Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Three lengthy answers, each containing a long-u sound, each time spelled differently, and each appearing in a different part of the answer: the end, the inside, and the beginning.
- 20a. [E. M. Forster Novel] A ROOM WITH A VIEW.
- 38a. ["Count on me"] I WON’T LET YOU DOWN.
- 51a. [Signature song for MC Hammer] U CAN’T TOUCH THIS.
Fourteen letters, then 15, then 14 again. Five words, five words, four words.
Long verticals are E FOR EFFORT [Grade meaning "Maybe you failed, but at least you tried"] (I never knew that it implied failure, just that it indicated a subpar performance accompanied by a certain enthusiasm), and O HOLY NIGHT [Carol with the words "hear the angel voices"] (I momentarily thought Carol who?), DROVE MAD, and NEATNIKS.
Favorite part: that the across answers begin with [Big first for a baby] STEP, and end with [Call it a day] STOP. GET-GO is in the middle, vertically, which mars my preferred poetic interpretation of those other two.
Crosswordiest fill for this Monday: ADZES, AGHA, Villa d’ESTE.
Good, modest puzzle.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Say Ah” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Constructor Randolph Ross reminds us today to see your dentist regularly by adding “ah” to words in common phrases:
- [U.S. Navy officer who smokes a water pipe?] is CAPT. HOOKAH – put that in your pipe and smoke it!
- [Really delicious and colorful sushi fish?] is SPECIAL OPAHS – I eat a lot of sushi, but have never seen opah on the menu; does it have another name? (I wonder if the constructor considered another related theme entry, [Sushi named after a Roman emperor?] (play along in the comments)
- [Building an ark, for one] is NOAH DECISION – but aren’t arks for two, not one?
- [Nice comment about the God of Islam] is ALLAH‘S FAIR – wanting an “in love and war” to finish that phrase off. I wonder why we don’t see the Renaissance poet Lyly in puzzles more often?
I think I prefer my ah’s to end words instead of be imbedded in them (as was done with ALLAH’S and OPAHS). Seems a bit clearer that way. Was a nice twist, though, to have the modified word be spread between the first and last words of phrases to keep the solver guessing. My FAVE today is the clue [Old laptop instruments], which aren’t iBooks, but LYRES, I guess traditionally played in one’s lap. My UNFAVE is the unusual abbreviation (to me, anyway) of MUS. for [Juilliard subj.]. What’s wrong with [What Menelaus and Morpheus have in common]?
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Lots of FRESH, [Never-seen-before] stuff in this 62-worder, despite the low word count. Highlights:
- 6a. First word in a Bobby Darin hit], SPLISH (splash, I was taking a bath).
- 20a. SNEAK PEEK.
- 23a. GET BUSY.
- 38a. [State of mind whilst going ballistic], BEAST MODE.
- 42a. [Cup in a coffee shop], TIP JAR. Tough clue, as cup ≠ jar. But I can envision a cup being used as a countertop top jar.
- 13d. [Website feature that's designed to get traffic from elsewhere], LINKBAIT. Dreadful stuff.
- 21d. [Last thing to do before getting one's Masters], PUTT. And then put on an unattractive green jacket.
- 29d. [One akin to a Directioner, Selenator, or Swifty], BELIEBER. I’ve never seen the other three in the clue—One Direction, Selena Gomez, and Taylor Swift fans, I presume.
- 45d. [The ___ Fund (Boston Marathon bombing charity; please give)], ONE. $28 million raised so far to help support victims over the long term—with medical care, psychiatric care for PTSD, etc. Donate here.
- 1a. [Shunning community?], AMISH. Break the rules and you may be shunned forevermore.
Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write up
Much like an O. HENRY (43d) tale with a twist, this puzzle’s theme resolution took me by surprise.
- 20a. [Blew a fortune] LOST ONE’S SHIRT.
- 35a. [Prim and proper sort] GOODY TWO-SHOES. (“Ah,” I thought to myself, “it’s going to be about articles of clothing. Yawn.”)
- 52a. [Protector of the president] SECRET SERVICE. (“Huh? Neither is apparel!”)
But before I could stop to think about what properly linked these three answers, I was finishing the grid, coincidentally—or, I suspect, by design—at the bottom right: 65a [Emphatic refusal, and words that precede the ends of 20-, 35- and 52-Across in a restaurant warning] NO NO NO. Three nos, in an actual phrase, one for each of the three long answers: NO SHIRTS NO SHOES NO SERVICE. Yes, I still picture a pantsless customer demanding service, and it still gives me a giggle.
This puzzle worked so well for me—first confusing my expectations, then subverting them, followed by an explanation—because it was an easy crossword, which I was able to solve in essentially a smooth top-to-bottom manner. Had it been a more difficult, late week puzzle, the theme would have been just as intrinsically clever but perhaps not quite as rewarding an experience.
While solving, it felt as if there were a lot of short multiple-word phrases. Not “damnable” partials, but a noticeable presence. Let’s see how many there were …
SO TRUE, OH RATS, IN A SEC, LEER AT, IN VAIN. Not many, really. So it seems to have been a misperception on my part, which is not exactly unheard of. (see also: my NYT write-up, above)
Longdowns are GODPARENTS and HITS THE HAY (should I have included that in my phrase list?), as well as pair of words derived from Italian: STILETTO and ESPRESSO (the latter clued cleverly in conjunction with the following 38-down, SODA).
The cluing and fill are appropriately early-week level. I will note that there’s a movement for the original sense of HACKER to be reclaimed from the pejorative notion that it’s a (usually malicious) [User trying to get through a firewall].
Very enjoyable Monday offering.