Sarah Keller’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Straightforward theme, elegantly executed. The price, unfortunately, is some fill that feels distinctly un-Mondayish. We have familiar three-word phrases—mostly metaphorical—consisting of two body parts separated by a small connector word.
- 20a. [Fiercely] TOOTH AND NAIL. Does the phrase predate Tennyson’s “Nature, red in tooth and claw”?
- 35a. [Embarrassingly impudent] FOOT IN MOUTH. Not to be confused with foot-and-mouth disease, aka hoof-in-mouth disease, although some public figures certainly seem to be chronically affected by foot-in-mouth type gaffes. See also 21d.
- 42a. [Next to one another] CHEEK BY JOWL. I feel the clue is too minimal, that it doesn’t convey the uncomfortable closeness implied by the phrase.
- 59a. [Fast and in large amounts] HAND OVER FIST. Selling like hotcakes hand over fist?
I like that all the phrases are common, concise, and evocative. Also that the connecting words are different in each case. It doesn’t bother me that and is a conjunction while the other three are prepositions. But, as I mentioned at the beginning, I’m not exactly head-over-heels* in love with the puzzle because of the fill that seems inappropriate for an early-week offering.
*I really don’t care for that phrase, because it describes the usual arrangement of body parts and seems only to have currency by dint of its mysterious persistence. I prefer the alliterative “ass over elbow.”
Here’s what I’m talking about:
- 5a [U. of Maryland athlete] TERP, the curious abbrev. of Terrapin.
- 14a ["Rule, Britannia" composer] Thomas ARNE.
- 70a [Wife in "The Good Earth"] OLAN.
- …and possibly 60d [ __ Blue, 1971 Cy Young Award winner] VIDA. Is he famous enough nowadays?
Further, there were quite a number of partials, fills-in-the-blank, and sometimes a combination of both. Not sure if there’s an unspoken convention about overuse of the form in the NYT, although they tend to be easier clues and are hence more appropriate for early-week puzzles.
- 15a [End in __ (finish evenly)] A TIE.
- 18a [Pro __ (how some law work is done)] BONO.
- 24a [In __ (harmonious] SYNC.
- 28a [ __ NESS monster] LOCH.
- 38a [" __ cost you!"] IT’LL.
- 67a ["__ but known …"] HAD I.
- 2d [Woolf's "__ Room of One's Own"] A ROOM.
- 5d [ __ sauce] TABASCO. That one was rather vague, no?
- 12d [ __ kwon do] TAE.
- 29d [ __ Bible] HOLY.
- 44d [Raisin __ ] BRAN.
- 60d (see above)
Hey, which of the four corner acrosses is the odd one out? (a) MAUL, (b) MIRTH, (c) ELATE, (d) ROSY? Don’t get tricky now! Well, unless you want to. That’s what fiends are for.
A couple of other notes:
- Appreciated the longish symmetrical pair MINICAM and KARAOKE.
- Unless you’ve been living under a rock inside a cave, you’ll no doubt have heard the sad news that 68a [Blues singer James] ETTA died on Friday.
Johanna Fenimore’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Breezy, quick crossword—perfect for a Monday. The theme was a little subtle, perhaps, but it works: The Beatles’ “HERE COMES THE SUN” ties together three other phrases in which SUN is split across words.
- 17a. [Hexes] clues PUTS UNDER A SPELL.
- 27a. [Surprised party, metaphorically] clues MONKEY’S UNCLE, as in “Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!”
- 44a. Have you ever lit out for PARTS UNKNOWN? A [Destination not yet determined]?
I really like PARTS UNKNOWN and MONKEY’S UNCLE, and it’s always nice to be reminded of that song. Other good bits:
- 6a. [Knocks with one’s knuckles] alliterates for RAPS.
- 23a. YES, I CAN! The Sammy Davis, Jr., story.
- 66a. [“P.U.!” inducer] is an ODOR. I always want “P.U.” to be something wordy like “pyew,” but it doesn’t seem to be.
- 5d. Who doesn’t love a SOUPÇON? Just a [Slight trace].
I had no idea about 28d: [Angels shortstop Aybar], some guy named ERICK, but the Angels are an L.A. team so it works for their hometown newspaper’s crossword. Unless the Angels consider Anaheim to be their hometown. Which is it? And in Spanish, are they Los Los Angeles Angeles de Anaheim?
