Monday, December 22, 2014

NYT 3:08 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:41 (pannonica) 
CS 8:26 (Ade) 
BEQ 4:56 (1 error) (Amy) 

Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 12/22/14 • Mon • Lempel • no 1222 • solution

NYT • 12/22/14 • Mon • Lempel • no 1222 • solution

Didn’t have much sense of what the theme was while solving, in part because the solving experience was so smooth and flowing; there wasn’t much stall or slowdown time to idly consider what it might be. Even upon seeing the revealer (sans reading the clue) in the center—which was late in the solving game anyway—I didn’t perceive how it was applicable. Another reason is that there weren’t obvious theme entries based on length.

So after the grid was complete, I went to examine what it was all about. 39a [Something often seen on a street corner, briefly … or, literally, something seen in each corner of this puzzle] PED XING (i.e., pedestrian crossing, i.e., a sign reading “PED XING”). Looked in the corners, wasn’t getting it. JAGGLEN? SGRE–ELIDE? Huh? I confess it was nearly a full 30 seconds before I descried the letters PED indeed literally crossing each other in each corner section of the grid. I’d been too absolute and too obtuse.

  • 17a/15d. [What a whetstone gives a knife] SHARP EDGE (didn’t help that I first went with SHARPNESS) / [Martinez with three Cy Young awards] PEDRO.
  • 19a/3d. [Hurriedly left by car] SPED AWAY – “by car” qualifier completely unnecessary here / [Roadblock] IMPEDIMENT – “roadblock” is arguably too specific in this clue; could have been [Roadblock, e.g.] or [Hindrance]. Were it not for the generality—or sheer unrelatedness—of most of the other {PED} clue pairs, I could imagine that these editorial decisions were meant to keep the “street-view” aspect of the theme prominent.
  • 58a/30d. [Panicky onrush] SPAMPEDE / [It may bring you to a screeching halt] BRAKE PEDAL.
  • 62a/47d. [Wishful fantasy] PIPE DREAM / [had aspirations] HOPED.

Of the eight nonrevealer theme answers, two share the same Latin ped/pes (“foot”) root as pedestrian. : BRAKE PEDAL and IMPEDIMENT, the two lengthiest entries, for whatever that’s worth (probably coincidence more than anything else). Might have been better for the PTQ™ (Purity of Theme Quotient) had other, footloose (though not necessarily fancy-free) answers been selected.

  • 24a [Pique performance?] SNIT. One of the most exciting Monday/Tuesday clues I can recall in a long while.
  • Roadworthy non-theme material: 21a [Highway divider] MEDIAN – I understand the term for this bit of transportational architecture varies from region to region (or is that the strip of grass between sidewalk proper and curb?); … oh, erm, there isn’t anything else. How about 55a [“Enough!”] STOP IT? You know, stop sign? No? Okay, fine. Moving on …
  • Verticals DUE DATE, PARMESAN, ELECTRIC, and SERPICO are all quite nice, and quite welcome.
  • 64a above 67a AIDES / SCAMP. Aides-de-scamp?
  • 48a [Dadaist Max] ERNST. Been seeing a lot of him in crosswords lately.
  • 51a [Ugly Middle-earth creatures] ORCS. Gratuitously judgmental? Don’t know. Discuss?

Overall, a clean puzzle, and a bit elevated from standard-fare Monday offerings.

Roger Wienberg and Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 12/22/14 • Mon • Wienberg, Chen • solution

LAT • 12/22/14 • Mon • Wienberg, Chen • solution

Four themers, plus full-length revealer.

  • 17a. [Vietnam War chopper] COBRA HELICOPTER.
  • 24a. [Supernova named for its apparent resemblance to a crustacean] CRAB NEBULA.
  • 40a. [Publisher with an Antarctic bird logo] PENGUIN CLASSICS.
  • 50a. [Shade similar to coral] SALMON PINK.

