Although Sunday night is the deadline for the Pete Muller’s year-end finale meta puzzle, our intrepid Muller Monthly Music Meta blogger, Matt Gaffney, hasn’t had a chance to solve it yet. He’ll solve it Monday night (because he couldn’t bear skipping it) and blog it afterwards. So MMMM fans can stop refreshing crosswordfiend.com obsessively and instead wait for Matt’s Muller Monthly Music Meta musings to manifest Monday night (or thereafter). Cheers!
Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Don’t look now, but it’s another ringing-in-the-new-year theme. In this puzzle, each theme entry begins with a stand-alone letter. MERGE (42a) the five together and, as per 67a, the ROMAN [ ___ numerals (what the initial letters to the five starred clues all are] consolidate to read MMXIV. That is, 2014.
- 17a. [*The Sixth Sense" director] M NIGHT SHYAMALAN rama-lama-ding-dong.
- 23a. [*1988 Best Play Tony winner inspired by Puccini] M BUTTERFLY. The inspiration is Madama Butterfly. Incidentally, Tony Randall did not receive a Tony during his tenure in the role of the French diplomat Rene Gallimard.
- 39a. [*Craft knife brand] X-ACTO.
- 47a. [*2007 Stephen Colbert Satirical book] I AM AMERICA. Not feeling this one, as the “I” is a fully fledged word in context.
- 58a. [*22nd in a Sue Grafton series] V IS FOR VENGEANCE. Will she retire after Z? Or perhaps move on to a different alphabet?
A very fine theme, understandably a bit of an unusual—but very welcome—respite from typical Monday fare.
The long non-theme fill are the verticals KELLY GREEN, wittily clued as [Good color for St. Patrick's Day], and KIRK GIBSON, the [Dodgers slugger who was the 1988 N.L. M.V.P], whom I would not know from a hole in the wall nor a knot in the tree. Also, YOGA MATS [They may be unrolled before meditation] and THE ALAMO [Something to remember in San Antonio?].
- 38a [TV hookups] VCRS. Wow, just wow, as a very recent puzzle offered.
- 36d [Heart chart: Abbr.] ECG, but no var.? Oh! Well, never mind; Google’s Ngram shows me that ECG is far and away the more common version.
- E’ER, ANIM., ELOI, IN A, bleah.
- Cute-ish clue: 66a [Information on a boarding pass or stadium ticket] GATE.
No real knockouts in the rest of the fill, mostly it’s just solid stuff, nothing crazily out of line for a Monday, though I’m looking rather askance at 35a [Girl in Byron's "Don Juan"] LEILA.
Above-average Monday offering.
Amy Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
59d [With 65-Across, longtime voice of 17-, 26-, 42- and 56-Across] MEL | BLANC.
- 17a. ["I am ze locksmith of love, no?" speaker] PEPÉ LE PEW.
- 26a. ["Ándale! Ándale! Arriba! Arriba!" speaker] SPEEDY GONZALES.
- 42a. ["That's a joke, ah say, that's a joke, son" speaker] FOGHORN LEGHORN.
- 56a ["I'm hunting wabbits" speaker] ELMER FUDD.
Arthur Q Bryan was the longtime voice of Elmer Fudd. That is all.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy /Washington Post crossword, “Jump to Conclusions” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Four theme phrases which end with a word that can follow JUMP:
- [Beginning auspiciously] clued OFF TO A GOOD START. Exactly my sentiments when I filled in that phrase. A “jumpstart” is what cars around here need when their batteries die.
- [Place to park oneself that's up for grabs] clued UNASSIGNED SEAT. A rather obscure phrase, a “jump seat” is a type of folding seat in cars and airplanes.
- [Jacket, pants, and vest] was THREE-PIECE SUIT. A “jumpsuit” is something you wear when you skydive, I think.
- [What's played in "the Bigs"] clued MAJOR LEAGUE BALL. I had “game” before “ball” here, but there is no such thing as a “jump game.” A “jump ball” is how a basketball game begins.
Nice tie-in to the title with all phrases “concluding” with their jump words. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered [Highest academic degrees offered by Harvard Law Sch.] or SJDS before, and I guess I’m hoping I don’t see it again. In the plus column, I did enjoy SODA JERK, GOOP and [Compromise with the DA, perhaps] for COP A PLEA.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
The only reason I knew 1-Across was because I had already read the Ben Zimmer article Brendan linked to in his blog post. 1a. [Difficult situation in modern-day slang], STRUGGLE BUS? Never heard of it anywhere else. And if it is supposed to evoke a bus of kids in special ed, then I don’t like the term one bit. Ben also mentioned BINGE-WATCH, which I already knew; in fact, I binge-watched Orange Is the New Black in August, two episodes one day and the other 11 the next day.
Unfamiliar term: 25d. [Classical music structure with three movements], SONATA FORM. Could’ve been SOMATOFORM, but that would have made ATON into OTOE (worse fill) and ENE into EEE (somewhat worse fill).
- 17a. ["Gullible's Travels" writer], RING LARDNER. About a century ago, he lived two blocks north of where I live now. (Howdy, neighbor across time.)
- 19a. ["That was awesome, dude"], ‘YOU ROCK.”
- 20a. [Big name in metas], GAFFNEY. (Howdy, Matt.)
- 27d. [1995 Hugh Grant romcom], NINE MONTHS. Is this Julianne Moore’s only romcom?
- 14d. ["Gotta run"], “SEE YA LATER.”
Don’t love: EOE, OSSA, SANDE (unless you’re going to go modern and clue it as singer Emeli Sandé, the Scottish singer of English/Zambian descent whose real first name is Adele), GST, RAH, ETD, TEM, UVEAS, ARTE… Hard to link four stacks of long answers without some casualties in the short fill.