Monday, June 15, 2015

NYT 3:11 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:15 (pannonica) 
CS 8:55 (Ade) 
AV Club 6:something? (Amy) 
BEQ 4:56 (Amy) 

Mike Buckley’s New York Times puzzle — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 6/15/15 • Mon • Buckley • no 0615 • solution

NYT • 6/15/15 • Mon • Buckley • no 0615 • solution

As 19-across estimably presents it, the date is the 800th anniversary of the MAGNA CARTA [Document issued on June 15, 1215]. To put that in proper perspective, that’s eighty times as long as this blog as been around, give or take a couple of days—oh, and don’t forget the changeover from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian. Only eighty. Doesn’t seem so impressive now, does it?

Additional theme material:

  • 20d. [Where 19-Across was sealed] RUNNYMEDE.
  • 38d. [He sealed 19-Across] KING JOHN.
  • 10d. [Pope who issued an annulment of 19-Across] INNOCENT. That’s Innocent III.
  • 57a. [Heart of the U.S. legal system, with roots in 19-Across] DUE PROCESS.

The theme clues studiously avert (“sealed”, “issued”) duplication with 42a [Step down from a position] RESIGN. Though the Magna Carta was far from a royal resignation, it did limit the king’s power to a degree, at LEAST (29a) in regard to the nobles. Tempting as it is, it would be a stretch to consider 1a [Groups plotting coups] CABALS or 68a [Preliminary versions of a paper] DRAFTS as tangentially theme-relevant.


  • 23a [German prelate who was the first person to be canonized, A.D. 993] ULRIC. This, in my Monday NYT crossword??
  • 50d [Google’s image organizer] PICASA. Can’t remember encountering it in a crossword before, but it makes for useful fill. I do wonder how well-known it is, though. I have the sense it’s already becoming obsolescent.
  • Both AS A TEAM and the symmetrically located IN A SUIT strike me as less-than-sturdy standalone phrases. Their clues are [Not individually, in sports] and [Dressed for the office, say]. Neither is especially convincing. (14a, 66a)
  • 7a [Places where yachts are docked] MARINAS, 55d [Tie up, as a boat] MOOR. 37a [Pig sound] OINK, 44a [Cow sounds] MOOS.

Mostly clean fill, kind of an average Monday offering.

Mark McClain’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 6/15/15 • Mon • McClain • solution

LAT • 6/15/15 • Mon • McClain • solution

Each of the four theme answers begins with a word meaning, more or less, superannuated.

  • 17a. [“Three strikes you’re out” place of song, with “the”] OLD BALL GAME.
  • 27a. [Civilization of Plato and Aristotle] ANCIENT GREECE. It’s like a P&A hangover from Sunday’s CRooked crossword.
  • 45a. [Many an elder statesman] SENIOR SENATOR.
  • 61a. [Spanish doubloons, e.g.] ANTIQUE GOLD.

That isn’t the only thing that feels musty here. I’d wager this theme has been done before, many times before. Perhaps that explains why the theme answers here are less-than-stellar. Three are two-word phrases, one is a three-word partial. Two share the same initials, which is a distraction. None of them have much punch. It simply feels dreggy, dreg-esque.

Add in the small-scale northeast and southwest corners, the many partials and abbrevs. (e.g., AGR, EST, DST, STNS, BLDG, -ADEE, SNO-cone, shoo-INS, “For HE’S a jolly …”, “It’s ALL A big mistake!”, “give me AN I!”, plus the thoroughly atrocious [“… ring, I THEE wed”]) and the result is a rather dispiriting crossword. There just isn’t much sparkle. I mean, look, CFL [Grey Cup sorts org.] is the central across entry. Dismal.

There are some mildly interesting long verticals FIGURED OUT, CHRISTENED, WHAT A GUY, SIBERIAN, but the overall sense is still flat.

An underwhelming experience. Let’s call this an adequate crossword.

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Mov-E Time”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.15.15: "Mov-E Time"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.15.15: “Mov-E Time”

Hello there, crossword fans! It’s a very wet and raw start to this Monday here on the Northeast, so I’m hoping the weather is better where you are. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, is a twist on common phrases, as an anagram is used instead of the word that usually ends the phrase. The anagrams have the effect of transposing one of the “E”s inside of the last word used. Ok, I botched the explanation up, but you get what I’m saying, right?

  • CASE OF THE CREPES (17A: [Large order from a French bakery?])
  • WORLD AT ONE’S FETE (36A: [Spectacular turnout for your big party?])
  • TAKES A QUICK PEKE (57A: [Opts for a speedy toy dog from the pet store?])

