Monday, 12/7/09

BEQ 7:42
LAT 3:12
NYT 2:52
CS untimed

Hello! Welcome to the new home of Diary of a Crossword Fiend. Make yourself comfy. Check out what’s behind the tabs up above. Today’s Puzzles offers a handy place to download crosswords or access them for online solving. Crossword Links contains most of what used to dwell in the sidebar—links to blogs by crossword folks, puzzle websites, assorted crossword-related sites, and cryptic crossword resources. Forum links you to the Crossword Fiend forum/discussion boards. One Forum highlight is the Island of Lost Puzzles section, where you can self-publish a crossword without needing your own web-hosting account.

Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 7This is a fun Monday theme, isn’t it? I had no idea what was going on until I hit the clue for 56A: [Words after the starting syllables of 17-, 29- and 43-Across]. Those three answers begin with a YO, HO, HO, so I entered a piratical AND A BOTTLE OF RUM at 56A. That “refrain from piracy” (a classic Manny Nosowsky clue for YOHOHO, I think) is found here:

  • 17A. YOGURT SMOOTHIES are [Blended fruit-flavored drinks].
  • 29A. “HOLY MACKEREL!” is clued with [“Jumpin’ Jehosaphat!”].
  • 43A. HOMER SIMPSON is the [TV character who says “It’s 1 a.m. Better go home and spend some quality time with the kids”].

I love that disparate trio of answers. The puzzle seemed a notch harder than the usual Monday crossword, perhaps owing to the inclusion of some unusual (for Monday) fill:

  • 25A. [Old-time singer Julius] LAROSA keeps popping up, and those who’ve been doing the NYT puzzle every day probably got this one. A Monday-only newbie, though, may get stuck here.
  • 34A. BRAE is a [Highlands hillside]. This, along with NAE, TAM, and SMA, is classic Scottish crosswordese.
  • 47A. STENOS were [Shorthand pros]. Period piece Mad Men is giving this word renewed life, but if you’re new to crosswords and don’t watch that show…
  • 49A. [1970s All-Star Dodger Ron] CEY is the most famous CEY in America.
  • 61A. Old-school crosswordese EWER is a [Wide-mouthed pitcher]. This is not a baseball term, regrettably.
  • 1D. The two-word verb phrase “SAY O.K.” is clued as [Give permission].
  • 51D. [Modern locale of ancient Sheba] is YEMEN. Who knew?

Highlights! I love the clue for 7D, HUM: [What you can do if you don’t know the words]. I never know the words. At 37D, “PASS GO” is clued as [Collect $200 in Monopoly]. I prefer the full “do not pass GO,” but I’ll take PASS GO for not being boring fill.

Updated Monday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “We’re Off to See the Wizard”—Janie’s review

The title tells it all, but darned if I understand the WHY [Question of motive] behind it. It’s not the anniversary of the publication of the book (1900) or the release of the movie (August 1939), and nothing in the healthy 61 squares of theme fill really exceeds the expectation set up in the title. All of it references characters in the Frank L. Baum classic and all of it is clued in reference to “29-Across”: DOROTHY GALE [Visitor to Oz]. So we also encounter:

  • 17A. THE COWARDLY LION [He said to …,”I haven’t any courage at all. I even scare mself”].
  • 37A. SCARECROW [… said to him, “I think I’m going to miss you most of all”].
  • 50A. WICKED WITCH [She called … “My pretty”].
  • 63A. PROFESSOR MARVEL [… asked him, “Why can’t we go with you and see all the crowned heads of Europe?”].

Conspicuous by their absence are the Tin Man, Glinda, “and Toto, too!” It’s also odd to me that among those Dorothy is paired with, only Professor Marvel is represented in his Kansas persona. While the use of the quotes in the clues adds some specificity/character to this creation, there’s probably a very surprising, “aha”-making puzzle to be crafted on a Wizard of Oz theme–a Sunday-sized 21×21 format might better accommodate so broad a theme. Randy’s very straightforward approach to the theme keeps this one, well, straightforward and perhaps best appreciated by true beginners.

