Monday, 10/22/12

NYT 3:42 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:33 (pannonica) 
CS 13:09 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed 

Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT • 10/22/12 • Mon • Fagliano • 10 22 12 • solution

Unassuming puzzle? Innocent, everyday scenario? Is that what you SUPPOSE (16a)? Oh no, no, no. Something more surreptitious OCCURS here on a mild Monday. The grid is festooned—not with bathroom tissue, as 69a TPED would have it—but with plainclothes officers. Yes, these 60a [Sting operatives …] are UNDERCOVER COPS. What a disturbing, jarring notion so early in the week.

  • 20a. [It’s measured by polls] PUBLIC OPINION. Wow, perhaps even more upsetting, another poll in this mad season. Make it stop!
  • 24a. [Home of the San Diego Padres] PETCO PARK.
  • 39a. [Conqueror of the Incas] FRANCISCO PIZARRO. You know, among many anthrolopolgists, the preferred spelling is Inka; I’ve been waiting years, over a decade, for this version to enter the vernacular and thence to crosswords. I don’t know that I’ve ever even seen it in a puzzle as an avant-garde var. Also, PIZARRO appeared in a different crossword that I solved within the last 48 hours.
  • 55a. [Traveler to Cathay] MARCO POLO.

Three CO/P breaks, one C/OP. That’s a dissatisfying distribution; better to find another C/OP to make it half-and-half, or alternatively throw in a /COP/ (where it appears entirely within a longer word, such as ACOUSTICOPHOBIA) to stir things up a bit more. Nifty how there are two instances of seven-letter overlaps of themers within this tight 15×15 daily grid. Good also that there are no C-O-P sequences among the non-theme fill, though truth be told it isn’t a particularly common trigram.


Support team:

  • 4d [Jeans maker Strauss] LEVI, 31a [Some jeans] LEES. 33a [Hurt] ACHE, 54d [Hurting] IN PAIN.
  • Ugly stack to open the grid in the northwest” SCH., IRA, TOS.
  • Long downs are SUN CHIPS and ESCAPEES. Not bad.
  • Some with-it cluing in 5d [Awesome, in slang] EPIC, 9d [Slangy request for a high-five] UP TOP.
  • 3d [Company that makes Scrabble] HASBRO. Licensed in the US and Canada only; Mattel elsewhere.
  • Cross-referenced clues: OOMPA | LOOMPA (58d & 53d); ANNA played by Deborah KERR in The King and I.
  • Does this count as repetition? 24a [Home of the San Diego Padres], 73a [ __ Andreas Fault] SAN.
Low CAP™ Quotient, decently executed theme, pretty good Monday crossword.

David Steinberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LAT • 10/22/12 • Mon • Steinberg • 10 22 12 • solution

69-across sez [Colorful candy purchase, or what 17-, 24-, 38-, 49- and 60-Across all are] M AND M’S (yes, technically M&M’s). Hence, mesdames et monsieurs, phrases of that pattern:

  • 17a. [Versatile, as clothes outfits] MIX AND MATCH.
  • 24a. [Auto title data] MAKE AND MODEL. We would also have accepted [APB details].
  • 38a. [Toon mouse couple] MICKEY AND MINNIE.
  • 49a. [All one’s strength] MIGHT AND MAIN. Use it, and all will be right as rain?
  • 60a. [Gentle] MEEK AND MILD, which sounds like a description of “False Alarm Chili” I saw the other day.

I don’t know about you, but the last two themers seem less in-the-language than the first three.

The grid’s a bit Scrabbly, with a pair of Zs, an X, a Q, some Ks and Ws. No Js, Vs or Fs, though.

