Monday, December 23, 2013

NYT 3:08 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:31 (pannonica) 
BEQ 6:19 (Amy) 
CS 6:01 (Dave) 

Michael Blake and Andrea Carla Michaels’ New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 12/23/13 • Mon • Michaels, Blake • 12 23 13 • solution

NYT • 12/23/13 • Mon • Michaels, Blake • 12 23 13 • solution

  • 18a. [Mammal which has the largest brain of any animal] SPERM WHALE. Its “nemesis,” the giant squid, has the largest eye any of animal.
  • 24a. [Riding on someone else’s shoulders] PIGGYBACKING.
  • 53a. [Young Indiana Jones portrayer] RIVER PHOENIX.
  • 63a. [Dry-ice contraption for theatrical effect] FOG MACHINE.

What do they have in common? The helpful spanner in the works at 39a [“Believe you me!” … or what you can do with the start of 18-, 24-, 53- or 63-Across?] TAKE IT TO THE BANK explains matters. SPERM banks and PIGGY banks are man-made, while RIVER banks and FOG banks are usually natural phenomena, but they’re all valid lexicographically.

Puzzle went by quite rapidly for me, so let me try to assess what’s there.

  • EYES and OJOS. Nice touch to have cross-referenced answers placed symmetrically in the grid. Of course, that requires that they be of the same length, which isn’t always easy to come by.
  • You know, I could cherry pick some answers and clues from this crossword to be very naughty indeed. I’ll leave this to your individual imaginations, if you care to go down that path
  • 67a OOOH is a variation from the more typical OOH, but the clue [Squeal of delight] provides the necessary oomph.
  • Not so thrilled with 37d [“You can count __ “] ON IT when I’d prefer ON ME (although only grudgingly). However, pair it with TAKE IT TO THE BANK and it’s much nastier.
  • THE HAT, O-NINE. Nah.    Et al.
  • Some chew with AXIOMS, EPOCHS, TOMCAT.
  • Kind of thought 26d [Heroic exploit] GEST was a less-common variant of GESTE, but it seems they’re interchangeable.

Level’s pitched properly, but it doesn’t feel smooth enough for a welcoming Monday. You know, for kids. And newer solvers.

Updated Monday morning:

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “No Opposition” – Dave Sullivan’s review

First, I’d like to thank Erica for standing in for me yesterday–we had a terrible ice storm here in Vermont yesterday morning and we had lost our internet coverage. I’d echo her excellent comments about Bob’s puzzle, which gave me quite a thrashing, but I eventually solved in my typical 30-minute range.

Today, constructor Lynn Lempel envisions a dictatorship where dissent is not allowed, by removing the letters CON from familiar phrases:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution - 12/23/13

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 12/23/13

  • [Trespassing?] was BREACH OF TRACT. A breach of contract is when you violate an agreement you have entered into in some way, like being accused of a felony if you’re Aaron Hernandez.
  • [L.L. Bean display?] clued TABLE OF TENTS. We’re an EMS family here, and I did quite a bit of my Xmas shopping there. Base phrase here was “table of contents.”
  • [News accounts of some ancient Mesopotamians?] was SUMER REPORTS. Consumer loses it’s “con” and becomes Sumer. I wonder if the ancient Sumerians distributed an annual Best Buy issue that ranked perhaps styluses to carve rocks with?
  • [Offer some sugar lumps to a Triple Crown winner?] was TEMPT CITATION. Back in the legal sphere, the base phrase was “contempt citation.” Citation won the Triple Crown in 1948.

Nice mix of “con” removals from the ends and beginnings of phrases to keep solvers on their respective toes. I’m not as pleased with the resulting phrases, which read a bit clunky in most cases to my taste. Nothing to be SCOFFED at in the fill, however; GETTING IN, clued as [College applicant’s worry] was my FAVE, followed closely by PRIME TIME. (Although a cluing opportunity with pro footballer, Deion Sanders was missed with the latter entry.) I also enjoyed the clue for ESTATE, which was [The Breakers at Newport, for one]–the mansions there are beautiful and a great area to walk around on a nice summer (or is that Sumer?) day.

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

BEQ solution 12 23 19 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ solution 12 23 19 “Themeless Monday”

Hey! It’s BEQ’s 600th online puzzle. Congrats, man! And thanks for all the funs. (I feel that if “feels” can be a noun, so can “funs.” Did you read Grant Barrett’s NYT article yesterday, “A Wordnado of Words in 2013”?)

