Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword
Well, if it isn’t the Queen of Mondays, Lynn Lempel, once again demonstrating why people call her that. Fresh theme—female celebrities whose last names double as words that begin closely related phrases. I like the all-woman theme—it gives the puzzle’s theme that extra level of coherence and focus. And then Lynn fits in 17 6- to 8-letter answers, just for the hell of it. Actresses Jodie Foster, Victoria Principal, and Sally Field and singer Donna Summer all get [Where Jodie lives?]-type clues, with the answers being a Jodie FOSTER HOME, Victoria PRINCIPAL RESIDENCE, Donna SUMMER PLACE, and Sally FIELD HOUSE. Love it! I wanted to dock the theme a half a point for needing Victoria Principal, as she hasn’t been doing much notable acting in recent years, but then I read about her philanthropy in Wikipedia and changed my mind.
Smooth, easy cluing keeps the puzzle at the Monday level.
Highlights in the fill include WII FIT, MISERLY, MR. TOAD, “ALL RISE,” and a YEOMAN (gotta love that Middle English-derived spelling).
Did you notice the other women in the puzzle today? We have Scarlett O’HARA, Dame MYRA Hess, and MSNBC clued as Rachel Maddow’s network. And “chick” in [Chick's chirp] means the PEEP of a baby chicken.
Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Singular Squads”—Evad’s review
Don’t you just hate it when the first answer you slap into a grid ends up being very wrong? That’s what happened with me today with Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy offering. I typically start with the FITB (fill-in-the-blank) clues, and my eyes caught 6-Down first, “Grand ___ Island.” Well, of course it’s CAYMAN, right? Well, I was a bit south on that one, should’ve chosen BAHAMA. Drat!
So, what’s the theme you ask? Today we have a set of teams whose names are not pluralized (as opposed to our local Celtics, for instance). I’m thinking they’re all NBA teams, but let’s go through the set and make sure.
- HEAT INDEX, for the Miami Heat. Yes, NBA, check. This is the team that just acquired LeBron James to the dismay of his home-town Cleveland fans.
- Odd to have MIAMI also in the grid and not referenced to the team.
- Next up, we stay in Florida with the Orlando MAGIC CARPET.(Sounds like a Wheel of Fortune “Before and After” answer, doesn’t it?)
- The Oklahoma City THUNDER CLAP follow; frankly, I had never heard of this team and first thought they may play at the NCAA level. I see here, that the Seattle Supersonics (whom I have heard of) moved here in 2008.
- Finally, we have the Utah JAZZ HANDS. Yep, NBA as well, and a familiar name to me. I think of Jack McFarland of Will & Grace when I hear this term.
So any other teams in the NBA have singular names? A quick perusal of this page shows young Tyler caught them all. Well done! Enjoyed the call out to Bob Denver of GILLIGAN‘s Island fame; other than this role and as the beatnik Maynard G. Krebs in Dobie Gillis, did he do anything else noteworthy in his acting career? Had another problem area with CIVILIANS before CITIZENS for “Police forces protect them.” (I should’ve realized the former had too many letters before I started to fill them in.)
Don Gagliardo’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 20a. [Was disappointed, as with a performance] clues EXPECTED BETTER, which feels a tad dry.
- 25a. [Out-of-the-ordinary brews] are EXTREME BEERS, which are not quaffs I give much thought to.
- 37a. ED MEESE was [Attorney general under Ronald Reagan]. Seeing ABSCAM, a BEATLE, ELVIN Hayes, and Ilie NASTASE in the grid, I felt like the puzzle was dragging me back to the 1970s.
- 44a. EVEN-TEMPERED means [Calm by nature].
- 52a. The clue for ELLEN DEGENERES strives for contemporary relevance but feels outdated already: Yes, [She replaced Paula Abdul as an "American Idol" judge], but not for long. Her talk show remains her primary claim to fame now.
The theme is rather lackluster, I thought. A verb phrase, a plural noun, two names (one past prime), and an adjective, with nothing more tying them together but the vowels that happen to appear in them? But plenty of E’s throughout the non-theme fill, including EEE? Ehh.
Other repeater-type entries gave this the feel of a 1970s crossword: Consider ABBES, AXIL, ARAL, AES, IBID, SEE TO, BLEST, EZIO, and NE’ER. That list hurts my eyes. BIT PART, INK BLOTS, and BEDEVIL have some zing, though.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Does the grid look skewed to you? That could be because ON LOOKOUT crosses LOOKED IN and SKEWS echoes the [Chicken skewer], YAKITORI.
I’m a big fan of LESS SALT, dietarily speaking. PALM OIL, not so much. PAPA JOHN’S, I have no need for; have been on a homemade-pizza kick lately, definitely with LESS SALT than Papa J.
Favorite entry: The “gotta-work-the-crossings-because-how-is-that-spelled-again?” LIU XIAOBO. Honorable mention: SOFTBALLS clued as easy questions.
Favorite clue: [Doll houses?] for TOY STORES.
Low on the totem pole: SAW PIT, LAI, BUTENE, NIHIL, IROC.