Susan Gelfand’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Very taut theme, and a pleasingly rapid, ultra-easy Monday solve.
- 37aR [Performances by two singers … like 21- and 49-Across and 3- and 29-Down?] DUETS.
- 21a. [Singers Johnny and Fiona?] ROTTEN APPLE. Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols, Public Image Limited & Fiona Apple.
- 49a. [Singers Keith and John?] URBAN LEGEND. Keith Urban, John Legend.
- 3d. [Singers Patti and Tina?] PAGE TURNER.
- 49. [Singers Tori and Al?] KELLY GREEN. (Have not heard of Tori Kelly.)
Of course there may be many other such fortuitous pairings, but these are a good selection.
Toughest for a Monday entries—but with unchallenging crossings: 33d [Heroine of Jean Auel’s “The Clan of the Cave Bear”] AYLA; 49d [Colored part of an eye] UVEA.
Nothing else has leapt out at me as being particularly interesting, egregious, or otherwise notable, and since this write-up is already several hours late (unexpected nap™) … thus endeth.
Queena Mewers & Alex Eaton-Salners’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bargain Jargon” — Jim’s review
These two have teamed up before in these pages. This time they bring us a rhyming theme where the first word is also a synonym for “bargain.”
- 16a [Bargain at the butcher?] STEAL ON VEAL
- 24a [Bargain at the tavern?] SALE ON ALE
- 29a [Bargain at the teahouse?] BUY ON CHAI
- 44a [Bargain at the fish market?] DEAL ON EEL
- 49a [Bargain at the soda fountain?] DROP ON POP
- 63a [Bargain at the patisserie?] BREAK ON CAKE
I can’t say the theme does much for me. It feels t0o open-ended and free-wheeling. There are too many possibilities for rhyming here. For example, they could’ve gone with SALE ON KALE or MAIL (as in armor), or a BUY ON PIE, LYE, or RYE.
I didn’t notice until now that all the items are foodstuffs, so that’s a nice point of consistency. But I wish this could have been made more clear by the clues—as if all these bargains were being found during one trip to the grocery store: [Bargain at the butcher’s counter?], [Bargain in the beer aisle?], [Bargain on hot drinks?], etc. And with a rhyming theme, having two of the entries rhyme themselves (STEAL and DEAL) feels a bit inelegant.
But the grid is cleanly made with nice entries ICE PALACE, ONE-LINER, and STOPGAPS. The other long Down is ATE AWAY AT which feels like a missed opportunity, but it does cross two themers, so I’m sure the options were limited. On the shorter side, I like GET-GO and DOWSE, mostly because of my good friends, the Dowsing Family (that’s their name; I’m not implying that they make a habit of searching for water with sticks).
There’s very little, if any, unsavory fill, (oh, there’s WEARER) and there’s nothing coming out of left field, which sometimes creeps into Alex’s grids. There are 27 3-letter entries, which is quite high (the target is usually around 20), but frankly, I didn’t even notice since few of them are abbreviations or acronyms.
On the whole, not a thrilling theme, but a solid grid, which is about right for what we see on a Monday.
Mark Feldman’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Idiomatic epithets for people based on behavior, with a culinary twist, as signified with the repeated qualifier “to a food critic”.
- 17a. [Shrewd person, to a food critic?] SHARP COOKIE.
- 29a. [Important person … ?] BIG CHEESE.
- 47a. [Despicable person …?] ROTTEN EGG.
- 66a. [Lazy person …?] COUCH POTATO.
Another solid theme that’s appropriate for a Monday. No doubt there were plenty of other potential theme answers in the larder, what with languages typically having strong modes for such elemental concepts as people and food, and nexuses thereof. Off the top of my head: bean counter, cool cucumber, top banana, and the ironically too-long-for-the grid tall drink of water.
- Aves! 39a [Avian symbol of pride] PEACOCK, 11d [Member of the crow family] MAGPPIE, 28d [Wise bird] OWL (this probably refers to the snack food brand, and is a masked capital).
- Mammalia! 19a [African antelope] GNU, 21a [Like skunks and zebras] STRIPED, 18d [“Cool” hipster] CAT, 36a [Female neigh sayer] MARE.
- 23a [Hitching post] ALTAR, 56d [Secretly tie the knot] ELOPE.
- 71a [Tetley product] TEA, 10d [Reader of tea leaves] SEER. Oops.
There are also some explicitly cross-referenced clues, but you all know that I like to play this particular game.
Overall the puzzle is quite smooth. Fun early-week crossword.