Monday, 3/22/10

BEQ 5:59
NYT 2:51
LAT 2:39
CS untimed
NYT Second Sunday diagramless untimed

Andrea Carla Michaels’ New York Times crossword

Region capture 6We’ve got an easy Monday puzzle with an anagram theme that appears to have no underlying rationale. LADE is at 35D, clued [Stow, as cargo…or an anagram of the last word of 17-, 35- or 52-Across]. There’s no particular reason to scramble a word like LADE, though. The phrases with the LADE anagrams are as follows:

  • 17A. [All around, as on a trip] clues OVER HILL AND DALE. Clue seems odd, but I’m not sure how else one would clue that. When I saw DALE at the end there, my first thought was that it would be a chipmunks theme. Alvin, Simon, and Theodore are the trio, though, and Chip ‘n’ Dale are a duo.
  • 35A. [TV show with many doors] is LET’S MAKE A DEAL. These days, Deal or No Deal is the default ends-with-“Deal” game show.
  • 52A. [Move into first place in a race] clues TAKE OVER THE LEAD. Sadly, in my NCAA bracket of crossworders, I am nowhere near the lead. ESPN tells me I have made correct picks just 8.5% of the time. Shameful! Good thing there’s no money riding on this.

GIRLIE is clued as 23A: [Young and feminine], though that usage is usually spelled girly. How many people know that the show-within-a-show on 30 Rock was originally called The Girlie Show? 30 Rock remains my favorite show on TV.

Most surprising entry: DIASPORA, clued as 11D: [Scattering of an ethnic group]. This is only its third appearance in the NYT crossword, Xword Info tells me.

Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times diagramless crossword (second Sunday puzzle)

As is my wont, I started jotting down the answers on an invisible grid on a blank sheet of paper. It didn’t take long (three or four rows in) to look like a puzzle whose top entries would be centered in the grid, and that was indeed the case. The puzzle’s symmetry is standard rotational crossword symmetry.

The four theme entries all share the same clue: [Stop]. The four kinds of STOPs are an AMTRAK DEPOT (10A), a CRY FROM THE TICKLED (22A—this answer is hereby dedicated for former congressman Eric Massa, who I hope is now receiving psychotherapy), a PERIOD IN A TELEGRAM (50A), and an ORGAN HANDLE (62A…an organ stop is a handle? I can’t say I was hip to that).

The filled-in grid takes the shape of an octagonal stop sign:

* * * * * C H A I N U P * * * * *
* * * * D I A G N O S I S * * * *
* * * A M T R A K D E P O T * * *
* * C I V I L * * * D E N O M * *
* S L R * * E S C S * * I R I S *
L A D I E S * S I T A R S * T A O
I S E E N O W * C T R S * C O L T
* * B L T * I C K E S * J A N * *
T O A D * F L A P * I N O R B I T
A P R * R E L I E S * H I D E H O
* C O M B * * E S A I * * A L D *
* * W H E E L * * * S O M M E * *
* * * O R G A N H A N D L E * * *
* * * * T A K E A P E E K * * * *
* * * * * D E A L E R S * * * * *

I like the pair of men supporting the stop sign’s sides, CLYDE BARROW and MILTON BERLE. And I say that despite the fact that MILTON BERLE was my fourth answer for [“Uncle” of old TV]. First there was my favorite MARTIAN, then Uncle MILTIE, then MILTON, and finally the last name. Oy!

Overall, the puzzle seemed a bit less playful than I was expecting based on Patrick Blindauer’s byline, but tackling a solid diagramless is always a worthy pastime.

Updated Monday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Come Around”—Janie’s review

We know this theme. In today’s treatment of if, Martin has split the letters of the word “come” so that they bookend–go “around”–the entire theme phrase. There is nothing USUAL [Run-of-the-mill], however, about that theme fill, three very strong phrases in their own right.

20A. CONFIDENCE GAME [Scam]. Sometimes casino games can be scams, so be careful when you put your money down. Internet casino games especially. That red and black wheel? Not foolproof. Not by a long shot. Oh–and that [Rouge roulette number] in the puzzle? That’d be CINQ.

39A. COMMUNIST REGIME [Cuba’s government, e.g.].

54A. “COULDA FOOLED ME!” [“Well, I’ll be!”]. Folksy and fun.

Reinforcing that great theme fill is a string of lively, long non-theme fill. What’s not to love in a puzzle that delivers LIVED A LIE [Was false to the world], “COWABUNGA!” [Ninja Turtle’s cry], OMNIBUSES [Anthologies] and STEPS ON IT [Puts the pedal to the metal]?! I also enjoyed seeing PODIUM [Maestro’s platform] and MUDDLE [Jumble] and SALVES [Sunburn soothers].

If you’ve an appetite for something that’s literally “meaty,” Martin has obliged with both CHILI [Hot dog garnish] and JOES [Sloppy guys?]–neither of which qualifies as LITE [Low-cal] food. Oh–and there’s also RARE, as in [Steak order]. Are the classics more to your taste? Well, then, there’s ELEA [Zeno’s home] and the ILIAD [Troy story].

