Monday, November 4, 2013

NYT 3:33 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:09 (pannonica) 
BEQ 4:40 (Amy) 
CS 5:36 (Dave) 

Ben Tausig was featured in an NPR story on Sunday. Have a listen to “Putting Bro Hugs in the Crossword” online if you missed it Sunday morning.

John Lieb’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 11/4/13 • Mon • Lieb • 11 4 13 • solution

Theme feels a bit oddball to me, but I’m all for experimentation, so I’m at the moment undecided as to how to judge it. Perhaps I’ll have a better idea after writing some more about it.

Running down the middle is 15d [Camp classic by the Weather Girls … or a homophonic hint to 3-, 8-, 26- and 31-Down] IT’S RAINING MEN.

So, we have:

  • 3d. [“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” protagonist] KING ARTHUR.
  • 8d. [Eponym of the city now known as Istanbul] CONSTANTINE.
  • 26d. [So-called “Father of Europe”] CHARLEMAGNE.
  • 31d. [Shakespearean play that begins”Now is the winter of our discontent”] RICHARD III. “Come on down to Dickie’s Ski Emporium! It’s the winter of our discount tent!”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an admirable list of names and helps to make a content-rich theme. It’s just the notion of stretching it all to perform a misshapen double-duty that causes me to itch. Since they appear vertically, and in light of the revealer, these regal personages are meant to evoke the idea of descending men—literally raining, as well as the specified homophonically reigning. Is there such a thing as un-et-demi-entendre?

Was there ever any doubt? (René Magritte, Golconde, 1953)


Short fill throughout, somewhat mitigated by the six-stacks in the northeast and southwest (, (rough) COLLIE, INDENT / SMUDGE, RELENT, PRUNES). Better still is the symmetrical pair of ALCATRAZ and PARMESAN across the grid’s midriff.

On the topic of midriffs and mittel-roughs, a couple of less-common German words appear in this early-week offering: BEI und RUHR.

Liked the vowel-and-consonant hanky-panky offered up by M AND M, OB/GYN, and A-E-I-O-U.

Good, probably above-average crossword, but even after this admittedly light analysis and meditation, I find the dimidiate theme confusing and slightly off-putting.

Updated Monday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Lab Work” – Dave Sullivan’s review

The trick to this one was revealed at 59-Across: [CSI concern found inside…] or DNA SEQUENCE. The storied double helix is found in four other theme entries:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 11/04/13

  • [Easygoing] was GOOD-NATURED
  • [Organization founded in 1945] clued UNITED NATIONS – I wonder if Dame EDNA has ever spoken at that august body?
  • My FAVE of the bunch, [Bumbling fictional spies] were BORIS AND NATASHA – I loved how Natasha would say “Moose and Squirrel” as if Russians never used definite articles.
  • [Everyone knows it] was a HOUSEHOLD NAME – I’m trying to think of someone everyone knows; it reminds me of those bits that Howard Stern used to do when he would ask people on the street if they knew who the Vice President was, etc. Sadly, more than you feared did not.

Cute theme, and fun entries to support it. Though there were technically five theme entries in this one, I felt the fill didn’t suffer holding them together. VOODOO, HONK AT and SHEEPDOG were all fun finds. Less fun were the odd superlative SEDATEST (which reminded me strangely of this), the too-common lettered SCREENER and the abbrev. ONE QT. My favorite clue was [Do some summer work?] for ADD where “summer” was an occupation, not a season.

Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 11/4/13 • Mon • DuGuay-Carpenter • solution

Advice for the angsty! Phrases approximating “calm down,” imagined as emanating from an apt entity.

  • 17a. [Mathematician’s “Stay cool”?] COUNT TO TEN.
  • 29a. [Golfer’s “Stay cool”?] GET A GRIP.
  • 36a. [Diver’s “Stay cool”?] TAKE A DEEP BREATH.
  • 43a. [Refrigeration mechanic’s “Stay cool”?] CHILL OUT.
  • 48a. [Realtor’s “Stay cool”?] SETTLE DOWN.

Cute theme, and a lot of content for a 15×15 grid, especially a Monday. But NOT TO WORRY! It was an easy and amenable solve, appropriate to its assigned appearance. “Refrigeration mechanic” is a bit awkward, but what’s the alternative? HVAC specialist? Cryogenicist?

