Monday, 1/30/12

NYT 3:41 (pannonica) 
LAT 2:40 
CS 6:56 (Sam) 
BEQ 8:02 

Don’t miss Matt Gaffney’s Slate article about “the Shortz Factor,” which is a measure of crossword fame vs. real-world fame. Which people who are common crossword answers are more famous in crosswords than in the rest of the pages of the New York Times?

Francesco Trogu’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT 1/30/12 • Mon • Trogu • solution • 01 30 12

Usually Monday puzzles are so darn… nice… that I have little to say about them, except that I wish they had a little more spunk. Even then, that can be contraindicated for early-week dosage.

This puzzle—which I realize is a début by a sixteen-year-old constructor—gave me a scowl, but I level my gaze of scorn primarily at the editor (sorry, Will).

There’s a tripartite revealer, made up of little words:

  • 66a. [Where 38-Across lay 1-Across … or a word hidden in 20-, 27-, 44- and 51-Across] NEST.
  • 1a. [Chicks hatch from them] EGGS.
  • 38a. [Layers of 1-Across] BIRDS.

And here are the four long themers:

  • 20a. [Not-so-fancy places to stay] ONE-STAR HOTELS.
  • 27a. [Maryland’s  nickname] OLD LINE STATE. I assume this references the Mason-Dixon line?
  • 44a. [Big Apple list] ITUNES TOP TEN.
  • 51a. [Osteoporosis threatens it] BONE STRUCTURE.

First: my greatest complaint comes from an aspect that should have been avoided. 6-down [Food giant whose brands include Gerber and Goobers] NESTLÉ. You see where I’m going with this, don’t you? Yep. Despite the fetching consonance in the clue, that answer has no business being in this puzzle, containing as it does the word “nest” in a supernumerary, non-thematic context. It even blatantly crosses Ts with a theme NEST! I don’t care that the word literally nestles in the themers.

Nest. Sorry, next: I don’t feel that the two extra components of the revealer at 1a and 38a across are welcome. They don’t add much cleverness to the theme, they’re short, and it isn’t important that they create and expand symmetry with the true revealer at 68 across. They merely create annoying cross-references. Even in an early-week offering they come across as an unwanted nuisance.

Last: the long theme entries themselves. Three of them break the same way (NE|ST) and one deviates (NES|T). It’s always better for the mechanics of the theme to be consistent, either by all being the same or all being different; unbalanced constructions are less desirable. In this case I’d have liked to have seen them all as NE|ST, or one N|EST, one NE|ST, one NES|T, and one |NEST| ensconced in a single, long word. Even 2 × NE|ST and 2 × NES|T would have been better. Also, aside from OLD LINE STATE, these theme entries are rather blah. ONE STAR HOTELS? Okay, I suppose. BONE STRUCTURE is a yawner, and how much of a “thing” is an ITUNES TOP TEN (despite its admirably misleading clue)? Ironically, perhaps, volant avifauna possess fascinating BONE STRUCTURE—including significant pneumatization—all to the effect of lightening the skeletal system.

Aside from these not-exactly-minor flaws, the puzzle hews to the early-week ethic of being a smooth solve with little or no crosswordese and other unwanted qualities.

A few notes:

  • The feature non-theme long entries, the verticals GAG ORDER and BATTLE AXE, are both good fill.
  • Interestingly, 25a [Collection of atoms: Abbr.] could work as a non-abbreviated answer as well, since MOL is an acceptable variation of mole, a standard measure in chemistry. [edit: To clarify, the intended answer is MOL., an abbreviation for molecule.]
  • 13d [Untouchable tennis serves] ACES. Shouldn’t it be “unreturnable”?
  • Why not have 60d [Badminton feature] NET re-use the clue for 28d [Tennis umpire’s cry] LET? If it had been decided to use a verb form of NET, I wouldn’t mention this, but as it is, it’s more than halfway there.

All told, this struck me as a subpar puzzle for the New York Times.

p.s. As I wrote this, I was listening to a radio programme (yes, the BBC) discussing what becomes of Olympic Games facilities after their featured débuts; it included discussion of the iconic Beijing National Stadium (aka “Bird’s Nest”) from the 2008 games.

