Andrea Carla Michaels’ New York Times crossword
We’ve got an easy Monday puzzle with an anagram theme that appears to have no underlying rationale. LADE is at 35D, clued [Stow, as cargo...or an anagram of the last word of 17-, 35- or 52-Across]. There’s no particular reason to scramble a word like LADE, though. The phrases with the LADE anagrams are as follows:
- 17A. [All around, as on a trip] clues OVER HILL AND DALE. Clue seems odd, but I’m not sure how else one would clue that. When I saw DALE at the end there, my first thought was that it would be a chipmunks theme. Alvin, Simon, and Theodore are the trio, though, and Chip ‘n’ Dale are a duo.
- 35A. [TV show with many doors] is LET’S MAKE A DEAL. These days, Deal or No Deal is the default ends-with-”Deal” game show.
- 52A. [Move into first place in a race] clues TAKE OVER THE LEAD. Sadly, in my NCAA bracket of crossworders, I am nowhere near the lead. ESPN tells me I have made correct picks just 8.5% of the time. Shameful! Good thing there’s no money riding on this.
GIRLIE is clued as 23A: [Young and feminine], though that usage is usually spelled girly. How many people know that the show-within-a-show on 30 Rock was originally called The Girlie Show? 30 Rock remains my favorite show on TV.
Most surprising entry: DIASPORA, clued as 11D: [Scattering of an ethnic group]. This is only its third appearance in the NYT crossword, Xword Info tells me.
Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times diagramless crossword (second Sunday puzzle)
As is my wont, I started jotting down the answers on an invisible grid on a blank sheet of paper. It didn’t take long (three or four rows in) to look like a puzzle whose top entries would be centered in the grid, and that was indeed the case. The puzzle’s symmetry is standard rotational crossword symmetry.
The four theme entries all share the same clue: [Stop]. The four kinds of STOPs are an AMTRAK DEPOT (10A), a CRY FROM THE TICKLED (22A—this answer is hereby dedicated for former congressman Eric Massa, who I hope is now receiving psychotherapy), a PERIOD IN A TELEGRAM (50A), and an ORGAN HANDLE (62A…an organ stop is a handle? I can’t say I was hip to that).
The filled-in grid takes the shape of an octagonal stop sign:
* * * * * C H A I N U P * * * * * * * * * D I A G N O S I S * * * * * * * A M T R A K D E P O T * * * * * C I V I L * * * D E N O M * * * S L R * * E S C S * * I R I S * C R Y F R O M T H E T I C K L E D L A D I E S * S I T A R S * T A O I S E E N O W * C T R S * C O L T * * B L T * I C K E S * J A N * * T O A D * F L A P * I N O R B I T A P R * R E L I E S * H I D E H O P E R I O D I N A T E L E G R A M * C O M B * * E S A I * * A L D * * * W H E E L * * * S O M M E * * * * * O R G A N H A N D L E * * * * * * * T A K E A P E E K * * * * * * * * * D E A L E R S * * * * *
I like the pair of men supporting the stop sign’s sides, CLYDE BARROW and MILTON BERLE. And I say that despite the fact that MILTON BERLE was my fourth answer for ["Uncle" of old TV]. First there was my favorite MARTIAN, then Uncle MILTIE, then MILTON, and finally the last name. Oy!
Overall, the puzzle seemed a bit less playful than I was expecting based on Patrick Blindauer’s byline, but tackling a solid diagramless is always a worthy pastime.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Come Around”—Janie’s review
We know this theme. In today’s treatment of if, Martin has split the letters of the word “come” so that they bookend–go “around”–the entire theme phrase. There is nothing USUAL [Run-of-the-mill], however, about that theme fill, three very strong phrases in their own right.
20A. CONFIDENCE GAME [Scam]. Sometimes casino games can be scams, so be careful when you put your money down. Internet casino games especially. That red and black wheel? Not foolproof. Not by a long shot. Oh–and that [Rouge roulette number] in the puzzle? That’d be CINQ.
39A. COMMUNIST REGIME [Cuba's government, e.g.].
54A. “COULDA FOOLED ME!” ["Well, I'll be!"]. Folksy and fun.
Reinforcing that great theme fill is a string of lively, long non-theme fill. What’s not to love in a puzzle that delivers LIVED A LIE [Was false to the world], “COWABUNGA!” [Ninja Turtle's cry], OMNIBUSES [Anthologies] and STEPS ON IT [Puts the pedal to the metal]?! I also enjoyed seeing PODIUM [Maestro's platform] and MUDDLE [Jumble] and SALVES [Sunburn soothers].
If you’ve an appetite for something that’s literally “meaty,” Martin has obliged with both CHILI [Hot dog garnish] and JOES [Sloppy guys?]–neither of which qualifies as LITE [Low-cal] food. Oh–and there’s also RARE, as in [Steak order]. Are the classics more to your taste? Well, then, there’s ELEA [Zeno's home] and the ILIAD [Troy story].
Movie lover? We got yer INDIES [Non-studio films] and we got yer IMAX [Big screen film format]. We also got two (at least one-time) blond-bombshell types: DYAN [Actress Cannon] and LONI Anderson [Burt's ex]. Because I rarely eschew the obvious, I will say that I was amused to see these names, um, stacked in the grid… And in the name of balance, we also got two (at least one-time) matinee-idol types: [Actor Alain] DELON (The Yellow Rolls-Royce, anyone?) and ALEC [One of the Baldwins].
Will finish this RECAP [Summary] with the mention of a trio of peppy clues: [Jumps (out)] for BAILS, [Bump off] for DO IN, and ["Later, dude!"] for “CIAO!”
Robert Fisher’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The theme entries each have two body parts joined by a different word:
- 20A. [Hopelessly, as in love] clues HEAD OVER HEELS.
- 29A. I would call the [Field sobriety test] “touch your finger to your nose” rather than FINGER-TO-NOSE. Maybe cops call it FINGER-TO-NOSE; I don’t know.
- 46A. A [Fierce way to fight] is TOOTH AND NAIL.
- 56A. [Facetious] clues TONGUE IN CHEEK.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Got off to a quick start with JIHAD JANE at 1A and filled in that zone, and then did the opposite corner with the ZOOLANDER foothold. And then…I hit the skids. Tough SW, middle, and NE! The brand names at 11D sounded like sleeping pills, not cameras (LEICAS). The LEYDEN JAR, STYLE BOOK, and ORIFLAMME in the middle came together with the aid of a lot of crossings. I wanted [Banner that serves as a rallying point] to be FREAK FLAG, not ORIFLAMME; when can we get FREAK FLAG in the grid?
For future JEZEBEL clues, I’d love to see a reference to the popular blog by that name.