Sean Dobbin’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The revealer—in the center at 33-down and deftly linking two of the four main theme answers—spells out what’s going on quite deliberately for the early-week audience: [Checkout counter staple … or, when read as three words, what 20-, 31-, 47- and 55-Across have in common] CANDY … or, C AND Y. Despite said deliberateness it isn’t specified that those two letters are the initials of each two-word phrase.
- 20a. [January 1 to December 31] CALENDAR YEAR, as opposed to a fiscal year, a solar year, a lunar year, and so on.
- 31a. [First pilot to travel faster than the speed of sound] CHUCK YEAGER.
- 47a. [Area around a henhouse] CHICKEN YARD.
- 55a. [Bright color] CANARY YELLOW. Vague clue, but it does the job.
How do we feel about the avian imbalance? It irks me.
- 8d [Gab and gab some more] YAK YAK didn’t seem so in-the-language to me, compared to, say, yakkety-yak, but Google Ngram quite strongly indicates otherwise.
- Alphabet soup, symmetrically: 21d NLCS, 46d MDSE.
- Long fill: LEAD SHOT, MARTYRED, DIAMETER, SARASOTA, SKI AREA, PARADES. No fireworks, but solid.
- Speaking of 41d MARTYRED, couldn’t they have picked someone else for the clue? [Like Joan of Arc] imparts a sense of duplication with 38a [Curves] ARCS, regardless of being unrelated etymologically. Wikipedia has an interesting and concise discussion regarding the name.
- These are Monday clues? 1a [ __ of the Apostles]; 15a [“Essays of __” (1823 volume)] ELIA; 54d [Philosopher who said “Writing is the geometry of the soul”] PLATO; 55d [Popped topper] CORK. I’m not disparaging them, just registering a bit of contextual surprise.
- Speaking of disparaging, since I so often decry that ODOR is seemingly always clued pejoratively, I’m happy to point out that this puzzle sees fit to clue it as a nonjudgmental [Aroma] (10d).
- Favorite clue: 40d [Zadora of “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”] PIA.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Having a Fling” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Five theme phrases that begin with a synonym of “fling”:
- [Fling some toupées?] was THROW RUGS – “rug” being a slang term for a toupée.
- [Fling some whiskey?] was SLING SHOTS – it’s also idiomatic to “throw back” a shot, which makes this one work in a couple of senses.
- [Fling some beef?] clued CHUCK STEAKS – “to chuck” something is to also to throw it, but typically to discard of it.
- [Fling some silverware?] was PITCH FORKS – better duck if forks are coming your way.
- [Fling some ballots?] clued CAST VOTES – “casting” is mainly used in fishing, but has a general sense of sending out, as in broadcast.
Tight theme with very nice examples. I also enjoyed the one-two punch of JIB and JETLAG in the northwest, as well as how MEATHOOKS seem to suspend appropriately over CHUCK STEAKS. I did have a question about the clue [Old Nick] for EVIL ONE. The “old Nick” I’m most familiar with is Santa Claus, but I’m wondering here if, instead of Santa, we’re dealing with Satan? (Funny how one is an anagram of the other.) Also, has anyone referred to a chicken coop as a HEN COOP before?
Peter Schaefer’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Primed after laying down 5-across [Winter precipitation] SNOW and current conditions this morning, I was suspecting the theme was relevant to that, but that was influenced by the coincidence of the order in which those appeared, replicated here.
- 17a. [Linus’ trademark in “Peanuts” comics] SECURITY BLANKET. Blanket of snow.
- 48a. [Song publisher’s output] SHEET MUSIC. Sheets of snow, perhaps not as common as rain, but it seemed plausible.
- 63a. [Waistline concern] MIDDLE AGE SPREAD. A spread of snow? “Hmm, that’s a stretch.”
- 27a. [1959 Hudson/Day film] PILLOW TALK. “Fluffy, large flake snow can be pillowy, but … just no.”
By this time it was obvious that the theme was merely bed dressing. A SHEET, a PILLOW, a BLANKET, and a SPREAD. Perhaps that lone pillow indicates that it’s a 24d [Bed with a mate] TWIN size. Of course there’d more likely be a set, or pair, of sheets: bottom, possibly fitted, and a flat top sheet. Also, it seems to me that an unmodified SPREAD is farther away conceptually than the other three, wanting to be bedspread. Bed sheet and bed pillow seem helpful but not required, while bed blanket seems awkward.
The long verticals are a substantial ten letters each: MAKES WAVES, LIKE-MINDED. OXBOW, YAK, and PSYCH add Scrabbly jolts to the grid. ORTH and CRESC aren’t so pretty. Also not thrilled with the opening and closing corners: ISPS / IS SO and EMTS / RDAS – bleah. Beyond that, typical fill and cluing.
Another Monday par.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
This one was a couple notches easier than the usual BEQ themeless. Or maybe it just parked itself directly in my wheelhouse? Still harder than the typical themeless CrosSynergy “Sunday Challenge,” mind you.
And I grant you that if 1-Across wasn’t a gimme, you might not have launched into the puzzle swiftly. 1a. [Drink made with soda and cough medicine] is SIZZURP, which I believe is made by combining the word syrup with the -iz infix, as seen in “the shiznit.” Don’t quote me on that. I edited a medical review article on opiate abuse a couple years ago and had to replace the author’s Wikipedia reference with a more solid citation for info on purple drank (another term for sizzurp). Sprite, narcotic cough syrup, and pieces of Jolly Rancher hard candy are one recipe. Yellow and pink versions are also available if you don’t like purple. (Kids! Don’t do this. Narcotic addiction can be deadly.)
- 30a. [Michigan governor Rick], SNYDER. Didn’t recognize the name. Better than the alternative Snyder, that yob in Washington.
- 32a. [Wall replacement, on Facebook], TIMELINE. If you’re not a Facebook user, your eyes probably glazed over here.
- 62a. [NFL Hall of Fame receiver who is first cousins once removed with jazz legend Thelonious], ART MONK. Trivia!
- 20d. [“Who’s with me?”], “ANY TAKERS?” Colloquial language.
- 7d. [Russell’s Super Bowl XLVIII rival], PEYTON. Heh, “rival.”
- 11d. [Georgia’s capital], TBILISI. Or Atlanta. Too bad these two aren’t cryptograms of one another.
- 41d. [“12 Years a Slave” extras], FREEMEN. Technically, everyone involved in making the movie was a freeman or freewoman, even the extras, unless they were forced to work without pay.
Fave fill: IN UTERO, HOT SEAT, NBA GAME, ART MONK/TED CRUZ, ANY TAKERS. Lots of names in this one, and I liked seeing almost all of them. If you’re one of those “it’s a crossWORD puzzle, not a trivia contest” people, maybe you were less enamored of this.