Michael David’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
21-down explains all, [Where to find coaches at football games … or a description of the answers to the 16 starred clues?] SIDELINES. Specifically, the words comprising the three peripheral columns on each lateral section of the grid.
Without looking up measurements and checking scale, it seems to be a reasonable approximation of the proportions of an American NFL field (excluding the end zones, I think); there are quite a lot of staff and accoutrement to be accommodated! Anyway, each of the sixteen can be placed before LINE to make a compound word or phrase: FLAT, JAW, CONGA, DATE, AIR, FAULT, ASSEMBLY, BOTTOM, PICKUP, DIAGONAL, SOLID, END, TIME, ENEMY, SKY, and finally the oh-so-apropos EXIT.
That’s quite a feat, not only finding so many words with that crucial attribute, but also stacking them together in such a way that they don’t generate a mess of ugly fill. With entries like NUT TREE, GLOATED, PHOENIX, ELAPSE, PASSION, ARTICLE, that fate is admirably averted (despite the odd, un-Mondayish Milton OBOTE and a couple of AT… partials)—really, not much to criticize at all!
Oh, and that’s 85 theme squares in a 15×15 grid. So what if they’re broken up into 17 components? A lot of work went into this puzzle, to make it a satisfying solve and (mostly) Monday smooth (I’m scowling at you, HAD A, SNEE, A LOSS, AS I, and LSTS).
TWELFTH is lovely in the central across spot, even though it has nothing to do with the theme. Long non-theme fill: LIE AWAKE, FREE SPIN (clued in the context of some TV game show), the meh-esque MEET WITH, and SHEEPDOG (which I almost completed as SHEEP DIP before reading the clue). A couple of nice flourishes: both OAT and HAY; 31a [Drink at a sushi bar] SAKE followed by 32a [Sauce at a sushi bar] SOY. Strange disparity for DES and LAS: [ __ Moines, Iowa] but [ __ Vegas] with Nevada unstated in the clue.
Well above average Monday.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Bargains”- Sam Donaldson’s review
I’m willing to bet a nickel that 13:02 is the highest Monday solving time ever to appear on this blog. Rest assured, this feat is finding its way on my CV somewhere.
As usual, I got stumped on things that, looking back, were child’s play. But let’s get to that later. We should start, as always, with a recap of the theme. This one involves inserting BAR at the front of four familiar terms (hence, they are all “bar-gains”):
- 20-Across: Carole King becomes a BARCAROLE KING, the [Gondolier with the best voice?]. A “barcarole,” FYI, is a “Venetian gondolier’s song with a rhythm suggestive of rowing.” (Thank you, dictionary!)
- 34-Across: “Rio Bravo,” the John Wayne film from 1959, turns into BARRIO BRAVO, an [Urban “Ole!”?]. Nice one, pilgrim.
- 41-Across: Why be “on patrol” when you can be BARON PATROL, the [Peer perambulation?] That was today’s vocabulary lesson.
- 55-Across: “Fly casting” becomes BARFLY CASTING, [Choosing “Cheers” regulars?]. Foster kitten update: our two house guests, Norm and Cliff, remain available for adoption by a good home, especially after this morning’s episode when Norm tipped a glass pitcher from a high shelf. Other than the occasional mischief all cats find themselves in, they really are great. Doesn’t your home need a good kitten or two? Please?
This time it was the northwest that slayed me. I got L.A. LAW easily enough ([Dey-in-court drama] was cute, but it didn’t really put up a fight), but I really struggled with the rest, especially since BARCAROLE doesn’t trip easily from my tongue. I was looking for something color-related as the answer to [Muted effect], but it was just the muted trumpet call, WAWA. And for some reason I couldn’t free my mind of TURRET as the answer to [Tank top] so it took FOR-EVER to get GAS CAP. And since I didn’t know what a “gob” was, [Does a gob’s job] stumped me as a clue for SWABS. Again, looking back it doesn’t seem that formidable. But I was bamboozled for way too long.
My failures aside, there’s a lot to like here. EARLY BIRD and LAUGH LAST are great long Downs, as are EXCELSIOR (even if the clue makes no mention of Stan Lee) and ROAST LAMB. I needed a lot of letters before I got the OCARINA, but I liked it once I figured out. Nearby, there’s GOT ON, clued as [Made it to first base]. I’m fairly sure this is a baseball reference, but it kinda works for the dating version of “first base” too.
Favorite entry = SHEILA E. You may remember that [She joined forces with Prince during the “Purple Rain” recording sessions]. She wanted to lead the glamorous life, but without love it ain’t much. Favorite clue = [Word before the big rush?] for WHY? Should the Orca for Best Clue be named the Bob Klahn Award?
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
While solving it, I didn’t realize this puzzle had such a low word count—just 62. Granted, there are fewer funky-fresh answers than in a BEQ themeless puzzle with a higher word count, but we still have HIGGS-BOSON ([Scientific discovery nominated for Time's 2012 person of the year]), GLOVE BOXES, “I LOVE YOU, MAN,” and CHRIS BOSH ([Member of the Heatles], the Miami Heat’s subset of superstars).
- 12a. [Subject of YouTube video made by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula], ISLAM. That’s the heavily aliased ex-con who made the inflammatory anti-Islam “movie” and “trailer.”
- 18a. [Where you might solve for X], TREASURE MAP.
- 32a. [Who said "I don't do drugs, I am drugs"], DALI. News to me.
- 34a. [Scott Rasmussen's occupation], POLLSTER. Rasmussen’s polls were among those most heavily (and mistakenly) weighted in favor of Romney.
- 41a. [Sunglass ___] HUT. Everyone’s favorite mall kiosk eyewear purveyor.
- 9d. [Like Leonard Cohen's singing], MONOTONE. I don’t get the appeal.
- 19d. [Fearsome Foursome member Grier], ROSEY. Best known (to me) for singing “It’s All Right to Cry” in Free To Be … You and Me.
- 29d. ["I totally agree," on Facebook], THIS. Ideally all-caps for emphasis. See also: INORITE.
Least favorite clue:
- 36d. [Like some trannies], EX-MALE. “Tranny” is becoming outmoded and crude. It also refers to transvestites (cross-dressers) and not to transsexual people. [Like trans-women] would work for me. Although one could argue that they never were really male, the “It’s a boy!” in the delivery room would rebut that. There’s also the specific approach, e.g., [Like filmmaker Lana Wachowski].
Least favorite fill: EMISSIVE. It’s a word, but have you ever used it, heard it, or read it before?
Amy Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Puzzle was posted late, ergo review is posted late too.
Theme: BOBBY MCFERRIN’s whistle-containing a cappella song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” is made of the first parts of DON’T LET ME DOWN, WORRYWART, BE MY GUEST, and HAPPY HOUR. Can I just say I really don’t care for whistling? It annoys me. Theme answers are crisp and unboring, though.
Top fill: GOOD CRY, HOBBITS, BAYONET (which goes with a horse, of course), and CAR WASH.
Lots of proper nouns, no? YOGI, MIATA, AVON, SANTO, EYRE, ALCOA, NAT, CLIO, ELLIS, Mauna LOA, ONT., COROLLA, GUS, and RITT. Plus all-caps UAL, LAA, and WAAC. Too many? Or an okay amount?