Monday, September 5, 2016

BEQ 8:18 (Gareth) 


CS 10:12 (Ade) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT untimed (pannonica)  


Blindauer  puzzle 6:45; unannounced meta 8 minutes (Matt) 


No WSJ puzzle today due to the holiday. Enjoy not doing the puzzle, if that even makes sense.

Tracy Gray’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 9/5/16 • Mon • Gray • № 0905 • solution

NYT • 9/5/16 • Mon • Gray • № 0905 • solution

  • 58dR [Article of apparel with styles found at the starts of 17-, 26-, 41-, 51- and 66-Across] JEANS. As a bonus, there’s apparel again in the first across clue, for GARB.
  • 17a. [Facial sign of sleep deprivation] BAGGY EYES. And a good Monday morning to you too!
  • 26a. [Bathe in the buff] SKINNY DIP.
  • 41a. [It has only a few stories] LOW RISE BUILDING.
  • 51a. [Distress signal producers] FLARE GUNSDistressed jeans are also a thing.
  • 66a. [Tool for severing a steel cable, maybe] CUT OFF SAW. This is new information to me, but it’s definitely a Thing.

5.1 surround theme, a lot for a Monday. For the record: baggy jeans, skinny jeans, low rise jeans, flare jeans (this locution registers more results than either ‘flared jeans’ ‘flare leg jeans’), cut-off jeans. “Bootleg” (whiskey, movie, fireworks, etc.) would have added some more panache, but there’s only so much one crossword can do.

Let’s see what else we can find to take up some blogspace:

  • 11d [Energetically starting one’s day] UP AND AT IT. BAGGY EYES notwithstanding, presumably. Also, this is a phrase I can’t say I’ve heard. “Up and at ’em”, yes. But this one, barely if at all. The weirdness of the pronoun is highlighted by a duplication with 64a [Break off a relationship] END IT; this is a low-level dupe but is more noticeable under the circumstances.
  • Aside from that one, there are some other unmondayish entries lurking about the grid: 55d [Celestial cool red giant] S-STAR, 61a [Romanian composer Georges] ENESCO, the aforementioned CUT OFF SAW, and maybe 2d [Counting devices] ABACI.
  • 24a [Like outfits with ruffles and lace] GIRLY. Sure, we may give the NYT and other puzzles grief for not being as progressively gender-friendly as we’d like to see, but there’s simply no reason to play so strongly into tropes here. There are other was to clue this. And while we’re at it, 5d [Thorn’s site on a rose] STEM—here’s an article from The Atlantic: “The Complex Data on Girls in STEM“, and another from the Harvard Business Review: “The 5 Biases Pushing Women Out of STEM“.
  • 36d [He’s next to Teddy on Mount Rushmore] ABE, 39d [Bill with Washington’s face] ONE.

Is it my imagination or did the cluing seem ever-so slightly elevated in difficulty compared to a typical Monday? It was still a breeze to solve, but perhaps a tiny bit more challenging for newer solvers?

68-across [“And … __!” ) director’s cry)] SCENE.

Patrick Blindauer’s September website puzzle, “Dropping F-Bombs” — Matt’s review


Note: Patrick’s monthly puzzle can be found here under “Play.”

Provocative title, so let’s see what our highly creative cruciverbalist has in store this month.

We start off at 1-Across, which is JET clued as [Flying machine that’s dropping 3-Downs in this puzzle]. 3-Down is [It’s the bomb], and the answer is the T in JET followed by eight F’s.

This affects the long entry at 20-A, where the clue is [Country-time combat?] = FARM WRESTLING. I don’t get what this puns on; someone tell me in comments please. But I do see that we added an F to arm wrestling.

And then the same thing happens again in the lower half of the grid: 41-D is [Flying machine that’s dropping 42-Downs in this puzzle] and the answer is PLANE. 42-D is [It’s the bomb] and the answer is NFFFFFFF.

