Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
The NYT follows up a golf-themed Sunday puzzle with a baseball-themed Monday. A slightly speedier sport. Yay.
The theme entries, in their latter parts, describe (in skeletal terms) the sequence of getting a point in the game, from the offensive player’s point of view.
- 16a. [Relaxing spot on a veranda] PORCH SWING. Presumably, the bit about stepping up to the plate, waiting for the pitcher to be ready, then stepping away to adjust one’s cap, returning to the plate, waiting again for the pitcher, then at the last moment holding up one’s hand, backing off, knocking dirt from one’s cleats, resuming a batting stance, et cetera, et cetera, has already occurred.
- 23a. [Huge success at the box office] SMASH HIT.
- 37a. [Virginia site of two Civil War battles] BULL RUN. They are called—incredibly enough—the First Battle of Bull Run and the Second Battle of Bull Run. You may recognize the site from crosswords as Manassas.
- 46a. [Hillside threat after a heavy rain] MUDSLIDE.
- 56a. [Sheet music for Van Cliburn, say] PIANO SCORE.
Swing, hit, run, slide, score. I’m not much of a baseball fan (as you may have detected), but the only scenario I can imagine appropriate to this five-part invention (eat seine Herz out, Bach) is an inside-the-park home run. Agree? Disagree? Discuss. (Mondays are generally comment-impoverished.)
Additional theme content with the middle-latitude paired verticals: 25d [With 35-Down, much anticipated cry every April] “PLAY | BALL!” Clue needs a qualifier, IMN-S-H-O. From the official MLB website: “The 2012 Major League Baseball season will open with the christening of one ballpark, a 20th-anniversary celebration of the ballpark that changed everything and the hope of another World Series that will end no later than October. The Cardinals and Miami Marlins will begin the season with the opening of Florida’s new ballpark on Wednesday, April 4, followed by six openers the next day.”
A pair of long non-theme downs shine. SIXTH GRADE [Traditional start of middle school]; Where I grew up, elementary school was grades one to six, junior high from seven to nine, and high school from 9 to 12; one could choose to be a socially secure senior in JHS or a lowly freshman in HS. In other, “weird” districts, there were entities known as intermediate schools, which were only grades seven and eight. [Whenever you feel like it] ANY OLD TIME. Excellent, colloquial.
As with last week’s Monday, there seems to be a minor uptick in the variety and interestingness of the fill; I hope this is a deliberate and long-lasting editorial decision. Deputy DAWG, full-name IM PEI, LETHE, SPY RING, for instance. Low CAP Quotient™ and a fluid solve. This scorekeeper proclaims no Errors.
- 47d & 59a: [Pitch-dark] UNLIT crossing [Makes less bright] DIMS. Also, is pitch a baseball tip-of-the hat? Probably just inadvertent, as if it were intentional, there are many missed opportunities in the puzzle for more sly fun.
- 36a & 37d: [Late singer Winehouse] AMY near to [2009 British singing sensation Susan] BOYLE. Both British, kind of associated, I guess. I’m stretching here.
- 18a [World's Fair, e.g.] EXPO. Not [Ex-Nat], which is probably a little too tough for a Monday.
- TUG and LUG play paired supporting roles in the center of the grid; they remind me of architectural columns.
Average puzzle, not SUBLIME (23d).
Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review
Theme: LOL – L-word of the L-word
- 20A. [One completely lacking morals] – LOWEST OF THE LOW
- 25A. [2009 Will Ferrell dinosaur movie] – LAND OF THE LOST. Never saw it.
- 42A. [Woman with varying roles in Arthurian legend] – LADY OF THE LAKE. I think she was Secretary of State and Assistant Deputy Minister of Fisheries.
- 47A. [What exacting judges follow] – LETTER OF THE LAW. Is that how they handle the LOWEST OF THE LOW?
Scrabble players delight:
- 5A. [Knight fights] – JOUSTS
- 55A. [__ Mahal] – TAJ
- 60A. [Team on a farm] – OXEN
- 61A. [Alphabet ender] – ZED in Canada.
- 63A. [Call to a queue] – NEXT
- 52D. [Opulence] – LUXE
- 53D. [Highest point] – APEX
- 55D. [Looney Tunes devil, casually] – TAZ
- 17A. [Roller coaster feature] – LOOP
- 49D. [Disney World's Space Mountain, e.g.] – RIDE. I don’t believe Space Mountain has a loop, although there is conflicting information on this. I do know it is dark and scary.
- 59A. [Singer Bette] – MIDLER
4D. [Longtime logo with a top hat and monocle] – MR. PEANUT. Am I a man or am I a logo?
11D. [Hairline's midpoint, perhaps] – WIDOWS PEAK. Weird thing to be called.
