Monday, March 31, 2014

NYT untimed (PuzzleGirl) 
LAT 3something (pannonica) 
BEQ 4:09 (Amy) 
CS 5:55 (Dave) 

Robert Cirillo’s New York Times crossword – PuzzleGirl’s review

2014-03-31 NYTHi, everyone! PuzzleGirl here with your Monday NYT. You’re surprised to see me, aren’t you?? I recently discovered that although I’m still considered part of “Team Fiend,” I blogged a total of ZERO puzzles last year and thought I better rectify that. So here I am! It’s great to be here! Let’s see if I can remember how to do this!

Here are the theme answers:

  • 16a. [Where Romeo and Juliet met], MASQUERADE PARTY. Filled in MASQUERADE and kept going with BALL, which obviously didn’t work.
  • 24a. [Often-seedy establishment], MASSAGE PARLOR.
  • 42a. [1978 #1 Donna Summer hit that covered a 1968 #2 hit by Richard Harris], MACARTHUR PARK. Man I hate this song. This is the one about the cake out in the rain and blah blah blah, right? I thought there were only three songs I hated, but I’m going to add this one to the list. I also had a ghastly song stuck in my head the other day that I had completely forgotten about: “With You I’m Born Again.” Remember that? Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh.
  • 56a. [New Orleans event with floats], MARDI GRAS PARADE. Our local Mardi Gras parade was canceled due to snow and rescheduled for St. Patrick’s Day. When St. Patrick’s Day came? That’s right more snow and another cancellation. I would tell you what I think about all this snow but this is a family show.
  • 35a. [Rural couple … or what the respective halves of the answers to the four starred clues start with], MA AND PA.

So the theme answers are two-word phrases where the first word starts with MA and the second word starts with PA. Waaaait a minute … How the heck did MARDI GRAS PARADE sneak in there? That’s MA, GR and PA, right? Maybe singing the Sesame Street ditty “One of these things is not like the other” will get that awful “With You I’m Born Again” out of your head. So we’ve got that going for us.

Other than that, I found this puzzle basically likeable with some pretty nice fill for a Monday. I especially liked:

  • 14a. [Triangular chip], DORITO. I mean, what’s not to like about Doritos?
  • 47a. [Pop artist Johns], JASPER. Someday I’d like to own an original Jasper Johns. For now, I should probably just get a poster and call it good.
  • 7d. [N.B.A. player-turned-coach Jason], KIDD. The last time I really paid attention to basketball it was all about Magic and Bird. But I do pick up a crumb now and then and I remember thinking it was kind of cool when the Nets moved to Brooklyn. It bugged me when they were called the New York Nets even though they played in New Jersey. But I guess they pretty quickly changed their name to the New Jersey Nets. Anyway, I’m glad they’re in Brooklyn and hope to get to their arena someday. (They weren’t at home during ACPT.)
  • 14d. [Fix, as a computer program], DEBUG. I just like this word.
  • 52d. [Actress Charlotte and explorer John], RAES. I typically don’t like seeing plural names in the grid, but I don’t mind it under two circumstances: (1) if the two people named are related or (2) if the two people are not even close to being related. I mean Charlotte Rae from “Facts of Life” and John Rae the explorer? That’s gold right there.

I’m not really used to giving stars but, I don’t know, 3? 3.5? What do you think?

Updated Monday morning:

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Dr. No” – Dave Sullivan’s review

The 1962 Bond film gets a reprise as an indicator to drop DR from the beginning of phrases for (hopefully) comic relief:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution - 03/31/14

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 03/31/14

  • [What Superman wears?] were ESS CLOTHES – wow, that’s so out there, I love it! I guess we can also say that Alvin of The Chipmunks fame wears “ay clothes” as well?
  • [Difficulty getting a contract signed?] was an INKING PROBLEM – this is also what happens at a tattoo parlor when the artist sneezes while working.
  • [Why students had a substitute?] clued ILL INSTRUCTOR – the base phrase here was “drill instructor,” which harkens back to the earlier clue [Worker at a filling station?] for DENTIST.
  • [Ones running away from the back of a ship?] were AFT DODGERS – are they then replaced with “bow dodgers”?

Nice consistency with the DR being dropped at the beginning of each phrase; I guess the Superman entry was my FAVE of the bunch. Some unusually spelled names in this one–ex-Kansas Congressman Jim RYUN and LYNDA Carter, the latter completing the superhero mini-theme. I found a few of the shortest entries less to my liking–ELHI, AMBI, ENTR, AMS and perhaps my least FAVE of the bunch–EAN, clued as [Ending for Caesar or Euclid]. I wonder why they merit an E and most others (such as Egypt and Edward) get the I treatment?

