Monday, April 14, 2014

NYT 3:25 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:16 (pannonica) 
BEQ 12:01 (Gareth) 
CS 8:44 (Ade) 

Gareth Bain’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 4/14/14 • Mon • Bain • 4 14 14 • solution

NYT • 4/14/14 • Mon • Bain • 4 14 14 • solution

Grr. There was something wrong with the .puz (Across Lite) file, so I had to use the interface on the Times’ website. As has frequently occurred when I’ve done so, there was a long delay before the grid and clues loaded, but the timer had started already. To make matters worse, I had been fiddling with the .puz file earlier and something having to do with that popped up right when the grid finally loaded. The end result is that nearly a minute had elapsed on the ‘official’ timer before I’d even started solving. The time reported above reflects my actual time, which is pretty good considering I hadn’t used that particular interface in a long time. Oh, the puzzle itself? Pretty good. Three 15-letter themers, vintage phrases beginning with homophones of \ˈther\.

  • 17a. [Famous debate words from Reagan to Carter] “THERE YOU GO AGAIN.”
  • 37a. [Churchill’s description of the Royal Air Force during W.W. II] THEIR FINEST HOUR. The initialism RAF gets a lot of play in crosswords.
  • 58a. [Endorsement from Tony the Tiger] “THEY’RE GRRRRREAT!” Not aware if there’s an official, scripted amount of Rs in the tagline’s “great,” so perhaps the constructor was able to play a little loose with it?

No revealer, but the commonality should be readily evident to most solvers.

  • Spring flowers! 19d [Some daisies] OXEYES, 35d [Droop, as flowers] WILT, 57d [Bloom’s support] STEM.
  • 1d [Pay to play, as poker] ANTE, 46d [Pay to play, as poker] BUY IN, 7d [Gambler’s note] IOU, 56d [Low poker holding] PAIR. Yet not 36d [Word with potato or chocolate] CHIP. Whew, was starting to worry that Gareth (or Will) had a gambling problem but it seems they knew when to hold/fold that hand.
  • 8d LUGE and 10d LUGER are unrelated etymologically; the former comes from French and the latter German.
  • 49d [Assault with a knife] STAB is mildly strong stuff for “the breakfast test”, particularly to start the week. But then again in America we’re all right with violence.

Not only the theme answers, but the great majority of the fill and cluing skews “old”. Pat BOONE, PAYOLA (it still may take place, but the scandals were in the 195s and ’60s), retiring Jay LENO, ERIE [Canal of song], these are typical of the vibe. The most modern feeling entries are FOODIE, RIC Ocasek of the Cars, REESE Witherspoon and Macaulay Culkin in “Home ALONE.” Fine Monday puzzle.

Patrick Blindauer’s CrossSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Hamlet’s Initials”—Ade’s write-up

CrossSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.14.14: "Hamlet's Initials"

CrossSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.14.14: “Hamlet’s Initials”

Hello everybody! Here’s hoping the case of the Mondays isn’t setting in too bad just yet. And even if it has, this very artful theme execution by Patrick Blindauer should lift your spirits at least a little bit. In a tribute to the famed fictional Prince of Denmark, each of the first letters of each word in the theme answers eventually spell out the beginning line of the famous soliloquy from Hamlet, “To be or not to be…”

  • THROW OUT: (17A: [*Discard])
  • BALD EAGLE: (21A: [*North American bird of prey])
  • OEDIPUS REX: (26A: [*Tragedy by Sophocles])
  • NICK OF TIME: (50A: [*Very last second])
  • THE OSCARS: (56A: [*Big awards show, familiarly])
  • BLACK EYE: (66A: [*Shiner])

What made this an even more enjoyable experience was that I didn’t get what was happening until at least 90 seconds after completion. It just wasn’t coming while in the midst of solving, but then when I was done – and gave the grid a couple of once-overs – I decided to see if the first letter of the first starred theme meant anything. Voilà!

