Monday, 12/13/10

LAT 2:32
NYT 2:28
CS 8:11 (Evad)
BEQ 5:30

Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times crossword

December 13 (1213) New York Times crossword answers

Straight-up embedded word theme here: The word TEAR appears within five two-word phrases, spanning the two words. NET EARNINGS, the DEFINITE ARTICLE, WYATT EARP, and David Attenborough’s PLANET EARTH give me no trouble, but WASTE AREA doesn’t sound remotely familiar. I questioned the people in my living room about that one, and a friend declared, “That’s ludicrous. And on a Monday?” Indeed!

We don’t see much BREAST in the crossword, but here ’tis, clued as a [Suckling site]. That reminds me of a funny video I saw this morning for the first time: the “Bitty” scene from the Little Britain series. Don’t click through if crass humor offends you.

graderAt 32a, GRADER is clued as a [Teacher, after exams], though I would call that “a person who’s grading” rather than “a grader.” A grader is a big ol’ piece of road equipment.

Two Teutonic answers loaded with E’s and S’s appear in the puzzle. There’s 19a: ESSEN, the [Industrial city of Germany] that probably shows up in crosswords more often than any other German city. Beware of EMDEN, though, which rears its head on occasion. We also have Hermann HESSE, the [German Hermann] who wrote Siddhartha. Did everyone else have that as assigned reading in high-school English class? I do appreciate that high-school “English” included plenty of works of literature that had to be translated into English, like Hesse and Dostoyevsky. College literature classes seem much more inclined to segregate books by the original language in which they were written.

Nothing too showy in this grid. Given Patrick Blindauer’s inventiveness, I can’t help wondering if there’s some other level to this puzzle that I’m missing. Anyone?

Updated Monday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Hoops Legend”—Evad’s review


December 13 CrosSynergy crossword "Hoops Legend" answers

If you didn’t know much about coach JOHN WOODEN (put yours truly in that category), this puzzle was quite a slog. Here’s what I didn’t know about him:

  • His nickname was the WIZARD OF WESTWOOD. Westwood is a neighborhood of Los Angeles and the home of UCLA.
  • I’m assuming as a coach, his teams have won TEN NCAA TITLES. Hard to see that initially with that double-A action in the center.
  • He coached the UCLA BRUINS.

Without a solid hold on the theme entries, I struggled a bit with the fill. Here were my problem areas:

  • Spaced out on “Photovoltaic device” putting in a PHOTO CELL before SOLAR CELL.
  • Came up with the more common to xwords ESSO before ARCO as “Shell competitor.”
  • Was thinking ASTI was nearer to Padua than ESTE. Este and Padua are in the NE of Italy (Veneto region), Asti’s in the NW (Piedmont).
  • Appropriate to have sportscaster Jim NANTZ, who calls many of the “March Madness” games. Its symmetric partner is OF USE, which certainly may describe Coach Wooden, but doesn’t also appear to be an explicit theme entry.
  • Some nice longer down entries: SCHMOOZE (“Work the room”), ANNE TYLER (“Breathing Lessons” author…is she any relation to Bonnie, Jeffrey?), and EASTSIDE (“Park Avenue area”).

So is there a particular reason for running this puzzle today? An anniversary or recent award? 17-Across mentions his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, but I see here that that was in 1960 as a player and 1972 as a coach. He also received the highest civilian award in the land, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, from George W. Bush in 2003. Finally, he passed away at the tender young age of 99 in June of this year, so a tribute at some time does seem appropriate.

Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 17

December 13 Los Angeles Times crossword answers

The theme is “blank of the blank” phrases in which the final word progresses from a day to a year:

  • 19a. [Restaurant special] is the SOUP OF THE DAY. Not a big soup fan, but that’s a good entry.
  • 27a. [’60s ABC boxing show] clues FIGHT OF THE WEEK, which doesn’t resonate for me. Gareth says that was editor Rich Norris’s suggestion, replacing Gareth’s FREAK O.T.W., which I don’t know either. ABC was fond of its MOVIE OF THE WEEK, but that reference might be dated too.
  • 41a. Before I read the clue, I saw that the OF THE MONTH answer needed a 4-letter noun in front. Oh, I so wanted it to be TIME OF THE MONTH! But you can’t order a period through the mail, and [Featured mail-order club offering] clues BOOK OF THE MONTH. Rock-solid, that.
  • 47a. CAR OF THE YEAR is a noted [Motor Trend magazine award]. My car is the 2010 COTY, while the Chevrolet Volt has been selected for 2011.

Straightforward themes like this are perfectly suited to Mondays.