Not sure too many people would fall in love with the puns made with each of the themes, so that could have taken away from the solving experience a little. I know it did for me, but definitely doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the grid overall. One thing that definitely gave my fits was the intersection of ORARE (33A: [“_____ Ben Jonson!”]) and PURL (23D: [Knitting loop]). I know ‘purl’ is a bit of crosswordese that has found it’s way into grids time and again, but it didn’t come to mind immediately. Oh, and remember what’s on the headstone of an English playwright? Ouch! That might have been down your alley, but it sure wasn’t down mine. Other than that hang-up, it was pretty straightforward of a solve, and nothing too much stood out. BIJOU was a toughie to start of, and I had to start elsewhere before coming back to that in the Northeast (1A: [Jewel of a movie theater]). Oh, and yes, while the BRONX is great, nothing compares to the borough that I live in and will love always, Brooklyn (27D: [Where Jennifer Lopez grew up]).  

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LACY (50D: [Delicate]) – After a great first couple of seasons as a professional, Green Bay Packers star Eddie LACY has established himself as one of the best running back in the NFL. After being a part of three national championship teams at the University of Alabama, Lacy was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Packers. Lacy ran for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns in his rookie year, earning him the Associated Press’ Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Last season, he ran for over 1,000 yards as well (1,139) as the Packers just missed out on making the Super Bowl, losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game in overtime.

Have a good rest of your Monday, and hope the Case of the Mondays hasn’t set in!

Take care!


Erik Agard’s American Values Club crossword, “Have a Blast!”

AV Club crossword solution, 6 10 15 "Have a Blast!"

AV Club crossword solution, 6 10 15 “Have a Blast!”

Read that title as “have a B last” and you’ve got the theme: Familiar phrases change their meanings entirely if you change the last letter to a B.

  • 19a. [“Father, meet Mr. Odenkirk”?], “DAD, BOB.” Play on dadbod, a term that has just broken out. It describes a male physique with some pudge and little overt muscling.
  • 25a. [Hydrate the rapper nicknamed the Based God?], WATER LIL B. I don’t know Lil B, but I know waterlilies.
  • 32a. [Primo real estate on the outskirts of the city?], FIRST-DEGREE BURB. Burn.
  • 49a. [Like opponents of marijuana legalization?], ANTI-HERB. Antihero.
  • 52a. [Boxing astronaut’s maneuver?], SPACE JAB. Space Jam.
  • 64a. [What you might go to a Beyoncé or Isley Brothers concert for?], THE AMAZING R AND B. The Amazing Randi. Minus .05 for the AND where we’d customarily see &.
  • 73a. [Steal pigeon meat?], JACK SQUAB. You don’t hear everyone using “you don’t know jack squat,” but I think I picked that up from Chris Farley. Tommy Boy or motivational speaker Matt Foley on SNL? 
  • 84a. [What an irate Republican congressman might shout at President Obama?], “YOU LIB!” A play on that schmuck who shouted “You lie!” at the State of the Union address.

If you take the letters that are changed to a B, they spell DYNOMITE. That is the classic ’70s TV catchphrase from Jimmie Walker on Good Times, and Good Times is the answer to this meta. Erik (this is his first puzzle as a member of the AV Club puzzle roster) could have made a 15×15 with fewer theme answers and no meta, with the title serving as the rationale for the theme. There are a lot of gems in there, which is not always the case with change-a-letter themes. Instead, Erik elevates the concept to a higher level, with DYNOMITE suggesting dynamite, which is used in blasting, so “Have a Blast!” has both the explosive and “B last” angles in it.

Six more things:

  • 1a. [Engagement party?], FENCER. Even with the question mark warning me away, I still answered FIANCE first.
  • 29a. [Bündner schist mountain], ALP. No idea what the clue means. This is a particular type of rock found in the Alps? But the German screamed ALP.
  • 82a. [Unattractive people, jocularly], UGGOS. Coincidentally, also the name for shearling waffles.
  • 4d. [Clark the ___ (pantsless MLB mascot)], CUB. Sigh. Nobody wanted this.
  • 38d. [Dark green?], BRIBE. Neat clue.
  • 66d. [Rhetorical device exemplified by the Daft Punk lyric “Let’s raise the bar/And our cups to the stars”], ZEUGMA. Ooh, nice.

Did not know: 56d. [Title character played by Jared Leto in a 2009 sci-fi film], MR. NOBODY.

Freshest fill: FOMO (fear of missing out), TARYN Manning (Pennsatucky), “I’M TALKING,” BATGIRL, MR NOBODY, “OK, I’LL BITE,” UMOJA, EDM.

4.7 stars from me. Erik, you are off to a grand start with AVCX!

Brendan Quigley’s website crossword, “Themeless Monday #32”

BEQ crossword solution, 6 15 15 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 6 15 15 “Themeless Monday”

Did the puzzle this morning and am now highly distracted. So a quick and unfocused post is in store for you.

Names pile-up in the top middle—DOUG Ellin and ANNE Washburn, not names in my head, crossing GEEK with a not-entirely-obvious clue (and I tried DEFLATED before DEFEATED there), crossing SUKARNO where I was thinking of SUHARTO. Tough for you, too?

