Kevin G. Der’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
You know what? I really like this theme. It’s almost too good for a Monday. It’s a rare theme that presents well-worn phrases in a new shape without resorting to strange distortions or tortured puns. Here we have an assortment of trite bumper sticker slogans with the key element omitted. The effect is quite striking.
- 20a. [Start of a bumper sticker that may end with one's favorite vacation spot] I’D RATHER BE IN …
- 29a. [Start of a bumper sticker that may end with one's favorite hobby] HONK IF YOU LOVE …
- 45a. [Start of a bumper sticker that may end with one's favorite (usually expensive) vehicle] MY OTHER CAR IS A …
- 54a. [Start of a bumper sticker that may end with one's favorite attraction] WILL BRAKE FOR …
Not sure about the clue for that last one. Anyway, I can’t help imagining recombining what’s on hand: I’d rather be in … My other car, and Honk if you love … Will.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to such a splendid theme, and that’s the supporting fill. CAF, UNC, PLEB, PED, PSIS, CID, AVES are just not what I want to see in a Monday grid. Even the long fill is mostly sour. DNA SAMPLING, SIDE BENEFIT, BAD OMEN, IN HEAVEN, SAND PIT … these just don’t please, although TEA HOUSE, FUTURAMA, and EXPELLED are all right.
- In the news: 19a [ __ Krabappel of "The Simpsons"] EDNA, voiced by Marcia Wallace, who died just a few weeks ago; the character has been retired from the show. 36d [Jewish turnover] KNISH; there was a factory fire at the establishment of the iconic Gabila’s.
- Jelly double-play: 1d [Alternative to jelly] JAM, 61d [Jelly container] JAM. Sorry, JAR.
- THAI (4d) needs to start being clued in some way other than “spicy” cuisine. It’s becoming ridiculous. Tie-in with 37d [4-Down skewered meat dish] SATAY.
Above average theme + below average surrounding fill = average puzzle.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Hardly Total Recall” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Three grid-spanning entries all clued as [Lost, in a way]:
- FADED FROM MEMORY
- ALL BUT FORGOTTEN
- NOT COMING TO MIND
Each of these describes how I increasing feel these days in my advancing years! Anyway, all three are pretty tight phrases that refer to the process of memory loss. Highlights of the rest of the fill were the yummy TIRAMISU (which comes from the Italian “pick me up”), BIG MAN, and SLAM-BANG. A couple of entries seemed very similar–AMOK and GROK and then ILSA and ILKA, the latter clued as the unfamiliar (to me anyway) [Chase of old game shows]. It’s funny that this page doesn’t appear to mention any game shows she was on, can anyone enlighten me here?
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
This 72-worder features a few terrific 11s:
- 1a. [Guy Fawkes's crime], LESE-MAJESTE. Insulting a ruler is not a crime in the US.
- 17a. [Surface rival], GOOGLE NEXUS. Tablets.
- 66a. [Protest big time], RAISE A STINK.
- 68a. [Robertson family TV show], DUCK DYNASTY. Never seen it, didn’t know the surname involved, still love it as a crossword answer.
EXPLORATION is just a regular word, and I’ve never encountered OUT-AND-OUTER (62a. [Extremist])before; dictionary tells me it’s both informal and archaic.
- 35a. [Connecticut location where Scrabble was invented], NEWTOWN. You can’t object to Scrabble trivia, even if the town isn’t so well-known otherwise.
- 3d. ["Queer old dean" reverend], SPOONER. “Dear old queen,” unspoonerized.
- 12d. [Often-plucked thing], EYEBROW.
- 14d. [Maintenance], UPKEEP. Feel like this word doesn’t get much play in crosswords.
- 36d. [Kumho product (admit it, you laughed at the brand name)], TIRE. True. I have been in tire stores and laughed at this brand name.
- 44d. [Intestinal woe], COLITIS. Support the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America! I know several folks who cope with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
- 46d. [Vegetarian's option for this Thursday], TOFURKY. Never tried it myself.
Could always do without little-known Finnish actress Taina ELG.
Vocabulary word of the day: 8d. [Annual, as Mediterranean winds], ETESIAN. You might think this word derives from the French word for summer, été, but no. Éte comes from the Latin for “summer,” aestas, while ETESIAN comes from Latin and Greek etesius and etesios, meaning “annual.”
Did not know NORA, [Actress Swinburne]; she started in the theatre almost a century ago and retired from stage/film/TV in her 70s (and in the ’70s).
3.5 stars. The zippiness of the 11s wasn’t quite powerful enough to make me overlook ELG and a few other short blahs (abbreviations and whatnot).
Matt Skoczen’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Not certain I understand the phrasing of the revealing clue, but the theme itself is easy enough to grasp.
- 64a. [Discussing the job with colleagues, and what the last words of the answers to the starred clues seem to be doing] TALKING SHOP.
- 17a. [*Fluffy carnival treat] COTTON CANDY.
- 23a. [*"West Side Story film actress] NATALIE WOOD.
- 40a. [*"You first," facetiously] AGE BEFORE BEAUTY.
- 50a. [*Favorite in the classroom] TEACHER’S PET.
The terminal word of each can precede “shop” to create familiar places, but I fail to see how they “seem to be” TALKING SHOP as per the revealer. Three of the four compound answers are retail establishments, while the other (WOOD SHOP) is a place of typically nonremunerative activity. Would have been better to have either more consistency or more variety.
Basic theme, nothing exciting. Essentially what’s anticipated for a Monday, albeit not eagerly.
Rather a lot of crosswordese, abbrevs., and partials, possibly more than we like to see for supposed introductory, tyro-friendly puzzles.
Favorite clue, for its contemporary vibe, is 22d [Singsongy "This is an uncomfortable moment] AWKWARD. You know, like when your take on a crossword puzzle offends a bunch of other people, or something.