Kevin Christian’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
- 53aR [Speaker of the last words of 20-, 28- and 44-Across] FILM DIRECTOR.
- 20a. [Feature of the big city] BRIGHT LIGHTS.
- 28a. [Practical joke show first aired in 1948] CANDID CAMERA.
- 44a. [Secret military operation] COVERT ACTION.
You’d think such an amenable theme would’ve been done before, wouldn’t you? And you’d be right. However, searching through the puzzles here at DOACF garnered only one previous incarnation: Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy from 30 December 2009. In that one, the key words appeared at the beginning of phrases and there were only three theme entries, no revealer. That said, I daresay it’s been done at least a few times prior in one or another VENUE (48a), outside the purview of this blog. Crosswords were around for a looong time before Amy started this thing.
note: I did locate two instances of the phrase Lights! Camera! Action! as a theme entry, both curiously from 2014 (one was modified as a pun).
(No film called Candid Camera (probably copyrighted) but I did find made-for-TV Hidden Camera and Bollywood The Hidden Camera.)
Not part of the theme: 13d [Palme __ (top prize at Cannes)] D’OR.
- 9d/10d [Detritus at sea] FLOTSAM, JETSAM. No LAGAN or DERELICT, alas.
- 39d [Good “Wheel of Fortune” purchase for the answer PANAMA CANAL] AN A. Cute.
John Dunn’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Singin’ in the Reign” — Jim’s review
Very nice theme today that makes you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
- 20a [“King of Country”] GEORGE STRAIT. From what I’ve read, there’s some debate over who truly earns this title. Roy Acuff, Garth Brooks, and even ELVIS PRESLEY are sometimes called by this honorific. The other titles below are undisputed.
- 27a [“King of Swing”] BENNY GOODMAN
- 37a [With 40-Across, “King of Pop”] MICHAEL / JACKSON
- 47a [“King of Rock and Roll] ELVIS PRESLEY
- 56a [Songwriter’s compensation, or this puzzle’s “Kings”?] MUSIC ROYALTY. Nice play on words with the revealer here.
This is a really impressive set of theme entries that fit symmetrically in the grid and yet still give us a fun bit of wordplay at the end. What’s really amazing is that all the themers (including the clever revealer) are 12 letters long except for the 14-letter entry which miraculously breaks into 7 and 7 right in the middle. That’s just an incredible bit of serendipity and kudos to our constructor for finding it and taking advantage of it.
And the grid itself ain’t too shabby either. When your top and bottom theme entries are 12 letters long, things can get awkward. But John does well to segment the grid just enough to allow himself room to work without being too constrained.
Most of the long fill department is utilitarian (PITCHES IN, ENSNARLED, ESPYING), but I do love HANGDOG. And while I don’t love being reminded of the current occupant of the White House, BARRON [Donald Trump’s youngest son] makes for interesting, current fill (in an obnoxiously pretentious sort of way).
The rest of the grid is there to support the theme, but it’s mostly solid nonetheless.
Let me say again what a beautifully consistent theme this is, and it all fits together smoothly and seamlessly. An outstanding Monday puzzle!
Bruce Haight’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
It’s one of those rearrange-some-letters themes.
- 56aR [Postnuptial alteration, and a hint to each set of puzzle circles] NAME CHANGE. Kind of presumptuous there, dont’cha think?
- 16a. [High-altitude pilot’s equipment] OXYGEN MASK.
- 22a. [Cellphone setting during flights] AIRPLANE MODE. More aviation.
- 35a. [“Nobody’s successful every time”] YOU CAN’T WIN ’EM ALL. No more planes?
- 46a. [Deli supply] LUNCHEON MEAT. Yep, they’re gone.
Oh but the non-theme 27d [Navy/Marines aerobatics squad] BLUE ANGELS. Maybe that fits in with the (15d) SOARing vocals of a 10d BOY SOPRANO? What about the 12d [Robotic aerial spy] DRONE?
Anyway, consistency in splitting the four letters across words. Probably also a good idea in not attempting to work in additional permutations. Amen to that, know what I mean?
Near misses: 20a [Country singer McCoy] NEAL, 37d [Alaskan seaport] NOME, 48d [Wanderer] NOMAD, 49d [Novelist Binchy] MAEVE.
- 23d [Enjoyed home cooking] ATE IN. More presumption!
- 6a [Group selfie] USIE. Ew, really?
- 5d [Dog on a bun] First I thought it was going to be WIENER. Then, with 13a LEONE and not LEONI I figured it as the weirdly-transposed-but-still-accepted WEINER. Getting the first themer nixed that, so I went with WEENER, thinking it was strange and momentarily forgetting WEENIE. Hmm, I wonder: have Ween and Weezer ever shared a bill?
- 41a [Facts, for short] INFO, 42a [Help desk prompt] ASK ME. 51a [Rowing tools] OARS, 43a [Racing shell] SCULL. 1d [Sit (down) unceremoniously] PLOP, 34d [Trudge] PLOD.
- 6d [Hawaii and Alaska are usually inserts on one: Abbr.] US MAP. Pretty sure that was supposed to read insets.
- 17d [Square one] NERD. Disparaging clue, but I like the misdirection. See also 47d [far from cool] UNHIP.
Decent Monday; no condemnation from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – Themeless Monday #975 – Laura’s review
I met BEQ yesterday at Boswords (his writeup of the tournament is posted with today’s puzzle), where he was running the judging room. Being a scorer at a tournament is fun and a bit madcap — one feels UP TO ONE’S EARS [30a: Swamped with work, say] at times.
Lots to eat in this grid: TUNA TARTARE [15a: Asian fusion entree], HAM STEAK [12d: Breakfast meat], PHO [52a: Noodle soup], and a TOSSED SALAD [63a: Garden-variety lunch?] on the side, with a STELLA [1d: Belgian brew, briefly] to drink. Ok, now I’m hungry!
I couldn’t find video of DENNIS RODMAN [39a: Athlete who sings karaoke with Kim Jong Un] actually singing karaoke with Kim Jong Un, but here he is singing Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” at a karaoke bar in California:
I love that Jenni mentions something that she didn’t know before solving in her writeups, so here’s mine: I didn’t know that an ENCINA was a [44a: California oak]. I’d heard of Encino, the L.A. neighborhood, which I have since learned was named after Rancho Los Encinos, the Spanish name for a grazing area and springs used by the Tongva People, and later as a stop on El Camino Real.
Encino Man (1992), starring Sean Astin, Brendan Fraser, and Pauly Shore.