Crikey! I forgot to blog on Monday night. Kind of had it in my head that pannonica was blogging, but that’s Sunday night. See? This is what happens when I don’t spring for the in-room internet service. Going down to the lobby for wi-fi is far less convenient, especially when one doesn’t get back from dinner until two hours after the NYT puzzle comes out and it’s bedtime.
Paula Gamache’s New York Times crossword
Quickly, because I’m about 16 hours late on blogging this puzzle: Theme is MOVING PARTS, as illustrated by phrases that end with anagrams of PARTS. INSECT TRAPS feels vaguely not-quite-in-the-language, NYLON TARPS sounds boring, JACK SPRAT is zippy, and an ANKLE STRAP is also a little dull. I didn’t see the theme until reading the clue for MOVING PARTS that revealed the trick. Juicy fill includes MARRY ME, ESPNEWS, STEPMOM/THE ROSE/EUROVAN, and BARISTA. And FRITOS! I can’t for the life of me understand why I seldom find off-brand corn chips, or organic corn chips. Organic, snobby tortilla chips, yes–but never a snobby FRITOS knock-off. And I do like Fritos, so it would be nice to have as many options as there are for potato chips, popcorn, and tortilla chips.
Steven J. St. John’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
It’s a gem of a puzzle today, with a hidden string of three letters in five theme entries (and an identifying entry, of course). I’ve added some circles in the grid at right to show off the locations of the gems in the puzzle.
- 17a. [*Ten times the seller's cost, maybe] – HUGE MARKUP
- 34a. [*Green labyrinth] – HEDGE MAZE
- 41a. [*Groundbreaking desktop publishing software] I’ve never heard of – PAGE MAKER
- 10d. [*Fundraising receipts] – PLEDGE MONEY
- 24d. [*Child star's parent] – STAGE MOTHER
- 58a. [Some buried treasure, or what are literally found in the answers to starred clues] – HIDDEN GEMS
Each theme entry has a GE/M split; that’s nice and consistent. It’s also great to see 6 long theme entries early in the week. Did you pick up on the Scrabbliness of this puzzle? Lots of Xs throughout the grid. Yes, it’s a pangram – I know that will delight some but make others cringe. I think it works for this puzzle – there’s nothing jumping out at me as terrible in the fill. I was a little surprised to see PIMP in the grid – that doesn’t strike me as usual LAT territory, but the cluing’s inoffensive. I’m a big fan of Chris Traeger, [Rob] LOWE [of "Parks and Recreation"]‘s character. Curiously enough, one of his co-stars, Chris PRATt is almost right above him in the grid. Coincidence? I think so. I also like seeing PRIX directly beneath SALE. TSAR next to MARX doesn’t strike the same connection for me; oh well. It’s time to go survey the damage of the [All-night party] – RAVE – that’s taken place here in Lexington thanks to UK’s basketball win last night. Hopefully it’s died down by now!
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Going Downhill Fast” – Sam Donaldson’s review
For those solving on the computer, the clue for 57-Down may appear in very small print. It’s tempting to skip the clue to avoid squinting, but a closer look is helpful. As I learned in law school, the most important stuff is often in the tiniest print. The clue reads: [Apres-___ (following a day on the slopes -- and, literally, where the first words of the four longest puzzle answers can be found)]. The answer is SKI. As indicated, SKI can come before the first word in each of the theme entries:
- 21-Across: The [Banderas swashbuckler, with "The"] is MASK OF ZORRO (ski mask). The ski mask is required attire inside most banks.
- 49-Across: A [Decathlete, at times] is a POLE VAULTER (ski pole).
- 3-Down: The [Road in the title of an old Johnny Depp television show and recent movie] is JUMP STREET (ski jump). Keep in mind that today’s puzzle was finalized a little more than three weeks ago, when the 21 Jump Street movie had yet to premiere. And yet somehow Levin or the CrosSynergy gurus knew it would already be “so five minutes ago” by now that they wrote the clue to refer to a “recent” movie as opposed to a “current” movie. That’s awesome.
- 29-Down: The [Vessel providing coastal defense] is a PATROL BOAT (ski patrol).
The grid’s elegant design allows for stair-stepping fives through the middle, and the fill features some nice touches like CUT CLASS, BICUSPID, and HEADACHE. Sure, RE-DID at 1-Down isn’t especially attractive, but the opposite corner has a really nice assortment of entries, especially the crossing KAVA and DELVE. SERGE, the [Twill suit fabric], slowed me down a little, as did the nearby crossing of HANGS and BANGS, which I thought were just similar enough that they couldn’t possibly be intersecting. I’m not sure why I thought that, as crossing entries with the same string of four consecutive letters has, I’m sure, happened many times in the past.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Cutting in Line”
Took me a while to parse the theme. Take a familiar phrase and move the last word to the beginning, and reclue accordingly:
- 17a. PLACE IN THE FIRST, [End up winning and coming in second at the same time?]
- 28a. SHOW DOG AND PONY, [AKC winner plus a Shetland?]
- 47a. LOVE, LET’S FALL IN, [Soldier's comment akin t o "It's time to join the line, dear"]
- 57a. TELL AS FAR AS I CAN, [Narrator's goalto maximally project his voice?]
Favorite clue: 1d, CAP, [Tube top?]. As in the top of a toothpaste tube being the CAP. The clue had me mystified.
Other nice touches include SWEET VALLEY High, the microwave that BEEPED, an OPINION POLL, “A NEW / CAR!” and the clue for TAN, [It may be obtained in a bed]. People! Don’t do it. Don’t hit the tanning salon. A new Mayo Clinic study reveals that in Rochester, Minnesota’s county, the rate of melanoma has skyrocked since 1979, quadrupling in men and octupling in women. More skin cancer among young adults, not just old folks. It’s gotta be the tanning beds, right? /off-topic exhortation
Aimee Lucido’s Celebrity crossword, “TV Tuesday”
Boy, I didn’t know the theme answers here, other than the third one, which I knew only because LEA is such a crossword-friendly word and the character’s name has been included in some of the Celebrity crossword clues for LEA Michele.
- 17a. ARTIE ABRAMS, [Guitarist portrayed by Kevin McHale on "Glee": 2 wds.]
- 31a. MERCEDES JONES, [Gospel singer portrayed by Amber Riley on "Glee": 2 wds.]
- 43a. RACHEL BERRY, [Glee club star portrayed by Lea Michele on "Glee": 2 wds]
The Artie character’s casting has come in for some controversy, as the character uses a wheelchair but McHale is currently able-bodied. There are disabled actors out there, but not a ton of high-profile opportunities for them.
A non-thematic answer I didn’t know: 7d. TOPAZ, [File format for the Amazon Kindle named for a precious stone].
- 32d. CASH CAB, [Discovery Channel game show that takes place in a taxi: 2 wds.]. Another of the Celebrity crossword constructors, Tony Orbach, appeared on that show. Here’s a clip.
- 33d. SAME-SEX, [Untraditional, as some modern marriages: Hyph.]