Andrea Carla Michaels’ New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Aha, invocation of the hoary old S-A EXAMS of blue books past. 66a [Kind of test … or a phonetic hint to 17-, 25-, 36-, 47- and 57-Across] ESSAY, and 53a [Midterms, e.g.]. And so, six answers:
- 17a. [Total misery] SHEER AGONY.
- 25a. [Sleep extender] SNOOZE ALARM.
- 36a. [2000 Olympics site] SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA.
- 47a. [Founding father who had a beer named after him] SAMUEL ADAMS.
- 57a. [Weisenheimer] SMART ALECK.
The ballast fill doesn’t suffer overmuch from the 5+1 (see also 32d [1 + 2 + 3, e.g.] SUM) theme entries, though the revealer is almost a gimme in the bottom row, with its terminus-friendly letters. Nevertheless, it’s in an appropriate location. Nor does the fill suffer overmuch from the grid’s near-pangram.
Not, however, that it’s uniformly great either. I wouldn’t shed a tear if some of these had been eighty-sixed: SSTS, SSE, -ESS, -ISH, fitb JUS. Especially since many of these wispy S-words don’t share that crucial letter with the theme answers.
- Beer! Aside from the thematic Mr Adams, there’s 10d [Nonalcoholic beer brand] O’DOULS, 61d [Big beer order] KEG, and 45d [Raunchy] SMUTTY.
- No, no, no! 28a ["Beats me!"] NO IDEA atop 31a [ __ uncertain terms] IN NO, plus 20a [Forbidding words?] DO NOT, which straddles the way to a less intrinsically upsetting 2/2 answer (than IN NO), 16a ["Go ahead!"] DO IT.
- Favorite fill, though not really sure why: 45a SUPERB. Perhaps it’s compact consonant pileup.
- Distractingly s-heavy with a whopping 25 in the grid.
So, all-in-all, not SUPERB and far from SHEER AGONY; a standard appraisal.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Not my favorite BEQ. That could be the humidity speaking, though.
Likes in the categories of clues and answers:
- 8a. [Pee pod?], BLADDER.
- 19a. [Genuine article], THE REAL THING.
- 27a. [Monomials with the same variable raised to the same power], LIKE TERMS. My son’s been dealing with algebra lately and I appreciate a refresher on terminology.
- 36a. [Business club members], JAYCEES. I never had any idea that it was short for United States Junior Chamber. Do you think Jaycee Dugard knows?
- 44a. [HBO show based on "The Southern Vampire Mysteries"], TRUE BLOOD.
- 20d. [Taylor Swift's debut single (named after another country singer)], TIM MCGRAW. Had no idea there was such a song.
- 36d. [Faster, at times], JEW. Indeed, if you check the “Jewish holidays” Wikipedia page, you’ll find “fast” in the text 88 times.
- 44d. [Centipede feeding], TOKENS. For the capital-C arcade game, not a lowercase creepy-crawly.
Less fond of the -ESE/CHINESE overlap, E STREET clued as [Band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014] (they’re “the E Street Band,” and I feel I never hear people calling them simply “E Street”), and lots of blah short fill (STET RES ADIN APR ATAD etc.). Overall, there was less essential Quigleyosity in this grid. I prefer a more jacked-up degree of Quigleyosity.
I wanted I’M OK WITH THIS to end with THAT, but apparently the THIS version is in a meme.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Foods for Thought”—Ade’s write-up
Welcome to a new week, everyone!
A very cute and straightforward puzzle from Mr. Patrick Jordan today, as each of the four theme answers (two across, two down) begins with words that can come before the word “food.” This grid already has me thinking about some grub, which isn’t a bad thing at all.
- COMFORT INN: (17A: [Travelodge competitor]) – My favorite comfort food: macaroni and cheese.
- FAST ASLEEP: (63A: [Dead to the world]) – Although I’ve cut fast food out of my diet, for the most part, I don’t mind stopping into Wendy’s and ordering their chicken nuggets, if I’m in a pinch.
- SOLID COLOR: (11D: [Characteristic of a 4 or 5 ball, in billiards])
- FINGER LAKE: (28D: [New York's Cayuga or Seneca]) – Speaking of the aforementioned Wendy’s chicken nuggets, chicken nuggets (or chicken strips) are my favorite finger food(s). If you’re ever in my part of town, I’ll invite you to have some of my homemade chicken strips, breaded, in part, with crushed Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Trust me, you’ll like it!
Can’t stay too long today, so just a quick overview. Thought that LEE J. was a tough clue, if you didn’t get that you had to put in his first name and middle initial (23A: [Cobb of "Exodus"]). I think I’ve filled in LEE or the entire answer (Lee J. Cobb) in previous puzzles, but never the “Lee J.” part only. It wasn’t a problem for me, but could have been for some that might have thought, “Is LEEJ right? It looks weird.” Still don’t know whether I liked him more on On the Waterfront or in 12 Angry Men. Loved him in both!
Rest of the puzzle was ok, and some of the fill I liked included GO TIME (21A: [Moment to take action]) and IF I MAY (45A: ["Presuming you'll permit me..."]). SYRUPS, in the plural form, is a little odd, but ok (41A: [Pancake house options]). Initially put in “stacks.”
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ROONE (71A: [Former ABC News president Alredge])- The visionary who created Monday Night Football, which debuted in 1970. Which means he’s also the man responsible for millions of guys to reduce their quality time with their significant others on Monday nights for four months out of the year. As a side note, his grandson, Ben, worked as an intern in my office for one summer a few years back. Very nice person I must say!
Thank you everybody for your time! See you tomorrow!
Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Composing this at nearly the eleventh hour.
The first parts of the theme answers comprise the ordinals of the first five odd positive integers.
- 17a. [Baby book milestones] FIRST STEPS.
- 23a. [Backup player's backup] THIRD-STRINGER.
- 39a. [Hershey's chocolate-and-peanut-butter products] FIFTH AVENUE BARS. The official name seems to utilize the number as ’5th’
- 52a. [Bliss] SEVENTH HEAVEN.
- 63a. [Penultimate bowling game division] NINTH FRAME. Bit arbitrary, that.
Not a bad theme at all. The ordinals appear in, ahem, order, and it feels a natural grouping as they’re the entirety of the single-digit odd positive integers.
But the grid pays a price. Some of the not-so-nice entries as well as not-Monday-appropriate ones: INANER, NAMER, RVERS, WILE E Coyote, José Maria SERT, UTES, ALTHO, and dear departed Jack SOO.
Laudable long entries: the downs HORSEPLAY and OFF-SEASON.
Refreshingly playful clue in a Monday: 32d [Loses on purpose?] DIETS.
15a [Alabama civil rights city] SELMA. New film in the works.
4d [Japanese fish dish] SUSHI. I never think of it as a dish, but as a cuisine, style, or category. So despite the stylish rhyme, the clue doesn’t work for me.