Samuel A. Donaldson’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Well! This was a breezy Monday puzzle, with an apt theme which was smartly implemented. 52-across is the revealer: [February occasion, some of whose honorees can be found in the starred clues] PRESIDENTS’ DAY.
- 18a. [*Some reddish-brown caviar] SALMON ROE (James Monroe, № 5).
- 23a. [*Major road] TRAFFIC ARTERY. (James “Jimmy” Carter, № 39).
- 31a. [*Nancy Pelosi was the first person ever to have this title in Congress] MADAM SPEAKER (John Adams, № 2; John Quincy Adams, № 6).
- 40a. [*Parliamentary procedure] RULES OF ORDER (Gerald Ford, № 38).
- 60a. [*Really hunger for] LUST AFTER. (William Howard Taft, № 27).
Notice how all five hidden presidential surnames span the phrase words? Consistence of mechanics, that’s good. Unlike some folks, I don’t feel that such hidden elements must be part of all words in a phrase (see 40a). Also notice that there a generous six theme answers in total, for a total of 68 of 187 white squares in this 15×15 grid. That’s 36.3636363636… percent, for you stat-fiends. Further, I appreciate that two of the themers are explicitly related to government: MADAM SPEAKER and RULES OF ORDER. One could wax poetic and make connections for the other three (caviar signifying lobbyists and fancy dinners, procedural congestion, and the seductive influence of money and power) but there’s no need to, unless one wanted to, say, pad the
volume length of a write-up. In general, a low CAP™ Quotient (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials), and a smooth solve.
Bonus patriotic content:
- 1a [Patriot Allen with the Green Mountain Boys] ETHAN.
- 6a [Things "bursting in air"] BOMBS.
- 26d & 48a TIP | O’NEILL [ … leader of the House of Representatives, 1977–1987].
- 51d [The "L" of L.B.J.] LYNDON (№ 36).
- The …almost… of 7d [Suffix akin to "à-go-go] -ORAMA.
- The totally non-democratic fill at dead center: ROI. Vive la revolution!
Other items of interest:
- TIERRA crossing TIARA in the upper-right corner.
- Sequential clues: [Dog sound] and [Cow sound] ARF ’n’ MOO.
- Least favorite clue/fill: 37d [What a ramp does] SLOPES UP. I just don’t, okay?
- Most surprising fill for a Monday puzzle: SLOVENE [Ljubljana dweller] (10d). Type that five times fast. Ljubljana, that is.
- Row 12: SWEEP | NEAT | URN.
- Topological nadir: abbrevs. FEM. and FLA. stacked vertically.
- Favorite clue: A tie!
- 44d [Word before know and care] DON’T.
- 34d [Francis Drake, Isaac Newton, or Mix-a-Lot] SIR.
Very enjoyable solve and an above-average puzzle.
Geoffrey Lewis’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review
Theme: 60A. [One of the four that end this puzzle's starred answers] – IRISH COUNTY
- 17A. [*Get really angry] – POP ONE’S CORK
- 25A. [*Belfast-born flutist] – JAMES GALWAY
- 35A. [*2004 loser to George Bush] – JOHN KERRY
- 51A. [*Sandwich request] – HOLD THE Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown. Oops, I mean MAYO.
Two people sandwiched by two expressions. Acceptable for those who obsess over that kind of thing.
Seven-letter downs madness:
- 1D. [Expels from the country] – DEPORTS
- 2D. ["Should I deal you a hand?"] – IN OR OUT. I’m out. You deported me.
- 3D. [Abundantly supplied (with)] – REPLETE. I should start using replete in ordinary conversation. Maybe not.
- 11D. [Secretion used in hives] – BEE’S WAX
- 12D. [Stir up] – AGITATE
- 13D. [Strolled, as to the saloon] – MOSEYED. The problem with the world today is not enough people mosey.
- 39D. [Humiliated] – ASHAMED. The problem with the world today is not enough people are ashamed.
- 40D. [Like many rural roads] – TWO LANE. The problem with the world today is not enough people drive on two lane roads.
- 41D. [Thousand thousand] – MILLION. Math without roman numerals!
- 44D. ["Papa Don't Preach" singer] – MADONNA
- 45D. [Radiated] – EMITTED
No pretend words. A little Tuesday-ish. ***½ stars.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “White House Caper” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Hmm, I’m not so sure about a theme built around Presidents Day….
