Gareth Bain’s New York Times crossword
Neat theme—with a Monday puzzle, it’s easy to finish the puzzle without having a clue what the theme is, and that’s exactly what I did. It even confused me beyond a Monday level when I tried to make sense of it. [What this crossword is, in a way?] is a MAKE-UP TEST? Wha…? Oh! OCEAN LINER, eyeliner or lipliner. MOULIN ROUGE, rouge. SOLID FOUNDATION, that base makeup stuff. COCOA POWDER, powder atop the foundation. I like the completely non-cosmetic slant to the theme answers as clued.
Gareth skews a little autobiographical, as usual, with some Africa/veterinary material. 40d is Burkina FASO, half a continent away from his home in South Africa. Then there’s 24d: GELD, or [Desex, as a stallion]. Gareth has a new job at an SPCA, gelding and spaying dogs and cats. You know you’re in business when the testicle’s on the floor, right? There’s also a [Heavy zoo critter], which can live in the wild in Africa—I want to know two things. First, do veterinarians neuter the RHINO? And if so, is there a special beast-specific word for the procedure?
I did not know that 4d: [Rhythm for a minuet or waltz] was TRIPLE TIME. It may come as no surprise to learn that I have never waltzed.
Did you notice the hidden HONESTY in the puzzle? Check out 11d bending into 27a.
Fairly standard Monday puzzle, quick solve, nothing out of the ordinary. That’s what Mondays are for, right? 3.75 stars.
Gerry Wildenberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review
I positively flew through this puzzle. Don’t think I’m capable of typing any faster, so it’s pretty much the lower threshold of my Across Lite times. Early week puzzles are typically calibrated to be on the unchallenging side, ostensibly for newcomers, but honestly this felt far too easy.
The simple theme is words and phrases ending in rhymes with -ATCH.
- 17a. [Br'er Rabbit's thicket] BRIAR PATCH. Don’t make me solve this puzzle! Anything but that!
- 39a. [Dramatic grab in the outfield] SHOESTRING CATCH. Definitely metaphorical.
59a. [Mark with intersecting sets of parallel lines] CROSSHATCH.
- 10d. [Fight in a ring] BOXING MATCH. I hear the US women did much better than the men at the Olympics.
- 25d. [Childproofing device] SAFETY LATCH.
Obviously an extremely smooth and flowing puzzle. No rough spots, no turbulence. Anything remotely obscure or tricky was matched by decidedly non-daunting crosses. Those conceivably recondite entries include 1a OCCAM’S Razor, 36d OTTO I [10th century Roman emperor], 29d [Conservatory subj.] MUS. (music), 62d [Neurology subj.] CNS (central nervous system), 44a [Country singer Kathy] MATTEA.
Longer non-theme fill: SICILIAN pizza, RUN FOR IT.
Low CAP Quotient™ but there were too many abbrevs. for my liking. As I’ve mentioned more than once, though, there was nothing or barely anything to significantly slow one down while working the grid, not even said abbrevs.
No star rating, as is my wont. Natch.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Beastly Exchange” – Sam Donaldson’s review
The “beastly” in this puzzle’s title describes not only the theme but also my solving time. Call it the Monday Blues, but I couldn’t get any traction in this puzzle for what felt like forever (for those wondering, “forever” = about 35 seconds, give or take).
The theme involves animal puns–take expressions that begin with a homophone for an animal you might find in the woods and substitute the animal itself for the first word, then assign wacky clues to correspond with the new term. Et voila:
- 17-Across: “Bare bones” becomes BEAR BONES, or [Illustrations in Yogi's anatomy book]. Props for the reference to Yogi Bear, one of my childhood staples and an under-appreciated cartoon character. Here’s Exhibit A in the case for Yogi (particularly the bit from 4:21 – 4:48).
- 26-Across: “Links in a chain” becomes LYNX IN A CHAIN, a [Fettered feline?]. This was the last theme entry to fall for me, and I struggled with it only because I was expecting a two-word answer (all of the others have two words). I had CHAIN in place, but what kind of feline ends with -INA? My expectation for consistency and my inability to let it go certainly didn’t help with my solving time.
