Monday, February 2, 2015

Fireball 4:35 (Amy) 
NYT 4:32 (mind out of sorts) (pannonica) 
LAT a leisurely 4:08 (pannonica) 
CS 8:19 (Ade) 
BEQ 5:52 (Amy) 

Peter Gordon’s Fireball contest crossword, “Man of Letters”

Fireball crossword solution, 1/29/15 "Man of Letters"

Fireball crossword solution, 1/29/15 “Man of Letters”

The theme answers were the ANAGRAM you’d need to come up with, the NONPANGRAMMATIC nature of the grid, and the BRITAIN birthplace of “the author you seek.” Eyeballing the puzzle, it is subtly obvious that there are a lot of A’s, I,s and O’s in the grid, and none of the other vowels. I circled all the letters that were represented in the grid, and found 20 different letters. The six unused letters were E, H, L, U, X, and Y, which anagram to Aldous HUXLEY. Straightforward once you figure out what you need to do, and perplexing before that.

I confess that my first inclination was to try anagramming NONPANGRAMMATIC into a name, and that just never seemed promising. A nudge from a friend about considering the puzzle’s nonpangrammaticity pushed me in the right direction.

The fill didn’t scream “everything is thematic because certain letters are excluded” because the fill wasn’t terrible. There were names that I knew that might not have been familiar to some solvers (AMII, SISQO) but in general, the fill didn’t jump out at me as needing an excuse for compromises. Strikingly solid fill for an E-less puzzle, much less one that also knocks out five other letters.

4.4 stars from me. How’d the meta challenge treat you?

Jeffrey Wechsler’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 2/2/15 • Mon • Wechsler • no 215 • solution

NYT • 2/2/15 • Mon • Wechsler • no 215 • solution

Revealer in Midtown, 34th Street—I mean, 34-across: [Empire State Building locale … or a hint to three letters in 16-, 19-, 52- and 57-Across] THE BIG APPLE. So, those answers all contain the letter sequence NYC. You know, New York City.

  • 16a. [“Some Like it Hot” actor] TONY CURTIS. I would have gone with The Sweet Smell of Success and James Wong Howe’s magnificent NYC-at-night cinematography.
  • 19a. [“I must do this”] DESTINY CALLS. Weakest of the quartet here.
  • 52a. [Indictment for a serious offense] FELONY CHARGE.
  • 57a. [Executive’s free “wheels”] COMPANY CAR.

Hefty overlap with these paired entries. See also, 28d [Suffix with Manhattan] -ITE.

Long down fill features the television show WHAT’S MY LINE? (1950–1967, based in midtown Manhattan) and the excited-sounding-but-not-so-exciting WOULD WE EVER! with the contrived clue [Eager reply to “You guys want to come?”]. Also, the awkward-sounding BUDDY COP genre [Kind of film exemplified by “Lethal Weapon”] and EASY CLIP [Unhurried pace].

Dross includes icky quasi-partial DO TO and crosswordese ERNŐ Rubik, OLEO, ONE-A, plus AWW, SSE, et cetera.

Favorite clue: 47a [Aioli, mostly] VOWELS.

1a [Egg size larger than large] JUMBO; extra-large nestles between the two.

24a [Key for exiting full-screen mode] ESC, as in Escape From New York. That’s my cue.

Highs and lows—skyscrapers and subways, if you will—in this offering.

Warren Stabler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 2/2/15 • Mon • Stabler • solution

LAT • 2/2/15 • Mon • Stabler • solution

A 16×15 grid today, to accommodate the even-lettered answer in the center. Three-plus-one-plus-one-plus-one theme answers:

  • 18a. [Pennsylvania borough in today’s news] PUNXSUTAWNEY.
  • 62d. [Given name of the critter in today’s news] PHIL.
  • 65a. [February 2, every year] GROUNDHOG DAY.
  • 3d. [Cold season] WINTER.
  • 50d. [Sundial casting] SHADOW.
  • 41a. [What we’ll have of 3-Down, according to folklore, if 18-Across 62-Down sees his 50-Down on 65-Across] SIX MORE WEEKS.

The long across themers are of course symmetrically placed, as are two of the three ancillary verticals. PHIL is a little bit homeless due to the realities of grid symmetry and thematic complement. Also, it’s seeming quite likely that tomorrow it will be overcast thereabout. So, uhm, put away your 40a THONGS or maybe just get 15a ON BOARD a plane and fly away to 45a NASSAU in the Bahamas and MSRP your MDLI with an IMO until … oh crap, this isn’t working very well, is it? (49a, 61d, 33d)

Anyway, it’s a pretty good crossword—too much crosswordese and abbrevs. for it to be as smooth as a Monday should be—but I don’t have much more to say because my mind feels like 46a PEA SOUP and I want to crawl back into bed and … well, not 32a DIE but certainly stay where it’s warm.

nb: No, I don’t have a hangover or anything. That was just for comedic effect. Hey, stop laughing.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 2 2 15 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 2 2 15 “Themeless Monday”

Brendan turned his mind towards making a triple-stack, with a pair of vertical 15s crossing the stack. I like the INSTANT POTATOES parked atop the stack, but SUSAN SAINT JAMES, best known for her ’80s TV series, has been in just three TV episodes since 1997 and zero movies. So not a particularly relevant/contemporary/seminal name. And then show tune ADELAIDE’S LAMENT appears in yet another stacks puzzle (it’s been in five NYT puzzles with stacks). Crossers WIRELESS EARBUDS and SEVEN COME ELEVEN are livelier than those last two.