And while I’m pointing out the elements that sparked this SNIT [Bit of petulance], let me add ART I [Intro to painting] and HOLER [Maker of a successful putt]. These have the sound of being very contrived to my ear (and I can’t find any dictionary support for holer out there). Right there on the fence for me is “IS IT A GO?” [“Are we on?”]. “Are we a go?” yes; “Is it a go?” omma don’ know…

Where the puzzle does make points with me is in the grid and the non-theme fill. I love those triple columns of sevens in all four corners; and the variety in the fill is good, too. Standouts include LET RIDE [Not make an issue of] (what many of you may have wished I’d done vis à vis the theme…); ICHABOD [Crane from Sleepy Hollow] (much of Washington Irving’s work, including “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is available free, online); LANE ONE, (auto racing’s) [Pole position]; ACCRETE [Grow together] (and definitely not a “beginner” word); ON EARTH [In this world]; and the most colorful: CAT’S PAW [Dupe].

I also liked WHIRL, clued as [Try]; [Water cooler?] for ICE, [Shrugger in an Ayn Rand title] for ATLAS, and especially [Hot flower?] for LAVA. That’s good; not the booty from a florist heist (that grows), but liquid volcanic material (that flows).

Finally, in deference to the overlooked Tin Man, a little America. Okay. And Toto, too…

Robert Fisher’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 9The theme is swindles, but I’ve only heard of two of the three theme entries. THREE CARD MONTE ([Sleight-of-hand sidewalk swindle]), check. PYRAMID SCHEME ([Multilevel investment swindle]), check. SALTING THE MINE? A [Prospecting swindle]? I haven’t been doing much prospecting, but I’m guessing SALTING THE MINE is leaving bits of a metal or gem in a worthless mine to dupe someone into forking over money. Yep, that’s what it means.


I don’t know about you, but this puzzle felt more like a Wednesday NYT than a Monday LAT puzzle. UMBRA, SEVE Ballesteros, has-been PIA Zadora, SCRIM, and crosswordese OAST seem like tough fill for a Monday.

The [Stereotypical pirate’s cry] should have a more pronounced “R” sound (others agree); AARGH is a non-piratical interjection. “Arrr!” “Arrgh!” Those are pirate-speak. The clue for MOONBEAM seems too technical; is there such a thing as a [Ray from a natural satellite] if the light’s all reflected sunlight? Does the moon radiate? I’d like a MOONBEAM clue referencing a nighttime glow, romance optional. (Note: MOONBEAM’s defined in my dictionary as a “ray of moonlight.” Dictionary, you are not helping my argument one bit. Stand down!)

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

Region capture 10Loved this puzzle! I did get mired in three squares, but managed to extricate myself without using Across Lite’s “check” option. (Yay!) The trouble spots were 45D/51A and 67A/63D/54D. The Olivia de Havilland insane-asylum movie at 67A is the plausible THE SNAKE PIT, but I started out with THE KNAVE PIT. (Really!) [Lose] could be SHAVE, as in shaving some points, perhaps, and I’m not up on my Kyrgyzstan cities in the Fergana valley (OKH, not OSH). The other spot had [Checkout time?] clueing the bedtime of TEN P.M. rather than an early hotel checkout time of TEN A.M. Naughty by Nature recorded “O.P.P.” (“O is for Other P is for People scratchin’ temple / The last P…well…that’s not that simple / It’s sorta like another way to call a cat a kitten”) and not OAP. I’m equally conversant in Naughty by Nature and Kyrgyzstan cities, which is to say hardly at all.

Favorite answers:

  • JACQUIZZ RODGERS, the Oregon State football player. I  mentioned his insane name in my blog the other day, and Brendan jumped on the opportunity to put it in a puzzle.
  • “WAX ON, WAX OFF.” Hah! Love this Karate Kid line. You can use the associated hand gestures at the beach as code for “Wow, that guy should really consider waxing his back.”
  • “Ooh! Ooh! MR. KOTTER!”
  • FAIR GAME is a great in-the-language phrase.
  • CLIMATEGATE is au courant.
  • IRENE CASTLE usually shows up in crosswords with just her first name, and I wouldn’t know she existed if not for crosswords. Interesting trivia clue: [Dancer who invented the hands-free tango].
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46 Responses to Monday, 12/7/09

  1. Joon says:

    i’d be better at crosswords if i were a more accurate reader. today, i somehow completely missed “syllables” in the explanation, and also thought 46d was “recovers from a blender.” dude, once it’s been through the blender, that sucker is pretty much past recovery.

    i don’t think i recognized ed sessa’s name until two weeks ago, but this is the fourth byline of his that i’ve seen since then. odd.

    edit: whoa, you can edit comments! what is this, the 22nd century?
    edit: or is it only admins who can edit comments? hard to tell since i’m so powerful.