And, 60a [Lion, and a hint to critters that begin 17-, 24-, 40- and 50-Across] KING OF THE BEASTS. Hence, king cobra, king crab, king penguin, king salmon

Two clues explicitly mention the organism, the other two ignore the connection.

Okay! Exegesis time!

17-across – The name familiar to me in my admittedly limited knowledge of military hardware is HUEY. Wikipedia tells me that Bell Helicopter in 1956 began manufacturing the wide-ranging Huey family of civilian and military aircraft, including the Cobra attack versions – so there you have it. Incidentally, among the Cobra models are the HueyCobra, the SeaCobra, the SuperCobra, and (drumroll) the King Cobra (not to be confused with Bell’s earlier Kingcobra fighter plane).

As for the reptile, the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is the world’s longest venomous snake. Ophiophagus is a monospecific genus, which means that there’s only one species within it. Oh, and I can assure you that king cobras can be quite intimidating. Say, if you happened to come across one while hiking alone on a forest trail.

24-across – “The Crab Nebula (catalogue designations M1, NGC 1952, Taurus A) is a supernova remnant and pulsar wind nebula in the constellation of Taurus. Corresponding to a bright supernova recorded by Chinese astronomers in 1054, the nebula was observed later by English astronomer John Bevis in 1731.”Wikipedia

Unlike the other animals employed by the theme, the king crab is not a single species. In fact, it isn’t even merely a genus. Nor a family. It’s a superfamily, comprised of two families, the Hapalogastridae and the Lithodidae. There are roughly 130 species in 15 genera.

40-across – Strictly speaking, PENGUIN CLASSICS is an imprint of the publisher Penguin Books, so the clue is inaccurate. Say, do you know about the Penguincubator? Also, another, erstwhile imprint of the company was King Penguin, which ran from 1939 to 1959.

The king penguin isn’t as well-known as its larger congener, the emperor penguin. Their scientific binomials are Aptenodytes patagonicus and A. forsteri, respectively, and they are the only two extant species within that genus.

50-across – Not much to say about the color here. As with most hues it’s subjective and varies somewhat from producer to producer, not to mention that people don’t perceive and process colors exactly the same either. (The famous Munsell color system doesn’t utilize names.)


‘King salmon’ is one of the many alternative common names for the Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha); others include Quinnat salmon, spring salmon, and Tyee salmon. There’s been a lot of taxonomic reassessment and shuffling within the genus, and according to FishBase 15 species are currently recognized.

Hey, I could have been more pedantic by including the translated meanings of the scientific names! Consider yourselves lucky.

  • Favorite clue: 58a [Magazine copy] ISSUE.
  • 28a [What singers sing in when they don’t harmonize] UNISON. Is this correct? I’m not knowledgeable enough technically to say whether it’s so.
  • 10d [Like across and down: Abbr.] OPP. Opposites, really? I’d characterize them more as complements, whether in cruciverbal context or otherwise.

Good puzzle, solid Monday.

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Finish Off”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.22.14: "Finish Off"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.22.14: “Finish Off”

Are we really only 10 days away from 2015? Wow! Anyways, I hope you’re doing well and getting ready to finish off 2014 in style. Speaking of finishing things off, today’s crossword puzzle, offered up to us today by Ms. Gail Grabowski, is all about finishing “off,” as each of the four theme answers start with words that can also immediately follow the word “off.”

  • HAND PUPPET: (17A: [Kukla or Ollie])
  • LINE DRAWING: (30A: [Pen-and-ink piece])
  • SPRING FEVER: (48A: [Seasonal restlessness])
  • KEY WITNESS: (66A: [Provider of crucial testimony])

