Monday, April 29, 2013

NYT 3:36 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:53 (pannonica) 
BEQ 4:25 
CS 5:19 (Evad) 

C.W. Stewart’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 4/29/13 • Mon • Stewart • 4 29 13 • solution

A sort of goofy theme here, based on rhyming actors’ names paired with foodstuffs. A focussed version of the children’s game Rhyme Time, aka Higgeldy-Piggeldy, and probably a few more names to boot.

  • 17a. [Actor Charlie’s favorite food?] SHEEN’S BEANS.
  • 24a. [Actress Hilary’s favorite food?] SWANK’S FRANKS.
  • 31a. [Actress Veronica’s favorite food?] LAKE’S CAKES.
  • 45a. [Actor Brad’s favorite food?] PITT’S GRITS.
  • 50a. [Actor Dudley’s favorite food?] MOORE’S S’MORES.
  • 63a. [Actress Goldie’s favorite food?] HAWN’S PRAWNS.

By some common objective criteria the execution of the theme is strong. First, the mechanism of the the theme is consistent throughout. Second, there is equal distribution of male and female actors; in fact, it’s so egalitarian that the genders rigorously alternate. Oh wait, I was making an assumption—it sure seemed that way, but actually we have MFFMMF. Good enough, anyway. Sort of like a limerick with an introduction. Anyway, Dudley MOORE could easily have been Demi, so the distribution is intentionally judicious.

Further rundown: four current actors, one from the “golden era,” and one transitional figure, the latter two deceased.

More: the first two seemed to promise greater integration, as franks and beans is a stereotypical kids’ meal. Stretching more, prawn cakes are not uncommon in Asian cuisine. But I know, know, know that grits and s’mores do not go together (oh please tell me they don’t).


  • Unlikely Monday fill: EROSE [Jagged, as a leaf’s edge]; AARE [Bern’s river]; 67a INIGO [Architect Jones] (wouldn’t Mandy Patinkin’s character Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride movie be a more recognizable reference? Together, these make me wonder why 70a wasn’t clued as [Small evergreen of the American west]!
  • Long downs: the excellent WAGON TRAIN and I KID YOU NOT.
  • Bottom corner with PSST, SSTS, T-NUT. They seem like regulars.

The rest is good, with little to jack up the CAP Quotient™. In sum, slight but well-executed theme with a minimum of dross in the ballast. As long as an early week puzzle isn’t a mess or a snore and a bore, you can’t really demand too much more.

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

LAT • 4/29/13 • Mon • Varol • solution

Dead, solid, simple theme, explained by the last long across. [Ideal toast color, and a hint to the ends of 17-, 24-, 38- and 48-Across] GOLDEN BROWN.

  • 17a. [Lacking a strong foundation] BUILT ON SAND. The opposite of the puzzle’s theme.
  • 24a. [Snoopy’s WWI plane] SOPWITH CAMEL. You’d think that the 1960s band Sopwith Camel would have had either the 1960s hit “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” or “Hang on Sloopy” but you’d be wrong. That would be, respectively, the Royal Guardsmen and the McCoys.
  • 38a. [Shutterbug] PHOTOGRAPHY BUFF.
  • 48a. [Farina-based hot cereal] CREAM OF WHEAT.

Started off on the wrong foot with this one, laying in GRAFT rather than BRIBE at 1a [Under-the-table money]. Soon after, it was BALDNESS for BALD SPOT at 4d [Rogaine target], NAH not NAW at 18d [Folksy negative] … it was like that most of the way through. But hey at least I withheld RAKE for ROUE at 2-down! And at least I knew that 41d [Neosporin target] probably wasn’t LISTERIA (or, much more farcically, WISTERIA) even though my brain was having trouble getting to BACTERIA.

Observations, musings, et cetera:

  • 6d [Bite-size raw Asian dish] SUSHI. Some overzealous establishments seemed to have missed the memo with that specification (bite-size, not raw (which isn’t always the case, anyway)).
  • 53a [Egypt neighbor] LIBYA. Can someone come up with a single clue that will work for both LIBYA and DUBYA?
  • 31a [Hors d’oeuvre cracker] RITZ. Not in my house, not at my dinner or party. Wonder how they’d go with TRIPE UPON them. (26d, 15a)
  • 28d [Printing error, perhaps] TYPO, 65a [Change a manuscript] EDIT.
  • OK, OK. TUTU.
  • Least Mondayesque answer: RUHR, Germany.

Good, above average puzzle, less drab and MATTE than the theme might suggest.

Updated Monday morning:

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Transportation Leaders” – Dave Sullivan’s review

He’s back….

Yes, it’s true, I’m the only Fiend stupid enough to follow in the footsteps of the witty, universally liked and ubermenschy Sam Donaldson. (I was also stupid enough to precede him as well, but then I could not be accused of knowing better.) But Amy caught me at a vulnerable moment, and I said I would return with a daily (and brief!) commentary of the CrosSynergy puzzles. One piece of good news for solvers is that I won’t post my error-ridden and impossible-to-read handwritten grids, but will take screenshots like all the other sensible reviewers here. (Welcome to the 20th century, Evad!)

