Monday, March 11, 2013

NYT 3:28 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:47 (pannonica) 
BEQ 5:37 
CS 9:01 (Sam) 

Robert Fisher’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 3/11/13 • Mon • Fisher • 03 13 • solution

Whew! Smell that testosterone! The puzzle’s longest entries all begin with terms for male animals.

  • 17a. [Prankish activity] TOMFOOLERY. Turkey, cat, et al.
  • 23a. [Double-whammy economic condition] STAGFLATION. Deer, et al.
  • 35a. [Without a stitch on] BUCK NAKED. Deer, antelope, rabbit, et al.
  • 50a. [Impromptu, wide-ranging conversation] BULL SESSION. Cattle, whale, elephant, seal, et al.
  • 58a. [Shoddy and unsturdy] RAMSHACKLE. Sheep, cat, et al.

I’m not sure the BAY RUM (48a) is enough to counteract the accumulated manocity here, but I suppose it’s better than nothing; makes for good fill, as does its symmetrical counterpart MISLAY. The longest non-theme answers, RECKONED and ONCE MORE step with the central BUCK NAKED, overlapping five letters each. GARNETS bisects it neatly.


  • 15a & 62a, sharing the same clue [Part of the eye], IRIS and PUPIL.
  • Some strong vertical sevens in each corner, including EGO TRIP, ARMREST, CRACKER, RUBELLA, CS LEWIS.
  • Relatively low CAP Quotient™, but I’d certainly prefer to do without ODE TO a Nightingale, INSTS., forever AND A day (especially as it’s right next to 34d Anita O’DAY).

Decent puzzle, nothing special.

Did you think I’d neglect to mention 40d [Spays, e.g.] NEUTERS?

Updated Monday morning:

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

CS solution, March 11

Home again after another fun and exciting ACPT! Others will chime in with their thoughts, I’m sure, but let me add my two cents (or paragraphs) here. As always, the highlight of the weekend was the chance to see old friends and meet new ones. Puzzle-wise I did okay: the standings will take a few days to get finalized as contestants report various scoring errors, and as of this writing I’m barely clinging to my goal of finishing in the top 200 (I’m currently 199th–eek!). Errors on three of the seven puzzles plus a couple of slow solving times precluded any chance for a trophy in the D Division. Happily, I finally finished the dreaded Puzzle #5 within the allotted time (with one error, yes, but I’m used to a lot of white space on my Puzzle #5 submissions). So I’ll call it a victory even if I get ousted from the top 200.

The playoffs this year were as enjoyable to watch as ever, and the A Division round was filled with suspense. That anyone could solve the toughest version of Kevin Der’s wonderful themeless puzzle within the allotted time is truly impressive. It’s really fun rooting for three great solvers who are also great people and great sports. Congratulations to Dan Feyer, Anne Erdmann, and Tyler Hinman for reaching the final stage for the third year in a row, and kudos too to all who got to take home some hardware. I’m already excited for next year!

Thanks for indulging me on my ACPT reflection. Let’s get to today’s puzzle, another Bob Klahn gem! Truthfully, after a weekend binge of crosswords, I opened today’s puzzle with a little dread. Another puzzle so soon? But when I saw the byline, I suddenly felt reinvigorated and ready for the challenge. Sleeves rolled up, I dug in.

Like most Klahn puzzles of late, the theme was readily apparent from the title, and that proved to be a big help. The “P” in four familiar terms changes to “TA” to form four wacky terms:

  • 17-Across: Springtime changes to STARING TIME, or [When to rubberneck?].
  • 55-Across: Why spend your time prejudging when you can be TARE JUDGING, or [Estimating empty container weights?]. Then again, prejudging can be a lot more fun.
  • 11-Down: A “punt return” becomes a TAUNT RETURN, or a [Razz rejoinder?]. Sandra Bullock’s Razzie rejoinder was The Blind Side, which helped many forget All About Steve.
  • 25-Down: A “spin doctor” changes into the much more useful STAIN DOCTOR, one who’s a [Spot remover?].

One can’t help but notice the sweetness in the clues. [“Sweet!”] for I LIKE IT and NICE, and [Sweet preceder] for SEMI–all in close proximity to each other. Among the notable clues: [Butts out?] for MOONS, [They’re fired as soon as they’re employed] for BBS, [Doo-wop dukedom] for the Duke Duke Duke, Duke of EARL, and [Room for improvement?] for GYM.

Luckily, there were just two items I don’t think I knew before this puzzle. UDO is an [Asparagus-like sushi vegetable], and GEST is a [Medieval tale of derring-do] (heck, I didn’t even know that was the correct spelling of “derring-do”).

Favorite entry = JUJITSU, the [“Soft art” of the samurai]. Favorite clue = [It’ll be due when it doubles] for UNO.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 3 11 13

I’d love to write an ACPT wrap-up too, but at the moment, work calls and I’m brain-dead. (That’s not a good combo.) Maybe later.

Brain-dead review: Not too challenging on the BEQ themeless spectrum of difficulty. Totally missed the Kerry coinage of KYRZAKHSTAN but it amuses me terribly and makes for a lovely 1-Across. Liked learning that NGAIO MARSH’s real first name was Edith; because yes, if your name is Edith, why wouldn’t you change it to Ngaio? Favorite clue: 48a. [Inappropriate feeling?] for GROPE. Was befuddled by RERADIATING, which feels just as roll-your-ownish as “Kyrzakhstan.” Also noted that AS A PERCENTAGE OF is clued as a 15-letter partial, which puts it in the category of fill I call “SCARES THE HECK fill.”

