Nina Rulon-Miller’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Straight-ahead theme, straight-ahead clues, as befits a Monday puzzle. The four suits in a standard deck of cards, with their quintessent cohort, appear at the ends of five phrases:
- 17a. [Daily kids' TV show that debuted in 1955, with "The"] is a wordy and very accurate clue for MICKEY MOUSE CLUB. Even just reading the title makes you think of the theme song, no?
- 21a. [Classic song about an Irish lass that was a #1 hit in 1913 and 1947] PEG O’ MY HEART. Those hit versions were recorded by Charles W. Harrison and The Harmonicats, respectively. It was written for the musical Ziegfeld Follies.
- 35a. When someone is [A real wag] you might call them QUITE THE JOKER.
- 50a. [Tool for turning up soil] is your garden-variety GARDEN SPADE.
- 57a. [Setting for the Cardinals or the Orioles] is a BASEBALL DIAMOND, which is a familiar player in crosswords, both clues and answers, but rarely in its full form.
This puzzle was definitely on my wavelength, as I solved it groggily after a nap. 20a [Talk that might put one to sleep] is a >yawn< LECTURE. 33d is the overly specifically and evocatively clued [Attire that might have images of jumping sheep, informally]: PJS. [Leisure], at 37d, clues EASE. I finished in the SW corner and my initial answer for 54a [Bulging, as a cloud] was, naturally, PILLOWY, though I quickly realized, via the crossing, that the correct answer is BILLOWY, which echoes the B in bulging. I was imagining my head falling back into somnolent luxury. >ahhhhh<
As for the usual targets, the crosswordese and partial quotients are admirably low, but there are quite a lot of (readily gettable) abbrevs: NRA, AGR, DAS, ADM, PCS, BTU, PJS, AWACS, LSU, DEM, DRS. One of the two partials was a stinker ["__ do not!"] for NO I.
The Chinese contingent is strong here. DENG Xiaoping, Chao En-LAI, TAO Te Ching. Stretching a little, we can also include “EAST of Eden” and ASIANS.
- 14a & 69a. These symmetrically opposite entries are DARTH and NADER, and together they put me in mind of the Star Wars baddie. Well, DARTH is clued in that context, but you know what I mean.
- 26a & 47a. DER and DAS are German definite articles. The former is clued in that context [German magazine __ Spiegel], but the latter is clued as an English abbreviation [Govt. prosecutors]. And where, pray tell, is DIE?
- 35a & 8d. The central themer, with JOKER, primed me for seeing the [Eye-related] OCULAR as JOCULAR.
- 31a & 13d. BERG and EDBERG.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Out of Sight” – Sam Donaldson’s review
With a title like “Out of Sight,” I was expecting something like a hidden word gimmick. But after I had the first couple of theme entries in place, I couldn’t make heads or tails of the theme. Turns out this one didn’t require making tails, but heads would certainly help. Peterson uses the last theme entry to reveal the gimmick: 56-Across is clued as [Confidential ... and where to find the last word of 20-, 35-, or 42-Across]. That turns out to be UNDER YOUR HAT, and, hey, whaddya know, the last word in each of those theme entries is a synonym for one’s noggin:
- 20-Across: The [Structure popularized by Buckminster Fuller] is the GEODESIC DOME. If you have been to the Epcot theme park, you’ve likely seen one. “Dome” is an informal term for one’s head.
- 35-Across: [One who's far from chubby] is a STRING BEAN. I suppose, then, that an eccentric thin person is a string bean with a strange bean.
- 42-Across: The (totally) [Tubular flotation device] is a POOL NOODLE. I know this as a “wet noodle,” but I’m sure “pool noodle” is the more common term.
Several of the long Down entries are just wonderful. I have in mind the BRADY BILL, the [Gun control law passed in 1993], TOYS ‘R’ US, the [Company that acquired FAO Schwarz], IN DENIAL (clued as [Refusing to face facts]), and BYE FOR NOW, clued as ["See you later!"]. The mini-stack in the southwest corner (SCI-FI, the U.S. OF A., and VINYL) looks all kinds of awesome. Bonus points for some GRUYERE cheese and the Three STOOGES.
I also loved a number of the clues, notably [Suffix with Jumbo] for TRON, ["Spare tire" stuff] as a great hook at 1-Across (the answer is FLAB), and ["Disgusting!" in Valley Girl lingo] for the ever-wonderful GRODY. I like that GRIN intersects GRODY, because the latter certainly made me do the former.
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The first three theme entries all have A NEW BEGINNING in that their first words mean “new”:
- 20a. [Good reason to reopen a closed case] clues FRESH EVIDENCE.
- 25a. MODERN ART is a [Broad genre that began in Van Gogh's time]. Hesitated at the ending, not sure if we were looking for MODERNISM.
- 49a. An [Original thought] is a NOVEL IDEA.
- 54a. [Title of Obama's 2009 Cairo speech, and what 20-, 25- and 49-Across have in common] is A NEW BEGINNING. I sure needed the crossings to tell me what the speech was called. (Interesting to have ALLAH and ALGIERS adding to the North African slant.)
Favorite answer: THWACK! (48d. [Hitting sound].)
Four stars. Basic Monday puzzle, nothing too nutty but some freshness in the way of AT HEART (5d.[Deep down inside]), BRAHMA (6d. [Rodeo bull]), POSEUR (10d. [One who puts on airs]), and ALGIERS (46d. [Casbah city]).
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Four stars. Nothing really “meh,” topical appearance of super-fresh TEAM SIX, plenty of nice fill and BEQesque clues. Highlights include KISS ASS, “I LIKE,” QUEENS as a [Flushing spot], KISMET, WHISKERS, THE F-WORD. Not sure I’ve seen ECOTAGE (eco-sabotage) before. Oh, and Leon PANETTA joins TEAM SIX in having “in the news over the past week” currency.
Brendan’s TULSA clue is the second The Outsiders clue I’ve seen in the past week—I think it was Patrick Blindauer who had SOC in a CrosSynergy puzzle clued as a greaser’s rival.
It was Twitter that gave me 20a: TAS, [Gracious publican comments]. @EditorMark has tried to get people to use the British “ta” as a space-saving way of saying “thanks” in space-limited Twitter. I don’t think it really caught on. Always looks like “bye” to me.