Monday, 9/27/10

BEQ 6:12
LAT 3:00
NYT 2:56
CS untimed

You know what’s better than doing the NYT crossword at 5:00 on a Sunday? Making a run to the grocery store so you and your sweetie can make chicken tikka masala with both rice and naan (you can never have too many carbs). It was tasty, but not quite as good as yesterday’s dinner out. I had the ruby red trout with wasabi white chocolate sauce, atop a fresh herb polenta with crunchy green beans on the side, and my husband had duck with Michigan sour cherries and a lemony bean cake. For dessert, we split the pumpkin cheesecake with Oreo crust, caramel sauce, and toasted pepitos.

Now, only the OREO is really common crossword fill, but MASALA, NAAN, WASABI, and PEPITO are all 50% vowels and would make for a tasty crossword.

Janice M. Putney’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 5What a superb baseball theme! I wasn’t expecting a five-entry theme in a Monday puzzle, but here it is. Each theme entry begins with a verb that also has a baseball application: PITCHES A FIT, CATCHES A BREAK, FIELDS A QUESTION, BATS AN EYELASH, and STEALS A KISS. The first four things are done to a ball, while bases are stolen. I like that the verb is always followed by an indefinite article; consistency is key. The verbs all end with (E)S, too.

The fill’s a bit Scrabbly, with ELIZA/OOZE, IQS, and ONYX/TEX. The sparkle comes from the long Down answers LATECOMER and BIG THRILL—though the latter has a somewhat arbitrarily phrased feeling to it.

I think this puzzle marks the constructor’s debut, and it hold the promise of more solid themes and smooth fill from Ms. Putney.

Betty Keller’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 10If you remember your nursery rhymes, you’re all set for this puzzle. “The Three Little Pigs” is the name of the game:

  • 17a. [High rollers] are BIG SPENDERS.
  • 29a. [“Do as I say, not as I do” speakers] are BAD EXAMPLES. There’s a local Chicago band by that name. The singer/songwriter is Ralph Covert, who’s hit the big time as a children’s rocker under the name Ralph’s World. If you have little kids or need to buy a gift for a kid in the 2 to 7 age range, check out CDs from Ralph’s World. Oh, and also They Might Be Giants’ kiddie albums, like No.
  • 45a. [Shrill “compliment” to a pretty woman] is a WOLF WHISTLE. So the first three themers begin with a BIG BAD WOLF.
  • 61a. HUFF AND PUFF is clued as [Catch your breath, or what the subject of this puzzle (found at the start of 17-, 29- and 45-Across) does]. The B.B. Wolf attempts to blow the pigs’ houses down. What are the houses made of? Read on:
  • 39a. [Like the house this puzzle’s subject couldn’t destroy] is BRICK.
  • 26d, 33d. [Like a house destroyed by this puzzle’s subject] means STRAW or STICK.

It’s rather sobering to have another reference to piggies in this puzzle. 6d: [Confined, as pigs] clues PENNED. Aww, poor piggies. No more self-determination and designing their own houses.

Some of the fill was off-putting. There’s the one-L ENROL variant, which crosswords pretend is totally normal in American English. TFRS. is an awkward abbreviation (56d: [Swaps between accts.]). LILLI (31d: [Actress Palmer]) isn’t too famous. Three German words are A-OK by me, but could be mildly vexing to some solvers—UND and EINS are more common than BAHN.

Updated Monday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Some Like It H.O.T.”—Janie’s review

By spelling out the last word of the title of Billy Wilder’s film classic as he has, Randy is sending the signal that the three words in each of his theme phrases begin with the initial letters H, O and T. Two of the four are everyday, in-the-language kinda phrases; the other two summon up classical mythology (Greek and Norse). And the guilty parties are:

  • 20A. HEADS OR TAILS [Gridiron pregame decision]. The coin toss is one of the oldest ways of making a choice. Just be wary of the glib person who offers you a “Heads, I win; tails, you lose” proposition.
  • 36A. HELEN OF TROY [She had “the face that launched a thousand ships”]. We had a Trojan War reference last week (part of the non-theme fill) and I posted a backgrounder link then. Here, though is a more Helen-centered article to bring you up to speed. The movie Troy—mostly forgettable—did, however, have some great (computer-generated?) shots of the deployment of said ships. Ancient Greece gets another reference today—even if not directly—and that comes to us via BAY LEAF [Seasoning from the laurel tree]. The laurel was a symbol for Apollo after his unsuccessful pursuit of Daphne. Victors at the Pythian games, ancient sporting events held to honor Apollo, were crowned with laurel wreaths.
  • 42A. “HOLD ON TIGHT!” [“Don’t let go!”]. Words to live by. Literally, sometimes.
  • 58A. HAMMER OF THOR [Mjöllnir]. What a handy tool! This axe/club/hammer could level mountains. Does Sears make anything like that? Less than three months til Xmas, but what better time to start your search. Makes the ideal gift for your favorite DIY-er!

Other goodies in the non-theme department include opposite (grid) numbers “WHOOPEE!” [“Yahoo!”] and “HUMOR ME!” [“Just give it a try!”]; and also that pair of “Y”-in-the-middle words SATYRS [Nymph chasers] and TRYST [Secret rendezvous].

[Comes home in a hurry, perhaps] paints a nice picture for SLIDES (think baseball), though [One who will give you fits] feels a tad too stretchy for TAILOR. I don’t think anyone says s/he’s going for a “fit.” For a “fitting,” yes. I know exactly what Randy’s after, but this one just misses the mark for me. [Home of the Bruce Peninsula], on the other hand, if not a twisty clue, introduced me to a part of ONTARIO I was completely unfamiliar with. This scenic area is the home to two National Parks and projects into Lake Huron.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

Region capture 11My son’s home sick from school (cough, cough) and I don’t feel at all like blogging.

Trouble spot: The T crossing between ONE-TIMER (a sports term I’ve never heard) and hey-you-can’t-snap-off-part-0f-a-name-just-because-there’s-an-apostrophe ETO‘o. Sorry, Brendan—you’re stuck with the Eastern theater of operations when it comes to ETO.

Coolest entries: HIVE MIND, CHUCK BARRIS, the TV show HOARDERS, ZAC EFRON, THE RITZ, and you-gotta-love-him ABEDNEGO. I swear to you, I got ABEDNEGO with maybe two crossings.

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3 Responses to Monday, 9/27/10

  1. Sara says:

    Jim Horne says Janice Putney has just been hiding for a while. XWord Info has a bunch of her puzzles – all Monday-Tuesday.

    It was a Tuesday time for me.

  2. Karen says:

    I also liked in the LAT the symmetric placement of the ‘blown down’ houses and the ‘standing’ house (although I would have preferred the sticks and straw horizontal, and the bricks upright, for continuity).

  3. Howard B says:

    Hey, ONE-TIMER broke open the top of BEQ for me today :).

    You may have seen one before in a hockey highlight, and not known the name of it. One of those shots where the player shoots a still-moving puck (usually when receiving a pass) directly towards the net, without stopping the puck first or controlling it.

    The fact that I can’t pull one off to save my life is beside the point. Timing is everything on those.

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