRIRACHA, BIKERBARS and DABOMB.
My asterisk is because I failed at the names of KEIR and ROBY. Tried a T because at least TOBY is a normal name…
A lot of political clues scattered about, for those who aren’t already overwhelmed. I have no idea who Kate or Alec are, and I only dimly care.
My favourite clue was actually [@!#?@!, e.g.] for SYMBOLS and not the one indicated in the blurb accompanying the puzzle.