(Mid-post addendum: This happens to be Mr. Blindauer’s final CS puzzle, but in no way will that mean you can’t come across more of his engrossingly enjoyable masterpieces. Puzzlefest is his new endeavor, and for very, very cheap prices, you’ll get a bundle of crosswords in various categories: Xword University, Vegas Puzzlefest, Musical Puzzlefest, Summer Puzzlefest and Holiday Puzzlefest. Keep ’em coming, PB!)

Climbing to the top of this puzzle wasn’t nearly as difficult as NORGAY had it when scaling Mount Everest (19A: [Hillary’s Sherpa guide Tenzing]).  If you like your geometry, then you’re in luck with both RHOMBI (4D: [Some parallelograms]) and RADII (32D: [Circle measurements]). Also a win for those that prefer RYDER (43A: [Name on some rental trucks]) instead of U-Haul when relocating. A couple of stumbles on answers I should have gotten off the bat: put in bashes (and mashes) before HASHES (8A: [Chops up]) and web site before WEB PAGE (18D: [Surfer’s destination]). Of all the recent portmanteaus of celebrity couples, I think TOMKAT got under my skin the most (52A: [Tabloid couple married from 2006 to 2012]). “Bennifer” (Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez) and “Brangelina” (Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie) are far from eye-pleasing, either, but something about TomKat was beyond tacky – other than Tom Cruise holding that poor girl, Katie Holmes, hostage, err, I mean, dating her.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SLO (29A: [Word before mo and Blo])– Most of you have probably last watched a slo-motion instant replay at least once in the past 24 hours. In American sports broadcasting, instant replay made its debut during the Dec. 7, 1963 Army-Navy football game on CBS. The innovative technology was only used once during the telecast, replaying an Army touchdown run late in the game. It actually proved to be confusing to viewers, as the replay was shown at the same speed as the actual play, causing viewers to think Army scored twice in rapid succession. After some perfecting, slo-motion instant replay has proven to be one of the most important innovations in television history.

Now off to the stores to see what I can get for my father’s birthday, which is tomorrow (he’ll be 67 years young). Any suggestions????

Take care, and I’ll see you guys tomorrow!


P.S. Again, click here to be forwarded to Mr. Blindauer’s Puzzlefest web site.

Sean Dobbin and the CHSVT Cruciverbalism Class’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 4/14/14 • Mon • Dobbin • CHSVT Cruciverbalism Class • solution

LAT • 4/14/14 • Mon • Dobbin • CHSVT Cruciverbalism Class • solution

The note to the puzzle reads, “Sean Dobbin is an English teacher at the Community High School of Vermont (CHSVT) in St. Johnsbury. His cruciverbalism class, for which students earn fractional credit, involves vocabulary, writing, and other areas of English. 12 students worked with Mr. Dobbin on today’s puzzle.” Standard-caliber Monday theme, with  cute-as-a-button three-letter revealer in the center: 40a [Cavity-filler’s letters, or, said another way, a hint to 17-, 29-, 49- and 65-Across] DDS, which per the first part stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery. As per the second part, the long answers referenced are two-word phrases whose components each begin with the letter D.

  • 17a. [Hand Vac maker] DIRT DEVIL.
  • 29a. [Special “Jeopardy!” square] DAILY DOUBLE.
  • 49a. [A&E reality series featuring the Robertson family] DUCK DYNASTY.
  • 65a. [Computer component] DISK DRIVE.

That’s three commercial items and one obsolescent one (more so if one excludes CD drives). By no means egregious, but perhaps a bit blah. On the more positive side, I like the overlapping long words for each of the four themers: OFF AND ON, CHOP SUEY, ISOTONER, NUTSHELL. Avoiding the heavy-duty Scrabble letters—more precisely not going out of the way to include a lot of them—makes for a smoothly flowing grid. Which is not to say there aren’t any at all (X, Z, K, V, but no Q, J), so there’s still some excitement. A few too many short abbrevs. for my liking. AST, OTC, IED, ESL, KMS, CPR, LSAT, plus the obligatory DDS, and I’ll toss in SSS [Puncture sound] while I’m at it. Overall, roughly average Monday, and it’s always very good to see younger folk participating in this little pastime.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website puzzle, “THEMELESS MONDAY #262” – Gareth’s review



It’s an interesting gambit by BEQ to go with two idiom-type 15’s to anchor the grid. MAYBEYOURERIGHT is perfect in that regard; DOANINJUSTICETO is a little on the padded side. I had GOLLYYOURERIGHT for quite a while, and confirmed it by filling [Source of erratic shots?] as SHAnking instead of the much more suitable for the clue SHAKYCAM. Having nyU not KSU as my [Manhattan sch.] didn’t help. That’s sneaky for us non-Americans!

