Mike Torch’s New York Times crossword
I’m torn. Racked with indecision. I just don’t know what makes sense any more. Can you relate?
The theme entries are four famous quandaries (split among seven answer spaces):
- 17a, 61a. As the Clash song plaintively yet rockingly asks, SHOULD I STAY / OR SHOULD I GO? If I stay, there will be trouble. If I go, it will be double. See? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
- 23a, 54a. The old Clairol hair-dye ads asked you to figure out DOES SHE OR/ DOESN’T SHE color her hair? I would love to see the Viagra folks adapt this approach in their ads.
- 37a. And in the middle, no less torn for his single-answer presentation, is Hamlet with his classic TO BE OR NOT TO BE.
- 12d, 46d. DEAL OR / NO DEAL, the horrible Howie Mandel game show that makes me want people with no grasp of probabilities to lose painfully and not be rewarded for risky decision making,
Terrific, fresh Monday theme. If you are looking at the puzzle thinking that you shouldn’t have to know the Clash song because it’s too recent, note that it came out 30 years ago. If you’re wondering why you have to know an old ad slogan and an old song, I have no real defense for the importance of knowing Clairol’s ad history, but “Should I Stay or Should I Go” is rightfully a classic song in the rock canon. Hamlet, of course, we should all know. And if you never watch TV and don’t know the game show, well, I can’t help you. There’s plenty of TV stuff in crosswords and it’s fair game for the rest of us.
- 40d. A good, inescapable, throbbing BASS LINE is an asset to many a song.
- 6d. I like “SO I SEE.”
- ETUIS and ORT lead the way for the Crosswordese Brigade, and the Abbreviation Army weighs in with ESTH, TUE, REG, AUS, and more.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Ball Bearing”—Evad’s review
What do we have here, a puzzle dedicated to famous male actors? Ummm, no. It’s four theme phrases where the “ball” is found split between two words:
- [Without racial prejudice] is COLOR BLIND. Speaking of males, did you know that 7% of us in the US can’t distinguish red from green, but only 0.4% of women suffer from this same deficiency. One of my favorite authors, Oliver Sachs writes often on this topic.
- Have you heard of the 1905 play MAJOR BARBARA? The only Rex Harrison movie based on a George Bernard Shaw play that I know is My Fair Lady based on Pygmalion.
- Something I’ve spent a lot of time standing by recently is a [Baggage claim contraption] or CONVEYOR BELT. In Miami, it took more than an hour to get our bags, and that’s after arriving an hour later than we should have, at 11pm. Long night!
- Fun clue, [Fuzz-busting tool?] for RAZOR BLADE. I was thinking of radar detectors.
Not sure we needed the spoiler entry ORB at the bottom, but it’s nice to be found in the final across entry. I also enjoyed uncovering MIX ‘N’ MATCH, BOOZE, VELCRO and rapper JAY-Z in the fill. Patrick also weighs in on the TOMATO debate, affirming it a fruit often thought of as a vegetable. I think this has something to do with its seeds, but there are plenty of vegetables with seeds (cucumbers come to mind), so it’s got to be more than that. Botanists, weigh in in the comments!
Scott Atkinson’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The theme entries are four similarly constructed phrases in the “blanky-blank” mode:
- 17a. RINKY-DINK
- 53a. LUCKY DUCK
- 10d. HACKY SACK
- 33d. HONKY-TONK
Light, suitable for Mondays.
I do like the inclusion of so many 7- and 8-letter answers in the fill, but they come at a cost—lots of partials (and a lot of one-word things that are practically partials because they have no life apart from their fill-in-the-blank action) and abbreviations. Really. SPCA, TO AN, ETD, EES, the bizarre HDS ([Coin flip call: Abbr.]), RFK, HEE, PCP, I BE, ALKA, KAT, RST, OCT, MDSE, FEELY, PDAS, PPP, LBS. Those things are all over the grid, when you don’t want more than a handful of them in a single puzzle, and they lessen the positive impact of all the lovely long fill. Particularly nice (but not necessarily worth the tradeoff of icky little crossings) are ORTHODOX, WHISPER, SCULPTOR, ETHIOPIA, COUSTEAU, and REBUKES.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
I suspect that 17a was one of Brendan’s seed entries, and…I have no idea what it means, other than what the clue tells me. Have never encountered the term ROOTS FOR LAUNDRY. [Supports the team, no matter who's on it]—what does that mean, you support the uniform? Well, duh, it’s often the city you’re rooting for, not the laundry. So I don’t get it. And I don’t understand the people who get excited about a team from a city where they’ve never lived.
- CAT FANCY! Crossword people, I ask you, where is the Crossword Fancy magazine? Our market is ill-served.
- Love the words SHREWD and BUGABOO.
- SHRINKING VIOLET is great.
- SETH MEYERS, full name, approved. (RAY LEWIS, full name, not approved.)
- E.R. DOCTOR, fresh fill.
- A baby goose is a GOSLING. I hit that word in the middle, so I filled in the SLING part and thought about actor Ryan Gosling and when the cursor jumped back to the start, I filled in RY. Yes, RYSLING.
- Cluing REV. with reference to Reverend Run of Run DMC.
- If you’re going to have that ROOTS FOR LAUNDRY sprawled across the top of the grid, don’t have a derivate, ROOTLE, in the bottom.