Monday, 12/27/10

NYT 3:23
LAT 3:41
CS 5:27 (Evad)
BEQ 9:16 (Matt Gaffney)

Not sure I’ll get to the BEQ before hitting the highway Monday. Apologies if it goes unblogged. Special guest blogger Matt Gaffney!

C.W. Stewart’s New York Times crossword

12/27/10 NY Times crossword answers

12/27/10 NY Times crossword answers 1227

Always nice to see a fellow Chicagoan’s byline atop the crossword. I was enjoying the theme right up until it confused me with a chorus of “Johnny who?”s. The lively theme answers are BENCH WARMER, CASH PAYMENT (OK, that one’s a little dry), MILLER LITE (better as a crossword answer than as a quaff), the Keanu flick RIVER’S EDGE, an old NASH RAMBLER (the sort of car I know primarily from crosswords), and HERE’S JOHNNY. That last one tips you off that the hidden theme entries are baseball’s Johnny Bench; music’s original Man in Black, Johnny Cash; Johnny Miller, who is not actor Jonny Lee Miller at all, but rather a golfer whose heyday was the mid-’70s (my husband recognized the name right away); Johnny Rivers, a singer I never heard of (but my husband used to play his “Secret Agent Man” when he was in a college band); and Johnny Nash, whose name rang a bell for my husband but not for me (singer, biggest hit the unforgettable “I Can See Clearly Now”). So the theme hits my husband’s sweet spot pretty well: sports and pop of yore. Mine, not so much. Which is not to say I disliked it—just that I needed lots of poking around Wikipedia to grasp it all.

I like the fill: BATMAN, CREEP, EDITOR, NIPPY, the timeless PLINTH (thounds lithpy, doesn’t it?), REAR-END, WHIM, and kooky MERMEN. I am writing this not far from Weeki Wachee Springs, home of the classic mermaid shows. Where, I ask you, is the equal time for fans of mermen? I await the tourist attraction that touts live mermen.

Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword

12/27/10 LA Times crossword answers

12/27/10 LA Times crossword answers

How’s the panorama up there? The theme entries all end in synonyms for “panorama”:

  • 17a. [“Awesome!”] clues “OUTTA SIGHT!”
  • 23a. WINDOWS VISTA was a [2006-’07 Microsoft release].
  • 37a. [Financial projections] describe the ECONOMIC OUTLOOK. Did you see OUTLOOK and VISTA and suspect some sort of Microsoft theme?
  • 45a. CREATE A SCENE is clued [Act embarrassingly in public]. I tried CAUSE A SCENE but it was too short.
  • 58a. PAY-PER-VIEW used to be mainly for pricy boxing matches and porn, didn’t it? Now, on-demand cable offerings include a zillion pay-per-view movies, some freshly out on DVD.

I kinda like the *AT *I* duo in opposite positions in the grid, FAT LIP and HAT PIN. And I’m regretting that I didn’t have a microwave S’MORE for a bedtime snack last night. Oh, crossword, how you remind me of my regrets in life.

Updated Monday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Gimme a Break”—Evad’s review


12/27/10 CrosSynergy crossword answers

Four theme entries are “broken” in different “directions”:

  • “It may have broken out” is a FOREST FIRE. When I think of “breaking out,” I think of prison breaks or a rash or acne. Not many pleasant things break out, do they?
  • “They may be broken in” are TIGHT SHOES. Are wild horses broken in, or just broken when tamed? NEW SHOES seems the more appropriate phrase here, but probably didn’t work to match the length of its symmetric cousin, and ’tis a bit short at 8 letters.
  • “It may be broken up” is a PRISON RIOT. Here’s the prison reference I was looking for earlier, I guess a lot of breaking is going on in the stir.
  • “It may be broken down” is a LOCKED DOOR. I seem to recall Macgyver taking his foot to a few of these to break them down.

ONE SHEET was a new term for me; the clue “Movie poster, e.g.” implies other things are one sheets as well. Samuel Palmisano (CEO of IBM) is not a household name, at least in this household. Actually I’m not sure I could name any CEO, other than the Steves: Jobs, Ballmer or Wozniak. (In related news, is “Woz” still dating My Life on the D-List‘s Kathy Griffin? Inquiring minds want to know!) I had CLASSY before PRISSY for “Beyond proper”…PRISSY carries a negative connotation that the clue didn’t signal (to me, anyway). My other mistake was DVRS before VCRS for “TiVo frontrunners”…I guess Tivo is a DVR, huh?