The puzzle felt more conservative than most BEQ’s. He managed to place several at least a few choice answers in each of the top corners. In the top-left SHAKYCAM is great, and I kind of like MISSOULA even though I only recognize it as a name and HIMMEL too – a long German word that is actually commonly-known is fun to have around! ODYSSEUS, AMSCRAY and yet another idiomatic phrase, the confrontational ISTHATSO appear in the top-left. AGHA was a downer in that side – AGA is perfectly fine with me, but the H spelling is something I only see in crosswords!

The bottom half was less shiny. Despite being a plural “-er” word I liked seeing GREASERS. It reminds of this classic Springsteen tune. LORDE from her first hit was destined for crosswords. So it’s no surprise to see her today. ERODER unlike GREASERS is the one horrible answer in that corner.

Some clues to highlight:

  • [It can help you see the sites], SAFARI is a tricky, but ultimately defensible clue. Normally, one considers a SAFARI as a self-undertaken trip, but it can also be something organized for tourists that is highly orchestrated.
  • [Insults] desperately wanted to be ABuSES, but FuT is not a word.
  • [Solitary, for one: Abbr.] is gorgeous as a clue, even if the answer is SYN, an abbr.
  • [Org. whose motto is “God, Home, and Country”] led me to uAR first before DAR!
  • [Good place to play cricket], OPENAREA – a bizarrely specific clue for a very generic answer!
  • [Miracle worker?], JESUS. Strange use of the “?”. Either you’re Christian and the “?” is incorrect, or you’re not and the clue itself is incorrect “?” or no, yes?

Very clean puzzle. Not as pizzazzy as many BEQ’s, although it feels churlish to hold himself to a different standard! 3.5 Stars

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33 Responses to Monday, April 14, 2014

  1. janie says:

    wow. like last week’s, i thought this was a practically perfect monday puzzle. probably because that final grid-spanner left me in a state of ELATION w/ a big ol’ smile on my face. nice way to start the week. thx, gareth!


  2. Huda says:

    NYT: That was GRRRRREAT! I really loved the choice of theme answers. Nothing felt strained. As they say in Italy: Perfetto!

    FOODIE brought a smile. I had my foodie fix this weekend. A friend gave me some Morel mushrooms (like 5 of them- they’re in season), so I made risotto, sauteed the mushrooms in butter and added them on top. That tasted a-mazing. The only thing that could be better is truffles. Growing up in Damascus, we ate desert truffles, or “Kemeh” which the Bedouins gather (no pigs involved!). It’s also the right time of year for them (though I doubt anyone is buying at the moment). Fantastic stuff!
    Sorry about the foodie regression. It’s Gareth’s fault.

    • Brucenm says:

      Huda, this is mind-boggling incredible. On Saturday, I made a mushroom, asparagus, shallot and leek risotto, using both a mushroom duxelles in the risotto broth, and sauteed slices on top. The famed “Hadley asparagus” (where I live), are just starting to appear in local farm stands.

      (I’m sure you’re familiar with the philosophical mind – boggle problem.)

  3. Ethan says:

    At first I thought the theme was going to be famous debate quotes because YOU FORGOT POLAND is 15 letters. I KNEW JACK KENNEDY is 16 letters, so if someone can convince an editor to run a 16×15, there’s a theme for you.

    Tony the Tiger’s catchphrase is actually written on the box, so that would be pretty definitive, right? It’s only three R’s.

  4. Avg Solvr says:

    THEY’REGRRRRREAT is one of the best crossword answers I’ve seen.

