Patrick Merrell’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Here’s your abbreviated write-up by your enervated blogger. In advance of Halloween (I guess?), a quartet of “monstrous” animals. That is, compound names of animals containing one element that is also the name for a monster-type thing.
- 17a. [Airborne animal with a monstrous name] VAMPIRE BAT. Were it not for avoiding duplication with 37a (see below) the clue could have used “flying” rather than make it seem as if someone or something had flung the poor chiropteran. Honestly, is a word like volant too tough for a Monday?
- 37a. [Airborne animal with a monstrous name] DRAGONFLY. There’s that word again. How about “insect”? I’ll concede that “Onodatan” is more than a little much.
- 43a. [Undersea animal with a monstrous name] DEVILFISH. That’s a nickname. Mostly they’re called “manta rays”.
- 64a. [Undersea animal with a monstrous name] GIANT SQUID.
Vampire, dragon, devil, giant. I’ll concede that there’s a consistency to having identical pairs of clues, and that it’s a solid construction conceit to have the sky above the sea. Maybe I just don’t care for “airborne” here, maybe it’s an idiosyncrasy.
Speaking of horrors, there’s 5d [Children’s author R. L. __ ] STINE. Oh, and tonight’s presidential debate.
Back in a quainter, slower-paced era, New York’s AM radio station 1010-WINS promised that if you’d give them 22 minutes, they’d give you the world. I’m providing much less to you tonight. [edit: Apparently this is still their slogan]
Sergio Fanali’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Little Italy” — Jim’s review
New byline! There are a couple of Sergio Fanalis on Facebook, but they both seem to be residents of Italy. Is it a coincidence that today’s puzzle is about Italy?
That seems unlikely. But it does seem likely that the name is another pseudonym for editor Mike Shenk as it can be rearranged into “Foreign Alias.”
Perhaps this puzzle is dedicated to Fiend blogger Dave (Evad) Sullivan who is biking around Italy as we speak. Let’s look at the themers.
- 20a [MMXVI components] ROMAN NUMERALS. One look at the letters in the clue and my brain started shutdown procedures. But thankfully they were easy to translate and there were no arbitrary mathematical operations involved.
- 36a [Thick T-bone often shared by two] FLORENTINE STEAK. New to me. As written, it gets about 46,000 google hits. “Steak Florentine” however gets 136,000. Here is Giada’s recipe.
- 52a [Alternative to a curtain] VENETIAN BLIND. I normally see this in plural form.
So it’s simply three things named after three Italian cities. And that appears to be that.
Only three themers…so that means we get lots of good fill, right? Right. MAMA BEAR, DERRIERE, COPS A PLEA, TO NO AVAIL, NEAR EAST, and THE ALAMO. Great stuff and a lot of it.
There isn’t anything questionable to speak of except maybe ELS and MEIN, and cluing was Monday-straight.
Okay, that’s all from me. We get a barely-there theme, but plenty of fun fill and a very clean grid. That means there’s a probably professional hand on the tiller.
Joel Mackerry’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Colorful slang terms for money have a long, entwined history in crosswords. So this theme doesn’t feel fresh, but it has a decent tweak and a great revealer: 62a [Down payment … and what 17-, 25-, 38- and 53-Across have in common (besides being food)] CASH UP FRONT. (We get a dupe with 23a [Remit] PAY.)
- 17a. [Pizza topping veggie] GREEN PEPPER.
- 25a. [Traditional filled fare of Europe and West Africa] CABBAGE ROLL.
- 38a. [Salad staples] LETTUCE LEAVES.
- 53a. [Baked-in-their-shells seafood dish] CLAMS CASINO.
Theme is theme-like.
- Crossing 57a [NFL scores] TDS and 45d [NFL gains] YDS. Stacked 70a [Franc replacement] EURO and 73a [French state] ETAT.
- Though the grid is crowned with 5a [Briefly, e.g.] ADVERB, it contains a healthy complement of adjectives ending in -y: a non-offensive but uncommon presentation of SWISHY [Like the sound of grass in the breeze] (15a), 21a [Stylish,, clothes-wise] NATTY, 44a [Revealing, as a bikini] SKIMPY.
- 21a is telegraphed (but not duplicated) by the preceding clue, 20a [Slugger __ Harper of the Nats] BRYCE. See also 10d [“In Treatment” star Gabriel __ ] BYRNE.
