Monday, April 6, 2015

NYT 3:42 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:10 (pannonica) 
CS 7:47 (Ade) 
BEQ 5:24 (Amy) 

Finn Vigeland’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 5/6/15 • Mon • Vigeland • no 0506 • solution

NYT • 5/6/15 • Mon • Vigeland • no 0506 • solution

The sort of theme we’ve seen before—a days of the week sequence—but with some deft additions that takes the execution a step farther in both impressiveness and satisfaction. 68a [First light … or a phenomenon suggested by this puzzle’s seven sets of circled letters?] DAYBREAK. The standard three-letter abbrevs. of the days are ‘broken’ across a black square, formed by the end of one entry and the start of another. Not only that, but they appear in every other row, thus forming a regular pattern. As this crossword has the standard grid size of 15×15, the septet is also symmetrically placed overall. It’s a very tidy, very appealing package.


And of course the crossword’s week begins with Monday—it’s a Monday puzzle.

  • 1a [Ang Lee film about a shipwrecked boy and a tiger] LIFE OF PI. Just below that is 15a [Weather phenomenon with freezing rain] ICE STORM. Strong suspicion that the original clue was something like [Ang Lee film based on a Rick Moody novel, with “The”].
  • 6d [Comic Sans, e.g.] FONT. No, it’s a typeface. Specify a size and style, then you have a font. (This is simplification.)
  • AWE crossing WOW, with dissimilar clues. 25d [Astonishment], 29a [“That’s amazing!”]. Compare 27d [Put on, as weight] GAIN, 36d [Take off, as weight] LOSE.
  • 37d [“The Last of __” (1973 murder mystery] SHEILA. Rather obscure for an early-week specimen, no? Top-notch cast and crew, generally well-received, but how well-remembered?
  • ©Texas Lepidoptera Survey

    ©Texas Lepidoptera Survey

    Unnecessary duplication between 41d [The Big Apple, for short] NYC, and 16a [New York lake named for an Indian tribe] ONEIDA. As this the New York Times crossword, a simple “Upstate” could have sufficed, though that might be of concern for republication. More alternatives: [Iroquois Confederacy tribe], [Flatware giant], [City between Syracuse and Utica], et cetera.

  • 9d [Like jack-o’-lanterns or meaningless victories] HOLLOW. More evocative than your usual Monday clue. Ditto, the crossing 9a [Press conference danger for an unguarded comment] HOT MIC.
  • Further atypical items: 35d [Trompe l’__ ] OEIL, plural variant CELLI (48a), possibly 39a [Stone Age tool] NEOLITH.
  • 54d [“Love ya!”] MWAH, but I had SWAK first.

All six major regions of the grid (four corners, two lateral flanks) provide largish, stout stacked areas; that’s good stuff. An impressive feat of construction and an enjoyable solve. Very good Monday.

Wouldn’t it have been spiffy if the crossword transited from easy to difficult (with a slight ebb at the very end) from top to bottom?

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ "Themeless Monday" crossword solution, 4 6 15

BEQ “Themeless Monday” crossword solution, 4 6 15

This is what happens when a sleep-deprived blogger solves a puzzle: The dog-show people become the AKA instead of the AKC, which turns 32d [Domain abbr.] into AOL (whut?) instead of COM (technically, neither one is an abbreviation and .com is a “top-level domain” rather than a “domain abbr.”; ORG gets the same clue as 11d) and 41a. [Card game named after a world leader] becomes LAO instead of MAO, but in my defense, I’ve never heard of that card game. Wondering when the indie puzzles will drop CAH into the grid on a regular basis—now there’s a card game for you.

Fave fill/clues: Bronko NAGURSKI. TURBOTAX, [File management program?]. GET WORD. NAME OF THE YEAR, [Shamus Beaglehole won it in 2014]—you can vote on names in this year’s NOTY brackets here, and smart money is on Malvina Complainville to advance. DICK JOKE. SIX WAYS TO SUNDAY—feels like a good description of today’s NYT puzzle. LOVE TAP.


  • 63a. [Like a dik-dik], ANTLERED. I believe the antelopes are all horned (horns are not shed) rather than antlered (antlers are shed). Pannonica?
  • 50a. [Kiribati’s locale], ASIA. What? No. Any geography Sporcler worth her salt knows that Kiribati is part of Oceania.
  • 52d. [Sales rep’s clients, for short], ACCTS. I reserve a “for short” clue for things that are actually used as words. If you don’t pronounce ACCTS with one syllable, it needs an abbr. tag instead.
  • YUP is fun and I use it routinely, but it does dupe YES AND NO.
  • Despite the 72-wordness, it felt like there was a bit more 3- and 4-letter blah stuff than usual.

3.66 stars from me.

Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times Crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 4/6/15 • Mon • Venzke, Grabowski • solution

LAT • 4/6/15 • Mon • Venzke, Grabowski • solution

Quick write-up for a quick, breezy crossword. 56-across lets us know that the [Process for selecting theatrical performers, and a hint to the first word of the answers to starred clues] CASTING CALL.