What else? Footballer J.J. WATT, “AWAY WE GO,” SEX LIVES, and “YOU AGAIN?” are lively. Also like STEVIA, HARLEM, MONSTER clued as [Freakishly big].

Had no idea about 57d. [King’s ___ (British school founded by Henry VIII)], ELY, and that Y was my last letter in this puzzle. Didn’t even see all of the long crossing clue, 61a. [Artificial intelligence bad guy in the Terminator franchise], which made it harder to see SKYNET. Also did not know 44d. [___ von Dunajew (“Venus in Furs” femme fatale)], WANDA. That name is in the lyrics? Huh.

Dislike 43d. [Kind of orange] clue for OSAGE. An Osage orange may sort of look like an orange, but it’s botanically unrelated and inedible. It is no kind of orange at all. Also, Tony Orbach recently made a puzzle in which pretty much everything had clues in the [Kind of …] vein. It was kooky. (Many people dislike the [Kind of …] clues. It’s often a crutch to avoid using a FITB clue, when the FITB approach may well be more suitable.)

2d. [“___ la Virgen” (Venezuelan telenovela that inspired “Jane the Virgin”)], JUANA. DId you know this one? The American version has a small audience (it’s on one of the lesser broadcast networks) but the critics love it and write about it regularly.

3.75 stars from me. Not a stacks lover.


Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Songs for the Wallflower”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.0215: "Songs for the Wallflower"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.0215: “Songs for the Wallflower”

Hello there once again! Hope you all are over you Super Bowl hangover, whether induced by the game itself (What an ending!), the food you consumed or what not. If you didn’t watch the game, don’t hold it against your neighbors and friends for yelling so loudly that you could hear them from a mile away. Anyways, our first post-Big Game crossword is from Mr. Raymond Hamel, and in the grid, he gives a shout out to all the lonely people out there. Each of the four theme answers are popular songs whose titles suggest that alone time and the single life isn’t such a bad thing.

  • ALL BY MYSELF (17A: [1975 Eric Carmen song]) – Though a hit, how sad is this song and its melody?!? If I’m ever in a bad mood and this song comes on, it might be waterworks galore!
  • LEAVE ME ALONE (27A: [1989 Michael Jackson song]) – Just stop dogging me around!
  • SINGLE LADIES (46A: [2008 Beyoncé song]) – If I liked then, then I should have put a ring on it, I guess!
  • SOLITARY MAN (62A: [1966 Neil Diamond song])

I liked the six-word stack up in the Northwest to start the grid, with both ST. PAUL (1A: [Minn.’s capital]) and HOOPLA (14A: [Public fuss]). Speaking of Minnesota, when I flew to San Diego from New York before Christmas on a Minnesota-based airline called Sun Country Airlines, all of the passengers were awarded a free upgrade on a future Sun Country fight as well as a free ticket to the 2015 Minnesota State Fair. Any Minnesotans around who can let me know whether it’s worth it to go the fair?!

Anyways, more crosswords. How awesome would it be if XYZ was in the grid and clued something along the lines of “…and the rest” (51A: [VW followers])? Or at least that’s how I interpret it when someone says “XYZ,” along the lines of etc, etc. Also liked the clue to FLAWED, as it could describe an object as well as a flimsy excuse (44A: [Containing cracks, maybe]). There were two answers that shared the first three letters: there was LAM (6D: [On the ___ (making an escape)]), and then there was…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LAMB (27D: [Meat found in gyros]) – Currently in his third season in the NBA, Jeremy LAMB is a shooting guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Though he hasn’t made a significant mark in the NCA, Lamb was a key member of the 2011 UConn Huskies national championship team, as he was the team’s second-leading scorer. After the 2012 season, Lamb was taken 12th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets.

See you all on Tuesday, and thank you so much for your time!

Take care!


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21 Responses to Monday, February 2, 2015

  1. hmj says:

    Thanks for your answer to my Friday question, Amy. And Gareth, I appreciate your efforts.

  2. Brucenm says:

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone actually know the names Amii and Sisqo?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      In my contest entry, I actually thanked Peter for including AMII Stewart, whose disco hit I loved back around junior high. (Bonus points for being a variation of “Amy.”) All those vowels and yet she hardly ever gets into crossword puzzles. And Sisqo had a big hit with “The Thong Song,” which I don’t actually know, but I know the name well enough.

