Monday, 8/2/10

BEQ 5:42
NYT 3:09
LAT 2:42
CS untimed

Diane Baker van Hoff’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 3Surprisingly fresh theme for a Monday, mixing things up with “The 5-Letter Something of 5-Letter Something” pattern:

  • 17a. [Tempo?] is THE SPEED OF MUSIC. The familiar phrase that starts that way is “the speed of light.”
  • 37a. [Ka-ching?] is THE SOUND OF MONEY. You may be thinking also of The Sound of Music, and that MUSIC scooted up to 17a.
  • 55a. [Spectrum?] clues THE COLOR OF LIGHT, which evokes the Paul Newman movie, The Color of Money.

RHowardNow, it would be super cool if there were a movie called The Speed of Light (I don’t think there is), but it’s still a fun round-robin switcheroo theme. I especially like the straight-up aptness of the clues for 17a and 55a.

I’m too sun-tired from spending the afternoon walking in Lake Michigan for a mile (North Avenue Beach to Fullerton Beach) to have any other insights about this crossword. But ooh! Guess what famous movie director we saw returning a rental bike at the beach today. That man takes his sun protection seriously.

Updated Monday morning:

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Closed Encounters”—Janie’s review

Today we get not merely “Closed Encounters” [sic] but “Closed Encounters of the Fourth Kind” [sic again…]. The first word of each of the theme phrases can follow the word “closed” and Gail delivers the goods four times. All four phrases are good—two are flat-out beauties—and all look to be making both CS and major publication-type debuts.

  • 20A. (Closed) CIRCUIT COURT [Judicial venue]. From “The term comes from the days when judges rode horseback from one county to the next along a continuous route called the circuit, hearing disputes that exceeded the jurisdiction of the local county courts.” These days, some of those court rooms probably have closed circuit TV, too.
  • 29A. (Closed) SET ONE’S HEART ON [Wish for intensely]. Is that a nice theme phrase or what? As for that closed set, the connection I drew on first was to film-making (as in: “We had a closed set during Robert and Kristen’s kiss”), completely forgetting about its meaning in mathematics
  • 45A. (Closed) “SHOP TIL YOU DROP!” [“Have a ball at the mall!”]. Here we have that other terrific phrase—and related fill in the puzzle as a complement: SPREE (like a shopping spree…), clued as [Impulsive indulgence]. As for closed shop, look for the union label!
  • 55A. (Closed) BOOK REVIEWER [Critic of a new novel]. A closed book is not only something or someone who’s difficult to get to know, but also a kind of exam.

VALIANT [Boldly courageous] makes for strong fill; and its grid opposite CULVERT [Underground drain] turns out to be one of the words I didn’t know I KNEW, so while I didn’t have it [… down pat], I did manage to retrieve it from somewhere in my brain.

I particularly like the combination of specificity and imagery in Gail’s cluing (even for “little” words), and also the idiomatic “spoken” phrases that make their way into the puzzle. Here are some highlights:

  • [Big brewer] for URN.
  • [Streaker in space] for METEOR (no astronauts making spacewalks au naturel…).
  • [Bigger than big] for JUMBO.
  • [Mr. Big to James Bond] for FOE.
  • [Like food beyond the shelf life] for TOO OLD (chuck it!!).
  • [“That makes me sooo mad!”] for “GRRR!”
  • [Gift giver’s prompt] for “OPEN IT!”
  • [Self-conscious person’s question] for “IS IT ME?”
  • [Reply to a schoolmarm] for “YES’M.”
  • And [“Maybe next time”] for “OH, WELL.”

Until next time—”Ciao for now!”

Allan Parrish’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 4This theme resides at the ends of the theme answers:

  • 17a. [Soft mattress topper] is a FEATHER BED.
  • 26a. [Edison’s electrical preference] is DIRECT CURRENT. Okay, so who liked alternating current?
  • 44a. [Government-owned financial institutions] are NATIONAL BANKS. The U.S. doesn’t have any of these, does it?
  • 57a. [“Show Boat” classic, and where to find the ends of 17-, 26- and 44-Across] clues OL’ MAN RIVER. Not only the mighty Mississippi has a riverbed, banks, and current—every river does.

The fill includes 18 6- and 7-letter words, so it’s not your usual Monday grid.

For more on this puzzle, see PuzzleGirl’s L.A. Crossword Confidential post. I’ve got to run my kid over to camp now.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

Congratulations to BEQ on publishing his 250th crossword via! Brendan, you’ve brought us all a ton of entertainment and mental exertion. Keep up the phenomenal work! Pardon me while I go drop a little something in his tip jar.

Region capture 5Okay, I’m back. Brendan copied off of Peter Gordon’s latest Fireball grid. The grid design doesn’t provide me with any special feelings, but there’s some good stuff in it:

  • 19a. [Where everything is a bit off] is BIZARRO WORLD.
  • 55a. [Ball that falls between an infielder and an outfielder] clues TEXAS LEAGUER. I never had any idea this term wasn’t describing a person. So, it would be wrong for me to say, “Brendan Quigley is a real Texas leaguer”?
  • 11d. This oen killed me. I forgot about Red Hat Linux and was thinking [Red Hat alternative] was akin to a Red Bull alternative. And it started with WIND, so it had something to do with WIND. Er, no. It’s the operating system WINDOWS NT. Shouldn’t that be the negative contraction Windowsn’t?
  • 20d. WIKILEAKS is the [Controversial website run by Julian Assange]. Did you read that New Yorker profile of Assange a month or two ago? My god, what a bizarre life that man leads. Essentially in hiding/on the go/off the grid at all times.
  • 35d. [It helps get a tie undone] isn’t about neckties and knots, it’s about tied score: EXTRA TIME.
  • 37d. LEGO is the [Medium in which the Reverend Brendan Powell Smith builds his Bible dioramas]. Discovered a massive trove or two of Legos here at home and have informed my son that we do not ever need to buy Legos again. He seems to agree.

