Peter A. Collins’ New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Theme is three-word song titles where the first two words are the same.
- 17a. [1988 #1 hit for UB40] RED RED WINE.
- 24a. [1971 hit for Marvin Gaye subtitled “The Ecology”] MERCY MERCY ME.
- 39a. [1920s standard with the lyric “Sugar’s sweet, so is she”] BYE BYE BLACKBIRD.
- 51a. [1986 hit for Talking Heads] WILD WILD LIFE. It doesn’t seem necessary to note that the paper gets the band’s name right, i.e. without a definite article, but I guess I’ll do so.
- 63a. [1990 hit that samples the bass line from Queen/Bowie’s “Under Pressure”] ICE ICE BABY. Artist not named, interesting.
Solid quintet. Some songs are obviously superior to others, and I’m sure that we all agree which ones are which.
- 25d [Like a Monday crossword, relatively speaking] EASY. Typically without answers like 47d [Barley beard] AWN, 13d [One cubic meter] STERE, 48d [“The Time Machine” race] ELOI, 56a [Classical music halls] ODEONS, 37d [Funny Bombeck] ERMA, and, oh, let’s say 42d [Head: Ger.] KOPF.
- 27a [Toy gun pellets] BBS. Not part of the theme.
- 43a [Woman in “The King and I”] ANNA, 36d [Setting for “The King and I”] SIAM. 34d [With 27-Down, foe of the Forty Thieves] ALI | BABA. 6d [With 5-Down, present time] MODERN | AGE. Yet 66a [1941 film “citizen”] KANE atop 69a [Toboggan, e.g.] SLED receive no explicit connection? If there’s an unspoken rule or guideline, a limit of three paired clues, I should think one of the others—let’s choose 5d & 6d—should be exchanged for this duo. Unless there’s a corollary limit of one film reference among paired clues?
- 35a [Like some textbooks] USED. Indeed, some students never open theirs.
- Sly editorial? Final across entry 71a [Word with finger or America] MIDDLE. That’s suggestive. And then, as if to hammer home the point, it’s crossed by 59d [Word that fills both blanks in “This __ is your __”] LAND. Ooh.
Alice Long’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “The Fright Stuff” — Jim’s review
Hidden word theme today, that word being FEAR in light of, you know, Halloween and all.
- 17a [1962 chart topper for Gene Chandler] DUKE OF EARL
- 27a [Safari park, for example] WILDLIFE AREA
- 44a [Making eavesdropping impossible] OUT OF EARSHOT
- 58a [Old stunt reality show, and a feature of the other three long Across answers] FEAR FACTOR
Fine Monday theme. Plus we get a heaping helping of Halloweeny fill: PENTAGRAM, SORCERERS, ZOMBIE, GHOST, HAGS, and BATS.
I wasn’t sure about I GOTTA (9d, [“You can’t stop me!”]), but it’s growing on me. The other unusual entry is RUFFS (35a, [Fanciful collars on Elizabethan costumes]. This one’s new to me. Seems like it ought to have some other more fanciful name. Did you know RUFFS are still part of the formal attire for the Church of Denmark?
Not much else to say, but in this case, I think that’s a good thing; it means the grid is solid and mostly clean. Happy Halloween!
Jerome Gunderson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannoica’s write-up
One-across gives us [Words before “Tricked you!”] HA HA. As in, “you think this is going to be yet another Halloween-themed crossword puzzle”, but no (7d UH-UH). Despite 46a [Halloween goodies] TREATS. Oh, but for good measure on the ultra-short reduplicatives: 15a [Syllables from Santa] HO HO. Too soon for Christmas, you say? HA! 44d [Santa’s landing spot] ROOFTOP.
Moving on to the actual theme, there’s a revealer at 52a [Stack for the bookkeeper to pay … or, literally, what 20-, 33- and 40-Across’ first words constitute] PILE OF BILLS.
- 20a. [Bovine skin once used as a painting surface by Native Americans] BUFFALO HIDE (Buffalo Bill). Bison, actually
- 33a. [Untamed equines] WILD HORSES (Wild Bill). Hickok? So many choices.
- 40a. [Rio Grande feeder] PECOS RIVER (Pecos Bill).
I guess it’s Hickok there, so that all three are legendary Old West figures—real, fictional, quasi-fictional. But “literally” a “pile”? Hm, not quite a mess.
- 19a [Female 33-Across] MARES. Arrgh, theme-ballast intermingling! A personal peeve.
- 23a [Nocturnal flier] BAT. Though of course there are plenty of diurnal and crepuscular species.
- 4d [Insect nest with tunnels] ANT FARM. Not the name for the thing that occurs in nature. Incidentally, some ant species “farm” fungi or other insects, such as aphids.
- 22d [Pinch from a chef] DASH. Debatable. Give the clue a “?” and we’re good.
- 43d [Rajah’s mate] RANI. To my mind it’s raja ↔ rani and rajah ↔ ranee.
- Long downs: 11d [Clip joint?] BARBER SHOP, 29d [Leif’s father] ERIC THE RED.
You know how this write-up ends, don’t you? 67a [“Not great, not bad”] OKAY.
Brendan Emmett Quigley – THEMELESS MONDAY #388; Gareth’s write up
I think it was Rex Parker who said that if 1A in a Themeless is a gimme, the rest of the puzzle usually gives way easily. I dropped PASTAFARIANS immediately, but had to work for most of the rest of the puzzle, especially the bottom – so a pretty typical time for me.
It’s a slightly stunt-y grid, so there aren’t a lot of obvious seeds beyond 1A. The focus appears to have been on keeping the short fill in check rather than including splashy entries. The two AT bottom stack was especially lacking in the latter regard.
Do you believe NYES is a valid plural abbr.? I am skeptical. Some of you may need clarification on the link between FOGERTY and “Born on the Bayou”. John FOGERTY was the lead singer of Creedence Clearwater Revival, going on to a sporadically successful solo career. You are also forgiven if you confused [Greek city where St. Andrew was crucified], PATRAS with St. John of Patmos…