Monday, November 18, 2013

NYT 4:11 (pannonica) 
LAT 4:03 (pannonica) 
BEQ 5:52 (Amy) 
CS 5:43 (Dave) 

Edgar Fontaine’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

Twistier-than-usual theme for so early in the week. Take a celebrity’s full name, add an apostrophized s to the given name—et voilà!—the noun that was the surname is now possessed by the first name. However, the twist is that each first name is also the last name of another celebrity, whose first name appears in the clue. So there are eight personages for the four themers.

  • 20a. [Part of a bushel belonging to Dick?] GREGORY’S PECK. (Dick Gregory, Gregory Peck)
  • 34a. [Car belonging to Rex?] HARRISON’S FORD. (Rex Harrison, Harrison Ford)
  • 41a. [Lite beer belonging to Bea?] ARTHUR’S MILLER. (Bea Arthur, Arthur Miller)
  • 55a. [Rock belonging to Ariel?] SHARON’S STONE. (Ariel Sharon, Sharon Stone)

Ambitious theme and for the most part well carried out. I will point out some inconsistencies, though, just because it’s in my nature. Pronunciation: one name undergoes a pronunciation change—Ariel Sharon’s surname has the emphasis on the second syllable while Sharon Stone’s first name is pronounced the conventional English way. Gender distribution: a mere two women to six men. Profession: six of the eight are performers, one is a playwright (also involved in the performing arts), and one is a politician (the cynical among us might say that that makes him a performing artist as well); of the six performers one is primarily a comedian (as well as a social activist, etc.) while the others are actors.

The ballast fill isn’t so appealing,, with its EBAN, INST, ELIA, III, LESSEES, and the like. The long downs, PARENTHETIC and AMOUR PROPRE (which is decidedly not Monday-level) help liven things up. Have never heard the term EYEPIT before [Facial socket].

As already noted, the theme is ambitious, but much of that ambition is “behind the scenes,” so the rest of the puzzle doesn’t deserve to suffer as much as it does. In the end, then, the puzzle was less than it could have been, possibly on the shy side of average.

Erik Agard’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 11/18/13 • Mon • Agard • solution

Good, solid puzzle to begin the week. Not an innovative theme, but unimpeachable and well executed. Phrases in the format D— and D—. Four of them, two at 15 letters and two at 11.

  • 16a. [First two reindeer mentioned in Rudolph’s song] DASHER AND DANCER. You know them.
  • 25a. [Use a mouse to move a file between folders, say] DRAG AND DROP.
  • 43a. [List of behavioral recommendations] DOS AND DONTS.
  • 55a. [2003 prequel subtitled “When Harry Met Lloyd”] DUMB AND DUMBERER.

All are well-enough known and the arguably weakest of the bunch—the paired reindeer—are buoyed in credibility by virtue of appearing that way verbatim in the jingle.

Elsewhere, there’s a surprising abundance of long non-theme answers, all downs: NO-HIT GAME (the clue is pitched trickily for a Monday as [Diamond gem]), ANAGRAMMED, FACTORED IN, BAD MOODS, MOTÖRHEAD, LOOSENED, SNARE DRUMS, RAGING BULL. Wow!

On the (minor) downside are the partials/fill-in-the-blanks I BE and ALAI, Roman nvmeral DVI, RAN AT, and rhyme scheme AABA.

14a [Nothing, in Nicaragua] NADA and the neighboring 17d [Nothing, in Nice] RIEN are artfully placed and clued. 22a [It has a trunk but  no wheels stymied me momentarily because I couldn’t get past ELEPHANT, which was far too big: TREE. Guess I need to brush up on my kiddie riddles.

In general, the cluing is at the appropriate early-week level and the fill is very strong. Above-average crossword.

Updated Monday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy crossword, “MAP Quest” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Today’s puzzle is a “quest” to find three phrases of three words each, where those words begin with the initials M A P.

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 11/18/13

  • [Acting with purpose] clued MAKING A POINT – hmmm, this clue seems a bit off to me, I think of this phrase more in the conversational realm that the realm of action. “Making a difference” seems to be something you do rather than say.
  • [Apothecary’s tools] were MORTAR AND PESTLE – do pharmacists use these anymore? And do they sometimes refer to themselves as apothecaries? We actually have one of these in our kitchen to grind herbs, like basil or mint, but never use it. Kind of messy to clean up after and heavy as well!
  • [All-American dessert] was MOM’S APPLE PIE – let’s forego these stereotypes, shall we? Dads are as perfectly capable of baking pies as Moms.

Three theme entries are a bit on the lighter side, but it did allow some stellar fill, such as B-SCHOOL, BROHUG and DODO BIRDS. I’m not a fan of partials such as O SOLE and AS IT and AHN Philip (or is it Philip AHN) of “Kung Fu” was a new name to me. Enjoy your Monday, folks!

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday 243”

BEQ “Themeless Monday” solution, 11 18 13

Brendan being Brendan, this 7-dense grid steps up the game in two ways: First, the 7s are stacked (occasionally with congenial 6s) four deep in the corners, not the more common three deep. Second, he includes fresher fill: IPAD AIR, MR BODDY, GIGOLOS, Mayor ROB FORD, Tolkien’s SARUMAN, SUNMAID raisins.

Did not know: 18a. [Small, barrel-shaped cheese], TRUCKLE. Dictionary adds, “esp. cheddar.”