Jules: “Correctamundo. And that’s what we’re gonna be. We’re gonna be cool. Now Ringo, I’m gonna count to three, and when I count three, you let go of your gun, and sit your ass down. But when you do it, you do it cool. Ready? One… two… three.”

  • Liked the alliterative pairing of BORROW and BILLOW at 46-across/down.
  • Favorite clue: 12d [Dinner’s often on him] SLOB. see also 46d, the notoriously slobbering ODIE of Garfield fame. For some reason, that latter is referenced in the negative by 44d: [What 46-Down totally isn’t] LAP DOG.
  • 10d [Limb for Ahab] PEG LEG. I’ve secretly been writing my Great American Novel. It’s a retelling of Moby-Dick from the point of view of Ahab’s wooden leg. There’s much history, philosophy, allusion, and of course many lengthy discourses on dendrology. There’s also a surprise twist involving Captain Peleg. Shh.
  • 66a [Legis. meeting ] SESS. is weak sauce as a bottom-row across answer, especially noticeable as the very last one.

Good puzzle, strong Monday.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 11 4 13 “Themeless Monday”

I solved this one a good bit faster than most of the BEQ themelesses, despite the inclusion of an entirely unfamiliar name: 63a. [Japanese skater who was the 2003 World Junior champion], YUKINA OTA. I tried Googling Yuki Naota, which sounded more Japanese to me, but no dice. This seems like a bizarre name to include in a crossword—she retired from competition on her 22nd birthday and never competed in the Olympics, so how the hell would we know her name? At least the crossings cooperated nicely.

More pleased with the inclusion of other people’s full names in the grid. JAY CARNEY with an interesting clue, 1a. [His Twitter handle is @PressSec]. BILL GATES. Puzzle editor/maker/legend MIKE SHENK, 69a. [Inventor of the Marching Bands puzzle].

Hip new name: 16a. [Comedy duo behind the viral video “The Fox”], YLVIS. Have seen this video linked numerous times on Facebook but haven’t watched it yet. I thought  it was music. Comedy? Okay, I can watch that. Google tells me Ylvis are Norwegian brothers, Bård and Vegard Ylvisåker. Okay! I watched it. Catchy and funny, plus there’s a shout-out to Morse code. We do not care that “fox” also appears in 57a. [Opera rival], the FIREFOX browser.

Did not know: 56a. [___ Says! (dog treats)], ETTA.

Favorite clue: 47d. [For shits and giggles], ON A LARK. I choose not to delve into the derivation of this idiom, and will not contemplate whether people doing things for fun typically have associated bowel movements.

3.75 stars overall.

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8 Responses to Monday, November 4, 2013

  1. mmespeer says:

    Dear (my favorite)Team Fiend
    Can you help me out? I check in almost every day to see what’s what, and up until last Monday, the puzzles for the current day greet me. Since then, when I open, I seem to be stuck at Oct. 28, unless i click on that and then onto the side thru all the next dates until I get to today’s puzzles. I am on a Mac using Firefox if that means anything. Love the site and all the help you bring.

  2. I’ve been coming to the site for a couple of years now, often leaving my unimpressive times. Since it’s a mostly average Monday, with two solid and uncontroversial Monday puzzles, I thought maybe it was time that I asked a few questions, and tried to get a little help.

    (1) How exactly does the scoring work in Across Lite? It’s clearly not a monotonic function between solve time and score.

    (2) Are there any recommended resources for upping solving times to the next level? I think I’m right on the cusp of being semi-competitive, but I’m blown away by any under 3 time and the regular sub 6 late week showings by the top dogs. Anyone care to take on a tutee?

    • Dan F says:

      1) Nobody knows, but fortunately, nobody cares.

      2) I’m the world’s foremost expert on improving one’s solving times, so I can tell you for sure that there is no helpful method except solving more puzzles. And then more. From different (but only high-quality) outlets. Look up stuff you don’t know, and read the daily bloggers. Then solve more puzzles. Rates of improvement may vary, but improvement is guaranteed.

      • Bencoe says:

        One other tip I would add is to keep a journal of crossword names and terms you run into that you don’t know. Especially shorter words. They are very likely to be repeated over and over again.

  3. ethan says:

    couldn’t disagree more–thought this was a very nice Monday NYT. It’s quite difficult to make a good easy puzzle and this one fit. Three kings, plus the vertical pun.

    Too easy for most readers of this blog, I suspect. But I really solidly done Monday I thought.

Comments are closed.