Monday, August 3, 2015

NYT 3:27 (pannonica) 
LAT 2:58 (pannonica) 
CS 6:48 (Ade) 
BEQ tk (Gareth) 

David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 8/3/15 • Mon • Steinberg • no 0803 • solution

NYT • 8/3/15 • Mon • Steinberg • no 0803 • solution

No specific occasion or anniversary that I can discern for this puzzle’s theme. A mystery, then.

  • 23a. [Fictional character who “died” in 1975] HERCULE POIROT. Unclear what precisely those quotation marks are transmitting, the fact that as a fictional character he can’t really die, or that his last published appearance penned by Agatha Christie was in the 1975 novel Curtain, even though the events therein occurred circa 1950.The New York Times took the exceptional step of providing an obituary (front page, no less!) on 6 August 1975, some months before the book was released. Close enough? More likely simple coincidence.
  • 18a. [Notable 23-Across feature] MOUSTACHE.
  • 39a. [What 23-Across thinks with] LITTLE GREY CELLS.
  • 50a. [Notable 23-Across feature] EGG-SHAPED HEAD.
  • 62a. [23-Across’s occupation] DETECTIVE.

Et voilà!

  • nyt_fp_19750806A contemporary of the noted investigator appears at 21a [Mr. __ (Marquand sleuth)] MOTO.
  • Not really familiar with Poirot’s modus – was he, like Sherlock Holmes, able to infer much about people and situations from the merest APERÇU, 4d [Cursory glance]? Did he have an ASST? Would he eat a SCONE with his tea? Was he, like Nero Wolfe, one who TENDS to a garden? As a French-speaking Belgian it’s quite likely that he referred to many a young woman as MLLE, at least in epistolary matters. (30d, 68a, 71a, 29d)
  • Not happy about 14a AGAPE crossing 2d AGAZE. Matters are not helped by the appearance of 66a ATONE and 56d AMEND in analogous locations. Combined, they knocked me for A LOOP but not in a good way (7d).
  • 12d/41d [Pine (for]) ACHE, LONG. 45a/47a [Movie filming spot] SET, LOT.
  • Longdowns, 11d COCKTAILS and 33d STILETTOS; both can be either formal and classy or forlorn and trashy, depending.
  • And speaking of classy, how timely to make mention of the current GOP 2016 frontrunner? 35d [Big feature for Donald Trump or Kanye West] EGO. More editorializing in the crossword, please!

Solid puzzle, but nothing great. If I knew any of Poirot’s catchphrases—assuming he has any that weren’t mentioned as part of the theme—I’d rejigger it here, cleverly it is hoped.

Ray Hamel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 8/3/15 • Mon • Hamel • solution

LAT • 8/3/15 • Mon • Hamel • solution

Vowel-sound progression themes are pretty much a dime a dozen on Mondays. Today’s features phrases ending with D—, with the further restriction that each example is a three-letter word.

  • 17a. [Thanksgiving, casually] TURKEY DAY.
  • 21a. [Actress/activist who was Ossie Davis’ life partner] RUBY DEE.
  • 38a. [Crooked craps cube] LOADED DIE.
  • 60a. [Anonymous man] JOHN DOE.
  • 65a. [“Where Are You!” toon pooch] SCOOBY-DOO.

There you have it.

Midlength vertical stacks in all four corners: GATTACA/EQUINOX/TURBINE, GOODIES/AL DENTE/SLEEKER, SUBJECT/ONE OVER/ROTH IRA, INFIDEL/CARTONS/EPISODE. Very high quality stuff there. SENEGAL, running down in the center, visually stitches them closer.

  • 35a [When repeated, a former breath freshener] SEN. Sen-Sens were indeed discontinued, 2013. But their heyday was the 1930s and 1940s – they trucked in nostalgia. I’d definitely have preferred a run-of-the-mill ‘senator’ abbreviation (and found another way to clue 44d ROTH IRA). It is a Monday after all. Choward’s violet still going strong!
  • Ancillary not-quite theme bits: 40d [See socially] DATE, 70a [Quattro automaker] AUDI, 41d [Salon colorings] DYES, and reversed for the last two, 19a [“Humble” home] ABODE/67d [Poetic tribute] ODE, 11d [Halloween treats] GOODIES (even more of a stretch: /ʊ/ vs /u/).

Good Monday.

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Back Against the Wall”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.03.15: "Back Against the Wall"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.03.15: “Back Against the Wall”

Good morning, crossword lovers! Hope the weekend went very, very well for you. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, involves four theme answers and puns in which the last word in each can also come before the word “wall.” All of the puns are plays off of celebrities of the past and present.

  • TRACK WHITE (17A: [Follow television host Vanna?]) – Who still has whitewall on their tires? Come on, you can own up to it!
  • STROKE GLASS (30A: [Flatter radio personality Ira?])
  • GROUND STONE (48A: [Punish actress Sharon?])
  • STOP BERLIN (66A: [Block composer Irving?])