Had not seen the marquee entry, UNFUCKWITHABLE, but I like it. Also like SHILLELAGHS, XANTHINE (know your caffeine precursors!), BREAD KNIVES, and the RIOT GEAR/FLAK SUIT combo. Oh! And ON FLEEK was totally on fleek (on point). Another constructor was asking last week if ON FLEEK with a proper name crossing the F would be fair game for an NYT submission, and Francis Heaney said he was hoping to be the first to use ON FLEEK. Brendan couldn’t let that happen, could he? (If you are mystified by the word, here’s an explainer for you.)

I liked a lot of the clues when I solved this.

Could do without NEON GAS, TEENIE, V-TEN. NENES gets a Portuguese babies clue—better than the Hawaiian geese, if you ask me.

Four stars. Brendan’s puzzle game is on fleek.

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20 Responses to Monday, June 15, 2015

  1. Mike Buckley says:

    Sorry about ULRIC: this patron saint against mice and moles (my original clue) has no place in a Monday crossword, but he turned up during construction and I didn’t have the heart (or the skill) to make him leave. That may explain why there are no rodents in the puzzle.

    • Papa John says:

      Ulric was perfect for a Monday, since it’s a stand-alone entry of that sort. I don’t know what happened to the usual chorus of “I like to learn thngs from crosswords”. Here’s the chance and in a Monday puzzle, to boot! I say don’t apologize for it.

      I thought the puzzle was of high calber for an early week offering.

      • David L says:

        I agree. Considering how many theme-related answers were packed in, I thought the grid was nicely done. ULRIC was easy to get as long you remember the U of RUNNYMEDE — and that’s a perfectly reasonable general knowledge item, IMO.

  2. ArtLvr says:

    Chuckling as I’ve been watching Prime Minister’s Questions on TV — and among the first was a request to acknowledge today’s 800th anniversary. Not that either side stuck to the agreement for long… but it was reissued by John’s son a couple of times in order to get taxes out of the barons. Opened the NYT, et voilà. Not much remains of the original in law today, but it’s a great symbol of civil rights’ assertions.

  3. PJ Ward says:

    Hayley Gold’s comic is another good one.

  4. Martin from C. says:

    NY T:

    15D [Kingston Trio hit that inspired the CharlieCard for Boston commuters] : MTA

    Originally a campaign song, “the song’s lyrics tell of Charlie, a man who boards an MTA subway car, but then cannot get off because he does not have enough money for new “exit fares”…
    Did he ever return?
    No he never returned
    And his fate is still unlearn’d
    He may ride forever
    ‘neath the streets of Boston
    He’s the man who never returned.

    The four-star Youtube video (2:31) by the Kingston Trio

  5. Papa John says:

    The PICASSA entry reminded me how far behind I am in organizing my graphic files. I use Picassa for that purpose but I wouldn’t mind using a different free program, if someone has one to recommend. Anyone?

    • pannonica says:

      What I was thinking of was something new called Google Photos, but here‘s a brief pronouncement that “Google Photos Does Not Replace Picasa”.

      And here is one guy’s take on Google Photo versus Amazon Cloud Drive. I’d be interested in seeing what kind of non-corporate-giant offerings there are. Also, I gather you’re interested in those that operate locally (i.e., on your own hard drive).

      • Papa John says:

        On my own system and free would be great but I’ve not found anything really super, so far. hence, my plea. Picassa does a good job at what it does. It may be hard to beat.

    • pannonica says:

      More at Lifehacker.

      • Papa John says:

        Thanks, panonnica. That’s an interesting site. As you guessed, I’m not willng to back-up my stuff to a cloud. I have external drives for that purpose. I simply don’t trust any corporation.

        • dr. fancypants says:

          I’d recommend doing both external drives *and* the cloud, unless you have external drives stored somewhere off-site. Otherwise you risk losing everything in a fire that destroys all your drives.

          Amazon Glacier is such a cheap storage solution that it’s practically free, as long as you’re just doing periodic uploads.

          • Papa John says:

            Thinking a chronicle of my life is worth saving, I have flash drives in a fire box, in my home, and on an external drive at my daughter’s house. By the way, this includes digital photos of my house and belongings, for insurance purposes.

  6. Jason G says:

    For the AV Puzzle, Amy wrote: “Minus .05 for the AND where we’d customarily see &.”

    You’re being ridiculous and pedantic. Congratulations on making whatever point you tried to make.

    • Bencoe says:

      I think the pettiness of dinging the puzzle “.05 stars” was the point. Frankie Says Relax!

      • Ben Tausig says:

        Amy I love it when you’re ridiculous and pedantic! (I don’t actually think you were being either of those)

      • Jason G says:


        I have a hard time reading Amy’s tone some time. On a third read (I had read it twice yesterday to make sure I was reading it right, even though I apparently wasn’t) You have my most sincere apologies, Amy, and I applaud you for your mocking of the pedantic!

        • Bencoe says:

          I get it. I sometimes miss sarcasm/irony online too even though I’m usually on the lookout for it.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Thank you for your kind wishes, Jason G! And also for elevating the tone of discourse here.

  7. Francis says:

    And of course, if you have good times, you’re having a blast, so Erik’s title is triply appropriate. I thought that was pretty impressive.

Comments are closed.