Caleb Madison’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
With seven solid theme entries, this puzzle can’t be accused of giving the solver short shrift. Each is a name or phrase ending in –IFT, so they all rhyme.
- 17a. [Country-pop star with the 2008 six-time platinum album "Fearless"] is young phenom TAYLOR SWIFT.
- 24a. [Vehicle moving items in a warehouse] is your FORKLIFT.
- 36a. ["From Here to Eternity" Best Actor nominee] would be MONTGOMERY CLIFT, who to my perennial disappointment does not have a cleft chin.
- 50a. [What a Don Juan thinks he is to women] is a slightly awkward clue, but gets you to the not-quite-standalone answer, GOD’S GIFT.
- 58a. A SPENDTHRIFT is the [Opposite of a tightwad], although it sounds as if it should be a synonym.
- 11d. [Road blocker after a winter storm] is a SNOWDRIFT. Coincidentally enough, drift fences seem to counteract them rather effectively.
- 32d. When you DOWNSHIFT you’re making a transmission [Move to a lower gear].
A nice mix of names old and new, words mundane and slightly unusual. As it’s a Monday puzzle, the fill is typically smooth and keeps a cap on the CAP (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials). All right, perhaps there a few more partials than I’d like to see, but they’re all quite gettable and acceptable.
The sideways stacked nine-letters in the NE and SW—HIFALUTIN/SNOWDRIFT and DOWNSHIFT/(the iffy) ON SALE NOW—are pleasing. Plus, how can one not like the ii™ of Column 13: “hifalutin idiot”? Don’t you think Eris Torfold (Column 9) would be a nifty name?
My biggest quibble, and admittedly a minor one, is that it seems the clue for SHEEN at 54a could have been freshened up from [Charlie of "Two and Half Men"] in light of his recent adventures. Yes, I’m looking at you, Will Shortz.
So, a solid Monday puzzle. Six stars, but only because (disclosure) I received some not-insubstantial grift.
Updated Monday morning:
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “StoP!” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s crossword takes four 15-letter expressions beginning with the letter “S” and changes the starting letter to “P.” Hence, the puzzle’s title, “StoP!,” is really three words: “S to P!” We’ve seen this exact gimmick before, but that doesn’t mean this puzzle should be dismissed out of hand. After all, remakes can sometimes be better than the original. See, e.g. , last year’s “True Grit” from the Coen brothers. Of course, the risk of a remake is the inevitable comparison with the original. I think today’s puzzle compares favorably, though it may not necessarily be better. Let’s start with the theme entries:
- 17-Across: The [Place for cavorting horses?] is a PONY PLAYSTATION (from the “Sony PlayStation” video game console). At first I thought the theme was going to switch Ps and Ss, but I guess the thought of a “Pony Slaystation” would probably be a little too upsetting to many solvers.
- 27-Across: The [Quarters for quiet dogs?] are POUNDS OF SILENCE (playing on “The Sound of Silence”). There seems to be a split of internet authority as to whether the song title is “The Sounds of Silence” or “The Sound of Silence” (plural vs. singular), so I’m not sure whether this entry is a stretch. But it fell pretty easily, so I’m guessing this is a nit few solvers would pick.
- 43-Across: To [Get artistic with hearts?] is to PAINT VALENTINES. Hmm. There’s a Saint Valentine, and there’s Valentine’s Day. But I don’t think there’s a “Saint Valentines.” Here I feel the artistic license was taken a bit too far.
- 55-Across: To be [Rung lovingly?] is to be PEALED WITH A KISS. I think the joke here is supposed to be along the lines of “Ding! Ding! Ding!” but the theme entry doesn’t really ring my bell.
I really like the long non-theme Across entries, THE TEMPEST and especially IT’S USELESS. The two Ks, two Vs and two Zs give the grid a rare-letter feel, and the stacked six-letter Down entries on each side allow for lots of natural light.
Notable notes to note:
- EZRA had be clued as [Rock's Better Than ___] instead of as a reference to Ezra Pound because POUNDS were featured in a theme entry. The result is a more difficult clue, but I like it.
- Just yesterday we saw both REESES and a variation of EASE IN, so it’s a little weird to see them close together in this grid.
- For some reason I can never remember VELDT, the [African grassland]. I’m to embarrassed to admit all the other answers I tried before cracking this one.
- [Red and Ross] had me thinking of people, but I should have been thinking geography: they’re both SEAS.
- I don’t think this is a technical flaw, but UNSAID right next to UNBORN seems more uncool than unorthodox.
Robyn Weintraub’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Finally gave up on waiting for the .puz file to be posted at Cruciverb.com. (Sigh.) Solved the puzzle via the applet at latimes.com, and I don’t like that interface one bit. No skipping over filled squares, different keys for moving around the grid. Feh. Pretty sure the puzzle took me nearly twice as long because of the interface, because a Monday LAT puzzle is generally a super-easy thing that I plow through on auto-pilot.
Theme: Five phrases begin with the words in “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” from The Wizard of Oz, and for the heck of it, TOTO is thrown in as the final Across answer. (Much harder to put DOROTHY or THEWIZARDOFOZ in the bottom row.)
- 17a. “FOLLOW ME!”
- 25a. THE OSCARS, apt use of the definite article in a crossword answer.
- 40a. The Beatles’ YELLOW SUBMARINE, supplemented below by OBLA-DI.
- 52a. BRICK OVEN, a [Hot spot for pizza]. Some of the finest hot spots for pizza do in fact bake the pizzas in brick ovens.
- 66a. ROAD SIGN.
Not in the mood to blog the surrounding fill and clues because of that pesky interface, but I like the BEANTOWN HAMSTERS and the FOOD COURT FLIP-CHART. Fairly smooth fill overall, though I could do without the “blah” of SETTEE and ERST.
Favorite crossing: INANE ANGST. Who among us has not suffered that? I think it’s what PMS sometimes brings on.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Ehh. Love BOSSYPANTS, ADVIL PM, “GO GALT,” and the in-the-news-last-week THE CLOUD. Like I’VE GOT GAME but might like I GOT GAME better. Like the clue for SPECIALS: [They're often changed daily] at restaurants. Don’t quite get the clue for ADDICTS: [They live unfulfilled lives]. Don’t care for AS NEED BE, which I think wants to be either IF NEED BE or AS NEEDED. Like FAM, [Home bodies, for short]. Have never seen TWEEDLE as [Sing like a bird]; Tweedledum and Tweedledee, sure, but tweedle is a weird and uncommon word. Like learning of the existence of a [Danish rock band Oh No __] ONO; love it! Obscure, yes, but I think OH NO ONO would be a fun entry. Could do without Latin plural URSI, which has managed to avoid becoming crosswordese, so I suspect it’s a terrible entry. Lots of longer fill that’s good, certainly, but not exciting. I’m feeling three-starrish here, but Brendan, keep in mind that I’ve had a headache for the better part of two days and it could certainly color my experience of a crossword. Although is there really any justification for NEW BOAT??