David Blake’s New York Times crossword
I didn’t pay the slightest attention to the theme while solving this puzzle. Ah, Monday. Before you know it, boom, the puzzle’s done. I see now that it’s names and things ending with various spellings of the “mor” sound:
- 17a. ["Yes, go on"] clues “TELL ME MORE.”
- 24a. The [1969 Stevie Wonder hit] is “MY CHERIE AMOUR.”
- 38a. JAY MOHR is the [Former host of TV's "Last Comic Standing"].
- 51a. BENJAMIN MOORE is a [Big name in paint]. I have a few rooms with Benjamin Moore walls.
- 62a. [Location in a Donizetti opera] is LAMMERMOOR, as in Lucia di Lammermoor.
I cost myself a good 20 or 30 seconds on this puzzle by dropping in ESTAS for 68a: [These: Sp.]. It’s ESTOS instead, and if I had merely glanced at the crossing clue I would have seen that MNA was wrong and MNO worked. Check those crossings, kids!
Top five answers:
- 3d. POLEMICAL, or [Tending to cause an argument].
- 4d. SILLY ME, or [Words before "And here I thought…"].
- 5d. PLETHORA, or [Great deal].
- 34d. STEVEDORE, or [Longshoreman]. There are pretty much no stevedore/longshoreman opportunities in Chicago.
- 51d. BLITZ, or [Fast-moving attack].
Bottom three answers:
- 22d. SAUER, [Like some Kraut], hooks into sauerkraut. The sauer part means “sour” and Kraut means “vegetable” in German. But severed from its -kraut, SAUER makes for an odd crossword answer.
- 65a. [Actress Graff] is ILENE. She is the most famous actress named Ilene, but surely not among the most famous 300 actresses.
- 25d. -ENCY is a [Suffix with depend]. So are ENCE and ABLE. Only the last of these three makes for a good Monday entry.
Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Here’s a BIRTHDAY theme, with four phrases that begin with words that can follow “birthday.” (This is not my least favorite type of theme to solve, but it is my least favorite type of theme to have to describe.) Let’s call it a BIRTHDAY gift for ACPT champ Dan Feyer, who celebrated his birthday Sunday. Here are the theme entries:
- 18a. [Sure thing] is a CAKEWALK. I started to put some other answer here based on the CA beginning, but the NIKE crossing said no. I wonder what that other answer was. I have quite forgotten it.
- 23a. [Official political philosophy] is the PARTY LINE. “Party line” is also that goofy shared phone line my grandparents had back in the day. You never knew when you picked up the phone if you’d have a dial tone or someone else’s call in progress.
- 36a. [Now, with "the"] clues PRESENT MOMENT. The phrase strikes me as somewhat redundant. “At the moment” or “at present” will suffice. (Not a knock on Gareth but on sloppy English usage.)
- 52a. [Deck marker, maybe] is a CARD SHARP. CARD SHARK would also be valid, but the crossing said P as in AMP.
- 58a. And a BIRTHDAY is an [Event for the first parts of 18-, 23-, 36- and 52-Across]. Bake me a cake, invite my friends to the party, give me a nice present or a card. August 15, people. It’s practically around the corner. A shiny new crossword puzzle always makes a thoughtful present, I find.
Six more clues:
- 17a. [Won a game without knocking] clues GINNED. I never even saw this clue while doing the puzzle with the Downs in that section.
- 26a. DRAKE is clued via [Donald Duck, e.g.]. Now, Gareth knows his zoology, but I am compelled to point out that this is incorrect. Donald Duck is not a male duck; he is, in fact, merely a cartoon character. (Sorry if this comes as a shock to you, Jeffrey the Canadian Disney Maniac Who Blogs Here.)
- 29a. [Jeanne d'Arc, par exemple] is a SAINTE. Wow. We rarely get SAINTE in the grid, but its abbreviation, STE., is canonized regularly.
- 60a. [Peace, in Arabic] is SALAAM. Its cognate, shalom, means peace in Hebrew.
- 1d. [Its yolk is used in mayonnaise] refers to an EGG in this instance. Oxen’s yolk is used in plowing, of course.
- 3d. The INNER EAR is your [Cochlea location]. I was just saying in my Sunday post that the INNER EAR gets a lot of play in the puzzle, thanks to those super-common letters.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Homer Improvement”—Janie’s review
- 20A. IF SOMETHING IS
- 39A. HARD TO DO, THEN IT’S
- 57A. NOT WORTH DOING.
I guess OBAMA [Biden's boss] missed class that day… Nice how that ALOHA [Maui greeting] drops from that first “A” in Obama, Hawaii’s native son.
Nicer still is all that bonus-fill that comes with this “Homeric” theme. There’s APU [Kwik-E-Mart proprietor], ["Diamond] JOE [" Quimby (Mayor on "The Simpsons"), CLUE [Classic board game with a Simpsons variant], BARTS [Homer's son et al.], and probably most characteristically, “D’OH!” [Cry from Homer Simpson]. While the roster of characters pictured here is hardly exhaustive, it’ll at least give you some idea of who’s who.
Check out the longer fill that Martin’s included. DIESEL OIL [Semi fuel] may be more functional than exciting, but it keeps really good company with GO TO SEED [Deteriorate], NEUROTIC [Woody Allen-like] and TRADING UP [Getting a more expensive car, say] or maybe a set of vintage wheels, like a MODEL T [Early Ford]. (The Model T was built on the assembly line; as for our human BODIES, [They're built in a gym].)
In this mod’ren [sic] age, we’re very comfortable corresponding with [Short cybermessages] E-NOTES. SNAIL mail (so named for the [Slow-paced critter]) seems almost quaint, but I do love it. Writers and editors still use it some, which is when an SAE becomes a necessity [Freelance writer's encl.]. Send it FedEx or UPS and it fairly ZOOMS to its destination [Goes in a hurry]. Send it USPS Express and (as experience has taught me) it may languish for days at the wrong location. Let the buyer beware!
While it’s far from Springfield, I do like the way Martin has incorporated a shout-out to the Northwest today, so we see not only ORO [y Plata (Montana motto)], but also IDAHO [Montana neighbor] and [State tree of North Dakota], the stately ELM. Smartly done. You betcha.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
I think Brendan needs a four-step difficulty scale because his themelesses range from Thursday to Saturday NYT difficulty. This one landed on Thursday for me, so I would call it medium, but if its themelessness places it in “hard,” then there ought to be something beyond that. Maybe “eleven,” per This Is Spinal Tap.
Favorite entries and clues:
- MR. BURNS from The Simpsons is much better than MR. SLATE from The Flintstones, whom I’ve seen in two or three puzzles, because it’s more current.
- THE RENT is a lousy entry, really, but I’m a sucker for the whole “I can’t pay the rent!”—”You must pay the rent!”—”I can’t!”—”You must!”—”I’ll pay the rent.”—”My hero!”—”Curses! Foiled again” scenario.
- “WELL, DUH.”
- Ooh, getting fancy with the literary stuff: Poe’s “TO HELEN.”
- PASS GAS. It’s both fresh and, well, not so fresh.
- IN THEORY and in practice, IN THEORY is a great answer.
- [Nipple rings?] is a playful clue for AREOLAS.
- PORN STAR. Well, you don’t see that every day in your crossword. Hard clue, too.
- The VON TRAPP family gets its VON in the grid for a change.
German language alert: Brendan, German nouns are capitalized, so 8d needs to be [Die Sonne's home]. The lowercase S put my head in such a spin that I changed languages and plunked LA CIEL in there, though I think in French it’s supposed to be le ciel. HIMMEL is German for “heaven” or “sky.”