Monday, December 16, 2013

NYT 3:29 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:25 (pannonica) 
BEQ 6:07 (Amy) 
CS 5:16 (Dave) 

Monday bonus! An anonymous constructor has put together an adult-themed response to Sunday’s Jeff Chen NYT. To download the PDF, click this link. For the .puz file, this link. I haven’t solved it yet but have seen the grid.

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

NYT • 12/16/13 • Mon • Johnson • 12 16 13 • solution

Hello, I must be going. That’s how this week starts off, at least if you begin it with the NYT crossword. 34-across, in the center, says simply [This puzzle’s theme] with the answer GOODBYE.

  • 17a. [“I’m outta here!”] SEE YA LATER.
  • 50a. [“Adios, amigo!”] HASTA LUEGO. Clue’s missing one of these: ¡
  • 11d. [“Godspeed, Bruno!”] ARRIVEDERCI.
  • 24d. [“Farewell, Vladimir!”] DO SVIDANIYA. (edit – thanks, brucenm, I rushed through the write-up. Na zdorovie!)

Then, after the non-theme long acrosses of DOUBLED UP and SKI SLOPES, at north and south on the compass rose, are two more minithemers:

  • 6a. [“Gotta go!”] CIAO. Perché no Italiano flavor?
  • 58a. [“Cheerio!”] TA-TA.

Although they all appear as quoted exclamations, the clues are all over the place, with two shortcutting to the original language by including typical names, one is clued in the foreign language itself, one forgoes indicating the language entirely (which by the way duplicates the tongue of one of the other (non-English) goodbyes), and another drops a locational hint. Since these last two marginally problematic entries are also the four-letter themers, I feel the puzzle would have been stronger for simply eliminating them.

  • 22a [They connect cooling units to rooms, in brief]. Typically, the more specific and tortured the clue, the worse the answer will be. Here, A/C DUCTS does not disappoint. Is it nice that the partner-in-row is B-MOVIE for an ABC combo? No, not really. But B-MOVIE is good fill.
  • 27a [ __ longue (daybed)] CHAISE resonated with interference with 46a [Vowel sound at the end of 39-Across] LONG E. Am I alone in this? 39-across, incidentally, is ERIE.
  • Briefly had DUPE for DOPE at 30d [Dummy].

A minimum of crosswordese, abbrevs., and partials. Cluing for the most part Monday-appropriate. A few interesting quotes and factual tidbits thrown in. Slightly subpar solving experience for the clunkinesses mentioned previously.

Updated Monday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Off-Season” – Dave Sullivan’s review

A bit different as themes go, we have three phrases that have modified the word SPRING by one letter:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 12/16/13

  • As an aficionado of musicals, it’s perhaps not surprising that Patrick begins with a play on the coming-of-age Broadway play Spring Awakening with the clue [Realization during a quick run?] or SPRINT AWAKENING. I guess it could also describe the resurgence of one of our top US telecom providers.
  • The phrase “no spring chicken” (which certainly refers to this reviewer) becomes [Poultry that shouldn’t be trussed?] or NO STRING CHICKEN. I’m thinking Ina Garten would say that every bird you put in the oven should have it’s wings tied back to prevent them from drying out.
  • Music again plays a role with Igor Stravinsky’s ground-breaking The Rite of Spring with the clue [Required reading for NSA agents?] or THE RITE OF SPYING. I don’t know if you watched 60 Minutes last night, but the interviewed head of the NSA certainly tried to defend US’s “right” of spying.

A creative theme with three nice 15-letter examples. One wonders if Patrick has three more of these up his sleeve to take on the other seasons. As one would expect from one of the pantheon of crossword constructing deities, the fill in this is superb. JACKASS crossing WHERE WAS I? along with ARGYLE, EATS RIGHT and AMNIOTIC were all excellent. I was a bit surprised in the spelling of SHADOE Stevens’ first name. I see here that his real name was Terry Ingstad, but Shadoe sounds so much better as a DJ name, doesn’t it?

