Monday, September 16, 2013

NYT 3:29 (pannonica) 
LAT untimed (pannonica) 
BEQ 9:33 (with two Googles) 
CS 5:15 (Dave) 

Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 9/16/13 • Mon • Sessa • 9 16 13 • solution

The revealer at 65-across is particularly accurate. It reads [Classic advertising slogan … and a hint to 17-, 25-, 40- and 52-Across] and clues Campbell Soup’s M’M! M’M! GOOD! This addresses the four Ms in the theme answers, but not the maternal aspect of each, so it is very much just a “hint.” nb: The Wikipedia page reproduces the slogan as “Mmm Mmm Good,” but that isn’t supported by press releases I found on the company’s official website, nor by reproductions of print advertisements I also located via a web search.

  • 17a. [Abba-inspired hit musical] MAMMA MIA! 50% Ms!
  • 25a. [Movie starring Lon Chaney, Jr., with “The”] MUMMY’S TOMB.
  • 40a. [Washington rally of 5/14/00] MILLION MOM MARCH. Not to be confused with the boycott-happy One Million Moms organization, a wholly-owned subsidiary part of the American Family Corporation Association.
  • 52a. [Dogpatch matriarch] MAMMY YOKUM.

Aside from the theme, the most notable thing about this puzzle, for me, was the atypical early-week fill. The archaic ENORM and the awkward RETAB as bunkmates? KHMER, NCR (that ATM manufacturer), OMB (initialism for the Office of Management and Budget, not an abbrev. for ombusdsman—but either is odd), PANATELA, MYNAHS, and the meh SLIMLY. Not all of these are objectionable, but many feel out of place here.


  • 45a: A mini Monday mild misidirection; with the terminal L in place, I instinctively completed IDOL for [False god] when it was in fact BAAL.
  • 43d [Sir’s counterpart, informally] MA’AM, not part of the theme. Unrelated etymologically.
  • 14a [Media inits. since 1958] UPI, United Press International. Had no idea it was so young.

Okay puzzle, but (1) felt more like a Tuesday, and (2) there was a nagging sense of imbalance with the revealer, as if it should encompass both elements of the theme or that it shouldn’t be there at all; it fails to straddle the gap and plummets.

Jerry Edelstein’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 9/16/13 • Mon • Edelstein • solution

I usually enjoy parallax puzzles, where slight changes in aspect lead to new interpretations of what we usually take for granted. This crossword is no exception. The theme answers—all good long fill in their own right—are nouns beginning with the prefix DIS–. the SKEW is that the prefix has been unyoked and taken to mean dis, a slangy shortening of “disrespect” which has fully entered common usage.

  • 17a. [Criticize gas and electric companies?] DIS SERVICES.
  • 27a. [Criticize a modeling shoot array?] DIS POSES. “Modeling shoot array?” I’m kind of tempted to criticize that, myself.
  • 46a. [Criticize stage shows?] DIS PLAYS.
  • 60a. [Criticize awards?] DIS TRIBUTES.
  • 11d. [Criticize college subjects?] DIS COURSES.
  • 27d. [Criticize farmers?] DIS TILLERS.

Not sure why it’s all about plurals, but I do appreciate that it’s consistent throughout. A rather adventurous theme for a Monday, but still tame enough for the novice solver. So I say, good on you, LA Times.
Despite six theme answers (a couple of middling length, it’s true), there’s still room for zippy longer fill among the rabble: DUSTBIN, PREMISES, MEDICINE, and EYEFULS.

  • 10d [Big name in chicken] TYSON, which also contains General TSO.
  • Who? 48a [Former Bears head coach Smith] LOVIE. … visits Wikipedia … Oh, he’s recent, not historical.
  • Little things: “Suff.” –IST, “Prefix” SUR– (why the orthographical dis-crepancy?); OJS, XER, URLS, BIV, DES, et cetera—a few too many for my liking.
  • Favorite clues: 43a [Wranglers with wheels] JEEPS, 31d [Speak with a grating voice] RASP; fairly literal.

Good, fun crossword.

