Monday, 2/13/12

BEQ untimed 
NYT 2:55 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:14 (Jeffrey -paper) 
CS untimed (Sam) 
Celebrity untimed 

Ellen Lauschner and Victor Fleming’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT crossword 2/13/12 • Leuschner, Fleming • Mon • solution

Breezy little puzzle with five theme entries, including a central spanner. The gimmick is phrases ending in /dō/, which is spelled differently each time.

  • 17a. [It’s kneaded at a bakery] BREAD DOUGH.
  • 23a. [“Doonesbury” cartoonist] GARRY TRUDEAU.
  • 35a. [Samuel Beckett play with an unseen character] WAITING FOR GODOT.
  • 47a. [Vito Corleone portrayer] MARLON BRANDO.
  • 57a. [1954 Hitchcock thriller] REAR WINDOW.

Basically, I see every spelling except -doe, as in ERNIE K-DOE, but that’s fine, since there are too many, or two few, names among the themers already. The round-up is: two real, full names; one play title (hinging on a fictional character’s name); one film title; and one everyday item. For me, that’s neither coherent nor varied enough.  Perhaps it could have been made with names only? Brigitte Bardot? DJ Shadow? (Unfortunately, the only -dough person I could find is porn actor Jon Dough, who is too long to go with with DJ Shadow).

Otherwise, the puzzle is an extremely smooth solve, with that low CAP™ Quotient we like to see in all puzzles, but especially in early-week offerings. Despite the easiness of the solve (under three minutes is very quick for me), the constructors and editor don’t neglect to have some fun in the clues. Some examples:

  • 40a [Convent inhabitant] for NUN coyly nudges the solver to think of habit.
  • 56a [Speak like Sylvester] LISP. All those sibilants in the clue!
  • 61a [Wrinkly fruit] UGLI. May as well have written wrinkli fruit!

Other thoughts:

  • 4d [Meadow] LEA. Should meadow have been avoided? 24d [ __ list] TO-DO is iffy too; although it isn’t pronounced with a long o, it looks like one of the theme entries (47a).
  • 52a [State north of Calif.] for OREG. is easily the ugliest entry, 61a notwithstanding.
  • 26d [Baby deer] FAWN. Of course, DOE flickered through my brain.

Good, but not great puzzle.

Anna Gundlach’s Los Angeles Times Crossword – Jeffrey’s Review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution Monday Feb 13 2012

Theme: 23A. [“__ silly question, get . . .”] – ASK A
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice,
And everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.

Theme answers:

  • 117A. [Baker’s sweetener] – GRANULATED SUGAR
  • 26A. [Cinnamon blend for a Thanksgiving recipe] – PUMPKIN PIE SPICE. This sounds like a forced phrase. Judges?


  • 43A. [“All finished!”] – THAT’S EVERYTHING. See you next time. Oh, wait. I’m not done yet.
  • 57A. [1966 Beach Boys hit] – WOULDN’T IT BE NICE
  • 37A. [Little ones who, they say, are made up of the ends of this puzzle’s four longest entries] – GIRLS

Answer that is creepy if part of the theme:
14A. [“Très sexy!”] – OO LA LA


  • 33A. [“The Sheik of __”: 1920s song] – ARABY
  • 6D. [Dog also called a Persian Greyhound] – SALUKI. What are you doing here on a Monday?
  • 18D. [Shepard who hit golf balls on the moon] – ALAN. Wrong. He only hit one golf ball. [Wrong. See comments]
  • 41D. [Manners to be minded] – P’S AND Q’S. Alan minded his P’s and Q’s during the Q and A at the A and P. The circle of life.
  • 54D. [Rocking Turner] – TINA

*** stars.

Updated Monday morning:

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Pattern Recognition” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, February 13

Each of the three theme entries begins with a particular pattern:

  • 20-Across: The [Itsy-bitsy garment of song] is the teeny-weeny yellow POLKA-DOT BIKINI. The song takes me back about 40 years. It was on a K-Tel LP I used to listen to all the time as a kid. The album was called “Goofy Greats.” It included “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and a dozen or so other songs I can’t seem to recall now.
  • 37-Across: The CHECKERED FLAG is the [NASCAR finish line signal].
  • 55-Across: [Obsolete prison garb] includes both the STRIPED UNIFORM and the ball-and-chain ankle accessory.

The eights sandwiching the central theme entry (FASTBALL and TIE SCORE) are cool, but when it yields adjacent crossings like BRS and AEC I’m not entirely convinced it’s worth it. The paired longer Downs were fun, especially CAISSONS. About the only thing I know about caissons is that [They went rolling along in old US Field Artillery song lyrics]. Good thing that was the clue! My dictionary says a caisson is a chest filled with ammo. They had to be wheeled out to battle, I’m guessing, which is why they would “go rolling along.”