Once again, this affects the long Across: 62-A is [Gown for a Pilgrim?] and the answer is not Plymouth Rock but PLYMOUTH FROCK.

So now I was puzzled. There’s no Notepad text that there’s a meta answer, but Patrick has been known to feature unannounced metas in the past, and this one seemed a little thin. What’s the point of all those F’s in the grid when only two of them get used?

After a few perplexed moments, I e-mailed the author to see if I was overlooking something. And then I of course saw it right after hitting send, and then wrote him again to say so.


The answer to the unannounced meta is F-15, one of the most famous fighter planes there is. Note that those 15 F’s dropped by the JET and PLANE are the only F’s in the grid, a detail you would expect from a master like Patrick but it’s still worth pointing out.


This is very nice work — novel, logical, amusing, and with a classic “I should’ve seen that quicker” aha moment.

No one knows what the rest of September holds but I’ll be surprised if this doesn’t get a Crossword of the Month nomination. 4.55 stars.

Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 9/5/16 • Mon • Grabowski, Venzke • solution

LAT • 9/5/16 • Mon • Grabowski, Venzke • solution

Not sure what this one is precisely about. Here’s the list:

  • 17a. [Chronological documentation in a court case] CHAIN OF EVIDENCE. I’m more familiar with “chain of custody” but that seems to be a more recent coinage. Both locutions are becoming more prevalent in Our Litigious Society™. Speaking of which …
  • 27a. [Point an accusing finger at] PIN THE BLAME ON. I initially went with PUT…
  • 48a. [“Be careful on that icy sidewalk”] WATCH YOUR STEP.
  • 62a. [Brief film role] CAMEO APPEARANCE.

Quite obviously the thematic elements are CHAIN, PIN, WATCH, and CAMEO. With the absence of a revealer to massage the grouping or put what coheres them in stark relief, I’m going to go with the simplest and broadest explanation – that they’re types of jewelry, fashion accessories. Mostly I’m distracted by partial connections and differences.nurses watch A WATCH is the only one that has a pragmatic rather than merely decorative function, though there are some watches that are primarily fashion or status objects. Both a CAMEO and a WATCH can be attached to a CHAIN, and for that matter both can be made into a PIN though it’s more likely for a CAMEO rather than a WATCH. Pressing further, a traditional nurse’s WATCH is connected to a CHAIN connected to a PIN.

Overthinking this, yes? Fine. Back to where I started, before the exegesis. Jewelry/fashion accessories.

  • Hey, there’s a BALL right on top of CHAIN, but since there’s no similar dynamic among the other theme answers, let’s chalk it up to coincidence. 14a [Formal affair]
  • Also not part of the theme: 47a [Organs that may be pierced] EARS.
  • 7d [Joan at Woodstock] BAEZ, 36d [Sing like Joe Cocker] RASP, 49d [Flower child, e.g.] HIPPIE.
  • Initialisms: 12d [MLB postseason semifinal] ALCS, plurals 24d [Wall St. deals] LBOS, 61d [Classic cars] REOS. Those are the ones that seem least appropriate in a Monday crossword. Also present are 40a [Links org.] PGA, 56a [New Deal org.] WPA, 43d [LAX listing] ETA. And whatever the hell 28d Camaro’s IROC-Z signifies. Ah, “International Race of Champions”.
  • Additionally, these two might be on the tough side early in the week: 33a [Great Lakes’ __ Canals] SOO, 68a [Cup, in Calais] TASSE.
  • Some Latin down there in the bottom: 55d [Amo, __, amat] AMAS, 60d [Behold, to Caesar] ECCE. And the strongly latinate Spanish of 63d [Santana’s “__ Como Va”] OYE.
  • 29d [“Not gonna happen”] NOHOW, 45a [Discouraging answers] NOS. No, no, no.

A problem with early-week puzzles is that in order to stand out they need to be carved, shined, and buffed to perfection. Any faults or blemishes stand out, while the good facets fade into unremarkableness. And a write-up, if it’s to have any substance, is going to spend more time reflecting and perhaps even distorting this imbalance.

