Monday, March 9, 2015

NYT 3:23 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:33 (pannonica) 
CS 6:18 (Ade) 
BEQ 5:13 (Amy) 

Debbie Ellerin’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 3/9/15 • Mon • Ellerin • no 0309 • solution

NYT • 3/9/15 • Mon • Ellerin • no 0309 • solution

62-across plays out as the revealer: [Entertainment found out the start of the answer to 17-, 21-, 27-, 45- or 54-Across] BOARD GAME.

  • 17a. [One living on the edge] RISK TAKER.
  • 21a. [Need on a sinking ship] LIFE RAFT. Or off of one?
  • 27a. [Ominous outlook] TROUBLE AHEAD.
  • 45a. [“’Fraid not”] SORRY, CHARLIE.
  • 54a. [“So what’s the story”] CLUE ME IN. No question mark in that spoken phrase?

All well and good. It isn’t as we haven’t seen this sort of theme before. In the New York Times. On a Monday in the New York Times. As a constructor’s début on a Monday in the New York Times. Yes, that’s Ian Livengood’s offering from 12 April 2010 that I’m talking about. Not to mention Elizabeth Gorski’s Xword Nation entry from 7 January of last year. Or Brendan Quigley’s off-kilter puzzle from early March 2012. And who knows how many others over the years?

It isn’t that repeating a theme is bad inandofitself (nor am I suggesting that this puzzle is bad per se). There is understandably a finite number of themes, so that sort of thing is bound to happen now and again. Further, some subjects are more likely to appear in crosswords as well, and you can easily imagine that there’s an overlap in enthusiasm among crossword solvers and board game players, so this is one of those oft-plied subjects.

This iteration has more theme entries than the others I cited, but also markedly shorter ones. Perhaps, cognizant of the relative preponderance of similar themes, the editor should have striven to ensure that this one had some further constraint or specificity, to impart greater strength, consistency, impact, et cetera. The last two clues are presented as casual spoken phrases – perhaps all five should used that approach? Or, four of the five are two-word phrases – certainly it would have been better to ensure that the fifth conformed? Maybe incorporating another layer to the theme answers themselves, like having them all be people: RISK TAKER, LIFEGUARD, TROUBLEMAKER, SORRY SO-AND-SO, CLUEMASTER (“The Cluemaster is a fictional character, a DC Comics supervillain who was an enemy of Batman. A failed game show host, he became a criminal who left clues to his crimes, though unlike the Riddler’s, they were not riddles.” Wow, does that sound pathetic.) You get the idea, something more, to further distinguish this crossword, even if it is ‘only’ a Monday.

  • Standard, conservative fill and cluing typical of early week offerings. The unusual HOORAH is tipped off in the clue: [Old-fashioned “Yay!”]. The neighboring SCHEMA and, down in the lower left, SARDI might also prove tricky for some solvers.
  • 19a [Bums] HOBOS. Uhm, no. We’ve discussed this before, after a fashion. See also, Wikipedia’s article and its citations.
  • 38a [Garnishes for Coronas] LIMES. Only for 5a SAPS, if you ask me. Nice touch, having the Coronas clue intersect 18d [Miss America toppers] TIARAS.
  • 3d [Electric car maker] TESLA; 22d [What an electric car doesn’t need] FUEL. 33d [“Ah, so sad] ALAS; 41d [“__ is me!”] WOE.

Nice puzzle, but considering the triteness of the game, I found it >ahem< bored me a bit {see also, 1d}.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 3 9 15 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 3 9 15 “Themeless Monday”

I’m pretty sure I solve more BEQ puzzles than any other constructor’s work. There are 104 a year on his website (a themeless nearly every week—and themeless puzzles are my favorite standard crosswords—and creative themed puzzles that I test-solve/edit), plus his his AV Club puzzles and the occasional NYT or ACPT puzzle. That’s not all he does—there are also custom puzzles and the occasional puzzle book with material not already published on Brendan’s blog. There may well be constructors who are publishing more crosswords each year than Brendan, but not any who are also hitting the consistently high level of quality. (Caveat: If “Crossword Jesus” Patrick Berry is publishing over 115 puzzles a year, then he probably takes the title.) Brendan’s hand-crafting of grids imbues his puzzles with his inimitable personal style. So congrats to BEQ on his Constructor of the Year Orca win.

