Monday, November 10, 2014

NYT 3:22 (pannonica) 
Fireball 7:12 + 5-10 mins (Amy) 
LAT 3:28 (pannonica) 
CS 12:47 (Ade) 
BEQ 5:18 (Amy) 

Patrick Berry’s Fireball contest crossword, “Mind the Gaps”

Fireball contest crossword solution, 11 5 14 "Mind the Gaps"

Fireball contest crossword solution, 11 5 14 “Mind the Gaps”

I cracked this meta on the heels of failing to get the week 5 MGWCC meta, so it was a relief not to come up short.

Usually in crosswords, apostrophes and other punctuation don’t matter. This time, the answers with elided letters or contractions are a symmetrical set of unadvertised theme answers. In trying to figure out what the “Mind the Gaps” title meant after I’d filled in the grid, I eyeballed the black squares between entries—nothing going on there. Then the two apostrophized entries in row 3 jumped out at me—and I combed through the grid for more such answers. Eventually I found eight of them in rows 3, 7, 9, and 13, and I inserted the apostrophes where they go.

My next step was to write the words with elisions in grid order, capitalizing only the elided letters. I ended up with this list: movinG, foREcAs(T)le, olD, It was, neVer, it Is too late, no maDam, and palme d(U?) or. GREA(T) DIVIDU? Aha, Palme d(e) Or, and our “gap” to mind is the GREAT DIVIDE. ’S nice!

Good-looking grid, too. Stacked 8s and a pair of (mostly) 6×5 corners? There’s even room for a Star Trek TRICORDER and TALLADEGA each crossing three theme entries. The rest of the entries are Berry-smooth but not particularly “wow, this fill is incredible!” in terms of zippy entries. But with eight theme answers, open spaces, and a meta, we needn’t expect too much zip.

4.5 stars from me. How’d it treat you?

Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 11/10/14 • Mon • Haight • 11 10 14 • solution

NYT • 11/10/14 • Mon • Haight • 11 10 14 • solution

Four ways to say [“No way!”]


Two 15s, two 14s, all strong and definitely-in-the-language. The precise spelling of the slurred 26-across might possibly have tripped up some solvers, but since this is a Monday it’s more or less a given that the crossings won’t be trying.

  • We get a Hawaii two-fer with 16a [Poi plant] TARO and 33a [Maui mementos] LEIS. A triple of sorts if you care to imagine HONO- preceding 19d [Doozies] LULUS.
  • 8d [15, for any row, column or diagonal of a 3×3 magic square] does not seem like a Monday clue for SUM. I’d peg it as more of a Wednesday and beyond.
  • 27d UNIFY and 44d UNITES seem a bit duplicative, but I suppose the etymologies may be discrete enough  {Latin uni- + -ficareunitus).
  • 14a [Declare] AVER, 10d [Said] STATED, 22a [Say] UTTER. Maybe the first one should have been clued [Say with certainty], she proposed hesitantly.
  • Relatively low CAP Quotient™ (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials).

Enjoyable Monday crossword, above average.

Teresa Colby’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 11/10/14 • Mon • Colby • solution

LAT • 11/10/14 • Mon • Colby • solution

Odd duck, this one. The revealer’s at the bottom right margin: 53d [Parting words, perhaps after the visit suggested by the starts of 20-, 38-/40- and 54-Across] SEE YA.

  • 20a. [Taking the top spot] COMING IN FIRST.
  • 38a. [With 40-Across, remaining focused] STAYING ON POINT.
  • 54a. [Betting it all] GOING FOR BROKE.

Hence, coming, staying, going. Followed, supposedly, by a SEE YA.

This theme simply doesn’t work for me. The three phrases themselves are not particularly interesting. One is split across two entries, which is rather inelegant. As a whole, the story they ostensibly tell is uninteresting; weak sauce. The revealer is really only relevant to the last of the three main entries. Finally, pretty much by necessity the clues for all four of these answers include present participles ending with -ing, just as do the answers; it makes for a tediously repetitive sensation while solving.

While the grid is relatively low on partials, it’s loaded up with crosswordese, especially for an early-week offering. Just look at the top left corner, the “opener”: E-MAG / LINO / ENID – dubious quasi tech term, Britishism, crossword geography. The next sector, top-middle, isn’t much better: SYST / LOCH / OGEE – I don’t need to annotate these. Elsewhere are the likes of ESTO, ETNA, EKING (which intrudes on the theme a little as well), U TENN, and more. More than a few abbrevs. as well: EMTS, OBE, YRS, ENV, et al.

greeningMore rosily, the long down entries are pretty good – PARTY GIRL, THAT’S A LIE – as are NITWIT, APLOMB, WINSTON, SCENERY, and ART FORM.