Lately I’m feeling down on those 6-letter prepositional phrases. TIES ON, SORE AT, SENT TO, the longer PASTE IN. I want to YAWN AT all of them. Is it just me? Do they feel like a nice change from 6-letter words to you?

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19 Responses to Monday, 8/2/10

  1. joon says:

    hmm. the mouseover says RHoward, but it’s not ryan.

  2. Daniel says:

    “Speed of light” is a movie short produced in 2000. Not a major production, but it completes the series. Cool

  3. ktd says:

    At least it was Ron Howard and not Michael Bay, there would have been flaming debris everywhere. What’s Ron doing in Chicago, anyway?

  4. Amy Reynaldo says:

    ktd, he’s directing “The Dilemma,” formerly called “Cheaters,” a Vince Vaughn comedy about a guy who discovers his best friend’s wife is stepping out on him. Also starring: Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Channing Tatum, and Queen Latifah.

    My husband and kid saw the “Transformers 3” flaming debris downtown a couple weeks ago, and a friend of mine worked eight floors up from where they shot more of it. (She said conference calls were difficult, what with the intermittent gunfire, but Josh Duhamel and Tyrese waved to her and her swooning coworkers.) Me, I’ve seen only a rack of camo vests and some helicopters doing aerial shots.

  5. Doug says:

    Crossword-friendly OPIE was in Chicago, nice! You didn’t want to corner him with this fact and geek yourself out? I wonder if Eric BANA and ESAI Morales among others get asked this stuff? I thought this was on the tough end of the Monday difficulty range, and thought the fill was very fresh for any day of the week.

  6. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Question prompted by MR’s Aug. 1 “You are my Punshine” puzzle:

    Since the accepted custom is to call good puns “bad puns”, what do you call actual bad (i.e. unamusing, unentertaining) puns?

  7. Meem says:

    Loved the NYT theme! Because I tend to start with downs, had “the speed” right away at 17A and was on the way to a fast solve. Because the phrases of the answers to the theme clues stand so well on their own, I’m not sure the clues needed the question marks. The non-theme fill also felt fresh.

  8. janie says:

    include me in among those who loved today’s nyt. a beautiful set of theme fill that made for a particularly graceful kind of solve. and this was a debut, no? will look forward to seeing more please!


  9. Howard B says:

    Yes, all kinds of happy in the Times puzzle. Each theme answer flowed into the next, and was enjoyable to figure out while solving. Nicely done!

  10. Karen says:

    To answer your LAT trivia question, crossword-friendly Tesla was the one who liked alternate current. Check out his statue at Niagara Falls.

  11. Martin says:

    Edison knew that Tesla’s AC patents had him over a barrel (the ability to step up voltage with a transformer made for much cheaper transmission) so he resorted to smearing. He arranged for the public execution of stray cats with Tesla’s power. This effective technique kept Edison’s DC power alive for years.

    I didn’t immediately think of shortstop for BEQ’s “Feats often started by the SS,” so when I filled in DPS I spent a minute trying to figure out what “SS” meant in porno. This is BEQ, right?

  12. joon says:

    i’m pretty sure there’s exactly one director i would recognize if i saw him or her on the street, and that’s spike lee. oh, i guess more if you count people like clint eastwood. and i guess ron howard is people like clint eastwood, not that i’ve ever seen him act (or that he would be recognizable from his acting roles). i think he’s in two different simpsons episodes, but i get those confused with ed begley jr.

    bruce, those are also bad puns. it raises the question though: if all puns are bad puns, why do people insist on punning?

  13. Jeffrey says:

    joon, people do it just for the pun of it.

  14. John Farmer says:

    44a. [Government-owned financial institutions] are NATIONAL BANKS. The U.S. doesn’t have any of these, does it?

    The Federal Reserve is the central bank of the U.S., though it functions differently than some “national banks” in other countries. On the other hand, the U.S. has lots of “national banks,” i.e., banks chartered at the federal level rather than just a state level.

    As for “Government-owned financial institutions,” the U.S. has plenty of them too. Failed banks are taken over by the FDIC, for a while anyway. Practically every Friday the government takes over a handful of banks that fail. Here’s a list of failed banks since 2000, almost all in the past two to three years.

  15. Jesse says:

    Amy, could you please re-post the link to the anagram maker you mentioned a few days ago? It was great and I totally forgot to bookmark it. Spiro Agnew – Ha!

  16. sbmanion says:


    Even though Tesla was the grantee of most of the patents, wasn’t Westinghouse the first to see the commercial potential of AC? The reason I mention it is because it is a major part of the history of Niagara Falls:


  17. Martin says:


    Sure. But Tesla convinced Westinghouse and worked with him towards exploiting AC. Towards the end of the struggle, Tesla even let Westinghouse use the patents royalty-free.

  18. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Jesse, here you go: anagram maker. Now, that one just outputs a single anagram for whatever you put in. To get a huge list of possible anagrams, check out the Internet Anagram Server.

  19. Jesse says:

    Thanks Amy!

Comments are closed.