Updated Monday morning:

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Fat Chance” – Dave Sullivan’s review

I really enjoyed this take on phrases that all are a way of telling someone Fuhgettaboutit!:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 09/16/13

All the following were clued as [“Fat chance”]:

  • NOT GONNA HAPPEN – I’m glad Gail went with “gonna” instead of “going to,” which made the phrase more colloquial.
  • WHEN PIGS FLY – also a popular name for BBQ joints.
  • THAT’LL BE THE DAY – I think an earworm is in order, here, don’t you?

Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks

A couple of other options might be IN YOUR DREAMS and IT’D BE A COLD DAY IN HELL…, but the latter would require a larger grid. Nice medium-length fill in this one, too. I really enjoyed NIGHTHAWK (happily not clued to the F-117, but as an insomniac), CRIED WOLF and one of my guilty pleasures, ESPRESSO. Not as big a fan of the [Alphabetic trio] of GHI or the British spelling of [Sussex scent] ODOUR, but these are small nits on a fun romp.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 9 16 13

Oof! This one killed me. The central across answer and the entire northwest quadrant had horrible amounts of blank space with no letters. And the only answers I had in the NW were 13a: ANTHEM crossing 2d: ANNAN—both wrong!

I Googled the Bee Gees song; didn’t know I STARTED A JOKE. Who talks like that? Who “starts” jokes? Hmph. Also Googled the 4d. [Goldsmith of “The Comedy of Errors”], ANGELO. Then I was able to finish the puzzle.

Highlights: BIG PAPI is fun to say. “DON’T LIE” is colloquial speech (the clue was tough, though: 25a. [“Everybody knows what happened”]), as is “ARE YOU OK?” (although “okay” probably works better than “OK” here, outside of texting and whatnot). FIRE TRUCK doesn’t get into the puzzle much. Always liked the word SAPIENT. And JUJYFRUITS! Awesome.

Nine notes:

  • 15a. [Arboreal weasel], TREE RAT. Rats are rodents and weasels are mustelids.
  • 20a. [New GI], RCT. Ouch. Wanted PVT. Didn’t know “recruit” had an abbrev.
  • 22a. [Email precursors], TELETYPES. Are teletypes and telexes the same? We had a rarely used telex machine at the office in the late ’80s, being sidelined by the fax machine. Eventually email happened and sidelined the fax machine.
  • 24a. [___ & Stucky Interiors (high-end furniture retailer)], ROBB. Regional? Never heard of it. And apparently it’s been liquidated by now, anyway.
  • 39a. [Outstanding fellow], ONER. I had the grievous OWER, but it turned out to be the grievous ONER.
  • 6d. [Classic Hammond organ model], B THREE. Wha…? No idea.
  • 12d. [“I’ll prove you wrong!”], “IT’S A BET.” Do people actually say that?
  • 29d. [It’s a trap!], IRON CAGE. Which traps are made of iron-barred cages?
  • 33d. [Shop tool], CHOP SAW. Never heard of it.

Three stars from me. There wasn’t much fun here aside from JUJYFRUITS.

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17 Responses to Monday, September 16, 2013

  1. janie says:

    enjoyed ed’s puzzle a lot. kind of a nice antidote to some of yesterday’s off-the-markness.



  2. Huda says:

    NYT: I totally thought the theme was about motherhood until I saw the reveal which drew my attention to the 4 Ms. I reworked it in my head as an association between motherhood and goodness. I choose to believe that this was the intent of the constructor. And in Freudian fashion, I can always speculate that it might be true even if subconscious :)

    Also on the positive side– the puzzle had an international vibe. but the PANATELA, MYNAHS, KHMER combo is a bit much for a Monday. May be some of the cluing could have been toughened up a bit for a Tuesday placement.

  3. John says:

    As a novice solver, this was definitely much harder than the Monday puzzles I’m used to, due to some of the entries mentioned. Mondays usually take around 6 minutes for me to solve, but it took me 11 today.

  4. Davis says:

    I’m annoyed by the HI TECH entry as clued in today’s NYT. As far as I can tell from running searches, “hi tech” is not a common substitute for “high tech” anywhere except in small business names.

