Jean O’Conor’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Really? ELO, ARPS, ETO, LST, AS A, ADA, ON A, AMP, OSOS, X OUT, EEO, TO IT, WTS., et al. Really? Such a crossword rogues gallery on a Monday?
AGE ONE (11d [ Early toddlerhood])??
How about the all-Apple crossing of 48d [Purchase from the iTunes store] APP and 56a [Music devices with earbuds] IPODS? (For the record, 7d [Fruit to bob for] APPLE is fine.)
Does 47d SLIMES [Smears with gunk] exist outside of Ghostbusters and talk of hagfishes?
Oh yes, the theme. Revealer is broken over two entries: 62a [With 60-Across, doing great … or where to find 18-, 24-, 35-, 51-, and 57-Across?] ON A | ROLL. So, split revealer, in reverse order (though admittedly it scans fairly well across the grid, but still!), with neither part having symmetry elsewhere (i.e., at 17a and 16a). So:
- 18a. [Tiny bagel flavorers] POPPY SEEDS.
- 24a. [Two in craps] SNAKE EYES.
- 35a. [Ones getting all A's] HONOR STUDENTS.
- 51a. [Room decoration with a pattern] WALLPAPER.
- 57a. [Obsolescent Kodak product] CAMERA FILM.
The heart of the theme is adequate. However, it uses four senses of ROLL across the five entries, with the final two being essentially the same, which imbues a small sense of imbalance. Bottom-heaviness, in this case, as the lower third of the grid also contains the two-part revealer.
A headscratcher indeed. This ungainly puzzle elicits an OMNIGEE from me.
Matt McKinley’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Holy Pignoli! A coniferous theme.
- 50a. [Maine’s nickname, and a hint to the ends of 20-, 23-, and 41-Across] PINE TREE STATE. Maine is also known as Vacationland.
- 20a. [Long-eyed stitching tool] DARNING NEEDLE. Pine needles are adult leaves, and the bunches they grow in are called fascicles.
- 33a. [Dairy Queen order] ICE CREAM CONE. Pine cones are the sex(y) bits of these trees, bearing either ovules or pollen.
- 41a. [Proverbial backbreaker] THE LAST STRAW. I confess to not ever having heard of “pine straw.” The American Heritage Dictionary informs me that they are “yellowed fallen pine needles” and that it’s a chiefly Southern US regionalism. It’s a good, descriptive term and probably deserves wider currency, but I’d say it might not be appropriate for an early-week national crossword.
I like the theme for its unusualness, but—as noted—the STRAW entry is troublesome, not only for its limited dissemination but also because it describes the same item as one of the other two theme answers, merely in a different location and of a different color. Why not have an answer ending in NUT or RESIN? “Snake” and “marten” can also follow “pine,” but they aren’t actually parts of pine trees, as per the revealer. Besides, “marten” would be impossible to clue in a different sense, though there are other species besides the (European) pine marten (Martes martes).
The rest of the crossword is comprised of standard Monday-level fill and clues, with some nice longer bits PACIFIC Ocean neatly symmetrical with ABYSMAL, though the latter sadly isn’t clued referencing the Marianas Trench; Popeye’s SWEE’ PEA is offset by a SORE ARM; BLUE MOON and TEN-SPEED ([State-of-the-art 1970s bike] – I feel old now, thanks).
- The cross-reference right at the start with 1-across [33-Across topper] SCOOP is off-putting. I especially don’t care for anomalous cross-pollination among ballast fill and theme fill.
- 54a [Martini order] DRY. “Specification” would be better than “order.”
- Roughest, most atypical fill: 36a ["The __ Baltimore": Lanford Wilson play] HOT’L.
- Briefly had SANG for [Jingled] instead of RANG. (58d)
Overall, about average puzzle.
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “It’s Greek to Me” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Five phrases that begin with a Greek letter:
- [Leader of the pack] clues ALPHA DOG
- [Glitch reporter] was BETA TESTER – At first, I was thinking “glitch” was an adjective (like an “ace” reporter); I think I’d prefer BETA BLOCKER here, but that might not work with the symmetry constraints.
- [High-energy electromagnetic radiation] is GAMMA RAYS
- ["Designing Women" costar] clues DELTA BURKE – her weight issues captured a lot of the public’s attention during (and after) the show’s run as I recall.
- [1971 Charlton Heston science fiction film, with "The"] is OMEGA MAN
Not much to say on this one–seems inconsistent we have the first four letters of the Greek alphabet and then the last one, but I understand EPSILON isn’t fertile theme territory. I’m also a bit bothered that in some phrases the letter really refers to the Greek letter (well all but DELTA, I’m thinking).I can’t leave without mentioning my UNFAVE of this puzzle and perhaps my recent stretch of puzzles I’ve commented on, which was [More incensed] or IRATER. Hard to believe that survived the editor’s cut. It sounds like my job description, “I, RATER,” à la I, Claudius or I, Robot. I did like the true French plural of BEAUX for [Swains] as I always enjoy a bit of X action in my daily puzzles.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Highlights include JE T’AIME, SLASH AND BURN, fun-to-spell SUBPOENA, KMART SHOPPER, JUMBO CD, METALHEAD, DREAMBOAT, EDITH HEAD (in a quasi mini-theme with METALHEAD), THE DEW.
- 60a. [Play with a teacher?], OLEANNA. Mamet play about a professor/student relationship. Evokes yesterday’s news story about the CA high school teacher charged with marauding underage boys.
- 45a. [Fluffy creature in a toddler's book], EWE. Have you read Sheep in a Jeep?
- 50a. [Target of an attention-seeker?], KMART SHOPPER.
- 6d. [Sabbath follower?], METALHEAD. Black Sabbath, that is.
Honorable mention for BACNE, 47d. [Breakout that's behind you]. This word is in very few crosswords.