Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Materials science time!
- 18a. [Had a big influence on Philip's music?] MOLDED GLASS.
- 29a. [Harshly criticized Danielle's novels?] HAMMERED STEEL.
- 49a. [Scared the daylights out of Elijah in "Lord of the Rings"?] PETRIFIED WOOD.
- 63a. [Trounced Chris in a comedy competition?] CRUSHED ROCK.
Not the most Earth-shattering theme concept, but executed supremely well, with additional constraints and consistency. The materials (two synthetic, two natural) are people’s surnames, they appear at the end of each phrase, each phrase also begins with an adjective ending in -ed, and each clue incorporates the person’s occupation.
The CAP Quotient™ is low, as is typical of early week puzzles. This crossword feels unusually freewheeling because constructor Lempel brings an extra dose of playfulness into the clues, which can often be staid and unchallenging at the beginning of the week. For example:
- 73a [Charge for a bang-up job?] TNT.
- 5d [Yoko from Tokyo] ONO.
- 41d [High-voltage Australian band?] AC-DC.
- 7d ["Ye __!"] GODS.
All good stuff for blah fill. Other bits:
- Spectacular long non-theme fill: ZEALOTS and CENSORS, FALSETTO, NORTH SEA, TOM TOMS, NO NUKES, HAVE A HEART and EASY DOES IT.
- NSA [Org. protecting U.S. secrets] and OSS [W.W. II intelligence org.]. SEGA and ATARI.
- TONGS (4a) to go with HAMMERED.
- Slightly advanced, crosswordy fill for a Monday: SAGO, RAISA, ZANE, ERLE.
- 72a [Keats and Shelley] POETS crossing 65d [Keats or Shelley work] ODE.
- Unfortunate repetitions: 62a USE UP and 51d ICED UP. 9d [Web site alternative to com or edu] ORG (see clues for NSA and OSS, above).
Patrick Berry’s Celebrity crossword, “Movie Monday”
Among the more anticipated movies this summer is Christopher Nolan’s newest Batman sequel, The Dark Knight Rises. The cast is featured in today’s puzzle theme:
- 15a. CHRISTIAN BALE, [Batman in the upcoming film "The Dark Knight Rises"]
- 26a. ANNE HATHAWAY, [Catwoman in the upcoming film "The Dark Knight Rises"]
- 33a. MICHAEL CAINE, [Alfred in the upcoming film "The Dark Knight Rises"]
- 47a. MORGAN FREEMAN, [Lucius Fox in the upcoming film "The Dark Knight Rises"]
- 24d. Plus a couple bonus answers. BANE, [Tom Hardy's role in "The Dark Knight Rises"]
- 50d. RAS, [__ al Ghul, Liam Neeson's "The Dark Knight Rises" role]
It won’t be the same without Heath Ledger’s Joker, and I’ll miss seeing my neighborhood on screen (Gary Oldman’s commissioner character in The Dark Knight “lived” around the corner from me, and the movie trailers occupied my kid’s school’s property for two days).
Looking beyond the theme answers, we find lots of names from all areas, pop culture and more. We’ve got actors RENE Russo, Summer GLAU, Kristin WIIG, EVA Longoria, MEL Gibson, Elisabeth SHUE, OWEN Wilson, and ALIA Shawkat. Athletes Muhammad ALI and Steve NASH. Movie/TV creators ELI Roth and DICK Wolf. Tabloid-friendly names KIM Kardashian and K-FED. Movie characters NEMO and NERO. Politico RICK Santorum. Inventor Thomas EDISON. Radio’s Don IMUS. Music’s SYD Barrett. Writer NEAL Stephenson.
Donna S. Levin’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review
Theme: 100 Years Ago Today…
- 17A. [Motto of 50-Across] – BE PREPARED
- 50A. [Organization that held its first troop meeting 3/12/1912] – GIRL SCOUTS
- 11D. [Founder of 50-Across] – JULIETTE LOW
- 25D. [Popular funding source for 50-Across] – COOKIE SALES
This appears to be a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the GIRL SCOUTS. Nope. It is actually a subliminal ad to get you to order cookies from a certain former LA Times blogger and cookie seller at the ACPT. If you can call theme answers subliminal, and I just did. It worked. I await my chocolate mints.
