Monday, 11/15/10

NYT 3:23
CS 4:32 (Evad)
LAT 2:50
BEQ 5:55

Bored with easy Monday puzzles? Here are three more crosswords you can wrestle with:

  • Patrick Berry posted “Cryptic #3” at his site, A-Frame Games, a month ago. Super-smooth—you know how he rolls. Took me about 11 minutes, so roughly the same difficulty level as Cox & Rathvon’s NYT second Sunday cryptics.
  • Trip Payne posted an easier cryptic, “Cryptic #11,” at his site, Triple Play Games. This one took me about 6 minutes, so if you’re hesitant to try cryptics because you think you can’t do ’em, give this one a spin.
  • Andrew Ries makes a play on his name for the name of his website, Aries Puzzles. (Just like Trip has Triple Play.) Andrew’s planning to offer one new puzzle a week, mostly of the “Rows Garden” variety devised by Patrick Berry. Fair warning: I Googled seven different clues and would never have been able to finish otherwise. There are some obscure names in there, a couple odd-job -ER nouns, and some ferociously tough clues.

Emily L. Lilly’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 25We’ve got an interesting structure for the theme in Emily Lilly’s debut crossword: Four foods commonly paired together in “X and Y” format cross in the grid, with the X running across and the Y down. The theme entries are symmetrically laid out, with the (6 & 5) answers BURGER & FRIES and FRANKS & BEANS in the NW and SE corners and the (4 & 8) answers CAKE & ICE CREAM and MEAT & POTATOES occupying the other corners. Well done! (Not the ice cream. Ice cream is best served tartare.)

I’m finding the byline to be a bit of a tongue-twister. Go ahead—try to say “Emily L. Lilly” three times fast.

1-Across threw me off track right away. Six letters, [Dog’s bark]? Must be BOW-WOW, right? Nope, it’s ARF, ARF. Isn’t that two dog’s barks?


  • 24a. KASHMIR looks great in the grid, whether it’s the [Disputed region between Pakistan and India] or the Led Zeppelin song.
  • Double [Lower(s) in rank] action: 1d is ABASE and 41d is DEMOTES.

Mystery answer:

  • 59a. [City north of San Francisco] is NOVATO.

Updated Monday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Behind Bars”—Evad’s review

cs1115 Ugh. I’m sorry, but the world did not need another puzzle that plays off slang words for prison. I mean the constructor gets some props for squeezing a whopping 8 theme entries into the puzzle, but the unsavoriness (is that a word?) of the theme along with the tortured wording of the clues makes this solver rather unhappy all around.

For the record here are the set:

  • COOLER HEADS – I want to add “…will prevail” to this
  • CLINK GLASSES – does one really “clink” glasses, or are glasses clinked?
  • JUG BAND – I think of the Beverly Hillbillies when I think of a jug band.
  • 2009-11-11 Trib - Jug band revival brewing in Chicago

  • STIRFRY – this one has what must be the most tortured clue, “Small fish in a prison?” Those must be some pretty close bars to keep them from escaping!
  • CANCANS – in the plural? Really? And I really don’t want to think about “Jailhouse johns,” particularly if this is refering to toilets

Not much else to mention with so many theme entries. Lots of 3-letter entries take up residence in the four corners of the grid, but the longer CHESS GAME and AIR FLEETS do a nice service crossing 3 theme entries each.

David Cromer’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Going to the gym and running errands took up the morning so I’ll be quick here.

Region capture 26The theme’s tied together by 58d: JET. The long theme answers begin with things you do in a JET: you TAKE OFF, FLY, and LAND. That part is solid, but I’m mystified by the middle entry.  TAKE OFF WEIGHT and LAND A GREAT JOB work for me, but FLY IN THE TEETH OF?? Not a phrase I’ve ever heard. It flies in the face of all that is right and good in the world. As Bryan Garner of Modern Legal Usage writes, “Fly in the teeth of is an inexcusable rending of the cliché.” Here’s the difference between the face and teeth phrases: When you Google the full phrase in quotation marks, you get evidence that “face” is used in standard writing. For “teeth,” the first two pages are all reference works/sites giving a definition. That’s a sign of a not-in-the-language word or phrase.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

Region capture 27Hubris! I was plowing through the puzzle, quickly following up the NW corner with the TORY/TEK/ONEROUS leg into the rest of the grid. *screeeeeech* Then I hit the skids. I turned Shelby LYNNE into a male writer, Shelby FOOTE. Every other area of the grid had a couple easy things surrounded by clues that weren’t coming to me readily.