Updated Monday morning:

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Earth-shattering” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, January 30

The “earth” part of this crossword’s title is easy enough to figure out” the four theme entries contain the letter sequence E-A-R-T-H. I guess the “shattering” part comes from the fact that the letter sequence spans two words (an accepted convention for hidden word gimmicks), so the “EARTH” gets “shattered” each time. So here are the theme entries:

  • 20-Across: One who is [Not mentally confused] exhibits CLEAR THINKING. I didn’t know clear thinking was a trait of those born with an earth sign. That explains why this water sign is often confused.
  • 35-Across: NOW HEAR THIS is how those in some branches of our armed forces may say [“Listen up!”]. Can one “listen down?” I guess if you can “speak down” to someone, that someone would “listen up” to you.
  • 42-Across: To be [Almost correct] is to be IN A RELATIONSHIP. Here, it is to be NEAR THE MARK. “Miss the mark” seems to be the more common esxpression to my ear, but this one certainly is fine (and much more consistent with the theme).
  • 59-Across: To end things on an upbeat note, we have a NUCLEAR THREAT, the [Cold War danger]. Increasingly, it seems nuclear threats are not limited to the Cold War (unless we’ve agreed that we’re still in the Cold War or in Cold War II).
  • The theme entries all work fine, though the middle two are, in my view, considerably livelier than the bookends. HEAT INDEX, the [Summer number provided by the National Weather Service], and CARGO SHIP, the [Boat with a boatload], are terrific long Downs. Other good entries included RED SEA, TAR PIT, NO WISER, and NACHO, though I admit I like the latter because of a snack food bias.

    [Cut, as logs] was an unexpected clue for SAW UP. I would have expected something more along the lines of [Escorted from the lobby to the penthouse], but maybe I like that clue because it explains how I made money at the local hotel during college. My favorite clue was [Took stock?] for RUSTLED. If you have a beef with it, I would say hey, don’t have a cow.

    Kevin Christian’s Los Angeles Times crossword

    LA Times crossword solution, 1 30 12

    Three verbs that are also birds make up today’s theme, with all the theme answers being [verb + “one’s” + body part]:

    • 20a. [DUCK], LOWER ONE’S HEAD.
    • 60a. [QUAIL], LOSE ONE’S NERVE.

    Simple and consistent. SELL ONE’S WARES would work clued with [HAWK], but WARES aren’t a body part. Are there other bird verbs that would fit the theme?

    The three-piece theme occupies just 41 squares, which leaves wiggle room in the grid for a six-pack of good longer answers: I’M ALL EARS, TEETOTAL, MAJESTIC, EYETEETH, SEE STARS, and GET OVER IT. Plus NODOZ! Could do without some of today’s People of Crosswords: IAGO, OSSIE, TREVOR, IRMA, MEARA, ERROL, biblical SETH and LEAH, SILAS, LAHR, DANA, LEIF, KEATS, ESTEE, and MOE. Fifteen people is on the high side for a daily puzzle.

    3.75 stars.

    Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday #154”

    BEQ 406 solution

    I learned a new word from this puzzle: 15a: NONTROVERSY, [Argument that doesn’t exist until created for political gain, in modern slang]. Anyone got a good example of a nontroversy?

    I solved this puzzle last week and told Brendan it killed me. He asked what needed to be eased up and you know what? The hardest clues were good and I didn’t want to see them go. Like these:

    • 12d. [Do maintenance] for HAIRCARE. “Do” isn’t a verb here, it’s a noun (hairdo).
    • 35a. [Donovan who was a long-time member of the Eagles] is football player MCNABB, not a confrere of Don Henley and Glenn Frey.
    • 36d. [One way of coming out] is a C-SECTION, if you’re a brand-new baby making your debut.
    • 6d, 8d. [Furniture store owned by Williams-Sonoma]—there are two? I pieced together POTTERY BARN without much difficulty but WEST ELM took more crossings.
    • 21a. [Horse collarer?] is a NARCO, “horse” being slang for heroin.
    • 1d. [Half pint] is ONE CUP, straight up. There’s no telling how much time I lost by filling in SHRIMP off the P here. I didn’t know the stadium name, and 22a: [Bing line?] was mystifying me (it’s a URL, Bing being a search engine).

    Favorite fill: ONION POWDER, FAST CARS, “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC, CANDY STORES, MAGIC EYE, and the two home-furnishings stores.

