NYT 3:35 (pannonica)
LAT 2:49 (pannonica)
CS 8:28 (Ade)
BEQ 6:23 (Amy)
Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Pervasive as it is, I’m loath to look kindly on a theme based on a commercial venture such as facebook. Among regular clues and in small doses, no problem. Similarly I wouldn’t care for a theme centered on say, Apple or Coca-Cola or Nike.
Nevertheless, here it is. 62a [What the first words in 17-, 29- and 48-Across are] FACEBOOK BUTTONS. I went with … ACTIONS first, and that cost me some solve seconds.
- 17a. [As close as close can be] LIKE WHITE ON RICE. Not a fan of this expression. Further, white is the color in rice, after milling and polishing. Husk, bran, and germ removed.
- 29a. [“How’s it going?,” in Paris] COMMENT ÇA VA.
- 48a. [Stock quotes] SHARE PRICES. Yawn.
Technical point: that trio of options appears under status updates in facebook, but they are represented not as buttons so much as clickable text. I maintain that “actions” would be a more suitable phrasing.
Auxiliary entries: 20a [Log-in info] USER ID, 52a [140-character messages] TWEETS, 66a [Instagram posting] PHOTO.
Long downs: LAKE GENEVA, ALMOND ROCA. Nice.
38d [“American Progress” muralist] SERT. That’s going to scare off some tyro solvers, I should think.
Not thrilled, aesthetically, with both ETD and STD in the same grid.
Odd trivia: 51a [Rapper with a Harvard hip-hop fellowship named in his honor] NAS.
Okay puzzle, perhaps too many abbrevs. and a soupçon too much French in it, but still Monday-appropriate. I just can’t get excited about this one.
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
To start the week, we receive these OPENING WORDS, [Introductory remarks … and, in a different sense, what the ends of 20-, 35- and 42-Across are] (59a).
- 20a. [Place for a brewski] WATERING HOLE.
- 35a. [No longer valid] NULL AND VOID.
- 42a. [Imbalance of income distribution] ECONOMIC GAP.
Solid, simple theme, if a tad dry.
- Relative crosswordese: ELKO, ELHI, UVEA, ALOU, ETS.
- Longest non-theme entries are a quartet of downs: AIRGUNS, ONE PAGE [Recommended résumé length] (do not see also 31d [Walgreens rival] CVS), TAIL END, JUJITSU. The last, also rendered as jujutsu, translates approximately as “gentle art”.
- 25a [Scientist Wernher __ Braun] VON. See also 55a [Launched capsule] ROCKET.
- 16a [Main blood vessel] AORTA. 67a [Ore layer] VEIN.
- 14a [Home plate crossings] RUNS, 50d [Crosses home plate] SCORES.
- Really having trouble finding aspects to write about. Can you tell?
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Four Vacation Postcards”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, crossword fans! It’s the summer, and I’m sure a lot of people, myself included, have some vacation time that they might use during this time of year. (Maybe you’ll use it to attend Lollapuzzoola 8 in New York City in a few weeks?!) Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, offers us four different lines vacationers might use on a postcard to you while they’re having the time of their lives!
- WEATHER IS SUPERB (17A: [First vacation postcard message])
- HAVING A GOOD TIME (27A: [Second vacation postcard message])
- EXTENDED OUR STAY (45A: [Third vacation postcard message])
- WISH YOU WERE HERE (61A: [Final vacation postcard message])
No matter how many times I come across ACHT in a grid, I seem to always put in an O instead of an A at the initial time of entering it in (14A: [German “eight”]). Ach! So just in case you were barely managing today, the grid reminded you twice of it, with EKES (22A: [____ by (barely manages)]) and MADE DO (40D: [Barely managed]). Good thing I did the crossings to NAVE and never came across its clue, or I definitely would have put in ‘apse’ without really thinking (15A: [Church area]). Oh, and I initially, just for a split second, thought that the ZOOT being referenced might be the person the zoot suit is named after (69A: [Sax legend Sims]). I’m a pretty big jazz fan, but I have to familiarize myself on his music. It’s definitely going to be hot where I am, so, wherever you are, make sure you have an ICEE or something to cool you down (2D: [Popular frozen drink]). Good way to start a week of crosswords, even if you wish you were on vacation as this moment.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SHAQ (3D: [NBA nickname until 2011]) – Shaquille O’Neal, or SHAQ, appears in so many crossword puzzles that it’s hard to use him in this space for fear of overuse. But just know that the 15-time NBA All-Star and 4-time NBA Champion center who is 7-foot-1 went by many nicknames, and most included the word “big,” like “Big Aristotle”, “Big Daddy”, and the “Big Cactus” (for his time spent with the Phoenix Suns). If he were to know about his nickname being so prevalent in grids, should we also bestow upon him the nickname of “The Big Crossword Puzzle?”
