Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The mechanism of this timely theme is similar to one that Will Shortz often poses in his Sunday NPR segments: anagrams derived from a word plus one letter. Here, it comes with the surnames of five US presidents. And for good measure, the non-theme clues are studded with United States and presidential references, with varying degrees of directness.
- 17a. [GARFIELD + U = Beach V.I.P.] LIFEGUARD.
- 26a. [MADISON + A = “Me, too!”] AND SO AM I.
- 39a. [FILLMORE + V = Movie buff] FILM LOVER.
- 54a. [HARDING + P = Squeezable exercise tool] HAND GRIP.
- 66a. [COOLIDGE + P = Narc’s four-footed helper] POLICE DOG. See also, 23a [Home for Nixon and Reagan: Abbr.] CAL.
Recorded the same year Calvin Coolidge left office. If you like this, check out Stefan Grossman’s latter-day (1966) instrumental cover.
Not going to list all the ancillary prezmat, but here some of the more prominent examples: 46d [There’s one to honor presidents every February] HOLIDAY, 63a [Uncle Sam’s land, for short] US OF A, 1d [Two-year mark, in a presidential term] HALFWAY, 4d [National Mall, for a presidential inauguration] SCENE, 6d [ __ years (when presidents are elected)] LEAP. Feel free to hunt up the others.
- 64d [Mink or sable] Gee, MUSTELID doesn’t fit. Nor CARNIVORE, or MAMMAL. Sheesh, not even CANIFORM. Harumph.
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Surely this is a theme that’s been done many a time. Presuming so, here’s the latest iteration:
- 52aR [Wealthy, and a hint to the first word of 20-, 35- and 40-Across] ROLLING IN DOUGH.
- 20a. [Inquiry meant to entrap] LOADED QUESTION.
- 35a. [Nonfluctuating method of doing things] SET FORMULA. (54d [It usually has a set of rules] GAME.)
- 40a. [Impressionist once labeled “The Man of a Thousand Voices”] RICH LITTLE.
- 25d [Seals in the juices of] CHARS. Uh, no. Here’s an informative passage:
“Charring is when the surface of meat breaks down completely leaving only carbon. This typically happens on a grill where the meat meets the metal. ¶Charring is bad. Not only doesn’t it taste good, but charred meat is very bad for you. The breakdown of complex molecules in meat creates cancer-causing substances. Charring can occur when the meat comes in contact with something more than 500 degrees F. or if you overcook it. Of course, a certain amount of charring is inevitable, after all, you are putting raw meat in contact with very hot metal. ¶So what is searing? By definition, searing is to cook something hot and fast to brown the surface and to seal in the juices. Yet many of the leading cooking experts agree that searing does not seal in juices. Harold McGee in his book On Food and Cooking shows scientifically that a “seared” steak has fewer juices than an equally cooked not “seared” steak.” (source)
- 5a [Array around a surge protector] WIRES. I call them cables, or cords. Wires, often bundled and twisted, are found inside the protective sleeves and coating. No?
- 30a [Mud __: type of wasp] DAUBER. Such a missed opportunity! The following clue is 34a [Sharp-eyed flier] when it could’ve been [Tarantula __: type of wasp].
- Quasi-dupe: 19a [Dental exam image] X-RAY, 37a [Org. supporting flossing] ADA (American Dental Association). Not tragic, yet easily avoided.
- 8d [Pulled the plug on] ENDED, 60a [Shut down] CEASE.
- These are all four-letter entries starting from the first row: 2d [Cuban currency] PESO/11d [Money in Malta] EURO, 6d [Baghdad’s country] IRAQ/12d [Mideast nation in a 2015 nuclear deal] IRAN. Interesting.
- 44d [Heart-to-heart] EARNEST. Thought this was going to be a noun.
- 57d [Actor Richard] is kind of open-ended as clues go, but crossings soon revealed it to be GERE.
Apparently nearly all of my observations on this one are mildly negative. Ah well, it was an OK Monday offering, despite the impression I may have inadvertently conveyed.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s themeless Monday crossword — Laura’s Review
- [51a: “I’m the only one?”]: IS IT ME, or did we just see [13d: Strong balanced hand bridge opening]: ONE NO in another grid recently. I believe that’s short for one no trump — a fine opening indeed. I also just saw [34a: Only QB to catch a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl]: NICK FOLES in another puzzle but I won’t tell you where because spoilers.
- [42a: Serf of ancient Sparta]: HELOT. Cousin of an esne?
- [55a: Pho, e.g.]: NOODLE SOUP. Pho is very easy to make in your Instant Pot.
- [14a: Like a college athlete kept from games in order to develop skills]: RED SHIRTED. This also, in some parenting circles, refers to children (mostly boys) held back from starting kindergarten until they’re almost seven years old. Red shirted, in another context, can also describe a sci-fi character who is introduced only to be killed off (something explored to delectable irony in John Scalzi’s excellent novel Redshirts).
- Department of 1980s Music Trivia That I Didn’t Know: that [60a: “The Sweetest Taboo” R&B group]: SADE was actually a group, and not just their eponymous lead singer. She’ll sing us out, “no place to be ending but somewhere to start”: