Nancy Kavanaugh’s New York Times crossword
Cute theme. Four lively phrases begin with words that double as synonyms for “brief moment”:
- 20a. Santa’s TWINKLING EYES, “in a twinkling.” Keep seeing this as Twin Kling-eyes, from Jamie Farr’s M*A*S*H character.
- 35a. FLASHBULB, [Aid for night photos, once]. I am from the generation that had the nifty four-sided flashbulb cubes that you only had to replace after every four flash photos.
- 41a. JIFFY LUBE.
- 58a. [Drink made with crystals], INSTANT COFFEE.
The puzzle gave me a distinct “it came from no later than 1979″ vibe from MALTEDS and the Chris EVERT/ARTE Johnson crossing, and then the FLASHBULB sealed the deal. Except for 30a: IMAC, I don’t think anything in the grid couldn’t have been found in a crossword of 1979. ZETA and ETHAN could have been clued differently. ORK was super-hot pop culture at the time. “MISS YOU” came out the year before. JIFFY LUBE was then a small new chain of auto service centers.
Of course, a real 1979 puzzle would most likely have felt unpleasant to 2012 me, whereas this puzzle worked just fine and does not at all have a Maleska vibe of horrible, obscure fill. It just had a lot of stuff that evoked the ’70s, that’s all.
3.5 stars. I do like the theme, which hits the Monday sweet spot by being simple but still fresh (although younger solvers may have been mystified by 35a).
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Rumpus Room” – Sam Donaldson’s review
54-Down says that ADO is the [Rumpus (found in the middle of 17-, 25-, 42-, and 53-Across)]. You’ll note that the ADO in every theme entry sits exactly in the center:
- 17-Across: To be [Completely lifeless] is to be as DEAD AS A DOORNAIL. Because, you know, there’s not much deader than doornails.
- 25-Across: The [Bigheaded divas] are PRIMA DONNAS. The more conservative celebrity impersonators are PRIM MADONNAS.
- 42-Across: To be [Adorned with spots] is to be POLKA-DOTTED. If the dots look a little smushed and fat on the sides, it’s beer-barrel-polka-dotted.
- 53-Across: AMBASSADORSHIPS are [Some presidential appointments]. Others include FEDERAL JUDGES and BASKETBALL AT THE WHITE HOUSE GYM.
There are two great long Downs: THAT DOES IT and the [Exuberant cry from Pinocchio], I’M A REAL BOY.Other highlights include SPACE AGE, AT HOME, and STOMPS ON.
I’m not familiar with SMAZE, the [Smog relative] that I assume to be a portmanteau of HAZE and SMOG, the latter itself a portmanteau of SMOKE and FOG. Now if we can combine something with SMAZE we’d have a three-level portmanteau! The other new terms for me were Ethiopia’s emperor HAILE Selassie and [“Gorillas in the Mist” director Michael] APTED.
Geoffrey Lewis’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I have a sense that a central XL theme was done a few years ago, but I could be mixing up Super Bowl XL and crosswords. Anyone remember a Super Bowl XL theme with embedded XL’s? Here’s today’s theme:
- 17a. [*Magnifying glass, e.g.], CONVEX LENS
- 38a. [*Benefit of an unsuccessful stock trade, at filing time], TAX LOSS
- 62a. [Size whose letters are hidden in the answers to starred clues], EXTRA-LARGE
- 11d. [*From the library of, in Latin], EX LIBRIS
- 37d. [*Construction worker's meal], BOX LUNCH
Straightforward, clean, fine Monday fare.
Look, MALTEDS and Chris EVERT again! The only fill here that didn’t exist in 1979 is TSA, XER, EURO, and GPS, but maybe four answers is enough to move me out of the ERMA Bombeck, record GROOVE, Etta KETT, KGB retro zone.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
All right, let’s take a stroll through this grid:
- 1a. IKEA CATALOG clued as a periodical? Tricked me into thinking it would be a domicile-related magazine.
- 15a. No idea what the MENDOZA LINE’s cutoff is. Don’t care.
- 17a. As a longtime Mac user, I disdain any MY DOCUMENTS folder, as well as the Documents folder on my Mac. That’s just silly. Documents belong in the folders they have something to do with. Why would you throw everything you write into a single place? A file cabinet set up that way would be useless. /rant
- 35a. Ha! [Beck fans] made me think of the “Loser” singer rather than Glenn of the TEA PARTY. Is Beck’s “Loser” their theme song?
- 51a, 52a. MERCI, mon AMOUR! François Hollande is the new French president, replacing Sarkozy. I keep thinking his first name is Xavier. I blame Xaviera Hollander, The Happy Hooker.
- 63a. LARPers might wear a SUIT OF ARMOR. Live-action role-playing, is that what it stands for? My sense is that it’s like playing D&D with a forest as the playing board.
- 69a. Aww, WAYNE ROONEY’s team (England) lost on penalty kicks yesterday to Italy. Saw a tweet yesterday that said, “Watching futbol, I’m wondering why Bubba and Louis didn’t have a chipping contest to decide the Masters.” I’m part English, so aww. I don’t suppose Ireland, Germany, Poland, Scotland, or Lithuania is still in contention? I need to be all tribal like the Europeans.
- 2d. I only like KEY LIME pie at Blue Heaven in Key West, and I only like bread pudding in soufflé form at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. Don’t bring me some inferior garbage because I will not like it one bit.
- 7d. TAMALE? Yes, in Spanish, you have one tamal, two tamales. But this is America, yo! Where dictionaries may list tamale but have no entry for tamal.
- 22d. SHRAPNEL was a dude’s name. It sounds so perfect for what it now describes. The SHRAP part sounds like sharp, shard, shred, but with a “whap!” to it.
- 24d. SLOW POUR? Not a phrase I consider to be in the language, necessarily, as I’ve not been working a keg since maybe college. But yes, when the beer comes out so slowly, the line gets long and everyone gets cranky. SLOW POUR. Bad thing.
- 53d. RESAW? Meh. Double meh.