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ "Themeless Monday" solution, 3 31 14

BEQ “Themeless Monday” solution, 3 31 14

Uncommonly fast solve for me, since I’d been tipped off via a solver’s Facebook post that there was a two-part answer involving 17-Across that was particularly fresh. So I looked at that first and boom, off to the races. 17a. [With 20-Across, divorce, to Gwyneth Paltrow]? That would be CONSCIOUS / UNCOUPLING. There’s a tool at Slate for describing the status of your own relationship (or lack thereof); I’m “benevolently bound.”

There’s perhaps a little more blah stuff than usual for Brendan—your RETOP, BEERIEST, TYE, WTS, NES, N-TESTS, OBOLI. But also some nice stuff—

  • 33a. [His tombstone reads “Cast a cold Eye / On Life, on Death. / Horseman, pass by”], W.B. YEATS. 
  • 42a. [Rush’s genre], PROG rock. Classic Brendanese. Know your constructor!
  • 11d. [They help you achieve your goals], ASSISTS, on the playing court/field.
  • 18d. [It can be bought for a song], IPOD NANO. For a lot of songs, even.
  • 21d. [Reusable tote, e.g.], GREEN BAG. Haven’t seen the term before but it was so gettable.
  • 36d. [Rapper who doesn’t say anything], SPIRIT. This is not about hip-hop, it’s about spirits in séances supposedly making their presence known via a rap on the, I dunno, table or wall or something.
  • 39d. [Breaking point?], CUE TIP. Tip of a pool cue, breaking the racked balls.

A couple unknowns for me:

  • 45d. [One tenth of a gram (named after an Ancient Greek coin)], OBOLI. The parenthetical was what I leaned on. Never knew a decigram had any other name.
  • 39a. [Poet Corman], CID. Here’s his “At Santo Spirito.”

3.5 stars.

Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 3/31/14 • Mon • Sessa • solution

LAT • 3/31/14 • Mon • Sessa • solution

Brief ′n′ tardy write-up today.

The theme is simply phrases that end with rhyming words of the -udge variety.

  • 17a. [Tennis court official] LINE JUDGE.
  • 24a. [Harbor long-term resentment] NURSE A GRUDGE.
  • 51a. [Creamy confection] VANILLA FUDGE.
  • 64a. [“Stay put!”] DON’T BUDGE.
  • 11d. [Political commentator with an internet “Report”]  MATT DRUDGE.
  • 29d. [Push gently] GIVE A NUDGE.

Six theme entries, four of two words, two of three. As they’re arranged circularly, the center of the grid isn’t overly clogged and is arguably less compromised with lesser fill.

A relative abundance of theme entries for this standard-size grid means there isn’t much room for the constructor to add flair elsewhere. And as it’s an early-week entry, no thumb on the scale via clever and/or tricky cluing (though 1d [Whatever she wants, she gets] for LOLA is kind of spiffy).

Really nothing more to say about  this one. Workmanlike fill and cluing, low CAP Quotient™, simple and solid theme. Nothing particularly memorable about it; it just does its job as the job needs doing.

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14 Responses to Monday, March 31, 2014

  1. Huda says:

    Great to hear from you, PG!
    I agree that MARDI GRAS was odd. I guess people use it as if it were one word but it really ain’t. Rest felt fine, right down the middle for a Monday.

    And now I want a DORITO. Of course, no one ever eats just one… I had to come to this country to understand the concept of junk food. I know, I had a deprived childhood. The junkiest we got was eating sunflower seeds. But you had to crack them open first, which slowed down the process considerably.

    • Gareth says:

      But, but Middle Eastern street food, or at least the fast food-ised version I’ve eaten at Anat Falafels (Turkish-style) and Uncle Faouzzi (Lebanese) is the nicest fast food I’ve ever eaten…

  2. Michael says:

    Another rare typo at 24D.

  3. Avg Solvr says:

    Andy Kravis has a good puzzle this week.

  4. Jonesy says:

    On the CS: I agree that the Superman clue/answer is the best of the bunch — also because Clark Kent wears (dr)ESS CLOTHES and the theme trick of removing DR gives us Superman in his ESS CLOTHES… pretty cool description/image from the clue/answer. none of the other answers had such a close relationship to their base phrases…

  5. Gareth says:

    Never heard Summers’ version. MacArthur Park is a pastiche of other overly emotional ballads of the time like Eloise… BARBARELLA, EXHUSBAND & URSAMAJOR are great non-theme answers though not without concomitant compromises.

  6. David R says:

    Re BEQ, if you want to see a very angry hiker, just call The Sierra, the “Sierras”.

  7. Avg Solvr says:

    BEQ puzzle reminded me that reading too much poetry can sometimes lead to a Yeats infection.

    • ArtLvr says:

      In the BEQ, I like the line across that sounds like Prague Opera House, and the down line that sounds like Qtip.

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