Monday, 5/23/11

NYT 3:57 (pannonica) 


LAT 2:57 


CS 7:01 (Sam) 


BEQ 7:58 


Steve Salitan’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT crossword · 5/23/11 0523 solution

Two flanking down entries tell the story: 28d [With 37-Down, what 17-,24-,47- and 58-Across are all said to bring]: GOOD | LUCK.

  • 17a. [Mickey Mantle wore it] = NUMBER SEVEN.
  • 24a. [One who’s an overnight success] is a sometimes-deceptive SHOOTING STAR.
  • 47a. The BLARNEY STONE is a [Much-kissed rock]. It’s also probably terribly unhygienic.
  • 58a. A RABBIT’S FOOT is a [Common key chain adornment] which is, as frequently pointed out, not particularly lucky for its original owner.

Decent theme. Some nice fill, including (10d) FINAGLE, the symmetric long-downs (11d) POINT COUNT and (30d) MASS MARKET (surprisingly not clued as “paperback size”). Unexpected-for-a-Monday crosswordese on hand, namely SMEE, OISE, OONA, OTO, and the unannounced variant GISMO for “gizmo.” A sizable helping of uninspired abbrevs. such as ISL, IMS, ARR, ENE, HTS, and ARG.

Was fazed by the clue for 18d, [Amazon and Orinoco, to natives], which primed me to think not about the Portuguese inhabitants who call them RIOS, but the various tribes who were already there.

And what, what, are we to make of the inadvertent imagery in Row 12: “LARGE ARR SOLE”?

In sum, an inoffensive but forgettable puzzle.
Updated on a Manic Monday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Movie Night at the Weather Channel” – Sam Donaldson’s review

Sometimes you just fall in love. There’s no explaining it, it just happens. Everyone around you will question it, and sometimes you’ll even say to yourself that it won’t last, that it can’t work out. And yet you can’t resist.

What a perfect description for this crossword. Is it a flawless puzzle? Oh, goodness gracious, not at all. Does it have a subtle theme or an original take? Uh, no. But this one had me at hello, so to speak. I fell for this puzzle the second I saw the title. Movies + basic cable = pure entertainment. Ross lists five movie titles with weather conditions in their names:

  • 17-Across: The [Movie based on a book by Sebastian Junger] is “THE PERFECT STORM.” I didn’t realize a book had come first. I also didn’t realize this movie is 11 years old already. Good grief, where does the time go?
  • 27-Across: The [1992 black-and-white Woody Allen movie] is “SHADOWS AND FOG.” The only other black-and-white Woody Allen movie I can think of is “Manhattan.” Are there others?
  • 37-Across: The [Movie for which Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar] is “RAIN MAN.” This was the movie that taught me three things: (1) always fly Qantas; (2) learn how to count cards in blackjack; and (3) make it home in time to see Judge Wapner.
  • 47-Across: “DAYS OF THUNDER” was the [Movie starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman]. There’s also “Eyes Wide Shut” and “Far and Away,” but neither would really fit the theme.
  • 61-Across: The [Film classic set in 1860s Georgia] is “GONE WITH THE WIND.” But I’m guessing that by this point, frankly, you don’t give a damn.

As I said, the theme entries are not consistent. In four of the five titles, the weather condition appears at the end, but in RAIN MAN it comes at the start. Four of the five movies are not about the weather condition referenced in the title, but THE PERFECT STORM is, in fact, about a storm. There’s an argument that this second inconsistency could be overlooked if THE PERFECT STORM had been the “punchline” entry at the end of the grid (because then it could be clued with reference to the weather patterns referenced in the other four films). Alas, THE PERFECT STORM is the lead-off entry instead of the closer. But, dang it, I still liked this puzzle.