    • HH says:

      And collegiate dictionaries?

      • Davis says:

        “It’s in the dictionary” is evidence that it’s a real term, which I don’t dispute. But that says nothing about whether the term is used with any real frequency (plus, “it’s in the dictionary” can justify a lot of crap fill if we’re starting down that road). Comparing “hi tech” to “high tech” on Google ngrams provides better evidence of actual usage—and it doesn’t speak well for “hi tech.”

  5. Gareth says:

    I love how only the first entry is the same between this puzzle and mine of the same thing from January in the LAT ( None of those other answers even occurred to me: I especially love MILLIONMOMMARCH which is far, far superior to my dry middle answer COMMITTEEMEMBER.) On the other handm the additional layer I feel a tad ambivalent about, as they’re all basically cognates.

    Very imaginative Monday theme in the LA Times! It wouldn’t have been hard to ditch XER, but then there is school of thought that X’s are worth putting in a grid simply for their own sake…

  6. Daniel Myers says:

    The OED has the plural of UDON – a new word for me, not being a Japanese food fancier – as UDONS. So, shouldn’t the clue (NYT 26d) be in the singular?

    The question isn’t by any means rhetorical. For all I know, lovers of Japanese food may have some peculiar usage of which I, and the OED, are unaware. My guess, though, is that it barely, and questionably, squeaks through the substitution test by its use in a phrase like UDON soup=soup composed of UDONs. But I really haven’t the foggiest.

    • Frances says:

      I have never seen (or even contemplated) “udon” as a plural. To my mind, “udon” is not a thing, but rather a characteristic, as, e.g., “What kind of noodles are you serving, udon, buckwheat, or eggless?”

      • Daniel Myers says:

        Which would make UDON exclusively an adjective, and it’s not. From the OED:

        1978 Chicago June 236/2 There’s also terrific chicken teriyaki, and reliable sukiyaki and udons ($1.75–2.25).

        But I do see your point, Frances. That usage simply hasn’t made it into the lexicons yet.

        • Davis says:

          It’s tough to tell without more context, but the “udons” in “reliable sukiyaki and udons” probably means “distinct udon dishes”, rather than a single pile of udon noodles (rare is the Japanese restaurant that offers udon prepared in only one way).

          Looking at the online OED, I see the definition given for “udon” is “a kind of noodle made from wheat flour.” Given that definition, “udons” would presumably mean “kinds of noodle made from wheat flour,” rather than referring to multiple udon noodles. This supports my reading of the above quote.

          Further evidence against “udons” as you propose it: A Google search for “udons” (you need to use the quotes to avoid “udon”) only turns up ~57,500 hits, and Google ngrams doesn’t know the word at all. And personally, I’ve never seen that inflected form until just now, despite eating at Japanese restaurants with some regularity.

  7. Martin says:

    “i Started a Joke” in BEQ’s puzzle was a gimme for me, since I remember the cover version the Pet Shop Boys did of this song as a tribute to Robin Gibb (on his death last year).


    • Brucenm says:

      [Drum Roll] — I knew “I started a joke” too.

      Also Yancy Derringer. Great show, though I don’t think it was around for long. Took place in New Orleans, as I recall. I lump it together with such great cultural icons as “Gunsmoke” and “Have Gun Will Travel.”

  8. Tony O. says:

    The Bee Gees “I Started a Joke” would be the gimme for me – love me them old, pre-disco Bee Gees hits: “To Love Somebody,” “New York Mining Disaster 1941” (another unlikely title!), “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” “Lonely Days” etc. Pretty dated and probably a bit treacly for some, but I always lament that people only remember them for “Saturday Night Fever,” which, of course, is its own campy awesome if you ask me. Cannot hear the Pet Shop Boys’ version off the top, but imagining it can’t touch the strange, heart sick, stuffed-up-nose-sound of Robin Gibb’s original.

  9. pannonica says:


    15a. [Arboreal weasel], TREE RAT. Rats are rodents and weasels are mustelids.

    The proper comparison is that rats are rodents (Rodentia, Muridae) and weasels are carnivores (Carnivora, Mustelidae).

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