Monday, June 22, 2015

NYT 3:44 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:25 (pannonica) 
CS 8:12 (Ade) 
BEQ 6:01 (Amy) 
Fireball 5:58 crossword, < 5 minutes, meta (Amy) 

Alan Arbesfeld’s Fireball crossword, “Off With Their Heads!”

Fireball crossword solution,  6 18 15 "Off With Their Heads!"

Fireball crossword solution, 6 18 15 “Off With Their Heads!”

The theme answers are all made-up two-word phrases with two letters in brackets at the end of their clues. Add those letters to the head of the answer words and you get a famous name:

  • 14a. Sick girl? [BB], ILL LASS. Add the B’s and get Bill Blass, fashion designer.
  • 18a. Trendier-than-thou types? [CJ], HIPPER ONES. Chipper Jones, some sort of athlete. Baseball?
  • 62a. Certain motorcycle trip? [CP], HARLEY RIDE. Charley Pride, country singer. Excellent find, this answer pairing.
  • 68a. Pub delivery vehicles? [DE], ALE VANS. Dale Evans, singer and costar on The Roy Rogers Show.
  • 11d. Foul-smelling body part? [FM], RANK ORGAN. Frank Morgan, movie actor from 1916 (!!) to 1950. I was thinking of M*A*S*H, but that was actor Harry Morgan and character (played by someone else) Frank Burns mixed up in my head.
  • 19d. “Mwahahaha” of a Bond villain? [ES], NO’S LAUGHTER. Enos Slaughter, old baseball legend.
  • 23d. Collide with a pothead? [BS], RAM TOKER. Bram Stoker, Dracula author.
  • 25d. Dearth of fuzzy stuff? [CB], LINT LACK. Clint Black, country singer.
  • 40d. Person who’s really into exposing closeted gays? [DS], AVID OUTER. Ha! David Souter of the Supremes.

The contest challenge was to find another answer that, with two letters added, could form another theme answer. So I started looking at plausible two-word answers and testing them out. ANT TRAPS, um, there’s nobody named Pant Straps. I’LL LIVE, Jill Olive? No. ALL EARS, Pall Bears? No, no, no. Finally turned to a shorter one, I’M HOME, and thank goodness I’ve heard of baseball’s Jim Thome, because Thome isn’t a common surname at all and this would have been tough to crack without having heard of him. There’s your answer.

The puzzle would have worked with fewer than nine (!) theme answers and a regular 15×15 grid, no? But I liked all the theme answers—even the unfamiliar Frank Morgan was salvaged by the goofiness of his RANK ORGAN. And HARLEY RIDE is just terrific.

Solid fill throughout, nothing to scowl at.

4.5 stars from me.

Joel Fagliano’s New York Times puzzle — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 6/22/15 • Mon • Fagliano • no 0622 • solution

NYT • 6/22/15 • Mon • Fagliano • no 0622 • solution

Each of the six theme answers are clued with the introduction “Good Twitter handle for a …”  As all accounts at that internet social network by convention (and technology) are required to begin with the ‘at symbol’ (@), the corresponding answers each begin with the prefix at- joined to a root word that’s appropriate to the clue’s object.

Here, the prefix is a euphonic form of ad-, meaning ‘near, at’ or ‘toward, to, tendency, addition’. The at- version is most commonly (exclusively?) encountered when the root begins with the letter t, but there are many others: a-, ac-, af-, ag-, al-, ap-, ar-, and as-.

  • 17a. [Good Twitter handle for a seductress?] ATTEMPTING. Unnecessarily gendered clue.
  • 21a. [ … for a teacher?] ATTESTING.
  • 37a. [ … for a musician?] ATTUNES. Had ATTONES (don’t say it!), as well as JEST for JOSH at the nearby 31a [Kid around]. These errors added significantly to my solve time.
  • 39a. [ … for a sleepyhead?] ATTIRED.
  • 53a. [ … for a eulogist?] ATTRIBUTE.
  • 59a. [ … for a tire company?] ATTRACTION.

The hypothetical twittered ontogenies of all five of the six words (see comments, below) replicate their actual phylogenies. How ’bout that?

