Monday, 12/24/12

NYT 3:14 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:12 (pannonica) 
CS 4:57 (Sam) 
BEQ 7:20 (Jeffrey – paper) 

Michael Sharp’s New York Times crossword puzzle — pannonica’s review

NYT • 12/24/12 • Mon • Sharp • 1224 • solution

Here we have a phonetic long vowel progression theme, hung on the frame of ST–L.

  • 17a. [Yesterday’s joe] STALE COFFEE.
  • 24a. [Scouring pad material] STEEL WOOL.
  • 35a. [Bonus for showing panache] STYLE POINTS, which this puzzle receives for having consistency in the theme answers; they’re all two word phrases with the first word forming the consisting of no more an no less than what’s needed to fulfill the requirements of the theme.
  • 47a. [What Jackie Robinson did, famously, in the first game of the 1955 World Series] STOLE HOME. Didn’t know that. Heck, I didn’t even see him hit that ball (that was back in ’49 don’tcha know?).
  • 55a. [Informant] STOOL PIGEON.

I almost kind of–sort of would have liked to have seen a bonus entry—unremarked on in the cluing, of course—of STL, which is common enough in crosswords as the abbrev’ed form of St. Louis. The STE Thérèse of 11-across in the first row makes that desire all the more tantalizing.

Long downs are the fun SPAMBOTS (which I had as SPAMMERS for a bit) and the so-so STRIDENT, which is comprised entirely of very common letters. Least favorite AREAS (34a): MSU stacked on STN in the southwest, LES and AMT together for the first two down answers. Also, ERE I? Ugh.

Sturdy fill for the most part, relatively low, Monday-appropriate CAP Quotient™ (that’s crosswordese, abbrevs., partials, for those of you have forgotten or are new readers to my blatherings). A touch of playfulness in a very few clues (it is early in the week), such as: 28a [Enthusiastic response to “Who wants cookies?’] I DO (would Cookie Monster say, “ME DO”?) and 51a [Had an in-flight wedding?] ELOPED.

Good puzzle.
Updated Monday morning:

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Mixed Message”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, December 24

‘Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the blog not a person was posting. Am I in a fog?

Okay, that’s enough with the poetry. I’ll just stick to today’s puzzle. 53-Down tells us that NOTE is the [Type of message that’s “mixed” at the starts of 20-, 28-, 43-, and 52-Across]. Indeed, each of these entries starts with a different combination of the letters used in NOTE:

  • 20-Across: The [Nightly current events roundup in the Midwest] is the TEN O‘CLOCK NEWS. In practically every TV market along both coasts, however, there is both a ten o’clock news and an eleven o’clock news. In my market, I can watch the news at 4pm,. 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, 9pm, 10pm, and 11pm. Needless to say, 8pm is my favorite hour on television.
  • 28-Across: The [Affliction of one with a tin ear] is TONE-DEAFNESS. I hear that’s pretty common.
  • Tenterhook (by Nike)

    43-Across: The [Renaissance man’s antithesis] is a ONE-TRICK PONY. Are there ponies that perform multiple tricks? Yes, yes there are.

  • 52-Across: One [In suspense] is ON TENTERHOOKS. Until just a few years ago, I would have sworn this expression was “on tender hooks.” If you think about it, hanging from a tender hook would be much more suspenseful. A firmly installed tenterhook would appear to give more stability. The defense rests.

I liked the long Downs here, especially BRASSERIE, DOWN PAT, ROLE MODEL, and TIME LAG. PRE-TAX will always grab my eye, as will IVANA, the [Czech-born celebrity who had a cameo in “The First Wives’ Club”].

Favorite entry and clue = SUNSHINE, because [It made John Denver happy when it was on his shoulders].

Robyn Weintraub’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s review

LAT • 12/24/12 • Mon • Weintraub • 1224 • solution

Spot-on Monday theme. Take words with the prefix ad-, which often means toward or near, and reimagine them as types of advertisements, which are of course frequently shortened to ads. Hence:

  • 17a. [Commercial assignment?] ADMISSION. Middle English admitten, from Latin admittere, from ad- + mittere to send.
  • 28a. [Commercial style of speaking?] ADDICTION. Latin addictus, past participle of addicere to favor, from ad- + dicere to say.
  • 49a. [Commercial undertaking requiring capital?] ADVENTURE. Middle English aventure, chance, risk, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *adventura, from Latin adventus, past participle of advenire to arrive, from ad- + venire to come.
  • 66a. [Commercial speech?] ADORATION. Middle English adouren, from Anglo-French aurer, adourer, from Latin adorare, from ad- + orare to speak, pray.
  • 9d. [Commercial sun shade] ADVISOR. Middle English, to look at, consider, advise, from Anglo-French aviser, from avis.
  • 45a. [Commercial attire?] ADDRESS. Middle English adressen, from Anglo-French adrescer, from a- (from Latin ad-) + drescer to direct, put right; and dress is a transitive verb meaning to make or set straight. Incidentally, the clue’s attire contains a variant of the ad- prefix: Middle English, from Anglo-French atirer to equip, prepare, attire, from a- (from Latin ad-) + tire order, rank, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English tīr glory, ornament.

