Monday, 10/4/10

LAT 3:30
NYT 2:21
CS untimed
BEQ 6:20

Adam Perl’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 8All the words in the theme entries show up twice—the first and second words in three phrases swap places to make three more terms. You’ve got FIRST LADIES and a “LADIES FIRST” policy, the STATE POLICE and a POLICE STATE, a dissolute HANGOVER and an OVERHANG. Fair enough; easy enough, too.

There are some words in the grid that are likely to be gimmes for longtime solvers but a stretch for Monday newbies:

  • 6a. [Taste] clues SAPOR. SAVOR is a more familiar flavor/taste-related word, but there’s no such thing as a VRICE TAG.
  • 29a. TARO is a [Poi source].
  • 28d. The three-word DO OR DIE is familiar, but it always throws people who parse it as DOORDIE or DOOR DIE. Clued as [Like a dire situation].
  • 52d. [Table scraps] are old-school crosswordese: ORTS.
  • 54d. STET is a [Proofreader’s “reinstate” mark].
  • 58d. FEU is [Fire: Fr.].

[Helenic H’s] clues ETAS. Shouldn’t that be Hellenic? Is this supposed to a reference to Helen of Troy?
Updated Monday morning:

Rich Norris’s Los Angeles Times crossword (writing as Lila Cherry)

Region capture 9The theme is a gooey PB&J sammich:

  • 17a. [Sources of rowdy criticism] are PEANUT GALLERIES. Does that really take a plural? Singular feels much more familiar.
  • 25a. BUTTERBALL is a [Turkey brand].
  • 38a. The ampersand, or [&], may be informally called the AND SIGN.
  • 49a. [Colorful plastic footwear] is JELLY SHOES. Don’t eat ’em, folks.
  • 59a. [Hawaii once comprised most of them] clues the SANDWICH ISLANDS.

I love some of the longer fill—STAND PAT, BEN STEIN the game show EMCEE, CHAMELEON, and PERCHANCE are terrific entries. Some of the short answers gave me more trouble, which I wasn’t expecting on a Monday (but then, it was before 7 a.m. when I was doing the puzzle, pre-breakfast and pre-caffeine):

  • 1a. COCKY means [Self-confident to a fault]. Clear enough, but I drew a blank on it and skipped the upper right corner until later.
  • 16a. [ROTC school WSW of Washington, D.C.] is VMI,or Virginia Military Institute. Voo Much Information!
  • 32a. [Recline, biblically] clues LIETH. These biblical verb answers are a category of fill that I don’t care for.
  • 2d. [Aptly named California coastal city] is indeed aptly named: OCEANSIDE. Too bad Oceanside is pretty much unknown to me.
  • 6d. [Severity, in Soho] clues RIGOUR with the British “U” spelling (there’s a Soho in London as well as in New York City).
  • 8d. This one was a gimme, but it troubled me. KIL. as [About .62 mi.] is awkward because km is the more widely accepted abbreviation for kilometer.
  • 19d. [Opener’s next call, in bridge] is REBID. My kid was asking about bridge the other day. My husband told him it was a game for very old people. I said “Hey! Brendan Quigley plays bridge.” My husband said he was an exception. So you see that we are not a bridge-embracing household. Nautical, poker, bridge, and biblical verbs—among my least favorite categories of fill.
  • 48d. [Omega preceders], P*IS…is it PHIS or PSIS? I usually have to check the crossing to figure it out. It’s PSIS.
  • 60d. [All-Pro Patriots receiver Welker] is named WES…but I’ve never heard of him, I don’t think. Current player, or player of yore?
  • 62d. The CCU [Hosp. heart ward] doesn’t get much play in crosswords. It may stand for coronary care unit or cardiac care unit. Other *CUs besides the ICU include the SICU (surgical), MICU (medical), NICU (neonatal or neurological), and PICU (pediatric), none of which you are likely to encounter in crosswords.

