Monday, July 20, 2015

NYT 3:11 (pannonica) 
LAT 3:15 (pannonica) 
Fireball 4:06 (Amy) 
CS 8:48 (Ade) 
BEQ 5:37 (Amy) 

John Westwig’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 7/20/15 • Mon • Westwig • no 0720 • solution

NYT • 7/20/15 • Mon • Westwig • no 0720 • solution

According to this puzzle’s conceit, a MORNING PERSON37a [Early riser … or what each of 17-, 24-, 50- and 61-Across is?] — is someone whose initials are AM. Auntie Meridien is not one of them.

  • 17a. [Sony co-founder] AKIO MORITA (d. 1999).
  • 24a. [2013 Wimbledon champion] ANDY MURRAY.
  • 50a. [Longtime “Monday Night Football” sportscaster] AL MICHAELS.
  • 61a. [“Love Story” actress] ALI MACGRAW.

That’s a gender ratio of 3:1, but who’s counting? Oh, I am. For ten letters, as all four here are, options include writer ALICE MUNRO, actress AMY MADIGAN (would obviate 61a, another actress), or how about the slight modification of replacing tennis player ANDY MURRAY with (admittedly not-so-current) singer ANNE MURRAY, so as to avoid having two of the four individuals in the realm of professional sports? These are just off the top of my head, but the point is that better distribution and balance among theme answers could have been achieved.

  • Minimally distracted by full-name ED HARRIS at 10-down. There are a bunch of other named people among the fill (e.g., CLU, DE SADE, ROMERO, ELIZA, ROBINSON, FIRTH, MAYER, ENZO – note that gender ratio, by the way), but he’s the only one appearing, as the themers do, as a full name.
  • 15a [Excellent, in dated slang] PHAT. 55a [Overindulge in a brainy subject, with “out”] GEEK. Imagine that, the Times, getting with the times!
  • 8d [In bad condition] RATTY, 4d [Shattered] BROKEN, 28a [Worn out] SPENT. Jeez.
  • 33d [Rescuer of Odysseus, in myth] INO. At the center. On a Monday. Ouch. Also, as opposed to some non-mythological Odysseus?

Not-so thrilling crossword. Were I solving it in the morning rather than the night before, I’d go back to bed.

Andy Kravis’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 7/20/15 •  Mon • Kravis • solution

LAT • 7/20/15 • Mon • Kravis • solution

For this July 20th – can we get away with ordering it as julio veinte, juillet vingte, and julho vinte in Spanish, French, and Portuguese? – there is a standard-issue initial-letter phrase theme. In this instance, as per the central revealer: 38a [School’s underclass team … or, initially, what the four longest answers in this puzzle comprise] JV SQUAD (that’s junior varsity).

  • 17a. [Decision of a courtroom dozen] JURY VERDICT.
  • 22a. [Business partnership] JOINT VENTURE.
  • 48a. [Words on Monopoly’s Jail square] JUST VISITING.
  • 57a. [Vital blood vessel] JUGULAR VEIN.

Save for the V in 43a GAVE and 30d ELEVEN, those two (Scrabbly) initial letters do not appear elsewhere in the grid; it might have been worth it, aesthetically, to have eliminated that lone “infraction”. It is quite the rare-letter grid, though: Zs and Ks, an X and a Q.

Construction’s mostly clean, but has more than a few items not typical of an early-week offering. Candidates: BASRA, ARDEN, EDO, TYGER, AJA, O’GRADY. Also, too many abbrevs. and partials (SSN, USMA, ENVS, OBJ, ASK A, TIERRA, I AM, -ULA, À LA).

Observation: It would have been spiffy if I could say that Akira Kurosawa’s 1985 epic Ran {37a [Fled the scene] RAN}, based in part on Shakespeare’s King Lear {44a [Hereditary ruler] DYNAST (54d [Hereditary unit] GENE)} took place during Japan’s EDO period, but in fact it’s set in the earlier Sengoku period.

Average Monday.

Jeffrey Harris’s Fireball contest crossword, “Say What You Mean”

Fireball contest puzzle, 7 16 15 "Say What You Mean"

Fireball contest puzzle, 7 16 15 “Say What You Mean”

The assignment is to figure out this: “A Down answer that crosses one of the answers to an asterisked clue is thematically related to a six-letter word. What is that six-letter word?”

The asterisked entries are POWER CHORD, SEA STARS, SEX SELLS, and WAISTLINES. I noticed that GAMETES crosses SEX SELLS … which sounds like “sex cells,” which is what gametes are. Eyeballing the other theme entries, we find that POWER CHORD becomes “power cord” crossing CABLE, which defines it. SEA STARS becomes “see stars” crossing REEL, which defines it. And WAISTLINES becomes … “waste lines”? Is that a thing? Where’s its relevant crossing answer? There’s the awkward SUERS, which sounds like “sewers,” and “waste lines” could certainly be used to clue SEWERS if it were in a crossword. So that’s my guess for the 6-letter answer we’re looking for.

SUNDAE, which sounds like Sunday, drew my meta eye for a bit.


