Muller Monthly Music Meta fans, Matt’s dissection of the July puzzle will be posted Monday morning.
Randy Sowell’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
No way to miss the theme here, and the puzzle—even this Monday—dispenses with the need for a revealer. Three long across answers, unmistakably themers. Each begins with a synonym of “rotating.”
- 20a. [Job position in which no one lasts long] REVOLVING DOOR.
- 37a. [Seemingly mad Muslim monk] WHIRLING DERVISH. How come the conspicuous consonance?
- 49a. [Yarn-making device] SPINNING WHEEL. No, I will not link to the Chicago song.
Good, basic theme. A few too many crosswordese ringers for my liking (so early in the week): ENZO Ferrari, LABAN, and arguably Theda BARA, Clement ATTLEE, Joan MIRÓ, RUHR; also some tired fill: ODE, TSE, IMAN, Omar EPPS, UZIS.
Long bits are good, SURVIVOR and VONNEGUT (who was a survivor, of a sort). Liked the whole SHUCK | ZACH / MAGOO | ELHI area for its guttural vibe and look, even if the actual quality of that fill isn’t so great.
Miscellanea: Very briefly considered TOQUE where APRON goes, 46d [Chef”s wear]. Does a swarm of GNATs buzz? YRS, ASSN, meh.
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Opened this one up and look what I found: 39a [Sack on a red-white-and-blue truck, which can hold the ends of 21- and 54-Across and 3- and 35-Down] MAILBAG.
- 21a. [Wild West showman] BUFFALO BILL. Hard to start with the worst, eh?
- 54a. [Character written in kindergarten] BLOCK LETTER.
- 3d. [Ticket from a postponed baseball game] RAIN CHECK.
- 35d. [Game accessory with 24 numbered squares] BINGO CARD. Yes, I thought first of video games, what with accessories being so prevalent.
Yep, those are all things that are typically (even today!) found in the (snail) mail: bills, letters, checks, cards. I will take issue, however, with the clue for the revealer. In such descriptions, the predominant color is generally listed first, and the USPS delivery fleet is comprised of white vehicles with blue and red accents (stripes, logos, lettering). I vaguely remember an older design, with the bottom half blue (like street mailboxes), the top half white, with some red accents. Bottom line, “red-white-and-blue” isn’t a good way to characterize such a vehicle. It’s past patriotic Independence Day, so I have to assume it’s simply reflexive habit. Incidentally, 1 July this year was the fiftieth anniversary of the ZIP code.
Perhaps it’s an idiosyncrasy, but I’m often perturbed by a non-theme entry that seemingly veers too close to the theme. In this puzzle, it’s 65a [Send, as packages] SHIP. Had it been clued as an oceangoing vessel or similar the infringement would have been greatly minimized; perhaps I wouldn’t even have made the connection.
Otherwise, the fill is reasonably CLEAN (29a), befitting an early-week offering. No junk in the mail, so to speak.
- ALAMO, CLEO, ERATO, AMIGOS, SLO-MO, (IMO), PRO BONO, CELLO, (BINGO CARD), ECHO.
- Least favorite answer: 58d [Calif. neighbor] OREG.
- Nor am I too keen on REFI crossing REPIN in the northeast.
- 50a [Phase] for ASPECT seems a bit tough for a Monday. The tricky [New York city] (pay attention to capitalization!) for Utica, on the other hand, adds an appropriate amount of spice to this puzzle. (22d)
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “In Pour Taste” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Frequent Fiend Phenom Martin Ashwood-Smith brings us today’s CrosSynergy puzzle with a letter substitution theme. Namely, a double-O is changed to OU, as hinted at by the title.
- The phrase “straight shooter” becomes [Honest, but noisy guy?] or a STRAIGHT SHOUTER – I would think most people today read “straight” as the opposite of “gay” not “dishonest,” but that may just be me.
- [Beatles song about a Senate penalty?] clues FOUL ON THE HILL – the original song is here if you want a refresher.
- [Throwing, as a boxing match?] is GIVE THE BOUT TO – “boot” becomes “bout.”
The cluing is a bit unusual for these, as they begin with the original phrase meanings (honest, Beatles song and throwing), but then change the meaning with the rest of the clue to agree with the “ou” change. My preference would be just to clue them to their new meanings and let the solver figure out what the original phrase was (and means). (For example, just simply [Senate penalty?] for the middle one.) Anyway, a nice set–I am wondering if there are many more double-O words that can take this treatment. (“Noon” and “noun” comes to mind, but perhaps that’s not fertile theme territory.)
My FAVE entries were the crossing of [Long-snouted animal] or TAPIR with the [Big Atlantic game fish] or TARPON. Would that be a “tarpir”? My Dad owned a boat named Tarpon once, but I never remember him catching any tarpon from it. “HECK, NO!” for [“Of course not!”] was also a fun find. My UNFAVE has to be the odd abbrev. TEN LB. for [Weight on some dumbbells, briefly], since it seems rather arbitrary. (I think I can tolerate “one lb.” as a unit of measurement, but any other amount is over the line. Perhaps that seems arbitrary, but the good thing about commentaries is no one is here to argue with me until after they are posted!)
Enjoy the work week, everyone!
Brendan Quigley and Joon Pahk’s BEQ website crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Delightful themeless from the Quigley/Pahk tag team. Did you get a load of all that juicy fill? DASH-CAM ([Feature of many Russian cars], which makes those “people helping strangers on the road” viral videos possible), “YES, BUT…,” J.D. DEGREE (wow, really? [What only Obama and Clinton have, among U.S. Presidents]? I would have thought we had more schooled lawyers in the White House), AIR GUITAR, as SPORTING chance, KON-TIKI (did not know it was a [Vessel named for the Incan god Viracocha], and I don’t see how you get Kon-Tiki out of “Viracocha”), MAN BAG, MANI-PEDI, and AL GREEN.
My favorite clue (could this be a contender for clue of the year?) is 3d: [Dee and Oh] for SANDRAS. With crosswords teaching us that dees and ohs are proper ways to write “D’s” and “O’s,” the last name two-fer is a great find. Nobody loves a plural name crossword answer, but this clue is delicious.
Did not know: 29a. [Chief Keef’s record label], GBE. I do know who Chief Keef is, though, as he’s a local. Not only is he on fellow Chicagoan Kanye West’s new album, but he’s been in plenty of legal hot water despite his young age (17). Most recently, he appeared in court to respond to charges that he drove 110 mph on the Edens Expressway and had more passengers than allowed (I guess young new drivers are limited to a maximum of one passenger at a time). On his way out of court, he was served with one or two paternity suits and there were cops waiting to arrest him on another warrant or something. He must be making some good money because he’s 17 with a BMW and a house in Northbrook. (Be on the lookout for KEEF to osmose into puzzle grids.)
Another nice clue: 58a. [Something hard to build with?], GRANITE.
4.5 stars. Super smooth, entertaining.