Monday, January 12, 2015

NYT 2:39 (Amy) 
LAT 2:35 (Amy) 
CS 10:40 (Ade) 
BEQ 5:35 (Amy) 

Jason Flinn’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 1 12 15, no 0112

NY Times crossword solution, 1 12 15, no 0112

“{Blank X} TO {blank Y}” phrases make up today’s theme:

  • 17a. [All, for a ship’s captain], STEM TO STERN. Technically, the phrase is “from stem to stern.”
  • 23a. [All, for a life insurance agent], CRADLE TO GRAVE. I don’t feel the absence of “from” as keenly here, but it should still probably be included. Also filled this one in after getting a few crossings, without reading the clue.
  • 38a. [All, for an anthem writer], SEA TO SHINING SEA. The line, of course, is “from sea to shining sea.”
  • 52a. [All, for a race organizer], START TO FINISH.
  • 63a. [All, for a house cleaner], TOP TO BOTTOM.

You’d need a considerably larger grid to accommodate a FROM in each theme phrase, but they’d feel less incomplete.

Five more things:

  • How about that symmetrical pairing of Munch’s THE SCREAM with PSYCHOTIC? A little drama here.
  • 8d. [Do some brainstorming], IDEATE. Raise your hand if you ever hear anyone talk about “ideating” (not counting, say, “suicidal ideation”). I’ve had plenty of ideas but I wouldn’t say I’ve ideated. Hand decidedly unraised.
  • 32d. [Figure in many religious paintings], ST. MARY. I waited for the crossing to tell me if this was Mary or Mark.
  • 26d. [“Peter ___” (1950s-’60s detective show)], GUNN. Old pop culture, before my time. Anna Gunn played Walter White’s wife Skyler on Breaking Bad.
  • We’ve got some crosswordese (IDEATE, -ERN, OAST, SET-TO, ETUI), abbreviations (GSA, CPA), and partials (AS A), plus the adjacent 40d/41d phrases NOT I and I’M IN repeat the word “I” in too-close proximity.

Anyone watch Black•ish on ABC? The sitcom family’s youngest kids, twins, are named Jack and Diane (13d. [“Jack & ___” (1982 John Cougar hit)], DIANE). Cracks me up every time. They never allude to the Mellencamp song.

3.25 stars from me. The theme is easy, Monday-simple, but the “from” thing is tough for me to get past.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 1 12 15 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 1 12 15 “Themeless Monday”


Favorite bits: SATSUMA oranges. GIMME A BREAK (break me off a piece of that Kit-Kat bar already). BAHA MEN of “Who Let the Dogs Out” fame. HOWARD JONES (his ’80s New Wave hit “New Song” was much more fun than “Things Can Only Get Better”). Sportsy “I’M OPEN.” Prince’s “SEXY MF.” MAD DASHES. POLICE WOMAN (Angie Dickinson!). GARBAGE TIME, which I’d never heard of before ([Concluding minutes of a blowout]). ISAAC ASIMOV. MOTHERS-TO-BE. POUND SIGN.

Last square was where 44d. [“Take Me To Church” singer] meets 44a. [Muddied thoughts]. Tried DAZE/DOZIER first, then HAZE/HOZIER finished the puzzle successfully. Didn’t know Hozier—a 24-year-old Irish musician.

Unfond of plural ACELAS, odd use of verb GARBS (“he was garbed in” more common than “he garbs”), crosswordese ALB, ELL/SRO/SYS/LAI.

3.66 stars from me.

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Clipped Tailfeathers”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.12.15: "Clipped Tailfeathers"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.12.15: “Clipped Tailfeathers”

Good day, everyone, and welcome to another week! I’m sure you’ve already woken up and heard the birds singing outside…well, at least if you’re in a warm weather part of the country. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin, talks about some specific birds – ones whose names are used back-to-back in the theme answers, with the last letter omitted in the second word to form puns.

  • RAVEN RAVE (17A: [Black bird’s techno dance party?]) – First image that came into my head? A raven holding a glow stick in its mouth.
  • KITE KIT (26A: [Taloned bird’s craft project?])
  • FLAMINGO FLAMING (39A: [Pink bird’s mean-spirited chatroom activity?])
  • LOON LOO (48A: [Waterbird’s water closet?])
  • HERON HERO (62A: [Shorebird’s savior?])

Please don’t hold this against me, but I have never, ever had MUENSTER cheese in my life before (40D: [Grilled cheese sandwich ingredient, sometimes]). That’s ABSURD, right (42A: [Preposterous])?!?  Actually, maybe there are some cheese connoisseurs out there who can help me with something. This past summer, I went to a preseason sports media gathering and, as part of the morning spread for the media and players to snack on, there were crackers and different types of cheeses. One of the cheeses to choose from was a purplish/violet hue, and I had no idea what it was, nor did I ask. I was almost too afraid to try it, but once I did, I couldn’t stop eating those small blocks!! If anyone can point me in the right direction of what cheese that might have been, or what milk might have been used to make it, let me know.

Not only is there the newsworthy PIPELINE in the grid (22D: [Controversial proposed “Keystone” construction]), there are actually newsmen in the grid as well with KALB (20D: [Newsman Bernard or Marvin]).  Haven’t seen USHER in a while, as I’ve seen words like “ushed” and “usherette” more recently (56A: [2013 Grammy winner for “Climax”]). It’s still very early in 2015, but SO-AND-SOS is already a candidate for fill of the year (25D: [Blankety-blanks]). At 6-4 and 260 pounds (at last check), I’ve definitely be described as BUILT a few times (9A: [Buff]), but in no ways am I as built as the person who occupies the space for the next graph of this blog.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TRENT (13A: [Lott who succeeded Bob Dole as majority leader]) – Former professional basketball player Gary TRENT spent nine seasons in the NBA after being drafted in the first round out of Ohio University in 1995. While at Ohio University, Trent, who was listed at 6-8 and 250 pounds (though he probably weighed much more than what he was listed as), won the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Player of the Year Award three times. Because of his burly frame, he earned the nickname “Shaq of the MAC,” invoking memories of how then-professional player Shaquille O’Neal used his size on the court. As of last year, Trent is now working with elementary school children in Minnesota as sort of a guidance/crisis counselor to children ages 5 through 13.