    I don’t care for the two math/sci clues, [Time constant symbol, in physics] for TAU and [Trigonometry lesson] for COSINE. Had no idea about the first one, and don’t get how the second one is a “lesson.”

    Four stars.

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    58 Responses to Monday, 1/30/12

    1. Aaron says:

      Since I just finished watching the Australia Open final (for the second time — it was that good!), I can step in on ACES: I believe it’s just a service winner if the opponent gets their racket on it; it’s only an ace if they can’t even reach it — so untouchable is right.

    2. Gareth says:

      Glad I wasn’t the only one who found that a little flat: boring theme, boring answers. We do get an interesting vignette about a BATTLEAXE and some GAGORDERS though…

    3. ArtLvr says:

      Interesting about the Birds Nest stadium in China… Moi, I like bonus entries like NESTLE. Congrats to young Trogu on his debut!

    4. joon says:

      i think GOOSE could perhaps be made to fit the LAT theme. :) but i can understand why it was left out. you could clue it as PINCH ONE’S BUTT, but it doesn’t quite fit in because the others are all things that “one” does to or with “one’s” own body part, not somebody else’s. GROUSE also seems like it might almost be an option, but ACHE ONE’S BELLY isn’t really the same thing as “bellyache”.

    5. pannonica says:

      Anyone else have FLAC for FDIC in the BEQ? [It can back up your CDs]

    6. MD Solver says:

      The inclusion of NESTLE was outrageous and will tarnish the experience of the puzzle for the vast majority of solvers. I was amazed as I filled it in, because I consider repetition to be a cardinal sin, without exception, ever.

      Just because Monday puzzles are easy does not mean that the people solving them aren’t tuned in to the minutiae of construction rules. I believe they are. People don’t solve puzzles for the satisfaction of filling in the grid, they do so primarily to ensure that all of the strict formal conventions have been followed by the editor.

    7. MD Solver says:

      Today’s Brendan Quigley gave me trouble, ‘specially the top half.” Similar vibe, I notice, to the Tausig puzzles – slang, sports, music, “Glee,” et cetera – stuff that’s not always exactly in my wheelhouse, though of course it has its audience. Does Pannonica ever review the Quigley ones? Seems like it would be a good fit, and a hoot to boot.

    8. Daniel Myers says:

      I rather fancied the Nestlé, Nestle catch and wouldn’t particularly mind if every other word had a NEST in it. But there, I’m so notoriously inexpert in these matters. “People” – 1, MD Solver and acerb pannonica. It’s Monday, n’est-ce pas?

    9. joon says:

      re: NONTROVERSY, isn’t 90% of the stuff that gets covered in a typical news cycle a nontroversy? romney’s tax return, for instance. apparently people who run for president are uber-rich, and the uber-rich are taxed at a lower rate than the middle class. we already knew both of these things. you could argue that either one of them by itself is a legitimate issue, but their particular application to mitt romney is pretty much just a “well… yeah” moment, rather than an actual news story.

    10. pannonica says:

      More topical coincidence. I learned of this architectural oddity just now: “Stork Nest Farm,” near Prague.

    11. Bananarchy says:

      Loved the BEQ, and actually found it considerably easier than usual for a Themeless Monday. Granted, 57-Across was a huge gimme for me, which brought down the bottom half in no time. What usually makes the BEQs tough for me, though, is the preponderance of unusual names. This one was tricky because of the cluing, but the answers were mostly things you could infer from the available letters.

    12. ArtLvr says:

      re LAT theme alternatives — I’m glad joon mentioned the Goose!

    13. Dan F says:

      I can’t tell whether MD Solver’s 10:06 post is satirical or not! If so, bravo; if not, I believe you are incorrect to think that most solvers will care about the stray NESTLE. Will Shortz makes the rules for his own puzzles, and if he didn’t have a problem with it…

    14. Daniel Myers says:

      Dan F,

      I refer you to a previous day’s blog of not so long ago whereby you may judge of MD Solver’s sincerity regarding Procrustean puzzle standards:

      If MDS and pannonica think they are taking the bite out of their puzzle-snobbishness by blaming Shortz, then they are sorely mistaken. It makes one wonder whether they are able to put themselves in the shoes of a sensitive sixteen year old constructor, who no doubt read all the blogs available on his début, for even a nanosecond.

    15. pannonica says:

      No need to excoriate. I didn’t.

