Alan Arbesfeld’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Themers all start with a rhyme in the form of *ay it …
- 17a. [“Tell me the rumors are false!”] SAY IT AIN’T SO. Filled in with ISN’T at first. Clue seemed to be suggesting a ‘proper’ English formulation.
- 28a. [2000 Kevin Spacey/Helen Hunt film] PAY IT FORWARD.
- 38a. [Oscar-nominated Enya song from 2001’s “The Lord of the Rings”] MAY IT BE.
- 48a. [Offer effusive praise] LAY IT ON THICK.
- 62a. [Improvise] PLAY IT BY EAR. Double-letter prefixed to the -ay for the final one. Seems also to be a comment on the phonetic nature of the theme, without being an explicit revealer. Double-letter double entendre!
Super-fast solve on this one. Only misstep was the aforementioned contraction in 17-across and that was a mere blip. Was very easy to fill in quite a few answers with barely a glance at the clues, as the letter combinations pointed to unique words and phrases. For example, how else is (12d) ENUME–––– going to end except for ENUMERATE?
- 52a [Poe poem that starts “Once upon a midnight dreary,” with “The”] RAVEN. Wow, what a strange clue. So many more succinct options that also don’t include that inelegant addendum. Sure, sometimes it’s a necessary crutch in a crossword, but it’s completely gratuitous here.
- 47d [D.D.E., familiarly] IKE, 69a [D.D.E.’s predecessor] HST. Y’know, I can’t recall ever seeing that trigram clued as Hawaii Standard Time—would be a refreshing change.
- 23d [Clean Air Act and others] LAWS, followed by 25d [Clean Air Act org.] EPA. Here’s hoping both the law and the agency aren’t completely hollowed out under the current regime.
- 34d [“Keep your eyes open!”] STAY ALERT; herewith the only other spot where I needed to slow down, albeit minimally—to find out if it was going to be AWAKE or ALERT.
- 59d [Naval agreements?] AYES. Question mark seems unnecessary here. It isn’t particularly tricky or misleading. Unlike, say, the nifty 10d [One whose work is on the house?] ROOFER.
Exceptionally smooth Monday.
Jeff Stillman’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The operative word here is homoeoteleuton, “an occurrence in writing of the same or similar endings near together (as in neighboring clauses or lines) whether happening by chance or done for rhythmical effect.” For the theme, the repeated ends form complete words.
- 17a. [Devotee of singer Gloria] ESTEFAN FAN.
- 24a. [Precise price] ACCURATE RATE. Clue has some alliteration here. That’s a different rhetorical technique.
- 39a. [Mata Hari story, e.g.] FEMME FATALE TALE.
- 51a. [Garden purchase from a Lowe’s rival] HOME DEPOT POT.
- 63a. [According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s 63 for retirement] AVERAGE AGE.
I’m not calling these examples of echolalia because that indicates a phonetic quality; none of these repetitions are pronounced the same way, and I believe that’s intentional.
Three three-letter repetitions, two of four letters.
Anyone else thrown off by the lack of question marks in the clues? With the exception of AVERAGE AGE these aren’t common phrases, despite all of them being plausible (i.e., non-“wacky”).
- 57a [Coffee order: Abbr.] REG. This means different things depending on where you are.
- 2d [Went up] ROSE, 51d [Lift up] HOIST; 3d [Sound-off button] MUTE, 64d [TV loud-soft control: Abbr.] VOL; 35a [Bon Ami alternative] AJAX, 12d [Tailed celestial body] COMET—wait, what?
- 13d [31-Across, by birth] SWEDE, 31a [Five-time Wimbledon champ Bjorn] BORG, 26d [“Dancing Queen” group] ABBA—wait, what?
- 68a [Wafer brand] NILLA, 54d [Black-and-white cookies] OREOS. Both Nabisco (National Biscuit Company) products.
That’s it. I’ve no intention of making this write-up either thorough or rough.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Isn’t It Bromantic?” — Jim’s review
Our puzzle theme consists of phrases where the letters MALE span the gap between two words. Writing the entries into the grid then, is an exercise in MALE BONDING (55a, [It happens between buds, and a feature of the starred answers]).
- 18a [*Julliard offering] DRAMA LESSON
- 24a [*Better Business Bureau warning] SCAM ALERT
- 39a [*Class action?] FORMAL EDUCATION
- 50a [*Pale lager alternatives] CREAM ALES. I don’t think I’ve heard of these, but they sound interesting.
Cute theme that I didn’t grok until the end when I was filling in the revealer. My first instinct on seeing the title was that we’d be adding a B to the start of words for a bro-tastic good time. Think Bromeo and Brometheus using Brogaine, maybe.
But then I got the revealer and, putting it together with the title, I had to chuckle since it gave me a slightly different interpretation than the traditional platonic meaning of the term. Maybe this would’ve been a good thematic puzzle for Nate Cardin’s LGBTQ+ puzzle project. (See the Nov 30 post for more details on that.)