Movie lover? We got yer INDIES [Non-studio films] and we got yer IMAX [Big screen film format]. We also got two (at least one-time) blond-bombshell types: DYAN [Actress Cannon] and LONI Anderson [Burt’s ex]. Because I rarely eschew the obvious, I will say that I was amused to see these names, um, stacked in the grid… And in the name of balance, we also got two (at least one-time) matinee-idol types: [Actor Alain] DELON (The Yellow Rolls-Royce, anyone?) and ALEC [One of the Baldwins].

Will finish this RECAP [Summary] with the mention of a trio of peppy clues: [Jumps (out)] for BAILS, [Bump off] for DO IN, and [“Later, dude!”] for “CIAO!”

Ciao, y’all!

Robert Fisher’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 7I used up my morning blogging time visiting with a friend. D’oh!

The theme entries each have two body parts joined by a different word:

  • 20A. [Hopelessly, as in love] clues HEAD OVER HEELS.
  • 29A. I would call the [Field sobriety test] “touch your finger to your nose” rather than FINGER-TO-NOSE. Maybe cops call it FINGER-TO-NOSE; I don’t know.
  • 46A. A [Fierce way to fight] is TOOTH AND NAIL.
  • 56A. [Facetious] clues TONGUE IN CHEEK.

The fill had a certain vibe to it, a “not the same old Monday fill” feeling. ARPEGGIO and ACROSTICS sure class the joint up.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

Region capture 9Got off to a quick start with JIHAD JANE at 1A and filled in that zone, and then did the opposite corner with the ZOOLANDER foothold. And then…I hit the  skids. Tough SW, middle, and NE! The brand names at 11D sounded like sleeping pills, not cameras (LEICAS). The LEYDEN JAR, STYLE BOOK, and ORIFLAMME in the middle came together with the aid of a lot of crossings. I wanted [Banner that serves as a rallying point] to be FREAK FLAG, not ORIFLAMME; when can we get FREAK FLAG in the grid?

For future JEZEBEL clues, I’d love to see a reference to the popular blog by that name.

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19 Responses to Monday, 3/22/10

  1. joon says:

    last night i had my first crossword-related anxiety nightmare. i was at the ACPT. puzzle 4 (one of the easy ones, typically) came out and it was by andrea carla michaels. i started filling it in, but the theme was incomprehensible. you had to get each theme answer to understand the next theme clue. i don’t remember the details, but it was impossibly self-referential and arcane. to make matters worse, people all around me were raising their hands with finished puzzles literally within seconds of starting. that, and (of course) every time i went back and looked at a clue, it had changed from the last time i read it.

    today’s puzzle was a somewhat easier offering. :) the only thing that gave me real pause was GIRLIE. my preference would be GIRLY for the adjective and GIRLIE for the noun, although i’d prefer not to see that noun at all.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    Um, ok joon. What did you have for dinner last night?

  3. andrea carla michaels says:

    I finally make it into your dreams and it was “impossibly self-referential and arcane”???
    Well, in anycase, you’re psychic, so that must count for something!
    I’m still trying to figure out the point of my anagram puzzle today too! Onward!

  4. Anne E says:

    Sounds like BEQ #5! Welcome to the big time, joon. I have these kinds of dreams fairly regularly (showing up late… showing up in the wrong place… pencil doesn’t work… etc). My most recent one was about a week before this year’s ACPT, in which I was trying to explain to Will about 25 extra points I thought I’d received by mistake, except for some reason I had lost my ability to speak comprehensible English, and he just kept saying, “What?? What?? I can’t understand you!” And you thought that kind of thing was all over once you got out of college! Ha!

  5. Howard B says:

    Joon:”every time i went back and looked at a clue, it had changed from the last time i read it.”

    Now, wouldn’t it be great to have a puzzle in a Java applet, say, with a little custom random function where each clue has a stored list of 5 or 6 valid but varied clues, which switch every second or 2? The ACPT visual puzzle had that element, and it was definitely disorienting for a while. That’s just wicked enough to work…

  6. Ladel says:

    Hey, it’s Monday, really hard to make a super interesting puzzle for this day, it just has to be too easy. But, DIASPORA, now that’s clever, as we inch closer to Passover. And Joon, if you want to enhance your nitemare experience try a little Seder food for a week or so. A Zeissen Pesach to the flock.

  7. Will Nediger says:

    For some reason, Scrabble players always have crazy dreams like that about Scrabble tournaments. They’re usually awesomely surrealistic.

  8. joon says:

    i’ve had many versions of this dream, believe me. everybody has had them about school, right? you’re late for the final exam, you don’t know what room it’s in, you don’t even remember being in the course, you can’t answer any of the questions, etc. xkcd sums it up nicely.

    i’ve also had the one at the bridge table: playing for a national title (or a high-stakes money game), i can’t remember the bidding, my hand keeps changing every time i look, my opponents are faceless experts, and i’m naked. (okay, that last part was a lie. i’ve never been naked in public in a dream. or reality, thank you very much.)

    in fact, even though i’ve never played tournament scrabble, i’m sure i’ve also had this dream about scrabble, too. and foosball. and quizbowl. and a fantasy baseball draft. but this is the first time it’s been crosswords. in a way, it’s almost surprising, given that my crossword obsession isn’t all that new.