    16. Lois says:

      Bravo, Dan and Daniel! I agree that MD Solver’s post today sounded satirical: “People don’t solve puzzles for the satisfaction of filling in the grid, they do so primarily to ensure that all of the strict formal conventions have been followed by the editor.” I thought most people did the puzzles to enjoy the experience. I’m a retired proofreader, and in some areas I enjoy being an enforcer, but I wouldn’t think that the main goal of most people is to check on the editor. Congratulations to Francesco on his debut.

    17. Daniel Myers says:


      Here is what you wrote supra regarding Nestlé:

      “Despite the fetching consonance in the clue, that answer has NO BUSINESS being in this puzzle, containing as it does the word “nest” in a supernumerary, non-thematic context. It even blatantly crosses Ts with a theme NEST! I don’t care that the word literally nestles in the themers.”

      If that’s not excoriation in your books, then I’m not too eager to see what passes for the real thing.

    18. pannonica says:

      There’s the satisfaction of filling in a the grid correctly, and the further satisfaction of filling in a satisfactory grid. For this solver, the unnecessary and distracting appearance of the crucial theme element outside of the theme entries made for a less-than-satisfactory grid, and a less-than-satisfactory solving experience. All the more so since it should have been easily avoidable.

    19. pannonica says:

      Daniel, that excerpt refers to something almost entirely within the purview of the editor.

      If anything, my criticisms of the mechanics of the word breaks and the relative banality of the theme entries have bearing on the puzzle’s young constructor, and I explicitly stated that they were lesser criticisms.

    20. Daniel Myers says:

      But this solver LIKED it! In any event, that’s a bit nicer way of putting it, p.

    21. Daniel Myers says:


      You said that “Nestlé” was your “greatest complaint.” Not sure I see your point, really; the entire puzzle is in the purview of the editor: Clues, answers, crossings et al.

    22. pannonica says:

      If that was my greatest complaint, then the other bits are necessarily lesser complaints.

      Of course the entire puzzle—in published form—is within the purview of the editor, but how much editing before the puzzle is no longer recognizable as the creation of the constructor?

      Nestlé seemed so egregious to me precisely because it was a minor, relatively easily remedied, aspect of the fill. Its pall is vastly disproportionate to its essentiality to the grid.

    23. Daniel Myers says:


      We’re not going to get anywhere with this, you know. I don’t think nestlé casts a pall at all. You do. That’s not a problem, for me anyway. Vive la différence! My problem is with your strident tone in the write-up, and certainly in MD Solver’s comment. This no doubt sounds mawkish to you, but try to imagine a sixteen-year-old pannonica reading your own write-up.

    24. Jamie says:

      Oh for crying out loud. MD Solver’s comment was obviously satirical, and I read it with great amusement.

      BTW, Pannonica, an ace is definitely an untouchable serve, not an unreturnable serve. It was clued correctly. A winning serve that is not touched by the receiver is called an “ace”. Any other serve that the receiver manages to make contact with, even to fly it into the net, is not an ace. It’s just a point for the server.

      And: Here I may be corrected, but in umpteen years of watching professional tennis, I have never heard a tennis ump cry Net! Service shots that graze the net are called a let, but there are other situations that create a let. I think you may have confused the two. I have never, ever heard a chair umpire call Net.

      @Pannonica: “No need to excoriate. I didn’t.” From your review: “I level my gaze of scorn primarily at the editor (sorry, Will).” One definition of excoriate: express strong disapproval of. I’d say leveling your gaze of scorn at Will Shortz as editor was a strong expression of disapproval and is also unbelievably disrespectful to the most renowned crossword editor in the States.

      It would be legit if you knew what you were talking about. You dissed two of the clues for inaccuracy in tennis, when in fact you were the inaccurate one.

      Yes, the puzzle was a bit boring. It’s what I expect from the Monday NYT.

      I think I will skip Pannonica’s reviews for a while. I don’t mind that she often sounds all-knowing (when she is clearly not; she gets more corrections than any blogger here). I just don’t know why she is blogging here at all. The site has some brilliant bloggers, and they bring their own unique twist – Gaffney on BEQ, Joon on Gaffney, Amy on everybody, and Sam Donaldson as the master of making boring crosswords funny. Every one of them usually finds the right balance.

