C.W. Stewart’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
A sort of goofy theme here, based on rhyming actors’ names paired with foodstuffs. A focussed version of the children’s game Rhyme Time, aka Higgeldy-Piggeldy, and probably a few more names to boot.
- 17a. [Actor Charlie's favorite food?] SHEEN’S BEANS.
- 24a. [Actress Hilary's favorite food?] SWANK’S FRANKS.
- 31a. [Actress Veronica's favorite food?] LAKE’S CAKES.
- 45a. [Actor Brad's favorite food?] PITT’S GRITS.
- 50a. [Actor Dudley's favorite food?] MOORE’S S’MORES.
- 63a. [Actress Goldie's favorite food?] HAWN’S PRAWNS.
By some common objective criteria the execution of the theme is strong. First, the mechanism of the the theme is consistent throughout. Second, there is equal distribution of male and female actors; in fact, it’s so egalitarian that the genders rigorously alternate. Oh wait, I was making an assumption—it sure seemed that way, but actually we have MFFMMF. Good enough, anyway. Sort of like a limerick with an introduction. Anyway, Dudley MOORE could easily have been Demi, so the distribution is intentionally judicious.
Further rundown: four current actors, one from the “golden era,” and one transitional figure, the latter two deceased.
More: the first two seemed to promise greater integration, as franks and beans is a stereotypical kids’ meal. Stretching more, prawn cakes are not uncommon in Asian cuisine. But I know, know, know that grits and s’mores do not go together (oh please tell me they don’t).
- Unlikely Monday fill: EROSE [Jagged, as a leaf's edge]; AARE [Bern's river]; 67a INIGO [Architect Jones] (wouldn’t Mandy Patinkin’s character Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride movie be a more recognizable reference? Together, these make me wonder why 70a wasn’t clued as [Small evergreen of the American west]!
- Long downs: the excellent WAGON TRAIN and I KID YOU NOT.
- Bottom corner with PSST, SSTS, T-NUT. They seem like regulars.
The rest is good, with little to jack up the CAP Quotient™. In sum, slight but well-executed theme with a minimum of dross in the ballast. As long as an early week puzzle isn’t a mess or a snore and a bore, you can’t really demand too much more.
Patti Varol’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Dead, solid, simple theme, explained by the last long across. [Ideal toast color, and a hint to the ends of 17-, 24-, 38- and 48-Across] GOLDEN BROWN.
- 17a. [Lacking a strong foundation] BUILT ON SAND. The opposite of the puzzle’s theme.
- 24a. [Snoopy's WWI plane] SOPWITH CAMEL. You’d think that the 1960s band Sopwith Camel would have had either the 1960s hit “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” or “Hang on Sloopy” but you’d be wrong. That would be, respectively, the Royal Guardsmen and the McCoys.
- 38a. [Shutterbug] PHOTOGRAPHY BUFF.
- 48a. [Farina-based hot cereal] CREAM OF WHEAT.
Started off on the wrong foot with this one, laying in GRAFT rather than BRIBE at 1a [Under-the-table money]. Soon after, it was BALDNESS for BALD SPOT at 4d [Rogaine target], NAH not NAW at 18d [Folksy negative] … it was like that most of the way through. But hey at least I withheld RAKE for ROUE at 2-down! And at least I knew that 41d [Neosporin target] probably wasn’t LISTERIA (or, much more farcically, WISTERIA) even though my brain was having trouble getting to BACTERIA.
Observations, musings, et cetera:
- 6d [Bite-size raw Asian dish] SUSHI. Some overzealous establishments seemed to have missed the memo with that specification (bite-size, not raw (which isn’t always the case, anyway)).
- 53a [Egypt neighbor] LIBYA. Can someone come up with a single clue that will work for both LIBYA and DUBYA?
- 31a [Hors d'oeuvre cracker] RITZ. Not in my house, not at my dinner or party. Wonder how they’d go with TRIPE UPON them. (26d, 15a)
- 28d [Printing error, perhaps] TYPO, 65a [Change a manuscript] EDIT.
- OK, OK. TUTU.
- Least Mondayesque answer: RUHR, Germany.
Good, above average puzzle, less drab and MATTE than the theme might suggest.
Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Transportation Leaders” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Yes, it’s true, I’m the only Fiend stupid enough to follow in the footsteps of the witty, universally liked and ubermenschy Sam Donaldson. (I was also stupid enough to precede him as well, but then I could not be accused of knowing better.) But Amy caught me at a vulnerable moment, and I said I would return with a daily (and brief!) commentary of the CrosSynergy puzzles. One piece of good news for solvers is that I won’t post my error-ridden and impossible-to-read handwritten grids, but will take screenshots like all the other sensible reviewers here. (Welcome to the 20th century, Evad!)
I almost panicked when solving today’s puzzle, wondering how one could travel on a TAX, CARROT, PLANET and BUSH, but realized the “leaders” referred to in the title were actually the names of types of transportation hidden in longer phrases, so we have TAXI, CAR, PLANE and BUS. Whew, that was a close one! Hope Sam is ready for me to email him frequently late at night when I’m not so lucky next time.
Each day, I’ll just add my most favorite and unfavorite clue/entry pair. FAVE: [Mistake] was GAFFE. I learned on this very blog from one joon pahk that the non-e version of this word is what boatsmen use to hook a large fish. This was after I made a gaffe using the non-e spelling to mean the e-spelling. (Even now I sound confused, don’t I?) Anyway, I’m lucky to have such smart friends here. UNFAVE: [Bide ___] was A WEE? Sounds like what someone might do if they can’t find a public restroom.
Please tell Amy to fire me in the comments so I can get back an hour of my life every day!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Likes: TIN WHISTLE (the phrase, not the sound), “HAVING SAID THAT…,” PIANIST clued as [Bench player?], SLEEVELESS TEES, video game EASTER EGGS, the game I NEVER, tasty BLINTZ.
Mehs: LO-FAT, STEN, AFTRA.
Mystery item: 39a. [Reasons for a cap screw?: Abbr.], STDS. Is “cap screw” some sort of slang for sex with a condom?
Four stars. (What? You want more? I’m busy and have a migraine. Pretty impressed with the thoroughness of my review, actually.)