Monday, April 1, 2013

NYT 3:36 
LAT 3:07 (pannonica) 
BEQ 5:44 
Fireball 7:50 
CS 8:14 (Sam) 

Don’t miss Patrick Blindauer’s monthly puzzle, just posted today at

Gary Whitehead’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword answers, 4 1 13, #0401

I’ve circled the [Fool] theme answers to facilitate counting the squares occupied by the nine theme answers. 26 times 2 plus 13 is 65, which is sizable but not huge. With April Fool’s Day landing on a Monday this year, perhaps it would have been wise to jettison some theme answers to allow for more Monday-friendly fill. Maybe each [Fool] instance could have been a noun—e.g., BOOB, DUNDERHEAD, LAUGHINGSTOCK, NINCOMPOOP, DUPE (which doubles as a verb), and DOPE,  in keeping with the noun in the holiday’s name, rather than mixing it up with verbs—SCAM, TRICK, CHEAT, KID, CON. While TRICK goes well with April Fool’s Day, KID, CON, SCAM, and CHEAT don’t hit the target. With these 11 theme answers locking down the grid, we end up with a bunch of things that seem out of place in a newbie-friendly Monday puzzle:

  • 15a. [Mideast potentate: Var.], AMEER.
  • 50a. [Like the Cyrillic and Hebrew alphabets], NON-ROMAN.
  • 63a. [Sound of delight], OOOH.
  • 3d. [___ acid (vinegar component)], ACETIC.
  • 23d. [China’s ___ En-lai], CHOU.
  • 35d. [“Happy Motoring” gas brand], ESSO.
  • 40d. [Straight: Prefix], ORTH.
  • 44d. [Throat lozenge], TROCHE.
  • 45d. [Pic of an unborn child], SONO. I know a lot of people who have had a lot of ultrasounds/sonograms, and I can’t say I’ve encountered anyone who uses “sono.”
  • 53d. [Ad lights], NEONS.
  • 61d. [Queue before Q]. NOP. Yes, beginners know the alphabet. But do they know that crosswords consider random strings of consecutive letters to be suitable answer “words”?

Also, those ASSES are crying out to be [Fools], but they’re opposite DECCA in the grid. If your theme is [Fool]s, you gotta bar the door before any ASSES sneak in.

Two stars. I’m disappointed that with all the playfulness inherent in April Fool’s Day, all we got here was a mixed bag of nouns and verbs that can all be clued with [Fool], surrounded by some rather icky fill.

Updated Monday morning:

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

CS solution, April 1

As I opened the puzzle today, April 1, I thought to myself Watch, it will either be a Bob Klahn puzzle or someone pretending to be Bob as an April Fools prank. Sure enough, the CS syndicate’s ace pitcher, Bob Klahn, spins another near-no-hitter today. 

My solving experience was one of victory and defeat. I solved the puzzle in under ten minutes, my self-imposed “par” for Bob’s puzzles–victory. But I never figured out the theme–defeat. I figured the theme entries had to be the three 15-letter answers:

  • 17-Across: The [Filing status] of interest to many people right about now is HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD
  • 37-Across: The [Company known for its catalogs] is VICTORIA’S SECRET. Exhibit A in the prosecution’s case that I’m officially old: I kept wanting SEARS ROEBUCK and was a little disappointed to see VICTORIA’S SECRET. What’s happened to me?
  • 57-Across: The [Substance whose synthesis required a “life force,” alchemists believed] is an ORGANIC COMPOUND.

There didn’t appear to be any overt connection between these three entries, and nothing about the puzzle’s title, “Last Words,” seemed to connect to the theme entries. For a while I wondered if this was the perfect April Fools gag–a themed crossword that had no theme at all! I briefly considered whether this was some kind of veiled retirement notice, but I wouldn’t let myself believe it.

