Bob Johnson’s New York Times crossword
The theme is some sort of cheeseburger, with the various components found in circled, sometimes noncontiguous squares in six rows of the grid:
- 5A. [UCLA player] is BRUIN, hiding the top bun.
- 17A. [Football alignment named for its shape] is a T FORMATION. I can’t find the photo I took of a tomato slice on a friend’s restaurant salad. It was a cross between pastel peach color and beige.
- 26A. There’s a pickle in PICK OF THE LITTER, or [Top choice].
- 45A. ["Light" dessert?] clues CHERRIES JUBILEE, which is lit on fire.
- 58A. Here comes the meat. BUCK ROGERS is your [Sci-fi hero in the 25th century].
- 64A. [To the point, ironically] clues BLUNT because something that’s blunt doesn’t have a sharp tip.
While the pickle and cheese and the top and bottom buns are centered, I think it’s appropriate that the cheese and tomato are shooting off to the sides.
There are a few words that seem out of place in a Monday puzzle:
- 6D. RETINT is clued as [Recolor again, as the hair]. I can’t help thinking that neither Bob Johnson nor Will Shortz has ever been to a colorist. I have (this morning, in fact), and “tint” and “retint” have never entered into it.
- 18D. MYRON is an [Ancient Athenian sculptor]. No famous Myrons since ancient Greece, huh?
- 22D. APIA is the [Samoan capital]. If this town is new to you, learn it—it’ll keep showing up in crosswords.
- 43D. AB OVO means [From the beginning: Lat.].
My favorite answers and clues:
- 44D. VINEGAR is [The "sour" in sweet-and-sour].
- 47D. The rather archaic word JERKIN means [Sleeveless jacket].
- 53A. VENTI is a [Starbucks size that's Italian for "twenty"].
- 11D. COLLATERAL is [Property securing a loan].
- 28D. CRIME SCENE is clued [It might be marked off with police tape].
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Making the Grade”—Evad’s review
- [B for a genie?] GOOD WISHES – how “good” the wishes are depends less on the genie than on the grantee, no?
- [A for Nana?] GREAT GRANDMA – would a GREAT GREAT GRANDMA be even better?
- [D for magazine sales?] POOR CIRCULATION – the WaPo has the 77-year-old “Newsweek” up for sale, likely for this very reason.
- [A+ for bullpen work?] PERFECT PITCH – our hapless Red Sox star closer, Jonathan Papelbon, has been far from perfect this year.
- [C for Starbucks?] AVERAGE JOE – my favorite coffee is Peet’s, but I would give Starbucks a better grade than C. Maybe B+. Dunkin’ Donuts gets a D.
I first expected the grades to run from good to bad or v.v., but then again, most report cards I’ve received have grades in a random order. Let’s see what else we can grade in today’s puzzle:
- “Capital of Greece?” ain’t ATHENS, or even EUROS (sorry, Germany!), but HARD G
- Mexican actress Dolores DEL RIO dates back to the “Golden Age of Hollywood.” I see she was romantically linked with Orson Welles (who wasn’t?) and was one of the great beauties of her day.
- Funny to see a 6-letter partial, “It’s ___” A STEAL. Did Merl Reagle take over editing duties?
- POUF for “High hairdo” is unusual. Marie Antoinette’s hair was the epitome of this style.
- Tea Party celeb SARAH Palin makes an appearance, clued by the names of her children Bristol, Willow and Piper. Sorry Track and Trig!
John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I had the first and third theme entries, MISS MANNERS (20a: [Etiquette authority]) and MRS. MALAPROP (57a: [Sheridan's misuser of words]), and fully expected a famous MS. to appear in the middle. What?!? MISTER MAGOO? (a) He’s not a Ms. and (b) the 38a: [Cantankerous toon] character is Mr. Magoo, not Mister, and MR. MAGOO would look better in the same grid as MRS. MALAPROP. Tying these three together in a weird and beside-the-point way is M AND M’S, clued as 45d: [Mars mouthful; also, a hint to this puzzle's theme]. Now, if the theme entries were people whose initials are M.M., like Marilyn Monroe, this would make more sense. But who thinks of titles like Mr. and Mrs. as words that start with M? One last criticism of the theme: Constructors ought to stop including MANDMS in their grids. The candies are M&M’S, and the trademark holder does not spell out AND. (See also: Mr. Ed the TV horse, not MISTER ED.)
- 29d. [Cure-all potion] is an ELIXIR. The elixir of life, of course, is Diet Coke.
- 47d. A [Thingy] is a whatzit, gizmo, or DOODAD.
- 21d. [Marshy tract] clues MORASS. I love this word, especially when used figuratively. For example, “That puzzle (not this one) is a morass of crosswordese.”
- 37d. An IGUANA is a [Big lizard]. I prefer a wee little gecko. I like to keep my reptiles small.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword
Challenging clues, smart fill, no junk. Much more enjoyable than most themelesses with this sort of 7-heavy grid.
Somebody should tell A.O. SCOTT he’s in a crossword.
Fave entries: A.O. SCOTT, AESCHYLUS, Count CHOCULA, JUMBO CD and J.C. PENNEY, TSING TAO and CHEVRON with their unusual consonant pairings and ALOHA OE with its vowel run, double-Spanish EL PRADO and SI SENOR.