THEMELESS MONDAY #379 by Brendan Emmett Quigley – Gareth’s summary



This felt much more resistant than BEQ themelesses of late, though in the end, my time was still typical.

The design is built around a showy central step-stack. The downside to that design is the top-left and the bottom-right are connected to the rest of the puzzle by a measly two squares. I see designs like this not infrequently – I don’t think they’re entirely fair to solvers, particularly in difficult puzzles.


  • [Fall athlete?], BASEJUMPER – Great one across, clue and answer. I finished at the top, so it was a delayed reveal.
  • [Big name in supercomputers], CRAY. Only rang a vague bell
  • [Vimeo selection], CLIP. I’m pretty sure that and Dailymotion are for things that were blocked on Youtube.
  • [1979 Fleetwood Mac album…], TUSK. Not sure it’s as well-loved as Rumo(u)rs, though, and certainly didn’t sell quite so well. Have a soft spot for the title track, myself…

  • [Rear area?], PROCTOLOGY. Saw that one coming…
  • [Tight end Rob…], GRONKOWSKI with [Cardinals second baseman Kolten], WONG. Big 3 (4?) sports names! Luckily the N was inferrable.
  • [“We Built This ___”…], CITY. Disowned by Grace Slick, though just a year before there that there was Agadoo by Black Lace, and that is considerably worse for a start…
  • [The other thing], ELSE. I don’t get the equivalency here.
  • [Vermin], RODENTS. Not sure I care for the pejorative clue…

3 Stars

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Free Riders” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.05.16: "Free Riders"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.05.16: “Free Riders”

Hello, everyone! How’s your Labor Day going? Well, blogging about crossword puzzles is a labor of love for us, and hope you’re having a good holiday. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Gail Grabowski, is all about being free. Each theme entry is a multiple word answer in which the first word can also come after the word “free.”.

  • COUNTRY HAM (17A: [It’s usually dry-cured and smoked])
  • SPIRIT AWAY (57A: [Carry off secretly])
  • WILL ROGERS (11D: [Political wit of the Progressive Era])
  • PASS MUSTER (28D: [Measure up])

Seeing the clue for TEN made me think of the one time just after graduation where I thought I could make it as a professional poker player as the Internet poker boom was just starting (4D: [Jack’s value, sometimes]). That lasted all of a couple of nights after I was cleaned out of the little money that I had at the poker table. Funny enough, I LOSE is also in the grid, and that’s what I said enough times during those nights (41A: [Conceder’s words]). Haven’t really seen SPADER perform since the movie Stargate, but I hear he’s really good on the NBC show referenced in the clue (10D: [Reddington portrayer on “The Blacklist”]). Maybe I’ll watch, but probably not. Besides, he’ll always be Steff from Pretty in Pink to me!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: AARON (49A: [Composer Copland]) – Everyone knows about Hammerin’ Hank, but did you know that he had a brother who also played in the Major Leagues? In a 10-year span, Tommie AARON played parts of seven seasons in the Majors, playing for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves. He was a teammate of his brother, Henry, and his best year in MLB came in his rookie season, when he hit eight home runs and had 36 RBI in 141 games played. In between his MLB stint, Tommie was the International League (Class AAA) MVP in 1967. Aaron passed away in 1984 after a battle with leukemia.

Thank you so much for the time today, and I’ll see you tomorrow! Hopefully a little sooner than today’s appearance.

Take care!


This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Monday, September 5, 2016

  1. Art Shapiro says:

    While ENESCO was a gimme to me, haven’t we had his name with the final O being a U in recent days?


    • Funny you should mention that, Art. Andrew Zhou’s puzzle a week and a half ago was the first Shortz-era use of the correct Romanian spelling, ENESCU. Today, Tracy Gray is back to the New York Times crossword default spelling of ENESCO, the 21st such Shortz-era appearance.

      I did enjoy seeing TWO-HANDED when solving the puzzle just as the networks were between matches in their coverage of the U.S. Open.