      • Brucenm says:

        OK. These are the sorts of entries I absolutely despise in crosswords, but that’s old news — (although these are apparently not ultra-modern, though to me they are the ne plus ultra of obscurity). SIS-O was especially galling, since the cross could just as well have been Iran as Iraq — (i.e. both letters would have fit.) I reluctantly concluded that the double ‘ii’ must be correct, though I wasted time erasing the NE and trying to refill it differently.

        • Brucenm says:

          PS — I love the word “zarf” and often trot it out when I buy a cup of coffee to anyone who will listen, (and some who won’t.) I think the etymology is Arabic. Huda could confirm this (or otherwise.)

          • pannonica says:

            I believe it’s Turkish. Remembering from when I first looked it up about 15 years ago. I think it’s expansive enough to be applicable even to say, those old-style Coca-Cola glass holders.

    • Matt says:

      Never heard of either one. It is notable, in terms of the meta, that Sisqo supplies a Q but not a U.

  3. sbmanion says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle, but I found the clue Indictment For a Serious Offense to be off because indictments are almost always reserved for serious offenses. I suppose there could be an indictment for a misdemeanor (perhaps together with felony charges), but this seems unlikely, because misdemeanors usually have six or eight person juries, while felonies have 12 person juries. Indictments get you a 12-person jury, which is one reason why you would not seek an indictment on a misdemeanor offense.

    INDICTABLE OFFENSE would have been better IMO.


    • Gary R says:


      Given what you said about when indictments are used, wouldn’t just “Indictment” be more appropriate as a clue? “Indictable offense” seems off because a “charge” isn’t an offense (seems like “Indictable offense” would clue “felony”).

      • sbmanion says:

        Yes, INDICTMENT would be adequate and sufficient. Often, a defendant will be charged with a felony in a criminal complaint. Later, the same defendant will be indicted for the same crime. This is called a superseding indictment. The reason for this seeming duplication is that an indictment in and of itself confers probable cause for the original arrest. If it is a criminal complaint, there has to be a probable cause hearing, which is usually waived by the defense.

        The criminal justice system gives defendants a series of hard choices. There is almost always a plea offer for something like say 2.5 years. If the defendant declines the offer and insists on a probable cause hearing, the offer is withdrawn and if the court rules that there is probable cause, the next offer might be 4.5 years.

        Courts in Arizona are pretty lenient on first offenses, but very draconian on subsequent crimes.


        • lemonade714 says:

          Steve, while your comments I am sure are accurate for Arizona, different states do criminal actions differently. Indictments must be sought for capital offenses in most jurisdictions, while lesser crimes may be prosecuted by ‘information’ ‘criminal complaint’ or whatever euphemism is locally used for a prosecutorial charge. Indictment does guarantee a 12 man jury in many locations, NY included ( I believe Jeffrey is from NY) but not all, as Florida misdemeanor for example do not. Indictment is also used by prosecutors to avoid the responsibilty of making a decision, such as with the George Zimmerman case. Indictment has non-criminal meanings as well, but they all equate to a “charge” so I assume the serious was to give the solver a fair chance to get Felony in the fill.

          Always nice to see Mr. Wechsler’s work.

  4. Ben Zimmer says:

    Wanda’s not in the lyrics of the Velvet Underground song “Venus In Furs,” but she’s in the eponymous Sacher-Masoch novel that inspired the song.

    • pannonica says:

      As well as the more recent David Ives play and the Roman Polanski film of it. (Venus in Fur.) Surname spelled “von Dunayev” there.

      correction: In the (Paris-based) film the character’s name is Vanda Jourdain.

  5. JohnV says:

    Thought the BEQ was spectacular. Getting the long crosses through the stack was really something.

  6. lemonade714 says:

    I also notice the symmetry of the four theme fill all breaking NY/C. Not a groundhog day puzzle, but fun.

  7. Gareth says:

    NYT: Certainly a lot of speed bumps for a Monday! Mostly good to great answers but a surprisingly number of either that were either difficult or difficult to parse, like JONSEDA/WOULDWEEVER/WHATSMYLINE/EASYCLIP/FLYROD. Add some clues like the etymology one for AHMED, [Aioli, mostly], and the Hamlet quote and you definitely get a tough Monday! Colourful, but tough!

  8. Michael says:

    BEQ: Didn’t like the 12D: SEVENCOMEELEVEN described as a ‘craps shout’. As someone who is still learning the game and actually played a couple times, I’ve yet to come across anyone who has shouted this during a game or referenced the phrase on an instructional video. Google shows the phrase as both a lyric to an old Clint Black song (‘A Good Run of Bad Luck’) and a name of a Charlie Christian (jazz guitarist) song. Maybe that would’ve have been more difficult, but it would’ve been more accurate IMO.

  9. Grandma says:

    I can do the jumble, the crypto quip and the today’s crossword in the Chronicle, SF…I don’t understand how to figure out your circle letters? I have tried, can’t get it. My old brain is failing me

    • pannonica says:

      Amy circled letters representative of the collection of those appearing in the puzzle, one per each of the twenty. The six letters that don’t appear in the grid comprise H-U-X-L-E-Y.

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