Andrea Carla Michaels and Michael Blake’s New York Times crossword
Cute theme with a New York carbohydrate bent: Four phrases end with BAGEL varieties. In the online applet edition, at least, there is a mistake in the clue for 62a—the fourth bagel variety is found in 52-Across, but the clue mentions only “the endings of 20-, 28- and 46-Across.” D’oh! Anyway, the bagels are found in THE PURPLE ONION (which is a place I have never, ever heard of), “OPEN, SESAME,” a timely FLOODPLAIN (I sure hope Fiend readers are all out of harm’s way post-Irene), and the awesome answer THE WHOLE SHMEAR.
Thirteen proper nouns in the fill is a little on the high side, which makes me wonder if this puzzle would’ve been better slotted on a Tuesday.
- 39d. [The Greek “khalix” (pebble) for the English “calculus,” e.g.] is a ROOT WORD.
- 1a. Fun to start off with a Q. Q-TIPS are clued [You can stick them in your ear]. Please note that while you certainly can, you oughtn’t stick Q-tips inside your ear canal. Do you think anyone actually heeds that advice?
- A couple answers make me say “Eh?” (but in a good way)—we’ve got both SAID “AH” and “UH-OH.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think SLEAZE and [Schlock] are interchangeable. Schlock’s just cheap and tacky, whereas sleaze has a morally unsavory tinge to it.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Put a Lid In It!” – Sam Donaldson’s review
A nice counterpart to the typical Monday fare, Klahn gives us a fun theme with his typical knotty twists. As 64-Across explains, CAP is the [“Lid” in each of this puzzle’s theme entries]:
- 20-Across: SPANISH RICE becomes SPANISH CAPRICE, clued as [Ferdinand’s flight of fancy, say?]. Klahn has a penchant for alliterative clues, and it’s a nice added touch to this theme entry.
- 37-Across: [Al’s entire family?] is EVERY LAST CAPONE, the result of adding a CAP to EVERY LAST ONE.
- 52-Across: [Goldilocks’s maddening escapade] clues a CROSS BEAR CAPER, the fusion of a CAP and a CROSS BEARER. Yeah, I suppose maybe this theme entry is inconsistent with the other two–the CAP is inserted in the middle of the last word instead of at the front of the last word. But the fun in sussing out CROSS BEAR CAPAER outweighed the inconsistency (heck, I didn’t notice the inconsistency until writing this post), so I’m fine with it.
I lost a good twenty seconds trying random letters for the intersection of VEDA, the [Sanskrit sculpture], and DOGE, the [Bygone Venetian VIP]. I tried L, N, R, J, V, and even Z before tumbling to the D.
To CAP off this post, here are five highlights from the fill and clues:
- SQUARE PEGS ([They don’t harmonize well]) is a great entry. It would be fun to place it opposite ROUND HOLES in a freestyle grid, no?
- I like the consecutive clues of [Bright red] for CHERRY and [Big Red] for Vladimir LENIN.
- Here’s another example of how a potentially ugly partial, NO MORE, can get dressed-up all formal-like through a good clue: [Introduction to Mr. Nice Guy].
- It’s almost a given that I’ll enjoy a crossword that starts with ASS ([Ninny or hinny]) at 1-Across.
Jennifer Nutt’s Los Angeles Times crossword
When you fail to carefully read the clue that explains the entire theme, you can confuse yourself. “What do LIVE, SLOW, BASKET, SEX, and EMPTY have to do with a COURT OF LAW?” Of course, the clue for 59a reads [Where the ends of the starred answers are filed], not the starts:
- 16a. [*Not animated, in filmmaking] = LIVE-ACTION.
- 23a. [*Like replays that reveal bad calls] = SLOW-MOTION.
- 49a. [*One who can't function under stress] = BASKET CASE.
- 10d. [*Ineffective executive] = EMPTY SUIT. Great phrase.
- 33d. [*Hunk or babe's attribute] = SEX APPEAL. I like the unisex clue.
8d: MANHOLES are [Ways to get under the street]. A few weeks ago, President Obama came to town and manholes were sealed along the route he was taking to his birthday-party fundraiser. What I want to know is how they’re sealed and when they’re returned to openable functionality.
There’s a lightness to the fill, isn’t there? “Do the HUSTLE” crosses a SMILE. There’s an ANTSY, SILLY SCAMP. Even the boring little LEA (19a: [Grassland]) evokes amusement because I passed signs for the Gay Lea Dairy Heritage Museum in Ontario the other day, and it turns out Gay Lea is a big dairy company in Canada. Would you believe their milk is available in “homo” as well as 2%? Totally true.
Brendan “Papa” Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Pardon me. I’ve lost my prose.
AT THIS STAGE, BBC RADIO, MEN’S SHOP, and ESHKOL‘s ungainly-looking consonant pile-ups. Full names for HANS BRINKER and HAMID KARZAI. BIT.LY hiding its dot. Thinly veiled snarkiness of A LOT TO LEARN with an “on their plates” clue, hinting at overfrequent 15-letter answer A LOT ON ONE’S PLATE. [Fatherless state?] as a clue for ATHEISM. Scrabbly KWANZAA.
Overall rating: 3.75 stars.