Mentions and Musings:

(only available with watermark, but too apt to pass up)

  • A bit duplicatory with John UPDIKE and DIKES (6d & 52d).
  • Some unusual and more obscure fill for a Monday. Wondering if this is an editorial trend in the LAT. The former German duchy of SAXE-Coburg, Tom EWELL of The Seven Year Itch, the vinicultural prefix OENO-, AZO dye.
  • Some ugliness too: NASD [Old OTC watchdog]—uhm, National Association of Securities Dealers (whence NASDAQ), and over-the-counter stocks? That’s way rough for a Monday also. Also, AAA MAP, partial A TOE (yes, I did that on purpose), and vague plural TYS.
  • Long downs: nice US CONGRESS with not-so-nice clue containing oblig. abbrev’d. hint [Amer. lawmaking group], BORE DOWN ON [Approached rapidly].
  • 1a [Capt. Kirk’s Asian lieutenant] MR SULU. My, oh my.

Good puzzle.

Updated Monday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Parting Parting”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, October 22

The four longest Across entries contain the letter sequence B-Y-E (the “parting”), but that sequence spans two different words (thus there’s a “parting” of the “parting”):

  • 20-Across: To [Show the way] is to LEAD BY EXAMPLE.
  • 33-Across: The [Market-town birthplace of a style of football] is RUGBY, ENGLAND and not, as I hoped, WILDCAT KANSAS, or WEST COAST, NEVADA.
  • 41-Across: A BABY ELEPHANT is the [Animal taking a walk in Henry Mancini’s jazzy “Hitari!” tune]. I know it as the opening tune for a popular live kids’ show that aired in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, when I was a little lad.
  • 56-Across: I didn’t know TAXICAB YELLOW was a real shade, but apparently it is, though I kinda like [Hack hue] better for a title.

I had all but the last six lines done in just under seven minutes, and I needed about that much time to get through the bottom swath. There were few gimmes for me south of BABY ELEPHANT. I didn’t want to guess at the [“Jabberwocky” rhyme scheme] until I had enough crossings in place, but it turned out to be the simple ABAB (just an AC short of ABACAB). RAGA, the [Music named for the Sanskrit for “color”], kept eluding me, and I was mildly surprised to see both ABORTIVE and LIBIDOS in the same grid. I wanted the [Colonial soldier?] to start with ANT, but that proved to be the ending of ARMY ANT. Crosswords have conditioned me into thinking AS IF is the only acceptable answer to [“In your dreams!”], so I was flummoxed by NOPE. It might have helped if ROSITA, the [“Seasame Street” Muppet with two tongues?], didn’t post-date my viewing window for the series by a good twenty-plus years.

Thank goodness for Edgar Allan POE and Paul ANKA, or I might still be working on the bottom section of this grid. On most occasions I think I would have tumbled to ABNER much more quickly as the [Yokel Yokum], but for some reason the only acceptable answers in my mind today were PAPPY and MAMMY. And there was a part of me that thought if the answer was ABNER, it would be tied to the LI’L at 23-Across. That’s how you simultaneously under-think and over-think the same clue.

[Turbot or burbot] might as well have read [Never mind, Sam, you’ll never get this]. Not exactly the most straightforward clue for FISH. And while we’re here, E-FAX, the [Digital dispatch], is at once current and dated. Those lasted for, what, twenty seconds? Can’t wait for the E-TELEGRAM.

Favorite entry = DONE DEAL, the [Fait accompli]. Favorite clue = [Short subject?] for ELF. This’ll seem weird, but I also liked [Sleeper ___] for CELL, mostly because I had SOFA and CARS in there for quite a while.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 10 22 “Themeless Monday”

My favorite part of this puzzle is the intersecting portmanteau words. 1d: TOFURKY comes from tofu + turkey, and 17a: FAUXHEMIAN combines faux + bohemian. I could do without some of the material in their corner (OPALINE, ULF, STUFFER, SNELL, OLEO), mind you, but those two duet nicely.

ED HELMS, H.J. HEINZ, STAN GETZ, and WU-TANG CLAN sing in the other sections. “You” is in three colloquial answers, twice with colloquialized spellings: “YER OUT!” and “WILL YA?” There’s also “ACT YOUR AGE,” which echoes 12d: “I’M AN AGE.”

