Diane Baker van Hoff’s New York Times crossword
- 17a. [Tempo?] is THE SPEED OF MUSIC. The familiar phrase that starts that way is “the speed of light.”
- 37a. [Ka-ching?] is THE SOUND OF MONEY. You may be thinking also of The Sound of Music, and that MUSIC scooted up to 17a.
- 55a. [Spectrum?] clues THE COLOR OF LIGHT, which evokes the Paul Newman movie, The Color of Money.
Now, it would be super cool if there were a movie called The Speed of Light (I don’t think there is), but it’s still a fun round-robin switcheroo theme. I especially like the straight-up aptness of the clues for 17a and 55a.
I’m too sun-tired from spending the afternoon walking in Lake Michigan for a mile (North Avenue Beach to Fullerton Beach) to have any other insights about this crossword. But ooh! Guess what famous movie director we saw returning a rental bike at the beach today. That man takes his sun protection seriously.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Closed Encounters”—Janie’s review
Today we get not merely “Closed Encounters” [sic] but “Closed Encounters of the Fourth Kind” [sic again...]. The first word of each of the theme phrases can follow the word “closed” and Gail delivers the goods four times. All four phrases are good—two are flat-out beauties—and all look to be making both CS and major publication-type debuts.
- 20A. (Closed) CIRCUIT COURT [Judicial venue]. From jurisdictionary.com: “The term comes from the days when judges rode horseback from one county to the next along a continuous route called the circuit, hearing disputes that exceeded the jurisdiction of the local county courts.” These days, some of those court rooms probably have closed circuit TV, too.
- 29A. (Closed) SET ONE’S HEART ON [Wish for intensely]. Is that a nice theme phrase or what? As for that closed set, the connection I drew on first was to film-making (as in: “We had a closed set during Robert and Kristen’s kiss”), completely forgetting about its meaning in mathematics…
- 45A. (Closed) “SHOP TIL YOU DROP!” ["Have a ball at the mall!"]. Here we have that other terrific phrase—and related fill in the puzzle as a complement: SPREE (like a shopping spree…), clued as [Impulsive indulgence]. As for closed shop, look for the union label!
- 55A. (Closed) BOOK REVIEWER [Critic of a new novel]. A closed book is not only something or someone who’s difficult to get to know, but also a kind of exam.
VALIANT [Boldly courageous] makes for strong fill; and its grid opposite CULVERT [Underground drain] turns out to be one of the words I didn’t know I KNEW, so while I didn’t have it [... down pat], I did manage to retrieve it from somewhere in my brain.
I particularly like the combination of specificity and imagery in Gail’s cluing (even for “little” words), and also the idiomatic “spoken” phrases that make their way into the puzzle. Here are some highlights:
- [Big brewer] for URN.
- [Streaker in space] for METEOR (no astronauts making spacewalks au naturel…).
- [Bigger than big] for JUMBO.
- [Mr. Big to James Bond] for FOE.
- [Like food beyond the shelf life] for TOO OLD (chuck it!!).
- ["That makes me sooo mad!"] for “GRRR!”
- [Gift giver's prompt] for “OPEN IT!”
- [Self-conscious person's question] for “IS IT ME?”
- [Reply to a schoolmarm] for “YES’M.”
- And ["Maybe next time"] for “OH, WELL.”
Allan Parrish’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 17a. [Soft mattress topper] is a FEATHER BED.
- 26a. [Edison's electrical preference] is DIRECT CURRENT. Okay, so who liked alternating current?
- 44a. [Government-owned financial institutions] are NATIONAL BANKS. The U.S. doesn’t have any of these, does it?
- 57a. ["Show Boat" classic, and where to find the ends of 17-, 26- and 44-Across] clues OL’ MAN RIVER. Not only the mighty Mississippi has a riverbed, banks, and current—every river does.
The fill includes 18 6- and 7-letter words, so it’s not your usual Monday grid.
For more on this puzzle, see PuzzleGirl’s L.A. Crossword Confidential post. I’ve got to run my kid over to camp now.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Congratulations to BEQ on publishing his 250th crossword via brendanemmettquigley.com! Brendan, you’ve brought us all a ton of entertainment and mental exertion. Keep up the phenomenal work! Pardon me while I go drop a little something in his tip jar.
- 19a. [Where everything is a bit off] is BIZARRO WORLD.
- 55a. [Ball that falls between an infielder and an outfielder] clues TEXAS LEAGUER. I never had any idea this term wasn’t describing a person. So, it would be wrong for me to say, “Brendan Quigley is a real Texas leaguer”?
- 11d. This oen killed me. I forgot about Red Hat Linux and was thinking [Red Hat alternative] was akin to a Red Bull alternative. And it started with WIND, so it had something to do with WIND. Er, no. It’s the operating system WINDOWS NT. Shouldn’t that be the negative contraction Windowsn’t?
- 20d. WIKILEAKS is the [Controversial website run by Julian Assange]. Did you read that New Yorker profile of Assange a month or two ago? My god, what a bizarre life that man leads. Essentially in hiding/on the go/off the grid at all times.
- 35d. [It helps get a tie undone] isn’t about neckties and knots, it’s about tied score: EXTRA TIME.
- 37d. LEGO is the [Medium in which the Reverend Brendan Powell Smith builds his Bible dioramas]. Discovered a massive trove or two of Legos here at home and have informed my son that we do not ever need to buy Legos again. He seems to agree.
Lately I’m feeling down on those 6-letter prepositional phrases. TIES ON, SORE AT, SENT TO, the longer PASTE IN. I want to YAWN AT all of them. Is it just me? Do they feel like a nice change from 6-letter words to you?