Monday, January 19, 2015

NYT 2:58 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:18 (pannonica) 
CS 10:51 (Ade) 
BEQ 5:00 (Amy) 

Jean O’Conor’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 1/19/15 • Mon • O'Conor • no 0119 • solution

NYT • 1/19/15 • Mon • O’Conor • no 0119 • solution

Vertical themers for a change of pace today. But it isn’t simply an idle choice, as it’s much more sensible per the revealer. 31d [Like alpine peaks … or what each half of 3-, 7-, 9-, 37- and 44-Down can be?] SNOW-CAPPED.

  • 3d. [Surface for a dry-erase marker] WHITEBOARD (Snow-White, snowboard).
  • 7d. [Shellfish hors d’oeuvres] CRAB BALLS (snow crab, snowballs). Implicitly raising the question, Which is less common: ‘crab balls’ or ‘snow cakes’? Hmm, the answer surprised me. but as you can see from the graph, CRAB BALLS are definitely a johnny-come-lately, only taking hold in the 1960s.
  • 9d. [Farmer with oxen] PLOWMAN (snow plow, snowman). Isn’t the snowman in Frozen named Olaf? Pretty sure I’ve been seeing that as a clue this past year. This puzzle has 52d [Five Norse kings] for OLAFS.
  • 37d. [Easter costume] BUNNY SUIT (snow bunny, snowsuit).
  • 44d. [Heist of a sort] BANK JOB (snow bank, snow job). I think this is my favorite of the five.

Densely packed theme here, but easy enough to blow through in a swift time, clearing a path to the solution. Oriented vertically, the SNOW element literally caps the other words.

Xuehua-píjiuNot much space left in the grid for other stuff to spread out, but even so there’s a sextet of sevens: a pair each in rows 4 and 11, and a crossing pair in the center. Say… if this grid had had reflective symmetry as well as rotational symmetry it might have resembled a snowflake… but that’s a lot to ask for.


  • 26d [Word in every “Star Wars” title] EPISODE. Clue needs an emphatic “, now” qualifier to appease a certain contingent of the fan base.
  • Other words that could follow ‘snow’: 21d [Tops of waves] CRESTS, 69a SLABS.
  • Big dupe from 8a [ __-ski] APRÈS and 22-across.
  • Ya, there’s some junk in the grid that also RANKLES (57d), such as Get AN A on (ace), WYO, EZEK (those two together remind me of Woyzeck), -ITE, and, oh-sure-why-not EEG.
  • I’m done.

Mostly good crossword.

Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 1/19/15 • Mon • Bain • solution

LAT • 1/19/15 • Mon • Bain • solution

Wow, it took me, embarrassingly, more than several moments to comprehend the theme. The final long across answer acts as revealer, but I thoroughly misinterpreted it.

  • 17a. [Military bed-making features] HOSPITAL CORNERS.
  • 28a. [Classic jazz vocal group originally composed of four siblings, with “The”] MILLS BROTHERS. Ladies and gentlemen, I present possibly the most sublime minute-and-a-half in the history of popular music:

    It’s from 1972 (the questionable word in the lyrics is in keeping with the aesthetic of the album; it is not in any way meant to offend in this context)
  • 46a. [“Special” lobbying function] INTEREST GROUP.
  • 61a. [UN organ … or what the first words of 17-, 28- and 46-Across comprise?] GENERAL ASSEMBLY.

Okay, here’s what happened to me. I took those first three words, HOSPITAL MILLS INTEREST, and tried to figure out which of the many organs of the United Nations it made. UN·ICEF, the Children’s Fund? UN·HCR, the High Commissioner on Refugees? And so on; I just wasn’t getting anywhere. So then I looked at the words themselves, Hospital, Mil… itary? Int…ernational? What the hunh?

Eventually it dawned on me that I’d neglected to apply the “UN organ” part of the clue to the answer itself, that is, the GENERAL ASSEMBLY. You know, the most fundamental of the six major organs of the system? (The other five are the Secretariat, the International Court of Justice, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and the Trusteeship Council.) I was looking for a tree when I should have been keen for a copse, or even a forest. So, for the official record, GENERAL can precede the first word of each of those three theme answers to make a familiar phrase. They can be assembled that way, and all three have been assembled for this crossword, The resolution is passed.

Nothing overly remarkable in the ballast fill or the REST (13d) of the clues, either positive or negative, which is typically how it goes on Mondays.

  • Not a pleasant experience seeing usual crosswordy suspect OKRA first thing, at one-across [Pod used to thicken gumbo].
  • Similarly, I’d prefer not to see both ALAR and AGAR in a crossword, let alone an early-week one. (52d, 67a)
  • Pair of poets in Stephen Vincent BENET and EZRA Pound. (29d, 47d)
  • 38d PARADROP. Tough to clue this (especially Monday-level) without duplicating either element of the portmanteau, hence the charmingly awkward [Send down using chutes, as supplies].
  • Favorite clue: 57a [Ride without pedaling] COAST. A teensy bit evocative there, very welcome here.