Grossest clue/answer combo: 47d. [Big and red, say], SWOLLEN.

Spelling update: H-TEST is clued as 52a: [Enewetak trial], and I thought to myself, “No, it’s Eniwetok,” because that’s the spelling crosswords have taught me, but apparently the U.S. government dropped the older spelling in 1974 and switched to Enewetak, a better reflection of the Marshallese pronunciation. Why have crosswords decades later hewed to the old spelling?

Question: Why on earth do the ORIOLES play that song? (8d. [Team that plays “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” during the seventh inning stretch].) Baltimore is, last I checked, a city.

3.25 stars.

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15 Responses to Monday, 10/22/12

  1. splits says:

    Enjoyed this puzzle.

    I don’t think most people notice or care about 1 C/OP versus 3 CO/P. Better to throw in something like ACOUSTICOPHOBIA? Then critics would be complaining about the imbalance between COP being divided 3 times and undivided only once.

    There is actually a tradeoff between theme consistency and fill quality, because the easiest way to fix an “inconsistent” theme is often to add more theme entries so no one entry stands out as special. I am not eager to raise the theme consistency bar higher than it has already been set.

  2. Huda says:

    I liked the theme, its execution and its density. I think the puzzle itself may be on the harder side for a Monday- my Quick & Dirty Index puts it in the more challenging range. Probably because 3 answers were proper nouns, and PIZARRO’s first name is not exactly everyday knowledge. Also because of some clues, like the SUNCHIP one. But I think it’s fine to have a little challenge on a Monday.

    Still, someone finished this in less than 2 minutes. Seriously?

    I, for one, can’t wait for the election, just to be done with all the PUBLIC OPINION POLLS, the pundits, the arguing and distortions. Soon…

  3. Ray Fontenot says:

    Enjoyed David Steinberg’s LA Times “M & M’s” puzzle. MEEK AND MILD seems very much “in the language” to me – more so than MIGHT AND MAIN. Would like to have seen MORK AND MINDY as a theme entry.

  4. Toby Berla says:

    >> which echoes 12d: “I’M AN AGE.”

    Ummm…. I read that entry as “I MANAGE”… perhaps you were kidding?

  5. Gareth says:

    NYT: I thought Scrabble was licensed to J Spear and Sons here…

    LAT: Might and main is a little quaint. Meek and mild go together like a horse and carriage in my world as well. “Gentle Jesus meek and mild…”

  6. Dan says:

    Never heard of the expression “sit pat” before, only “stand pat”. (Unless they’re commands to a dog named Pat of course)

  7. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    Jimmy Durante says, “Inka Dinka Doo”.

  8. Thanks, pannonica, for the great writeup!

    @Ray Fontenot Thanks! I did consider using MORK AND MINDY in place of MIGHT AND MAIN but decided against it because I already had another proper noun M&M (MICKEY AND MINNIE).

    • pannonica says:

      You’re welcome, David, but I just reread it and my review of my write-up is that it was kind of stingy.

      I will be critiquing this comment in another comment tomorrow morning.

  9. JULIA says:

    WASHINGTON POST 10/21/12: How is PELEG (6 down) the Moby Dick captain. In the book Ahab has no last name and the only other one I found was Capt Bloomer. PEGLEG would be descriptive but I don’t understand PELEG

    • pannonica says:

      PELEG is one of the owners of the Pequod, so the clue is tricky. He is also called a captain of the ship.

      Captain Bildad, who along with Captain Peleg was one of the largest owners of the vessel; the other shares, as is sometimes the case in these ports, being held by a crowd of old annuitants; widows, fatherless children, and chancery wards; each owning about the value of a timber head, or a foot of plank, or a nail or two in the ship. People in Nantucket invest their money in whaling vessels, the same way that you do yours in approved state stocks bringing in good interest.”
      –Moby-Dick (ch. 16)

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