Monday, 10/24/11

BEQ 8:59 
NYT 3:51 (pannonica) 
LAT 2:51 
CS untimed (Sam) 

Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT crossword • 10/24/11 • Lempel • solution • 1024

What goes around comes around, to quote a clue from yesterday’s NYT puzzle. In this case, metaphorical locations are additionally supposed as real-world places where certain groups of people might gather. Double your pleasure?

  • 17a. [Where sad trash collectors get together?] IN THE DUMPS.
  • 28a. [Where future motorists get together?] DOWN THE ROAD.
  • 49a. [Where elderly picnickers get together?] OVER THE HILL.
  • 63a. [Where stranded canoeists get together?] UP THE CREEK.

The four themers integrate well with the rest of the fluid grid, which is Monday-smooth. Decidedly not Scrabbly, but par for the course early in the week. Eight letter double vertical stacks in the NW and SE are a mixed bag: SIN TAXES and YOGI BEAR are pleasing, while PLEASE DO and especially LET IT LIE are more blah. Two other vertical eights, TRIAL RUN and AIR BASES appear in the opposite quadrants; they’re pretty good.

We get a couple of venerable British actors in IAN McKellen and Peter O’TOOLE. Moving down the left edge, I might have liked if PAPA Smurf, following IDI Amin, had been clued referencing PAPA Doc Duvalier, onetime Haitian dictator. On the other hand, I commend the constructor and editor for not being tempted to cross-reference clues, as there are quite a number of entries that could be easily linked: NYPD, PATROL, NAB; NEIGH, MOO; THÉ, TEA BALL; even perhaps HTTP and .EDU. You get the idea. On the other, other hand, a puzzle of at least 15×15 letters is bound to have a number of clues in the same category. Maybe I shouldn’t have digressed, mused? To quote (47d) Mel BLANC (in character as Bugs Bunny), “Did I err?”

p.s. You don’t really want to know how the other three STANZAs (12d) of “The Star-Spangled Banner” go, do you? There was even a fifth, temporarily added during the Civil War.

Michael Wiesenberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 10 24 11

Were the mid-1950s to mid-1960s the heyday of the rhyming pop song title? Four such songs make up the theme here:

  • 18a. HANKY PANKY was a [1966 Tommy James and the Shondells hit]. Never heard of it (but my husband has).
  • 26a. STUPID CUPID was a [1958 Connie Francis hit]. Never heard of this one, either.
  • 44a. The [1956 Little Richard hit] TUTTI FRUTTI is, of course, a timeless classic.
  • 56a. WOOLY BULLY, the [1965 Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs hit] is also a classic.

The fill is mostly super-friendly to the Monday solver, but there are a few words that beginning solvers might not have encountered much yet. There’s 16a: ROUE, a word meaning [Cad], that I don’t think I’ve seen outside of crosswords; I always want it to be RAKE so I don’t fill in the middle two letters without checking the crossings. 15a: ENURE, meaning [Accustom (to)], is more or less a regular word, but most of us are more familiar with the INURE spelling (and ENURE isn’t clued as a variant spelling). 9d: UEY (also spelled UIE) is slang for a U-turn, as in “Whoops, I was supposed to go that way—I’d better hang a UEY”; the clue, [Turn you hang, in slang], reads kinda funny. (Also? UEY and UIE drive some solvers bonkers. They’re fairly new as crossword fill.) 39d: [Hawaiian volcano] clues MAUNA LOA, but the extinct Mauna Kea is also legit. Usually we just need the second word, with a fill-in-the-blank [Mauna ___] clue that we never know how to complete without checking the crossings for the first two letters.

Four stars.

Updated Monday morning:

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Thank You for Your Support” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, October 24

Each of the four theme entries starts with a word that is also a form of support (which explains why Donna Levin is so thankful for all the support):

  • 17-Across: ROD STEWART is the [“Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” singer]. Younger solvers will tell you he sounds just like James Blunt, but Hot Rod has been around much longer. If anything, James Blunt sounds like him.
  • 26-Across: To [Play the peacock] is not to CON NBC or ACT LIKE A CLUE CHARACTER but to STRUT ONE’S STUFF. That’s a great theme entry.
  • 43-Across: BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY is the [Apocryphal command from Captain Kirk]. “Apocryphal” is my favorite part of that whole clue-and-answer, mostly because it’s my view that most English speakers think the word’s synonymous with “apocalyptic.” Of course, you may doubt the authenticity of that last statement.
  • 56-Across: The [Event when a boy becomes a man] has many answers, more than a few of which are not suitable for a mainstream crossword. In this case, it’s the BAR MITZVAH, a perfectly acceptable answer.

The only patch where I GOT LOST [Went astray] for a little while was at 1-Across, as for some reason I so wanted VANNA White as the [Host with vowels for sale] when of course the vowel-peddler on the show is Pat SAJAK. I guess it’s obvious which one is my favorite. UP NEXT, my three favorite parts of this puzzle, in no special order: (1) MR. SULU, the [U.S.S. Enterprise’s helmsman], crossing BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY; (2) FRESCA, the delicious [Citrus soda] that happens to have no calories; and (3) the shout-out to the Pacific Northwest’s Tom FOLEY, the House [Speaker between Wright and Gingrich].

