Monday, 12/10/12

NYT 3:39 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:11 
CS 13:02 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed 

Michael David’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s review

NYT • 12/10/12 • Mon • David • 1210 • solution

21-down explains all, [Where to find coaches at football games … or a description of the answers to the 16 starred clues?] SIDELINES. Specifically, the words comprising the three peripheral columns on each lateral section of the grid.

Without looking up measurements and checking scale, it seems to be a reasonable approximation of the proportions of an American NFL field (excluding the end zones, I think); there are quite a lot of staff and accoutrement to be accommodated! Anyway, each of the sixteen can be placed before LINE to make a compound word or phrase: FLAT, JAW, CONGA, DATE, AIR, FAULT, ASSEMBLY, BOTTOM, PICKUP, DIAGONAL, SOLID, END, TIME, ENEMY, SKY, and finally the oh-so-apropos EXIT.

That’s quite a feat, not only finding so many words with that crucial attribute, but also stacking them together in such a way that they don’t generate a mess of ugly fill. With entries like NUT TREE, GLOATED, PHOENIX, ELAPSE, PASSION, ARTICLE, that fate is admirably averted (despite the odd, un-Mondayish Milton OBOTE and a couple of AT… partials)—really, not much to criticize at all!

Oh, and that’s 85 theme squares in a 15×15 grid. So what if they’re broken up into 17 components? A lot of work went into this puzzle, to make it a satisfying solve and (mostly) Monday smooth (I’m scowling at you, HAD A, SNEE, A LOSS, AS I, and LSTS).

TWELFTH is lovely in the central across spot, even though it has nothing to do with the theme. Long non-theme fill: LIE AWAKE, FREE SPIN (clued in the context of some TV game show), the meh-esque MEET WITH, and SHEEPDOG (which I almost completed as SHEEP DIP before reading the clue). A couple of nice flourishes: both OAT and HAY; 31a [Drink at a sushi bar] SAKE followed by 32a [Sauce at a sushi bar] SOY. Strange disparity for DES and LAS: [ __ Moines, Iowa] but [ __ Vegas] with Nevada unstated in the clue.

Well above average Monday.

Updated Monday morning:

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

CS solution, December 10

I’m willing to bet a nickel that 13:02 is the highest Monday solving time ever to appear on this blog. Rest assured, this feat is finding its way on my CV somewhere.

As usual, I got stumped on things that, looking back, were child’s play. But let’s get to that later. We should start, as always, with a recap of the theme. This one involves inserting BAR at the front of four familiar terms (hence, they are all “bar-gains”):

  • 20-Across: Carole King becomes a BARCAROLE KING, the [Gondolier with the best voice?].  A “barcarole,” FYI, is a “Venetian gondolier’s song with a rhythm suggestive of rowing.” (Thank you, dictionary!)
  • 34-Across: “Rio Bravo,” the John Wayne film from 1959, turns into BARRIO BRAVO, an [Urban “Ole!”?]. Nice one, pilgrim. 
  • 41-Across: Why be “on patrol” when you can be BARON PATROL, the [Peer perambulation?] That was today’s vocabulary lesson.
  • 55-Across: “Fly casting” becomes BARFLY CASTING, [Choosing “Cheers” regulars?]. Foster kitten update: our two house guests, Norm and Cliff, remain available for adoption by a good home, especially after this morning’s episode when Norm tipped a glass pitcher from a high shelf. Other than the occasional mischief all cats find themselves in, they really are great. Doesn’t your home need a good kitten or two? Please?

This time it was the northwest that slayed me. I got L.A. LAW easily enough ([Dey-in-court drama] was cute, but it didn’t really put up a fight), but I really struggled with the rest, especially since BARCAROLE doesn’t trip easily from my tongue.  I was looking for something color-related as the answer to [Muted effect], but it was just the muted trumpet call, WAWA. And for some reason I couldn’t free my mind of TURRET as the answer to [Tank top] so it took FOR-EVER to get GAS CAP. And since I didn’t know what a “gob” was, [Does a gob’s job] stumped me as a clue for SWABS. Again, looking back it doesn’t seem that formidable. But I was bamboozled for way too long.

My failures aside, there’s a lot to like here. EARLY BIRD and LAUGH LAST are great long Downs, as are EXCELSIOR (even if the clue makes no mention of Stan Lee) and ROAST LAMB. I needed a lot of letters before I got the OCARINA, but I liked it once I figured out. Nearby, there’s GOT ON, clued as [Made it to first base]. I’m fairly sure this is a baseball reference, but it kinda works for the dating version of “first base” too. 