Seven more clues:

  • 1a. GEEK [__ Squad: Best Buy service team].
  • 33a. [Singer Chris or actor Stephen] REA leaves me half mystified. Turns out Chris Rea is a 59-year-old British singer-songwriter-bluesman.
  • 38a. [Minute stake?] just means a small stake/bet, I guess: the initial ANTE to get into a card game.
  • 56a. [Silents actress Theda] BARA is in the club with Virna Lisi and…goodness, I’m blanking on the other crosswordese movie stars of a bygone era. Mabel Normand…I know there are more.
  • 25d. A REHASH is an [Uninspired new version] of something like a movie.
  • 36d. When Gareth [Finished dealing with] this crossword, he PUT it TO BED.
  • 39d. [“We Three Kings” adverb] clues AFAR.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ puzzle 288 answers

BEQ puzzle 288 answers

This puzzle’s mighty smooth for a 62-worder. I didn’t even notice the word count was so low while I was solving it, which is a coup for any crossword with such a low word count. It’s all too easy to populate the grid with prefixes and word endings that play well with other words. The worst transgressor here is the plural noun (?!) INERTS, and I’m not wild about SEE ALONE and SO DUMB. Oh, wait, and 32d: [Spindle: Var.]/MANDRIL, spelling mandrel weirdly. The good stuff outnumbers that, though. Highlights include these ones:

  • Pop culture’s MACARENA, DRUMMOND (!), and J.J. ABRAMS/
  • The lovely PLEIN-AIR and DISPIRIT (the latter is a depressing word, but isn’t it pretty?).
  • PITBULLS meet PIÑATA. Merriment ensues.
  • For 47a: [“Run to the Hills” metal band, among fans], knowing little about metal and seeing 6 letters starting with M, I considered MOTLEY Crue. No, it’s Iron MAIDEN, but MOTLEY popped up at 27a.
  • Lively verb phrases: SLEPT IN, PASS TIME.

Fun clues, too:

  • 7d. A LEASH is a [String on a toy] poodle.
  • 12d. [Cozying up] clues NESTLED and it took me forever to reconcile the verb tenses. If you’re cozying up with your sweetie, you’re nestled with him or her.
  • 27d. “MACARENA” is [VH1’s #1 Greatest One-Hit Wonder of all Time]. Lotta competition for that honor, you know.
  • 33d. [Bit of light reading?] clues the Amazon KINDLE, which is lightweight. If you want an e-book reader you can use in the dark, though, try an iPad.
  • 35d. A PINATA is a [Big hit at birthday parties].
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10 Responses to Monday, 12/13/10

  1. Deb Amlen says:

    I also enjoyed what seems to be a deceptively easy PB2, but have not found another level to admire.

    For the record, “Little Britain” was one of the funniest BBC series after Monty Python, “Bitty” sketch included. Even though that particular character was kind of gross, there were plenty of other characters that were hilarious and well worth watching.

  2. Had I entered RISEN and RETINA at first instead of AWAKE and CORNEA, I might have joined Jeffrey in record Monday NYT time territory.

    Speaking of a [German Hermann], here’s one in New Ulm, Minnesota that is probably standing above a pretty high snowdrift right now…

  3. Ladel says:

    Ah Monday!

    sort of like a “rest” question on a long difficult multiple choice exam. i’ll take it.


  4. Meem says:

    Enjoyable trio of Monday puzzles. Fun to tear through Patrick’s offering. I was actually surprised by the reveal as I was hearing the verb tear, not the noun tear, as I solved and noticing that “tear” traversed both words of the theme answers. Was Patrick also playing with his theme entries being torn?

    Knew the story of John Wooden which was a definite advantage. Also liked the juxtaposition of Westwood and East Side.

    Fun to have an entry from Gareth. Do you Have Geek Squad cars running around, Gareth? And hadn’t thought of Fanta for years.

  5. joon says:

    GRADER as a person who grades assignments sounds very in-the-language to me. alas, it will describe me next week, after our final exam on monday. speaking of which, sometimes a monday is just a monday… i can’t say i went poking about for an extra level of theme on this one. certainly it didn’t spook me like matt ginsberg’s friday. i’ve seen plenty of pat’s straightforward themes in the CS rotation.

    nice LAT monday from gareth. as for other classic silents stars, nita naldi is the one that springs immediately to my mind. virna lisi doesn’t look at all familiar. checking the databases, she appears to be in one puzzle that i’ve ever done, the BEQ fireball from august. hasn’t been in the NYT since 2006.

  6. Pola Negri says:

    Don’t forget me! :)

  7. Gareth says:

    @Meem: my clue for geek was I think the generic “High school misfit.” “Geek Squad” is something which I’d heard of somewhere but wouldn’t have been able to define. AFAIK, they’re not in SA and two people here at home looked at 1A and were totally confussed.

    While I’m here, Chris Rea is a fave singer of mine… near the top of the “People whose CDs I must buy when I start earning a salary”.

  8. john farmer says:

    Virni Lisi wasn’t a star of silents. She was an Italian actress, ’50s and ’60s, and made a number of Hollywood films too.

    Some silent stars: Mary Pickford, the Gish sisters (Lillian and Dorothy), Pola Negri, Nita Naldi, Mae Clarke, Gloria Swanson, etc.

  9. Meem says:

    Thanks, Gareth. I didn’t think Best Buy was in SA.

  10. john farmer says:

    Oops. I was definitely in a hurry earlier. I due no howe too spel Virna Lisi’s naim. Rilly. I also had meant to say Mae Marsh (Mae Clarke was a little later).

    You could also add Mae Murray to the list. Just learned of her from the first daily NYT puzzle of 1950, available at the Wordplay site.

    So many Maes back then…so few today.

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