      Then there’s Pannonica, who just does not belong among these other names.

    25. pannonica says:

      I expect harsh criticism. And respect it if it’s valid.

      Having a crossword puzzle published in the New York Times is no mean feat, so Francesco Trogu should be proud. Nevertheless, it’s the real world, and I considered the puzzle as I would any other that appears in the paper. Further, I at the outset mentioned his youth and that it was a début puzzle, which I would have thought constituted a measure of implied consideration for his position, if not outright empathy.

    26. Daniel Myers says:

      Because pannonica is brilliant and artistic, Jamie! I do take issue with her write-up today. But, truth be known, I never would have glommed onto Amy’s site if not for P’s deep yet sprightly comments. She doesn’t fit the mould because she fits not into any neat categorisation. That’s why I’ll always like and value her commentary, on anything, and why I bother to take her to task when we disagree. She’s sui-generis.

    27. Jamie says:

      So I just criticized you harshly and validly. You consistently sound like a know-it-all, but get things wrong, (venir/voir), tennis calls, whatever. Monday’s puzzle was blah, as most Mondays are, but you called out Will Shortz on two clues where he was right and you were wrong.

      An apology wouldn’t kill you.

    28. pannonica says:


      • In my write-up, I expressed that I wasn’t sure about what constitutes an ace, and was promptly corrected by Aaron in the first comment. Yes, I could have looked it up before writing the review, but why should I cover every single base (to mix sports metaphors) in an informal forum?

      • From Wikipedia: “If the ball hits the net but lands in the service box, this is a let or net service.” It seems that the chair official does indeed call “let,” but from a quick scan of the internet, many people have thought that they also say, “net.” It’s a common assumption. And now I’ve learned something else.

      • If you had read more closely, you would have realized that the excoriation flap was specifically about the young constructor, not the editor.

      • I was also incorrect (though questioning) about the Mason-Dixon line:

      “This nickname is, according to some, a reference to the Maryland soldiers who fought courageously in the Revolutionary War, the Maryland Line. It is said that General George Washington referred to these soldiers as “The Old Line.” Maryland was the only state that had regular troops “of the line” and these soldiers were ranked among the finest and best disciplined in the army.

      Another origin is given that goes back further in history. It is said that Maryland is referred to as “The Old Line State” because it was the dividing line between the land grants given to William Penn and Lord Baltimore.” (from

    29. Jamie says:

      @DanielMyers – even if her comments are factually wrong? I have no problem if she blogs the Monday NYT as boring; they are. We all know it. I have a problem when she states as a fact something that is not a fact. And she does this quite often and with supreme confidence.

    30. pannonica says:

      I am always willing to be corrected, and certainly don’t claim to know everything.

    31. arthur118 says:

      It might put “Nestle” in a different light if one looks at their corporate logo, which is first up at the link.

    32. Daniel Myers says:

      No, not if they are factually wrong, Jamie. I suppose I was letting a bit of personal history and emotion obtrude. My problem with today’s write-up, once again, was not the errata, but the tone and a fundamental disagreement over Nestlé. Yes, sometimes p sounds like she’s proclaiming from Olympus. But that’s her style.

    33. pannonica says:

      (The key is not to take me too seriously.)

    34. Daniel Myers says:

      I’m bookmarking that comment, pannonica!;-)

    35. pannonica says:

      It’ll do wonders for your blood pressure. Yours too, Jamie.

    36. pannonica says:

      (Not that I claim to have special knowledge of your blood pressure.)

    37. Amy Reynaldo says:

      Check this out: The founder of Nestlé, Henri Nestlé, changed his name from his original German name, Heinrich Nestle. Wikipedia says: “In the Swabian dialect ‘Nestle’ is a small bird’s nest.” So perhaps the bird’s-nest logo (which doesn’t look familiar to me) is a shout-out to Herr Nestle’s roots.

      So not only is there a NEST nested within NESTLE, which alone is enough to jar some solvers, but it’s etymologically linked to the word and (even though I wager that none of us, Will Shortz included, knew that the name Nestlé had any connection to nests) thereby constitutes a duplication of theme part and the 6d entry.

    38. Jamie says:

      @Pannonica: “(The key is not to take me too seriously.)” So fine, you slam people who construct or edit crosswords with a review that shows a gaping lack of knowledge that you are too lazy to research until you’ve been called on it, and a bizarre sense of your-know-it-all-ism, which is frequently corrected in the comments.