If you get past the inconsistencies, there are some nice attributes. The long Downs, FEELS SILLY and FILM RATING, are fresh, and the six- and seven-letter fill entries are nice: LOSES IT, NO STARS, and ONE-WAY, especially. And you’re sure to find the first name of someone you know in this grid, whether it’s ABE, LEA, LISA, ELLA, ARTIE, LYNDA, REX, LARA, LOLA, SHIA, or, most importantly, SAM (I suppose there’s even the Cockney Viking, ‘AGAR the Horrible).

So yeah, I get why you may think less of this crossword than I do. But I still liked it, warts and all.

Victor Barocas’s Los Angeles Times crossword

5/23/11 LA Times crossword solution

Five-minute post. Go!

Theme: “Before-and-after” answers combine two phrases that share a common word. First part begins with a color; second part is a forensic evidence term.

  • 20a. [Evidence against an aristocrat?] = BLUE BLOOD STAIN.
  • 40a. [Evidence against a gardener?] = GREEN THUMB PRINT.
  • 56a. [Evidence against an Oscar attendee?] = RED CARPET FIBER.

I didn’t love the theme, but appreciate the tightness of its formation. Also nice that the three colors go together well. A theme with, say, green, red, and gray would be weird.

Best fill: DUST STORM.

Oddest answer combos: BOILED EBOLA, EARWAX SPASM. Travel guide summary: ALOOF FAVOR SWEDEN.

3.5 stars. Gotta run!

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 334 solution

Eh, I did not enjoy this puzzle. A few clues seemed to be just plain broken:

  • 8a. Why is STOMACH the answer to [Bay window]?
  • 58a. Why are [Snow caps?] BEANIES? What does “snow” mean here?
  • 57d. [Pack away] should be in the past tense if the answer is ATE.
  • 48a. [Aluminum foil] clues EPEE. Except that the épée and foil are two different swords used in fencing. I don’t know that either is made of aluminum.
  • 20a. Maybe this clue isn’t broken, but I don’t get why ENL is [Like one in a mil.?].

Words I just plain didn’t know:

  • 1d. SHOEPAC.
  • 26a. FLAM.
  • 35a. INES Sainz.
  • 14d. HYPE MAN.
  • 44a. HOB.
  • 42d. BERGERE.

STRYPER was vaguely familiar but I had STRYKER first. That whole corner was tought to put together, as I didn’t know the punch line for 37d, didn’t know if 39d would be ABETTOR (yes) or ABETTER, didn’t recognize that 38d would be a spoken phrase, and had issues with HOB, EPEE, and ATE. Blurrgh.

The good stuff (AVENUE Q, HAN SOLO, ANTWERP, UXORIAL, THE METS, COQ AU VIN, and CLOONEY) was outweighed, for me, by the demerits. So 2.5 stars from me.

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20 Responses to Monday, 5/23/11

  1. Martin says:

    Actually, according to Random House 2nd, GISMO is the standard spelling.


  2. pannonica says:

    Ooch, that’ll learn me.

    update: Merriam-Webster and Collins list the ‘z’ spelling first. Could not find American Heritage on-line. XWord Info database returns 8 occurrences for gizmo and 5 for gismo, 2 clued with “var.” I guess that makes it more or less moot.

  3. Martin says:

    Really more settled than moot. The RHUD is the “official” dictionary, the one that WS considers the primary reference. If a clue is aligned with its listing, there’s nothing else to say. I spell it “gizmo.”

    -MAH, not MAS

  4. pannonica says:

    Ooch, that’ll lean me, redux!

    Didn’t know that. In fact I only remember ancient history, when Games used Webster’s Third New International Unabridged as its arbiter.

  5. D_Blackwell says:

    I love my RH 2nd, but it ain’t known for reflecting current usage especially well. My AH, a secondary reference, is better at that and lists GISMO as a variant of GIZMO.

    My Barnhart Consise favors the Z, as does the Online Etymology Dictionary, which, though not exhaustive, is quite a nice resource.