Hot spots: MAMA GRIZZLY‘s a great answer. AMONTILLADO makes me think of getting walled up in a cellar somewhere; good stuff. CAMDEN YARDS is lively. CAMEL clue is fresh and entertaining. EXTRA CHEESE will, alas, fill you with extra saturated fat.

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21 Responses to Monday, 11/15/10

  1. Martin says:

    Not a word at four appearances of SKOKIE, but one NOVATO is a mystery answer! I call East Coast Bias. But we are the Champions.

  2. Amy Reynaldo says:

    And how many notable Supreme Court cases involved NOVATO, hmm?

  3. NOVATO was familiar geographic arcana. ARF ARF tripped me up too. I also liked the overall grid design.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    Checking a map, I am pretty sure we stopped in NOVATO in September on our California trip. It must have made quite an impression, as I have no recollection of the name and hence deem it unfit for Mondays. One mystery city does not a puzzle ruin, however.

  5. Bruce S. says:

    I was tripped up at the NOVATO/HALVAS crossing. Both of those were unfamiliar to me.

  6. joon says:

    bruce, me too. i tried L and was wrong, i guess. i can’t remember the last time i even had to guess on a monday, let alone guessed wrong. actually, scratch that—i can: april 21, 2008, with perle MESTA crossing “a lesson from ALOES” at the E, and red ADAIR crossing AUDIE murphy at the D. all four of those would be gimmes for me now, but at the time i was raw… and pretty incensed. today, i just shrugged. HALVAS? no clue. is it yummy enough that i should remember it? NOVATO? i lived in the bay area for 4 years. north of san francisco is marin county, and the only city i could name there is san rafael.

    oh. OH. man, i have heard of novato—but i’ve never seen it spelled. a friend of mine bought a car there once. i thought he told me he bought it in nevada (seemed like a long way to go to buy a car), but he kept saying “nevado.” well, it’s 8 years later, but now i think i know what he meant. *head slap* still, awfully tough crossing on any day of the week, i think. crazy for a monday.

    i’ve never lived in the midwest, but SKOKIE is famous. seems like a place everybody has heard of, no? it featured prominently in the usual suspects. (i don’t need a spoiler alert for the surprise ending of a 15-year old movie, do i?) okay, not all that prominently. but the court case is also pretty famous.

    speaking of tough for a monday—i wasn’t a fan of the way the theme was clued. it’s definitely a simple enough theme for a monday, but why couldn’t it be clued as something like {___ and 3-down (fast food combo)}; {___ and 22-across (dessert combo)}; etc.? seemed like the cluing was made deliberately unhelpful to ratchet up the difficulty, which seems a strange choice on a monday.

  7. ===Dan says:

    Halva is great. Sesame and honey and more. Look for it in the supermarket; it’s refrigerated.

  8. Had relatives in NOVATO . Been there. Filled it in totally from crosses, however. Faced with a 6 letter Nor. CA city, I thought there would be quite a few and the crosses were easy. Turns out (Google maps) there aren’t many. COTATI and out….

  9. Karen says:

    I’ll have to try to find some HALVAS. Not only tripped on the NOVATO crossing, but also LESSEE. Both LEASEE and HALVAA are less common spellings.

    But I liked the food crossings theme here. I wasn’t too sure what was going on until I found CAKE and ICE CREAM.

  10. Andrew R says:

    Thanks for the plug Amy. The next Rows Garden, to be posted tomorrow, is quite a bit smoother than the debut puzzle and definitely not as hard. I encourage all crossword gourmands to check it out.

  11. Anne E says:

    I messed up by putting in HALVAH first, somehow missing the plural in the clue (halvah, yum, it even comes in chocolate at the little international store where I occasionally buy it – and their brand is spelled with the ending H), but NOVATO was a gimme for me since we used to compete against them there when I was on swim team in high school. It used to be a teentsy town, but I see that it’s grown! Agree on its overall obscurity, though. Despite that, I thought this was a nice Monday theme – a little out of the usual. Good debut!

