Holden Baker’s New York Times crossword
The theme is |kān|: Words and phrases that end with that sound spelled five different ways. We have a WALKING CANE (which doesn’t sound “in the language” to me the way cane and walking stick do, but is apparently kosher), COCAINE, CITIZEN KANE, KEY BISCAYNE, and RAISING CAIN. Anyone else get the Bay of Biscay in their head and try BAY BISCAYNE for 11d? No? Just me? Okay. Although KEY BISCAYNE is considerably less well-known than the other theme entries, the puzzle as a whole remains Monday-easy.
- 6d. PINUP, or [Playboy centerfold, e.g.], brings to mind Roger Ebert’s brand-new blog post about nudity, art, the Playboy centerfold photo he included in a previous post about Hef, and American Puritanism. (If you’ll get canned for having a nude photo on your screen at work, don’t open those links at your desk.) Like so much that Roger writes, it’s a good read.
- 42a. [W.W. II admiral Chester] is the NIMITZ who’s the namesake of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
- 50a. [Mick Jagger and bandmates, informally] are the STONES. My husband just bought the Kindle edition Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life, to read on our iPad. It’s ballsy to call one’s memoirs Life, no?
- I like the 4d/5d combo, the IRKSOME CLIQUE.
- 24d. I think of [Showy flowers] as big blooms, like peonies, not little blossoms like PHLOX.
- 29d. Does anyone like the clue [Fat as ___] A PIG? The Cruciverb database lists other clues for this answer: ["Like putting lipstick on ____"] is good. I like ["In ___'s eye!"]. [Make ____ of oneself (overeat)] is okay. [Like ___ in a poke] is solid, but repeats the word “a.” I like all those options better than the clue used here. The clue after this one is [Nervous as ___] A CAT, and that one doesn’t resonate for me at all. I suppose the editor or constructor liked the “[(adjective) as ___] (animal)” pairing, but…meh.
- 36d. Needed lots of crossings for [War chief Black Horse's tribe], COMANCHE, but luckily the crossings didn’t fight me.
Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I do not dispute that the word RAH (69a: [One of the 64-Across], 64a being THREE CHEERS) is a legitimate word, found in the dictionaries of record. I do question whether anyone has cheered on a team or an individual by shouting “Rah!” at any time in the last 40 years. Is there a cheerleader in the house who can attest to the use of RAH? Bah!
Three long theme answers include a hidden RAH:
- 17a. BARBARA HALE played [TV's Della Street for nearly 40 years]. I started with BARBARA BAIN because quite honestly, I wouldn’t recognize Barbara Hale if her heyday self walked up and introduced herself.
- 27a. [School assignment that may elicit groans] clues EXTRA HOMEWORK. I don’t think this phrase constitutes a lexical chunk of meaning in its own right. I think it’s s imply adjective+noun and scarcely any better a crossword entry than, say, GREEN T-SHIRT.
- 48a. ORCHESTRA HALL is a common name for a [Symphony venue].
Answer that moves this puzzle beyond the realm of Monday-puzzle simplicity:
- 29d. [Silly] clues TOMFOOLISH. I know tomfoolery and tomfool, but this word? I’ve never seen it.
Accurate yet outdated clue:
- 3d. Sure, an AFRO was a [Woodstock hair style]. But I am weary of crossword clues that suggest that the Afro is a hairstyle of yore. I’m telling ya, I see plenty of Afros in Chicago. The style has undergone a renaissance since the ’90s.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sizing Things Up”—Evad’s review
I thought this to be somewhat of an odd theme, 3 phrases that begin with something one would use to measure something. (It reminds me of those obscure $25,000 Pyramid categories that would always be at the top of the pyramid…”Things used to measure other things.”) Let’s pull out our calipers and see how these entries measure up:
- “Lionel product” is a SCALE MODEL TRAIN. Hmmm…I think a model train is a phrase, and I know they come in different scales, so I guess this one is ok. I think of the scales of justice when I think of scales. Oh, and the astrological sign Libra. I read here that pets who are born under this sign are supposed to be well behaved and submissive. Does that ring true with your experience? Did you even know that pets have horoscopes?
- Another term for a “prodigious homer” is a TAPE MEASURE SHOT. Hmmm…again, not a phrase that rings a strong bell for me, but I get the concept of long homers being measured. Fenway Park’s “Green Monster,” though high as outfield walls go, is a relatively close 310 feet from the home plate.
- RULER OF THE WORLD puts me in a mind of Mike Myers as Dr. Evil. What do you think?
As in some other recent CS themes I’ve commented on, this one suffers from entries in which some of the theme words are used
in the sense of the title (TAPE MEASURE here), but others are not (SCALE, though a measurement of the track the train runs on is not a scale that weighs something and RULER in its phrase has nothing to do with measurement).
A couple of other quick hits:
- Inspired to have “Leno and Romano” clue LAST NAME with “Jay or Ray” cluing ALER right next door.
- I read “Easter flower” (LILY) as “Easter follower” and slapped in LENT, having the initial L in place, and despite the fact that LENT precedes Easter instead of following it. D’oh!
- Can anyone help me with my OLEO/OLIO dysfunction? I always forget which is which.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
- SWEET JANE, CAMERA-SHY, IN A PICKLE stack; great-looking word SCIMITAR; spoken-language “WANT TO GO?”; IRAN-IRAQ as a descriptor for that war of yore; SNEEZE as a hide-and-sick giveaway; TLA, the three-letter abbreviation for “three-letter abbreviation” (no idea if this is “in the language” outside of crosswords—anyone?).
- Mystery moment: HACK-A-SHAQ, which I’d never heard of.
- Dislikes: Extra OK (OKS, DID OK); TRESS at the bottom (rule: any mention of “locks” in the bottom or rightmost row/column of a crossword will be TRESSES).
Dang, that was closer to 10 minutes. Gotta run!