You think I’m wrong? Check the grid. You’ll find EROS, LOVE, and ALTAR amongst the fill.
But it’s not entirely a sausagefest. Oh wait, maybe it is. Let’s see…there’s MAX, GUY, ROUE [Dissolute fellow], DOLTS [Boneheads], EMIR, ATTICUS, and ADAM. The ladies get scant representation in IDA (Lupino), ERICA (Kane), and SIRI.
Otherwise, the fill is fun because, you know, Zhouqin. In what’s becoming a trademark, we get lively verbal phrases like, “OH SURE,” and “I’M GAME.” But they take a backseat here to very nice entries DUST DEVIL and TRUE VALUE. Also good: ATTICUS and P.E.T. SCAN. (No, it’s not an x-ray at the vet; it stands for Positron Emission Tomography.)
Fun puzzle with a cute theme and sparkly fill. Great start to the week!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Themeless Monday #442” — Jenni’s Review
Before I get to the review, I want to pause a moment and note the number above. Four hundred forty two themeless Monday puzzles. That’s a whole lot of puzzles, and they’re free, and they’re fun to solve. Thanks, Brendan, for making Mondays more enjoyable for those of us who don’t get much out of easy-peasy puzzles. I’m not knocking easy-peasy – I want as many people as possible to enjoy puzzles, and lovers of head-crackingly tough ones are in the minority. I do appreciate something chewier on a Monday, though, so thanks.
Today’s wasn’t all that tough, but it stymied me in a few places and had a lot of fun stuff.
We get two grid-spanners:
- 4d [Some Amazon homepage images]. I tried to fit RECOMMENDED something-or-other. Nope. It’s RECOMMENDATIONS.
- 11d. [Titular attorney played by Denzel Washington in 2017] is ROMAN J ISRAEL ESQ. Lots of scrabbly letters and a non-intuitive name of a movie I’ve never heard of. Looks it was released about ten days ago. From the poster I surmise it’s set in the 1980s.A few other things:
- 1a [Inhaled greedily] is SCARFED, which could also have been SNARFED. It took me a while to get CATER TO for 2d [Serve specially].
- 22d [Shade similar to purple] is MAGENTA. I always thought it was purple. Wikipedia says it’s “variously described as purplish-red, reddish-purple, purplish-pink, or mauvish-crimson.” This is not actually helpful.
- 30a [How everybody puts their pants on] was a gimme and made me smile. The answer is, of course, ONE LEG AT A TIME.
- 34a [They’ll pick you up when you least expect it] are not helpful friends or cab drivers. It’s HIDDEN CAMERAS.
- 55a [It can have you going through hoops] is CROQUET, making nice use of the ending Q from 11d.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Kyrie Irving has special Nike sneakers named Kyrie 2 Ky-Ripsy KREME. Kute.
Good ol’ PAY IT FORWARD, the movie where Kevin Spacey takes an extra-special interest in his preteen student. Surely there was time to change that clue?!
Yep. They managed to take him out of a movie in which he had an important role, but the Times couldn’t get his name out of a crossword puzzle? Sigh.
panonnica: I thought your “…wait, what?” lists for the NYT were interesting, far more interesting than the puzzle, itself. You have a good eye for catching these connections between words, clues and fills. Did you make a habit of this prior to taking on your reviewing duties? When I fill in the last empty square of a puzzle, I’m done, finished, finito. I don’t look for any meta. Is that laziness or a lack of interest? This blog has pointed out stuff I generally have missed. I’ll consider that a good thing.
Gotta find something to write about, day after day. I don’t get into the intricacies and considerations of grid construction because I’m disinclined that way. Perhaps were I to start making crosswords I’d feel differently.
Also, I try to be cognizant of the line I tread: on the one hand finding connections and on the other criticizing abuse of cross-reference cluing. Eating your cake and having it flirts with hypocrisy. I think that’s why I look more favorably upon exactly replicated clues or those with strong echoes of others.
OTB Variety by Chris Adams: WOW!!!
The puzzles were already amazing with the first two-part theme entry. When I got to the revealer(s), my jaw dropped. Plus fantastic fun full throughout both grids. Superbly done!
?? Where is his site, these grids?
Joon Pahk’s Outside the Box (paid) subscription puzzles.
second week running with an orcaworthy easy puzzle from burnikel in the wsj
An enthusiastic second for Jenni’s praise of BEQ. Support his site, please!
I thought the TORTELLI / TLC cross sucked, but that’s Brendan — and it was otherwise a marvelous puzzle, even with the title of a movie that no one has probably paid any attention to yet.
Impressive LAT review – I assume I’m not the only soul unfamiliar with “homoeoteleuton”. Talk about words that don’t exactly roll smoothly off the tongue!