Monday, June 23, 2014

NYT 3:16* (pannonica) 
LAT 3:43* (pannonica) 
CS 8:44 (Ade) 
BEQ 4:58 (Amy) 

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 6/23/14 • Mon • Quigley • 6 23 14 • solution

NYT • 6/23/14 • Mon • Quigley • 6 23 14 • solution

Wow, when I can manage a solve time of 3:16 with this balky keyboard of mine (*personal update: the replacement of the replacement was also faulty, so I am still with the original part, which though an impediment is manageable rather than unworkable), that means at least one of two things is likely: that the puzzle is super-smooth, and that I’m getting slightly better at incorporating techniques of skirting the keyboard’s mechanical handicaps.

Oh wait. The grid’s 15×14, so there are fewer letters (and clues) to populate it; surely that’s an additional factor.

Including the revealer, five theme answers, three of them quite lengthy. 26-down says [What 5-, 7-, 10- and 15-Down all are] YO-YO TRICKS. Although many such maneuvers seemingly defy gravity, they are dependent on the force (as well as the effects of gyroscopy) so in a way it’s appropriate that these answers are oriented vertically.

  • 5d. [MTV competitive reality show featuring children of pop stars] ROCK THE CRADLE. Am very glad I didn’t even see this clue, as it might have confused me.
  • 7d. [Where Phileas Fogg traveled “in 80 days”] AROUND THE WORLD. Appropriately, this entry spans the grid.
  • 10d. [Do a chore with a pet] WALK THE DOG.
  • 15d. [Circus act above a net] FLYING TRAPEZE. This yo-yo trick is new to me, at least by name.

Don’t have a particular one in mind, but over the years I’ve seen a number of videos on-line of jaw-droppingly impressive yo-yo routines, some by very young practitioners. I encourage you to investigate on your own, if you’re at all inclined.

And surely it’s no accident that 28-across [Weight-loss programs] DIETS is present?

  • 24a [Cairo native] EGYPTIAN. As we—or at least many of us—learned recently, such a one is also known as a Cairene.
  • Good—in my estimation, anyway—that 48 ORSAY is not a partial (edit: i.e., a partial phrase). Is it a tough geographical crossing with Maine’s ORONO going down? Possibly, but what else could that initial letter reasonably be? An I? Seems fair, even for a Monday.
  • Least favorite fill: 19a [Green-lighted, say] OK’D. The milquetoast 49a [Saw red] WAS ANGRY (see also 57a [Get under the skin of] IRK).
  • 53d [Italian goodbye] CIAO. Also a greeting. A bit of an all-purpose word, like PREGO.

Polished puzzle, good Monday.

addendum: Was going to leave what I thought was an obvious video link to the other blogs, but after visiting them I see it’s been neglected. It really is too good not to share:

(“Around the World” (1997) – Daft Punk (dir. Michel Gondry)

Amy Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 6/23/14 • Mon • Johnson • solution

LAT • 6/23/14 • Mon • Johnson • solution

Standard-issue theme, executed in a workmanlike manner. Revealer 65-across, [Finale to fight to, and what 17-, 21-, 38- and 59-Across each literally has] BITTER END.

  • 17a. [*Totally, as sober] STONE COLD (bitter cold).
  • 21a. [*Interior decorator’s asset] GOOD TASTE (bitter taste).
  • 38a. [*Facetious treatment suggestion to a bundle of nerves] CHILL PILL (bitter pill). “Bundle of nerves” is uncharacteristically oblique, considering the slo-pitch nature of this crossword’s cluing. “Nervous person,” “uptight individual,” or something less metaphorical would seem to be more apt.
  • 59a. [*Somewhat deceptive statement] HALF TRUTH (bitter truth).

gosfield_ataodNot sure what’s going on with the suspenders-and-belt approach to enumerating the theme entries and marking them with asterisks. Monday-level decision, or some kind of editorial lapse?

As to said Mondayness, while solving this crossword felt a little too easy, a little too-dumbed down, even for novice solvers. However, in looking over the clue and fill now, I’m not finding anything worth calling out as too easy, or unnecessarily telegraphed. So perhaps I’m just having a jaded moment.

  • Not Monday-typical, but made fair by easy crossings: 64a [China’s Zhou __ ] EN LAI; 54a [’70s radical org] SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army); 45a [1998 Sarah McLachlan song] ADIA; possibly 20a [Vivacity] ELAN.
  • 56d [Apply during a massage] RUB IN. If this had been a late-week puzzle or an indie, perhaps the clue might be something like [Ubiquitous record producer Rick].
  • Decent paired sevens vertically in all four corners, but the grid’s design left me longing for triples all around. Easier said than done, of course.
  • Conversely, the symmetric pairing of the complementary SOFT SELL and HARD TIME was satisfying indeed.
  • 29d [Kick back]. L–––, tried LAZE first, then it became LO–– so I went with LOAF, but ultimately it was LOLL.
  • Engaging clues, minimal as they are, were appreciated. 5a [Glasgow native] SCOT / 44a [Glasgow girl] LASS. 51a [Something to keep under your hat?] HEAD.

