Paul Johnson’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Wow, another début today. In a windmill—or perhaps pinwheel—arrangement are four 12-letter themers; a central five-letter theme entry anchors the center. Each is clued the same way, [|Movie studio| picture?] The answers refer not to any specific films, but each is a feature of sorts. What’s being asked for is the distinctive production logo that identifies the studio in the opening credits.
- 17a. 20th Century Fox has its monumental lettering illuminated by a SEARCHLIGHT. Or more than one. Searchlight Films also happens to be a division of the studio specializing in independent releases.
- 11d. TriStar has a version of Pegasus, the FLYING HORSE romping across the screen. I never can understand why some fantastical flying creatures are depicted as running on air while flapping their wings. That looks silly.
- 25d. MGM features a crest with its quaint and not-for-a-moment-believable motto “Ars Gratia Artis,” but what’s most noticeable is the ROARING LION. I believe the original mascot was named “Leo.”
- 51a. Columbia Pictures’ logo depicts what I’ve always assumed to be a fleshed-out version of the Statue of Liberty, more generically a TORCHBEARER.
- 36a. Last, and least (in word length but not in depicted object) is Universal‘s calling card, a revolving Earth, a GLOBE.
Nifty theme, well executed. Clean fill supported by clues well-pitched for an early week puzzle. Low on the Scrabblometer, but satisfying nonetheless. Some fun longer fill, including ALCOVES, BOAT RACE, DORITOS. I could have done without the awkward and antiquated [Library book stamp] DUE BY. Liked the BLOBS/GLOBE crossing but not the nearby ALBEE/ALEE duo. Some rare flair for a Monday in rhyme-cluing YELPS as [Sounds from pounds].
Inadvertent imagery in a number of rows:
- R2: PETAL ELATE LEI. A happy luau experience?
- R4: TOUPEE FLICK. Don’t tell me you’ve never had the urge!
- R6: ROONEY BAD EGG. He’s always so grumpy.
- R10: NOOSES CHASER. Round up the posse!
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sounds Like a Celebration” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Happy Independence Day, one and all! Today’s puzzle anticipates some explosive fireworks, as the four (or maybe five?) theme entries are nouns or phrases ending with some explosive sound. I suppose, then, that each one “ends with a bang.” (Reminder–if you’re not completely satisfied with the jokes, you’re entitled to a full refund.):
- 17-Across: The [Sweet on a stick] is a TOOTSIE POP. An old commercial posed the riddle, “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?” According to the company’s website, “It depends on a variety of factors such as the size of your mouth, the amount of saliva, etc. Basically, the world may never know.” In fact, the world does know–well, I do, anyway. I counted one time when I was about 12. I forgot the exact number, and if I recorded it somewhere it has been lost. It was something like 350 licks. But I won’t claim that each lick was of uniform length, technique, and saliva content.
- 40-Across: ["Wow!"] is how a lazy person (or one obsessed with word economy) says GEE WHIZ. I’m not sure this is a theme entry, but I checked my dictionary and “whiz” can be used as a loose synonym for “bang.” So I decided to err on the side of inclusion. If I’m wrong, shoot me (and you’ll have a fifth bang after all).
- 64-Across: The [Brief prosperous period in the late 1990s] was the DOT-COM BOOM. Then all the stocks acquired during that period went boom.
- 11-Down: A [Sarcastic comeback] is a WISE CRACK. It could also be clued [Smart drug?].
- 34-Down: One who [Parties heartily] certainly HAS A BLAST.
Some of the non-thematic entries really sparkle. My favorite is probably DRY EYES (clued [They're rare at a tearjerker]), but SET PLAN and WENT BAD are also nice.
Like any box of fireworks, there were a few duds. MIS-DO (clued as [Mess up]) is awkward, and BY SHIP feels awfully forced. And I’m not really loving the clue for the partial IT UP. The clue reads [Lived ___ (partied heartily)]. I like that it harkened back to the clue for the theme entry in 34-Down, but I know the expression as “live it up” (present tense) and not as “lived it up” (past tense). But these small nits are easy to ignore, as overall this was a fun way to ring in the nation’s 236th year of independence. Enjoy the day and be safe!
Peter Collins’ Los Angeles Times crossword
An easy Fourth of July history theme in a grid with left/right symmetry:
- 5d, 9d. [Document signed 7/4/1776] = DECLARATION / OF INDEPENDENCE.
- 39a. [Chief author (who died 7/4/1826) of 5- and 9-Down] is THOMAS JEFFERSON.
- 7d, 51d. [Chief congressional advocate (who died 7/4/1826) of 5- and 9-Down] is JOHN / ADAMS.
- 25a. KISMET is a pretty word meaning [Fate].
- 28d. [What can't be parted after it's departed?] is the HAIR that is no longer on a bald dude’s head.
- 61a. ["Bedtime for __": Reagan film] clues BONZO. Anyone else announce “Bedtime for Bonzo” when it’s time for their kid to go to sleep? No? Just me?
Answers I associate with older puzzles (though they keep showing up in contemporary puzzles): ODENSE, ED AMES, EELER, SSRS, SALT I, STYE, ST. LO. They’re never going away, are they?
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Have you heard of the “DADCHELOR PARTY“? That’s a new one on me. So, when is your party, Brendan?
- L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, “JUST A GIGOLO,” “ADD AS FRIEND,” MELISMA, CHALLAH, MAGGOTS (because frankly, these humble larvae hardly ever get to shine in crosswords), and “I’M GAY” clued as [Comment made during an outing].
Smooth puzzle overall. Four stars.
Now, get out there and enjoy the holiday! Perfect weather in Chicago, sunny and 75°.