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Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword
This is a fun Monday theme, isn’t it? I had no idea what was going on until I hit the clue for 56A: [Words after the starting syllables of 17-, 29- and 43-Across]. Those three answers begin with a YO, HO, HO, so I entered a piratical AND A BOTTLE OF RUM at 56A. That “refrain from piracy” (a classic Manny Nosowsky clue for YOHOHO, I think) is found here:
- 17A. YOGURT SMOOTHIES are [Blended fruit-flavored drinks].
- 29A. “HOLY MACKEREL!” is clued with ["Jumpin' Jehosaphat!"].
- 43A. HOMER SIMPSON is the [TV character who says "It's 1 a.m. Better go home and spend some quality time with the kids"].
I love that disparate trio of answers. The puzzle seemed a notch harder than the usual Monday crossword, perhaps owing to the inclusion of some unusual (for Monday) fill:
- 25A. [Old-time singer Julius] LAROSA keeps popping up, and those who’ve been doing the NYT puzzle every day probably got this one. A Monday-only newbie, though, may get stuck here.
- 34A. BRAE is a [Highlands hillside]. This, along with NAE, TAM, and SMA, is classic Scottish crosswordese.
- 47A. STENOS were [Shorthand pros]. Period piece Mad Men is giving this word renewed life, but if you’re new to crosswords and don’t watch that show…
- 49A. [1970s All-Star Dodger Ron] CEY is the most famous CEY in America.
- 61A. Old-school crosswordese EWER is a [Wide-mouthed pitcher]. This is not a baseball term, regrettably.
- 1D. The two-word verb phrase “SAY O.K.” is clued as [Give permission].
- 51D. [Modern locale of ancient Sheba] is YEMEN. Who knew?
Highlights! I love the clue for 7D, HUM: [What you can do if you don't know the words]. I never know the words. At 37D, “PASS GO” is clued as [Collect $200 in Monopoly]. I prefer the full “do not pass GO,” but I’ll take PASS GO for not being boring fill.
Updated Monday morning:
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “We’re Off to See the Wizard”—Janie’s review
The title tells it all, but darned if I understand the WHY [Question of motive] behind it. It’s not the anniversary of the publication of the book (1900) or the release of the movie (August 1939), and nothing in the healthy 61 squares of theme fill really exceeds the expectation set up in the title. All of it references characters in the Frank L. Baum classic and all of it is clued in reference to “29-Across”: DOROTHY GALE [Visitor to Oz]. So we also encounter:
- 17A. THE COWARDLY LION [He said to ...,"I haven't any courage at all. I even scare mself"].
- 37A. SCARECROW [... said to him, "I think I'm going to miss you most of all"].
- 50A. WICKED WITCH [She called ... "My pretty"].
- 63A. PROFESSOR MARVEL [... asked him, "Why can't we go with you and see all the crowned heads of Europe?"].
Conspicuous by their absence are the Tin Man, Glinda, “and Toto, too!” It’s also odd to me that among those Dorothy is paired with, only Professor Marvel is represented in his Kansas persona. While the use of the quotes in the clues adds some specificity/character to this creation, there’s probably a very surprising, “aha”-making puzzle to be crafted on a Wizard of Oz theme–a Sunday-sized 21×21 format might better accommodate so broad a theme. Randy’s very straightforward approach to the theme keeps this one, well, straightforward and perhaps best appreciated by true beginners.
And while I’m pointing out the elements that sparked this SNIT [Bit of petulance], let me add ART I [Intro to painting] and HOLER [Maker of a successful putt]. These have the sound of being very contrived to my ear (and I can’t find any dictionary support for holer out there). Right there on the fence for me is “IS IT A GO?” ["Are we on?"]. “Are we a go?” yes; “Is it a go?” omma don’ know…
Where the puzzle does make points with me is in the grid and the non-theme fill. I love those triple columns of sevens in all four corners; and the variety in the fill is good, too. Standouts include LET RIDE [Not make an issue of] (what many of you may have wished I’d done vis à vis the theme…); ICHABOD [Crane from Sleepy Hollow] (much of Washington Irving’s work, including “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is available free, online); LANE ONE, (auto racing’s) [Pole position]; ACCRETE [Grow together] (and definitely not a “beginner” word); ON EARTH [In this world]; and the most colorful: CAT’S PAW [Dupe].
I also liked WHIRL, clued as [Try]; [Water cooler?] for ICE, [Shrugger in an Ayn Rand title] for ATLAS, and especially [Hot flower?] for LAVA. That’s good; not the booty from a florist heist (that grows), but liquid volcanic material (that flows).
Robert Fisher’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The theme is swindles, but I’ve only heard of two of the three theme entries. THREE CARD MONTE ([Sleight-of-hand sidewalk swindle]), check. PYRAMID SCHEME ([Multilevel investment swindle]), check. SALTING THE MINE? A [Prospecting swindle]? I haven’t been doing much prospecting, but I’m guessing SALTING THE MINE is leaving bits of a metal or gem in a worthless mine to dupe someone into forking over money. Yep, that’s what it means.
I don’t know about you, but this puzzle felt more like a Wednesday NYT than a Monday LAT puzzle. UMBRA, SEVE Ballesteros, has-been PIA Zadora, SCRIM, and crosswordese OAST seem like tough fill for a Monday.
The [Stereotypical pirate's cry] should have a more pronounced “R” sound (others agree); AARGH is a non-piratical interjection. “Arrr!” “Arrgh!” Those are pirate-speak. The clue for MOONBEAM seems too technical; is there such a thing as a [Ray from a natural satellite] if the light’s all reflected sunlight? Does the moon radiate? I’d like a MOONBEAM clue referencing a nighttime glow, romance optional. (Note: MOONBEAM’s defined in my dictionary as a “ray of moonlight.” Dictionary, you are not helping my argument one bit. Stand down!)
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Loved this puzzle! I did get mired in three squares, but managed to extricate myself without using Across Lite’s “check” option. (Yay!) The trouble spots were 45D/51A and 67A/63D/54D. The Olivia de Havilland insane-asylum movie at 67A is the plausible THE SNAKE PIT, but I started out with THE KNAVE PIT. (Really!) [Lose] could be SHAVE, as in shaving some points, perhaps, and I’m not up on my Kyrgyzstan cities in the Fergana valley (OKH, not OSH). The other spot had [Checkout time?] clueing the bedtime of TEN P.M. rather than an early hotel checkout time of TEN A.M. Naughty by Nature recorded “O.P.P.” (“O is for Other P is for People scratchin’ temple / The last P…well…that’s not that simple / It’s sorta like another way to call a cat a kitten”) and not OAP. I’m equally conversant in Naughty by Nature and Kyrgyzstan cities, which is to say hardly at all.
- JACQUIZZ RODGERS, the Oregon State football player. I mentioned his insane name in my blog the other day, and Brendan jumped on the opportunity to put it in a puzzle.
- “WAX ON, WAX OFF.” Hah! Love this Karate Kid line. You can use the associated hand gestures at the beach as code for “Wow, that guy should really consider waxing his back.”
- “Ooh! Ooh! MR. KOTTER!”
- FAIR GAME is a great in-the-language phrase.
- CLIMATEGATE is au courant.
- IRENE CASTLE usually shows up in crosswords with just her first name, and I wouldn’t know she existed if not for crosswords. Interesting trivia clue: [Dancer who invented the hands-free tango].