Top clues:

  • 34a. [Many modern-day pirates], SOMALIS. No RIAA piracy here. Although perhaps some Indian Ocean pirates have the technology to illegally download music and movies?
  • 56a. [Rough patches for a freelancer], figurative FAMINES.
  • 58a. [They’re full of stars, often], FLICKS.
  • 59a. [Taken to the recycling bin?], DELETED. Windows “recycling.”
  • 8d. [R.E.M.’s sound?], SNORE. Rapid eye movement sleep.
  • 33d. [Drive ruiners, maybe], VIRUSES. Hard drives, not Sunday drives or golf drives.
  • 35d. [Construction involving a crane, often], ORIGAMI. Nice!

53d. [Lancer’s item] is a BOIL? Breakfast test! *shudder* Don’t make me post a link to a video of a boil being drained.

Four stars. Surprisingly little junk for a 66-worder.

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16 Responses to Monday, November 18, 2013

  1. david glasser says:

    I was hoping to learn that all the answers had middle initial S, but nope.

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: I liked it, but I wonder if it could have been toughened up a bit and placed on Tuesday.
    Amour propre is fresh and the expression is hard to fully render in English, but is it something that most solvers would know unless they spoke French?

  3. Sarah says:

    NYT definitely belonged on Tuesday, both in terms of theme and general crosswordese. The pun theme, plus the fact that Rex Harrison and Ariel Sharon are both people I don’t know indicates to me that Tuesday was the right spot.

    • Bencoe says:

      I can understand not knowing Rex Harrison–although he was Henry Higgins and Doctor Doolittle, it was a long time ago.
      But if you don’t recognize Ariel Sharon’s name, you really should pay more attention to global politics. Important stuff, this Israel/Palestine situation…

      • GK says:

        I don’t think you should suggest someone needs to be up on their politics. Let’s face it, some subjects are less interesting to some than to others. If these were all baseball players, or famous track stars, my guess is other people would complain.

        The biggest gripe i have against the NYT Crossword is the reliance it has on a Jewish/Hebrew knowledge-base, and Ariel Sharon fits into that as well. I don’t think i can remember a NYT Crossword that didn’t expect the solver to know the Hebrew months, the Hebrew alphabet, an Israeli leader, or some other connection to Jewish/Hebrew themes. I mean, if you think someone should be aware of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, where are all the Palestinian references/clues? No, the puzzle creator uses what he/she knows. That’s only natural.

        I understand that NYC has a large Jewish population, but that shouldn’t mean that EVERY puzzle has to have a clue that is a “gimme” for people who happen to know that info because of their heritage.

        • Bencoe says:

          Do you really feel that baseball and track are as important as global crises and the future of the Middle East, and the world? If so, you should reevaluate your priorities. And I don’t feel bad about telling you that.
          I have seen crossword references to Hamas, Fatah, and Arafat many times, actually. And plenty of Islamic references as well.
          Do you really hate references to Judaism, Israel, and the Hebrew language that much? If so, feel free to consider the idea that you could be an anti-Semite.

          • pannonica says:

            Don’t forget conspiracy theorist.

          • Lois says:

            I would like to defend GK against charges of anti-Semitism. That’s really going too far, except that there might have been just a touch of it in GK’s level of exaggeration. As GK says, it’s only natural that the puzzle creator uses what he or she knows. I do think that GK is exaggerating ridiculously when he or she says that one has to know special Jewish information for EVERY puzzle. It’s true that I’m thrilled when called on to fill in Hebrew months, with a twinge that those are a bit unfair to others. I hope they have easy crossings. Other things are more general knowledge, or should be, such as Ariel Sharon. I think that it is valid to argue that politics and history are more important to be widely known than sports, and we are used to these kinds of arguments. GK hasn’t only exaggerated about Jewish clues in every puzzle, but has put up a silly model of even-handedness. I agree with Bencoe that we see Arafat and Hamas in puzzles, as well as Arabic language and Islamic references. However, Jewish and Hebrew clues are more common, though not as widespread as claimed by GK, and that seems all right to me. Jewish culture has certainly been more of an influence in the United States than Palestinian culture, and that has a right to be represented in puzzles – though I’m really not sure about Hebrew months, that’s all. So even though I’m sympathetic to Bencoe and somewhat agree, I don’t want to escalate that into charges of anti-Semitism. We have to be able to talk about these things.

            I did like that the puzzle skewed a little older. Sharon’s been in a coma for years, so the young folks have forgotten him. I’m sad that Rex Harrison doesn’t seem to be extremely famous any longer, and I guess Gregory Peck is one of the old guys also. I loved AMOUR-PROPRE on a Monday, but knew that people wold complain. For that matter, there is a bit of a French bias in the puzzles, but I like it. The French language is another thing that’s just as important as sports, and “amour-propre” is in the English language also.

    • Gareth says:

      They’re both extremely well-known. I’d put that down to personal ignorance. It’s hubris to expect to know every answer in every crossword.

  4. Brucenm says:

    My favorite *by far* of yesterday’s “Sunday sized” puzzles was Merl’s pharmacopeia. I thought it was vintage Merl — clever, witty, with many slightly offbeat, different, unexpected entries.

  5. wobbith says:

    Amy isn’t here today.
    She is having her Scowl-O-Meter repaired.
    It exploded when she saw EYEPIT.

  6. Gareth says:

    NYT: Enjoyed the theme! Didn’t know AMOURPROPRE or EYEPIT. The latter word didn’t come up in my anatomy courses – we only used orbit & eye socket; I’d say this a legitimately obscure term.

    LAT: Second Pan’s comment on the number of good long down answers, especially fun to see Motorhead!

  7. Tracy B. says:

    LAT: Am I the only one wishing there could have been a nerdy “D-AND-D” bonus entry tucked in there somewhere?

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