All of the theme entries are on the short side, with the two sevens in the eight row the runts. As compensation, the downs include the lengthy specimens CATACLYSM, STATE FAIRS, YOGI BERRA, STAND TALL, SHUTTERFLY, and TAXIDERMY. I’m not thrilled with the clues for those last two.

The first is [Internet photo company named after an insect]. Really? Which insect is that? The name is inspired by that of an insect, is a pun based on said insect, but is not named after it. In case it isn’t clear, we’re talking butterfly here, with a dash of the old-timey term for a camera hobbyist, shutterbug, mixed in. Technically, I suppose named after could be considered expansive enough to include inspired by, but in this case it falls on the wrong side of my >ahem< pedantry razor. So there. For the other, the clue is [Professional stuff?]. Look, I’m all for early-week crosswords stretching out, being a bit looser and more playful, but this is a bridge too far.

Oh, and I don’t want to neglect mentioning the duplication in the clue for 26a [Fly catcher] WEB.

Other loosened clues are 49a [They go in and out and in and out] for TIDES, 58a [It falls in the fall] LEAF. We also see the double-duty [Kind of clef] for 53d ALTO and 55d BASS, plus the cluechos of 57d [Mosquito bite annoyance] ITCH and 50a [Sound of a mosquito being fried] ZAP, plus SMELT and SLAG, whose clues both invoke refining (27a, 13d).

A puzzle with a lot of ups and downs, ending up around the average mark.

Roger Wienberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 6/22/15 • Mon • Wienberg • solution

LAT • 6/22/15 • Mon • Wienberg • solution

A Monday-typical word-X-precedes-the-first-part-of-phrases theme. Today’s offering is CRAB, via 68-across [Nebula named for a crustacean, which can precede the starts of 17-, 25-, 39-, 51- and 64-Across].

  • 17a. [Rural political bloc] GRASS ROOTS. Doesn’t that just imply a bottom-up organizational approach, centered around “ordinary people”? Nothing to do with rural (or suburban) locales, but more a salt-of-the-earth metaphor?
  • 25a. [Crate-moving equipment] FORKLIFT.
  • 39a. [Bone-breaking combo, in a playground rhyme] STICKS AND STONES.
  • 51a. [Slow-cooked entrée] POT ROAST.
  • 64a. [Retail outlet with a tech support area called the “Genius Bar”] APPLE STORE.

Obligatory image of the Crab Nebula.(M1, NGC 1952, Taurus A). This one comes not from Hubble, Spitzer, or Compton, but from Chandra, which is calibrated to x-rays.

Crabgrass, crab fork, crab stick, crab pot, crab apple. Two botanical items, two implements used in the preparation and consumption of crabs—one I’ve never heard of (but is easily inferrable, and also essentially synonymous with both shrimp fork and lobster pick). and one shape of imitation crab meat. Not the most varied grouping, and frankly a rather dubious one. In my opinion, crab meat, crab cake, and crab claw would all be preferable to crab stick. Greater variety would have been achieved if a couple of these had been used as inspiration instead: crabwise, crab walk, crab louse, crab spider.

  • Oof! 7d [ __ on a tangent] GO OFF, 33a [Silly error] GOOF, 12a [Emotionally distant] ALOOF.
  • 21a [Opponents] FOES, 36a [Other side, in war] ENEMY, 61d [Civil War fighters] REBS, 48a [Double-__: traitor] CROSSER. Feels relentless.
  • Mis-fills: 10a [“Get lost!”] SHOO before SCAT,  to be recalled when the same clue appeared for 57a SHOO. 27d [Clean with a rag] WIPE ere DUST.
  • Check out the tenth column: 9d [Stand up (for oneself] ASSERT, and 42d [Shrill] STRIDENT (though the latter doesn’t necessarily have that quality; it’s just one sense).
  • 47d [World’s largest desert] SAHARA. Sorry, but that’s simply WRONG. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The world’s largest desert is Antarctica. I’ve made this correction before, but a search of this site’s archives proved fruitless. Must have been in some other venue. See also 16d [Global extremity] POLE.

Good fill, workmanlike early-week cluing (no positive standouts), unsatisfying theme, two seemingly major cluing errors. Felt kind of sloppy and disappointing.