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s “Themeless Monday #97” Crossword – Matt Gaffney’s ReviewBEQ Dec 27 10

Why, it’s a Christmas miracle! For years I’ve dreamed of trashing Brendan Emmett Quigley in print, and now my chance is finally here. Before I begin, can anyone name a familiar, uncapitalized six-letter word with the same letter pattern as EMMETT? First person to put it in comments wins a year of free access to Diary of a Crossword Fiend!

For today’s freestyle crossword, Brendan started with the Big Six — a skeleton of six interlocking 15×15 entries, and what a typically BEQ sestet they are: DON’T TOUCH MY JUNK (!) is current and funny, NASH EQUILIBRIUM is brainy, IT’S ANYONE’S GUESS and ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH? are phrases you’ve heard but never seen in a crossword, GOING BACK TO CALI is old-school music (to someone Brendan’s age), and SAINT LOUIS BLUES is sports. Hitting all the Quigley sweet spots with verve/elan/gusto/panache! You can tell he put some effort into arranging the Big Six.

Best clue was 36-down, {It might be covered in a job interview} for TATTOO. Sneaky and elegant misdirect. Other enjoyable clues:

45-down {Thimble alternative} for IRON. SCOTTISH TERRIER didn’t quite fit.

53-down {Warm up} for NUKE. Took me a while even with NU??.

12-down {___ of Maine} for TOMS. The toothpaste that doesn’t taste as good as Colgate but it’s probably better for you.

When you go for six 15’s in the third, eighth and thirteenth rows and columns like this, the rest of the fill tends to be short and utilitarian. Brendan handled it pretty well here, though: in this grid we’ve got the Big Six 15’s, then four 8’s, four 6’s and the rest is 5’s and shorter. Some of it’s nice (BANG BANG, MESS TENT, B AND B, BLURRY), while some of it is inevitably less so (ANE, OISE, ERNS, ULT). But he kept the suboptimal fill to a minimum, making it a minor and worthwhile price to pay for this puzzle’s excellent long entries.

Was this Big Six formation one of the freestyle styles T Campbell recently wrote about? If not, sounds like he’s got one more essay to do! I hope Amy and Brendan are enjoying their hard-earned vacations.

One more thing — I forgot to mention that the puzzle took me 9:16 to solve in Across Lite, which seems like a long time considering how fast the Big Six all fell. He called it a Hard puzzle but I’d say it was more like a Medium/Mard variety. Anyway it was fun to solve, which as Merl Reagle would tell you is the whole point! You know what else is fun? Guest-blogging. Until next time!

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10 Responses to Monday, 12/27/10

  1. Gareth says:

    Back after a week of crazy shifts!

    Grew up with my father’s Johnny Rivers album… Can’t remember the name but it had versions of Blowin’ in the Wind, Tom Dooley and other songs that aren’t coming to mind, one had something to do with grass!! Also knew Nash and Cash. Miller rang a vague bell, but no idea about Bench. Since when is that even a surname??? But still like the names worked into phrases aspect of the theme!

  2. Ladel says:

    See for example Johnny Bench, famous catcher for the Cincinnati Reds baseball team.

  3. jaymc says:

    Yeah, Bench and Cash are the only ones I knew for sure.

    Didn’t immediately notice the byline, but IRV Kupcinet is a good giveaway that the constructor is a Chicagoan!

  4. Evad says:

    Oh, I’m appalled that such a trivial reward awaits the correct responder to Matt’s query. Doesn’t he realize this blog is free for all, or does our hostess have some revenue-generating device in the works for the New Year (and not inform us Scoobies about it!) :)

  5. anon says:

    same letter pattern as EMMETT: ACCESS? can’t think of any when the vowels are the same

  6. Cole says:

    For Matt’s question, APPALL would work.

    [Edit] And EVAD got there first.

  7. Mitchs says:

    “Letter pattern” means vowel/consonant relationship? I did the Challenge and BEQ today…I think I’m hanging out with too tough a crowd.

  8. pannonica says:

    Mitchs: It means that the letters could be substituted as in a simple cryptogram, but in this case it also has to spell another real word.

    p.s. “Are You Man Enough” could also be old-school music, as it was the main song from Shaft in Africa (1973). Was a hit for The Four Tops.

  9. Evad says:

    It helped to remember an old meta of Matt’s in which he was looking for a title of a Shakespearean play that followed the same letter pattern of the character ROMEO.

    Matt, I’m onto your tricks, you rascally rabbit! (I know after saying that I’m due for an epic fail in this week’s meta!)

  10. Zulema says:

    I’m amazed I solved this one (last night, finally) except for one letter, since I knew none of the bands or the music, or anyone’s name. But EVIL is the last word of The Lord’s Prayer only in the Catholic Church, otherwise it’s EVER.

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