Lempel takes four familiar terms that start with the surnames of former United States Presidents and re-imagines them as terms relating to those Presidents:
- 17-Across: A [President's snack?] is an ADAMS APPLE (I think I’m supposed to leave out the apostrophe here). A less healthy (but better tasting) alternative is the EISENHOWER CHEESE PUFF.
- 28-Across: The [President's biographer?] is the FORD EXPLORER. I like the image of a biographer as an “explorer” of a subject’s past.
- 44-Across: [President's papers?] clues GRANT WRITING, a topic that gets a lot of attention at my workplace.
- 59-Across: The [President's alliance?] is BUSH LEAGUE. Lively term, though hardly an apt description for this (or any other) Lynn Lempel offering.
I like how each of the theme entries has two-word clues. [President's sports conference] might have been a little more straightforward than [President's alliance], but it would have been unsightly to have only one three-word clue when all of the others have two words.
The fill really shines. I love NEAT FREAK, DEAR SIR, ALL AT ONCE, DIG UP, IMELDA Marcos, GAZETTE, and PENSIVE. I thought [Nim Chimpsky and kin] was a fun clue for APES, and the oxymornic [Eloquent speechifier] as the clue for ORATOR is terrific. For whatever reason I had YAR as the [Cry from the crow's nest] (apparently I think all ships are staffed by pirates) instead of CAW.
Elizabeth Gorski’s Celebrity crossword, “Movie Monday”
The theme is a 2010 rom-com I didn’t see, a movie with a lousy Tomatometer rating and a dramatic finish involving vomiting (!). It sounds terrible but it made money.
- 15a. ALEX O’LOUGHLIN, ["Hawaii Five-0" actor who is 32-Across' love interest in 49-Across].
- 32a. JENNIFER LOPEZ, ["American Idol" judge and star of 49-Across].
- 49a. THE BACKUP PLAN, [2010 romantic comedy starring 32-Across].
How fortuitous for a recent movie that isn’t obscure to have a 13-letter title and two stars with 13-letter names when the Celebrity crossword uses a 13×13 grid. Hey, Hollywood! Make more movies and TV shows with 13-letter titles and stars.
Other celeb names in the grid besides J.Lo and A.O’L include SELA Ward, the Dalai LAMA, ARLO Guthrie, Amanda PEET, Lucy LIU, CARLA Gugino, ANA Ortiz (anyone named Ana who gets famous is going to be used a lot in crosswords), MEL Brooks, NKOTB (New Kids on the Block), Alan ALDA, ENYA, CEE Lo Green, KAL Penn, and UMA Thurman. Fictional characters in the puzzle include Legally Blonde‘s ELLE, The Phantom Menace‘s ANI/Anakin Skywalker, Cold Mountain‘s ADA, Star Trek‘s SULU, and Moby-Dick‘s AHAB. I hope anyone who didn’t know SELA Ward could piece her name together by knowing CEE Lo, KAL, and UMA’s names.
Brendan Quigley’s blgo crossword, “Themeless Monday”
See where it says “blgo crossword”? I’m leaving that typo and telling you that most of the times that I try to type “blog crossword” in a BEQ heading, I mistype it. And then it makes me think of Rod Blagojevich, casually referred to as “Blago.”
Great puzzle, no? You’ve got THE JOY OF SEX clued as [Comfort reading] because it’s a book by Alex Comfort. PAT AND VANNA, not heretofore seen in any crossword I know of, and yet totally gettable as a [Wheel pair]. (So much better than any obscure term for wheel components, that’s for sure.) Plus their fellow game show host, Alex TREBEK. Music newcomer LANA DEL REY, hot new fill. LEAN CUISINE frozen dinners. An FHA LOAN. THE HAWKS playing strong defense with a definite article. Plus a single delicious PINE NUT with its fellow foodstuff, the PARSNIP, up above; my husband just had parsnips in a restaurant meal on Friday. Lots of good clues, but I test-solved this one a week ago and I don’t recall specific clues other than the [Comfort reading] one, and thanks to technical difficulties at Casa Fiend, I’m way behind schedule with my day so I’ll bid you adieu with a 4.25-star rating.