19a [Shortly, to Shakespeare] ANON.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 6 22 15 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 6 22 15 “Themeless Monday”

Five minutes’ write! It’s like Orwell’s Two Minutes Hate, only not hateful.

Loves: THROW SHADE (as exemplified by Michelle Obama here), “YOU CHEATED!,” “INTRIGUING!” clued as a spoken thing, DOLLAR MENU, SHANDIES (I thought those were mostly beer with juice, not with soda?).

New to me: GUYBRATOR. Finally finished the season of black•ish this week—in one episode, Junior finally grasps portmanteau words (starting with gaydar). Didn’t know HOUSER either.

Loathes: IT’S I; flat SEGO, SLO, FARO

Time for lunch! Four stars from me.

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Timber Tenants”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.22.15: "Timber Tenants"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.22.15: “Timber Tenants”

Hello there, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well to start the week. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to all of us by Mr. Patrick Jordan, barks up three threes, and we have to answer for famous, fictional and animated characters that happen to live inside of trees.

  • WINNIE THE POOH (20A: [Kiddie lit character who lives inside a tree])
  • CHIP AND DALE (46A: [Disney character who lives inside a tree)
  • THE KEEBLER ELVES (59A: [Commercial characters who live inside a tree]) – We don’t se the elves too much in advertisements anymore, at least on television. I guess enough people are now creeped out by them! Also, do we see too many commercials these days featuring animated characters, not including trailers for animated movies?

Had a slow start to the grid, but there was nothing really in the grid that did FAZE me overall during the solve (1A: [Unnerve]). Guess it was just a case of the Mondays and my mind just taking a while to warm up, I guess. Here’s a perfect example: initially, I had BOB instead of NOD (21D: [Bobblehead’s action]), not noticing that ‘bob’ couldn’t really work, given the wording of the clue. Oh, and then BOB ended up being an answer later on in a different clue (60D: [Cut short, as a horse’s tail]). Being such a Futurama fan, Bender definitely has to rank right up there as one of my favorite ROBOT characters (45A: [Bender of “Futurama,” for one]). Sorry to those who are fans of The Jetsons, but Bender definitely ranks higher than Rosie in terms of robot coolness! HOT ITEM was nice fill (5D: [Briskly selling product]), and so was MISBEHAVES, something that Bender the Robot does pretty frequently (32D: [Acts up])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: WORM (35A: [Mole’s prey]) – Because of his penchant for getting under opposing players’ skin while on the basketball court, as well as being such a great rebounder for someone who wasn’t the typical height of a great rebounder, NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman earned the nickname “The WORM.” Rodman won seven NBA rebounding titles, was twice named NBA Defensive Player of the Year and won five NBA championships during his career.

Have a great day, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


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33 Responses to Monday, June 22, 2015

  1. Gary R says:


    Had not really thought of the AT- as a prefix in the theme answers. After some consideration, I can see it for all except ATTIRED. What’s the root there, or is this one an exception?

    • pannonica says:

      origin of ATTIRE

      Middle English, from Anglo-French atirer to equip, prepare, attire, from a- (from Latin ad-) + tire order, rank, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English tīr glory, ornament
      First Known Use: 14th century

      • pannonica says:

        addendum: Yes, now I see what you meant. My brain must have been on hiatus (twice!). That’s a different sense of tired, with a different etymology.

      • ArtLvr says:

        Middle English indeed! Shakespeare’s recognition of the importance of costume in his theatre is a feature of his plays… The tireman, or wardrobe-master, was a powerful and important member of the Chamberlain’s Men, a craftsman as well as an administrator. He had to be on his toes, not a sleepyhead.

  2. huda says:

    Good! a new tool for sharpening thoughts: The Pedantry Razor joins Occam’s Razor.
    Speaking of which, I was bothered by the lack of consistency in the theme, with some entries being verbs in various forms or nouns. I understand they need to fit the space, but I found it distracting.

    But on a more positive note, I thought the concept was very clever, and I also liked the long answers…

  3. pauer says:

    From a construction point-of-view, JF’s NYT puz is very finely wrought. Fresh theme, only 74 words (!), fun cluing connections, and some Scrabbly letters thrown in to help avoid the ESTER-ish corners that plaque Xworld.

