Dan Margolis’ New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
No need to 49a REIN in your enthusiasm, this is just a phrases-including-members-of-a-group-of-things theme.
- 17a. [Extremely obstinate] STUBBORN AS A MULE.
- 26a. [Person who’s talented but not versatile] ONE-TRICK PONY. Paul Simon is both.
- 44a. [Notable (and grammatically incorrect) declaration by Mr. Bumble in “Oliver Twist”] THE LAW IS A ASS. Similar in meaning to the simile in 17-across, though it’s fun to imagine otherwise. You could almost see the theme going in a different direction if, say, 26-across was instead ONE-TRACK MIND. Moving along, however …
- 57a. [Acting haughtily and pompously] ON ONE’S HIGH HORSE.
Pretty good theme, all things being equid.
- Favorite clue: 42a [Rest of the afternoon] SIESTA. Runner-up: 52d [Play dates?] GIGS.
- 7d [Fish that’s a sushi staple] TUNA, followed immediately by 8d [“Holy mackerel!”] EGAD. Not infrequently do I find that saba (mackerel) is of better relative quality than the tuna.
- 24d [Food, informally] VITTLES. I’d long assumed that it was an alteration of the Latinate victuals, but the discussion over at m-w.com has this to say: “The word derives via Middle English and Anglo-French from the Latin noun victus, meaning “nourishment” or “way of living.” Victus derives from the verb vivere, which means “to live” and which is the source of a whole smorgasbord of other English words like vital, vivid, and survive. It’s also the root of viand, another English word referring to food. There’s also vittles, a word that sounds like it might be an alteration of the plural victuals but which actually entered English a century before victual.” So I don’t know what to think.
- 55d [ __ of Man] ISLE.
Celia Smith’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Contain Yourself!” — Jim’s review
Straightforward theme requires little explanation.
- 17a [Memorable prop in “Forrest Gump”] BOX OF CHOCOLATES
- 29a [Contentious issue] CAN OF WORMS
- 43a [1998 Stephen King book] BAG OF BONES
- 57a [Really funny time] BARREL OF MONKEYS
Nice choice of entries, all evocative and fun. It’s also worth noting that each phrase is a metaphor as opposed to a literal phrase like “bottle of wine” (although BOX OF CHOCOLATES wasn’t a metaphor until Forrest Gump came along).
Only 72 words in the grid, yet it sports such niceties as ORANGE TREE, BOB DYLAN, HOODIES, and KAYAKER. I didn’t rightly know ANTITRADES as the answer to [Prevailing westerly winds of middle latitudes], but it seemed inferable.
Less interesting long entries are HONORED, SHOOT FOR, LOADS ON, SNAKING, and SNORTED.
I must point out ANTONYM with its cleverly deceptive clue [Long, for short].
Not much else to report. Nothing really objectionable (except maybe the partials ON IN and ON ME making for three ONs in the grid), though nothing groundbreaking. Solid, middle-of-the-road puzzle.
Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
An unusual solo effort from serial collaborator Gail Grabowski. At least these days.
- 64aR [Has little significance … and to all intents and purposes, what the first word of 17-, 27- and 48-Across does] CARRIES NO WEIGHT. Not sure how well “to all intents and purposes” conveys the figurative sense of the revealer. Tricky because “to all intents and purposes” can be taken both figuratively and literally.
- 17a. [Exploit a situation for personal wealth] FEATHER ONE’S NEST. See also 39a [Sock away] AMASS.
- 27a. [Textured overhead interior feature in some homes] POPCORN CEILING.
- 48a. [Large final loan remittance] BALLOON PAYMENT.
Insubstantial theme? Not especially.
- 9a [Performs a full-body scan on?] OGLES. Clever clue, but still creepy. See also 51d [Watching closely] EYEING.
- 7d [Wild way to run] AMOK, followed by 8d [Hit song from “Flashdance”] MANIAC.
All right, I’ve made three full passes of the clues to find more to babble about, but without success. It may say more about my preoccupied mood this morning (a lot on my plate today) than anything intrinsic to the crossword.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Themeless 428” — Jenni’s review
This one was on the easier side for Brendan’s themelesses, and also seemed relatively devoid of current pop culture for one of his indie puzzles. Still a nice, satisfying solve.
1a [52-Down coverings] are ICE CAPS, and 52 is, appropriately, POLE. That’s true for now. Climate change is real and ICE CAPS are shrinking…
I find the juxtapositions on the top and bottom rows amusing. We have ICE CAPS BOBCATS above and DIDDLEY KNESSET below. There’s something poetic about that.
A few other things:
- 15a [“Always in season” dessert brand] made much more sense when I realized the word in the clue is dessert, not desert. The answer is SARA LEE. Sing it with me: “Nobody doesn’t like….”
- 18a [Kept in a galley?] is not about slaves on boats or kitchens on boats, but rather galley proofs. It’s STETTED.
- 20a [“Friday I’m in Love” band] is pretty non-obscure for a BEQ puzzle. Even I have heard of THE CURE.
- We do get some current popcult with 27a [Metacafe selection, briefly]. The answer is VID, which I know means “video.” I’ll have to ask the resident teenager what Metacafe is.
- A little bit of a Jewish subtheme? SEDERS, KNESSET, and ATONING. I realize Jews aren’t the only ones who atone, but it’s Elul, and repentance is on my mind as the High Holy Days approach.
Short and sweet today. I hope our Gulf Coast readers are safe.
The OED doesn’t have an entry for “vittles” – only “victual” with “vittle” as an alternate (dialectal) spelling. The etymology:
“< Anglo-Norman and Old French vitaile, -aille (Old French also vitale , -alle , vittalle , victaille ) feminine < late Latin victuālia , neuter plural of post-classical Latin victuālis , < victus food, sustenance: compare Provençal vit(o)alha , Spanish vitualla , Portuguese vitualha , Italian vettovaglia . The variant Old French and modern French form victuaille has been assimilated to the Latin original, and a similar change in spelling has been made in English, while the pronunciation still represents the forms vittel , vittle . (See also vitaly n.)" -OED
MW says the first use of "victual" is 15th c., but the OED has citations going back to 1303.
I sent a similar equine theme to another publication six years ago. It was sent back as THELAWISAASS was deemed profane…
For those who enjoy digging into ancient word derivations, do visit this obscure website: http://historyofenglishpodcast.com
It’s not that obscure! I’ve been listening to Kevin for a while. I’m pretty sure it’s made me a better solver.