Good Monday offering.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “That Ain’t Hey!”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.19.15: "That Ain't Hey"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.19.15: “That Ain’t Hey”

Good morning, everyone!  On my way to D.C. to cover a game, though it’s really cool to be able to be in our nation’s capital during Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

In today’s crossword puzzle, offered up to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, homophones are used to replace words in familiar phrases to create puns, with the homophones being used all four-letter words with the letters “EE” in the middle of them. They replace the original words, which all have “EA” as the middle two letters. Or something like that…

  • MEET MARKET (17A: [Online dating site?])
  • REEL STAND-UP GUY (25A: [Honest angler?])
  • FEET OF STRENGTH (44A: [Kickboxer’s attribute?]) – A friend of mine who took up Muay Thai once kicked me on the thigh to see if I could withstand the force of his kick. My right leg almost fell off!
  • BEET POETRY (58A: [Verses about red vegetables?])

It’s only fitting that with the Australian Open tennis tournament starting that we have GRAF in the grid, winner of four Aussie Open championships in her illustrious career (32D: [1991 Wimbledon champ Steffi]). And how’s this for synergy: Her husband, crossword favorite Andre Agassi, also won four Aussie Open titles.  My other main thought was which famous artist/title do you go with for PAPA: The Temptations or Madonna (51D: [“____ Was a Rollin Stone])? Speaking of music, definitely loved seeing the full name of EDDIE MONEY in the grid (26D: [Baby Hold On” singer]). The first theme answer was no problem once I filled in some of the crossings, but the other two were harder to parse for me. After getting a foothold in the Southeast and getting the final theme (beet poetry), the EE’s were pretty easy to fill in and then figure out the other themes. There were a lot of money/money management-related clues in the grid as well, with ATMS (1D: [Dough dispensers?]), AT PAR (1A: [How some stocks are sold]) and NO-LOAD (46D: [Like some mutual funds]). Now, time to perform a little magic with the “sports…smarter” moment right now…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SAWA (16A: [“You look like you ____ ghost!”]) – Some of you might have done a double take at the two-word fill of “SAW A,” but let’s use sports to turn it into something educational. Women’s soccer player Homare SAWA is the captain of the Japanese women’s national soccer team, and she was the captain of the team that won the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, defeating the United States in the final in Frankfurt, Germany. In that World Cup, Sawa won the Golden Boot award as the top goalscorer in the competition (5 goals) as well as won the Golden Ball award for the overall best player in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup gets underway in June, with Canada being the host country.

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

Take care!


Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 1 19 15 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 1 19 15 “Themeless Monday”

Brendan’s 300th self-published themeless! Congrats, buddy.


  • Likes: “OH, GREAT,” SQUELCH, THE AZORES, and LEVITRA, even though it certainly can’t make me stiff (no “provided you have a penis” caveat in the clue).
  • A PRALINE is clued as a [Southern chocolate treat], though they’re typically pecans with, like, butter and sugar or cream and sugar. Not sure I’ve encountered chocolate pralines but boy, would I be willing to eat them.
  • 48a. [Tank top tag abbr.], LGE? Uh, no. Sizes on t ags are generally XS, S, M, L, XL, etc. The tags don’t use the crosswordese size abbrevs.
  • Meh: ELAM, LGE, V-SIX, SEP clued as the month that’s usually abbreviated as Sept.
  • Did not know: 32d. [Part owner of the LA Lakers ___ Buss], JEANIE. And also AXLE PIN, a truly dull entry in my book.

Gotta run now. 3.66 stars from me.

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21 Responses to Monday, January 19, 2015

  1. Gary R says:

    I lost interest in the Star Wars franchise after the second movie, so I guess I’m part of that contingent of the fan base that doesn’t buy the answer for 26-D. But even if I were current, three out of six movies with “episode” in the title doesn’t qualify for “most,” let alone “every.”

    Maybe excusable if this puzzle was filled with all 21st Century stuff, but we have Gatsby, A League of Their Own, Arthur Ashe, Clan of the Cave Bear and Nina Simone. So apparently, the solver’s memory is supposed to stretch back before 1999.

    • pannonica says:

      The Empire Strikes Back (1980) had the ‘Episode V’ appellation in its original theatrical release, and Star Wars was retconned subsequent to that. So chronologically speaking it’s a small proportion of the entire series’ existence. Whether there’s a greater significance to be applied to first impressions, I leave that to vociferous space zealots and Proctor & Gamble, maker of Head & Shoulders shampoo.