Updated Monday morning:

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “It Takes Two”—Janie’s review

Add the letters “BI” (same as the prefix meaning “two”) to some well-known base phrases and merriment ensues, especially in the group of theme phrases Doug has assembled today. Two phrases absorb the letters with the phrase’s first word, two with the last. All shine. Get a load of:

  • 17A. SANFORD AND BISON [Redd Foxx sitcom set in a wildlife preserve?]. Just silly. And funny. The goofiness of the idea of professional junk collector Fred Sanford living where the deer and the antelope play is… well, maybe there’s someone out there who can winningly exploit the idea. (Of course, then there’s the problem of resurrecting Mr. Foxx—but that’ll hafta be someone else’s problem. Btw, Foxx’s real name? John Elroy Sanford…)
  • 26A. BIKING COBRA [Snake on a Schwinn?]. Silly wins again. Though this one does conjure up the saying: “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” D’you suppose there are some slitherers (and fish…) with latent limbs?… Doesn’t evolution tell us they at least have the potential to develop limbs? I’ll let someone else set me straight on this.
  • 44A. METAL BISHOP [Part of a magnetic chess set?]. This one snuck up on me in a way the others didn’t and represents one very fresh transformation as (in my mind anyway) there’s virtually nothing to connect chess to metal shops, making for a fine example of juxtaposition . Am just wondering whether or not that [Pawn, e.g.]/PIECE belong to the same chess set.
  • 57A. BIDEN OF INIQUITY [Nickname for the veep’s evil twin?]. Another serious home run with this one, too. Great before, great after. “Before” suggests the racy (for its day) lyric by Lorenz Hart, “In Our Little Den of Iniquity,” written for Pal Joey, with lines like: “We’re very proper folks, you know/We’ve separate bedrooms comme il faut/There’s one for play and one for show…” Scroll down to read the whole lyric here. “After” proposes an idea some Tea Party types might want to run with…

The non-theme fill has much to commend it as well. PEEP HOLE, OFFERINGS, HAIRIEST, MONSIEUR and LUDACRIS make for good, longer fill. But the best is IRISH PUBS, those [Waterford watering holes], Waterford being a city in Ireland’s southeast. LYRE is a small village in Northern Ireland, but today it’s clued as the [Harp’s cousin], both of which are strongly associated with Celtic music. And as long as the fill has taken us across the pond, remember that a [Petrol pump unit] there is a LITRE (and not a LITER…).

A country in northern Africa is also summoned up by way of CAIRO [Egypt’s capital] and GIZA [Great Pyramid locale]. If you can’t get over there any time soon, consider seeing the film Cairo Time, the story of an unexpected affair of the heart that’ll take you up close and personal.

I think the only place where I’ve seen the word BERMS [Road shoulders] is in crossword puzzles. And where crosswordese is concerned, I was amused today to see both ERA [Span of history] and EON [Centuries and centuries] in the grid. The former, of course, would be a subset of the latter.

Finally, both astronomy and astrology get some attention with URSA [Bear among the stars] descending from the “U” in CUSP [Astrological border]. Apologies for giving such short shrift to the focused and image-making cluing, like [Hand rests for the angry] for HIPS. Get the picture?
Updated Monday afternoon:

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

This is one of the best examples of a BEQ themeless lately. (And by that I mean both that it’s typical BEQ and that I enjoyed the hell out of it.) It’s a 70-worder with ridiculously topical fill, the sort of fill that if I’d skipped that Visual Thesaurus column (subscription required) by Ben Zimmer and hadn’t read an article or two about that computer malware worm thing, I’d hate it. The two answers in the top row, the dreadful-but-used-in-corporatese-of-late ACQHIRE and the recent coinage STUXNET, would have struck me as horribly unfair and terrible entries. That’s the thing about Brendan’s puzzles—the crossword dictionary that sees you through any amount of crap fill in a USA Today crossword will be largely useless on a BEQ. And you’ve got to be bopping around online and reading, reading, reading, or you’re gonna miss some of his references. It helps to be into sports and Brendan’s preferred musical genres, too.

Also classically Brendanoid: the clever clues. A few favorites:

  • 16a. [Not done] doesn’t just mean “taboo” or “incomplete”; it also means half-cooked, like PINKISH meat.
  • 18a. [Bow tie specification] is AL DENTE. Bow tie pasta, not neckwear.
  • 30a. [Bieber phenomenon] is MANIA. See? You know Brendan didn’t yoink a clue from a database.
  • 9d. TILTS on a pinball game—[They make you lose your balls].
  • 13d. Smart trivia I didn’t know: [Nation that demonstrated in the “Singing Revolution” of 1989] is ESTONIA.
  • 40d. [Farm tool with a crosspiece and a swivel] is a YOKE. Look, Ma, no mention of oxen.
  • 42d. Etymology I didn’t know: EDAMAME is a [Superfood that literally means “twig bean”].
  • 57d. [Dunkin’ Donuts topping] is the LID on a coffee cup. They sell a lot of coffee.