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ 12/16/13 solution, “Themeless Monday”

I found the northeast corner to take the longest to unravel. I was reading 13d. [What birthdays are terrible options for] as “what are terrible options for birthdays” and contemplating CUSS WORDS. Ah, yes. Using one’s birthday for one’s PASSWORDS is a bad idea, as anyone who knows your birth date might be able to hack your passwords.

Hot spots:

  • 17a. [Music subgenre whose lyrics contain a metaphor, pause, and a punchline], HASHTAG RAP. Didn’t know that was a thing, but Mariah Carey had a hashtag song title this year, didn’t she? “#Beautiful”? And I think I’ve seen another such title. #boredwithitalready
  • 37a. [“Oh puhleeze!”], “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!”
  • 58a. [Creature that can regenerate lost limbs], SALAMANDER. Cute critter, and its name is simply a great-looking word.
  • 65a. [Monopoly place], ST. CHARLES. I don’t know who Saint Charles was.
  • 15d. [“House” man], EPPS. Omar Epps was on House. Seen a zillion OMAR clues with Epps in them, but [“House” man] feels new.
  • 31d. [In modern-day slang, guilt and lack of motivation after becoming rich], AFFLUENZA. I deplore it.
  • 38d. [Editorial amount], TWO CENTS. In an editorial opinion column.

Not sure I get the clue for VOLUNTEER, 32d. [One with a game face, maybe?]. Meaning one whose face suggests “I’m game, I’ll do it” rather than an athlete’s neutral, focused “game face”? Or is it an overly general clue for a University of Tennessee Vol?

3.8 stars.

Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 12/16/13 • Mon • Bain • solution

Sorry for the very late posting of this everyone—had a busy day. This will be a perfunctory post.

Solved last night, did not realize until just now that it’s a puzzle by our very own G Bain! The theme, as conveyed by 39d [Beneficial activity that ends the answers to the starred clues] EXERCISEOof! Again, what a way to start the week. Oh well, up and at ’em.

  • 18a. [*Naval cereal icon sporting a Napoleon-style hat] CAP’N CRUNCH. I know there was some recent “controversy” about his stripes or insignia not being those of a captain, and perhaps whether he was a naval or coast guard officer? I suppose “naval” can be interpreted in a more general sense here.
  • 28a. [*Nearly none, in slang] DIDDLY SQUAT. As immortalized by Billy Lee Riley and His Little Green Men in 1957. Well, close enough anyway.
  • 48a. [*Venue for self-publishing] VANITY PRESS. VANITY PLATE is another option that would have worked. Good for a constructor to have some flexibility to exercise.
  • 48a [*Arc-shaped, finger-staining snack food] CHEESE CURL. That description sounds to me like Cheese (Cheez?) Doodles, but perhaps that’s a proprietary name and the one in the puzzle is generic? Not really my area of specialty.

After dosing on the CAP’N CRUNCH and CHEESE CURLs, then loafing around doing DIDDLY SQUAT while “preparing” a manuscript for a VANITY PRESS—not to mention gorging on a HOT FUDGE sundae (symmetrically complementing the EXERCISE) you’d better believe that the protagonist of this crossword may need to multiple reps of crunches, squats, presses, and curls.

Just three things I quickly noticed:

  • Repetition: 55a [Brown Betty fruit] APPLE, 57d [1998 Apple debut] IMAC.
  • 14a [Stale smell] ODOR. I continue to be baffled by the consistently pejorative cluing of this word in puzzles.
  • 65a [Myanmar, once] BURMA. And perhaps again, one hopes.

Good puzzle, toned and honed perfectly for a Monday. Sorry for the short shrift, Gareth!

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19 Responses to Monday, December 16, 2013

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: Cute!
    I was not bothered by the inconsistencies in the cluing, although I see it now that pannonica points it out. I did like the 2 additional them related answers, although I plunked TATA at the top until it did not work. Pretty dense for a Monday with 5 theme answers (including Goodbye) and the 2 little guys.

  2. Gareth says:

    I didn’t know DOS VIDANIYA, which required every crossing. I also had SKIlodgES/leotard which made that section tricky for me… To be clear, I think DOS VIDANIYA is a very good crossword answer though!

