Paolo Pasco’s New York Times crossword—Erin’s write-up
It’s me again! What a great day to fill in for pannonica and find Paolo’s name on the byline. Our theme is EROSION, [Natural process illustrated by the last words of 18-, 24-, 37-, 54- and 61-Across]. In the NE we start with a STONE, which is worn down a letter at a time until it’s a tiny little O. It’s a simple theme, but lively with a great revealer. Removing the letters alternating from the beginning and the end of STONE is a nice touch. I MEAN, COME ON and STANDING O are wonderful entries, too.
The fill has some great finds: TAN LINE, XACTO, the yummy CHALUPA and TOSTADA. OBLASTS [Administrative regions in Russia] was new to me and its singular form has been seen only eight times in the NYT’s crossword history. AFTS is fairly gross but the only real clunker for me.
- 55d. [“Sesame Street” character long rumored to be Bert’s lover] ERNIE. There are websites devoted to this debate. Sesame Workshop insists that they’re just good friends and that Muppets “don’t exist below the waist,” but denying their love does not make it disappear.
- 58a. [Like the name “Robin Banks” for a criminal] APT. Horrible pun that definitely got some SNORTS out of me.
- 68a. SCROD is clued as [Fish typically split before cooking] in print and the Across Lite file but [Fish often used in fish fingers] on the NYT website. Were they hacked by a British person?
- 19d. [Sailor’s patron] ST. ELMO. The song has been in my head, and now it can be in yours, too!
Harold Jones’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Legwork” — Jim’s review
A self-evident theme concerned with the lower limbs:
- 69a [Leg part found in 17-Across] THIGH with 17a [Live a luxurious lifestyle] EAT HIGH ON THE HOG
- 70a [Leg part found in 40-Across] SHIN with 40a [1960s musical phenomenon begun by the Beatles] BRITISH INVASION
- 71a [Leg part found in 62-Across] CALF with 62a [NaCl, for one] CHEMICAL FORMULA
Nice set of grid-spanning themers.
My wife and I are working our way through Season 5 of The Walking Dead, and I was solving while watching. Some of the theme answers really seemed apropos to the show, especially BRITISH INVASION (minus the British part), EAT HIGH ON THE HOG, and of course, all the body parts.
I wasn’t paying too close attention to the grid, but it looks fairly clean. BIGAMOUS is a pretty icky answer, but I like MAHARAJAS. I’m neutral on SIDES WITH and VERY SOON, but they’re strong enough. A lot of the short and mid-length fill is nice, too.
Things get tighter down at the bottom where there’s so much theme material crammed in a small area. Consequently there’s slightly more crosswordese down there like FRI, WEEB, EL AL, and PUT A [“___ sock in it!”]. (Where I come from in California, PUTA means something wholly different.)
Overall, a mostly smooth grid that was solvable via auto-pilot.
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Adesina’s write-up
Good morning, crossword puzzle lovers! It’s another pinch-hitter, Ade/AOK, making an appearance on the blog for today, and, before anything else, I hope you all had a pretty good weekend.
Today’s crossword puzzle was brought to us by Ms. Gail Grabowski and Mr. Bruce Venzke, and that fact alone evokes sweet memories since they were two of the regular puzzle makers in the CrosSynergy series. *Sniff, sniff.* Nostalgia aside, the grid today featured each of the first four theme entries containing circles at the polar ends of the entries. When combined, the circles end up spelling out the word “foot,” and the cluing to the reveal, FOOTBRIDGE, explains the theme in a fairly straightforward manner (56A: [Stream crossing for pedestrians…and what is literally provided by the interior letters in the answers to the starred clues]).
- FOOD MARKET (17A: [*Grocery store])
- FONDUE POT (28A: [*Vessel for a cheesy dip])
- FOXTROT (37A: [*Ballroom dance that’s also a phonetic alphabet “F”])
- FIELD BOOT (44A: [*All-terrain high shoe])
I always give a crossword some extra props for clues related to Africa, and this one definitely gets an extra point for LEONE (14A: [Africa’s Sierra _____]). Probably the entry that resonated the most with me was DAYS INN, as I’ve spent a number of nights in that particular hotel chain as I try to be as cost-conscious as possible when traveling to different cities and events (43D: [Best Western competitor]). Loved seeing OTIOSE in the grid, as I might now be motivated to incorporate that in my lexicon more more often (45D: [Lazy]). There’s a number of short, two-word entries in the grid that took away from the solving fun just a wee bit, in my opinion: ARF ARF (22D: [Repetitive barking]), ON TWO (29D: [Quarterback’s “Snap the ball at the second hut”]), IN INK (62A: [How contracts are signed]) and I DIG, though I vividly remember uttering that just a couple of days back (16A: [Beatnik’s “Understood”]). Overall, a smooth solve.
Alright, it’s time to head out for my BOTOX appointment (49A: [Wrinkle-removing injection]). OK, maybe not, but it is time for a bit of a brain-teaser to close things out…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BEST (47A: [Highest in quality]) – Undoubtedly one of the best soccer players the world has ever seen, the late British (by way of Northern Ireland) soccer star George BEST scored 137 goals in 361 career appearances for English soccer power Manchester United between 1963 and 1974. A few years later, he came across the pond and became one of the headline stars of the North American Soccer League (NASL), helping to legitimize and popularize the game of soccer in the United States while playing for the Los Angeles Aztecs* and San Jose Earthquakes. Along with his dribbling and scoring prowess, Best was probably best known for being a hard partier (and drinker), as continued bouts with alcoholism eventually led to his passing at age 59 in 2005.
*Q: Which music icon was a part-owner of the Los Angeles Aztecs during the time Best plied his trade for the team? Answer at the end of this blog.
Thank you so much for the time today, and I definitely hope to see you all on here once again pretty soon. Have a great rest of your Monday.
A: Elton John
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s themeless Monday crossword — Laura’s Review
I’ve got a bullets-only review for you today:
- [17a: Feed holder]: NOSE BAND. This was the last entry to drop in my solve; kept wanting NOSE BAG. Did not know this was the term for that horse-wearing-a-portable-snack-thing.
- [23a: Law-school hurdles]: ORALS. I had LSATS here, then ONELS. There were ORALS in my PhD program, but I didn’t realize they were a law school thing too. Law-degreed sorts, weigh in?
- [57a: Starbucks offer]: TRENTA. This is the largest size, for a 31-ounce cold drink. Order one and you’ll have to pee like a horse with a NOSE BAND.
- [Customizable iMessage message, e.g.]: ANIMOJI. Available in the latest iOS update, these are terrifyingly cute things, like a rainbow unicorn, that reflect your facial moves and speech.
- [31d: Ranger, Bermuda, or Citation]: EDSEL. At first I thought EDSEL in the figurative sense, of a failure car model, but I didn’t remember the Chevy Citation being that crappy of a car, but it turns out that Edsel had a few car models, and those are three of them. (File under: Thing I Learned Today)
- [48a: “For the Time Being” poet]: W. H. AUDEN. 1942 poem subtitled “A Christmas Oratorio,” it has these stunning lines:
Where is that Law for which we broke our own,
Where now that Justice for which Flesh resigned
Her hereditary right to passion, Mind
His will to absolute power? Gone. Gone.
Where is that Law for which we broke our own?
- [36d: 1972 #1 hit with the lyric “Please swallow your pride/ If I have things you need to borrow”]: LEAN ON ME. Here is Bill Withers, singing his masterpiece on Soul Train in 1974: