Hello! What a wonderful weekend I had at the ACPT. Great friends, great puzzles: What more could you want?
Though my flight was canceled and the airline rebooked me on a 6 a.m. (!!) flight, I managed to get an earlier flight home. Is it time for the Monday NYT puzzle? It is? Oh. Talk amongst yourselves, please. I’m off to remedy a massive sleep debt and will return in the morning when I will be (I hope) a sentient being.
Steve Dobis’s New York Times crossword
Theme: The SOMETHING in the middle is part of the wedding accessory superstition/tradition that you need “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” Four theme entries begin with OLD, NEW, BORROWED, and BLUE.
It’s solidly a Monday theme concept, but I question whether NEW CALEDONIA (20A: [Island east of Australia]) is remotely Monday puzzle material.
- The corners with the 4×7 blocks of fill.
- The five-part theme with the long pairs partially stacked in the grid.
- The double duty pulled by the clue [Smart ___ (wise guy)], for both ALEC and ASS (1A and 39A).
- The sequential [Sandwich spread(s)] clues at 14A and 15A for MAYO and OLEOS. Although: Do not ever give me a sandwich spread with OLEOS. I would sooner eat the ketchup sandwich of my childhood.
I probably should have been able to do this puzzle faster, but I awoke at 4:15 today and started drafting an ACPT recap post in my head. Couldn’t get back to sleep after that…and didn’t start writing, either. But I cleared out the weekend’s e-mail in-box, so I’m calling it a productive pre-dawn period.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Flight Formation”—Janie’s review
I’m wondering if Donna is a fan of do-it-yourself projects. Last month she deconstructed the make-up of books; today it’s a “flight”–of stairs. Each of the four theme phrases ends with a word that’s also associated with the staircases found in homes. In the puzzle, those component parts are derived from:
- 20A. ROGER BANNISTER [Athlete who broke the four-minute mile]. He did so almost 56 years ago. I always thought that the stair part was a one-N banister, but it seems the two-N bannister is a legitimate variant. Regardless, either way, it’s another word for “hand rail” (and/or the supports).
- 25A. SOFT LANDING [Pilot's goal on approach]. Of course you want a well-supported one where your steps are concerned…
- 44A. EARLY RISERS [They're rarely night owls]. The risers are the vertical components of your steps.
- 49A. WORN TIRE TREADS [Potential cause of vehicular hydroplaning]. Yikes. Never heard of hydroplaning before, but it sounds pretty scary. Seat belts, please; and sound tires (don’t forget to rotate ‘em). Stairway treads are the horizontal parts–what you tread on…
There’s a good bit of lively longer fill that deserves mention, starting with one that works nicely with those early risers, namely GO-GETTERS [Eager beavers]. MAKES SENSE [Adds up], no? They may even start the day with FROOT LOOPS [Toucan Sam's cereal of choice]. (Only wish we hadn’t just seen this fill and almost identical clue a little more than two weeks ago. For better or worse, fill this colorful stands out.) LOOSE ENDS are those [Things to tie up]. Which is probably something you wish I’d do with some of my random comments… Like…
- Was surprised to see LENO clued as [NBC prime time comedian] as Jay’s foray there was decidedly brief.
- If a [Fan's buzz] is a WHIRR, you may have already OILED it [Tended to a squeak].
- There’s a lovely assonant thing going on here, too, with DR.NO, SOHO, TOADS, “WHOA!,” BALBOA and SYRIANA.
- And finally, thank you, Ogden Nash, for both the “one-L priest” (LAMA) and the “two-L beast” (LLAMA). In his words:
The one-L lama,
He’s a priest.
The two-L llama,
He’s a beast.
And I would bet
A silk pajama
There isn’t any
Check out the link for Nash’s post-script.
Jennifer Nutt’s Los Angeles Times crossword
This one’s an excellent example of the Monday crossword form. The theme entries are clued straightforwardly and it’s not difficult to notice that these familiar terms all begin with words that are synonymous:
- 21A. [Dangerously uncontrollable type] is a LOOSE CANNON.
- 27A. [Weekly dress-down times] are CASUAL FRIDAYS. Anyone else see that episode of NBC’s The Office in which Meredith was wearing an inappropriately short tube dress? It inched down and revealed her boob, so she hitched it up…spurring Kelly to exclaim, “Dammit, Meredith, where are your panties?” “It’s casual day,” Meredith replies nonchalantly.
- 48A. EASY LISTENING is a [Music genre heard in elevators]. My favorite grocery store pipes in early ’80s music and I love it. Very hard not to sing along—whereas easy listening is less sing-alongable.
- 55A. RELAXED HAIR is clued as [Chemically treated tresses].
The rest of the fill is fairly routine Monday material, nothing too obscure or challenging. Not much in the way of sports terms or proper names—which probably also helps the beginning solver. The most unexpected answeris UNO CARD (9D: [It may direct you to skip, draw two, or reverse]). I don’t think it’s great fill—feels like a random [game] + [game piece] phrase—but most of us have probably played Uno enough to recognize the terms in the clue so it works for Monday.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Figured 1A would be a contemporary comedian, since Brendan uses them in his puzzles fairly often. W.C. FIELDS?!? I should’ve known that because the quote in the clue is too familiar to be someone touring now.
RHODESIA! The clue, [Its capital was Salisbury], had me pondering regions within England that may have called Salisbury a capital. D’oh! Needed lots of crossings here.
22A is SERTS, plural artist name clued with two of his works of art. Valid way to clue it, but I sure as hell wasn’t getting the answer based on the clue.
JAMES WOODS! Weird guy, but a good full-name crossword answer.
Was stumped by [1 preceder] and needed a few crossings. NOON! But of course.
[River that starts at the Vioménil]? I kinda figured that had to be a river in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Nope, it’s the SAONE of France. Who knew?
ERUCTATES, the $15 equivalent of [Belches]: always welcome in my puzzle.