Solid but not exactly inspiring Monday crossword.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 6 23 14 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 6 23 14 “Themeless Monday”

On Saturday, I met up with longtime puzzler Karen and her husband Spence. Karen said they skip the Monday through Wednesday puzzles because they’re too easy—except for BEQ’s “Themeless Monday” each week. I agreed it’s a delight to have a non-walk-in-the-park themeless each Monday. (Karen does not care for Tuesdays, and is glad to see the Fireball each Wednesday.)

Love the center of this puzzle: TUPAC SHAKUR, “MADAM, I’M ADAM,” and JUNGLE FEVER across, pinwheeled with a trio of 9s crossing them.

Five things, and then I gotta hit the road:

  • 33d. [Ballerina’s home], MUSIC BOX. Loved this clue/answer.
  • 55a. [Sent out a staff message?], SEXTED. Hah!
  • 39d. [Accustomed], WONTED. Never seen this form of the word.
  • 21a. [Publisher with the slogan “Science fiction. Fantasy. The universe”], TOR. I learned this in 10th grade English, when the boy who sat next to me read cheesy sci-fi paperbacks with cover art that totally objectified women.
  • 1d. [“Same here”], AS DID I. Am now as tired of the various “AS ___” entries as the [Playground retort]s.

3.25 stars from me.

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Divine Secrets”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.23.14: "Divine Secrets"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.23.14: “Divine Secrets”

Hello everyone, and welcome to a new week in crossword-solving! Hope you all had a pretty good weekend.

Nothing real tricky with this puzzle by Mr. Patrick Jordan, just some hidden gods. Each of the three answers are common phrases in which the name of a Norse god is hidden within the entry. NORSE DEITY is the reveal (54A: [Entry spelled by the fourth through seventh letters of each answer at 17-, 26-, and 45-Across]). Now that I read that over, it’s actually pretty slick that each of those hidden gods were located in between the fourth and seventh letters of each entry. Very nice!

  • HELLO KITTY: (17A: [Japanese character with six whiskers])
  • STOOD IN LINE: (26A: [Joined a queue])
  • TRUTH OR DARE: (45A: [Party game named for its options])

This was a very smooth puzzle with no real difficulty, even with the plural of HE-MEN in the middle of the grid (33A: [Hercules and Samson, for two]). Just talked with a person not too long ago who said that she did a couple of SKYDIVES and plans on doing more (9D: [Does a high jump, in a way]), then she told me what I should do a skydive sometime. Umm, THANX but no thanx (45D: [Cutesy “Much obliged”])!!! Some people think skydiving is a BREEZE (44A: [Simple task]), but not this land lover! Don’t come across/say DROWSED too often, but it cut the mustard in this grid today (5D: [Began nodding off]).

I think I was one of the few kids that did not like the game that came with the SEGA Genesis, Sonic (64A: [Sonic the Hedgehog’s company]). Of course, all I did was eventually buy sports games and more sports games, but something about that particular action game, Sonic, did not appeal to me. Maybe it was all those rings that you had to collect during the game to keep your character alive, as well as just playing around with how fast you can make the hedgehog go during the game (since it could go in hyper speed). There’s a chance that I lost a good number of people right now describing the game, so I’ll just move on to the sports moment…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BOWIE (25D: [“Let’s Dance” singer David])– The NBA Draft is this Thursday, and 30 years ago was probably the most famous NBA Draft in league history, probably because this was the draft that the Portland Trail Blazers, drafting No. 2 overall, decided to take University of Kentucky center Sam BOWIE. The Chicago Bulls, picking immediately after Portland, selected some average player from North Carolina named…Michael Jordan. Bowie’s career never took off in the NBA, mostly because of a multitude of leg injuries that first started while at Kentucky. Umm, whatever happened to that Jordan guy?!?!

Have a great day, everyone, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


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5 Responses to Monday, June 23, 2014

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: Pretty darn close to a perfect Monday, methinks. I didn’t know the MTV show, but it did not slow me down, and once I caught on to the theme, I flew trough the puzzle (I fly like a Tasmanian emu, but hey, even emus can have flights of fancy).

    I really love the concept and the vertical rendition of the tricks. Yo-yos are a class of toys that seems universal. I had a wooden one as a kid. It didn’t do any of the cool tricks that need ball bearings, but I liked it anyhow (didn’t know such tricks existed). In fact, I think we were living in EGYPT when I got my first one.

    The puzzle is both playful and well constructed. We all know it takes a master to make it seem this easy!


  2. Gareth says:

    Spotted the theme very quickly, on the second theme answer, and rushed to fill in the others! Pretty close to perfect Monday theme IMO!

  3. janie says:

    oy-oy! yo-yo tricks — perfection!


  4. David L says:

    The BEQ clue/answer that you loved, “Ballerina’s home” for MUSICBOX, was a mystery to me. Google suggests that some music boxes have ballerinas in them or on them, but it’s not a connection I would have made. But then my knowledge of music boxes is minimal, to say the least.

    The clue for 52/47D, “London gallery that was once a prison” for THE TATE, is wrong. The Tate was built on the site of an old prison, but the building itself has always been an art gallery. I suspect BEQ skimmed the Wikipedia entry a little too hastily.

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