  • 32a [Cleopatra’s undoing] ASP. Some say it was a horned viper (Cerastes cerastes). Some say the ASP of Egyptian antiquity is the Egyptian (9d) COBRA (Naja haje). Still others say she just concocted a poison from plants.
  • Not exactly fresh to clue [’]SUP as [“What’s happenin’?”] but it’s certainly less hidebound than, say, [Partake in an evening meal].

So, I’m going to revise my assessment and call this erstwhile odd duck a lame duck and opine that it’s substandard for a major crossword daily such as the Los Angeles Times.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, "Themeless Monday" 11 10 14

BEQ crossword solution, “Themeless Monday” 11 10 14

A good one this week, not packed with “ooh, wow!” fill but *nodding* “that’s solid” fill. Things I liked most:

  • 1a. [Burmese lunch], CAT FOOD. “Ooh, are there any Burmese restaurants in town?”
  • 18a. [“Word Crimes” singer], WEIRD AL. This is either Yankovic’s prescriptivist song making fun of people who lack his knack for standard spelling and grammar, or his song making fun of prescriptivists.
  • 19a. [They might help you beg for project extensions], STRETCH GOALS. Not seeing how the clue applies, but listing STRETCH GOALS is often part of performance appraisals.
  • 27a. [State after having a few shots], IMMUNIZED. Not tipsy.
  • 34a. [Sunday morning reading], MISSAL. I really had trouble seeing past the Sunday newspapers as Sunday morning reading. Nice echo with Monday Night in the Marino clue.
  • 49a. [One who works long hours at Starbucks, perhaps?], WI-FI SQUATTER. I never work at Starbucks. The screeching hiss of the espresso machine and the smell of coffee? I’ll pass.
  • 60a. [All tied up?], IN A KNOT. Clue suggests EVEN/DEADLOCKED … but turns out to be straightforward. The question mark may in fact be misleading.
  • 12d. [“Harry Potter ___ der Stein der Weisen” (German version of the first book)], UND. Nice approach to cluing a little foreign word.
  • 28d. [Literary figure who ages backward], MERLIN. I had Benjamin Button and Dorian Gray in mind.
  • 50d. [“In. Your. Face!”], I WIN. Great clue.

Some folks may raise an eyebrow at DEAL crossing IDEALS, but one has Old English roots and the other’s from Latin. Entirely unrelated despite the matching letters.

Did not know: 48a. [Obama’s State department spokesperson Psaki], JEN. The first letter’s crossing could have been MARIHUANA but I figured HEN was a much less likely name.

Four stars.

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “See Saws”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.10.14: "See Saws"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.10.14: “See Saws”

Good morning, everybody!

Today’s crossword, provided to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, is chock full of theme answers, as each of the five theme answers are common or proper nouns in which the first word could also precede the word “saw.”

  • HACK WILSON: (18A: [Babe Ruth contemporary]) – More on him in the “sports…smarter” moment.
  • RIP VAN WINKLE: (20A: [Storied sleeper])
  • BUZZ LIGHTYEAR: (36A: [“Toy Story” captain])
  • CIRCULAR FILE: (52A: [Wastebasket, facetiously])
  • BAND LEADER: (55A: [Sgt. Pepper, e.g.])

For some reason, I always put in “ocht” instead of ACHT and it always ends up costing me some time in grids (1A: [Eight, in Essen]). Guess I have Spanish in the brain as well when I think of German eights. We have a few human sound effects littered into the grid, with HUMPHS (3D: [Snorts from a skeptic]) and HAR (26D: [Part of a guffaw]). Was on ORIOLE real quick, as I immediately thought baseball when seeing its clue (43D: [National rival]). Congrats to both the (Washington) Nationals and (Baltimore) Orioles for making the baseball postseason this year, by the way. I’m not sure if I’ve ever come across or heard of the word ASSIZE, but that’s a sneakily good entry (21D: [Judicial inquiry]). Still trying to think of when I might have heard that word before, and it will haunt me the rest of the day. .

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HACK WILSON (18A: [Babe Ruth contemporary]) – One of the most prolific hitters of his day, as well as one of the more out-of-control athletes of his day, HACK WILSON still hold the record for most runs batted in (RBI) in a single season, as he drove in 191 runs – along with hitting 56 home runs – in the 1930 season while a member of the Chicago Cubs. As much as he’s remembered for being an elite hitter, he’s remembered just as much for his small stature (5’6″), starting physical fights with opposing players and fans and his alcoholism. He passed away in 1948 at age 48, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1979.

See you all tomorrow!

Take care!


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4 Responses to Monday, November 10, 2014

  1. huda says:

    NYT. Definitely cute.

  2. Gareth says:

    I finished it in Monday time, but it’s a very odd choice by Will Shortz to run this on a Monday! The themers need several crosses before they can be differentiated, which I’d have thought is more Tuesday/Wednesday level.

  3. Bencoe says:

    BEQ: I have to admit I fell completely for the misdirect at 1 across, skipping the NW and saving it for last. Never heard of “STRETCH GOALS”, but I really enjoyed the entry “WIFISQUATTER”.

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