Joon Pahk’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
I didn’t notice until after finishing the puzzle and discerning it on my own that the link among the four theme entries is made explicit in the final across: [Logan Airport luggage letters...] BOS. Hence each long across entry consists of three words with the initials B·O·S.
- 17a. BARBER OF SEVILLE. I can’t hear you, la la la lalalala la la laaa…
- 27a. BOX OFFICE STAR. I would have preferred the more common “box office smash” which returns—according to my now-dubious Google piloting—a whopping 8,390,000 hits to bostar’s paltry 608,000. Of course that would require an extra letter in…
- 49a. BARACK OBAMA SR. and that can only reasonably be achieved by adding the middle initial H, for an aesthetically challenged entry. Star it is.
- 64a. BLOWING OFF STEAM. I know nothing about this behavior.
Before I noticed the spoiler at 72a, my take on the connection was Bos taurus, the scientific name for domestic cattle. And what do you know, it turns out that the astrological sign Taurus spans the dates April 21 to May 20 or 21 (so it just started recently)! But that, as much in astrology, is mere coincidence.
Since this is a Monday puzzle, everything is very straightforward.
Not a single Just one question-marked clue to be found in the bunch, low abbrev. count, a minimum of partials and crosswordese. The only stretch-words I noted are 71a (the question marked clue noted above) [Sum more?] READD and 18d. [Vitamin whose name could be a bingo call] BSIX, and neither of those are even close to egregious; they barely qualify as dubious. So, overall a very solid and stolid puzzle.
- Column Seven: Atop fur kegger and, uhm, Column Five: Speedos ramming. Perhaps Column Four could hearken back to 18d’s clue: B-Six…ours win!
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy Crossword, “State of the Union” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Solvers of the world unite! Levin makes a theme out of four two-word phrases where one word relates to unions:
- 17-Across: The [Harbinger of an imminent delivery] is LABOR PAINS. Unions often represent the collective interests of labor (i.e., workers) in negotiations with management.
- 52-Across: A [Pitcher's target] is the STRIKE ZONE. A tactic used by unions to succeed when said negotiations are at an impasse is to have members go “on strike.”
- 11-Down: [It was whitewashed by Tom Sawyer] refers to a PICKET FENCE. Striking laborers often form “picket lines” outside their place of work, so called, I would guess, because they form a human picket fence. (I would check the origin of this phrase, but I’m currently flying across the country on my way home, and I’m on the one plane left in the United States that is not equipped with a wifi connection. By the time I’m home, I’m going to have just enough time to post this review and head out again, so I’m going to have to wing it here.)
- 25-Down: The [Discounted price] is a BARGAIN RATE. Labor unions and management often work toward a “collective bargaining agreement,” so “bargain” would be the union-related term here.
There is some great fill here that really makes the puzzle shine. I’m looking at you, BE A HERO, AT A CLIP, SCRAPE BY, YAHTZEE, EXCELS AT, and NEO-CONS. (Neo-cons in a puzzle about unions. I like it.) With only 74 words and 34 black squares, the grid has a nice, open feel, including the staircase of entries through the midsection.
My time was a tad slow, in large part due to four entries:
- TIGE is [Buster Brown's pooch]. I have seen this before in crosswords but it has yet to stick with me. FIDO sure seemed promising for a long time.
- A SECKEL is a [Small pear]. The only pears in my wheelhouse are Bartletts and Boscs. I must come clean and admit that I don’t care for pairs very much at all. The texture is way too weird for me, and the juice isn’t all that flavorful. Give me an apple (well, a crunchy one, preferably tart) any day. Does one suckle a seckel?
- A [Tonic] is a BRACER. In the sense that it braces you for what’s to come? Oh how I wish I could access my dictionary at 34,000 feet right now!
- The [Crayola shade of blue since 1990] is CERULEAN. I tried CERYLEUM, CERULEUM, and CERULEAM, each time getting a little closer as I uncovered more crossings. Those other three should all be colors too.
Jennifer Nutt’s Los Angeles Times crossword
So, Joon’s NYT puzzle had a theme tying into last weekend’s Boston Crossword Puzzle Tournament (and subsequent NYT puzzles this week will also be by Boston-area constructors, I believe). The LA Times puzzle plays along, by coincidence, with 61d: BOS, [Logan Airport city: Abbr.]. That’s not Jennifer Nutt’s theme, though. She goes with the BARBER SHOP (61a: [Establishment where the ends of 16-, 22-, 37- and 49-Across take place]):
- 16a. [Near miss] is a CLOSE SHAVE.
- 22a. [Boxer's fit condition] is “in FIGHTING TRIM.” Not sure it works without the “in.” What say you?
- 49a. [Specially edited version of a film] is the DIRECTOR’S CUT. Terrific entry.
The overall vibe in the fill was that of an ’80s puzzle. Not that there’s any ANOA or ESNE in it. And 7d: HAVE IT ALL, or [Succeed in every way], is terrific. But words like NASH and NAST, LAMA and SHAH, KENO and ARETE, SEGO and AMATI—they felt a little retro. Especially those last four, which I think used to show up far more often in crosswords than they do now, and than they do in other discourse.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Yes, there’s some shorter fill that’s “meh,” but the four interlaced pairs of 15s all kick ass. THE LATE LAMENTED and AEROBIC EXERCISE. The CANTERBURY TALES (publisher W.W. Norton is compiling some Canterbury Tales tweets starting today) atop KNICKS AND LAKERS, one of a handful of sports rivalries that’s famous enough to make the grade as crossword fill. (Lakers and Celtics = 16 letters.) THEME RESTAURANT (with a great clue) beside the half-hearted promise, “WE’RE WORKING ON IT.” And STINGING NETTLES next to the verb phrase TESTED THE WATERS. Aren’t those great? Yes, they are.
Also good: MR. RIGHT, JACKO, AKBAR.
Never heard of R.A.B. or OLNEY. Not fond of inflections LAXLY, UNHID, and REMOUNT. And the three-S PSSST?
Five stars for the 15s, two and a half stars for the short stuff. So…3.75 stars overall.