Monday, September 15, 2014

NYT 3:12 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:21 (pannonica) 
CS 9:53 (Ade) 
BEQ 4:46 (Amy) 

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

NYT • 9/15/14 • Mon • Michaels • 9 15 14 • solution

NYT • 9/15/14 • Mon • Michaels • 9 15 14 • solution

Crazy day today, so I only have time for a brief recap of this puzzle (and the one for Henry Hook’s CRooked will be posted as soon as I can manage it).

Standard Monday-duty theme: a key word completes a consistent element in each of the phrases that comprise the longest across answers. The revealer at 67-across puts it thus: [What quivering legs feel like … or a word that can precede the starts of 17-, 27-, 45-  and 60-Across], and that would be JELLY.

  • 17a. [Performer who may have a navel decoration] BELLY DANCER.
  • 27a. [Some British pub food] FISH AND CHIPS.
  • 45a. [Risk, figuratively] ROLL OF THE DIE.
  • 60a. [Common stir-fry ingredients] BEAN SPROUTS.

Don’t know if 17a’s “jelly belly” has much currency outside of the name of a certain jelly bean confectioner, so it may constitute a bit of a duplication with 60-across. Otherwise, good, solid if not >wow< theme phrases.

Grid looks pangrammy, but I’m not going to verify that. 

  • 62a [Suffix with expert] -ISE; 14d [Counseled] ADVISED. >bzzzt!<
  • 53a [Jetty] QUAY. No, not really.
  • 27d [How Hamlet stabs Polonious] FATALLY. 6a [“Romeo and Juliet” has five of them] ACTS; so does Hamlet, for what it’s worth.
  • 25a [Wine: Prefix] OENO-. Might have been more palatable if the preceding 24a [Drunk’s interjection] HIC had been clued as [Wino’s interjection].
  • Nicer stuff: EMMA PEEL, JOHN DOE, KIDNAPS.

And what shall we make of the DRECK smack dab in the middle? As that Shakespeare guy wrote, “Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born? / When at your hands did I deserve this scorn?”

Average Monday, possibly less so depending on the discreteness of jelly belly.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 9 15 14 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 9 15 14 “Themeless Monday”

I found this one a bit easier than the typical BEQ themeless. Lots of names (which I often know), lots of contemporary stuff. Fresh notes:

  • 18a. [Singer with the 2014 top 10 hit “Boom Clap”], CHARLI XCX. Facilitated by the SIX-LANE and SEXPERT crossings. The current top 10 includes songs by Meghan Trainor; Taylor Swift; Nikki Minaj; Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj; Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora; Sam Smith; Magic!; Ariana Grande feat. Zedd; Maroon 5; and Sia. Seven songs from young women, alone and in combination. Nice to see the charts dominated by female artists, and from more than one genre (pop and hip-hop). CHARLI XCX has dropped to #11.
  • 36a. [Printing problem], PAPER JAM. Better than a traffic jam … unless you’re on a deadline.
  • 52a. [ESPN analyst Keith], OLBERMANN. So often so incisive.
  • 1d. [Darlene Hunt’s Showtime show], THE BIG C. Darlene Hunt created this 2010-2014 series; Laura Linney starred. I only saw the final episode.
  • 39d. [Yellow character in Roger Hargreaves children’s books], MR. HAPPY. The little round-head figure.

Count to one:

  • 36d. [Story opener], PAGE ONE.
  • 45d. [It’s roughly 761 MPH], MACH I, meaning Mach 1. *frown*

Clues of note:

  • 47a. [Meal that is often questioned?], SEDER. With traditional questions.
  • 17a. [Museum Folkwang city], ESSEN. “Heh, he said wang.”
  • 10d. [Masters work?], GOLF. When SEXPERT is near a Masters mention, you don’t think of The Masters.
  • 14d. [Maven of busy bodies], SEXPERT.

Not sure what a WASTE AREA is. It doesn’t sound pleasant. 54a. [What a dump!]. And I think the “in” is extraneous in this clue: 13d. [Traps in], ENCAGES. “Traps in a box” and “encages a box” are not at all the same thing.

Four stars from me.

Don Rosenthal’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 9/15/14 • Mon • Rosenthal • solution

LAT • 9/15/14 • Mon • Rosenthal • solution

Another typical Monday-style theme—a close cousin of the one in today’s NYT—related words appearing at the ends of phrases. In this case (see what I did there? (actually I do that sort of thing a lot (but this time I felt like being (parenthetically) explicit about it)) it’s as 71-across puts it: [Brew found in increasing quantities in the ends of 17-, 28-, 47-, and 64-Across] BEER.