I really liked the whole conglomerate of ZIPLOC, X-ACTO, SKI CAP, and Gary LARSON over on the west side. To me, these highlights were worth having LOESS, ENROL, and ASSNS in the lower-left corner. Sometimes, when it comes to fill, it’s all about the give-and-take.

Liz Gorski’s Celebrity crossword, “Movie Monday”

Celebrity crossword solution, 2 13 12 "Movie Monday" Gorski

The theme is a star and two of the hit movies on her résumé:

  • 15a. [Val Kilmer film in which 33-Across had a cameo: 2 wds.] is BATMAN FOREVER. I was thinking she played Poison Ivy, but that was Uma Thurman in 1997’s Batman & Robin, with George Clooney. Drew played Sugar (who?) in Batman Forever, but also starred in the 1992 thriller Poison Ivy.
  • 33a. [“Going the Distance” star: 2 wds.] is DREW BARRYMORE. This 2010 rom-com is not one of the movies she has produced.
  • 49a. [With “The,” Adam Sandler film starring 33-Across: 2 wds.] clues WEDDING SINGER.

Smooth puzzle overall.

Anyone have trouble with the crossing of 55a: [“__ One” (DJ Khaled song): 2 wds.] and 52d: [ABC’s morning show, for short]? I knew GMA, which is fortunate because the song title, “I’M ON One,” doesn’t make any sense to me.

Common crossword answer that may not be so familiar to people who don’t use tools a lot and are new to crosswords: An AWL is a [Hole-punching tool]. The most common crossword clues for this word are “hole maker” or “hole puncher,” “leatherworker’s tool,” “piercing tool,” and “cobbler’s tool.” If you’re making shoelace holes or belt holes, an awl comes in handy.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday 156”

BEQ Themeless 156 answers

Last night on Facebook,‘s puzzlemaker Cynthia Morris mentioned that her two favorite shows right now are 19a: DOWNTON ABBEY and Breaking Bad, and “I didn’t realize how bizarre this is until I watched one episode of each on the same night.” (Good acrostics site if you like that puzzle type; online solving or printouts, whichever you prefer;  all related to American history but not in a boring textbook way.)

Besides DOWNTON ABBEY, Brendan has loaded the puzzle up with other zippy answers. Jazz aficionados get AVANT JAZZ crossing JOHN ZORN (but not at the Z), a CAESAR SALAD that is ALL WASHED UP (less risk of food poisoning, yo), a BEDBUG (ick) who will JUMP BAIL, CITIZENS BANK, and “AIN’T IT?”

Strange-looking grid, no? Those 3×7 and 4×7 corners are the bread, but then the sandwich’s cheese is four rows of 3- to 5-letter answers. But the cheese hooks up with a bunch of long Downs and is surrounded by the lettuce and tomato of longer answers. The short fill is mostly pretty smooth, so yes, I remain a fan of the 72-word themeless and prefer it to anything in the 50s. 4.5 stars.


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20 Responses to Monday, 2/13/12

  1. Gareth says:

    Fun themers in the LAT, swear I’ve only heard the phrase as “all things nice.” US and Canada vs other English speakers difference?

  2. Tinbeni says:

    Jeffrey: Alan Sheppard “hit” two golf balls on the Moon with four swings..
    The first swing completely missed. The second swing moved the ball about 3 feet.
    The third sent it about 200 meters.
    On his fourth swing he hit the SECOND golf ball around 400 meters.
    He used a 6 Iron.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    @Tinbeni: oops. I misrememberized. Thanks.

  4. pannonica says:

    Pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice. They exist, labelled and marketed as such. American masala?

  5. Daniel Myers says:

    For those who are interested in such matters, there’s a seemingly perpetual tempest in a teapot about which way to pronounce “Godot”, i.e., which syllable to stress due to a transatlantic difference in pronunciations/productions. I grew up hearing the first syllable stressed in productions and, initially, was just a bit taken aback when I saw my first American production with the stress of the second syllable. IMO, it’s much ado about very little. But, again, those interested in such matters can see it all threshed out on sites such as this one:

  6. Loren Smith says:

    @Daniel Myers – Speaking of stressed syllables, whereas almost all English words with more than one syllable have a clearly stressed syllable (METHodist, ePIScopal)with the vowels in the unstressed syllables reduced to schwas, there are some, at least in my dialect, with not so clear stresses: cartoon, marquis, chimpanzee. I wonder why.

  7. Daniel Myers says:


    I’m not exactly an expert on this subject, so I’m very chary of, er, putting my foot in my mouth here, but it’s very difficult, for me, to utter those three examples of yours without stressing one of the syllables unless I say them extremely quickly, without giving my mouth and tongue time enough to form the stress. Do you speak very speedily, perhaps?