- 41A. [Donkey of kiddie lit] – EEYORE. Friend of Tigger.
- 57A. [Airline that serves only kosher meals] – EL AL. Too bad I can’t get a kosher meal on Alaska Airlines. Too bad I can’t get a meal on Alaska Airlines.
- 4D. [Bobby of hockey] – ORR. Does Bobby Hull get jealous that Bobby ORR gets all the crossword action?
- 36D. [Eliza Doolittle, to Henry Higgins] – PROTEGEE. That should be ‘Enry ‘Iggins.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Inside NASA” – Sam Donaldson’s review
We must be due for a blue moon! Long-time readers know of my self-imposed ten-minute solving goal for a Bob Klahn puzzle. It feels like I always fail at it, often miserably so. But not today! For whatever reason, I was on this puzzle’s wavelength. I realize most of the top solvers will knock this puppy down in their usual two- or three-minute sprint, but I don’t care–I’m still very happy with my time.
As usual, I spent a good minute studying the clues in the northwest and far north and had absolutely nothing to show for it. Fortunately, I found this puzzle’s “hole” in the northeast. There sat ELI Roth of Inglourious Basterds and TILDA [Swinton of "The Chronicles of Narnia" films], side by side. Once they were uncovered, the whole corner fell quickly (save for LETHE, the [River of oblivion] to which I was oblivious). That gave me RAIL as the end of the first theme entry, and I was off to the races.
The theme, incidentally, is the burial of NASA inside of four common terms:
- 17-Across: TUNA SALAD is the [Sandwich spread usually made with mayonnaise]. I prefer a LOW-FAT ([Watchword for certain losers?]) variety myself, along with diced dill pickle and, if handy, chopped celery. Add lemon pepper et voila: the tuna salad of the Gods!
- 24-Across: One who is [All skin and bones] is AS THIN AS A RAIL. The entry that comes closest to describing my body shape is LIKE A LOG, though that’s the answer to [One way to sleep?].
- 48-Across: You may not want to know what’s in a VIENNA SAUSAGE, but it might interest you to know [It was invented by a butcher in Frankfurt]. Or maybe not.
- 59-Across: The [Crime lab bit] is a DNA SAMPLE.
There were two stumbling blocks. I think I’ve seen GEWGAW, the [Bauble], in a prior crossword. It looked weird to me then, and it looks weird to me now. The second was when I kept trying to spell FAYE WRAY in such a way that it would take up nine squares. Who else would be the ["King Kong" abductee]? It turned out to be her character, one ANN DARROW.
Nothing else perplexed me for too long. I originally had ASKS UP as the answer to [Invites for a nightcap], but that proved to be ASKS IN. No big deal. My favorite clue was [Baby's favorite art movement?] for DADA. Honorable mentions to [Kind of shy?] for GUN and [Moonball from Venus?] (as in Venus Williams) for a LOB shot in tennis.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday #160″
This puzzle, with the exception of 1.5 iffy entries, is incredibly smooth for a 62-worder and I wouldn’t be surprised it a lot of you solved the puzzle and didn’t even notice it had such a low word count. It feels like a standard BEQ themeless with a higher word count, though it’s a bit lighter on the standard BEQ “wow” answers.
39a: WITH A RUSH doesn’t feel “in the language” to me, and I’m not sure 9d: SAD MOVIE is a discrete “thing” other than adjective + noun. It may well be. What do you think?
But this flower-shaped grid has a two-Q answer across the middle, SQUASH RACQUET, with the second Q crossing slangy LIQUORED UP. The conversational IT’S TRUE, I FORGOT, and YES I SEE are other BEQ trademarks touches. Oh! I almost forgot my favorite answer, 3d: OH SNAP. I like how ESTATES and ESTADO sort of echo each other. SOBEREST is a boring EST-inflected word, but it’s helped by its cross-reference to LIQUORED UP. VCR TAPES is another zippy entry, with that consonant pile-up at the beginning.
- 13d: [Party line?] for SURPRISE!
- 22d. [Blank expression?] for I FORGOT.
4.25 stars. BEQs are more fun with a higher word count and crazier fill, but occasionally it’s good to see that yes, Brendan has the chops to make smooth low-word-count puzzles that aren’t boring.