Adam G. Perl’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
57a. [Pie filling … or a hint to the answers of the six starred clues?] MINCEMEAT. So each of the other themers end in an anagram of M-E-A-T.
But first, an explanation of my own asterisk in the listed time. The Across Lite download was not available at the time of this writing, so I used the on-line app for solving. It’s been so long that I forgot how it works! Spent a couple of minutes at the end methodically reviewing each of the across and down answers, searching for an error, before remembering that one has to click the “Done” button to check one’s grid. Ha, ha. So my reported time there is somewhere in the six minute zone and my approximate time is shown here.
- 1a. [*Prefix with physics] META-.
- 20a. [*Substance marketed under the name NutraSweet] ASPARTAME.
- 24a. [*Fightin’ words] LEMME AT ’EM.
- 39a. [*Coach's clichéd reminder] THERE’S NO I IN TEAM.
- 43a. [*Chess ending] CHECKMATE.
- 69a. [*"Don't look __!"] AT ME.
They pretty much cover all of the cogent permutations of the four letters, and there’s an interesting range of fill lengths, from humble four-letter jobbies to the grid-spanning, though explicitly and admittedly clichéd, offering in Row 8. Simple, solid theme, appropriate for a Monday.
There’s a tinge of duplication between …AT ’EM and AT ME, but it’s unavoidable because of the conceit of the theme. Less welcome are the additional non-theme answers 7d SEE ME, 11d ATE AT, and, because I was put in that mood, the partial I’M AS (38d, whose fill-in-the-blank clue [ __ shocked as you are] strongly echoes that of 69a).
- Long downs: THE PLAYER, GET OVER IT, RED CROSS, MR PEANUT. 49d CLARA Barton cross-references one of them (she made one of the many cameos in the Altman film).
- Double-duty-ish clues: 26d [Retired fliers] SSTS, 44a [Bygone flier] TWA.
- Oftentimes a solver has to wait for some crossings before being able to decide if a three-letter answer for bathroom is going to be LOO or LAV, but because this is a Monday, one of them is taken out of the running by being part of the clue. 55a
- Annoying answers that kind of share a theme, or at least I say so: ART I, TEN-ACE, and an HONORable mention to MÚSICA. 63a, 43a, (50d), 25d.
edit: tenace (noun) · \ˈte-ˌnās, te-ˈnās, ˈte-nəs\ · a combination of two high or relatively high cards (as ace and queen) of the same suit in one hand with one ranking two degrees below the other · etymology: modification of Spanish tenaza, literally, forceps, probably from Latin tenacia, neuter plural of tenax · first known use: 1655. (from m-w.com)
- New to me: 47a [ __rod (molding with a twined serpent design)] AARON’S. Not to be confused with the Rod of Asclepius which is in turn not to be confused with the caduceus. There are two more lookalikes—Ningizzida and Nehushtan—mentioned at the end of the linked Wikipedia article which are less familiar. Obviously a popular and presumably elemental motif.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword – Sam Donaldson’s review
Four theme entries, but what do they have in common? That’s our test in this installment of Name That Puzzle, the game where I solve the puzzle without looking at the title, then try to guess the title after figuring out the theme. At first glance, these theme entries are an odd lot:
- 20-Across: The [Black ingredient in a white ice cream] is a VANILLA BEAN.
- 28-Across: A SEASON TICKET is a [Yearlong pass to the stadium].
- 44-Across: The [Hallmark Gold Crown store purchase] is either a commemorative Christmas ornament or a GREETING CARD.
- 54-Across: A [Midday meal of martinis, maybe] is a LIQUID LUNCH. Great entry!
Right away my eyes go to the last words in each theme entry. It seems to me there’s a better chance for a connection between BEAN, TICKET, CARD, and LUNCH than there is between VANILLA, SEASON, GREETING, and LIQUID. After a few seconds of noodling, I got it–counters! Bean counters, ticket counters, card counters, and lunch counters.
All that’s left, then, is to figure out what title Tony would give to this puzzle. I like Count On It, though that uses “count” and not “counter.” Counter Points is kind of cool. I thought about Counter Tops, but that would only work if the counters came at the front of each theme entry instead of at the end. Ultimately, I’m going with Counter Offers. Let’s see if great minds think alike.
Nope. Tony called it “Counter Culture,” and darned if I don’t like his title much better than any of those I came up with.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the terrific fill here, especially TAKE A BATH, HANDS-ON, UNZIP and MUNCHKINS. I got a little tripped up in the middle, as I had WED for [Wooed successfully] instead of WON, and COO instead of CAW for the [Bird's cry]. Tearful pigeons still coo, right? There were some clunkers in the grid (SRI, QUES, ETTE), but nothing so horrid as to detract from my enjoyment in solving the puzzle. And that’s all that counters, er, counts.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Whoa, this one is tough. I hit so many clues that got me nowhere:
- 21a. [Stumped the audience], ORATED. I presume this is a reference to stump speeches, but I’m not familiar with stump being used as a verb in that way.