      I don’t take you seriously when you review a puzzle, but I think a constructor needs a second review when you slam him or her with, well, an ignorant review. And calling it a début does not make it classier.

    39. pannonica says:

      Slam? Is that some kind of tennis term?

      Yes, I am “too lazy” to do research on every statement I make—even in a questioning manner—in write-ups in an informal forum, which I do on a volunteer basis, and whose existence is to promote discussion.

      Guilty, guilty, guilty.

    40. Daniel Myers says:

      @Amy-Which, need I say, bothers me not one whit. In fact, by my tastes, it makes it all the more, um, scrumptious, etymologically that is. Others, of course, may profoundly disagree. Thanks for the info!

    41. Daniel Myers says:

      Jamie, do lay off. P’s eyelids must be drooping right now over those hazel orbs.

    42. Jamie says:

      Of course I’ll lay off. I like to quit when I’m ahead. But, only after this: Pannonica deserved every negative comment I made. It’s unfair when a crossword constructor or the editor gets nailed by her incorrect statements, which are usually stated as facts and are usually revealed as incorrect in the comments.

      She ruins the credibility of the blog.

    43. Daniel Myers says:

      Jamie, the fault lies not in Pannonica but in myself that I am too tired to defend her against this calumny. She’s not perfect, but surely her one write-up a week does not “ruin the credibility of the blog” – arrant nonsense.

      I let Shakespeare finish for me tonight:

      Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care,
      The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
      Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
      Chief nourisher in life’s feast.

      May we have less rancour on the morrow, or something like that.



    44. pannonica says:

      Jamie, you exaggerate and distort shamelessly, which does you no favors in your criticisms of me. And please don’t misinterpret that as “completely unjustified” criticisms.

      I do take issue with your implication that my write-ups are so shoddy, so completely studded with misinformation (and devoid of value?) as to “ruin the credibility of the blog.” But that isn’t for me to decide.

      Daniel, I write up, in general, four puzzles a week here. But be warned, I haven’t vetted that thoroughly.

    45. Jamie says:

      Pannonica: You called out Will Shortz today. Your criticisms wound up being the inexplicably inexcusable inclusion of Nestlé in a Monday crossword that also included the word nest. I can live with that and I haven’t keeled over yet.

      You called a couple of very common tennis terms incorrect and you were wrong. Team Shortz here. You criticized the editor for common tennis terms that you don’t know or understand.

      Please explain where I have exaggerated or distorted. Even your best fan thinks you think you proclaim from Mt. Olympus. Around here, we have a more Quigleyesque term for blowing hot air.

    46. pannonica says:

      You wrote that I “dissed two of the clues for inaccuracy in tennis.”

      For ACE, I said “shouldn’t it be…?” which is not a strong assertion, unless one is inclined to read it with some sort of negative predisposition.

      For NET, my statement began with “why not” and explained that it was kind of minor and I “wouldn’t have mentioned” it but for some other aspects of the puzzle. That was a rather tepid observation. And it appears that it’s a fairly common misconception, or misperception. To top it off, the entire NET furor was due to something extraneous I introduced in my observation; nowhere did I claim the original clue was in error.

      In neither case could those comments be construed as “disses.” Additionally, in neither instance did I call the original clues incorrect, as you assert.

      Further, it turns out that NESTLÉ shares etymological history with birds’ nests, as arthur118 and Amy have shown.

      Ironically, the one thing that I was flat-out wrong about (but still mentioned questioningly) was OLD LINE STATE, which no one pointed out.

      “Please explain where I have exaggerated or distorted. Even your best fan thinks you think you proclaim from Mt. Olympus.”

      Those two sentences of yours right there constitute exaggeration and distortion. QED. The bulk of your ravings share similar qualities.

      And anyway, is there some edict that Will Shortz is beyond criticism, infallible?

    47. Jamie says:

      @pannonica: “The bulk of your ravings share similar qualities.” Oh, thanks. I usually just do the crossword. You’re the one who comes out with the declarative sentences that the clue is wrong, and never mind if you are wrong about the clue, or the constructor, or the editor, being wrong – you have a God complex to see you through.