Then I toyed with the idea of writing some kind of April Fools post pretending to know what was going on. The theme entries take a familiar phrase and move the last word to the front. For instance, the widely known “of household head” becomes the whimsically nonsensical HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD. But I’ve learned over the years that gimmick posts like this get a mixed reaction, so I decided against it (though there is something compelling about “of household head”).

I finally conceded defeat and reached out to fellow Fiend Teamster Doug. He kindly ended my misery: “It’s “kinds of words.’ Household word, Compound word, Secret word.” Of course. I knew that. I was just testing Doug to see if he knew it. Was anyone else stumped by this?

Outside of the theme, there was much to like here. Part of my “under par” solving time is due to the absence of unusual words or people with whom I am unfamiliar. Okay, I didn’t know ADELIE, the [Polar penguin named for a French explorer’s wife], but with some crossings the answer was at least inferable, and I’m fine with that. The fill was quite lively, what with BAD START, ANT COW, NOSE TO NOSE, TAKE AIM, WHEE, JOHN IRVING, NO SALE, and DO TIME, the latter cleverly clued as [Complete a sentence?].

Among the notable clues: [Cushion insert] for PIN, [Better clues?] for EDIT, [To use it, just add water] for a swimming POOL, [Halfway between eleven and eleven] for FIVE o’clock, and [Summer sign?] for PLUS.

Favorite entry = CHEWS OUT, clued as [Gives a tongue lashing]. Favorite clue = [Hot stuff that sounds otherwise] for CHILI.

Patti Varol’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 4/1/13 • Mon • Varol • solution

Predictable theme, but done well enough. As 60-across announces, it’s a [Cry heard today, and a hint to the ends of the answers to starred clues] (or as we in the biz call this sort of revealer: AAHTTEOTATSC—atiotastic!) APRIL FOOL.

Accordingly, the four referenced entries end in synonyms for FOOL:

  • 16a. [*Evangelist honored with a basilica in Venice] SAINT MARK. God save the mark.
  • 10d. [*Trapshooter’s target] CLAY PIGEON.
  • 24d. [*Tapped maple fluid] TREE SAP.
  • 29d. [*Lightweight, crinkled material used for suits] SEERSUCKER.

GENTLE (32s [Soft-hearted]) theme that doesn’t play any nasty tricks on the early-week solver.

There isn’t really anything remarkable among the non-theme fill; it’s just solid, low CAP Quotient™ material with businesslike clues. In other words, pretty much what’s expected for Mondays. The loosest clue is, to my mind, 5a [What waiters wait for] TIPS.

Some comments anyway:

  • 53a [Antitheft noisemakers] ALARMS, 39d [Vigilant] ALERT.
  • 14a [Length times width] AREA, 26d [Unhip type] SQUARE. 47a [Cubes in a bowl] SUGAR.
  • Have never liked the “bracelet” to describe something worn around the ANKLE (58a), because the etymology so strongly reminds me that it has to do with the arm (Latin, bracchium). I appreciate that the sense of the word has expanded and is thus legitimate, but what’s wrong with saying “anklet” (which can also refer to a low-cut sock, I know)?

Solid Monday.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 4 1 13 solution

First weekday back after vacation, and I need to get a lot done. So let’s do this quickly.

Five faves:

  • 1a. [The desire people have to do something good without getting out of their chair], SLACKTIVISM. Reposting something on Facebook, changing your Facebook profile picture, making your Twitter avatar green. Is signing online petitions also slacktivism, given that some of those petitions wreak change?
  • 66a. [Apple’s parent], CHRIS MARTIN. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their baby Apple a few years back.
  • 68a. [’70s project leader], ALAN PARSONS of the Alan Parsons Project. “Games People Play” and “Eye in the Sky” were actually hits in 1980 and 1981.
  • 1d. [Hillary aide], SHERPA. How many people assumed this meant Hillary Rodham Clinton?
  • 14d. [Pair of fives, in Vegas], HARD TEN.