  8. ArtLvr says:

    Two equally stressed syllables are spondaic — downtown, penknife, heartburn, etc… I think the schwa will show up more often when there are fewer different consonants involved. Thus Chippewa but chimpanzee.

  9. Daniel Myers says:

    Yes, ArtLvr, your point in re schwas and consonants is well-taken. But, in my manner of enunciating, or dialect, or whatever one may call it, those duosyllabic words you cite still have a stronger emphasis, a stress, on one of the syllables, though it doesn’t demote the other all the way down to a schwa.

  10. Daniel Myers says:

    Corrigendum: I’ve been saying those three words over and over to myself for the past half hour and it turns out I do turn the second syllable in heartburn into a schwa. Very unkind to my “r”s, I am.

  11. David L says:

    Unless BEQ is making some super-clever allusion that I don’t get, ‘current measurement’ = VOLTAGE is just plain wrong. A current is a current and a voltage is a voltage. Two different things.

  12. Loren Smith says:

    @ArtLvr – thanks for the new word. Spondaic. Cool. Thanks also for pointing out compound words that are two syllables. I never considered them when thinking about this. I would think that any compound two syllable word would have to be spondaic: namesake, heartbeat, armpit, the three you cite, and all the countless others. Your point about fewer consonants is interesting, but what about”procrastinate?” Its consonant/vowel pattern is close to “chimpanzee,” and it has a very clear stress.

    @Daniel – You nailed it. I talk extremely fast. Which syllable do you stress on “cartoon,” “marquis,” and “chimpanzee?” It’s kind of hard to get a true read. You might have to sneak up on the words without thinking about them. When I’ve managed to sneak up on them and get a true read, each syllable has very close to the same stress.

    For what it’s worth, some proper nouns are, um, spondaic (am I using it correctly?): Nadine, Roxeanne, Eileen, as opposed to MARtha, laVERNE, and BECKy.

  13. Daniel Myers says:

    @Loren – LOL – Thanks. I’m glad to have surmised something correctly today! To your question: I definitely stress the second syllable in “cartOOn” and “chimpAnzee”. And “marquis” – checking by repeating it over and over – I think I do pronounce spondaicly, or as close as my elocution allows me to come to a spondee. :-)

  14. ArtLvr says:

    Loren, Daniel — if you like the sound of Spondaic, look up Trochaic meter. That’s the one that goes Dum-dee Dum-dee as in “Double, double, toil and trouble”… or “While upon a midnight weary”…. “Mary, Mary, quite contrary”.

  15. Loren Smith says:

    @Daniel – I can see carTOON but not chimPANzees. The beauty of language is that there’s no right or wrong. (Unless you’re in a job interview or writing a formal essay)

    @ArtLvr – this is great stuff! I’ve never studied poetry aside from the requisite poems I had to read as a language major. If someone had pointed out spondees and Trochaic meter, it would have given me something to sink my teeth into since I’m missing the chip that understands things like “who used to laugh like the letter k.”

    Parents naming babies seem have a subconscious awareness of Trochaic meter; many try to avoid it. Hence the poplularity of middle names like Nicole, Renee, Eugene, Michelle. . .

    I have another couple of pronunciation observations, but I’ll spare the other readers. If you two want to discuss things further, my email is on Rex’ blog.

    Eenie meenie miney mo
    Catch a tiger by the toe
    If he hollers let him go
    Eenie meenie miney mo.

  16. Andy says:

    @Daniel – I had a drama professor in undergrad who wrote one of the major texts on Samuel Beckett, and who was in regular contact with Beckett during the later portion of his life. Beckett himself, according to this professor, placed stress on the first syllable of Godot. This, the professor claims, was a not-so-subtle wink at the audience, alluding to the God metaphor pervading the play.

  17. ArtLvr says:

    p.s. Loren, you need one more for now — iambic. that’s the classic daDum, daDum. Five of these are the iambic pentameter of a Shakespeare line: “To be, or not to be” etc. Mail is my user ID plus 911 “at” aol dot com.

  18. pannonica says:

    I put the emphasis between the syllables, while walking through the raindrops without getting wet.

  19. Loren Smith says:

    @pannonica – that’s REALLY good and could possibly make me reconsider my lifelong aversion to poetry.

  20. Daniel Myers says:

    @Loren—In re “chimPANzee”–The British “A” sounds so very different from the American “A”. What you have to imagine is something sounding like this, Chim-PAWN–zee

    @Andy–I’m not dipping my oar into this ongoing Godot war. I mean, yes, it seems that you are right in that as far as authorial pronunciatory intent goes, the Brit side wins. But the Yank side says, “So what? Blast Beckett’s intent!”—To which I have not an answer.

    @p–Yes, you and only you.;-)

    @omnes—Since we’re broadcasting our emails today: pour moi.:-)

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