James Tuttle’s New York Times crossword
This was the first puzzle in the Marbles Chicago Crossword Tournament on Saturday, and the first finisher, Eric Maddy, solved it in 3:05. (He approached it at a leisurely pace, I imagine.)
Cute tennis theme: The first four theme entries start with the increments of tennis scoring, and then victory is declared in the final theme answer.
- 20a. LOVE TRIANGLE is a great answer, whether in the service of a theme or on its own.
- 28a. FIFTEEN MILES is the [Distance on the Erie Canal, in song]. I don’t know the lyrics and the entry looks like such an arbitrary thing, number + unit of measure.
- 38a. Ah, back to great fill with THIRTY-SOMETHING, clued cruelly as [One approaching middle age]. I’m pretty sure the criteria have been reset and it is only people in their late 40s who are thinking about middle age, which will take them clear through to 65, at which point late middle age verges on “senior citizen.” Ask a 32-year-old if he thinks he’s “approaching middle age” and he’s not going to be pleased.
- 46a. FORTY THIEVES has a hint of the arbitrary to it, or a touch of “wait, that’s a 12-letter partial,” but I think most Monday solvers are familiar with “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” so it’ll fly.
- 57a. “GAME, SET, MATCH!”
A question for the botanically inclined: What sort of ELM is a [Tree with seeds that whirl like helicopter blades]? I know the maple samara is what I grew up calling a “helicopter.” The ELM trees I know have teeny round disks with seeds in the middle, not at all prone to spinning delightfully.
Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Super-breezy puzzle with a theme that’s basic and yet not hit-you-over-the-head-with-it obvious—each theme answer ends with a synonym for “electricity,” used in a different sense. Nice to see zero explanation of the theme in the clues, trusting the solver to put the pieces together:
- 17a. APPLE JUICE is a [Mott's product].
- 55a. A [Gust of wind, e.g.] is an AIR CURRENT.
- 10d. A COVER CHARGE is a [Nightclub minimum].
- 24d. ['60s-'70s passive resistance slogan] clues FLOWER POWER. My first thought was “Make love, not war.”
I don’t know what RYE BEER is. Seems like a lot of [Microbrewery offering]s run along the lines of extra-hoppy bitter ales. Let us Google…here are 10 well-regarded rye beers. Hmm, I should try this local one, Cane & Ebel.
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Art 101”—Sam Donaldson’s review
We start the work week with a simple theme that’s well-executed. Keller gives us three phrases starting with art-related verbs:
- 17-Across: To [Deduce] is to DRAW A CONCLUSION. If you had to draw a “conclusion” in Pictionary, how would you do it? I might draw a donkey and then use an arrow to point to its bottom. I figure the double reinforcement of “ass” might lead my partner or team to think “end,” which would then feed “conclusion.” I suppose that’s why no one wants to be on my team in Pictionary.
- 36-Across: Another way to say ["I'm bewildered"] is COLOR ME CONFUSED. I know “Color Me Badd” and “Color Me Mine,” but this expression is new to me. Yet ironically (or is it coincidentally?), I didn’t have any problems getting this one with just a few crossings.
- 56-Across: To [Go on a spree] is to PAINT THE TOWN RED. This has always been a favorite expression, mostly because I envision people with brushes and paint buckets slathering sidewalks and buildings in thick coats of ruby red, and that just sounds like great fun. Would different colors signal different moods? Do Democrats paint the town blue?
Having 45 theme squares allows for fill that is both more colorful and longer than the average themed crossword. There are only ten three-letter entries, and there’s nice stuff in here like LOSE TO, AU PAIR, SEXES (well-clued as the [Proverbial battlers]), DOWNER, AS ONE, and GOT ON (clued simply as [Boarded]).
Not too much more to say, so let’s close with four random observations:
- As a clue for PASTE, [Grammar school goo] is wonderfully evocative. But is paste really a “goo?” Isn’t paste a little starchier or stiffer than goo? Still, no other answer comes as close to the description, so it didn’t slow me down.
- That whole northeast corner with its ORGY in LEES jeans and GEESE is a little wild for this plain-vanilla boy, but I don’t mind my crosswords getting a little PG-13 now and then.
- Anyone else notice that A LA and AMA were symmetrically apart in the grid? Makes one wonder where Coach ARA, ADA and the ABA were lurking.
- Just once, it would be nice if the answer to [Q.E.D. part] was DEMONSTRANDUM instead of ERAT.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Golfer CHARL SCHWARTZEL has popped his cruciverbal cherry, going from someone none of us had ever heard of to winner of the Masters a week ago. Wordplay fans will appreciate knowing that his first name appears interspersed in his last name: sCHwARtzeL. Just like crossword constructor Narayan veNkAtasubRAmanYAN.
Didn’t know that reruns of “That’s So Raven” are on the ABCKIDS cable channel; my kid watched it on the Disney Channel a few years ago.
Rather startling to see an AREOLA parked so close to that WEBCAM.
PALISH looks terribly wrong but is, in fact, a word.
Favorite clue: 7d: [Java covering] for SARONG. Java the island, not java the coffee. Runner-up: 64a: [Sounds of the harbor?] for INLETS.
Three and a halfish stars. So many names in the grid—I counted 14 people and brand names here.