Monday, May 25, 2015

NYT 3:14 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:01 (pannonica) 
CS tk (Ade) 
BEQ 8:34 (Amy) 

Jennifer Nutt’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 5/25/15 • Mon • Nutt • no 0525 • solution

NYT • 5/25/15 • Mon • Nutt • no 0525 • solution

Timely theme topic, considering the recent exposé of working conditions in nail salons, and New York State Governor Cuomo’s ensuing legislation.

The proceedings are summed up with 57a [Appropriate exclamation upon solving this puzzle?] I NAILED IT. So, the last parts of the theme answers we have, in order, steps involved in a manicure—or, considering 43a [Full complement of toes] TEN, a pedicure.

  • 17a. [Excerpt shown on TV] VIDEO CLIP.
  • 23a. [Wastebasket, jocularly] CIRCULAR FILE.
  • 33a. [Visitor at a railroad museum, say] TRAIN BUFF.
  • 39a. [Product of a backwoods still] MOONSHINE. One-word answer, unlike the others.
  • 45a. [What a boor sorely lacks] SOCIAL POLISH. Not a commonly heard collocation. It compares poorly to both social skill and social grace, though it occurs more frequently than social nicety.

Including six thematic entries doesn’t leave much wiggle room for fireworks elsewhere in the grid. And that’s precisely what we see: nothing special. The longest non-theme fill is a pair of sevens, STORIED and BABYLON. Apart from a quartet of six-letter entries, the rest of the grid is populated by three-, four-, and five-letter answers. And a scooch more clunkers and crosswordese than a typically smooth Monday: PRIERS, ALAR, TRINI, TIKIS. The combined effect is that of peripherally palpable oppression. Not overwhelming in the death-by-a-thousand-cuts vein, but a dismalness nonetheless.

  • 1a [Put up, as a painting] HANG. Not a NAIL answer.
  • Notable playful clue: 47d [What banks always have interest in?] LOANS. But they haven’t had much of an interest in issuing them in recent years.
  • 51a [Comment] REMARK.

An overstuffed burrito of a crossword, not wonderful but still pretty good.

C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 5/25/15 • Mon • Burnikel • solution

LAT • 5/25/15 • Mon • Burnikel • solution

An abstracted twist on a MEMORIAL DAY theme. 61a [Late-May observance, whose first word can follow each answer to a starred clue]

  • 17a. [*Cause championed by Martin Luther King, Jr.] CIVIL RIGHTS.
  • 26a. [*Military branch] AIR FORCE.
  • 51a. [*Five-sided figure] PENTAGON.
  • 18d. [Bearded Mount Rushmore president] LINCOLN.
  • 35d. [*Iconic WWII flag-raising island] IWO JIMA.

Not the most awe-inspiring answers, but they all reflect national interest, and fit the theme’s mechanics. Three are explicitly military. One is partially so, and one has a militant aspect.

Theme-relevant material in 14a [Olympics chant] USA USA (crossed by NAG NAG, ha!), and 31a [Capital of Libya] TRIPOLI.

  • Stacked eights in the northwest and southeast corners—WAIT HERE, LIVE A LIE, NEAT IDEA, EL DORADO—and triple-stacked sixes in the complementary corners—PAN FRY, GREECE, AISLES, SPEEDO, KENNEL, INROAD.
  • That last is clued as [Damaging encroachment] though it could just as easily describe a productive or promising one. I suppose this version is in keeping with warlike theme.
  • 27d [Spain and Portugal] IBERIA. Poor, poor Andorra.

Good Monday.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 5 25 15 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 5 25 15 “Themeless Monday”

Oof. When you’ve never heard the term at 1-Across (GAMING MOUSE is a thing?), uncleverly entered the wrong word for 10d (FIEF instead of SERF, and I knew that [One under a lord’s protection] wasn’t a good clue for FIEF), weren’t sure what to do with some tricky clues, and put in the wrong plausible verb in 2d (HAD A MEAL is just as bad as ATE A MEAL, both feeling contrived)—well, you have that top section blank for a while after everything else has been filled in.


Solving experience not enhanced by: SLATTED, AGT, SER, CENTS OFF, MAIO, OUTWEAR ([Exhaust]—the answer is in the dictionary but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before), ELDON.

Three more things:

  • 41d. [Windy City transports], EL TRAINS. You mark yourself as not from around here if you call it an EL TRAIN rather than “the El/L” or “the train.”
  • 36d. [Pass the mat], GO IN. Pass (over) the welcome mat/doormat. Clue confused me till after I’d finished the puzzle.
  • 6d. [Its flag has red, gold, and green bars with a black star], GHANA. I knew it had to be somewhere in Africa, had the final A in place, and couldn’t move my thinking beyond Kenya (whose flag is red, green, and black with a shield in the middle).

3.5 stars from me.

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8 Responses to Monday, May 25, 2015

  1. Dave says:

    I thought the NYT was a smooth well formed Monday puzzle. Mondays aren’t supposed to dazzle. ALAR and TIKI are normal in-the-language words. TRINI and PRIERS are a little clunky, but generally OK. Way better than yesterdays million crossword-word puzzle.

  2. Martin from C. says:

    A welcome relief after yesterday’s extra-large, and difficult (for me) Sunday puzzle. I enjoyed MOONSHINE, TMI, QUIP, CIRCULAR FILE, and TRAIN BUFF, and felt a welcome sensation of speed going through the puzzle.

    I was re-watching “The Train” but paused at 10 pm to work the Monday puzzle. In the film, as Paris is about to be liberated, a Nazi TYRANT (Paul Scofield) and his GOONs SEIZE French paintings (possibly including a Spanish GOYA) and CRAMs them (still in their FRAMEs) onto a TRAIN. BUFFed-up Burt Lancaster (a train yard master and the train’s engineer) and Jeanne Moreau (an INNkeeper) cause HAVOC with the Nazi’s plans to send the train to Germany, yet always have an ALIBI when they need one.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: I finished it fairly quickly and then it took a minute to compute… When it did, it definitely got a chuckle out of me. I thought it was pretty smooth and came together well.
    I was going to say that it was nice to get a girly theme, but may be this one isn’t. A lot of men get their nails done.
    I’ve actually wondered in the past about all the acetone and other fumes that manicurists live with. They reliably give me a headache. So, I guess it’s a good thing I’ve spent my life working in a research lab, and we tend to keep it simple.

  4. ArtLvr says:

    I liked the NYT just fine — & definitely enjoyed HANG NAIL as a bonus!

  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Working with acrylic nails is even more harmful than the acetone, though acetone is hard on bare skin. The NYT had a recent two-part exposé on abusive employment practices and the effects of nail-salon toxins on workers:

  6. Gareth says:

    Great NYT theme! Can anyone explain how Sprite and Mountain Dew are equivalent, other than both being soft drinks. Totally different flavours!

Comments are closed.