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15 Responses to Monday, 10/4/10

  1. Will Nediger says:

    It would have been nice to have something like WISHINGWELL and WELLWISHING instead of POLICESTATE and STATEPOLICE, which isn’t that exciting a pair. FIRSTLADIES and LADIESFIRST was nice, though.

  2. foodie says:

    There was also UPSET and SETUP, which might be part of the whole vibe?

    Somehow it felt like something was needed to tie it all together. It’s good to have FLIP in the puzzle, but it would have been nice if it were in the center, or if was paired with FLOP

  3. joon says:

    i’m sure UPSET/SETUP was part of the theme. (anybody else remember when he put ADAM and PERL in the first and last across entries?) so that’s eight theme answers—admittedly, two of them quite short, but still.

    cool theme.

  4. David L says:

    As well as being unpleasing, the Biblical LAT answer LIETH is wrongly clued. LIETH is 3rd pers sing — thou liest, he lieth — so the clue should be reclines, not recline.

  5. Howard B says:

    Wes Welker is the current starting tight end for the New England Patriots, and considered one of the premier players at that position in the game. For football fans, a very well-known name. Outside of the sport? Not as much. In 10 years? Check back and see.

  6. Ladel says:

    Briefly had LTC for Col, my military training caused me to think of the rank directly above Maj rather than any rank above.


  7. Ladel says:

    joon, I agree, I even like that the upset was righted by the setup, clever folk these constructor people.


  8. Tinbeni says:

    Amy, Thanks for filling in for PuzzleGirl
    When I tried to comment it said a Blog Administrator had blocked New Comments.

  9. joon says:

    hey, i’m younger than brendan and i’ve been playing bridge for longer. youthful-looking constructor pete mitchell is also an avid player—i’ve run into him at tournaments. there’s also a guy named mark feldman who’s one of the top players in the country, but i have no idea if it’s the same guy who used to do all those puzzles for the sun. i’m guessing not, as it’s a fairly common name. oh, and one of my occasional bridge partners, eric schwartz, was once an A finalist at the ACPT back in the 1980s.

    having said that… we all know that the only reason bridge exists is so that constructors can use ONE NO and GOREN, right? and trot out ELY culbertson when tarzan ron needs a break.

    howard, WES welker is a slot receiver, not a tight end. i can just imagine the 5’9″, 185-lb welker attempting to block a defensive end twice his size. :) he is a very good blocker for a wide receiver, but …

    super CS puzzle from doug—loved the theme.

  10. Meem says:

    Patrick Merrell notes that the spelling of Hellenic has been corrected. Agree that this puzzle sparkled. The LAT PB&J had me laughing out loud when I looked back after a very fast solve. And Doug Peterson completed my Monday trifecta with a clever theme. Great mental picture of “biking cobra.”

  11. Gareth says:

    NYT: Simple but clever theme, with a well-disguised bonus! This may be a record Monday here too, but I’d have to go and check…

    LAT: Goofy theme – but I liked it. Agree PEANUT-GALLERIES is an implausible plural, and that some of the shorter stuff made the puzzle a little more difficult.

    Only thing I’d like to add: ECOLI always seems to get a bad rap in puzzles as a cause of food poisoning or such-like. The fact that most of the time it lives in your intestines harmlessly and makes vitamin K for you never gets mentioned. When was the last time you thanked your E. coli for all that lovely vitamin K? (I may have ranted about this before)

  12. Howard B says:

    Thanks Joon, I stand corrected. I suppose I was thinking of Dustin Keller from this week’s Jets debacle.
    When will I ever learn not to post pre-coffee? Thanks for setting my straight. At least I got the team right ;).

  13. joon says:

    hey, i didn’t know ACQHIRE or STUXNET but i liked the BEQ anyway. although i’m not sure what “superfood” means. is that like a supergroup?

  14. Jeff says:

    Bridge players! Of my own age! I play once in a while at my local club (Seattle), but have not found the crotchety vibe terribly appealing. Joon, BEQ, others, what do you do to get your bridge fix?


  15. Joan macon says:

    Ha, Amy, I can find this in a later date and still comment on an earlier puzzle, can’t I? On the NYT for 9/07, you have a discussion on the word cutlet. Back in the olden days (which I seem to refer to frequently) when we went out to dinner, which was a rare treat, we would often order a breaded veal cutlet. I haven’t looked for it on menus for years, so I don’t know if it is still there, but my memory brings back a slice of meat with a breading and some gravy poured over it all. Delicious!

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