Randall J. Hartman’s New York Times crossword puzzle — pannonica’s review
It seems the awards are being handed out at the beginning of this week.
- 17a. [Husband's status symbol, possibly] TROPHY WIFE.
- 26a. [General Mills baking product] GOLD MEDAL FLOUR. This baker swears by the venerable King Arthur brand (founded in 1790).
- 42a. [Pane for a complex legal case] BLUE RIBBON JURY.
- 57a. [Popular Canadian whisky] CROWN ROYAL.
Just a slight bit disconcerting, the longer central themers incorporating two-word awards, and each enhanced with a color. Otherwise a tight theme, perfect for a Monday.
The long down entries: 11d ["Hurts So Good" singer, 1982] JOHN COUGAR. Back then, when he was starting out, the small-town Indiana musician was advised to take a stage name; later he hedged matters by appending his surname to his stage name before completing the reversion to his birth name, John Mellencamp. 27d [1936 Rodgers and Hart musical that incorporated jazz in its score] ON YOUR TOES. In the NW and SE are CAPSULES and TRUE LOVE.
Low CAP Quotient™, smooth solve, again right on target for an early week offering.
- 32a [Swim meet divisions] LANES. A rare playful clue, albeit a subtle one.
- Appreciated that 18d and 31d were not unnecessarily cross-referenced: ["O.K. from Huck Finn] YES’M, and [Huck Finn's transport] RAFT.
- Two O – - – stalwarts crossing each other: OREO and ORCA. I’m sure it happens a lot, but I noticed it in this puzzle.
- 19a [Part of the leg that's often kicked] SHIN. Indeed.
- 22a [Cable network specializing in "real life" shows] A AND E. It’s been said many a time, but certain names don’t look correct when they’ve been fudged for crosswords by spelling out numerals (e.g., B-TEN) or integral punctuation (e.g., J AND J). & anyway, what happened to the station’s highbrow, “artistic” content?
- Fun resonances in the center DWEEB/DEB, AOL, ADELE.
Above average puzzle.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Putting in Overtime” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Four common terms get the overtime letters (OT) added to them to make off-beat new ones:
- 17-Across: The Boer War becomes the BOOTER WAR, [The World Cup, to many?].
- 27-Across: The common ending to a mash-note, “P.S., I love you,” becomes the [Poker player's paean?], POTS, I LOVE YOU. A couple of weekends ago I was in Las Vegas, and one of the things I remember doing there was participating in a no-limit hold-’em tournament at Caesar’s Palace. Much to the surprise of everyone who was with me on the trip (including myself), I finished about 150th out of 320 or so entrants. That was still far from the money, of course, but I beat the predicted finish of 315th.
- 45-Across: To be [Flown by cows?] is to be STOCK-PILOTED, an adjustment to “stockpiled.” If your plane is flown by cows, you should either parachute out or just put down the pipe.
- 60-Across: The ordinary expression “I have to” becomes I HAVE TOTO, [Miss Gulch's triumphant cry?]. Nice use of Dorothy’s last name from The Wizard of Oz.
Among the many highlights in this (typically) fiendishly clever puzzle:
- Anyone else have BAKE SALE as the [Church fund-raiser]? I would have stuck with it longer had I not paid attention to the first letter’s crossing. No way was BEE a [Car starter?]. But the letter CEE certainly is, meaning the fundraiser was a CAKE SALE. I finally paid attention for once!
- I kept expecting some underwear-related answer to [Brief drop-offs] but it turned out to be CATNAPS. I think I’m supposed to be ashamed to admit that, but I’m not.
- More poker references! TELLS are [Game table giveaways] in the form of unintentional signals you give opponents as to the strength of your hand. And I RAISE are [Words you don't expect to hear when you're expecting a call].
- Any grid with YAWP and YAWN gets bonus points from me, but I kept waiting for YAWS and YAWL to join the party.
- To fit IOWA, YAMAHA, and the aforementioned CATNAPS into that northwest corner, we have to accept RIBBY, a frog-like term for [Like corduroy] and OOOLA, Alley [Oop's main squeeze]. Jury’s still out as to whether it was worth it.
Things I did not know: OSKAR [Werner of "Fahrenheit 451"], UTICA was the [New York site of the first Woolworth five-and-dime], the WYE [Accord (1998 Mideast peace pact)], ISIS was [Horus's horn-headed mother], and the last name of [2010 Literature Nobelist Mario Vargas] LLOSA.
Favorite entry = LIT UP, or [Glowed]. Favorite clue = [When DST begins and ends] for TWO A.M. You’d think Inner Beavis would have loved [It may go better with coq] as the clue for VIN, but even he knows “coq” rhymes with “joke” and not “jock.”
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review
A very tidy little puzzle this one. Approachable theme, ordered and completely symmetrical. The revealer is 70a, the last across answer: [Like each starred answer's first letter, when used as a numeral] ROMAN.
- 1a. [*"Sorry to say …"] I FEAR.
- 9a. [*Peaceful hand gesture] V SIGN.
- 18a. [*Novelty glasses in comic book ads] X-RAY SPECS. I’ve seen them in some retro and gag catalogs, but are they being advertised in contemporary comic books?
- 30a. [*Yellow Brick Road creator] L. FRANK BAUM.
- 48a. [*Power sources for toys] C BATTERIES. C.C.Burnikel’s favorite size?
- 60a. [*Ones with a 1.0 GPA] D STUDENTS.
- 68a. [*MGM Resorts reward program] MLIFE. The most obscure of the themers, but it fits the requirements and is easily gotten with crossings.
Isn’t it nice how the numerals appear in ascending order? One, five, ten, fifty, one hundred, five hundred, one thousand? It doesn’t bother me at all that four of the theme entries are only V letters long because (1) the theme density is so high, (2) four of the others are of decent length, (3) there is no odd-man-out unsymmetrical entry.
You might think that with a large amount of theme material crammed into a 15×15 grid, a lot of compromises and filler-fill would be present, but that isn’t the case at all. When the weakest fill is -ENCE, N. CAR., and IDED, you’re way ahead of the game.
55d [Makeup smudge remover] Q-TIP, in my opinion, doesn’t impinge on or detract from the theme, as it’s a down answer, it’s four letters long, Q isn’t a Roman numeral, no asterisk. Its neighbor, I SAY, has 80% of those qualities. The aforementioned N. CAR. is also unlikely to be mistaken for a theme entry.
And look, among the down entries are a pair of 11-letter entries: ELECTRIC CAR (oh look, a C-C!) and MADAM I’M ADAM, which is so nice to see in its entirety rather than one of the many ways it’s typically chopped up for fill-in-the-blank clues. The cluing is pitched correctly for an early week puzzle.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Surprisingly lively long answers considering that this is a tough-to-fill 62-worder:
- People include DENNIS Miller, Stephen COLBERT, Alanis MORISSETTE, JULIETTE Binoche, AL GORE, and DR. LAURA, all very familiar to me. James WHITMORE, less so—but I still filled that in with only a few crossings so my lizard brain knows it just fine.
- RENT-A-KID with a funny clue. No, I don’t remember this one.
- REAL MADRID, Brendan loves his European futbol.
- CON JOB, an HONEST LOOK, and puzzly LATIN SQUARE also sparkle.
- DETAR is absolutely dreadful, of course, but the clue skews word-gamy: [Remove pitch stains from (and a semordnilap of 38-Down)].
When I solved this, I hadn’t realized it was only a 62-worder. It didn’t play like one. Besides DETAR, there’s OLLA and … no that’s really it for bleh fill. Soopah smooth. 4.25 stars.