Unusual themeless grid, with the Down 15s stacked with some 11s and intersecting stacks of 10s. And a center glob with only two answers connecting it to the rest of the puzzle, but with solvable clues that keep it from being a monstrous trap.


  • Brendan’s aborted theme idea (explained in his post) is borne out in 14d: GIFT-WRAPPED and 22d: THAT’S A BIG “IF.” The word GIFT is “wrapped” around in 22d, with the GIF at the end wrapping around to the T at the start. YELLOW TOMATO would have a “gift-wrapped” TOY.
  • 15a. [Fit together nicely], DOVETAILED. Like the fill in this puzzle.
  • 57a. [Moving picture?], TEARJERKER.
  • 65a. [Diplomat’s neighborhood in D.C.], EMBASSY ROW.
  • 3d. [“That’s it!  We’re through!” [slam]], “I’VE HAD IT WITH YOU!”
  • 6d. [Like characters without lines], SANS SERIF. Not dramatic characters with lines of dialogue.
  • 12d. Magic, e.g.], LOS ANGELES LAKER. Magic Johnson. My first thought here was the Orlando Magic.
  • 13d. [Athlete nicknamed “The Punisher”], ANDRE AGASSI. Zero recollection of this nickname.
  • 41d. [Fa’aaloaloga celebrants], SAMOANS. I had never heard of  Fa’aaloaloga but it sure sounded Samoan.

And then there’s TONI clued as [One-hit wonder Basil]. Behold, the director’s cut of the “Mickey” video.

Four stars. Looking forward to the next hundred, Brendan! (Or the next 600, if you are so inclined.)

Patti Varol’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 12/23/13 • Mon • Varol • solution

LAT • 12/23/13 • Mon • Varol • solution

Huh? What? Where? Oh, over there, at 62-down. [Noggin, and a hint to the starts of the answers to starred clues] HEAD. Not a prime location for a theme revealer, but close enough, eh?

So it’s another we-have-this-word-in-common puzzle. Each is a slangy term for “head.”

  • 17a. [*Scoop for fruit] MELON BALLER.
  • 65a. [*Single-minded auditor] BEAN COUNTER.
  • 11d. [*Certain palm tree extract] COCONUT OIL.
  • 30d. [*Pasta-based first course] NOODLE SOUP.

The less-common pinwheel arrangement makes for a welcome change-up in this Monday offering.
It also opens up the grid for slightly more variety for the long non-theme fill, both across and down: CONFETTI, PROLIFIC, ALAN ALDA, and SEASONAL … plus the shorter and less inspired quartet of PILES IN, TOO SOON, LATENED, and DIOCESE.

Head shots:

  • Went for SASSY instead of LIPPY at 1a [Given to back talk].
  • 34d/52d [Civic or Accord] HONDA / AUTO. Unnecessary and a bit of a stretch without an “e.g.” for the latter.
  • Speaking of something that’s 69a LAMER, couldn’t help from parsing that fill in Debussyan way, as it rests above an ÉTUDE.
  • More parsing hijinks: the texter’s TTYL (talk to you later) intersecting Paris’ ORLY (INT’L) airport: O RLY (oh, really)?

Typically serviceable Monday crossword.

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8 Responses to Monday, December 23, 2013

  1. Adam N says:

    I actually found the fill quite nice and smooth for the NYT, it only took me a full three minutes to do it. ESME crossing MOET with COEN was a surprise I wish I hadn’t seen, but overall, it was great.

    P.S. What does “Believe you me!” mean? Is that even proper grammar?

  2. Gareth says:

    Never heard the phrase TAKEITTOTHEBANK in my life before! I assume it’s American-ese, but the type that doesn’t appear in TV/films etc. That said, a pleasant surprise to see a SPERMBANK in the theme! A lot of nice answers thematic and otherwise! I do feel OOOH with 3 O’s is a very unnecessary crutch though.

  3. Huda says:

    NYT: I loved it! Fun and sassy! As I was solving I was wondering how these dots would connect and the revealer made me chuckle. Perfect Monday. Andrea has the touch, You can take it to the bank…

    And as Pann says.–There’s that naughty vibe, a nice way to welcome Santa.

  4. Adam N says:

    BEQ: Speaking on the topic of “THAT’S A BIG ‘IF'”…

  5. Tom Cassutt says:

    LAT: I also found it interesting that all of the “head” synonyms were food items.

Comments are closed.