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 378 answers

Boy, I sure hit a lot of clues I didn’t know the answers to. QDOBA‘s motto, model DARIA Werbowy, what “turkey” was meant by [Turkey’s three] (not the country, not the bird, but the bowling term for three strikes bowled in three straight FRAMES), who wrote Emperor and Galilean (IBSEN), the name of Paris Hilton’s dad (RICK), the existence of an NHL NETWORK and a MAO card game, that Modest Mouse is a SEXTET (DeadMau5, on the other hand, is a Canadian electronica musician who wears a mouse head, whereas Danger Mouse is an American musician best known for mash-ups and Gnarls Barkley), that ISIS‘s symbol is a sycamore tree, and where Shane took place (FARM).

Then there were the tough-to-interpret clues that weren’t looking for specific facts. Among my favorites:

  • 4d. [It has a bit part] clues a BRIDLE.
  • 29d. [Time to hustle?] is the DISCO ERA. If you’re not already hearing “The Hustle” in your head like the annoying earworm that it is, go have a listen.
  • 10d. [“Word that can appear before the starts of A-, B- C-, D- and E-Across” crossword theme, e.g.] is a WARHORSE. This weekend on the Cruciverb-L mailing list, Joe DiPietro was kvetching about being tired of add/drop/change-a-letter(s) themes, which are also warhorse themes. And then the Sunday NYT puzzle was published … and it was Joe’s drop-two-letters theme. Warhorses wouldn’t be warhorses if they weren’t sturdy enough for frequent battle, right?

3.9 stars. Would be 4.0 if 44a: DRAWEE hadn’t made its appearance.

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11 Responses to Monday, 10/24/11

  1. john farmer says:

    “Decidedly not Scrabbly, but par for the course early in the week.”

    Decidedly not un-Scrabbly, no? Its Scrabble score of 1.59 is a tad higher than the average for any day of the week, and higher than any Times puzzle since last Tuesday. Just saying.

    Very fine Monday, imo, with some nice open corners, good crossing fill, and altogether a fairly breezy solve.

  2. pannonica says:

    john farmer: You’ve discovered my secret plan to generate comments and controversy by making incorrect observations! AMUCK worked so well last week!

    Seriously, I saw no J or Q and noticed a ton of As, Es, Ts, Ds. It didn’t feel as Scrabbly as it in fact is.

  3. john farmer says:

    Scrabble is not decided by J and Q alone. Nor X and Z, either. H’s, Y’s, K’s…they add up.

  4. Zulema says:

    Surprised by some of the fill and clues mentioned. PAPA? IAN? I simply didn’t see them. I do now. What I did see was VECTOR. Better in the puzzle with a meaning I had long ago forgotten than the flying or crawling ones that the term brings to my mind.

  5. Gareth says:

    Always like oldies puzzles, this LAT no exception, though I could’ve sworn the version of Hanky Panky I know is by someone else, but I’m probably just confused (there are no other versions I can find except by a group called The Raindrops???)…

  6. ArtLvr says:

    STUPID CUPID rang a bell here, as I like unusual rhymes. I once wrote O’Nasheous poems myself — my favorite was one about the 2000 Supreme Court’s Presidential election decision, with “their spurious thesis” paired with a line ending in “pseudoparesis”. Too bad I’ve lost it!

  7. Ruth says:

    I was looking for a BRA among the support providers (maybe just as something tucked in among the fill). Oh well.

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I loved the Bob Klahn Sunday Challenge. Sam D., I thought your self-effacing review was just fine–excellent in fact. I logged on to ask about the connection between “fighting chair” and “angle”, and I wondered if it might have something to do with fishing–which you confirmed. Let me again express great appreciation to Amy, and all her worthy acolytes and elves–(terms I use in the most laudatory and appreciative sense.) I am probably guilty of taking all of your considerable efforts for granted.

    Ned Land was the great fictional harpooner in Verne’s *Vingt mille lieus. . .” Actually one of the gimmes for me. Played by Kirk Douglas in the Disney movie, if my recollection is correct.


  9. Jamie says:

    @pannonica: I see you continue to generate comments by describing Peter O’Toole as an English actor. Both IMDB and Wiki identify him as Irish, although I’ll grant that he’s not too sure himself.

    You were right about one thing last week – amuck last Monday was spelled thusly b/c PB could not use the letter O in other-than-designated spots. So it was in a way related to the meta.

  10. Anoa Bob says:

    LAT: Was a bit puzzled by the clue “Scarecrow’s lack” for 10D BRAIN. I was thinking yeah, it also doesn’t have a heart, toe nails or a bank account either. Then my brain got more smarter and remembered “The Wizard of Oz” Scarecrow. Nice touch but maybe a bit cryptic for a Monday, tho it did fit the year-before-yesteryear feel of the puzzle. Must go RESOD (64A) my lawn now. Again! (You just can’t get good sod anymore.)

  11. pannonica says:

    Jamie: First, I wrote “British,” not “English.” O’Toole’s father was Irish, his mother Scottish. His place of birth is indeed in doubt, though it’s certain that he grew up in England and his career was primarily based there. He was rejected from the Abbey Theatre in Dublin because he couldn’t speak Irish.

    It does, however, seem that he holds Irish and not British citizenship: “Whether he was offered an honorary knighthood as a non-British citizen, or a full knighthood based on his status as an Irish citizen born prior to the declaration of the Republic of Ireland when Ireland was technically one of the king’s realms, is debated. Whatever the form of knighthood offered, he declined the offer.” (Wikipedia)

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