CS solution – 04/29/13

I almost panicked when solving today’s puzzle, wondering how one could travel on a TAX, CARROT, PLANET and BUSH, but realized the “leaders” referred to in the title were actually the names of types of transportation hidden in longer phrases, so we have TAXI, CAR, PLANE and BUS. Whew, that was a close one! Hope Sam is ready for me to email him frequently late at night when I’m not so lucky next time.

Each day, I’ll just add my most favorite and unfavorite clue/entry pair. FAVE: [Mistake] was GAFFE. I learned on this very blog from one joon pahk that the non-e version of this word is what boatsmen use to hook a large fish. This was after I made a gaffe using the non-e spelling to mean the e-spelling. (Even now I sound confused, don’t I?) Anyway, I’m lucky to have such smart friends here. UNFAVE: [Bide ___] was A WEE? Sounds like what someone might do if they can’t find a public restroom.

Please tell Amy to fire me in the comments so I can get back an hour of my life every day!

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 4 29 13

Likes: TIN WHISTLE (the phrase, not the sound), “HAVING SAID THAT…,” PIANIST clued as [Bench player?], SLEEVELESS TEES, video game EASTER EGGS, the game I NEVER, tasty BLINTZ.


Mystery item: 39a. [Reasons for a cap screw?: Abbr.], STDS. Is “cap screw” some sort of slang for sex with a condom?

Four stars. (What? You want more? I’m busy and have a migraine. Pretty impressed with the thoroughness of my review, actually.)

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35 Responses to Monday, April 29, 2013

  1. janie says:

    it “isn’t a mess or a snore and a bore, you can’t really demand too much more.”

    and so, on that basis, i rate it a four!

    also because i really love BLESS ME and RASCALS in addition to the already-noted WAGON TRAIN and I KID YOU NOT.


  2. John E says:

    Never heard of Veronica Lake – seemed like a stretch for a theme answer.

    • john farmer says:

      Policeman: How does the girl fit in this picture?
      John Sullivan: There’s always a girl in the picture. Haven’t you ever been to the movies?

      Haven’t you ever been to the movies?

      With all due respect — really — you’re killing me. Veronica Lake is in fact not a stretch, not even an inch outside the limits of what is fitting for a crossword, this year or any year, theme or otherwise, any day of the week. I understand you may not have heard of her. That’s your loss, not a problem with the puzzle. You probably never have heard of Preston Sturges, either, or a magnificent gem of a movie called Sullivan’s Travels, which may well be the funniest film you’ve never seen (which among other lunacies did a demolition job on the production code). I recommend you watch it, and soon. You can view it instantly at Then you can decide if Veronica Lake is a stretch. For more of Veronica, you may want to check out This Gun for Hire, The Glass Key, or The Blue Dahlia. If you’ve ever seen L.A. Confidential, you’ll understand Kim Basinger’s role in a whole new way. Veronica Lake was not only the “girl in the picture” in Preston Sturges’s mile-a-minute masterpiece but also one of the leading stars of the 1940s. Pardon me for rambling.

      And what the hell, one more thing. I realize that 98% of what we talk about when we talk about crossword puzzles is cultural references — what’s good and what’s not, which for many people seems to come down to ‘what I know’ and ‘what I don’t.’ But that’s not the best way to slice it. We all have our cultural sweet spots and blind spots, nobody knows everything, and not everything in puzzles is just for you or just for me. We’re each a part of a broad audience of solvers, not the only one.

      I could go on but will get myself in trouble. To sum it up: it’s okay to learn something new.

      • Bruce N. Morton says:

        Now I’ll probably get in trouble for annoying people in the *opposite* direction, but to me, having heard of Veronica Lake is like having heard of Eminem, or Michael Jackson, or Angelina Jolie, or Beethoven or Van Gogh.

        • pannonica says:

          Van who?

          • Bruce N. Morton says:


            I’m also feeling self-critical for having perhaps unwittingly encouraged others to complain about things and people they haven’t heard of, so I will resolve to desist. (We’ll see how long that resolution lasts.)

          • Daniel Myers says:

            …exactly what I said when I first heard the American pronunciation of his name.

          • Daniel Myers says:

            Sorry, didn’t mean to sound de haut en bas above, simply a biographical fact. If one wants to be terribly picky, both the British pronunciation: VAN GOFF and the American pronunciation: VAN GO are a bit off…VINCENT VAN GOGH

          • Gareth says:

            @Daniel: Never heard Van Goff before. Here in South Africa, it’s pronounced to rhyme with loch. My internet speed is not sufficient for youtube at present. Is that the QI pronunciation too?

          • Daniel Myers says:

            @Gareth–No, the correct Dutch pronunciation falls somewhere betwixt rhyming with Van “Hook” and Van
            “Hock”. There’s a sort of Dutch/German gutteral sound to it that I’m completely unable to reproduce.