  • 20a. [*Manhattan site of Strawberry Fields] CENTRAL PARK.
  • 39a. [*Prepare for printing] TYPE-SET (often a compound word).
  • 11d. [*Untrustworthy, as a business] FLY-BY-NIGHT.
  • 29d. [*Word processor error finder] SPELL-CHECK (also spellcheck, spell-checker, spellchecker, spell checker).

Central casting, typecasting, fly-casting, spell-casting. Ta-da.

  • Nitpickery: 24a [Young horse] COLT, which is specifically a young male horse, though the term is occasionally applied more broadly (broadcast?). 32a [Small swallow] SIP, though that’s a figurative sense, as sipping doesn’t necessarily entail swallowing; in Monday-level crosswords I prefer greater clarity. Didn’t notice this one while solving: 69a [Filled (in), as a comic strip] INKED; that seems to more accurately describe COLORED, though inking often involves some filling too.
  • 50a [Michelangelo masterpieces] PIETÁS. The most famous is his first, the one that stands (or sits) in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Incidentally, they’re cut and sculpted from marble, not CAST in bronze.
  • AAH & HMM, ahem. (55a, 46a)
  • A smattering of lesser fill, including SQ(uare) MI(le), Chou EN LAI, EQUI-, IN B, and so on. Possibly a skooch too much for a Monday, but I’m not inclined to KVETCH to EXCESS at the moment. (5a, 16a, 65a, 10d; 4d, 51d)

Okay crossword, average.

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Playing with the Rich and Famous”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.06.15: "Playing with the Rich and Famous"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.06.15: “Playing with the Rich and Famous”

Welcome to a new week..and the opening to a new baseball season!! I think with most of the crossword world, baseball is probably the most popular among  the crowd of cruciverbalists (with tennis and or international soccer surprisingly edging out football for second place). Anyways, today’s crossword puzzle is brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, and he uses common phrases as the themes but clues them as puns, using the last names of well-known moneybags. I actually have come across two of the four people referenced in the grid.

  • CUBAN CIGAR (17A: [Entrepreneur Mark’s smoke?]) – First Met Mark Cuban when he was a panelist on a game show I competed in years back. Nice guy. And he hooked me up with free tickets to a Mavs-Knicks game in early 2002.
  • TRUMP CARDS (49A: [What “The Donald” deals?])
  • THE SAME PAGE (11D: [Google’s Larry who hasn’t changed?]) – Came across Page in Palo Alto when I was covering a Stanford University football game back in 2009. Someone had to tell me who he was.
  • PEARLY GATES (25D: [Heavenly hued philanthropist Bill?])

We have a little bit of an homage to the opening of baseball season, with the entry of TOPPS (23D: [Big name is baseball collectibles]) and the reference to hardball in MSNBC, even though it’s a political show and not a stitched, wound-up baseball (43D: [Where to watch “Hardball”]). For some reason, I saw ILL AT and was reminded of the much-talked about ‘illin’ entry that caused so much consternation in a NYT puzzle a while back (24D: [____ ease]). Was a little confused by using TIPPERS instead of ‘tips,’ given the way the clue is worded, but I eventually came to grips with it (23A: [Waiters like them big]). My initial rationale: Waiters would like their tips big, not their tippers big, right? The latter would assume that every person that a waiter serves is a tipper, and we’ve definitely heard stories of customers stiffing waiters of tips before. At the very least, saying that waiters would like their tips big makes sense, in comparison to wanting their tips small. Mini-rant over.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: O’LEARY (27A: [Chicago lady who had a cow]) – It’s the start of baseball season, so we have to have some baseball in this spot, right?!  Former Major League outfielder Troy O’LEARY played 11 seasons in The Bigs, with his best season coming in 1999 for the playoff-bound Boston Red Sox. In that season, O’Leary hit 28 home runs and had 103 RBI, and, in the deciding game of the American League Division Series matchup against Cleveland, hit two home runs (including a grand slam) and helped to send Boston to an ALCS meeting with the Yankees.

For it’s one…two…three strikes you’re out, at the old ball game!!  Have a great day!

Take care!


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21 Responses to Monday, April 6, 2015

  1. sbmanion says:

    The Oneida Nation is near and not so dear to me. Growing up in Niagara Falls, we had to study the history of the Niagara Frontier, which includes a great deal about the five Iroquois tribes and the Tuscaroras. The Oneidas feature prominently in that history because they sided with the rebels, but later got shafted by them, prompting them to move to Fort Niagara for protection by the British.

    I say not so dear because my company moved me to Green Bay in 1990 to be the general manager of a racetrack. Shortly after we opened, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin opened a casino (unlike in many cities where the Indian tribe has its reservation in an isolated area, the Oneidas of Wisconsin own the property directly across the street from the Green Bay airport) and it quickly destroyed the racetrack business.

    Anyway, here is a link to the history of the Oneidas:

    Well crafted puzzle.