      I don’t think you belong among the excellent bloggers on Fiend. You’re, to quote you on this puzzle, sub-par. Lazy, ill-researched declarative sentences about subjects you don’t know about, but all delivered in a most assured voice.

      P.S. “Yes, sometimes p sounds like she’s proclaiming from Olympus.” That wasn’t a quote from me. That was from Daniel Myers at 9:55Pm. And he’s your biggest defender here.

    48. pannonica says:

      Voilà. I rest my case.

    49. MD Solver says:

      Yes! If Francesco Trogu read the review, let it be the dawn of a new era for crosswords, the matriculation of the next generation. Let Will read it, too, and perhaps be reformed. For years, even decades, the puzzle community has wallowed in a cesspool of friendship and mutual respect, engendering nothing but happiness and pleasure. The old guard values decency, and claims that the whole thing is all in good fun, and therefore considers one another’s feelings to a terrible fault.

      No longer. The old attitude has not and will never advance the quality, the appeal, or the general progress of crosswords. We must treat even Monday puzzles with arch-seriousness, and not allow the feelings of constructors, nor editors, nor solvers, be they 16 or 106 or frankly even six, to stifle our will to unabashed self-expression in public fora, no matter with what we choose to ground those expressions. (Including nothing at all – facts are relative and raw power the only true logic of the cosmos). This is the only path to real freedom, and it must be the trajectory of all serious art. God willing, Francesco and his contemporaries will live and solve and construct in a world where they are not stifled by the coddling of bourgeoisie etiquette among friends, like we see in “Wordplay.” Rather, they can tear one another apart like dogs, caring no more than dogs would, and the fortunate world will witness the flowering of a verdant crop of crossword puzzles watered by their blood.

      I will entertain no rebuttal to this position because none exists. I recommend The Fountainhead as further reading, and as a model for the virtues of the dissolution of that vile thing called “community.”

    50. MD Solver says:


    51. pannonica says:

      You’re saying that I’m the one taking things too seriously? Do you read or just skim? Both you and Jamie need some perspective, need to get out of the blinding constraints of your own narratives.

    52. MD Solver says:

      I believe Pannonica is the only blogger on this site engaged in the seriousness that can elevate the form. I confess to enjoying the contrast between Pannonica’s review style and that of “old guard” figures like Mark Gaffney, but in the end only the former can take us where we need to go.

    53. pannonica says:

      MD Solver, your satire wears thin, but that’s only my opinion. The Randian and other allegations are misguided and simply cruel, but I shouldn’t expect you to see the irony in that.

    54. MD Solver says:

      In Rand’s defense, she has remained tremendously influential despite attempts by many to misrepresent her thinking – influential in everything from politics, literature, architecture, and global development. Even the New York Times has praised her writing. I believe there is cause for people of all political persuasions to consider rehabilitating her work and philosophy, if they had ever doubted it. I would not be offended by the comparison.

    55. pannonica says:

      Weren’t you sarcastically comparing me to her?

      Garbage and Gravitas,” by Corey Robin (The Nation, 7 June 2010)

      “St. Petersburg in revolt gave us Vladimir Nabokov, Isaiah Berlin and Ayn Rand. The first was a novelist, the second a philosopher. The third was neither but thought she was both. Many other people have thought so too.”

      It gets better from there, and addresses her unfathomable and pervasive influence, as well as her profound hypocrisy.

    56. PuzzleGirl says:

      I’m bored.

    57. Dan F says:

      I’d like to apologize to pannonica for setting off this nontroversy… I only had a couple minutes to comment yesterday and was surprised that nobody had engaged MD. There are interesting issues to be debated, and I thought this might be the best place since lord knows there isn’t any substantive discussion on cruciverb-l. Maybe not.

      anyway, sorry pannonica, nicely argued, and i always appreciate your prose even when I think you’re off base…

    58. Amy Reynaldo says:

      MD Solver and Jamie, you have both stepped way over the line and I’m astonished at the ad hominem attacks.

      Last night, I realized that your critiques of pannonica’s style are nothing new. I have seen the same stuff directed at Rex Parker countless times, as he and pannonica take a similar hard-edged approach. Rex has never once cut a puzzle any slack for being a debut or made by a teenager. Why should he, or pannonica, lower their standards for what is widely hailed as the best crossword in the land? Given how selective Will Shortz must be, every puzzle should be terrific—but sometimes they aren’t terrific at all.

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