  • 17a. [Window material] PANE GLASS.
  • 28a. [“The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas” author] GERTRUDE STEIN.
  • 47a. [One coming in from the bullpen] RELIEF PITCHER.
  • 64a. [Explosive situation] POWDER KEG.

Good theme, solid entries. GLASS is a little on the vague side, but it suffices. Other options might have included pint, pony, tankard, schooner, yard, and growler, among others. Obviously a nice touch that they’re in defensibly increasing order of size. PITCHER is the only themer to have an appreciably different meaning from the vessel (though it still shares its etymology), but as I said, they’re all ok.

Flight samples:

  • Misfills: 21a [Rapture] ELATION before ECSTASY. 36a [Harbinger] OMEN before SIGN, later I encountered 13d [Harbinger] OMEN; I never anticipated that! 61a [Hush-hush fed. org.] NSA before CIA.
  • 5a [Gauge on a dash] TACH; 18d [Drive and reverse] GEARS.
  • Français! 20a [French friend] AMI, 4d [Somme summer] ÉTÉ, 32d [Land in la mer] ÎLEet une mention honorable à 19a [Beauty at the ball] BELLE.
  • Les bivalves! 27d [Pot for clams] STEAMER (nb: in some parts of Australia, a 10oz glass is called a pot); 30d [How half-shell clams are eaten] RAW. I guess that’s true if you’re talking about ‘clams on the half-shell’ but baked items such as clams casino or clams oreganato are also presented that way. Also, it’s said that Guinness stout is a good pairing for oysters.
  • 57a [Early metalworking period] IRON AGE. Preceded quite some time by 59a [Leatherworking tools] such as AWLS.

Good puzzle. Chin-chin!

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Falling Apart”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.15.14: "Falling Apart"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.15.14: “Falling Apart”

Hello there, everybody!  Here’s wishing you all the best to begin the new week.  Well, the last thing we need to have happen to begin the week – or at any time – is to have things fall apart on us, no matter what the fashion of the falling apart is.  Today’s puzzle, brought to us today by Mr. Tony Orbach, deals with all things falling apart, as the end word in each of the five theme answers also happen to be synonyms to “fall apart.”  

  • KITCHEN SINK: (17A: [Pasta-draining spot]) – Do you call what you drain pasta with a sieve, strainer or colander? I usually go with sieve.
  • APPLE CRUMBLE: (24A: [Baked fruit crisp]) – Now why did you have to put that image in my head, as well as a big growl in my stomach, Tony?
  • MAN CAVE: (41D: [Place to watch the big fight, perhaps]) – Any fight fans in the NYC area are always invited to my man cave to watch big sporting events…or Orange Is the New Black.
  • SERVICE BREAK: (52A: [Potential turning point in a tennis match]) – If it’s a women’s match not involving Serena Williams, there’s usually a lot of turning points then.
  • BRASS BUCKLE: (64A: [Western belt feature, often])

There was some pretty good fill in this puzzle, and thank goodness one of my aunts lives in London and I’m used to her vernacular, or AERODROMES, among many other words, would have very foreign to me (30D: [Landing fields, to a Brit]). That tricky Russian river, NEVA, popped up again, and again, I couldn’t remember/recall it and needed the crosses (45D: [Saint Petersburg river]). Definitely need to hammer that word into my head now. The same could be said for HAKE (1D: [Cod relative]), since I’m not too good with the fish family. Absolutely loved the sandwich breading in between MAN CAVE, with the total opposites of I’M GAME (33A: [“Sounds good to me”]) and NOT YET (46A: [“Wait a minute”]). Lastly, here’s an esoteric hip-hop nugget: one underground hip-hop artist who I’ve listened to a few times over the years is a performer that goes by the stage name LMNO (23D: [Alphabetic run]). What’s the deal with his stage name? According to him, LMNO stands for “Leave My Name Out.” Clever, isn’t it??? Maybe one or two people may have ever heard of him or his music, but here’s hoping you look him up just because of the origin of his funky stage name.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MOON (44D: [“Goodnight ____” (classic bedtime book)]) – As a young black kid who aspired to play quarterback in the pros, one of my first footballing idols/heroes was Warren MOON, who was a quarterback in the Canadian Football League and the NFL, most known for his time with the Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and with the Houston Oilers (NFL) in the 1980s and early 1990s. Moon started his pro career in Canada – widely thought because of the discrimination that existed in regards to having black quarterbacks feature in the pros – and helped the Eskimos win five consecutive Grey Cups, from 1978-1982. Even though the first six of his professional seasons were spent playing in Canada, Moon, after signing with the Houston Oilers, still put up monster numbers in the NFL. He retired from the NFL ranking in the top five in league history in passing yards (49,325) and passing touchdowns (291). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

Thank you everybody, and I’ll see you all tomorrow!