      • Martin says:


        That was the only “correct Romanian spelling” in NYT crossword history. Don’t try to pin this on Will.

        ENESCO has now appeared 57 times since 1947, in the eras of Farrar, Weng, Maleska and Shortz.

        As I continually remind my good friend George, Enesco used that spelling (and “Georges,” not “George”) in France, where he lived much of his life. He is buried in Paris at Père Lachaise cemetary, where he is Enesco for eternity.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: I thought it was a great puzzle, with a fun theme and good fill in spite of the theme density. As I was tearing through it, I had no idea what the theme was, and it was fun to figure it out. I like it when that happens, especially on a Monday.
    I had no problem with the clue for GIRLY… the concept of a “girly girl” is out there, meaning pretty much what the clue says. It’s not something I especially want to promote, but I also don’t see anything horrible about liking ruffles and lace. In fact, it’s possible to like gauzy fabrics and be a whiz at math– my 9 year old granddaughter is a case in point. Knowing her, she’ll find a way to make it all work.
    On the broader level, I of course agree that many factors conspire to drag women away from STEM fields, which is a terrible waste of talent and promise. It continues to be complex even after they choose a path, get advanced degrees, start a career, make great contributions. I think it takes a long time in a woman’s life, probably well into her forties if ever, before it becomes a moot point. That’s a long time to put up with being questioned. And if you wear skinny jeans and a lace top it might make it even harder. But if it makes you happy, you might as well enjoy yourself and confound the masses in the process…

  3. Zulema says:

    I would just like to see terms like DRECK disappear from the puzzles. There are many synonyms even from the same group of languages that are more pleasant. And we don’t find the English equivalent “sh..” in puzzles, or is it that the NYT won’t allow it?

    • Martin says:


      That is NOT the equivalent of the English word “dreck.” It merely means “shoddy goods,” with none of the connotation that its Yiddish etymon carries.

      In this case, knowing the Yiddish word affects one’s perception of the innocent English word.

  4. Gary R says:

    Agree with pannonica on UP AND AT IT – don’t think I’ve heard the phrase. Google’s n-gram viewer suggests it was more common than “up and at ’em” until the 1930’s. Much less common today.

    “Bootleg” would have been fun, but I’ve always thought the descriptor for jeans was “boot cut.”

    Re: DRECK – I had no idea of the Yiddish definition. Like Martin, the usage I’m familiar with is not scatological – but it seems likely that that is part of the origin.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      I wasn’t aware of “dreck” having scatological origins, either. My mother, who would not use “putz” or “schmuck”, said “dreck” on a regular basis, so in our family the scatology died out before the 1930s. Mom was born in 1935. Her mother, at least, grew up in a Yiddish-speaking family. Interesting.

  5. Jim Peredo says:

    Blindauer: I didn’t solve the puzzle, but it looks good. At first, I thought all the Fs were inelegant, but then as I read through Matt’s discovery, I thought, “That makes sense.”

    But then I balked, because an F-15 is not a bomber, it’s a fighter. I think of it more as shooting missiles as opposed to dropping bombs. When it’s targeting ground forces, it can be said to be dropping bombs, however those bombs are typically laser-guided, precision weapons. Carpet-bombing, which is what I see in the puzzle, is more the province of the traditional bomber (B-1, B-2, B-52, etc.). If the 15 Fs could have been strategically placed around the puzzle, changing normal words into F-words (e.g., RAT into RAFT), that would have been the height of elegance.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      …though I gotta admit that an F-15 dropping 15 F bombs in a puzzle is a way cool idea, and I wish I’d thought of it!

  6. Alan D. says:

    The Blindauer might get Crossword of the Month from Matt if he ever updates his page! ;-)

  7. Gareth says:

    NYT: Great theme! Pity about some of the fill choices for a Monday. Perhaps the fault is the grid design, which is definitely not Monday friendly. Not sure why ANTI/NOW wasn’t used, though.

Comments are closed.