Monday, 11/29/10

NYT 2:41
LAT 2:41
CS 7:19 (Evad)
BEQ 4:55

Elizabeth Long’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 30Oh, I HEART this theme! It’s a simple Monday puzzle, so AMERICA can RUSH right through it. I wonder what the GENESIS of this crossword theme was. (Those one-named bands and three of the four in this theme are found in this Sporcle quiz.) 35a and 37a spell out HEAD BAND, and the “head” (first word) of each of the theme entries is a one-named band. QUEEN ANNE’S LACE makes great fill with or without Freddie Mercury and Queen, as does KISS OF DEATH. TRAFFIC CONE‘s fresh but unexciting, and CREAM OF THE CROP takes me back to the Dinner: Impossible episode taped at the ACPT—the phrase “cream of the crop” was embodied by a crop mixed vegetables in a delicious cream sauce.

Did you all know that QUEEN ANNE’S LACE is the [Wildflower from which the cultivated carrot originated]? The root is very carroty looking. Have you ever snipped off a bloom and put the stem in water with food coloring in it? If you play your cards right, the dye will travel up into the teeny petals.

I like the fill in this puzzle, particularly the inclusion of a dozen 7-letter answers and a pair of 9s. You don’t see a lot of 1-Downs that are two-word phrases that contain a Q, like IRAQ WAR.

Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 31Super-straightforward Monday theme: R AND R is short for rest and recreation, but here it suggests four more phrases:

  • 17a. [Music genre that evolved in the ’50s] is ROCK AND ROLL.
  • 28a. ROUND AND ROUND is [How the wheels on the bus go]. Is there any parent who’s not grateful when their kids outgrow their fondness for “The Wheels on the Bus”?
  • 47a. “Old ROUGH AND READY” is the [“Old” nickname for Zachary Taylor].
  • 63a. To [Complain hysterically] is to RANT AND RAVE.

Five more clues:

  • 15d. [First-rate, in Rugby] clues SLAP-UP. Dictionary tells me it means “large and sumptuous,” as in a meal or celebration.
  • 8d. [Chevy Volt or Ford Fusion] as a clue for ECOCAR needs clarification. I believe most Ford Fusions have regular gas engines. Only some Fusions—those driven by infinitely superior beings—are hybrid. (Full disclosure: I drive a Fusion hybrid. And yes, I’m disappointed it doesn’t run on nuclear fusion. Truth in advertising, people!)
  • 10d. [Temperamental diva, e.g.] is a PRIMA DONNA. Terrific entry. As is…
  • 30d. …[UNDERLINGS, clued as [Subordinates].
  • 48d. GELATO is [Italian ice cream]. Yum! It’s lower in butterfat than American ice cream, and has less air incorporated into it.

Updated Monday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Collector’s Piece”—Evad’s review

cs1129 I found this a rather unique puzzle that didn’t give up the connection among the three (I think there are three!) thematic entries easily. There are 2 twelve-letter across entries and one fifteen-letter, and each end with a synonym of “collectors”:

  • “Domestics” are HOUSEKEEPERS
  • “They make big monthly payments” are MORTGAGE HOLDERS; that is, unless they have walked away from their homes if they are “underwater.”
  • “Idle monitor displays” are SCREEN SAVERS. “Flying toasters”
    is my favorite of these; these were necessary back in the day of cathode ray tubes, where one had to be concerned about images burning into the screen if not changed over long periods of time. Now they’re just fun to watch.

I couldn’t get the often disturbing A&E show “Hoarders” out of my mind when doing this puzzle, how about you? I also found it a little distracting that there were other long entries alongside the theme entries, in particular the corresponding MANO À MANO and TÊTE À TÊTE pair. This led to a somewhat odd swath of 4-letter crossing down entries as well as some unpleasant entries:

  • Abbrevs. such as SESS, DOZ and SPR (for “Spring”)
  • Partials A AS (“__ in apple”) and IT WAS (“__ my pleasure!”)
  • And capped off with “Bambi’s aunt” ENA. Oh, to find a more modern definition for ENA! Expecting parents out there, name your child ENA and she will be famous for decades to come…

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

Region capture 32Eh, this puzzle made me grumble. The more arbitrary or clunky multi-word entries that did me in were NO MONEY, IT’S A SIN, WE LOST, I REPENT, DO ONE IN (it’s the “one” and the verb form that chafe), and TOP RANK. Then there’s little-known MARIST and ALFIERI. (Where and who?) And the STEELIE, used in marbles—in which schoolyards, exactly, are the kids shooting marbles? TRA LA LA is fine, but I’m not sure how much those syllables get used in scatting. Jazz aficionados, help me out.

I’m not sure if the mountainside roads seen on Ice Road Truckers: Himalayas qualify as ONE-LANE roads. They’re mighty skinny, and vehicles slow to a tentative creep when they pass in opposite directions. If the one-lane road carries two-way traffic, you’ll get some passing. I know, I know: exception that proves the rule.

Highlights: LOW BLOW and BYE WEEK sparkle in the southeast corner, and FOX NEWS and UMPTIETH are lively.

Russophones and knowers of the Cyrillic alphabet, can you clarify whether the T in Tchaikovsky is silent? I thought TCH was the transliteration of the Russian “ch” sound, and that maybe without the T, is the CH diagram might be a different sound in Russian. I don’t know.

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6 Responses to Monday, 11/29/10

  1. john farmer says:

    Question: Aren’t the MORTGAGE HOLDERS the ones who receive big monthly payments, not the ones who make them? I thought a bank holds a mortgage*, the person buying a house takes out a mortgage. (Or is this a case of the vernacular trumping correct use of the terms so that it doesn’t matter anymore?)

    *Traditionally speaking (before Wall St. got fancy, making it impossible to tell who owns a property).

    Evad, you need to make the grid a little lighter. I could almost read a few of the words in today’s. ;-)

    Amy, I think you should be relieved, not disappointed, that your car doesn’t run on nuclear fusion.

    I liked the open corners – yet easy solve – in today’s NYT.

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Amy — in Russian it’s spelled Чайковский, and that first letter is just CH. So the T in his name’s English spelling is indeed silent.

    What’s wrong with IT’S A SIN, TOP RANK, or I REPENT? I thought those were all good (the first one could be clued to the Pet Shop Boys song). DO ONE IN is icky however, agreed.

  3. T Campbell says:

    I’d also like to speak out in favor of NO MONEY, TOP RANK, and I REPENT, and the only problem I have with IT’S A SIN and WE LOST is that they seem ill-clued.

    I’m generally not a fan of ONE as a pronoun in puzzles, but it’s a minor sin to me.

    In general, I really like multi-word answers. They’re often easy to clue, and they neither demand nor reward googling.

  4. pannonica says:

    “Tra la la” is more commonly clued in the context of a refrain rather than scat, and I agree with that tack. Singsongy kidstuff.

    “Umptieth” was weird for me; “umpteenth” is far more familiar. Perhaps it’s regional?

  5. Kevyn Knox says:

    How do you guys do the BEQ puzzle so well. I can do the NYT and LAT and Crosssynergy and the like but when it comes to BEQ puzzle I feel like the world’s biggest idiot.

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Kevyn, it helps to (a) know Brendan, (b) have experience doing lots of BEQ puzzles over the years, and (c) be in the 25-45 age range.

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