Andrea Carla Michaels and Michael Blake’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Two-part phrases that are identical except that the second part sheds a terminal N that appears in the first section. Alternatively (but incorrectly), as it sort of looks in-grid, twin words separated by a shortened, elided “and.” CURIOUSER ’N’ CURIOUSER.
- 17a. [Operatic singer on a sofa?] DIVAN DIVA.
- 28a. [Chitchat about a dressmaking template?] PATTERN PATTER.
- 37a. [Complimentary road service in Sierra Leone's capital?] FREETOWN FREE TOW.
- 45a. [Egg-hunting time in the Orient?] EASTERN EASTER. I hear the egg rolling contest is not to be missed.
- 63a. [Memorize lines for a Shakespearean king?] LEARN LEAR.
Nothing fancy, just a solid theme with a little bit of variation (the one-word-to-two of the central spanner) to break up the monotony.
- Bit of a Monday curveball: 7d [Software platform suitable for Starbucks?] JAVA. Wonder if that will throw some solvers off? 36a [Set of keys] for PIANO is also refreshingly playful.
- 38d [Hormone in the pill] ESTROGEN. Good fill, but I feel The Pill (or at least the Pill) still needs capitalization.
- Fairly chewy northeast corner: SCANT/UH-HUH/BRAKE/IBEX with SUB/CHRISTIE/AHAB/NUKE/”THE X Factor”
- Speaking of 10d [New Jersey governor whose first name starts his last name] CHRISTIE … You know, when he first came on the scene, my immediate (but joking) thought was the bully from the Woody Woodpecker cartoons, Buzz Buzzard. Sadly, the comparison was too true. Prophetic, even.
- Countering the lively NE are two quite icky sections. First, the southeast corner featuring the atrocious EENY/NATL/ERSE coupled with some more palatable downs and across. Second, the crossing partials on the western flank: I BE/IF WE.
- Favorite touch: NOBLER crossing the themer LEARN LEAR. Why? Because one of the most well-known appearances of NOBLER comes from Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy in Shakespeare’s masterpiece: “… Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune …”
David Poole’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
What was I saying? Oh yes, synonyms for making words with one’s mouth, lungs, and vocal chords.
- 18a. [Prohibition era saloon] SPEAKEASY.
- 26a. [John Kerry's domain] STATE DEPARTMENT. We would have also accepted bailiwick.
- 43a. [Supermarket convenience] EXPRESS CHECKOUT.
- 57a. [Complete ninny] UTTER FOOL.
No revealer present, no revealer necessary, not even for a Monday. “Just” four theme entries; two spanning the full 15 columns, two relatively short 9-letter ones. Nothing at all wrong with that array.
Speaking of Monday level qualities, surprised by the slight misdirection in one-across [Rosary counters] BEADS. That’s “counters” as objects counted with, not as someone or something that counts.
39d ["Ditto"] LIKEWISE, counterbalanced by 4d [Absolute ruler] DICTATOR, which contains “ditto” in order, interspersed with CAR. FEATURED and WASTEFUL also figure into the calculations, adding to the tally of long fill.
33a [Flirt with] HIT ON. Uhm, David? Rich? That isn’t flirting. (Not per se, anyway.) Negatively enhanced by crossing 28d [Wolfed down] ATE UP (though the down-up dichotomy is cute). See also, 64a [Lewd look] LEER.
53a [Put on an extra sweater, say] GET WARM. No guarantee. Maybe a different qualifier or conditional in the clue? Also, GET WARM isn’t quite standaloneworthy. Thankfully, no cross-reference between 7d [Psychic's claim] ESP and 32d [Fortunetelling card] TAROT, but I would have preferred a clue-echo—seer, perhaps?
Low CAP Quotient™. Fair Monday fare.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Change of Clothes” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Theme phrases that end with a word that is also a type of clothing are clued sartorially:
- [Office worker's underwear] clued DESK DRAWERS – unless that particular worker decided to go commando that day.
- [Washington lobbyist's shirt?] was a HILL TOP – “Hill” as in Capitol or Anita?
- [Soda jerk's dress-up attire?] clued COUNTER SUIT – are there really any “soda jerks” around these days?
- [Preacher's fashion accessory?] was a BIBLE BELT – we have friends who live in Raleigh, which is called the “buckle” of the southern bible belt.
- [Neonatal nurse's headgear?] was a BOTTLE CAP – so what’s the latest on the breastfeeding / bottle debate for neonatals?
This constructor does a great job of getting five theme entries in a grid without sacrificing the fill. We have the unusual (in a good way) BAD DEBTS, JIBES, and IRKSOME, along with the conversational “THAT’S IT!” for ["OK, I'm done"]. And that’s it for me today!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Tough one this week, no? I had to fight my way through this puzzle. Couldn’t find a toehold in the upper left section and moved to the rest of the puzzle, eventually finishing up with ZION. I also misspelled the New York mayor as DI BLASIO (the spelling for a friend’s husband’s name) instead of DE BLASIO and thus erased the whole entry because the Godfather name couldn’t end with an I. D’oh!
Top fill: SNEEZE GUARD, OUTDOOR CAFE, TED RALL (my first answer in the grid … and I know the name mostly from indie crosswords), THE CW, MIRA SORVINO, WHATSAPP, AU POIVRE, IMPOSE ON (the rare +ON phrase that is truly a solid crossword entry), Judd APATOW, and DE BLASIO.
- 12d. [Dead-set?], EMBALMED.
- 53d. [They'll feel you up before making a connection: Abbr.], TSA.
Not delighted with COM being clued as 40a. [Naval off.] … but the dictionary does indeed show that COM or Com. is an abbrev for “Commodore.” I was thinking “Commander” while solving. Anyway, not the usual COM clue here. Points for non-staleness.