Monday, December 8, 2014

NYT 3:09 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:01 (pannonica) 
CS 14:14 (Ade) 
BEQ 4:22 (Amy) 

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

NYT • 12/8/14 • Mon • Christian, Michaels • 12 7 14 • solution

NYT • 12/8/14 • Mon • Christian, Michaels • 12 7 14 • solution

This one felt more like a Tuesday than a Monday: no revealer for the theme, plus a sizable chunk of crosswordese-esque fill. Nevertheless, it was a quick solve. Or, more accurately, because of those characteristics it was a quick solve: less of a distraction from theme entries, and—for veteran solvers, at least—usual suspects-fill can grease the wheels.

In any event, the theme is one of phonetic vowel progression. The first syllable of each theme answer begins with a long vowel sound, preceded by ess.

  • 17a. [Nickname for Willy Mays] SAY HEY KID.
  • 25a. [Catchphrase for a monkey with its eyes covered] SEE NO EVIL.
  • 38a. [Where Darth Vader might meet Captain Kirk] SCI-FI CONVENTION.
  • 52a. [Carole King hit from “Tapestry”] SO FAR AWAY.
  • 64a. [Iowa port on the Missouri River] SIOUX CITY.

\ˈsā\, \ˈsē\, \ˈsī\, \ˈsō\, \ˈsü\

All are of three parts save the last.

The fill that smacks of crosswordese? The likes of TOR, Charlotte RAE, ANI (here disingenuously dressed up as AN I, Cheri OTERI/SNL, SEGO. And then the partials and abbrevs., though not too many. In addition to the contrived AN I, we have also OR A and ON A. Three is too much of those. ONE TO is allied here as well.

The long downs are quite nice. WHERE AM I, GET OVER IT, TIME FLIES, and especially the Scrabbly NON-TOXIC.

The draggy content plus the Monday-level straight-shooter cluing leads to a rather blah solve, but with the subtle, unannounced theme and the gentle introduction to a few crossword-gallery rogues it’s probably a good example for new solvers to sink their teeth into.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 12 8 14 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 12 8 14 “Themeless Monday”

This one’s Brendan’s 700th online puzzle. Weren’t we just celebrating the 600th, like, three months ago? Time flies.

Favorite fill:

  • 9d. [One who is primarily attracted to intelligence], SAPIOSEXUAL. I bet I know a lot of people who fit this description. I was a little thrown to see the related Italian word Sapienza in the MOUNT ETNA clue, but apparently the Sapienza Refuge is named after one Giovanni Sapienza and is not a wisdom refuge.
  • 15a. [BuzzFeed fodder], LISTICLE. 
  • 57a. [Internet company whose mascot is Ghostface Chillah], SNAPCHAT. I know Snapchat is an app, but the clue scarcely helped me towards the answer at all.

Clues of note:

  • 9a. [Justice whom Maureen Dowd called “Archie Bunker in a high-backed chair”], SCALIA.
  • 33a. [One looking for signs of life?], PARAMEDIC. It’s grim if you or a loved one are the subject of this search, mind you.
  • 48a. [Subject that some women find highly sensitive], G-SPOT. “Subject” seems a little off here as a clue word.
  • 1d. [Launch, maybe], CLICK ON. As in clicking on the icon for an app to launch it. With all the rocket launches in the news of late, I was misled.
  • 4d. [Island off the New Jersey coast], STATEN. I was thinking to myself, “Islands off the coast of New Jersey? Dang, I don’t know any NJ islands!” Wasn’t thinking of NY islands.
  • 6d. [It flies right by Venus], ACE. Venus Williams, not the planet. Tricked again!
  • 42a. [The great unwashed], LAYMEN. I’m not sure that I consider these synonymous. Can’t clergy be considered part of the great unwashed (as they’re not queens and kings)?

Unusual words:

  • 30d. [Move like a gyroscope], PRECESS. I worked a lot of crossings for this one.
  • 36d. [In a frolicking fashion], ROMPISH. Not at all a common word; many dictionaries omit it.
  • 34a. [Furnace parts], FIREBOXES. “The chamber of a boiler in which fuel is burned”? Huh. I have peeked inside the firebox at the bottom of a boiler in my basement plenty. Never knew it had a name.

Four stars for this 66-worder.

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

LAT • 12/8/14 • Mon • Stewart • solution

LAT • 12/8/14 • Mon • Stewart • solution

Hasty, minimal recap.

61a. [Spot between a rock and a hard place … or a a hint to the ends of 17-, 26-, and 49-Across] STICKY SITUATION.