Take care!


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9 Responses to Monday, September 15, 2014

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: Fun! the revealer made me chuckle because I really wasn’t clear on the theme until then. But also the images it evokes are funny/happy.

    Not sure about TUVALU on a Monday but I liked a lot of the non-theme material including that VROOM, JAZZ, DRECK combo!

  2. Martin says:

    Ok, in my neck of the woods (western Canada), there’s no problem with any potential JELLY BELLY/JELLY BEAN dupe, because (to my knowledge), a JELLY BELLY is simply another term for “beer gut”, and a JELLY BEAN is a variety of candy. Moreover, the term JELLY BEAN is now an accepted generic word (up here) for a variety of candy, whereas JELLY BELLY looks like a just trademark.

    Rex raised the same issue as Pannonica, so maybe the generic JELLY BELLY usage is regional?


  3. jj says:

    I guess it’s “regional” in the sense that the brand of candy is the only known usage in the entire country of the United States. Google doesn’t seem to recognize any slang usage of it. You might be confusing Jelly Belly with regular old “belly” if you’re thinking of a beer gut connotation. I agree with both bloggers – the similarity of BELLY/BEAN is very inelegant.

    • Martin says:

      Nope, JJ…

      JELLY BELLY is just one slang word for beer gut up here. I’m (personally) unfamiliar with the candy (not that that means that much).

      Like I said it sounds regional: regional meaning that smaller region/country to the south of us ;)

      (that last sentence is a joke, lest anyone gets upset)


  4. Huda says:

    The similarity in the American meaning of JELLY BELLY to JELLY BEAN did not occur to me or bother me when it was noted. It’s because the theme entries themselves seem so disconnected from each other that finding the commonality is delightful.
    I think the trick in this genre of puzzle is that the surprise should be real for the solver. The moment of revelation should create a little click of harmony and a tiny burst of dopamine in your reward circuit: Surprise! :) If you feel it, the rest is technicality.
    It’s even better if the images that ensue are themselves rewarding (sweets!). I bet you that if all else were comparable but the eventual theme was less positively charged, people wouldn’t feel so pleased. A gifted constructor has good “theory of mind” and the ability to anticipate and create such a reaction.

    • pannonica says:

      They didn’t seem disconnected to me at all while solving—thanks in no small part to the confectioner’s market dominance and an unfamiliarity with the phrase ‘jelly belly’ on its own (which does, however, obliquely and distantly evoke a description of ‘Jolly Saint Nick’ in CC Moore’s famous poem) [edit: as Beth contemporaneously mentions below]—so I never had a chance of receiving that minor reward. The theme was incapable of emerging from that umbrous eclipse.

  5. Beth says:

    I have a bowl of Jelly Belly jelly beans on my table. I have always enjoyed the name because it does remind me of my first memories of a jelly belly.

    “He had a broad face and a little round belly
    That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.”

  6. Gary R says:

    I think 45a, ROLL OF THE DIE, would have been better clued by “Chance” or “Uncertainty.” “Risk” typically involves two elements – the chance of some event occurring, and the size of the “loss” if that event occurs. ROLL OF THE DIE speaks to the chance aspect, but not the loss.

  7. ahimsa says:

    NYT: I loved it! Lots of sparkle! I didn’t see the connection before the theme reveal so it was fun for me.

    I’m familiar with the term JELLY BELLY as a way to describe a beer gut. Maybe it’s not only regional but also generational?

    I also know JELLY BELLY as a brand of candy. But I think my knowledge of that phrase preceded my learning about the brand name.

    Jellystone (from the Yogi bear cartoons) would have been a fun addition to the theme entries. But I think there’s a rule/guideline that this type of theme must be based on two word phrases, not single words that can be cut into two pieces, right? So Jellystone probably does not qualify.

    But purely as a solver, not as an expert on crossword constructing, I think it would be fun to allow words like that (which are obviously compound words but not officially split into two) in this type of theme.

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