- 47-Across: “Hairdressers” become HARE DRESSERS, [Where jack rabbits keep their clothes?]. I liked this one best.
- 61-Across: [Where Bambi records his private thoughts?] is really nobody’s business, but if you have to know, it’s a DEER DIARY (a play on “Dear Diary”).
I got bogged down in the Colorado section of the grid. The whole conglomeration of SORREL, the [Coppery horse hue], PASEO, the [Path for promenaders], NEBraska, the [State with a border formed by the Missouri R.], and BE FIT–clued as [Comport with] instead of something more intuitive like [Live a healthy lifestyle]–proved to be a struggle for me. I also struggled with SHOE, the [Bit of "Diddle, Diddle, Dumpling" bedtime wear]. I take it this is a fairly common nursery rhyme that eluded my childhood.
As fill goes, there were some highlights, like TALK SHOW, DIFFUSE, CASH IN, I CAN’T and TRY IT. The combination of HI YA and HOWDY were interesting, too.
Time now for my entry in today’s installment of Name That Constructor Month. I can’t put my finger on it, but this puzzle has a feminine vibe to it. It’s not like any of the entries scream “estrogen” (everyone loves a TIARA), but there’s a lack of sports and an abundance of high culture (promenades, ROSSINI, AMOUR, and, most notably MEL Brooks). That’s the best I can do for explaining my hunch, and it’s all pretty flimsy. But I’m not going to suppress my gut instinct even if I have no logical reason to support it. So here goes:
1. Lynn Lempel. 2. Gail Grabowski. 3. Sarah Keller.
Whew! It’s good to know my gut doesn’t always let me down, even if it’s hanging down lower and lower as the years go by. TMI? Name That Constructor Stats After 13 Puzzles: 4 correct first choices (3 points each), 2 correct second choices (2 points each), 1 correct third choice (1 point each); 17 points total so far; score to beat = 15.5 points. Time for a new goal! I’m averaging over a point a day, but I have been getting lucky lately and doubt I can keep up that pace. So let’s adjust the goal to 30.5 points for the month. If I get nowhere close, I’ll just adjust it back down to 15.5 points and call it a success. It’s fun to make the rules as you go along.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Let’s take a look at 10 items here:
- 1a. [Where heavy metal was founded], STEEL MILL. Found is a verb related to foundry. Who knew? I never knew that meaning.
- 15a. [Leave speechless], TONGUE-TIE. My nephew had tongue tie; until he had his lingual frenulum snipped, he couldn’t stick out his tongue.
- 25a. ["Hard to believe, but they had it right the first time"], STET. Freshest clue I’ve ever seen for this stale entry.
- 38a. [Collectible with an iron-on, perhaps], VINTAGE T. My husband has a great Sprite t-shirt that dates back to the early ’80s. It’s pretty much down to the molecular structure of the polyester, as the cotton has eroded away over the decades.
- 51a. ["Dagnabbit"], BY GUM. Do you say either of these? I’m more inclined to say “dagnabbit.”
- 64a. [What this is], SEED ENTRY. So meta.
- 26d. [Competition for floor space?], TWISTER. I can’t remember the last time I played Twister.
- 39d. [Digestif that is made after the first frost], ICE WINE. The freezing concentrates the sugars in the grape. I bought this Cabernet Franc ice wine last summer in Niagara-by-the-Lake because it blew my mind in the tasting room. Pop a little morsel of dark chocolate into your mouth and let it melt, then take a sip of the 2007 wine. Boom! It’s like you’re eating a chocolate-dipped strawberry. It’s time to open that bottle, isn’t it? Tonight!
- 43d. [Trustafarian living in a squalid apartment with seven other people, say], SLUMMER. Is this trustafarian‘s first use in a crossword?
- 58d. [Subj. in the classics], LAT. Latin, not latissimus dorsi.
Also nice: GIRL FROM IPANEMA, HANGOVER opposite ANTACIDS, CASH CAB, and IT CAN’T BE.