Monday, December 1, 2014

NYT 3:47 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:33 (pannonica) 
CS 7:06 (Ade) 
BEQ 5:16 (Amy) 

John Guzzetta’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 12/1/14 • Mon • Guzzetta • 12 01 14 • solution

NYT • 12/1/14 • Mon • Guzzetta • 12 01 14 • solution

How to characterize the theme … erm, occupational Tom Swifties in love?

  • 17a. [“You really ___!,” said the adoring seismologist] ROCK MY WORLD.
  • 11d. [“You really ___!”, said the adoring tailor] SUIT MY FANCY.
  • 51a. [“You really ___!”, said the adoring ship captain] FLOAT MY BOAT.
  • 25a. [“You really ___!”, said the adoring arsonist] LIGHT MY FIRE.

These middling puns remind me of nothing else so much as those dreary bumper stickers proclaiming various lovemakers’ boasts. I’m sure you know the sort.

  • 47d [Z Z Z, to Greeks] ZETAS. 61a [Letter before cue, ar, ess …] PEE.
  • 59a [Rodeo rope] REATA. In my Monday crossword?! I daresay it’s doing the backstroke.
  • 5d [Activity with a tent and s′mores] CAMP OUT. Had CAMPING first, which snagged me for a small while.
  • Nice, meaty staircase of fives flanked by sixes and sevens (BUSBOY, MUTINY, GOURMET, PHYSICS) moving up through the center.
  • Also chewy are the likes of ZEPHYRS, LIP SYNC, REDOUBT, and STIR-FRY. Not impressed with the clue for that last, though: [Go for a wok, say?]. On the other hand, REDOUBT is such an evocative word that it more than makes up for it. With ZEPHYRS in the mix, you’d think that puzzle was definitely shooting for pangrammicity, but that’s hardly the case—no J, no Q, no V, no X.
  • Low CAP Quotient™  (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials).

Okay crossword, about average, I guess.

C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 12/1/14 • Mon • Burnikel • solution

LAT • 12/1/14 • Mon • Burnikel • solution

Revealer at 57-across: [Foot-operated mechanism on a motorcycle, and what the first word in each answer to a starred clue can be] KICK STARTER. Okay. I’m guessing this was originally clued via the internet crowdfunding site and was for some reason edited elsewise. Most modern motorcycles don’t have kick starters, with the exception of dirt bikes and smaller street models. But you know what foot-operated mechanisms all production motorcycles do have? Gearshifts and brakes.

Perhaps it was to not appear overtly commercial, but brand names are all over crosswords these days, perhaps most notoriously with Apple gaggle of iProducts. Or—reconsidering now—maybe because the two-word answer is preferable? Hmm.

  • 16a. [*Mark of a hothead] QUICK TEMPER.
  • 38a. [*”This space available,” in a Pennysaver box] PLACE YOUR AD HERE. Or an otherwise blank billboard, though I suppose the wording there typically dispenses with the “Place” bit.
  • 10d. [*Relaxed] FREE AND EASY.
  • 24d. [*A football referee may throw one] PENALTY FLAG.

Let’s see. Quick kick is an NFL thing, place kick applies to both soccer and gridiron football, free kick arguably applies to both sports, and penalty kick is just a soccer (football, futból) event. Some of these, I believe, also apply to rugby and Australian rules football. Anyway, it seems a bit inelegant that one of the theme clues overtly refers to football. Either all or none, I say! Unsportsmanlike conduct?

Quite a lot of theme real estate. Doesn’t leave room for much else in the way of exciting fill. But it does help to necessitate lots and lots of abbrevs. and frn wrds. I don’t need to point them all out.

  • 1d [ASAP cousin] PDQ. There was no ASAP Bach as far as I know. 28a [NYC airport named for a mayor] LGA; yes the Hon. Fiorello H. LGA, 99th governor of New York City.
  • 34d [Sea divided by shrinkage] ARAL. Informative clue. Not only is the inland sea shrinking, but it is indeed divided into distinct basins. A slower process than the one described in the Bibble.
  • 32a [Admission in a confessional] SIN; 22a [Regret one’s 32-Acrosses] REPENT. Not really. Regret is a feeling, repenting is an action. It’s eminently possible to regret one’s actions yet do nothing to atone for them.
  • Incidental to the theme: 37d [FC Barcelona soccer star Lionel] MESSI.