Five people and one thing I didn’t know:

  • 25a. [___ del mono (Spanish liqueur)], ANIS.
  • 28a. [“The Little Foxes” nanny], ADDIE.
  • 32a. [CNN anchor Bolduan], KATE.
  • 45a. [Folk singer Jansch], BERT.
  • 4d. [Jazz vibraphonist Tjader], CAL.
  • 49d. [NHL All-Star Tyler], SEGUIN.

3.5 stars.

Trip Payne’s Fireball crossword, “Cuckoo Crossword”

Fireball “Cuckoo Crossword,” Trip Payne 4 1 13

Continuing the tradition from Peter Gordon’s New York Sun crosswords, where each April Fool’s Day(ish) there would be a “Wacky Weekend Warrior” puzzle from Trip, Peter’s Fireball brings us Trip’s “Cuckoo Crossword” today. Do you love these puzzles as much as I do? Then be sure to do Trip’s 21×21 “Something Different” variety crosswords at his site, too.

If you must know, I enjoy these wacky themeless puzzles in which almost all the answers are insane contrivances quite a bit more than the average themeless that aspires to similar degrees of grid openness. A compromise that brings no amusement vs. an intentional compromise such as OK DC FM DJ CD? I choose the latter.

Favorite wackadoodle answers: BOOHOOIN’, “OH, NO! SPIRAL!,” SPAGHETTI BOA, KAHLUA NO-NOS, “DRAT! GNAT BRAT!,” and SHE-GNU.

21d. [Places ’50s teens might have danced at] confused me for a while. I was reading it as “THE HOPETAL” and wondering if this was a weird play on “the hospital,” but the clue is plural and the answer is THE HOP, ET AL. Goofy/fun.

Well done, Trip, and thanks for bringing this puzzle to us, Peter. This entertained me more than the various April Fool’s jokes I have encountered on the internet thus far. Five stars, no foolin’!

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16 Responses to Monday, April 1, 2013

  1. Mike Buckley says:

    DECCA was the record company that famously — but foolishly — informed the Beatles’ manager in 1962 that “guitar groups are on the way out.”

  2. Gareth says:

    Very cute theme idea! I agree that perhaps it would’ve been a better puzzle with less theme answers. I don’t believe in non-Monday fill, but AMEER, OOOH, NOP, ORTH and TROCHE still grated heavily.

  3. Huda says:

    Never heard of TROCHE… DECCA was remotely familiar… I had DECO before DADA… SECRET before COVERT… I felt like a fool…

  4. Maleska Fan says:

    Today’s puzzles suck. And the main reason are these infernal blogs. What’s wrong with knowing the rivers of the world? And how better to learn new languages? All this talk of good crossings and clean fill has sucked the life out of the solving experience.

    It was a sad day when Amy and the others came along and started “rating” crosswords.
    Long live crosswordese.

  5. Brendan says:

    Today’s BEQ themeless is a real gem.

  6. Papa John says:

    pannonica, I’m always amused by the way you force words into new and unique usage but “loosest clue” has me dumbfounded, especially in regard to the example you offer up – 5A “What waiters wait for” = TIPS. Which part is loose?

  7. Evad says:

    My fave FB entry was [Grainy, easy to prepare, high in sodium, etc.] for RICEARONI-LIKE. I got everything except that 1-Across entry of OK DC FM DJ CD…I kept thinking Diane Rehm was going to get in there somewhere.

    I love these as well and am sorry they only come around once/year. Thanks Trip & Peter!

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      Also love Trip’s Wackies. I actually got it all — 1a from the crosses.

      Alternative quasi-cryptic clue for 30 d: {Sounds like the female wildebeest was aware}

      Somehow, I find that solving these helps me with some of the “out of the box” thinking required for more orthodox tricky cluemeisters (e.g. Klahn, Walden, Longo, et al). Yet, in some respects, Trip’s wackies require thinking *very* literally, almost prosaically. Anyhow, I love doing them.

Comments are closed.