Any meta that I can figure out without gnashing of teeth strikes me as MGWCC Week 1-2 level. Last week’s AV Club bonus puzzle meta by Francis Heaney? Oof, I didn’t have a clue where to go on that one, so that felt Week 3-4-ish to me. Neat meta here, with the assorted sound-alike phrases paired with synonyms that crossed them. 4.3 stars from me.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 7 20 15 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 7 20 15 “Themeless Monday”

Ooh, shiny. I don’t think I’ve seen APPLEPAY in another crossword yet. (Probably it’s been in one of the many indies I haven’t been doing.) Other entries I was keen on: EL CAMINO, SHEEPLE, LUDEN’S delicious wild cherry cough drops, and “YOU GUYS.”

Did not know: 8d. [Computer programming iteration], DO LOOP. Would have preferred DOLLOP, but those 6×7 chunks aren’t easy to fill.

Five more things:

  • 1d. [First word in The Commodores hit “Brick House”], SHE’S. Here’s the song.
  • 8a. [Like the study of bridges?], DENTAL. Given the many meanings of “bridge” and the question mark, that D in my unknown DO LOOP was the last letter to fall.
  • 19a. [Dirtbags], SCUM. Ooh, mass noun. I filled in a plural S but had to remove it.
  • Not as keen on “WHEN, THEN?” and “OK, SO …”. “OH, I DUNNO” is intermediate.
  • 28d. [Name on a contract, for short], SIG. Signature. Trying to remember if we used “sig” when talking about editorial contracts back in my book publishing days. Maybe?

3.75 stars from me.


Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Double-decker Sandwiches”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.20.15: "Double-decker Sandwiches"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.20.15: “Double-decker Sandwiches”

Good day, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, gives us a reason to run into the deli for a bite to eat…or two. Each of the theme answers is a pun to its clue, and each are two-word entries in which each word is also a type of sandwich.  

  • HERO BOMBER (17A: [Highly-decorated military pilot?])
  • WEDGE CLUB (29A: [Golfer’s choice out of a trap?]) – Does this clue even need a question mark? (That’s not a knock on the clue at all!)
  • SUBMARINE SLIDER (34A: [Underhand pitcher’s breaking ball?]) – Again, does this clue really need a question mark? Well, maybe if you’re not a baseball fan.
  • CUBAN GYRO (44A: [Entrepreneur Mark’s spinning wheel invention?]) – I’ve met Mark Cuban in person a couple of times. Very nice, and unbelievably shrewd. And he left tickets for my brother and me to attend a basketball game years back.
  • REUBEN WRAP (60A: [Stole for a son of Jacob and LEah?])

Not too long ago, I believe Mike Rowe was an answer in a grid, and now I get to see what he did so well for so long, DIRTY JOB (3D: [Unglamorous assignment]). Intersecting it is the second appearance of GI JOE in a grid in the last few days (27A: [Hasbro action figure]). I would now go on about my favorite Joes from the cartoon, but I’m pretty sure I would lose at least three-quarters of my audience if I did that. Anyways, I do like the mislead and the entry of DUE NORTH (38D: [Straight up?]). Definitely wasn’t thinking that, especially when I had -UEN—-.  That was definitely an “Umm, what’s that answer going to freaking be??” turned into an “Oohhh, now I got it! Bravo!” moment. Hope you all were on the level with A LEVEL, or that could have confused a few people solving (11D: [British secondary school exam]). With the sandwich theme, I think it’s time to get some cold cuts!  Ickey Woods agrees!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BENDER (46D: [Extended carousal]) – We all hear about athletes who have fame but flame out because they have nothing to fall back on, but this isn’t it. Entering the NBA straight from Picayune Memorial High School in Mississippi, Jonathan BENDER was the fifth overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors. He was almost immediately traded to the Indiana Pacers, where it was thought that he would succeed Reggie Miller as the next Pacers star. Sadly, the 6’11” Bender never panned out as a successful NBA player, mostly due to chronic knee problems. He retired at age 25, and, during his retirement, he invented a knee brace/device that he hoped would alleviate his knee pain. The device, called the JB Intensive Trainer (JBIT), worked so well when other people tested it that he decided to make a comeback into the NBA. Bender briefly caught on with the Knicks three years after his retirement and played relatively well. Rather than stay in the NBA, Bender continued his business. Here’s the whole story, from Sports Illustrated.

Thank you for the time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


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7 Responses to Monday, July 20, 2015

  1. Matthew G. says:

    I thought the Fireball meta was kind of weak. I noticed the homophones and their related crossing words, but still had grave doubts about the meta because the homophone of WAISTLINES — WASTE LINES — is not an in-the-language phrase. I actually googled WASTE LINES and found little to suggest that it is a thing, and since POWER CORD, SEE STARS and SEX CELLS are all clearly things, I doubted that WASTE LINES could be where the theme was pointing.

  2. sbmanion says:

    With due deference to “The Giants win the pennant,” THE greatest line in the history of broadcasting was delivered by Al Michaels. I would have preferred to see an allusion to that line. How many of you do not know it? Hint: 1980.

    Fun puzzle in any event.


  3. Norm says:

    This Giants fan dissents from the above comments about 1980, but I respect your position.

  4. Gareth says:

    Enjoyed the Monday NYT, and finished in a fast Monday time of 2:36, but feel with that number of difficult entries it SHOULD have been at least a Tuesday!

Comments are closed.