Kind of an uninteresting theme, possibly flawed in execution, and a lot of dross in the ballast fill. An unmemorable crossword, alas.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Separate Wills”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.01.14: "Separate Wills"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.01.14: “Separate Wills”

Good morning, everybody! Before starting, I would like to wish my lovely mother a very Happy 66th Birthday! You’re all definitely more than welcome to do the same, but I can’t guarantee you if she’ll let you blow out the candles on her cake…and I’m making chocolate cake muffins topped with vanilla frosting when I head to my mother’s place tonight.

Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, is a straightforward theme in which each of the four theme answers are two-word entries, with the first two letters being “WI” and the last two letters being “LL.”  Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?

  • WIFFLE BALL: (17A: [Backyard batter’s target) – I’ve actually interviewed a couple of professional Wiffle ball players, including a pitcher who can make a Wiffle ball move and swerve in the air like I had never seen before.
  • WITCH’S SPELL: (28A: [Hex, maybe])
  • WISHING WELL: (46A: [Place for fanciful notions])
  • WIND-UP DOLL: (62A: [Toy with a key])

It’s never bad to think about food, and I’m starting this review with SATAY, as I had dinner with a friend of mine yesterday and we dined on some amazing chicken satay in peanut sauce (66A: [Thai treat on a stick]). Mmmm. I don’t think I have had an ICHAT with someone in about three years, but couldn’t stop doing it with friends when I bought my first MacBook back in 2008 (1A: [Mac messaging program]). The earworm of the day comes from ESTELLE, as I now have The Golden Girls theme song in my head, as well as a few of the hilarious episodes from the sitcom (20A: [Getty or Parsons]). Not that I couldn’t get it from the clue, but seeing “-RZH—–” at one point in my solving immediately made me fill in DR. ZHIVAGO with confidence (36D: [Pasternak hero]). Don’t think I’ve ever seen the partial I OWE before in a grid, so I guess I can cross that off the list now of potential partials I haven’t seen (1D: [____ you big-time!”]). Although it’s gotten a little bit warmer here in NYC over the past few days, it’s definitely far from THONG weather, that’s for sure (29D: [Minimal bikini]). Well, unless you’re in Australia!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: IZOD (65A: [Polo rival]) – In about three weeks, I’ll be covering a college basketball game between Duke and Connecticut at the IZOD Center, a multi-purpose indoor sports arena in East Rutherford, N.J. The arena, which opened in 1981 as the new home of the New Jersey Nets NBA team, was originally called Brendan Byrne Arena, named after the then governor of New Jersey. The New Jersey Devils and the Seton Hall University men’s basketball also called IZOD Center home until they both moved to the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. in 2007.

Oh, and congratulations to the Calgary Stampeders, winners of the 102nd edition of the Grey Cup, as they defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 20-16 to claim the trophy. (That’s for those interested in the Canadian Football League.)  See you all tomorrow!

Take care!


Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 12 1 14 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 12 1 14 “Themeless Monday”

Quick rundown today.

Likes: JUST BECAUSE is a nice 1-Across. SIERRA LEONE is struggling with the Ebola epidemic (I don’t like Ebola, I just like geography and topical crossword fill). POWERADE, zippy brand name. TIME-RELEASE pills, solid. IDINA MENZEL gets a funny clue, [Adele Dazeem, more familiarly], thanks to Travolta’s name-mangling at the Oscars. DEODORANTS’ hidden-brand-name clue tricked me ([Bans, e.g.]), though I’d argue that you can’t really pluralize the brand name like that. WEST SIDE is solid, though New York’s is more chic than Chicago’s. BOGGLES is just a fun word.