    GIZMO is a cool word. For me, GISMO is a cheat; but a whole lot better than UEYS or MMDCCCLXVIII

  6. E. Costello says:

    You could get rid of OISE by just changing GOOD to GORE.

  7. Neville says:

    No, no, no. The Blarney Stone doesn’t bring good luck. Kissing it gives one the gift of gab – that’s entirely different from luck. With so many lucky icons out there, this just strikes me as lazy.

    Boo. :(

  8. john farmer says:

    I find it very hard not to like the Times today. It put a smile on my face. I don’t expect much more from a puzzle on Monday. Well done.

    Apparently some of you have different expectations, but before you start changing things, let’s agree that the theme is things that bring GOOD LUCK. Things that bring GORE LUCK is something I’m all for too (though Monday may be early in the week for politics), but that’s a different puzzle.

  9. Pomeranian says:

    2 thumbs up for LARGE ARR SOLE

  10. ArtLvr says:

    I liked the line including OISE HOW TO TUTU too. Good luck with that! (How do you speak familiarly with someone in French? Tu tutoises.)

  11. Ladel says:

    And to be sure, the luck of the rabbit’s foot did not bring any to its former owner. And, the luck associated with the Blarney Stone has to be surely of an orthopaedic nature.

  12. E. Costello says:

    GORE point, John F. Although since the Blarney Stone doesn’t bring good luck the theme is fatally flawed.

  13. Gareth says:

    NYT: It’s a nice, simple clean theme idea – perfect for a Monday. Didn’t notice row 12, Pannonica, but once you pointed it out it got a SOL (snort out loud). Agree the fill is a little less polished than I’d like, but nothing I’m pulling my hair out about! My Webster’s New World has GIZMO as standard. So does my (South African) concise OED. I vote for there is no standard…

    LAT: Wasn’t expecting made-up answers on Monday! Didn’t notice the colour part before reading your post. The extra tightness of said colours makes it a little weird, liked the idea of these concatenations a lot! Think about a detective finding, say a BLUE blood stain, must be an aristocrat!

  14. jane lewis says:

    re: beq an obese person is sometimes said to have a bay window and there is a candy called snow caps because of the white nonpareils.

  15. Daniel Myers says:

    The unabridged OED has GISMO as the primary spelling and GIZMO as a variant and the entire entry as “U.S. Slang”. But, since the OED is descriptive rather than prescriptive, the point can be mooted.

  16. john farmer says:

    “Although since the Blarney Stone doesn’t bring good luck the theme is fatally flawed.”

    The Blarney Stone doesn’t bring good luck, but neither does the number 7, a shooting star, or a rabbit’s foot. Though anyone is free to believe otherwise.

    The language in the puzzle is that good luck is what the items “are all said to bring.” That wording leaves the door open wide, and with a quick look around the web you’ll find more than a few claims that kissing the Blarney Stone brings good luck. (One example here: “Thus did the Stone, during that time, come to signify the gift of sparkling eloquence and good luck.”)

    Still, “the gift of gab” is the better association for the stone, and though I didn’t pick up on the distinction when I solved the puzzle (like many others, it seems), another choice of theme answer may have worked better.

    That said, I don’t think the puzzle was “fatally flawed.”

  17. Martin says:

    ENL is “enlisted.” A beanie is a wool cap suitable for skiers and Canadians. The only one I don’t get is ATE. And yeah, epee/foil is inaccurate but probably worth it.

    If you didn’t know “hob” you owe BEQ for finally explaining “hob-nailed boots” to you.

  18. Andrew says:

    In Brenden Quigley’s puzzle: ENL is short for enlisted.

  19. john farmer says:

    Sam, Stardust Memories, Broadway Danny Rose, and Celebrity. There may be others too.

    …adding: Zelig (in parts).

  20. sandirhodes says:

    The cute little gremlin in that movie was called ‘Gizmo.’

    ‘Nuff said. :)

    (Oh, my smiley is effective on SO many levels!!!)


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