Favorite entry = SHEILA E. You may remember that [She joined forces with Prince during the “Purple Rain” recording sessions]. She wanted to lead the glamorous life, but without love it ain’t much. Favorite clue = [Word before the big rush?] for WHY? Should the Orca for Best Clue be named the Bob Klahn Award?

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

BEQ Themeless Monday answers, 12 10

While solving it, I didn’t realize this puzzle had such a low word count—just 62. Granted, there are fewer funky-fresh answers than in a BEQ themeless puzzle with a higher word count, but we still have HIGGS-BOSON ([Scientific discovery nominated for Time’s 2012 person of the year]), GLOVE BOXES, “I LOVE YOU, MAN,” and CHRIS BOSH ([Member of the Heatles], the Miami Heat’s subset of superstars).

Fave clues:

  • 12a. [Subject of YouTube video made by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula], ISLAM. That’s the heavily aliased ex-con who made the inflammatory anti-Islam “movie” and “trailer.”
  • 18a. [Where you might solve for X], TREASURE MAP.
  • 32a. [Who said “I don’t do drugs, I am drugs”], DALI. News to me.
  • 34a. [Scott Rasmussen’s occupation], POLLSTER. Rasmussen’s polls were among those most heavily (and mistakenly) weighted in favor of Romney.
  • 41a. [Sunglass ___] HUT. Everyone’s favorite mall kiosk eyewear purveyor.
  • 9d. [Like Leonard Cohen’s singing], MONOTONE. I don’t get the appeal.
  • 19d. [Fearsome Foursome member Grier], ROSEY. Best known (to me) for singing “It’s All Right to Cry” in Free To Be … You and Me.
  • 29d. [“I totally agree,” on Facebook], THIS. Ideally all-caps for emphasis. See also: INORITE.

Least favorite clue:

  • 36d. [Like some trannies], EX-MALE. “Tranny” is becoming outmoded and crude. It also refers to transvestites (cross-dressers) and not to transsexual people. [Like trans-women] would work for me. Although one could argue that they never were really male, the “It’s a boy!” in the delivery room would rebut that. There’s also the specific approach, e.g., [Like filmmaker Lana Wachowski].

Least favorite fill: EMISSIVE. It’s a word, but have you ever used it, heard it, or read it before?

3.33 stars.

Amy Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers, 12 10 12

Puzzle was posted late, ergo review is posted late too.

Theme: BOBBY MCFERRIN’s whistle-containing a cappella song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” is made of the first parts of DON’T LET ME DOWN, WORRYWART, BE MY GUEST, and HAPPY HOUR. Can I just say I really don’t care for whistling? It annoys me. Theme answers are crisp and unboring, though.

Top fill: GOOD CRY, HOBBITS, BAYONET (which goes with a horse, of course), and CAR WASH.

Lots of proper nouns, no? YOGI, MIATA, AVON, SANTO, EYRE, ALCOA, NAT, CLIO, ELLIS, Mauna LOA, ONT., COROLLA, GUS, and RITT. Plus all-caps UAL, LAA, and WAAC. Too many? Or an okay amount?

3.25 stars.

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9 Responses to Monday, 12/10/12

  1. Huda says:

    Pannonica, I agree… A very interesting, unusual, visual Monday puzzle in the NYT. Well done!

  2. Christopher Jablonski says:

    I thought the NYT was pretty good even before I noticed the grid’s resemblance to a football field. With different cluing, this puzzle could even feel at home on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

  3. Gareth says:

    That’s some serious construction chops pulling off such an ambitious puzzle! Kudos!

  4. ArtLvr says:

    Agreed, as to the NYT, and I enjoyed Klahn’s BAR-gains — but the BEQ was something else! Wow. (Crossing the) RUBICON was my downfall, aptly……

  5. RK says:

    NYT is really impressive.

  6. Michael David says:

    Thanks for the comments!

    It took a great deal of work to create this puzzle, but I had fun trying out different ideas.

    When I started, I wanted the theme to be SIDEBURNS instead. Maybe that is still a possibility on a smaller scale…

  7. J. T. Williams says:

    Any idea why the LAT isn’t available? I see that the 12/11 puzzle is, but it doesn’t look like the one for today has been posted still. Is there a weird format or something that is not conducive to AcrossLite?

Comments are closed.