A couple of long downs really stood out for being real good fill, WINDSWEPT (10D: [Like the Dust Bowl]) and HACIENDAS (36D: [Spanish spreads]). I’m sure there were many young teens and young male adults back in the day that wouldn’t have minded being a BOYTOY (61A: [Certain young lover, facetiously]) to LYNDA when she was in the middle of her small-screen, superhero fame (55D: [Carter of “Wonder Woman”]). Well, with the emergence of actor Idris, there’s definitely now a different way to clue ELBA than the references to the island and/or Napoleon (23A: [Island east of Corsica]). Appreciated the somewhat mislead to FLEA BITE, as I was thinking about a science lab instead of man’s best friend (42D: [Lab annoyance]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BONO (3D: [U2 lead vocalist]) – Former NFL player Steve BONO played quarterback in the National Football League in the ’80s and ’90s, most notably for the San Francisco 49ers where he spent many seasons backing up both Joe Montana and Steve Young, NFL Hall of Famers. In 1995, as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, Bono had his best season, making the Pro Bowl while also being named the AFC Offensive Player of the Year.

Thanks for the time, everyone! See you when there’s only nine days left until the New Year!

Take care!


Brendan Quigley’s crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword answers, 12 22 14 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword answers, 12 22 14 “Themeless Monday”

BEQ says this is a Berry-style grid, with the open center packed first and the other parts spinning out from there. We’ve got five staggered long answers (mostly interesting ones) running Down in the middle–GOAT’S MILK, DEMOCRATIZE, TUNA TARTARE, SHORT SLEEVE, and LIES AHEAD—crossing 5- to 9-letter Acrosses. Doesn’t look easy to pull off.

Because it’s bedtime and I’ve neglected to blog the puzzle till now, five more things before I sign off:

  • 1a. [“Never hoid of ’em”], “WHO DAT?” Surprised it’s not clued in reference to New Orleans and the Saints.
  • 17a. [The Black Keys and The White Stripes, e.g.], POWER DUOS. Sound like piano parts, all of ’em.
  • 33a. [Silver Springs neighbor], OCALA. Never heard of Silver Springs, FL, despite having a buffet dinner in Ocala every year.
  • 9d. [Rooibos drink], RED TEA. From South Africa.
  • 26d. [Ordinance overturned by the Civil Rights Act of 1964], JIM CROW LAW. Bad thing, but a good crossword entry.

I had “RUN AS an independent” and didn’t eyeball the crossing, which is IRA and not IRU. D’oh.

3.9 stars from me.

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11 Responses to Monday, December 22, 2014

  1. PJ says:

    I figured ugly was included to steer the solver away from ENT or ELF.

  2. Evad says:

    Same failed attempt at the beginning looking for theme entries in the corners of the puzzle; 30 seconds sounds about right to reassess. Smooth Lempelesque fill as to be expected.

  3. ArtLvr says:

    NYT write-up: I giggled at the misspelt SPAMPEDE — nice new portmanteau?

    • pannonica says:

      Eep! Let’s stet it, as it is pretty funny. And I was thinking of linking to the Dufay Collective’s wonderful A L’Estampida, too.

      Meanwhile, people hardly remark on the intentional quirks I put in the write-ups.

  4. Aaron says:

    With that ACPT post over the weekend and all, I’m just wondering if someone can explain to me the actual scorecard numbers for the New York Times Crossword (online). I know a lot of people solve offline, especially now that they’re preparing on paper, but I’d love to understand their metric for awarding “points,” as opposed to simply telling you how your time stacks up against everyone else’s.

  5. Papa John says:

    I’d like to mention pannonica’sintentional quirks that she puts her write-ups.

    Merry Christmas, pannonica. Rest assured, your quirks are noticed, and, I’m sure, appreciated by all.

    • Papa John says:

      Dangnabit! I thought my new glasses would help me spot those dreadful typos but, alas, it didn’t seem to help.

  6. Gareth says:

    Loved the LAT theme! Never heard of a “pet clinic”, but it seems to be a thing.

  7. Bencoe says:

    Amy: There is (I assume it’s still open) a small nature/theme park in Silver Springs, called Silver Springs, which is well known for glass-bottomed boat rides. There is also a local bottled water brand named Silver Springs. But it’s not a big place, despite its local name recognition, and I wouldn’t expect non-Floridians to have heard of it.

Comments are closed.