Jim Peredo’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Don’t know why, but I’m feeling quite wiped out this evening. Good thing this puzzle was Monday easy. And on a Monday, too!
The theme here is, erm, metallic things?
- 17a. [Result of tanning] BRONZE SKIN. People who refresh themselves with iced tea while worshipping the sun of course have bronzed skin.
- 28a. [Generous spirit, metaphorically] HEART OF GOLD. |Insert Neil Young link here.|
- 44a. [Hit 1980s exercise video] BUNS OF STEEL. Is that what it was?
- 58a. [Baldie's nickname] CHROME DOME. I would have gone with the spelling “Baldy’s,” but I wonder if this sort of thing constitutes derisive language for the follically-challenged population. The way some people can get up in arms about height, weight, and depth.
So. GOLD is an element, a metal. So is CHROME, although it’s more accurately chromium, and CHROME plating is more of a thing. Both BRONZE and STEEL are alloys, the former with copper (element, metal) as the defining part, the latter with iron (element, metal). What to make of this assortment, then? Should we relax our standards, be more malleable, because it’s “just” a Monday offering? I don’t know. What I do know is that I did indeed find the variation—which is not even consistent in its diversity—distracting as I was solving, despite being less than fully awake and perceptive. “AWK-WARD!” [Singsongy comment in a sticky situation]. (7d)
What else? Let’s see…
- With most of the letters in place, I put OTTOMAN in at 35-across, but MOOF made no sense. A quick look at the clue [Citizen of Canada's capital] encouraged me to give that M a 180° rotation.
- I KID, AS IF, TAG UP, A SAD, -HUR, LOOK TO, E FOR, ERA OF. SO-SO? ¡SÍ, SÍ!
- Oh wait! I just noticed that the longish downs are also theme answers!
- 3d. [What a tyrant rules with] IRON FIST.
- 38d. [Speed demon] LEADFOOT.
- Well, these two are both metal elements, and as mentioned earlier, IRON is a component of STEEL. The inconsistency widens. Or perhaps the theme is extraordinarily PLIANT. (8d)
- Other long downs (longer than the two vertical themers) are the lovely FLYING CAR and “I AM SO DEAD.”
- WOOF, YOWL, MOO! (36d, 19a, 41a)
- WAS and LES as FITBs? There are enough of them already in this puzzle, so these just feel gratuitous. (21a, 6d)
You guessed it, SO-SO puzzle (at best).
addendum: I’ve just noticed, in reviewing the published post, that all of the theme answers include an anatomical component, but even this extra dimension doesn’t feel so sure-footed to me, since DOME—and to a lesser extent BUNS—are essentially metaphorical. SKIN, HEART, and FOOT are first and foremost body parts, and FIST falls somewhere else entirely, as it’s a modified hand. Still SO-SO.
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Getting in the Last Word”- Sam Donaldson’s review
Look carefully at the ends of the four theme entries and you’ll find synonyms for “state” or “tell:”
- 17-Across: The [Rocky Mountain high point] is PIKE’S PEAK, hiding “speak” at the end.
- 27-Across: PEANUT BUTTER is the [Bread spread] (“utter”).
- 48-Across: The [Renowned Scottish-born chef] is GORDON RAMSAY (“say”).
- 63-Across: [Jack's ladder] is a BEANSTALK, hiding “talk.”
Fans of consistency will KVETCH that the “tell word” is buried within one word three times and spans two words once. But this is just quirky enough that I like it. It reminds me of a puzzle I constructed when I first started this hobby–the theme involved hidden vehicles at the ends of words, so I had STAR-STRUCK (“truck”), SOMNAMBULANCE (“ambulance”), ED SULLIVAN (“van”), and more. The puzzle was rejected three times by three different editors, each with different reasons. I took that as a sign that maybe it sucked, so I round-filed it. I’m too embarrassed to go find it now just because I know it will be awful even though at the time I was quite proud of it. So since this puzzle reminded me of that early effort, I have a soft spot for it. Yes, there’s SNEE, AVES, VOA, RTES, GEOM, and other sub-optimal items in the fill, but it’s fun to see this twist on the hidden word gimmick.
Favorite entry = STOP THAT, another way to say ["Cut it out!"]. Favorite clue = [Rock cover?] for PAPER. Do Lizard or Spock beat Rock too?
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Happy fourth bloggiversary to Brendan!
Lost the ability to understand Brendan’s clues this morning. Was stumped and stymied all over the place! Toughest themeless I’ve seen in the past week, and that includes the Newsday “Saturday Stumper.” In the upper right corner, I filled in so many wrong answers. IN A TUX for IN A TIE. AXE for STP. ERRATA for ERRORS. SEXED for SLEPT ([Went undercover?]). TRITT for RAITT. Gah!
Also assumed [It has a very famous shower] meant the time of year when there are meteor showers. I tried LATE AUGUST and LATE SUMMER before the BATES MOTEL finally clawed its way into the puzzle.
Lots of just-plain-tough clues, too. Didn’t have any idea that the clues for EMU, ALPS, and ROTC were taking me in those directions.
Fave fill: TRIM DOWN or TOUCH UP with Photoshop, your call. Sweet SUGAR PIE and the AMARETTO in a sauce for berries at my sister’s house yesterday. SYFY CHANNEL. OUTSIDE HELP. FANFIC atop TWEAKY. HEY JUDE atop SCARE QUOTE. The BATES MOTEL, WITHOUT EQUAL. BALLED-UP Kleenex. (Didn’t notice the inoffensive UP dupe.)
Meh: UNCLOSE, ENE, ROUE, ENYA, IGA, plural OEDS.
What is this CASH CARD [Plastic accepted at the iTunes store]? Just a debit card? Or something newfangled?
Four stars of toughness.
Diane Upchurch’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review
Only three theme answers, but they’re each 15 letters long. The gimmick is a homophone in the last spot.
- 19a. [Dreary late fall forecast] CLOUDY AND CHILLY.
- 37a. [Food truck order] HOT DOG WITH CHILI, aka chili dog.
- 50a. [South American seaport] VALPARAISO, CHILE, which is a nifty fifteen, but in my experience the country is usually pronounced \ˈchi-lā\ though m-w lists the \ˈchi-lē\ variant first.
I was going to knock the theme for the weakness of that last one, but it would seem that I’m on shaky ground there. So I can’t give it the chilly scapula on that score. Nor can I on another, because the ballast fill is good, with decent long downs (HARSHEST, OCCUPIED) and a relatively low CAP Quotient™ .
The cluing is straightforward rather than playful or precious, which is typical for an early week offering. The fill is not exactly Scrabbly—no X, Q, or J, for instance—but again this isn’t unusual for a puzzle in this day slot.
Spot-on Monday crossword.