I liked today’s offering. I got off to an atypically quick start in the 1-Across corner, nailing down CRACKLE and CCCP and filling in most of the crossings lickety-split (the unfamiliar German/Austrian old KRONEN was slow, though).

Top fill: PLAIN VANILLA, BACON NUMBER, FRISBEE GOLF (though aficionados will probably cringe at that and insist you call it disc golf), YOU HAD ONE JOB (if you’ve not seen this meme—photos of product or installation failures—go enjoy this), CALICO CAT, OLD GEEZER, lovely DECORUM, MR PIBB, NO ME GUSTA, crunchy CROUTON. I also kinda liked the combo of Popeye cartoonist E.C. SEGAR and an old-timey CIGARET.

Three bits:

  • 65a. [Who asked “What difference at this point does it make?”], CLINTON. HRC and the State Department emails? Bill C?
  • 47a. [Crate & Barrel purchase], PAN. I was thinking of furniture and throw pillows and dishes, but indeed my newest pans are cast iron ones from C&B.
  • 52d. [Evening things], TYING. Not the time between afternoon and night, not making a surface level. Tying the score. This one took me forever to suss out.

Four stars.

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Cambridge”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.09.15: "Cambridge"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.09.15: “Cambridge”

Good day, everybody!  Hope you’re all well to begin the week. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, makes us cross the bridge with our cameras in tow. Or, more straightforward, each of the theme answers are two-word entries in which the letters “CAM” span the two words, forming a sort of bridge. Speaking of Cambridge, I was supposed to be in Cambridge, Mass. this past Friday for the Yale-Harvard basketball game, but passed. Thank goodness I passed, because now those two will play AGAIN in nearby Philadelphia in a winner-take-all playoff to go to the NCAA Tournament. I know half of you are already turned off by the sports talk, so let me just list the theme answers right now to today’s grid!

      • YUCCA MOUNTAIN (20A: [Nevada nuclear waste repository site])
      • OAXACA, MEXICO (28A: [State bordering the Pacific])
      • VERONICA MARS (44A: [Kristin Bell TV series made into a 2014 movie])
      • KONICA MINOLTA (53A: [Big name in laser printers]) – Even today, I think of Konica Minolta more for its cameras than for its printers. I know my dad, who was a collector of antiques, had a few Minolta cameras lying around his bedroom while I was growing up.

In the past few weeks, a very popular answer on these grids has been O’TOOLE (45D: [Peter of “The Lion in Winter”]). Definitely a nice bit of trivia about two Supreme Court Justices being born in the same city, TRENTON, N.J. (43D: [Birthplace of Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito]). This might be considered an unfortunate incident, but seeing PRINCIPAL made me think of the 1980s movie, The Principal, with James Belushi and Louis Gossett Jr. (11D: [Class action suit]). The clue for ‘principal’ was pretty good, though. I’ll try to remove those thoughts of the movie in my head by replacing it with the voice of Aimee Mann banging out “Voices Carry” with ‘TIL Tuesday (24A: [___ Tuesday (’80s pop group])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PETCO (3D: Park where the Padres play]) – The current home of the San Diego Padres baseball team, PETCO Park opened in 2004 and has served as the Padres home after they moved from Qualcomm Stadium (formerly Jack Murphy Stadium). There were delays in the construction of the ballpark in part because it had to be built around the Western Metal Supply Co. building, which was declared a historic landmark back in 1978. The Western Metal Supply Co. building now serves as not only the backdrop in left field, but one side of the building actually serves as the left field foul pole. Here, take a look!


Have a good rest of your day, everyone!

Take care!


Carol Hacker’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 3/9/15 • Mon • Hacker • solution

LAT • 3/9/15 • Mon • Hacker • solution

No revealer for the theme, which is refreshing, especially for an early-week offering. But have no fear, I’m inclined to believe you’ll all rise to the occasion.

  • 17a. [Past one’s prime] OVER THE HILL.
  • 25a. [Perilous course to go down] SLIPPERY SLOPE.
  • 43a. [Achieves one’s goal] MAKES THE GRADE.
  • 58a. [Interest-paying institution] SAVINGS BANK.