So, you can see from the included etymologies that a lot of these puns are actually reiterations of existing meanings, though many of the connections have become rather obscure over time. To make that an issue for criticism of the theme would be pedantic and tiresome. I’ve put them here simply because I think they’re interesting. All are quoted from, incidentally.

For housekeeping’s sake, I would have preferred that 25d ADAM had somehow been avoided; it’s the only non-theme instance of a word beginning with ad- (and “am” is also a word, so theoretically a similar style clue—albeit probably nonsensical—could be conjured for it, either along the lines of “to be” or as a shortened form of amateur (as in pro-am). I’m not going to rejigger the entire corner there, but perhaps ANEMIA would become ANOMIE, MAMIE to MAMBO… but from there it becomes rather tortuous. This obviously would require more time and effort than I’m willing to expend in a write-up of a Monday daily.

The ballast fill is adequate, but not overly adventurous. Let’s admit that the puzzle’s admirable—no need to admonish—and adjourn the proceedings.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless #200, Puzzle #500 crossword — Jeffrey’s review

Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword solution Dec 24, 2012

This is Brendan’s 500th puzzle on his site and 200th themeless. A double anniversary that calls for a special blogger. A blogger of such wit, humour and insight as has never been seen before in the history of crossword blogdom.

But, it is Christmas Eve and everyone who isn’t Jewish is away. So you get Jeffrey instead.

This is a themeless, so that means there is no theme. Just random words organized in a grid-shaped pattern, with black squares separating them. It is also a pangram, except for missing a few letters.

Notable words:

  • (31a) DJANGO UNCHAINED is an entry we haven’t seen since the Maleska-era a movie that opens tomorrow, so hopefully you’ve seen the bazillion commercials for it. It stars Anne Hathaway as Fontaine.
  • (8d) PARKED ON THE SOFA is what my dog does. Which is odd, because I don’t have a dog.
  • (14d) RED-NOSED describes that holiday favorite, Frosty the Snowman.
  • (30a) SLUICE is the first word of a Beach Boys classic.
  • (45a) P.Y.T. stands for Paint Your Turtle
  • (32d) JERRY LEE LEWIS used to have a routine with Dean Lee Martin
  • (34d) [Tiny Tim prop] – CRUTCHES. It is not easy to play the Ukelele on crutches.
  • (50a) [Eye roll] – OH, PLEASE – I think you have this down cold by this point of my review

Happy holidays to all. Everybody’s still gone, so you will see more of me tomorrow.

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9 Responses to Monday, 12/24/12

  1. Jason F says:

    Seemed slightly harder than your average Monday with GATEAU, LLANOS and one of the many 4-letter European rivers. If that’s the price for the snappy theme answers, then so be it. Nice puzzle.

  2. RK says:

    Where do you find the Hex/Hook puzzle posted on Sunday?

  3. Daniel Myers says:

    A Hibernian-Caledonian quibble:

    NYT 1A LASSES would better be clued as Scottish or Northern English. The word has an Old English etymology and, of course, is most closely associated with Scotland.

    The traditional Irish word for girls is COLLEENS – which comes complete with Irish etymology – “cailin”- and was still in use – in a whimsical fashion – when last I visited Ireland.

    • Papa John says:

      I’m sticking my neck out, here, but isn’t “lassies” the more common Scottish term?

      • Daniel Myers says:

        I suppose I would distinguish the two terms in this manner: LASSIES is almost exclusively Scottish, whereas LASSES has a Scottish/North Country overlap, and can often be heard in, say, the Mancunian dialect.

        As to which term is actually more in use in Scotland, I’m not at all sure. But my natural suspicion would be that the closer to the Highlands one gets, the more LASSIES predominates.

  4. Gareth says:

    STALECOFFEE was a bit arbitrary, but otherwise the NYT is a pretty good example of the genre. Appreciated the density in Ms. Weintraub’s LAT too!

    P.S. I was thinking to say what Daniel said more eruditely above…

  5. Re: LA Times, I’d like to think of the ADAM entry as a bonus to go with the super impressive SIX long theme entries in a Monday. ADmirable, indeed!
    ADmire: commercial slime?

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