    • Brucenm says:

      It’s actually Do Svidaniya, not Dos Vidaniya, though the pronunciation sounds like one word — dasvidaniya.

      I wish I knew how to get Cyrillic characters on my computer (which I think is possible). It would be a stunt, but a useful one to know how to perform.

      • pannonica says:

        «до свидания»


      • joel w Rosenberg says:

        From the Control Panel (Start -> Control Panel) double click on the ‘Regional and Language Options’ icon, then ‘Keyboards and Languages’, then ‘Change Keyboard’ , then ‘Add’ within ‘Installed Services’ under ‘Text Services and Input Languages’, and then click on ‘Russian’.

        You should now be able to type in Russian in Microsoft Word, Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, and most other applications by switching to ‘Russian’ by either clicking on the ‘Ru’ icon from your task bar or by using Alt + Shift.
        (You can likewise switch back to English by clicking on ‘En’ or using Alt + Shift again.)
        (In some programs such as AOL and old versions of Word (95) you will also need to choose a specific cyrillic font such as ‘Arial Cyr’.)

  3. sbmanion says:

    I took one year of Russian in high school. We learned the alphabet for the first semester. I currently have several clients of Russian heritage (most are from Uzbekistan). There is a fairly significant Russian community here in Phoenix. Many are Jewish and came here to avoid persecution in their home country.

    I made a minimal effort to try to learn some Russian as one of my clients speaks virtually no English. I have listened to any number of Russian language television shows, but discovered that it is hard to pick up that language with only a half-hearted commitment.

    I consider the transliteration of Russian words into English to be anyone’s guess: Prezhowsta??? Spacebo??? Horashow??? etc. The spelling for goodbye struck me as certainly within the realm of possibility.

    Fun Monday puzzle in any event.


  4. Bencoe says:

    Re: BEQ
    I also had trouble getting VOLUNTEER off of “one with a game face”; even though it came to me quickly, I didn’t see how it was correct. But it must be in the sense of “OK, I’m game”, right?
    I didn’t remember AFFLUENZA (sounds vaguely familiar) and thought with the AF- it was going to be “after-something”.
    HASHTAGRAP was news to me as well, although for some reason I got ESPERANTO immediately.

  5. lemonade714 says:

    What a fun Monday at LAT from Gareth. I loved the mental picture of the orange fingers from the Cheez Doodles

  6. Avg Solvr says:

    Gag in the Jeff Chen tribute puzzle fell flat for me though it makes me wonder about the nature of construction being it was created so quickly.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Some constructors have a gift for filling grids and cluing at breakneck speed. Such as making a 23×23 puzzle in about … 6 hours. Phenomenal work—there is actually a lot of good fill in there, plus some fun clues. Reasonable number of theme entries, plus a visual aspect in the grid’s center.

      • Avg Solvr says:

        Didn’t even notice the center, but did think the fill was good, and was impressed it could be made so swiftly.

  7. Zulema says:

    I liked all the foreign words, except for one and it’s a nit, sorry! 8D AMEN does not mean “Praise Be! It’s a term of approval or ratification better translated as “Let it be so!” or more familiarly, “So be it!”

    When I transferred everything to my again new computer in September, two foreign alphabets transferred, Greek and Hebrew, but my Cyrillic was lost and I haven’t tried to find it again. I like Gareth’s find very much.

    • pannonica says:

      I think “praise be” suffices idiomatically, but I’m very secular.

      Depending on what kind of computer and operating system, it shouldn’t be too difficult to install any number of additional alphabets

      • Zulema says:

        Pannonica, a very lousy computer (I didn’t know it was) with Windows 7 (I didn’t want 8) and Microsoft apps that came with it, though Microsoft has not supported them for a few years, and will for a fee, always will for a fee.

        • pannonica says:

          I have 7 too. Try going to the Control Panel, selecting “Region and Language” and then the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, and work from there. Note also that there’s a link to “How can I install additional languages?”

          Good luck!

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