          • Gareth says:

            I think that that gutteral sound is the same one I’m trying to imply by saying it rhymes with loch. How do you pronounce loch?

          • Daniel Myers says:

            I pronounce it something like “lawk”, very close to “lock” but, yes, with an added gutteral in there—But I suppose the main point is that there’s no “g” sound in the FIRST capital G of Gogh. It’s an “h” sound. Perhaps that’s how you pronounce it. Followed by…Well, as the Danish expert puts it on QI, “Don’t try this at home.”

          • Bencoetokyo says:

            I lived among the Dutch for 5 years and did a decent job of learning their difficult language. Van Gogh’s correct pronunciation simply has no equivalent in English. It uses the Dutch “hard g”, which sounds as if one is clearing one’s throat from phlegm. One of the hardest things to learn in Dutch is how to pronounce this letter without overdoing it.
            And, yes, the first G is pronounced with an “h” sound.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Or, as may be the case, to learn something old.

        • john farmer says:

          Learning something old = Veronica Lake (John E, today)
          Learning something new = Zack & Cody (John F, last week)

          Somebody sure got the better end of that deal, and it wasn’t me.

          This may come as a surprise, but I really do like seeing new things in puzzles. I’ve been on a Lissie kick lately. Has she been in a crossword yet? Kacey Musgraves, anyone? When I see something I don’t know, it doesn’t matter if it’s old or new, though it works best when it’s something worth learning about. I think some people think if it’s old (i.e., ‘before my time’), it’s not worth knowing and something wrong with the puzzle. I think that’s a limited view of puzzles.

      • John E says:

        Sorry it took so long to respond – had to go to the ER for all the kicks to the chest that I took.

        “Haven’t you ever been to the movies?” I try to wait for the comic book version.

        “It’s okay to learn something new” With all due respect — really — you’re killing me.

        “I think some people think if it’s old (i.e., ‘before my time’), it’s not worth knowing and something wrong with the puzzle.” I certainly hope this wasn’t a continuation of the above train of thought – if so, I think you exercised a bit too much free interpretation of my comment. Just sayin’.

        And I was just going to suggest that a better alternative would have been EMINEMSMANDMS, but Bruce beat me to it.

        • pannonica says:

          Too long, not a surname, and not a strict rhyme (like the others), relying as it does on elision.

          Also, going to mark that down as both “unrepentant” and “recalcitrant.”

          • Dan F says:

            You think “Moore” and “S’more” are a strict rhyme? I was stunned that the NYT theme passed muster. Names that (mostly) rhyme with foods? That’s a 1997 theme.

            BTW, I don’t understand the middle themer in the LAT – had to google “golden brown buff,” and still don’t understand what it’s supposed to mean. The color? The chicken? Seemed like a stretch for a theme answer. Somebody tell me I’m ignorant!

          • pannonica says:

            Yes, I do think they strictly rhyme (although I refuse to acknowledge the singular form of that disgusting, gloopy concoction). Certainly more than “Eminem” and “m-and-m.”

            Buff is a golden brown color. See sense 3 for buff at

        • john farmer says:

          John, No physical harm was intended, though my response may have been a bit strong. Some of the comments were in defense of Veronica Lake, who remains near and dear to my heart, and others more a response in general to a variety of comments about puzzles. Anyway, congrats for generating a lot of comment, probably more than you’d expected.

    • sbmanion says:

      Veronica Lake died very young. I think she drank herself to death. And she was under 5′ tall. She was TALENTED and SPECTACULAR and I am pretty sure was the inspiration for the ultimate screen babe, Jessica Rabbit.

      Great Monday puzzle.


  3. Martin says:

    Veronica in the Archie comics was named after the actress Veronica Lake… if that helps.


  4. Gareth says:

    The Snoopy vs. The Red Baron 7 single I grew up with wasn’t by the Royal Guardsmen. Some hardcore googling led to the following: Ah, a local cover. That’d be why… Also, who calls their band The Domino’s with an apostrophe!? Ugh.

    Loved Patti’s category theme!

  5. Huda says:

    John Farmer: You made me laugh with: “With all due respect — really — you’re killing me.”
    All that passion! I love it!

    And I agree with your overall take about learning opportunities– tried the other day to say something along the same lines about learning something new. Albeit less passionately : )

  6. Huda says:

    Fire Dave. Hiring him was a gaff.

  7. Martin says:

    Good to see the CS reviews are back. Nice job Evad.


    • pauer says:

      Yay! Thanks for stepping up to the CS plate, Evad! Our puzzles would thank you, too, if they could speak.

  8. Sam Donaldson says:


    Give Evad a raise. Best decision you ever made!

    And seriously, thanks to Evad for resuming the CS reviews. The new format should be terrific.

  9. Bencoetokyo says:

    Re: “cap screw”
    “Cap” is slang for a condom. As Maury Pauvich tells his male DNA testers, “Put a cap on it.”

  10. Brucem says:

    Why is {Games within games} a clue for “Easter eggs”?

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