Doug E. Fresh’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Out on the Town” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Because there are only about a dozen or so constructors in the CrosSynergy syndicate at any given time, solvers can learn some of the distinctive construction styles at play. On the weekday puzzles this week, I’m playing a little game with myself–I’m not reading the bylines or puzzle titles until after I’m done solving. I want to see if I can guess the puzzle’s theme and author (it’s usually harder to get the theme, I find, when the puzzle has a title, for often the title is meant to be the unifying “revealer”). Since these write-ups necessarily include the author and title, you’ll have to take my word for it that I looked at neither of these items until it came time to start writing these posts.
The fill had me thinking this was puzzle was made by either Tony Orbach or Doug Peterson. Lively entries like GUESS AGAIN, I’LL LIVE, WISED UP, and ST. JOE really smacked of their style. Tyler Hinman came to mind, but the pop culture references were a little older than where Tyler usually goes. I can’t see Tyler using ALAN HALE, JR., the [“Gilligan’s Island” actor] as his first choice for a long Down. Sarah Keller and Lynn Lempel also came to mind at various points, but I felt the fill trended a little too masculine to be either of them. (Lots of cars with NISSAN and ISUZU crossing, IGOR, the ASS, WHUP, etc.) I finished in under ten minutes, so it clearly wasn’t Bob Klahn.
Patrick Blindauer was a possibility, but I often associate Patrick’s puzzles with lots of lively, playful clues. This one had a few (my favorites were [Big name in plastic?] for VISA and [Good opponent?] for EVIL), but most were more straightforward.
I kept coming back to Tony and Doug. Then I saw particular words that really reinforced my hunch. There was CLOG, the [Thick-soled shoe]. An homage from Tony to his recent shoe theme? And XENA has Doug written all over it. But where was the baseball? IVAN could have been clued with a reference to Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez instead of the [Tennis great Lendl], for example. So my finally decided that my first guess would be Tony, with Doug as my second choice and no one else as my third. Turns out to have been Doug Peterson. (Amy dubbed him “Doug E. Fresh” in yesterday’s post, and I’m doing my part to see if it sticks.) I’ll give myself a half-point here.
It was apparent from the long Across entries what the theme was–we’re looking at two-word terms ending with words that are synonymous with speakeasies:
- 17-Across: The BILLY CLUB is an [Item on a cop’s belt]. I always wondered if the Batman TV series of the late 1960s/early 1970s played a role in maxing out the number of gadgets on a cop’s belt. What child during that time didn’t want one of those utility belts?
- 28-Across: A [Helpful web page feature] is a NAVIGATION BAR. Of all the bars, in all the dictionaries, in all the world, one of the less exciting ones walked into this puzzle. Oh well. We’ll always have Paris.
- 47-Across: The SHOULDER JOINT is not a place to rub elbows but instead the [Scapula-humerus connector].
- 63-Across: A [Leap into a crowd of rowdy concertgoers] is a STAGE DIVE. Great entry.
Looks like Doug was going for a more generic theme based on the title, “Out on the Town.” We’re apparently only looking for places to spend a night on the town and not specifically places that could be labelled “speakeasies.” I’ll say that’s good enough to give me a full point on guessing the theme. So I got Doug on the second guess and the theme on the first–that’s 1.5 points after one day. How close to a perfect 10 points will I get? Log on tomorrow to find out!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Yep, sure enough: 22d: DIAPER GENIE was Brendan’s seed answer today. I don’t miss the diaper days one bit! This is why I don’t have a dog. I have been out of the other-creatures’-poop business since my kid learned how to wipe his own butt.
Other highlights include JUNK ART, the au courant MEET UP (it’s a noun too, as in a “blogger meet-up”), MR. MET, the XYZ AFFAIR (which really sounds more like something from The Electric Company than history, no?), HARD-LINE, SCORED ON, “WHAT IS THE MATTER?,” SAGITTARIUS, THEIRS clued as THE I.R.S., DRUM MAJORS, JERKFACE, and [El niño’s source] cluing MADRE.
Not everything came easily. TEA CLOTH? “THESE EYES”? OPA-LOCKA, FLORIDA, is a [City whose architecture has an Arabian Nights theme]? Why? The city hall is a palace.
3.75 stars. Would be higher without little words like RET, AGAS, RAS, ISE, and NOL.