Peter A. Collins’ New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Interesting arrangement of the theme entries in this puzzle. Two are intact and appear in conventional locations. The third is divided into its constituent words and fills three of the four across corners; the fourth position (67a) is occupied by the revealer [Where to find the songs in this grid … or an appropriate title for this puzzle?] ITUNES.
- 1a. [With 10- and 65-Across, 1971 hit by The Who] BEHIND | BLUE | EYES.
- 28a. [1967 hit by Van Morrison] BROWN-EYED GIRL.
- 44a. [1970 hit by Sugarloaf] GREEN-EYED LADY.
Not being an acolyte, I don’t know if all three are in fact available on iTunes, but I’ll assume they are. Aside from the the revealer making the occasion feel a bit like an advertisement, the only criticism I can lay on the theme is that The Who song’s title lacks the “color-‘eyed’-noun” structure of the other two. Less important, the title refers to a man rather than a woman, as 28a and 44a do. Perhaps one of the those entries should have been replaced with another song, to further vary matters?
Anyone else distracted by the prominent ZIT found between BEHIND and BLUE? Having a three-letter word there is a necessary artifact, but I would have been happier, and less distracted by imagery, if the answer had nothing to do with marring a face (with blue eyes). ELY, down on the bottom at 66a, doesn’t have the same effect.
The fragmented nature of that themer allows the puzzle to contain more interesting long fill than a typical 15×15 grid, so we are treated to LOTTE LENYA, CD PLAYER, VOYAGING, and ORANGE TREE, though for that last entry it strikes me that colors should not have appeared in the ballast fill, so as to avoid distraction.
- 27a [Turns at high speed] CAREENS. The word has no turning requirement. Less critically, BIGOTS needn’t be [Haters], just people who hold strong opinions and prejudices.
- A couple of ambiguous tense clues caused me to lose some time in the solving process: In 32a [Broadcast again] I took it to be the present-tense RERUN instead of RERAN, whereas in 42d I wanted [What the Beatles never did] to be the past participle REUNITED rather than REUNITE. Should the “the” in that clue have been capitalized?
- XWord Info shows that Gregory E. Paul’s Monday NYT puzzle of 20 March 2000 also used BROWN-EYED GIRL and GREEN-EYED LADY, with the non-song BLACK-EYED SUSANS the 15-letter spanner in the work. The curse of the ⅔ theme strikes again!
- BOYTOY and BATMAN as a symmetrical pair, hmm.
Hazel always gets ignored.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Taking Issue” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Doug’s addition has certainly improved the publication rate of Team Fiend members! He’s back today with a fun take on the “add-a-letter” theme, this time adding ISS to three common expressions to make them all wacky and such. See for yourself:
- 20-Across: THE KISSING AND I (playing off The King and I) would be an apt title for [Casanova’s memoir?]. If it were the title of my memoirs about my teen years, alas, it would be The One Kiss and I.
- 40-Across: One way to describe a [Slow dart player’s pace?] is A MISSILE A MINUTE, playing off “a mile a minute.” That’s a fun and lively clue.
- 55-Across: Add ISS to RUNNING MATE and you get a RUNNING MATISSE, or the [“Woman with a Hat” painter out for a jog?].
All three theme entries are solid, and with long Down like MILK DUDS and NEGLIGEE, well, there’s lots to ADMIRE ([Think highly of]). I especially liked the modern clue for ASHTON, [Charlie’s “Two and a Half Men” replacement]. Too soon to base the clue on his marital problems?
There was an unusually high amount of stuff that was new to me. I needed every single cross to fill in the blank for [New Mexico’s ___ Mountains], because SANDIA is one mountain range I’ve never heard of before. I also did not know BIANCA was [Kate’s sister in “The Taming of the Shrew”], as I’m not very familiar with the play, obviously. AMELIA, to me, is an island in Florida. But it’s also the given name of [Suffragist Blooner]. Now [Kate’s sitcom housemate], however, was a gimme. Why’s it’s ALLIE, from Kate & Allie.
Donna Levin’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Are you sick of themes like this? are just totally ILL OF THEm? Donna groups three familiar phrases that take the form “*ILL OF THE [something],” all 15 letters long:
- 17a. [National consensus] is the WILL OF THE PEOPLE.
- 38a. [Deerstalker’s excitement] is the THRILL OF THE HUNT.
- 62a. [Dark, quiet period] is the STILL OF THE NIGHT.
Now, Donna could have opted to include more long answers in the fill, cutting the word count. That could spice things up, but it probably would have entailed more compromises in the fill. And what Monday puzzles are about is No Compromises in the Fill: no obscure crosswordese or awkward abbreviations that newer solvers might never have had cause to encounter. (One of these days I’m going to ask where the OLEO is at a supermarket, just to see if the people who sell margarine have any clue that “oleo” is a less common word for the spread.)
Five words most likely to stymie newbies (but much less obscure than some other common crossword answers):
- 20a. [Metal playing marble] is a STEELIE. Kids had pretty much stopped playing the official game of marbles by the time I came around. Other crosswordese marbles include TAW, AGATE, and, rarely, IMMIE. Luckily, TAW can also be clued by way of Tweety Bird.
- 37a. To SLUE is to [Turn on a pivot]. I feel I pretty much never encounter this word outside of crosswords.
- 6d. [One-named Deco artist] ERTÉ is pronounced “air-tay,” or how the initials “R.T.” are pronounced in French. His real name is Romain de Tirtoff. A Google image search for erte will show you his work. Art Deco decoration, fashion, cool stuff.
- 36d. [WWII Normandy battle site] is ST. LO in France. Warning! There was also a Battle for Caen during the Battle of Normandy, and both STLO and CAEN have 4 letters. You need to fill in one of the crossing words to know which French town will work.
- 55d. [Riga natives] are Latvians or, in crosswordese, LETTS. Okay, that right there is a fairly big Compromise in the Fill. The crossing answers are straightforward, though if you don’t know that [Hairdresser Sassoon]’s first name is VIDAL, you would be a total and complete loss for that L in LETTS. Ideally, unfamiliar proper nouns never cross other proper nouns that aren’t wildly familiar (e.g. [Actor Brad of “Babel”] should take everyone to PITT without any trouble, so that would be an entirely fair crossing). I’m not sure where VIDAL fits on the scale between Brad Pitt and LETTS.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
I’m pretty sure that if The Dukes of Hazzard were remade today, the CONFEDERATE FLAG would be banished from the General Lee. Knowing what I know now, man, that would be a reason not to watch the show. Ah, the late ’70s were a different era, where plenty of country songs crossed over to top 40 and plenty of good ol’ boys headlined TV series. I bet DARIUS Rucker doesn’t have that fondness for the Confederate flag.
Toughest squares for me: Didn’t know 20d: [Infielder Lowrie] and contemplated NED and TED (though nobody excavates slangy negatives or crosswordese marbles). Finally ran the alphabet and hit JED and a fossil JAW. The two 3-letter sports crossings for the mystery geometry term PLANE ANGLES also stymied me. RAG in hockey, ERA in…I don’t know what sport [Live-ball __] ERA pertains to.
51a is the crossword constructor’s first step, unless it’s Themeless Monday.
Really liked JUST A SECOND and YEAR IN, YEAR OUT. Plus the lovely Mr. CEE-LO GREEN. Oh! And BEEP, BEEP. Didn’t know there was such a thing as a LAP CAT. Is that in the language? Not sure if check kiting pertains to NSF, really.