  2. Nina says:

    Hey, nice-looking new web site, Orange!

  3. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Thanks, Nina. And despite the oranges in the comments and in the browser address bar, I am delighted to be posting under my real name over here! I will still answer to Orange, of course…but I’m ready to reclaim my mild-mannered, citrus-free persona. Wait, which one has the superhero powers, Orange or Amy? I’m confused.

  4. What Nina said. Very nice look and feel. Do you mean superheroine powers?

  5. Jeffrey (formerly Crosscan) says:

    Cool site! to celebrate its launch, I’m going to Disney World! See you in a week.

  6. Spencer says:

    Well, I didn’t get LAROSA, and ORMAN was similarly unknown to me (I think I’ve got a blind spot for names). I want to call “Natick” on that crossing.

  7. John Farmer says:

    The new site’s looking great! Nice work.

  8. Bill from NJ says:

    Spiffy new spot, Amy. It seems like we’ve seen some variation of LAROSA with UKE referencing the old Red Head (now I’m showing my age) last week so I guess Arthur Godfrey is making a comeback. At least he’s not buzzing airports.

  9. Dan F says:

    Congrats! Lookin’ good!

  10. Bill from NJ says:

    Just checking to see if my avatar works.

  11. Sam Donaldson says:

    Congratulations on the launch, Amy! The “Today’s Puzzles” page is a terrific resource, and I’m glad to see the Crossword Links survived the move too.

    I agree that the NYT had a fun theme, but the fill really sparkled with lively, smart and sophisticated terms–look no further than the name at 1-Across. Also liked that this is the second puzzle in three days to have an extended quotation from The Simpsons in the clues.

  12. Gareth says:

    I’d like to dub this the “Cathedral of Orange” – there’s orange everywhere! Also, have you seen that cool “Tags” combobox on the right!!

    Was also really puzzled and couldn’t see a theme till got to 56A, quite a fun surprise, though only once I removed PASSED and SUDAN. Had to guess LAROSA/ORMAN – was right – and OBTRUDE was also a new one; how is obtrusion different from protrusion?

    Joon, I’ve seen his name a few times previously this year, there was a cool GOONSQUAD puzzle I think. Did a query on the old site:

  13. ArtLvr says:

    No! I was afraid you’d expand your column by several characters across each line — and you did. Now it doesn’t fit beside my puzzle so that I can easily check references in your comments against my own solution. One vertical column of my puzzle is necessarily out of sight this way.

    I realize that my iBook may not be the latest thing, but it has suited me for years now, and I’m very unhappy that you didn’t take my same comment about your column width into consideration when the LAT blog was set up — now you’ve done it here too. HOLY MACKEREL!

  14. Sara says:

    Beautiful! the different shades of orange look really good together and with the green. And Janie’s purple makes it perfect!

  15. Amy Reynaldo says:

    ArtLvr, you think that’s bad? You should try writing a blog post about a puzzle when most of it is hidden behind the blog’s window. And my screen’s a 20-inch widescreen!

  16. PhillySolver says:

    I like the new format as well. I am not sure about the avatar portion though. I can’t seem to register because they say I exist already, but when I try to re-set my password, it reports I don’t exist. I guess you are into existentialism here.

    Michael Smith (still PhillySolver)

  17. ArtLvr says:

    Amy — Your width was fine before. Rex’s column is ideal for side-by-side viewing of my puzzle solution and his commentary, and I just hope he isn’t misled into changing it! Please do reconsider — it’s only a matter of a few characters per line, but crucial.

  18. Gareth says:

    ArtLvr, if you’re in Across Lite you should be able to resize the window, or am I missing the point here?

    BTW, how do you in fact create an account, I haven’t found a link anywhere to do this, but I’m guessing “if it was a snake it would’ve bitten me long time” (really terrible attempt at translating an Afrikaans idiom into English)

  19. janie says:

    nice to see that the new home is comfortable for most of the regulars ’round here!

    i especially like that way the reader is returned to the post just where s/he left it after pressing a link. the (seriously annoying) “back-to-square-one” experience is gone. love those tabs up at the top, too.

    a beauty of a design overall — and the puzzles are pretty terrific, too!


  20. hazel says:

    Wow – very nice redesign. Love the Today’s Puzzles tab.