Giggled to see 20a: [Japanese red deer], SIKA, as that’s my go-to example of the sort of fill that appears in the kind of crossword I neither enjoy nor respect. You know the ones—every answer can be found in a crossword dictionary and the clues are allergic to wordplay and fun. (See also: LATHI, a South Asian weapon made by wrapping a bamboo stick with iron.)

3.5 stars.

Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 3/11/13 • Mon • Chen • solution

Tidy little theme here, as explained by the excellent 15-letter revealer at 56 across, the other three theme answers spell out I-O-U.

  • 17a. [Cyclone center] EYE OF A HURRICANE, which is kind of a nonstandard locution.
  • 26a. [Roy Orbison hit featured in a Gere/Roberts film] OH, PRETTY WOMAN.
  • 43a. [Exerciser’s motto] USE IT OR LOSE IT.
  • 56a. [Debtor’s documents suggested by the sequence of the first words of 17-, 26- and 43-Across] PROMISSORY NOTES.

No muss, no fuss, short and sweet… except of course I’m going to fuss a little and be a tad sour. It’s the third component of the initialism. Unlike the other two core theme entries, the first syllable of this one is, homophonically, a plural of its representative letter: use = Us. I would have been happier with something like YOU SHOULD TALK or the Cars’ YOU MIGHT THINK, or something else that is unequivocally “U”.

Love the longdowns, SNOWDROP [Flower that usually blooms in winter] and [Reliable moneymakers] CASH COWS. Oh! Neglected the longer longdowns: [Forerunners] PRECURSORS, for which I mistakenly filled in PRECEDENTS, and ADAM AND EVE, clued bizarrely with [Starters of the first race?].

Some more:

  • 47d [Channel for political types] C-SPAN, 51a [Channel for business types] CNBC, with honorable mention to the unpretty 51d [Forensics team members: Abbr.] CSIS.
  • Random time! TOYS as [Hot Wheels and hula hoops]. Green grass and high tides!
  • Rare playful Monday clue: 7d [Bellow in a library] SAUL.
  • Mystery: why is KILO clued as the I’ve-never-heard-of-it [1,000 meters, briefly] when KILO for kilogram (not kilometer) is so strongly ingrained to the vernacular?

Good puzzle.

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10 Responses to Monday, March 11, 2013

  1. Huda says:

    Beyond all the testosterone in the theme itself, it’s a very biological puzzle, with members of the animal kingdom (APE, EMU), body parts or body allusions– HEAD, PUPIL, IRIS, GERM, FLEA, RUBELLA, NEUTER. Even some of the clues slant that way– e.g. the clues for CSLEWIS, BAYRUM and ODE TO.

    It’s a zoo…

  2. Anoa Bob says:

    Before too many more jump on the “Whew. Smell that testosterone!” bandwagon, consider this.

    One of the first puzzles I was able to sneak by an editor when he wasn’t looking (in a pub. not blogged here) had a play-on- female-names theme. The center 15, e.g., was GALLOPING GERTIE. Another I liked was UPSY DAISY.

    For this puzz, I attempted to redress the hormonal imbalance by going with a play-on-male-names theme. TOM FOOLERY immediately came to mind, but the theme quickly morphed, due to a shortage of workable candidates, to terms for male animals—much more fertile grounds there.

    The female name theme puzzle had a title, but I resisted the temptation to use any variant of “Whew. Smell that ….!”.

    • pannonica says:

      Hope it didn’t come across as too disparaging, certainly meant it in fun and as cultural shorthand. Don’t think the hypothetical comparison you make at the end is at all analogous.

  3. Gareth says:

    Away from home and I solved this on a relative’s laptop in the applet. My attempts to type words frequently ended in gibberish! Solid Monday. Neat sidestepping of literal male animals!

    The clueing on NEUTERS was awful though! Both spaying and neutering can mean “removal of the reproductive organs, male or female”. In standard usage spaying refers to females and neutering to males. Either way spaying is not an example of neutering.

    • Phil says:

      Since NEUTER means to remove the sexual organs, and this can be achieved by either spaying or castration, spaying, e.g. fits perfectly as an example of neutering.

      Along the line you were getting at, I always wondered at people saying you should spay or neuter your pet. I thought they should just say that you should neuter your pet, or spay or castrate them. However, even as I type this I cringe at castration, so I guess I can understand using the euphamism.

      It was generally accepted in my family that I was to become a vet. At the age of 30 watching my horse vet, I regretted not becoming one until he said that his next task was to go castrate 100 pigs. Whatever glamor I assigned to his life kind of dissipated at that point.

      • HH says:

        “I always wondered at people saying you should spay or neuter your pet.”

        Bob Barker always said this as his “Price Is Right” signoff; Drew Carey has honored him by doing the same since he took over the job … which has made him feel awkward twice in the last two years, after giving big sendoffs to two of the show’s models who were about to go on maternity leave.

      • Gareth says:

        But spaying also means removing the sexual organs male or female in its original sense… So if we are using the original senses of the words the clue makes no sense.

        If we instead use the meanings of the words as currently used it still makes no sense, because spay is used exclusively for females and neuter for males despite both being originally used for both…

        It’s for this reason that “sterilise” is now generally the preferred word.

  4. Thomas says:

    But PROMISSORY NOTES is plural, so the other theme entries are pointing us to “IOUs.” And since the term is a playful rendering of “I owe you,” an entry that actually started with YOU would be much less satisfying.

    There are of course many people with the family name Yu or Yoo, but I didn’t (on a cursory look) find any at 13 letters, and not many who would be Monday-level familiar.

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