  9. janie says:

    >DIASPORA, now that’s clever, as we inch closer to Passover

    and have a SEDER (like the folks in TEL [___ aviv] — and all over)].

    also took delight in the MUDDY and PADDY opposite-corner entries!


  10. Sara says:

    You don’t even have to be an elite solver….The night before this year’s ACPT (my first), I had essentially the same dream as Anne E., though in my dream it was a generic professor and not Will Shortz. According to my husband I woke up sobbing, “Please let me take the test! Please let me take the test!”

    In the abandon-all-hope department: Near the end of her life, my grandmother said she still had those kind of dreams.

  11. Sam Donaldson says:

    When I was a student, I had the “I’m late for a test in a class I never knew I had” dreams all the time. It almost always involved me trying to get to the room in a hurry. Never naked, but often in my underwear.

    Now that I’m a teacher, I have the “students in the classroom have been waiting for an hour for me to teach the subject I know nothing about” dreams. Sometimes I’m able to realize it’s a dream, since the premise is so obviously flawed: students would never wait for the late professor.

  12. John Farmer says:

    Let’s see if I have this right. You go to a tournament, you’re staring at a puzzle that doesn’t make any sense at all, and others around you finish the puzzle and get up to leave before you can figure out what’s going on. That doesn’t sound like a nightmare. It sounds like my last trip to the ACPT.

    My nightmare is very different. One of my crosswords runs in the paper and early that morning I get a knock on the door from Homeland Security. Several clues in the puzzle are terrorist code words used by sleeper cells under DHS surveillance and the agents believe I may be involved in planning an attack against the country. I plead innocent, and I finally convince the agents that I have nothing to do with the terrorists when I show them the original puzzle I sent into the Times. The suspicious clues were not mine after all–they were changed by the editor. The DHS agents, after several hours, agree not to take me in. They leave my home. Later that day, Will Shortz is reported missing. He’s never heard from again, and the New York Times has to hire a replacement. [I’ll leave the story there, before I even get to the scary part.]

    I actually dropped in just to mention that Wikipedia, a source to be reckoned with, spells it GIRLY in “girly girl” and GIRLIE in “girlie men.” I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the Austrian inflection.

  13. Barry Haldiman says:

    My nightmare is sitting in the audience waiting for the ACPT finals to start and thinking, it’s nice not to be up there as I have terrible stage fright. Then a voice from above calls my name and I’m summoned to the stage. I get confused by REP and GOP, ASSAY and ESSAY and LIMP and GIMP and finish a distant 3rd. Thankfully, this kind of stuff never happens…

  14. HumbleRookie says:

    Well, how’s this dream for analysis fodder? You enter the room for the ACPT: Everyone else walks in, but you’re flying overhead. You sit down at the table to solve: Everyone else is clothed normally, you’re buck naked. Not only can you not fill in a single answer, but your teeth start crumbling and falling out. You awaken in abject terror, just as a blood-spattered serial murderer with a meat cleaver chases you out of the room. Sweet dreams, everybody! No, I haven’t dreamed that–just being punchy!

  15. Brad Wilber says:

    Don’t ask me to get too detailed, because I can’t remember, but my one and only crossword anxiety dream basically amounted to being on a Project Runway or Top Chef-type event for constructors. I advanced a little ways, but I remember feeling flushed as I stood in the bottom 3 at Judge’s table and then filming a lachrymose exit interview. LOL.

  16. miguel says:

    I have daydreams that don’t turn out so well, thus I refuse to compete in anything that might lead to a nightmare. I recall deciding to take a class to keep up my study skills and spent the entire semester reliving the real life horror of Statistics for Economic Majors. The classroom moved, everyone else knew the professor, I forgot I had the class until the day of the final and it was too late to drop it, the final was based on participation and the impossible version went to me since I never came to class, a special technique for solving had been taught earlier in the semester while I was trying to find out what happened to the building I had last been to class, etc. etc. etc. The closest I have had to crossword nightmare was Bob Klahn’s puzzle two years ago in December. The wife of Socrates (var.)!!!

  17. Katie says:

    At some point after last year’s ACPT, I dreamed that I was in the ballroom as usual, did puzzle #1 as usual — and then tore it up and ate it. I think I carefully tore the grid out first. Then I got all upset because I realized that meant I was going to get a zero on it. It seemed very real at the time.

  18. Howard B says:

    …And when you awoke, you discovered you were completely out of frozen waffles?
    Or is that just me?

  19. LARRY says:

    Attention BEQ – your Monday puzzle says Noctilux-M and Summicron-M are “LEICAS”. Actually, LEICA is the name of a CAMERA (LEItz CAmera). The items in your clue are LENSES and their brand is LEITZ, not LEICA.
    Also, I think the def of EN FAMILLE meaning “At Home” should clue that the expected answer is in French, since this is not a term that has crossed over into English.

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