    “The end result is that nearly a minute had elapsed on the ‘official’ timer before I’d even started solving.” God forbid you did the puzzle in 4:25 rather than 3:25! I’m not sure I could show my face around here if you did. :) The Horror

    • pannonica says:

      A cruciverbalist’s dilemma: the man who originally voiced Tony the Tiger (as well as singing the songs in the animated version of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and many other gigs) is named Thurl Ravenscroft. This is great trivia, but if it were more well-known, THURL would become acceptable crossword fill.

      • Jeffrey K says:

        He also did tons of Disney voiceovers, including in The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. Definitely puzzle worthy.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    Thanks, Gareth! Very enjoyable puzzle, well done… I liked Huda’s FOODIE notes too, though currently celebrating a recent achievement of weight-loss goal!

  6. David L says:

    OK, this was a good Monday puzzle, but the clue to THEIR FINEST HOUR is incorrectly worded. Churchill’s speech was in praise of the RAF during the Battle of Britain — and he concluded that “this [i.e. the Battle of Britain] was their [i.e. the RAF’s] finest hour.” So the phrase is a description not of the RAF but of the Battle of Britain.

    I don’t want to descend to RP-like levels of pickiness, but editing is one of the things I do for a living, and this kind of mis-phrasing bugs me.

    • pannonica says:

      Or it could be interpreted as a description of the RAF’s service during the Battle of Britain, in which circumstance a case could be made for tacit attribution.

      • David L says:

        True, but a description of the RAF’s service is not a description of the RAF. As I say, I am fussy about these things.

        • David L says:

          Also, I’m impressed that you responded to my comment 19 minutes before I made it.

        • Ethan says:

          This is one of those cluing situations where I can only say “I’m glad I’m not a professional crossword editor.” The clue needs to explain both what “hour” is referred to *and* who the referent of “their” is. Tough to nail it down.

  7. Jenni Levy says:

    Really enjoyed the puzzle! Nice going, Gareth. The last theme entry made me laugh, and nothing made me growl. Smooooooth Monday. Great start to the week.

  8. Martin says:

    Fun Monday puzzle!

    It’s a good thing Churchill’s famous description of the Royal Navy was not used! I won’t repeat it here, but the first word is “Rum” for those who wish to Google it ;)


  9. Martin says:

    Ah Daniel, no matter who said it, it makes a good story :)

    – MAS

  10. Lemonade714 says:

    A really fine Monday. I worked backwards to make sure I had the Rs right. Go Tomy!

  11. Lois says:

    Lovely NYT today. To go by the ratings, the other puzzles are wonderful too. I wish there were more hours in the day, or that it took me three minutes a puzzle.

  12. Ruth says:

    Anybody but me notice in LAT that DISCDRIVE crossing CMS works just fine too? I think in centimeters a lot better than I do in kilometers, anyway.

  13. yves l says:

    David L,

    If editing was one of the things *I* did for a living, I’d get my facts straight before I worried about mis-phrasing. This speech was *before* the Battle of Britain, not in gratitude–to the RAF or anybody else–afterward.

    The tribute to the RAF came in a speech after the Battle: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

    Guess our constructor needs a little more research, too….

    • Bencoe says:

      Aha! Yves L. dug.

    • Gary R says:

      Good catch, Yves L! After reading through the speech, “This was their finest hour” seems to be what Churchill was telling Parliament _others_ would say of the entire British Empire, if it stood up to Germany and survived the expected Battle of Britain.

  14. ahimsa says:

    NYT: Cute theme, thanks Gareth!

    CS: I liked the theme a lot. I knew it was going to be related to the famous soliloquoy so when I saw the BxxxExxx theme entries I managed to figure it out.

    I have heard of Brangelina in spite of never following celebrity news. But I had managed to avoid the term TOMKAT until this puzzle. Happily, it didn’t stop me from finishing the puzzle.

    Ade, thanks for your write-up! I’ve been enjoying the sports items over the last couple of days. I have no gift suggestions but I send best wishes for your father’s birthday!

  15. Bencoe says:

    Where is Gareth today? Does he not read his reviews? But we liked it!

  16. Dele says:

    Just to clarify one of the clues in the BEQ:

    I think [It can help you see the sites] is about the web browser.

    Thanks, Gareth!

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