Never heard of:

  • 38d. [Language sound unit], TONEME. Phoneme and morpheme, sure. Not TONEME.
  • 42d. [___ Lange (German fashion house)], RENA.
  • 35a. [Inventor of the home video game console Ralph and others], BAERS. Max Baer, sure.
  • 28a. [Patriots running back Gray], JONAS.
  • 20a. [Composer Kabalevsky], DMITRI. Russian last name, starts with DM, what else could it be?
  • 7d. [Cosmopolitan’s editor in chief Joanna], COLES.
  • 24a. [Drug alternative to Symmetrel], L-DOPA. Sure, I know L-DOPA, but Symmetrel in the clue left me clueless.
  • 37d. [“On Point” broadcaster: Abbr.], NPR. Never heard of “On Point.”

It’s not rare for me to encounter a couple unfamiliar names/words in a BEQ themeless, but seven?! That’s a lot.

Dislikes: EXPELLEE. ONE OUT OF TEN’s arbitrariness. The clue format for 1d. [Immigration activist Antonio Vargas], JOSE—that’s like [Actress Jessica Parker] as a clue for SARAH, and it needs a FITB space.

Top clues:

  • 49a. Selection of rides], LOT. As in a car lot at a dealership.
  • 22a. TED Talk platform], DAIS. “Platform” can mean a lot of different things, and I like the mislead. However! Aren’t TED speakers usually on a stage without a lectern, and not on any sort of DAIS? Does the stage fit the DAIS category?
  • 41a. Combat machines], ATARIS. There was an old Atari game called Combat.

3.5 stars from me.

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10 Responses to Monday, December 1, 2014

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I thought the theme was lovable in a dorky, corny sort of way. I also liked many cool entries, though I’m not sure REDOUBT is a Monday word. But that strip from SE to NW (the staircase) is really terrific, especially that BUILT GOURMET BUSBOY! It could happen.

  2. Martin says:

    Please no more references to that Canadian-born TED guy

    • Amen to that, MAS. Some quantitative data are found at How can it be that of the 146 Shortz-era appearances of TED in the New York Times puzzle pages, the junior Sen. from Texas made his debut a mere 27 days ago, and now reappears with verbatim the same clue? Canada’s loss is our loss, perhaps?

  3. Eliza says:

    I thought this (NYT) was a great puzzle, well above average, although “redoubt” and “zephyrs” were maybe tough for a Monday. The fill was blessedly low in xwordese, and my inner three-year-old grinned when I realized I was looking at pee in the NYT. Thanks, John Guzzetta, for one of the best Monday puzzles I’ve seen in a while.

  4. sandirhodes says:

    If such an ORCA category exists, I would like to nominate Andy K’s latest offering (In Flight Entertainment) as the puzzle with the “Longest Clue for the Shortest Entry” for 32A.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      That was fun: 32a. [“Doug is like a ___ machine: you keep puttin’ things in, but if you don’t have a cover page, people don’t know where it’s comin’ from, and sometimes you get a busy signal, and that’s why you got a memory button, and a readout button… actually, I never use those, I always screw it up” (quote from “A Night at the Roxbury”)]

  5. Brucenm says:

    OH _ __ _ ! ! ! !

    Welcome clarification from Amy. I read BEQ’s 15a {Production quota of a hitter in a slump, perhaps} as

    One out, often.

    Which made even less sense than the intended one. A big laugh at myself.

    Incidentally, I understood that excellent Sunday puzzle where the ads got zapped, as referring to computers, when you can set them to block (i.e. zap) pop up ads.

    • David L says:

      I like your version better. Your team has a batter who’s in a slump. What’s his contribution to the team’s offense? One out, just one lousy out…

      • Bencoe says:

        I had trouble parsing that at first as well. Seems sort of random. Arbitrary, as Amy said.
        The part that was hardest for me was the IDINA/RENA cross. I’ve heard of IDINA a couple of times but forgot about her, and never heard of RENA. So that was a run-the-alphabet crossing for me.

  6. Bencoe says:

    Oh, and over at Rex’s, Ralph Bunker categorized today’s NYT them as “wellerism.” After investigating this term, I believe he is correct. Apparently “Tom Swifties” are a special subtype of wellerism per Wikipedia.

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