- 26a. [It may be tough to pass], STONE. Ha! I was thinking of taking tests and driving a car, not passing a kidney stone. Knock on wood, I haven’t had one of those yet.
- 32a. [Gambling column's long shot winner], UPSET SPECIAL. Utterly unfamiliar term for me.
- 39a. [Winner in blackjack], TEN ACE. Haven’t seen this as a blackjack term. There’s a bridge term, tenace, but it doesn’t mean specifically having the 10 and ace cards.
- 40a. [Joni Mitchell hit that begins "Bows and flows of angel hair"], BOTH SIDES NOW. I know exactly zero Joni Mitchell songs. Joan Baez, too. No idea what the difference between them is.
- 44a. [Athlete who wrote "Getting a Grip"], Monica SELES. Tried SNEAD first, but tennis players and golfers both have grips.
- 55a. [His religious symbol is the winged lion], ST. MARK. Had no idea.
- 59a. [___ Germ Gel (handwash)], GLO. No idea.
- 2d. [Ladder's rung], RUNDLE. Had no idea this was a real word outside of the confines of the Learned League trivia world, where it means “division.”
- 14d. [Baseball error?], MISDEAL. Is this a baseball term, or is there some card game called baseball?
- 18d. [Cymbals ___ Guitars (indie rock band)], EAT. No idea.
- 34d. [Auto racer Cheever], EDDIE. Never heard of him.
- 41d. [IRS agent, e.g.], EXACTOR. Huh?
- 49d. [Power Balance Pavilion team, on scoreboards], SAC. What, Sacramento’s basketball team?
My favorite clue, besides 26a, is 47d: [In the cloud, perhaps?], for STORED. As in all those various cloud storage options for data storage. And also 33d: [Vasectomy sound, in conversations], SNIP. As in “Snip, snip!” Fave fill: RUNNER’S HIGH, THE COAST IS CLEAR, WORE THIN, BOLSTER, STAR-STUDDED.
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review
38d plays revealer: [Break suggested by the starts of this puzzle's four longest answers] VACATION.
- 18a. [Experienced tradesperson] JOURNEYMAN.
- 27a. [Military stint] TOUR OF DUTY.
- 47a. [Bank heist idler] GETAWAY CAR. I first saw this video in a context which didn’t reveal it was from a film shoot. It’s much funnier when you think it’s real. Oh, spoiler alert.
- 62a. [Pulverizing tool powered by gravity] TRIP HAMMER, which I’d never heard of. So, without being aware of the theme at that point, I wrote in jackhammer, even though I was aware of its pneumatic properties. I mean, gravity’s still involved, right?
Okay, so here’s my problem with the theme. It hasn’t anything to do with the entries themselves, or the revealer. It involves the symmetrical partner of said revealer. 11d [Skydiver's outfit] JUMPSUIT, or possibly JUMP SUIT. Of course it’s less preferable for a revealer, or any element of a theme, to not be counterbalanced with another thematic item. However, it’s even less preferable for it to be counterbalanced with something that is “sort of” thematic or could be construed as such but really isn’t; that sort of ploy doesn’t count as a bonus entry but as an annoying distraction. So the fact that JUMP SUIT begins (that is, uses the same mechanism as the actual themers) with a direct synonym of the subject word in the clue for VACATION (“break”) is a serious liability in my book. If the clue had been worded with something like “respite” or “recess”—neither of which can be synonymized with “jump”—this could have been avoided. I don’t think I’m being overly sensitive or critical here.
The rest of the puzzle is a typical assortment of early-week fill and clues, which is to say that it isn’t particularly exciting or interesting. The vertical 6-stacks in the northwest and southeast are nice but not all that special: MUTANT / AH-CHOO / SUBARU and CAP GUN / AT REST / ROOSTS.
A few more notes:
- 31a [High-end German car] AUDI, 58d [High-end German cars] BMWS.
- 22a [Set (down)] PUT and its symmetrical partner 55a [Plop down] SIT.
- Slightly tricky clue for 64a AGES. [A blue moon, so to speak] ostensibly suggests something along the lines of “rarity”, but it isn’t after the object itself but what it represents. Specifically, as can be substituted in a phrase such as, “I haven’t seen you in a blue moon.”
- Did not know 9d ["__ Time": ’70s jazz musical] ONE MO’.
- Other longish downs: ARTISAN [Craftsperson], echoing the “tradesperson” in 18-across, WALLEYE [South Dakota's state fish].