  • 17a. [Secretary of State before Hillary Clinton] CONDOLEEZZA RICE. Or between Colin ‘Charybdis’ Powell and Hillary ‘Scylla’ Clinton, if you will.
  • 26a. [Score symbol that usually has a stem] MUSICAL NOTE
  • 49a. [Digit-shaped sponge cakes] LADYFINGERS. Very literal clue makes it Monday-easy.

So, sticky rice, sticky note, sticky fingers.  Nice batch of theme material.

As in today’s New York Times offering, two micropartials are not welcome: “One thing AT A time” and “I’ll take that as A NO.” Allied with them this time is ON OR close to schedule, which frankly isn’t any better than the NYT’s ONE TO grow on. Also in the mix are the classic crosswordese OCA, as well as the Spanish ORO, but this last isn’t particularly obscure.

Long downs are MUDSLIDES and EMIGRATED, both pretty good.

Average Monday puzzle, all told.

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

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.08.14: "Rubber Chasers"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.08.14: “Rubber Chasers”

Hello again, and welcome to a new week of crosswords! Getting us off to a good start, today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, contains four multiple-word phrases/theme answers in which the first word in each entry can also come immediately after the word “rubber.” Let’s burn rubber, shall we?

  • STAMP OUT CRIME: (20A: [Eradicate lawbreaking acivity])
  • DUCK AND COVER: (28A: [Curl up in a protective position]) – I’m trying to think long and hard to try an remember if I ever had a rubber duck present in my bathtub while being bathed as a little one. I don’t think that ever occurred.
  • BAND TOGETHER: (43A: [Work in tandem])
  • CHECK YOURSELF: (52A: [“I’d take a look in the mirror first”]) – A couple of nice, sassy lines to tell off somebody!

I’m trying to figure out how many NERF balls I owned as a kid, and came to the realization that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the foam balls, as I wanted to play with the most authentic balls that professional sports leagues used, even as a little kid (18A: [Soft ball]). I wanted a leather NFL football at five years old more than probably any other five-year old in America at the time. The most agonizing part of the grid was trying to remember RAMONA, as my memories of seeing those Beverly Cleary books so many times in class came in and out trying while trying to remember the character’s first name (31A: [Beverly Cleary character ______ Quimby]). Speaking of a term that I hadn’t heard/seen in a while, my favorite fill today of the day was MOONSCAPE (33D: [Desolate area of land]). If you’re hungry, then you’re in luck, as the first two down answers relate to food, SHISH (1D: [_____ kebab]) and TORTE (2D: [Rich cake]), and the third one, A WRAP, could also relate to food if you use your imagination a little bit (3D: [“That’s _____”]).  It’s time to eat now, but not before this…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CANUCK (6D: [Vancouver hockey player])– Although joining the National Hockey League in 1970 as an expansion team, the Vancouver CANUCK(S) franchise was founded back in 1945, when they were members of the Pacific Coast Hockey League. No player has ever won a Stanley Cup as a Canuck, as Vancouver has appeared in three Stanley Cup Finals series (1982, 1994, 2011), only to lose in all three. 

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

Take care!


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6 Responses to Monday, December 8, 2014

  1. Tracy B says:

    I thought this was a sweet, smooth Monday offering.

    About Matt and going to a subscription model: I think it’s high time. There are a host of free indie puzzles available, but the quality/accessibility of what you get for free is not guaranteed. I hadn’t yet tried the meta because it’s a bigger solving commitment for something that might not be test-solved and looked at with an editorial eye, though I’d certainly heard good things about it and like Matt’s work in The Week. I’m much more interested in trying the meta now that I know it’s being sold as a professional product though, and I plan to subscribe.

  2. Gareth says:

    Simple, well-worn theme trope, but elevated by excellent theme choices! Entertaining, varied spellings and colourful phrases!

    • janie says:

      couldn’t agree w/ you more — on both points. had great fun with this. thx, constructors — terrific teamwork!


  3. Gareth says:

    Required link to one of my favourite pop group’s song Time Flies – very big in mainland Europe & white (culturally) South Africa, less so in the US/UK: Time Flies

  4. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Actually the Scrabble point-count of 42D:NON-TOXIC is 17 which is just barely over 4D:WHERE_AM_I?’s 16. Those 3- and 4-pointers add up.

    NDE (6+10+10)

  5. Triggerfinger says:

    There are a number of barrier islands in New Jersey, best known is Long Beach Island. Also Absecom, Brigantine, Ludlam, and Seven Mile Islands.

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