  12. Howard B says:

    Halva(h) is tasty, yes. Sesame seeds can be used for so much more than a bagel or roll topping, and this is a very good thing. Cut small slices though, it’s a guilty pleasure. Don’t eat the bar like a candy bar, unless you want to be somewhat ill later. Not that I would know… ;).

    Nice theme! Thankful for halvah, as NOVATO was new to me. Not much of a West-coaster or geography person here. I mildly dread all of those “San/Santa ____”, “Suburb of ___”, and “City [direction] of [place]” clue types.

  13. ePeterso2 says:

    NYT: I enjoyed the puzzle – a good bit more fun than an average Monday … except for the NOVATO/HALVAS crossing.

  14. john farmer says:

    If you think NOVATO is a mystery, then imagine what it’s like for someone who’s new to crosswords. Here are some of the big towns in crosswordland:

    City – population (# of cruciverb db records):

    Nome, AK – 3,505 (114)
    Iola, KS – 5,966 (27)
    Ojai, CA – 7,862 (44)
    Orono, ME – 9,114 (142)
    Edina, MN – 47,425 (69)
    Enid, OK – 47,968 (of 396, maybe 1/3 to 1/2)
    Ocala, FL – 53,491 (140)
    Utica, NY – 60,651 (96)
    Orem, UT – 84,324 (132)

    And for the record:
    Novato, CA – 52,737 (2, inc. today)
    Skokie, IL – 66,559 (7)

    I’m probably missing a few, but the lesson is, spell your town name with a first-letter vowel, keep it short, and you’ll get to be on the crossword map.

    Size of population isn’t everything, and no doubt some of the places have other reasons to be known, but some are in a lot of crosswords only because they’ve been in a lot of crosswords.

  15. ktd says:

    opening up a monday puzzle to find 5×6 crossings in the corners had me doing a double-take for a moment. Definitely not your average Monday grid. NOVATO is a mystery to me but thankfully with NOVAT_ and ER_SE in place I pulled out the O for EROSE (I learned it from crosswords!) and it was mission accomplished.

  16. john farmer says:

    Ten more little dots on the map (and yes, some have other reasons to be known).

    City – population (# of cruciverb db records):

    Truro, MA – 2,087 (16)
    New Hope, PA – 2,252 (1)
    Ely, NV – 4,041 (~10, exc. other clues)
    Lamar, MO – 4,425 (25+)
    Taos, NM – 4,700 (138)
    Lenox, MA – 5,077 (18)
    Elko, NV – 16,708 (~30)
    Ada, OK – 17,019 (45-50)
    Lodi, NJ – 23,776 (10, exc. other clues)
    Xenia, OH – 24,164 (27)

  17. Evad says:

    I know my hometown of Swampscott (pop. 15k) has made it to at least one early-week NYT as part of a mud and muck theme.

    And we can’t forget Natick (pop 32k), of the eponymous Natick Principle.

  18. Martin says:

    I’ve been to Iola, Ojai, Edina, Enid, Ocala, Utica, Orem, Novato, New Hope, Ely, Taos, Lenox, Elko and Lodi. You can’t say I need to get out more often.

  19. LARRY says:

    My recording of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony says it is in E MINOR, not E (MAJOR). BEQ PLEASE NOTE.

  20. Martin says:

    The entry is INe, but format limitations prevent it from being displayed. It’s the famous “ano” effect.

    Actually, Mahler didn’t give it a key. Its tonality is controversial:
    The first thing to notice is the absence of a key in the title, the only one of Mahler’s symphonies to omit one. It is sometimes described as being in the key of E minor, a principal key of the Allegro section of the first movement, or even occasionally as being in B minor, the key of the slow Introduction. In his book Gustav Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy, Theodor Adorno argues that the work should be considered as being in the key of C major — certainly the principal key of the finale — in which case the E minor can be seen as the relative minor key of G major, itself the dominant of the scale of C major.

  21. Burton says:

    My problem with this puzzle is that there is no plural form of Halva or Halvah. The Greek treat is Halvas, but Greece is not mideast. Poor answer with a very poor crosser for Monday.

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