  4. Eliza says:

    I loved the NYT. Once-in-a-lifetime theme, I hope, but easy enough for a Monday beginner, and smart enough for the rest of us to at least crack a smile.

    Several theme answers, some great downs, I think this one of the best Mondays in ages.

    Quote from P: “Here, the prefix is a euphonic form of ad-, meaning ‘near, at’ or ‘toward, to, tendency, addition’. The at- version is most commonly (exclusively?) encountered when the root begins with the letter t, but there are many others: a-, ac-, af-, ag-, al-, ap-, ar-, and as-.”

    I could have died happy w/o knowing any of that.

    Above-average Monday puzzle.

    • huda says:

      Eliza, I actually enjoyed learning that information. I understand this is a matter of taste, but I think it was a cool thing to include in the commentary. I figure those of us who do puzzles must like words, and this puzzle in particular is a play on words, so thinking a bit more deeply about the nature of the trick seems apt.
      Pannonica has a distinctive style, as does each member of Team Fiend. I think the different voices make the blog interesting.
      I’m a scientist and I’m fascinated by how different minds work in addressing any issue, and how people go after a question in very different ways– some people dig deep, deeper and deepest. Others want to look at interconnections, some believe in going off on tangents as a source of creativity. Same here in the reviews…I feel that if we see it as the way people’s minds work rather than a way to impress or confuse, then it’s a lot of fun.
      Just offering this as a different point of view…

      • pannonica says:

        “some people dig deep, deeper and deepest. Others want to look at interconnections, some believe in going off on tangents as a source of creativity”

        Nicely put, Huda. I’d modify it by observing that pretty much all of the write-ups (and reviewers) encompass all of those approaches, but in varying proportions, and those profiles in turn limn each contributor’s style. As you suggest, the comments also reflect these concerns, but by their generally abbreviated nature they each tend to be dominated by a particular flavor, a top-note if you will.

  5. Martin from C. says:

    Let’s see – Spanish, Russian, and both American Indian and Indian subcontinent words.
    Every letter except “V” used.

  6. Tracy B says:

    I like pannonica’s critiques. I get not only an opinion I respect but linguistic information I can appreciate and use. If the pedantry razor is wrong, I don’t wanna be right!

  7. e.a. says:

    40d. Person who’s really into exposing closeted gays? [DS], AVID OUTER. Ha!

    didn’t really see the humor there, myself.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I like the discovery of the hidden words in David Souter’s name (with vowel changes in both headless words).

      Thank you for pointing out, though, that outing people is generally a gauche violation of their privacy. (Many of us make exceptions for outing hypocrites who publicly espouse homophobia and oppose LGBT equality while being secretly gay.) Coming out is difficult and fraught enough as it is, and I respect the right of people to decide when to come out, and to whom.

  8. Matt says:

    Didn’t know the FB contest guy, so I was stuck. The only thing I could think of was
    ONO-> Don Ho, and I knew that couldn’t be right.

  9. Papa John says:

    pannonica — “…two implements used in the preparation and consumption of crabs…”

    Although I suppose any pot used to steam crabs could be called a crab pot, I think it more generally refers to the wicker traps used to catch crabs.

    • pannonica says:

      So it is. I’ve encountered lobster pots but never the entirely reasonable analogue for its close relative.

      Incidentally, I’d intended to include in the write-up an image of the highly specialized teeth of the so-called crabeater seal, Lobodon carcinophagus. While it feeds on crustaceans, they are of the miniature variety—krill—and the unusual structures are effective in filtering the little creatures from expelled water. Essentially the same as baleen in some whale species. Oh, and just for concatenated fun, be aware that krill themselves are also filter-feeders.

  10. AV says:

    I am a Thursday guy – love the gnarly, cryptic kind of puzzles. (e.g., Sunday on Corporate Ladders was brilliant).

    But, loved this Monday – those stacked SHUTTERFLY-STANDSTALL + STATEFAIRS-YOGIBERRA running through 2 theme entries, and the TAXIDERMY-CATACLYSM running through THREE theme entries!! Amazing construction. Brilliant 5-stars just for that … and loved the simple theme.

