Patrick McIntyre’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
This is the typical Monday puzzle. Middling theme, middling ballast fill—nothing upsetting (that is, crosswordese, etc.), a small bit of flair (in this case four nicely stacked corners), nondescript cluing.
21-down lets us know that SHOWDOWNS are[Decisive confrontations … or what the six starred clues are?]. Hence, we see three pairs (9 letters, 7 letters, 4 letters) of Broadway musicals, clued ostensibly outside of that aspect, running vertically through the grid.
- 6d. [*Torn] RENT.
- 8d. [*Salon supply] HAIRSPRAY.
- 10d. [*The Windy City] CHICAGO.
- 35d. [*Partner of fancy-free] FOOTLOOSE.
- 46d. [*Nightclub] CABARET.
- 63d. [*Jazz devotees, informally] CATS.
Nice touch that all of the titles are one word. While seven entries (including the 9-letter revealer) may seem to be a lot, 49 total theme squares isn’t particularly amazing (especially when chopped so fine). Not thrilled with the quasi-bonus entry at 38-down [Parts of musicals] ACTS, especially since it’s so soured by the counterbalancing TANK—inauspicious.
- One set of connected clues LYNN Swann, who spent his entire professional football career as a Pittsburgh STEELER. (58a, 72a)
- Least favorite row: 4, with 9 a very close runner-up.
- 73a [Group for kids of problem drinkers] ALATEEN. Shows how ignorant I am; was under the misconception that this organization was for underage drinkers who already have a recognized problem.
- 2d [Actress Zellweger and others] RENÉE, 61d [Richard of "Pretty Woman"] GERE. Both were in the film version of CHICAGO.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The revealer in this puzzle is the off-center 53a [Military mess assignment, and this puzzle's title] KP DUTY, which stands for Kitchen Police. I think in today’s US military these tasks are handled by contractors. In any event, there are four long answers comprised of two-word phrases with the initials K and P.
- 6d. [Tot's wading spot] KIDDIE POOL.
- 10d. [Deli sandwich freebies] KOSHER PICKLES.
- 18d. [Decisive end to a boxing match] KNOCKOUT PUNCH,
- 30d. [Rustic paneling wood] KNOTTY PINE.
Like the NYT, this crossword has a low-key theme that’s executed at an early-week level. It lacks the flashiness of the other puzzle’s dense corners, but includes some spiffy fill among the perpendicular entries. 17a [Conceded the point] BACKED DOWN, 61a ["Is that a guarantee?"] “CAN I BE SURE?” 56a PUBERTY is kind of flashy too.
- 55d [Song for two] DUET, 58d [Song for three] TRIO.
- 15a [Spoil, as a barbecue] RAIN ON. Was looking for something along the lines of SCORCH. Not thrilled with this partial.
- 16a [Most eligible to be drafted] ONE-A, 34d [Preliminary version] DRAFT.
- Also not thrilled with 40a [With 69-Across, Dr. Seuss classic] HOP ON, 69a POP. First, it’s an awkward partial. Second, it occupies a “special” place in the grid, namely the center across spot. These two aspects together introduce a synergistic dyspepsia to my sensibilities.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Animals on the Move” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Welcome to the month of July, crossword solvers! Today we have four theme phrases where we’ve appropriated a way an animal moves into human behavior:
- [Crossing the stage like Chuck Berry] is DUCK WALKING. Not at all familiar with this and how it might look on stage. Does he quack while he does it?
- [Exaggerated marching style] clues the more familiar to me GOOSE STEPPING. I think raising your leg very high is the characteristic move of this step. Do geese do that?
- [Competing for the Little Brown Jug] is HORSE TROTTING. This entry seems a fatal flaw, as I’m presuming the clue refers to the race for trotters and not something humans do which mimics this movement.
- [Calaveras County contest, in literature] is FROG JUMPING. The literary reference here is to Mark Twain, but again I’m confused as this novel depicts real frogs jumping at a fair, not people simulating that. I attend a morning “boot camp” class at my fitness center most weekdays and one of our exercises is to frog jump, which consists of swinging your arms back and then jumping forward as far as you can. We also “bear crawl,” “crab walk” and “inchworm.”
As you can see, I was a bit confused by this theme. It seemed to start out as moves we do that mimic animal behavior, but then it just became phrases of characteristic animal movement. Perhaps I’m overthinking this one? As for the puzzle itself, it seemed a bit more difficult than traditional weekday fare. My last section to fall was the upper left, as I had TEAL for [Blue-green] before AQUA and found [Drop-off spots] for BEDS hard to suss out. Very nice crossing 10-letter downs: DAVID NIVEN and ONE TOO MANY, the latter clued as [The drink you shouldn't have drunk]. Another FAVE was the pairing of WHO’S and NEXT as a [Deli query]. My UNFAVE award today goes to the FITB clue [___ and Span] for SPIC as the term has racial overtones (even though certainly unintended by the constructor and editor) and we all know what happened to Paula Deen, don’t we?
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
When I see this sort of grid pattern in Newsday, it usually means uniformly dry fill. So I’m glad to see livelier stuff like SCHLUBS, METLIFE, KEN JEONG, CRAP OUT, DAFT PUNK, and “BAD NEWS…” in this puzzle.
And look! Brendan’s daughter is in the puzzle, represented by TABITHA [Babbitt who invented the circular saw]. I’m pretty sure Brendan and Liz named Tabitha after this inventor. I also thought of Tabitha with 28d: [Motor along the floor], SCOOT. I think that was her preferred locomotion for a while, no? WIFE’S OVUM may also tie into the Tabby subtheme.
New to me: 34a. [Text adventure with the classic line "It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue."], ZORK. I wonder if there’s a French-language version.
Gotta run my kid to the first day of camp, so I’ll sign off with a 3.8-star rating.