  2. Sarah says:

    This crossword feels like it was edited extremely poorly. The clue for 26 Down is blatantly wrong. There’s a “man” dupe in 9-Down and 34-Down. A “ski” dupe in 8A and 22A. An “A” dupe in 39A and 35D (which are crossing each other). A “not” dupe in 34A and 51A. Every one of these could have been fixed in seconds.

    Then there’s the theme, with the inconsistent plural 7D entry. And the fill, which is particularly awful given it’s a Monday puzzle. AAHS, SKUA, NOTER, SYBIL, GUAC, TENOF, ONEA, AUEL, OLAFS, WYO, ITE, MCA, RCS, ACNES, EZEK and HEMI combined add up to a LOT of undesirable fill.

    I’ll specifically mention the EXGI fill, which really needs to die. Can’t wait to see EXPLUMBER or EXELECTRICIAN or EXCHIEFEXECUTIVEOFFICER.

    Very weak puzzle; probably the worst NYT puzzle of the year so far.

    • Gary R says:


      Thanks for your observations regarding the “dupes” in today’s NYT puzzle. Personally, I don’t care much about dupes (I’ve expressed this in comments on this blog before), and I thought your comment did a great job of emphasizing just how trivial this issue is.

  3. john farmer says:

    EPISODE: Se non ora, quando?

  4. Martin says:

    This crossword feels like it was edited extremely well. The clue for 26 Down is totally accurate. There’s a “man” dupe in 9-Down and 34-Down (which I absolutely adore) A “ski” dupe in 8A and 22A. An “A” dupe in 39A and 35D (which are crossing each other). A “not” dupe in 34A and 51A. Every one of these is wonderful.

    Then there’s the theme, which is completely consistent. And the fill, which is particularly interesting and thought-provoking given it’s a Monday puzzle. AAHS, SKUA, NOTER, SYBIL, GUAC, TENOF, ONEA, AUEL, OLAFS, WYO, ITE, MCA, RCS, ACNES, EZEK and HEMI combined add up to a LOT of fantastic fill.

    I’ll specifically mention the EXGI fill, which really needs to be used as much as possible. Can’t wait to see EXPLUMBER or EXELECTRICIAN or EXCHIEFEXECUTIVEOFFICER.

    Very strong puzzle; probably the best NYT puzzle of the year so far.

    -MAS (with his antonym dictionary)

  5. Martin says:

    I’m kidding, of course :)


  6. Avg Solvr says:

    I prefer Rocky Mountain oysters to crab balls.

  7. John Lampkin says:

    So is any other part of a crab edible?

  8. David L says:

    If you want a clue that’s blatantly wrong, it’s 25A

  9. Brucenm says:

    This question – comment relates to a puzzle from yesterday (Sunday), but it raises a more general issue about which I am uncertain and confused — the treatment of foreign language clues and answers.

    I do not see how

    {Corsica, par exemple}

    can be an acceptable clue for “ile.” “Corsica” in French is “La Corse”. So I would think that the most proper clue would be

    {La Corse, par exemple}.

    But I would also find

    {Corsica, for example}

    to be acceptable, since the language of the clue would be internally consistent; and even though the clue is in English, the island is French, and that fact could be taken as a sufficient signal that the answer is to be in French.

    But, for reasons which I cannot entirely articulate, the internal inconsistency within the clue seems to me *not* correct.

    • Gary R says:


      I suspect this is largely a matter of convention, by publication, and the level of difficulty the constructor and editor are going for.

      The clue, as written, requires the solver to have heard of Corsica, recognize it’s an island, recognize “par exemple” as signaling a French answer, and have enough French vocabulary to come up with “ile.”

      Your all-French version of the clue adds another layer of complexity/difficulty by requiring the solver to recognize “La Corse” as Corsica (I, for one, wouldn’t have). This might be okay in a Friday or Saturday NYT, but I doubt it would fly Sun-Thurs.

      The all-English version is even more difficult because it requires the solver to know that Corsica is French, and then to decide whether an English or French answer is called for. The convention in the NYT seems to be that all answers will be in English unless there’s a clear indication otherwise.

  10. Gareth says:

    LAT: This puzzle was inspired by making a mix CD of 30s to 50s music for my mother. One of her first requests was this platter: Daddy’s Little Girl.

    Thanks to Amy for the feedback on my various (GENERAL)STRIKE * options that led to a change to INTERESTGROUP.

    NYT: Enjoyed the theme and its design a lot!

  11. hmj says:

    Okay, so now it’s clear.

  12. pannonica says:

    (Anyone notice—thanks to the rotated orientation of the text on the bottle’s label—that SNOW upside-down is MONS, Latin for ‘mountain’?)

Comments are closed.