Have a good rest of your day and I’ll see you on Tuesday!

Take care!


Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 1 12 15

LA Times crossword solution, 1 12 15

I actually finished the puzzle with no idea what the theme was—had to double-check the theme clues to find the theme. A little bird told me: 58a. [“Shh! Don’t tell!” and hint to what can precede the starts of 18-, 23-, 37- and 52-Across] clues IT’S A SECRET, and “secret ___” phrases are suggested by the other themers.

  • 18a. [Grand Prix series designation], FORMULA ONE. We would also have accepted RECIPE CARD.
  • 23a. [Controversial Vietnam War defoliant], AGENT ORANGE.
  • 37a. [Avon or Fuller Brush work, e.g.], DOOR-TO-DOOR SALES.
  • 52a. [What Al Capone led], LIFE OF CRIME.

That works. Simple, straightforward.

Three more things:

  • Least familiar grid entry: 17a. [’50s-’60s Ramblers, briefly], AMC’S.
  • A crosswordese vibe dwells in ILO and OLEO particularly.
  • 34d. “Your point being … ?”], SOO? Nobody’s really excited about seeing, say, SOO Locks (the shipping locks between the American and Canadian towns of Sault Ste. Marie), no, but I feel that a drawn-out “so” is going to have at least three O’s. “So-o-o-o…”

The fill’s not too rough for a Monday puzzle, I don’t think. 3.5 stars from me.

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13 Responses to Monday, January 12, 2015

  1. lemonade714 says:

    The theme SONG from Peter Gunn was the best part of the show. It was James Bond before the Bond movies

    • Gareth says:

      Pretty sure the 1986 cover of that song by Art of Noise wasn’t before Amy’s time…

      • Bencoe says:

        It was also, in an 8-bit version, the theme song for the ubiquitous 80s arcade game “Spy Hunter.”
        I agree that “ideation” is used IRL while “IDEATE” is not.

  2. Gary R says:

    I’ve worked with several different companies on their innovation/new product development processes, and the term “ideation” is fairly commonly used to describe the earliest phase of the process (concept development), but I don’t think I’ve ever heard them use “ideate.”

  3. ArtLvr says:

    I didn’t think I’d get through the BEQ, but finally finished. GARB was fine by me, but that HOZIER was way out of my comfort zone.

  4. JohnV says:

    NW corner and HOZIER cross did me in. Don’t understand SEZ? Never heard SATSUMA until today. Otherwise, did okay. Fine puzzle.

    • Bencoe says:

      Just did the BEQ. Liked it.
      If someone “drops” the “F-bomb”, for example, he/she “SEZ” a bad word. Equivalent slang, in that sense. Only reason I got HOZIER correctly.

  5. Molson says:

    IDEATE is one of those corporate-speak type words that is used mostly by brown nosers with MBAs.

  6. Maura D says:

    Thanks for your write ups. I enjoy them. I’m not very sports smart, despite a legitimate baseball-famous “perfect game” birthday. Maybe you can guess? On the colorful cheese: Might your tasty morsels have been port wine cheddar?

    • Hello there Maura D,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! It’s very much appreciated. Believe me, I have so much fun typing the blogs up, and I hope it shows.

      Out of all of the perfect games in MLB history, the most famous would be Don Larsen’s performance in the World Series for the Yankees in October of 19xx. If that’s right, I put the x’s as to not date you, though I’m sure you are evergreen!

      I’ll definitely be looking for some port wine cheddar in the next couple of days to see if that’s what I had and have been missing. Thank you again, Maura!

  7. pannonica says:

    Just getting to some recent crosswords. Disappointed to see a lack of response to some aspects of the BEQ. Namely:

    • 27d [Parts of typeface extensions] KERNS. Bad clue, and a poorly-worded clue as well. In modern, digital type that original sense has zero currency. In old-style, mechanical typesetting, the kern is an extension (a literal overhang) to a sort.
    • No guff from anyone about 49a? In spite of recent commentary here? It’s gratuitous and not particularly interesting. Has less excuse to be here than its arguably allied cohorts 4d and 31d (and possibly 13d).
    • 45a [Back-and-forth direction]. I fell into the trap of writing FRO here, but am having serious trouble parsing how the clue is adequate for ESS.
    • SATSUMA orange crossing Breaking Bad‘s Hector ‘TIO’ Salamanca was a killer, but I’m willing to believe I don’t get out (or in) enough to know either of these.
    • 17a [Molecules with two oxygen atoms] DIOXIDES. Really? There’s also a significant dupe with the excellent POLICEWOMAN and the clue for the somewhat interesting nearby TESTATRICES, [Women with wills].
    • I may never forgive BEQ for invoking both “Who Let the Dogs Out” (BAHA MEN) and “Things Can Only Get Better” (HOWARD JONES) in one crossword. That’s a downright evil ’80s-’90s thwacking.

    This substantial litany aside, there was some very good fill, as well as superb cluing. Much of this was covered in Amy’s write-up (though I obviously dispute the musical assessments) and reader comments.

  8. Maura D says:

    You got it, Ade. Family folklore is that my parents almost named me Donna Larsen. I hope you find the delicious multi-hued cheese you seek. And yes, your write ups show the enthusiasm you have and make doing the CS xword more fun for me.

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