I can’t say that I’m familiar with anything that POCO has done musically (14A: [Country rock band formed in the late ’60s]). They’re probably one of those groups that I’m not familiar with, but have probably heard their music somewhere and didn’t realize it was them. Apparently, they’re still active as a music group. Although not great fill, at least I got to learn another Hungarian city, with EGER (47A: [Hungarian castle city]). Our constructor probably had some Asian cuisine before constructing this grid, especially since there’s the presence of UDON (16A: [Japanese noodle) and DIM SUM in the grid (49D: [Chinese restaurant order]). I’m so picky with my food that I have not had dim sum ever in my life, because I’m always wary of the filling inside of the dumplings, especially if it’s seafood (which I don’t eat). I know, I’m missing out on living life to the fullest! I wish I could live the ultimate epicurean life, but, alas, I’m far from it. 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SNAKE (20A: [Python or anaconda]) – Sad news from the NFL last month, as former Oakland Raiders quarterback Kenny “SNAKE” Stabler passed away from complications due to Stage 4 colon cancer at the age of 69. Stabler was the quarterback for some great Oakland Raiders teams of the 1970s and finished with a career record of 96-49-1. Snake won the NFL MVP in 1974 and was the QB who helped lead the Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI. With the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies occurring this weekend, I definitely want to lobby for Stabler, as he should be in the Hall of the game’s best ever players.

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

Take care!


BEQ’s Website puzzle: #768: Themeless Monday – Gareth’s review

#768: Themeless Monday

#768: Themeless Monday

Hi. This is Gareth filling in for Amy, who is on maternity leave still, after the successful arrival of her new bouncing, baby kidney.

I started today at 1D with BAniSTER which was wrong, but right enough to have me off to the races. It seems a BALUSTER and a BANISTER are basically the same thing though.

I suspect that BOJACK/HORSEMAN was the actual marquee phrase today, and will please all those who have heard of it, and mystify those like me who haven’t. The longest pair are the crossing central 15’s, both spoken phrases: HERESTHEPROBLEM and READYWHENYOUARE. Outside of these, there’s not all that much going on. JOLTCOLA shares its J with BOJACK; I considered bOLTCOLA, but BOBACK sounded off…

In the clue what you know file: [Try to get things your way (if you’re a three year old)], CRY but hopefully not [___ dysfunction], ERECTILE.

[Bit of the “Hey Jude” outro], NANANA – the rest being “hey, hey, hey / kiss him goodbye”.

Least interesting difficult answer: [City and county seat in southwest Missouri], NEOSHO. Anyone slap this baby down with no crossings?

3.25 Stars

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12 Responses to Monday, August 3, 2015

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: I love Hercule Poirot! I think the puzzle is commemoratimg the 40th anniversary of his death, non? He was such a great contrast to Miss Marple, but they of course have traits in common… Being observant, having hypotheses about human nature, and strongly believing in a combination of insight and deduction.
    So, many points for the theme. Fewer points for some of the fill. APERÇU next to DAKAR, with AGAPE and AGAZE on a Monday… that NW needed some reconsideration…

    • Huda says:

      I meant to add that I loved this sentence, describing cocktails and stilettos –“either formal and classy or forlorn and trashy, depending.” It can also be hip and sexy…

  2. ArtLvr says:

    Poirot’s sidekick was Captain Hastings, as I recall — a friend to whom he could explain the working of his little gray cells.

  3. lemonade714 says:

    Poirot is one of the most widely read and respected fictional characters, the NYT obituary evidences his media importance. He was introduced as a retired policeman growing marrows after the war. He also has been very ably presented by David Suchet in television plays. He has no ‘catch phrases.’ Thank you David Steinberg

  4. pannonica says:

    CS: There’s an additional element to the themers: the first parts can follow “back”.

    • David L says:

      I was wondering what was going on there. I saw the “wall” thing — although is “glass wall” really a thing? — but I couldn’t make sense of the rest of the theme answers.

      But I’m still puzzled about one thing — are the theme answers themselves supposed to make sense in some way, except as bizarre phrases? Ade describes them as puns, but their punnishness eludes me (as punnishness often does, I have to confess).

      • pannonica says:

        No puns that I can discern. Just two words together, fitting between back and wall. Rock and a hard place, anyone?

  5. PJ Ward says:

    A pleasant Monday. CS – Poco has always reminded me of The Eagles. I think there may have been some cross pollination. I recall listening to their “Rose of Cimarron” album a few times.

    I enjoyed watching Kenny Stabler with the Raiders. His lasting fame, however, was secured with a 53 yard “Run in the Mud” in Alabama’s 7-3 win over Auburn in 1967. Here’s an awful video of the play complete with commentary from the Coach. I could watch that all night, too.

  6. Gareth says:

    NYT: LITTLEGREYCELLS is a perfect central 15! Possibly the fastest I’ve ever solved a puzzle electronically – 2:14 – despite faffing for the first bit in another window. I stopped recording my times a while back so not sure. Was a tad sceptical of EGGSHAPEDHEAD as a specific phrase, though it seems to have been a canon descriptor, so fair enough, though I don’t recall it.

  7. JohnV says:

    BEQ. Not loving the NW at all.

  8. sandirhodes says:

    LAT: You know, I have never equated TRASH with garbage. I admit I’ve never looked it up, but I was always taught that garbage is food refuse, residue and the like (possibly with a distinct odor, which may change over time), while trash is the container — paper wrapping, envelopes, etc. (ie, it will never smell ‘bad’ under normal circumstances). Most trash is recyclable. Most garbage isn’t. And I spent 26 years in the restaurant industry.

    Just a couple of cents worth of rant, right or wrong.

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