John Dunn’s New York Times crossword
What a perfect theme for a Monday! Dunn interprets the term CATCHPHRASE as “phrases that start with synonyms for catch,” and all three phrases are lively and utterly “in the language”: SEIZE THE DAY, GRAB A BITE TO EAT, and the kids’ game CAPTURE THE FLAG.
The fill’s mostly Monday-smooth, with a handful of answer words newbies need to memorize if they’re unfamiliar:
- 57d. ATRA razors are a [Gillette brand].
- 50d. UTEP, the University of Texas at El Paso, is a [Lone Star State sch.]. Other Texas universities are more famous, but UTEP is usually your 4-letter Texas college (RICE can be clued so many other ways—the grain, footballer Jerry, author Anne, etc.). The 3-letter Texas school we see most often in crosswords is SMU (Southern Methodist), home of the Bush Library and Laura Bush’s alma mater.
- 42d. [Comic Mort] SAHL gained fame as a political humorist.
- 7d. [1987 Masters winner Larry] MIZE is a golfer.
- 13d. Got a STYE on your eyelid? The STYE accounts for 99% of ocular maladies seen in crosswords. MACULAR DEGENERATION is way too long for a 15×15 grid.
Neville Fogarty’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 17a. [Last resort actions] are DRASTIC MEASURES.
- 27a. [2009 Clooney/Streep film based on a Roald Dahl book] is FANTASTIC MR. FOX. Nope, no “The” in the title. It was a good movie, though I didn’t find myself switching to using the word cuss in lieu of other 4-letter words, as Mr. Fox did. Cuss-hole!
- 44a. [Scrunchie, e.g.] clues the awkward ELASTIC HAIR TIE.
- 55a. The PLASTIC FLAMINGO is a [Kitschy lawn ornament].
- 43d: [A, B, C, D, E, or K] for VITAMIN.
Hoo-wee, am I tired. It’s that dastardly time change! Pardon me. I must go change some clocks and get to bed.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “This Puzzle is Rigged!”—Evad’s review
Ah, my arch-nemesis Bob Klahn appears again; luckily for me, it’s an early-week puzzle as opposed to his truly diabolical “Sunday Challenges.” This time his inspiration was to shoehorn the letters RIG into two-word phrases for comic effect:
- A “Havana highwayman?” could be a CIGAR BRIGAND. Bob had lots of choices here, why not RUBBER BRIGAND or BOY BRIGAND? Did he choose the best one?
- TEMPTING FATE becomes TEMPTING FRIGATE. The “sirens” in the clue “Warship with sirens?” aren’t the kind that make loud noises…
- Peter Pan‘s Cathy Rigby gets a big hug with SQUEEZE RIGBY. Not a big fan of the base phrase here, one can say “I just squeezed by,” I suppose, but most of us squeak instead of squeeze.
As I’ve come to expect, there are many lively clues and entries surrounding these three theme entries:
- So how ridiculously large is a GOOGOL, you ask? Try 10-to-the-hundredth power ridiculous.
- Paused a bit on “Raw material for Ed Norton?” (SEWAGE), as I was thinking Fight Club, not The Honeymooners. The latter worked in the city’s sewers, and would say stuff like this to Ralph Kramden: “As we say in the sewer, here’s mud in your eye.”
- “Berth place” for QUAY, “Battle of the bulge” for DIET and “‘Got milk?’ comeback” for MOO were all very cute.
- Bob even offers us a clue in the form of a HAIKU:
A poem like this
Of 17 syllables
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Before I forget, let me link you to the guest themeless (by Peter Wentz) posted at Brendan’s site last Friday.
Okay, the morning is gone and I want to get some puzzle editing done, so I’ll be quick about this. I like the freshness of NEAREST EXIT—it’s thisclose to being an arbitrary adjective+noun phrase and likely is not found in any dictionary as a single entry, and yet it really does feel like a distinct lexical chunk to any air traveler.
I like “HERE’S WHY” because it reminds me of a cheesy lecturer my husband once saw. That guy’s shtick was “Blah blah blah, and I’ll tell you why,” over and over.
The clue for THE GAP, [Company with a recent failed logo change], amuses me because I was following that story on Twitter a couple weeks back. Echoes of the Tropicana juice redesign—(1) Company spends money designing new logo/packaging. (2) Company springs it on the marketplace. (3) Marketplace says “Good god, what are you doing? That’s awful! Go back to what you had. Don’t mess with iconic, you dipwads.”
You know what slowed me down in the southeast quadrant? I had ACES for [Whizzes]. Mm-hmm, Brendan went with PEES.
34a looks like a disease afflicting those who take on more than they can handle: YESITIS.
BEER GUT! Yes, it’s an unsightly [Belt covering]. *shudder*