Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
How unusual is it for the NYT to have something other than a 15×15 grid on a Monday? This 16×15 is also a bit odd in that there aren’t any clues sixteen letters long that absolutely necessitate the stretched dimensions.
Notepad says, “When this puzzle is done, the circled letters, reading from left to right and top to bottom, will reveal who wrote the seven songs in the theme.” Didn’t look at this until after I was done, and the theme as well as the circled bits were very obvious as I was solving. For the early-weekers, though, it’s best to spell things out.
- 20a. [1970 song with the lyric “Whisper words of wisdom”] LET IT BE.
- 21a. [1965 song with the lyric “Isn’t he a bit like you and me?’] NOWHERE MAN.
- 28a. [1969 song with the lyric “Once there was a way to get back homeward”] GOLDEN SLUMBERS.
- 38a. [1965 … “These are words that go together well”] MICHELLE.
- 46a. [1965 … “Think of what you’re saying”] WE CAN WORK IT OUT.
- 57a. [1968 … “We all want to change the world.”] REVOLUTION.
- 61a. [1968 … “Remember to let her into your heart”] HEY JUDE.
The circled letters—exactly two per theme entry, by the way—of course spell out LENNON and MCCARTNEY. I’m really disappointed that the constructor didn’t manage to have the two names be of equal length, seven letters each. Instead we see six and eight. Sloppy, sloppy.* Seriously, it’s quite nice that constructor Collins managed to find qualifying song titles of the appropriate lengths which contain the required letters sprinkled throughout in proper order. I suspect all of those requirements (not to mention the generous seven theme entries—I suppose you could say that the puzzle is full of [41d] HOOKEs) are what warranted the grid extension.
Three of the clues for those entries—20a, 38a, 46a—select lyrics having to do with words. Would have been quite spiffy and impressive if all of them did. Oh, and 18 June is Paul McCartney’s 70th birthday.
Lot of good stuff in this grid. The northeast and southwest have seven-stacks which incorporate the two shortest themers: KISS-UPS | OCEANIA | LETITBE and HEY JUDE | UNPOSED | BOOBOOS. 23d [“For __ know”] was just begging to reference the Beatles’ “Give Peace a Chance,” but it’s better not to muddy the theme. Was ruffled by the clue for 26a EMIL, [Disney’s “__ and the Detectives”] because I grew up with a copy of Erich Kästner’s 1929 book. Don’t get me wrong, the clue is accurate, just as DisneyCo interpreted Lewis Carrol’s Alice stories, Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Books, and so on; I found it personally irksome, that’s all.
Handful of observations:
- A Z in the first square [ZEST, ZION) has piquancy.
- UNSEEN, UNREAL, UNPOSED (plus UNTO).
- 42a [Low island] CAY, 50d [Archipelago bits] ISLETS.
- 31d RICE U is yewgly.
Smooth solve, decent CAP Quotient™, and somewhat more involved than a typical Monday offering. Adds up to an above-average experience.
* I was completely and utterly incorrect there. See janie’s comment below. So much for that joke.
Jacob McDermott’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review
After some, erm, technical delays, here is the correct write-up of the puzzle. Or, rather, the write-up of the correct puzzle. Apologies in advance for the brevity.
37 across, at the center, reveals the theme. [Pencil-and-paper diversion where the starts of 17-, 25-, 48- and 57-Across denote incorrect guesses] points straightforwardly points to HANGMAN. And here are the parts:
- 17a. [Prime minister, e.g.] HEAD OF STATE.
- 25a. [Fender-fixing facility] BODY SHOP. Because MUSIC STORE doesn’t fit, and also because that isn’t the right answer.
- 48a. [Superpowers’ weapons escalation] ARMS RACE.
- 57a. [Prohibition era gangster] LEGS DIAMOND. Also known as Jack Moran. The Peter Allen musical of that name will not be discussed, move along. Also, this is head and shoulders above the other theme entries in terms of interest and distinction.
There you have it. Ironically, this would have been a nice time to see a hoary old TORSO (which is almost invariably clued as having to do with sculpture, as if that’s the only object such artists ever produce—but that’s how things go in crosswordland) in a puzzle, since a torso is technically a BODY sans appendages and head. Of course, the word body is broad and ambiguous enough to mean both the torso and the entire corpus. Example from Merriam-Webster: 1a: the main part of a plant or animal body especially as distinguished from limbs and head : trunk … 2a: the organized physical substance of an animal or plant either living or dead.
Wouldn’t it be appropriate to describe the stick figure produced in the game as CARTOON (41a)? Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, its symmetrical partner at 33a—[Tropical straw hats] PANAMAS—is unrelated, unless there’s an exotic variant involving an extra guess that I’m unfamiliar with. The rest of the puzzle was a BREEZE (63a) to fill, as early week puzzles tend to be.
Items with personal relevance: IDIOTIC, OFF, AIL, PFFT, SLEEPY, KANT, [Bad __ day], GOES MAD.
Good puzzle, although there was a wee (oh hullo, NAE and AYE) too much junky fill. including LDS, LBO, ISLS, NGO (at least it was clued as something other than a non-governmental organization), LAS, and RETAB.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Single Minded” – Sam Donaldson’s review
I never saw the clue to 64-Across until after I was finished and trying to suss out the theme. It turns out that MISS is the [Title that can precede the starts of the four longest Across answers]:
- 17-Across: Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog’s beau, is at the start of PIGGY BANK, the [Kid’s coin collector].
- 26-Across: Miss Scarlet from “Clue” is at the front of SCARLET TANAGER, the rare singular form of the [Bird named for the male’s bright color] that occupies many triple- and quad-stacked puzzles.
- 42-Across: That’s Miss America at the front of AMERICA FERRERA, the [“Ugly Betty” star].
- 57-Across: Miss Kitty from “Gunsmoke” heads up KITTY HAWK, the [Town associated with aviation history].
There’s some interesting (if offbeat) fill here, like KIPPERS, the [English breakfast fish] (the only appropriate breakfast fish, for the record, is lox), SEAL SKIN, the [Waterproof material opposed by PETA], and GAYER ([More merry]). EMOTER isn’t especially pretty, but the rest had a very smooth feel to it.
Favorite entry = MA BELL, the [Quaint nickname for the phone company]. Favorite clue = [City famed for with trials] for SALEM, Massachusetts. I liked that clue only because I mis-read “trials” as “trails.” Witches ought to have trails so they exercise more and ride their brooms less.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Lots of groovy stuff, offset to a degree by the compromise stuff.
- THE LAW, although the clue would be better if it referred to the cops, who are the law, rather than what a burglar breaks, which is a law at the time of the crime.
- EDMONTON! I knew the big mall had to be in Canada or else the clue wouldn’t have said “North America.”
- RECALL ELECTION, oof. Can’t help thinking Walker is just a putz. I wonder if the people who voted for him also think he’s a putz, just that he’s their putz. (Just as I voted for that putz Blagojevich.)
- Rock and pop, JODECI meets JIMMY PAGE.
- BROTOX! Elsewhere in bro vocabulary, my son has a friend who’s a brony. His online name is Lyra Heartstring (I think), combining My Little Pony names.
- JALAPENO PEPPER, lotsa P’s.
- LOVE NOTE, always nice to receive with or without jewelry.
- GO NUTS? Sure, let’s do it.
ENGLUT? Ouch. Crosswordese ANILE (and the ETs, ETNA, ET TU, and ETTE). I TOO clued as a stilted phrase rather than the Langston Hughes poem. Those TOILERS aren’t working hard enough because some things are still UNFIXED.