Monday, October 7, 2013

NYT 3:29 (pannonica) 
LAT 2:56 (pannonica) 
BEQ 4:18 
CS 7:24 (Matt) 

Amy Johnson’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 10/07/13 • Mon • Johnson • 10 7 13 • solution

Open file … type type type … “hmm, they’re all ‘hit songs’ but what do they have in common?” … type, type … (63-across) [What the  artists of 16-, 27-, and 49-Across are doing (in reference to the last word of their hits)?] SINGING THE BLUES … “huh, what? No time to think, must solve for speed!” … type, typeCONGRATULATIONS! You have successfully completed this puzzle OK … “So, let’s see oh of course, right. Well, there it is.”

  • 16a. [1959 hit by the Drifters] THERE GOES MY BABYBaby blue, which is coincidentally the title of a 1971 Badfinger song, which I hear was used in the ending of the series finale of HBO’s Breaking Bad last Sunday. I understand sales of the song went through the virtual roof.
  • 27a. [1970 hit by Eric Clapton] AFTER MIDNIGHT. Midnight blue. “Midnight Blue” was a hit song for Lou Gramm (of Foreigner fame) in 1987. However, the 1963 Kenny Burrell album of that name is a much better classic, in my opinion. Side note: Eric Clapton also performed a song called “Singin’ the Blues,” but it isn’t the same one I’ve included above; it’s a version of one made famous by BB King.
  • 49a. [1978 hit by Journey] WHEEL IN THE SKYSky blue. Uhm, dare I mention it? The Allman Brothers have a great song called “Blue Sky” from the 1972 album Eat a Peach. but it wasn’t a hit. It was written by guitarist Dickie Betts for his then-girlfriend, Sandy “Bluesky” Wabegijig. 

Very nice touch that the songs are presented in chronological order through the puzzle.

The long downs in the puzzle are the colloquial “ARE WE ALONE?” [Can anybody hear us?] and GETTYSBURG, the [Locale of an 1863 address] and which therefore has its sesquicentennial this year.

Acceptable amount of junk fill, but A TAD is hardly ever welcome, the partial A AS is not so hot, and the abbrev. partial PHYS is nasty too.  And TRA-, SABE, ESE, MAR (why make it an abbrev.?), [Nobel-winning author André] GIDE may unfortunately be a bit too obscure for a Monday puzzle.

Nevertheless, overall a good puzzle.

Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 10/7/13 • Mon • Grabowski, Venzke • solution

Pretty zippy time for me, even with the mistake of assuming –EDHEAD in the center was REDHEAD (without looking at the clue, obviously) and 40d [Polar explorer … ] R––– was ROSS. Turns out that 40-across is a revealer and goes like this: [Untidy waking-up hair condition, and what the first word of the answers to starred clues can be], and that’s BED-HEAD. The polar explorer clue? In haste, I elided that explorer’s first name, Richard; so, not James ROSS but Richard BYRD.

Those starred clues in turn would be:

  • 20a. [*Space-saving computer monitor] FLAT SCREEN. Flatbed, a type of tow truck.
  • 59a. [*Title racehorse in a 2003 film] SEABISCUIT. Sea bed, the benthic zone, the abyssal plain.
  • 11d. [*Start-up capital] SEED MONEY. Seedbed. Culture, people!
  • 35d. [*Jalapeño, for one] HOT PEPPER. Hotbed. Not the electric blanket thing.

I would hope it’s unnecessary to point out that each of those words acts literally as the “head” of the compound bed word, appearing as it does at its start.

Some pizzazz with RITZY and ZANIEST, CLUCKED and KEPI, but for the most part the grid is made up of lots of RSTLNE-type fill. KEPI might be too obscure for a Monday, as is Thomas ARNE, composer of “Rule, Brittania.”

Okay crossword.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 10 7 13 Themeless Monday

Good morning! Gotta run to the gym in a few, so I’ll be brief.

Love CRACKER JACK BOX; Scrabbly and sweet and crunchy. “THAT’S HOW WE ROLL” is great, too. I like those crazy English football club names, like Tottenham HOTSPUR and Crystal Palace. Other good entries; LENT OUT, D.H.-ING (designater hitter…ing), J.D. POWER, JR. PAC-MAN, “WHY BOTHER?,” ATROPHY, and FOLK ART.

Top clues:

  • 25a. [Royal’s job, at times?], DHING. Kansas City Royals baseball player, that is.
  • 41a. [Rapper’s skill], FLOW.
  • 6d. [Its slogan is “Life Elevated”], UTAH. I had the T and filled in OTIS. What?

Overall vibe: Four stars for this 70-worder.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy puzzle, “DC Insiders” — Matt’s review

Political theme today from Martin, and it took me a while to figure out why the theme entries were vertical instead of horizontal:

3-d [Repressed feelings] = BOTTLED EMOTIONS. Have to give a medium-sized ding for this entry, which really wants to be “bottled-up emotions.” Just 21k Google hits for this theme entry, compared to 25 times that when you add the “up.”

26-d [“Water Lilies” painter] = CLAUDE MONET.

5-d [DC group on the left, inside 3- and 26-Down] = DEM. OK, so now we see the nifty rationale for the vertical theme entries: the Democrats are on the left, and…

8-d [Gambler who needs five in a row] = BINGO PLAYER.

11-d [Some police ploys] = STING OPERATIONS.

64-d [DC group on the right, inside 8- and 11-Down] = GOP.

…Republicans are on the right.

Mixed views on this theme for me. I like the “left” and “right” aspect, the symmetry of the theme entries and three-letter revealers, and the fact that all four of the entries ensconce their DEM/GOP “inside” the two words, keeping consistent with the title.

Not so hot on that BOTTLED EMOTIONS entry, and DEM and GOP aren’t really interchangeable. DEM is short for “Democratic” as in the party, or can be used as shorthand for a single Democratic politician or voter, but GOP is an acronym standing only for the party. DEM and REP would have been more consistent, and REP is indeed right in there at 70-across (not sure if intentional or not). So I’ll give the theme a grade of B.

The grid has lots of good stuff: SEE IT NOW, URGENCY, IDIOCY, SHOGUN, NO DICE, THAMES, JADE, JUDO and TOLTEC all stood out. Nothing really drecky, although ASTA does make his second straight appearance in a CS puzzle today. Can he score the hat trick tomorrow? Tune in to find out.

3.90 stars.

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6 Responses to Monday, October 7, 2013

  1. Ethan says:

    Breaking Bad was on AMC. Man, hard to believe I’m writing “was.”

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: after I solved it at my version of breakneck speed, I assembled the theme answers backwards- Blue Baby, Blue Night, Blue Sky. I wondered if a Blue Night is when something a little risqué happens? And Blue Baby is kind of freaky on a Monday. Sorry, Amy J. for messing up you colorful theme.

    I guess time to glance at the Midnight Blue Sky, and then go to bed.

  3. tom says:

    After Midnight is by JJ Cale. Eric Clapton did a cover version.

  4. Gareth says:

    NYT: Nice collection of songs (it’s worth noting that the Clapton is a cover of the far better original by JJ Cale… [Tom beat me to it!]) adding a neat extra layer to the kinds of colours theme trope… I can’t not like a Monday puzzle based on song titles, even if not one of them is exactly a favourite!

    LAT: The high-point was the fresh central answer…

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