- Weakest fill: 2d [Pirate’s cry] YAR. Honorable mention: 64d [Fem. campus group] SOR.
- 22d [Noah’s project] ARK, 3d [Singly] ONE BY ONE. So close.
- 59a [Saltwater candy] TAFFY. Brand name. Does not contain saltwater even though two ingredients are salt and water. The name derives from its popularity as a treat associated with seaside towns.
Solid Monday offering.
THEMELESS MONDAY #385 by Brendan Emmett Quigley – Gareth’s summary
Okay, we have a slightly creepy jack-o’lantern effect going on here. Apart from that you have 4 interlinked 9-11-13 stacks. The highlights are GOODNIGHTMOON and AOLTIMEWARNER, but there also many awkward phrasings like ALLEVIATION, NONFREEZING and RASPBERRIED in the featured stacks.
CERSEI and RZA are names that you’re more likely to see in a BEQ puzzle than outside of one. On the other hand, NBW is an especially egregious abbr.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Duty Calls” —Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everyone! Hope you all had a pretty good weekend. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Gail Grabowski, is a heavy duty puzzle, with each of the four theme entries ending in a word that also can come before the word “duty.”
- RIGHT GUARD (17A: [Speed Stick alternative])
- HONDA CIVIC (29A: [Nissan Sentra alternative])
- DINAH SHORE (47A: [1948 “Buttons and Bows” songstress])
- PORCH LIGHT (64A: [It’s usually left on for trick-or-treaters])
Not only do we have a full first and last name in one of the theme entries, we also have that with ED HARRIS in the grid (4D: [He portrayed Jackson Pollock in “Pollock”]). Also, we have another celebrity, DICAPRIO, whom I’ll always remember as Luke from the sitcom Growing Pains than for all of his wonderful roles on the silver screen (54A: [Gatsby’s portrayer in the 2013 film “The Great Gatsby”]). Though I’ve come across them a whole lot walking around in New York City, I’ve never been tempted to ride in a PEDICAB, mostly because I’m sure it would be uncomfortable to sit in given my height (9D: [Foot-operated vehicle]). Oh, and I wouldn’t trust any of the cyclists weaving through yellow taxis and city buses down Fifth Avenue! Time to pedal out of here right now!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: O’MEARA (20A: [2010 Senior Players Championship winner Mark]) – It can be argued that Mark O’MEARA was the best golfer in the world right before the reign of Tiger Woods was ushered in during the late 1990s and into the 21st century. In 1998, O’Meara won both The Masters and the British Open, and also finished tied for fourth in the PGA Championship. He won the PGA Player of the Year Award in 1998 for his efforts. Tiger Woods, who won his first Player of the Year award in 1997, would go on to win the award eight of the next years after O’Meara was honored in 1998.
Thank you for your time, everyone! See you tomorrow!
That was a pleasant, smooth Monday in the NYT. Clean theme, nice grid, only a few 3-letter words, and none of them crosswordese.
It’s a shame that yesterday’s excellent Alan Arbesfeld “Sunday Challenge” for CrosSynergy was not listed as a daily puzzle, denying us a chance to say “thank you” via the ratings process.
Is it 64-Across week? I didn’t get the memo.
I did the Sunday puzzle last night. After reading the comment “It seems to me that the giant squid is an eminently worthy animal for the puzzle pantheon” on xwordinfo I wondered if it was the first use in the NYT and clicked on the answer’s link. I was definitely not expecting Monday spoilers!
My sister was happy on Sunday because there was a giant squid in a play we saw with her grandchildren, a version of Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, and it helped her to do the puzzle on the way home. (I’m still doing last Sunday’s.) It was funny to see it in the Times today.
I think it would be a wonderful week if GIANT SQUID made it into all 7 puzzles, clued differently each time. Of course with 8 tentacles, maybe there would need to be a bonus fill.
Eight arms, two tentacles.
Re: NYT: How is “giant” a type of monster?
Would you like to think about that one a little longer?
Oops forgot Jolly Green Giant, Iron Giant my bad
Or even just regular old non-specific giants, typically as baddies.
There is a species of squid known as the vampire squid; 8 arms is of course correct but the intent of the comment was unaffected by my error.