21D. ["Smooth Operator" singer] – SADE
26D. [Common man with a six-pack?] – AVERAGE JOE in Canada.
56A. [Political fugitive] – EMIGRE. Isn’t anyone who moves out of a country an EMIGRE? I think the clue needs a “,perhaps”
Required Batman reference:
- 24A. [Sound preceding "Oof!"] – POW
- 41A. [Abacus pieces] – BEADS. I own an Abacus.
Liking of the Los Angeles Times. **** stars.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Splitsville” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Each of the five theme entries in today’s Lynn Lempel crossword begins with a word that can follow “split:”
- 17-Across: Something [Rather inferior] is SECOND-RATE (split second).
- 40-Across: [Sailor-inspired outwerwear] is a PEA COAT (split pea, the soup that can double as mucous).
- 61-Across: The [Homeowner's guard against bugs] is a SCREEN DOOR (split-screen, like the television setting or the film editing technique).
- 10-Down: One who is [Showing good judgment] is said to be LEVEL-HEADED (split level, like all the trendy homes these days).
- 26-Down: A theater’s [Box office] is its TICKET BOOTH. Boy oh boy, did I want that to be TICKET SALES. That caused quite the jam in the southwest corner, trust me. (split ticket? Huh? Help me, Wikipedia! It’s “a ballot on which the voter has chosen candidates from different political parties when multiple offices are being decided by a single election. Split-ticket voting is in contrast to straight-ticket voting in which a voter chooses candidates from the same political party for every office on the ballot.”) And here I thought I majored in political science!
I loved the clue for CODE NAME, [Barack Obama's is "Renegade"]. Other great entries in the grid included RAIN DATE, SAT UP, UPTURNS, DEARIE ME, PERPLEX, and FILMDOM. ADAM BEDE has a really odd assortment of letters there in the middle. It undermined my confidence to see -MBE- in the center but I’m glad I stuck with it.
I was surprised by [Number two on Forbes's 2011 list of The World's Most Powerful Celebrities] as the clue for OPRAH. I would have thought she would be number one. I was happy, though, to have correctly guessed the person occupying the top spot: Lady Gaga. If you’re not a monster (one of her fans) yet, just listen to this. The lady’s got pipes.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Nice puzzle, though without a trademark Brand-New Term Never Before Seen in a Crossword. Possibly the WABAC MACHINE (which I assumed was from The Man from SMART or whatever it’s called, but Brendan informed me is from Rocky & Bullwinkle) fits the category as a new crossword answer, but it’s decades old.
- My local company AON, namesake of the
Standard Oil Building Amoco BuildingAon Center (it’s the middle tower peeking through the clouds in that first photo) and, interestingly, sponsor of the Man U jerseys. You wouldn’t think a company with a Chicago HQ would be into the Premier League.
- CAPITAL B clued as the Blogger.com logo, that big orangey-red B. Usually CAPITAL [insert letter here] clues reference proper nouns. Nice change-up here.
- ELKS LODGE! Old school, plus a 5-consonant run. (See also: BRNO, Czech city with 3 consonants to start. I think maybe I went through Brno on the train once.)
- SNOWS IN with a chalet clue. My Vail, Colorado, hotel does not look like a chalet, but we did drivet past one of those A-frame houses yesterday. And? Some snowflakes here this morning, plus patches of snow on the ground and further up in the mountains, which I want to pronounce “moun-TAINS” for some reason. Similar to my pronunciation of “the ping-PONG.”
- [One in a habit], 6 letters starting with A? I filled in ABBESS but it was ADDICT.
- [Study of moles: Abbr.] clues CHEM. I kinda wanted DERM.
From the world of politics, we have PRE-ELECT, which … is that a word? Is that a thing? I’ve never seen it. And we also have [Bam, e.g.] cluing PRES., “Bam” being short for Obama. I don’t think his fans really use that term, though, do they? I figured the clue was about Bam Margera.
Frank Longo’s Celebrity crossword, “Movie Monday”
It’s Hot Charming British Man Day in the Celebrity crossword:
- 15a. BEST ACTOR, [Oscar won by 21-Across for "The King's Speech": 2 wds.]
- 21a. COLIN FIRTH, [British star who played King George in "The King's Speech": 2 wds.]
- 41a. A SINGLE MAN, [2009 drama for which 21-Across was nominated for an Oscar: 3 wds.]. Looking at this in the grid, I can’t help wondering what ASING LEMAN means.
- 52a. PREJUDICE, ["Pride and ___" (1995 miniseries starring 21-Across)]. The BBC miniseries that famously featured Firth in a wet, clingy white shirt, fresh from a dip in the lake.
What’s not to like?