  11. Papa John says:

    Really good Monday NYT!

    Having done a bit of TAXIDERMY for a few years, “Professional stuff” hit home and was right on the money, although the more correct term now is “mount”, as in mount the skin on a form. Nonetheless, I’m prepared to cross this particular bridge and see the humor in the clue.

    • pannonica says:

      I’m fairly conversant with the history and techniques of taxidermy. Aside from the mounting/forms aspect that you mention, what I didn’t care for in the clue was the punning on ‘stuff’.

      What’s the part of speech in the clue? Since the answer is TAXIDERMY, it seems inarguably a noun rather than a verb. Of the many—if not particularly varied—senses of the noun stuff I have trouble envisioning one that’s equivalent to stuffing [material]. So while I am fond of puns, I’m only impressed by those that actually have solid underpinnings. This one is simply misshapenly grotesque. And I can assure you that there are plenty of examples of bad taxidermy out there.

  12. Gareth says:

    It really all depends on how one defines “desert”.

  13. Martin says:


    Re: “Shutterfly” being named after “butterfly.”

    A reasonable definition of “name after” is “give someone or something the same name or a derivation of the same name as another person, place, or thing.”

    You’re declaration that “derivation” shouldn’t be there means that “Pepsi is named after the digestive enzyme pepsin” or “Truckasaurus on the Simpsons is named after a dinosaur” are improper. That’s a bridge too far for me, I’m afraid.

    • Martin from C. says:


      Two aspects of the situation that make the clue less attractive to me —
      1. I’ve been told that is the official reference for the NY Times puzzles. Its definition for “named after” doesn’t leave much wiggle room:
      name after
      Also, name for. Give someone or something the name of another person or place. For example, They named the baby after his grandfather, or The mountain was named for President McKinley.
      2. It is a Monday puzzle.

      • Martin says: is a secondary source, so would not be used as a reference by the Times. Will Shortz uses the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd Edition (RHUD) as his prime dictionary reference.

        The RHUD does not have an entry for “name after” or name “for.”

        To my ear, “the dahlia is named after Swedish botanist Anders Dahl” isn’t too dense for a Monday. “The name dahlia was inspired by Swedish botanist Anders Dahl” sounds like it needs an editor. Did he have the inspiration? Does he look like one? Did he once perform a dahlia-like feat that he was famous for? Sorry.

        • pannonica says:

          Here’s my reasoning. While I don’t dispute that “named after” may imply “inspired by” or “based on”, my issue is that Shutterfly is only in part named after “butterfly”. As a portmanteau it is at least equally inspired by “shutter” and, by punning extension, “shutterbug”. Would you assert that Shutterfly is named after a bit of camera technology? Would a crossword clue in that vein pass muster with you?

          Your example of dahlia is an example where there is only one eponymous source. That’s a mitigating circumstance which I feel explains the discrepancy in our opinions here.

          A further example: would you say it’s sufficient to say that the Epstein-Barr virus is named after Michael Anthony Epstein, completely ignoring Yvonne Barr? Or would it be more accurate to indicate that it’s only in part named after Dr Epstein?

          • Martin says:

            I’d say it’s named after Michael Epstein and Yvonne Barr.

          • pannonica says:

            In other words, it’s insufficient to say it’s named after Michael Epstein? I’m finding that response to be insufficient, or at least incomplete. Would you care to elaborate or expand?

        • Martin from C. says:

          Thank you for updating me as to reference sources, Martin.

  14. Martin from C. says:


    LA Times : Re GRASS ROOTS for [Rural political bloc]. I think the meaning you prefer is more prevalent nowadays, but has a meaning for GRASS ROOTS that agrees with the clue. It is #3 below::

    “2. the agricultural and rural areas of a country.
    3. the people inhabiting these areas, especially as a political, social, or economic group.”

    • pannonica says:

      The various sources I checked prior to making that observation in the write-up neglected to include that sense (which may in fact be the origin). After more searching I see a few that indicate it. However, to invoke your argument to another Martin regarding named after—”2. It’s a Monday puzzle.” I’ll further add that “1. It’s a theme entry. The first theme entry.”

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