See you all tomorrow, and thank you for your time!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Two completely unfamiliar entries for me:
- 15a. [YouTube celebrity né Felix Kjellberg], PEWDIE PIE. My son knows the name, has seen the videos. Gaming.
- 49a. [Google-like supercompany on TV’s “Silicon Valley”], HOOLI. Haven’t watched it. Too dudely.
- 26a. [Potential union break, in today’s headlines], GREXIT. An exit from the Euro Zone by Greece, that’s what it means?
- WEAKSAUCE is years old now. I like it.
- OPEN-ENDER? Is that really a thing? Never seen that term before.
Wasn’t loving the clues as much as usual. I’d give more detail, but it’s 5 pm and I have work to do yet. 3.5 stars from me.
I do not know what a perfect not overly long clue for LIKE WHITE ON RICE would be, but I am not crazy about this one. I see the expression as meaning sticking closely to someone because you do not want to miss out on whatever that person has that you want. When I heard that my friend had an extra ticket to the game, I stuck to him like white on rice. AS CLOSE AS CLOSE CAN BE communicates the substance of how you are sticking to the other person, but not the motivation. The expression, for example, in the sentence that follows means “as close as close can be,” but is not a correct usage for the idiom: the rooms in the dorm were so close together it was like white on rice. On balance, “sticking” in some sense should be part of the clue.
I tried LIKE PEAS IN A POD at first, seems closer to the meaning of the clue. Then I tried to shoehorn “Comment allez-vous?” (or “…vas-tu?”) for the second theme entry, so I had a slow start to this one.
The expression “like white on rice” is one of those American idioms that remains quite mysterious to me, on top of which I’ve always had a vague fear that perhaps there was something unpleasantly racist in its origin. I guess not, though.
Steve, thanks for your explanation of CASHES IN on Saturday. I was busy the rest of the weekend and didn’t have time to respond. It strikes me as a use of the phrase that is highly specific to a particular context, without anything in the clue to point to that context. And since the world of IPOs is something else that is mysterious to me, it’s not a meaning that would ever have occurred to me.
Generally a clue can be appropriate even if not all its meanings are conveyed by the answer in the puzzle. That’s how we get the challenging ambiguity that so many puzzlers hold dear. In this case, “As close as close can be” is fine as a clue for LIKE WHITE ON RICE, even though the answer doesn’t work for every single meaning of the clue. I don’t think that’s too much ambiguity, even for a Monday.
I was conflicted about this puzzle. I didn’t care for the theme, but though I knew the French would be disliked by some solvers, I’m always happy to have a little in a puzzle. Maybe with the tough-for-Monday theme answer COMMENT ÇA VA, VOILA should have been avoided in the same puzzle.
In Wisconsin, yes, there is a Lake Geneva. In Switzerland the lake is actually Lac Léman, but sometimes is called Lac de Génève near the French border.
NYT: I enjoyed the theme in spite of its Facebook-centered nature that pannonica (rightly) raises. I don’t even do Facebook, but it’s such a social phenomenon, it seems somehow different than just a brand name. And the addition of USER ID, Instagram PHOTO and TWEET adds to the feel. It’s as if it’s meant to attract young people to crosswords.
LIKE WHITE ON RICE is a wonderful entry, the best in the puzzle. But I’m totally with Steve about the clue, and like Evad I entered “LIKE two peas in a pod”. Steve put his finger on what’s missing, exactly. And like Artlvr I hesitated about LAKE GENEVA but the French association got me over the hump. And yeah, BUTTON is an issue.
Too much crosswordese, but ALMOND ROCA is great!
I meant to add that SERT could be updated… To maybe “Target of Prozac” –SERT being the abbreviation for Serotonin Transporter. It may not be common knowledge, but given the number of people who use drugs that target SERT (all the so-called SSRIs) more solvers might care and might remember it than a relatively unknown muralist.
I fully understand that all the bloggers here are volunteers, and I greatly appreciate that. But I must ask, where are the posts for the BEQ? Missing last Thursday’s as well as today’s.
Repeat, this is only a question, not a criticism.
Volunteers who all have busy lives and occasionally forget our optional obligations.
I think when people talk about adding an option to Facebook or similar sites, they talk about about adding a “button” even if the link appears on the site simply as text and not as a raised button (which would probably be simple to program), so the NYT did not bother me in that respect.
Thought the CS/Washington Post was boring to the extreme — even allowing for Monday-dom.
In the NYT I enjoyed the entry LIKE WHITE ON RICE. I heard that phrase a lot as a kid but don’t hear it much any more. While searching I found the famous Muhammad Ali poem (float like a butterfly …) that includes the phrase:
The overall theme and Facebook tie-in was fine but just not my cup of tea. I was also slowed down by the French but I didn’t mind since I’m no speed solver. :-)