Michael David’s New York Times crossword
For a puzzle with seven theme entries and four corners full of 7-letter answers, the fill is surprisingly smooth. The 7s aren’t forced, and BURRITO and ROY G. BIV are particularly nice. The 7-stacks’ crossings are mostly Monday-friendly (only PULE/[Whine] jumps out as an uncommon word). We could do without the crosswordese NENE, of course, but its crossings are straightforward.
And the theme’s not the usual Monday fare: Seven gerunds ending with KING are clued as if they’re kinds of kings. My favorite is the [Ruler in a Utah city?], PROVO KING. The bakery’s FLAN KING, the garden’s PEA KING, the urinal’s LOO KING, the bronzed TAN KING, the slender THIN KING, and the PAR KING on the golf course all sound like cheesy retail mascots on local TV commercials.
Many newbie constructors overreach and try to do too much with a theme, but Michael David managed to stick the landing here. 4.5 stars. (P.S. I should’ve been 25 seconds faster, but had a typo in the last square in the bottom row—and of course I started at the top when looking for the typo.)
Frank Longo’s Celebrity crossword, “Movie Monday”
Opie! All grown up. That’s today’s cinematic theme:
- 15a. BEAUTIFUL MIND, [2001 drama starring Russell Crowe, for which 26-Across won the Best Director Oscar, with "A": 2 wds.]
- 21a. MISSING, [2003 western thriller starring Tommy Lee Jones directed by 26-Across, with "The"]
- 26a. RON HOWARD, [Director of "The Da Vinci Code" and "Cocoon": 2 wds.]
- 34a. DILEMMA, [2011 comedy-drama starring Vince Vaughn, directed by 26-Across, with "The"]
- 41a. CINDERELLA MAN, [2005 boxing film starring Russell Crowe, directed by 26-Across: 2 wds.]
When Ron Howard was filming The Dilemma in Chicago a couple years ago, my family and I ran into him and his wife at the North Avenue Beach bike rental. That man takes his sun protection seriously. Lightweight pants and a lightweight shirt-jacket covering his skin on a hot summer day, plus his trademark film school baseball cap. I hear the movie was dreadful, but I hope he enjoyed his time in the Windy City.
Bonnie L. Gentry and Victor Fleming’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review
- 20A. [Providence native, for one] – RHODE ISLANDER
- 34A. [Skipped the saddle] – RODE BAREBACK
- 41A. [Steered the skiff beachward] – ROWED TO SHORE
- 56A. [Crosby/Hope film] – ROAD TO MOROCCO
Homonyms of ROAD. Nothing wrong with any of those. Two TO’s doesn’t bother me. Relaxing puzzle to start the week.
- 60A. [Visibly wowed] – AGOG/62A. ["Vacation" band, with "The"] – GOGO’S.
- 64A. [Kate, to Petruchio, eventually] – WIFE
- 8D. [Hollywood award] – OSCAR
- 33D. [Off-Broadway award] – OBIE
- 19A. [Broadway award] – TONY
Quiz time! Which is which?
- 22D. [Chip's partner] – DALE
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Getting Your Way” – Sam Donaldson’s review
We all know Lynn Lempel has a way with crosswords. There’s no better proof than today’s puzzle, where WAY gets inserted into four common terms in pursuit of wackiness:
- 18-Across: The expression “lay an egg” becomes WAYLAY AN EGG, a term that could describe what it means to [Ambush Humpty Dumpty?]. The clue makes the entry.
- 28-Across: The [Taxiing pilot's nightmare?] is a RUNWAY LIKE HELL, a play on “run like hell.” I was pleased that it turned out to be HELL instead of the watered-down HECK.
- 45-Across: Leave It to Beaver was a tad before my time, so I’ve never been into it. But I loved WAYWARD CLEAVER, the [Butcher's knife that constantly gets misplaced?], as a play on Ward Cleaver.
- 60-Across: A “high-heel” shoe becomes a HIGHWAY HEEL, another term for a [Road hog?].
Interesting how the grid has both CDS and LPS and yet the clues don’t reference each other. At least one other connection was made, though, as both SILO and STY got the same clue, [Barn neighbor].
I liked THE FED, JOWLS, ALL WET, LOSE IT, and ODDITY. I thought the [Rattling sound] was CLANG, but it was CLACK. Isn’t that one of the Car Talk guys? I was also befuddled by HANOVER, the [German royal dynasty to which Queen Victoria belonged]. But other elements were right in my wheelhouse (I’m looking at you, Barry MANILOW, and the PEGS from the game of Mastermind).
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Usually when we see 7-heavy themeless grids (these show up in Newsday on Saturdays more often than in the other themeless venues), there are corners with three Across 7s and three Down 7s. Brendan ups the ante with two corners of intersecting quad-stacked 7s and two corners with 6s framing trios of 7s.
The result is a tougher solve, especially since 1a is not a common word but none of its crossings are flat-out unthinking-reflex gimmes (unless you’ve got one of those SCOOBAS). Really. Consider 5d: [Chill]. Could be a noun, an adjective, or a verb, but it turns out to be another verb without a “cold” connotation, HANG. Whereas [Get the __ of it] would have helped crack open that corner more quickly. It took me a good long while to piece together SWASHES up there.
I had never heard of 59a, PROP BET, until Brendan asked me recently about including it in a themeless. The clue, [Outcome of the coin toss, or first team to score a touchdown, e.g.], was of no help to me, though. So a tough start and finish to the grid.
- 47a. FLOSS, [Strand in the bathroom]
- 21a. RHYME, [Need for speed, e.g.]
- 16a. ORLANDO, [Sentinel's city]. The Orlando Sentinel is a newspaper.
- 22d. YOJIMBO, [1961 Akira Kurosawa film]. Needed lots of crossings because old yohimbe spam was running interference in my head.
- There are only four 3-letter answers in this puzzle and eight 4s. Those are the bread and butter of crossword gimmes, but they’re not here to hold your hand today.