  2. Gareth says:

    NYT: Between an elegant theme and a smorgasbord of delicious entries this has to be one of my favourite Monday puzzles.

  3. pannonica says:

    BEQ: 16a [Bone collector] TAR PIT. Not quite, in my estimation. Also, I’ll dispute that 1d IN TUNE is necessarily [Melodious]; harmonious for in tune, melodious for tuneful.

    • Papa John says:

      I agree on both counts, except “Bone collector” is kind of a neat clue.

    • Martin says:

      What don’t you people like about the tar pit clue? It’s not tar, but “tar pit” is common enough. It collects whole animals, but most of what we get to remove are bones.

  4. Papa John says:

    Amy: In the immortqal works of Ed McMahon: “You are correct, sir!”

    In this case, yes, horns (bovidae) are horns and antlers (cervidae), antlers. The American pronghorn is a bit different from other antelopes in that they shed the outer sheath of their horns. Rhino horn, too, is different. It’s more like a mass of compacted hair, though actually dermis, a specific type of skin.

    • pannonica says:

      Yes, correct. Didn’t see it during the solve, only skimmed Amy’s write-up to see if she’d mentioned the two things I commented on.

      Clarification: rhino horn is compacted keratin, the same stuff that comprises fingernails (and hooves) and hair. Antelope horn too, is keratin, whereas deer antlers are bone. Despite the common name, pronghorns are not ‘true’ antelopes—they’re the only member of their taxonomic Family, relatively distant evolutionarily from both bovids and cervids.

      • Papa John says:

        Try this on for size [from Animal Diversity Web]:

        “Rhino horns differ from true horns because these horns have no core or sheath. They are made up of multitude of epidermal cells and bundles of dermal papillae, extensions of the dermis. Cells from each papilla form a horny fiber similar to thick hair. These fibers, which are held together by the mass of epidermal cells, are not true hairs. True hair grows from follicles that extend into the dermis, whereas rhino horns grow from dermal papillae which extend up into the horn. The rhino horn is situated over the nasal bones. In species that have two horns, the second horn lies over the frontal bones. Rhino horns commonly curve posteriorly.”

        I grew up, within a taxadermy milieu, with the finger nail (keratin) knowlege, too, so I don’t know what to make of the above. Bovids definitely have a keratinous outer sheath over a bony core. Rhinos have no sheath.

        Yeah, yeah, pronhorns are not true antelopes. Tell that to Dr. Higly, of “Home, Home on the Range” fame.

        • pannonica says:

          Seems to me we can get away with saying rhinoceros horns and bovid horns are of very similar (the same?) material but are overall different in structure and arrangement (viz, possessing a sheath-and-core).

          Addendum: There’s nothing in the above to contradict what we’ve been saying. Both types of horns are made of keratin. The terminology of ‘true’ horns (viz, antelope horns) seemingly requires a horny sheath over a bony core, but that’s more or less irrelevant here.

          More concerning is how to convince people that rhinoceros horns—not to mention tiger livers, bear gall bladders, and so on) have negligible if any medical potency and zero magical powers.

          No idea why I’m seemingly fizzy with vizziness today.

    • Martin says:

      BTW, although his clue is wrong the converse is not. The dictionary accepts “horn” as a way to say “antler” but not the other way around. Those “deer horn” clues are defensible. “Dik-dik antlers” are not.

  5. Jenni Levy says:

    I’ve always heard it as “six ways FROM Sunday”. Interesting variation. That slowed me down a smidgen. Still liked both the NYT and BEQ quite a lot. Also happy to do them while listening to the Yankees pregame show. Baseball! Yay! The time of year when Amy is exasperated with my FB posts!

  6. ArtLvr says:

    A colt is a male horse, four years old or younger; a filly is a female ditto, but if you saw a group in a pasture you’d probably call them “colts” unless you knew they were all females…

  7. Papa John says:

    Taxidermy can be a sahdy business. When our shop got an order to mount a rhino head, it fell upon me to cast fiberglass replicas of the horns, which replaced the natural horns on the mount — all unbeknowst to the customer.

  8. Papa John says:

    You don’t think my boss took his purloined rhino horn to China Town to cash in on its mystical powers, do you? Could be…

  9. ahimsa says:

    NYT: I thought this was a perfect Monday, easy for beginners but still lots of fun!

    I didn’t comment on the Sunday NYT but I had no problem with the title or theme entries. I like themes that are visual (captain/ship going down in the grid). I was surprised that no one commented on LATENTS. I have never seen that word in plural, and wasn’t 100% sure about the cross at RATTERS, so the crossing T was the last to go in.

    Maybe LATENTS is crime show jargon that I’ve missed out on?

    LAT: This was a cute theme, too — didn’t want to ignore it!

  10. Howard says:

    I found 8D in BEQ’s puzzle a little strange. WAY is used in the clue AND answer. Is this the WAY it’s usually done?!

  11. Norm says:

    The CS/Washington Post actually clues PEARLY GATES as “Heavenly hued philanthropist Bil?” I guess he’s given away his second L along with all that money.

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