  21. Jim says:

    Love the new design


  22. *David* says:

    I’m not good with change, I’m going back to the old site and redo those puzzles.

  23. Zulema says:

    Hi, very nice, to echo everyone. Perhaps you’ll get rid of the moderating imposed by the new site, since I think you can, and ameliorate your job a bit.

    For Janie, I happened to visit Sunnyside yesterday, Washington Irving’s house In Irvington, NY, for the first time despite having lived almost next to it some years ago (doesn’t that always happen?). A delightful place in the Hudson, homey, unpretentious and beautiful. And a few weeks ago I saw what is left of the Yellow Brick Road that on a much larger extent inspired the now famous OZ venue, the yellow a bit faded, in Peekskill, where Baum had attended a military academy

  24. Zulema says:

    I meant ON the Hudson, not IN. Why can’t I see typos until after they are published?

  25. Al Sanders says:

    Glad to hear I wasn’t the only one who ended up with “The Knave Pit” for the BEQ today!

  26. joon says:

    zulema, you can fix your own typos even after you submit. amazing, no?

    orange, i had difficulty with the LAT, too, but i’m used to that. they’re really only pedal-to-the-metal easy on tuesdays. mondays often have something tricky about them.

  27. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Al: “You’d better listen to your mother. Naughty children get sent to the Knave Pit.”

  28. Steve Manion says:


    So far I have had no difficulty in entering your site. Great job and good uck.


  29. Steve Manion says:

    Is there a way to correct a typo?

  30. Martin says:

    I had Irene Castle’s era wrong in my mind. When she was inventing the hands-free tango, “today” was hyphenated.

    Preview would be nice. Hoping all your uck is good.

  31. KarmaSartre says:

    Very nice design: easy on the eyes, easy to navigate.

  32. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Steve, do you see an “edit” link by the date on your comments?

  33. Evad says:

    Could be just us superheroes with our xray vision and the like can edit comments, even those made by others. I’ll look into seeing how individual commenters can edit their own entries as they can on the Fiend Forum.

    Thanks for the warm welcome to the new design. Feel free to use the comment box to suggest improvements or note any difficulties or errors you may receive as you visit. I’ll do what I can…one thang I’m rassling with is to have the Comment link on the Home page bring you down to the first comment for that post, instead of having to scroll down to see it. Wish me luck as I delve into the innards of WordPress!

  34. Tuning Spork says:

    Re: the LAT,

    I don’t know how they resisted cluing MOONBEAM without referencing former-California Governor Jerry Brown (the other guy who challenged President Carter for the Democratic nomination in 1980).

    I’d never heard of keening until I watched this video just recently:
    You gotta watch the whole thing. To the end. Trust me. :)

  35. Evad says:

    Found a plugin to give folks 30 minutes to update their own posts (provided your IP address hasn’t changed from the original post, ie., you haven’t moved to a new computer).

    Give it a spin!

  36. LARRY says:

    I like the new format. Comments are easier to read without the very waid margins. Looks like other readers like it too, judging by the large number of commentors.
    In the BEQ puzzle, had CORNERED for 40D but could not believe JACQUIZZ was a correct first name. Silly me.

  37. animalheart says:

    Thought I’d poke my head in and see what the fuss is about. Very handsome site. And high in Vitamin C (I guess I should check to make sure no one else has made that joke, but hell…)

    Anyway, congrats, and kudos to Evad and anyone else who played a role.


  38. Joel (formerly Highschooler) says:

    I like the new site! The orange slices are a nice touch. Anyway, I thought the puzzle a tad hard for a monday. BRAE, MAGDA, RFDS, and OBTRUDE all gave me pause. The theme was a little “aha” moment, I guess

  39. Alex says:

    Looks great. I recommend Akismet for spam blocking if you haven’t installed it already. I have it on my blog and it has successfully filtered 100% of the spam while not filtering out any legitimate comments.

  40. Howard B says:

    Like what you’ve done with the place!

  41. Steve Manion says:

    Amy, I coud not see an edit button.

  42. Matt Gaffney says:

    Great new look! Much citrus, I like.

  43. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Steve, you should see one for 30 minutes after posting a comment.

  44. Martin says:

    Now we see an edit button. How about a delete?

  45. Evad says:

    @Martin, sorry that plug-in I found only allows edits, not deletes.

Comments are closed.