So. HILL, SLOPE, GRADE, BANK. Rough synonyms for a certain type of topological feature. But I have to tell you, there’s a “but” coming. But, the theme is just a bit inelegant.

The first three are idioms, metaphors. The last one is a concrete, real-world object. Feels like a letdown. Taking things a little farther, the first two—HILL and SLOPE—refer to elevated landforms while the other two don’t.

  • 23a [Mauna __ ] LOAMauna, of course, is the Hawaiian word for ‘mountain.’ 18d [Piles] HEAPS.
  • 16a [Logger’s tool] AXE; 38d [Logger’s tool] CHAINSAW. Wasn’t at all necessary to to clue 49a III, which intersects 38d, as [“Saw __”: second “Saw” sequel]. Saw.
  • IRK and IRE, together again! (57a, 59d)
  • ZEE atop END [Alphabet finale], [Finale] (60a, 63a)
  • 62a [Do-or-die poker bet] ALL IN, right above 65a [Writer-director Allen with four Oscars] WOODY. Hmm.
  • Some rough fill for a Monday crowd: 14a [Valium drug company] ROCHE, 6d [Oktoberfest quaff] BIER, 38a [Red giant with a carbon-rich atmosphere] C STAR (the C does in fact stand for carbon).

Good crossword, but the inconsistency leaves me a little depressed.

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14 Responses to Monday, March 9, 2015

  1. rhodos says:

    Of course 3D Tesla uses fuel! It uses electricity! In fact, its charging current was probably generated by a fossil fuel plant. Poor clue IMHO.

    • Martin says:

      Do you refer to electricity as “fuel” in other contexts? Do you speak of supplying a lamp with fuel when you turn on the switch?

      The fact that the electricity might have been generated with a fuel doesn’t make it a poor clue either. Hydro or solar are distinct possibilities as well. A Tesla uses an energy source, of course, but not one of the ones we commonly call “fuel.”

    • Papa John says:

      Here’s a definition of fuel I found online:

      “…material such as coal, gas, or oil that is burned to produce heat or power.

      synonyms: gas · gasoline · diesel · petroleum · propane”

  2. Derf says:

    A lamp doesn’t store the electricity is uses. A tesla does. Electricity fuels an iPhone and a flashlight similarly, it fuels a Tesla.

  3. ArtLvr says:

    Maybe “power” is better than FUEL — electricity powers a Tesla vehicle. Electricity by itself isn’t necessarily or primarily fuel.

  4. David L says:

    Re: the CLINTON clue in BEQ — I think the statement was by Hillary at one of the many Congressional hearings on Benghazi.

    Don’t you think there was a certain lack of elegance in having Mr Pibb crossing Mr i-Scan, especially with iPhone elsewhere in the grid?

  5. Mac says:

    South Carolina a “powerhouse”? I don’t think so. Not to mention that there is only one USC and its not South Carolina.

  6. Michael O'D says:

    Surprised the BEQ puzzle got such a high rating. I also found that having both ‘iCal’ and ‘iPhone’ on the same grid a little clunky.

    And, I’m totally clueless about the ‘Bacon Number’ answer. Huh? Little help please?

  7. Lois says:

    I didn’t do the puzzle, so I don’t know what the clue was (probably “six”?), but more information is probably here:

    and here:

    • Lois says:

      The above is obviously a reply to Michael O’D, but apparently by error I didn’t post it as a reply.

  8. AaronB says:

    Every puzzle today got votes that ranged from 1 to 4.5 stars. I know there has been a fringe of contrarian voters in the past, but this is ridiculous. As a slow and busy solver I try to use the ratings as a guide to “must solve” puzzles.

    As Pat Paulsen once said “Some people are talking about arms control, some people are talking about birth control. Why isn’t anyone talking about self control.”

    A minor suggestion is that reviewers who want to could put their rating at the top of there review, so readers could look at it without the “spoilers” of reading the review.

  9. David R says:

    I gave the BEQ the 4.5 to balance out the absurd 1 rating given and umm because it was a great puzzle.

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