Johanna Fenimore and Andrea Carla Michaels’ New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Oho! What have we here? Surprise! Six theme answers in a Monday puzzle (sure, two of them are five letters, and one of those is a revealer, but so what?).
- 69a. [Easy-to-catch hit … or what 1-, 21-, 26-, 48- and 55-Across all do] POP-UP. Damn, and I thought I was clever for realizing that 1-across was a “bonus” theme answer (of course I didn’t read all the clue numbers here). Are early-week puzzles the equivalent of POP-UP hits?
- 21a. [Plains animal that tunnels] PRAIRIE DOG. Cue Caddyshack clip.
- 26a. [Fast-food rival of Wendy's] JACK-IN-THE-BOX, which is a West Coast outfit, yes? Or simply west of the Missouri and/or Mississippi River?
- 48a. [Vehicular antitheft devices] CAR DOOR LOCKS. Just the ones with vertical toggles.
- 55a. [Purchase from Google] INTERNET AD. Only the more evil sort engage in that named activity.
Quite a fun theme, and very well done. And pitched (?) appropriately for a Monday, which is to say the cluing and the answers (save a few, of course—AARE, anyone?) are rather TAME (40a).
- Quick write-overs: 10d [Way out in an emergency] FIRE EXIT, not FIRE DOOR. 28d [Snazzy] COOL, not CHIC. 56d [Take care of, as a garden] TEND, not WEED. 58d [Sticky stuff] GOOP, not GLUE. Considering those many missteps, I surprisingly correctly had HARPO and not ZEPPO at 29d [Brother of Chico and Groucho].
- Other admirable long fill: HYDRATES, COCKEYED, AVOCADOS, ASCRIBE, GRENADE.
- Row 11: KOOKIER | COOT.
- Crossing [Nutty] and [More nutty] for COCKEYED and KOOKIER, above. 1d TIVO, 46d SLO-mo. 16a ICE-T, 31a ONE-A. I believe OAHU crossing ALOHA has been done a few times already (59d, 66a).
Low CAP Quotient™, highly spiffy puzzle.
Patti Varol’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Let’s kick off the week in style, with a [Once-in-a-lifetime agenda, or a an apt description of the ends of 18-, 23-, 38- and 48-Across] BUCKET LIST (57a).
- 18a. [Longtime UCLA coach known as the "Wizard of Westwood"] JOHN WOODEN. The list starts with the most impressive entry; can you think of another name/phrase that ends with this apparent adjective? The other three, as “nouns,” are much more easily achieved.
- 23a. [Cracks a little joke to ease tension, say] BREAKS THE ICE.
- 38a. [One no longer in his comfort zone] FISH OUT OF WATER.
- 48a. [Command sequence before shooting] READY, AIM, FIRE.
And therein lies the problem, such as it is. The last three, aside from being more or less elemental, describe the use of the type of bucket in question: for holding ice, for holding water, for holding sand or water for the purposes of putting out a fire. The first describes the quality of the material a bucket may be made from. The uneven 3–1 distribution makes me wobbly.
In other parts of the puzzle, we have the spiffy long downs of TANDEM BIKE (but there’s something about the inherent formality (the synchronized pedaling?) that biases me toward calling it a tandem bicycle) and the oh-so timely (NSA, Prism, etc.) DATA MINING (see also, 14a [Security problem] LEAK).
- SKOSH! THWACK!
- LOOIE, SIREE.
- 1-2-3, HISTORY, [Bygone …] ESSO, I LEFT my heart … (25d, 26d, 27d)
- In a Monday puzzle, the three-letter compass relationships are never difficult: 36a [Chicago-to-Atlanta dir.] SSE.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Catching Some Z’s” – Dave Sullivan’s review
The Scrabbly last letter of the alphabet gets some major attention in today’s CrosSynergy puzzle. In fact, it’s added twice to five theme phrases to a punny effect:
- [Funny hats worn at the ABA convention?] clues ATTORNEY’S FEZZES – as someone who recently had a difficult house closing, I’m well aware of the exorbitance of the base phrase here, attorney’s fees. I don’t think fezzes are necessarily funny if worn in their native country. (I’m thinking Morocco, but not sure about that.)
- [Keep Santa's team quiet?] is to MUZZLE DEER – is a “mule deer” like a liger or a zedonk?
- [Hep late-night TV host?] clues JAZZY LENO – didn’t we stop saying “hep” after Dobie Gillis fell out of syndication?
- [Latin for "always shake the soda bottle"?] clues SEMPER FIZZ – advice I wouldn’t necessarily follow, unless you’re wearing a windbreaker; the base phrase “Semper Fi” is the motto of the USMC, the “fi” shortened from the Latin “fidelis” or “faithful.”
- [Really impress a racecar driver?] clues DAZZLE EARNHARDT – I paused a bit on that final DT ending, not being that familiar with the Nascar circuit.
The Z action doesn’t stop with the theme phrases, since all of those Z’s needed crossers, so we also have RIZZUTO, NETIZEN, the Polish GROSZ coin, Tony DANZA, SNOOZER and even ZED itself. My FAVE entry though was the [Rarely used choice for driving] or ONE IRON, having watched Phil Mickelson‘s heartbreaking sixth runner-up finish at the U.S. Open yesterday (on his birthday, no less). My UNFAVEs were the abbrevs. ENER and ELIZ, which were likely necessitated due to all those Z’s in the five theme entries.
Brendan Quigley’s crossword, “Themeless Monday”
I’d never heard of 1a: XELJANZ, [Big name in arthritis medicine], but the clue should really say “rheumatoid arthritis.” Plain old arthritis and RA are not the same thing at all. That said, this XELJANZ is expensive but it is a pill rather than an injection, and that seems like a nice thing in the RA world. I was guessing on that Z, since 7d: [Zonkey by another name] meant nothing to me. ZEDONK? Is this a video game reference? Ah, hybrid animals, not video games.
Favorite fill: SLURPEE, SHARONA (even though it’s not “My ___,” my mind still goes to the song), ANDROID EL NORTE, LUDDITE, THE WALL, and QUE PASA.
I had trouble piecing together SPITS UP for 15d: [Doesn't swallow]. It would appear that the clue works best if you’re thinking of phlegm. Baby spit-up is swallowed and regurgitated, no?
Never heard of 39d: [Red Sox skipper Farrell], JOHN. Apparently a skipper is the team’s manager. Also had no idea on 25a: [Puzzle video game series Toko ___], TORI.
I have not encountered the CRONUT. I think it’s a donut made with laminated croissant dough.