Monday, September 21, 2015

NYT 3:15-ish (pannonica) 
LAT 3:09 (pannonica) 
CS 6:33 (Ade) 
BEQ 6:11 (Amy) 
WSJ tk (?) 

Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 9/21/15 • Mon • Haight • no 0921 • solution

NYT • 9/21/15 • Mon • Haight • no 0921 • solution

Simple set-up. Two word phrases whose components both begin with ‘S’ (voiceless alveolar sibilant).

  • 17a. [Touchy subjects] SORE SPOTS.
  • 21a. [Beginning that doesn’t go smoothly] SLOW START.
  • 27a. [Leave port] SET SAIL.
  • 34a. [Lighten one’s portfolio, say] SELL STOCKS.
  • 43a. [Comes to rest too soon] STOPS SHORT.
  • 49a. [Something to take and “make it better,” in the Beatles’s “Hey Jude”] SAD SONG.
  • 58a. [Quits fidgeting] SITS STILL.
  • 66a. [Reels from a haymaker] SEES STARS.
  • 4d. [What a nearly vertical hill has] STEEP SLOPE.
  • 9d. [Winter attire in Vail] SKI SUIT.
  • 32d. [Best black female friend] SOUL SISTER.
  • 44d. [It’s left when ocean water evaporates] SEA SALT.

That’s a whopping 12 theme entries, which must be some sort of record. It also suggests a slightness to the theme.

Nevertheless, the fill throughout is pretty clean, and that’s what counts most in a Monday.

Summarized, with a selection of clues and answers: 6d [Noah’s Ark groupings] TWOS, 2d [Sufficient, to a bard] ENOW, 67d [Signal from a marooned sailor] SOS!

Scot Ober’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 9/21/15 • Mon • Ober • solution

LAT • 9/21/15 • Mon • Ober • solution

Fittingly, the constructor’s last name is akin to the German ober, meaning “top”. The revealer appears vertically in the lower right: 47d [*Typewriter area, letterwise, for the answer to starred clues] TOP ROW. We’re talking QWERTY here, rather Dvorak or some other alternative layout.

  • 4d. [*Compete, as for a role] TRY OUT.
  • 18a. [*Pickled peppers picker] PETER PIPER.
  • 37a. [*Miss Manners’ concern] PROPER ETIQUETTE. The marquée entry, obviously.
  • 59a. [*Clog-clearing company] ROTO-ROOTER.

Nifty how the revealer is autological, or is at least reflexive in that it’s a member of the group it describes.

I was going to commend the crossword for excluding top row only entries from the non-theme fill, but I noticed 27d TIE, and 31d WEEP, and 38d PET, and 40d QUE., and 56d TORT. Hmm. Perhaps it’s too great a challenge, especially when trying to keep the overall fill Monday-appropriate. In fact, there are signs of strain even as it is: AN ACE, ENTR, ERAT, AMTS, IT ON, RCAS, and so on.

No exciting cluing, so overall kind of a blah crossword.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 9 21 15 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 9 21 15 “Themeless Monday”

I want to know what answer Brendan previously wanted to use the clue 15d. [Cinderella was one, famously] for. Here, it’s a HAIR METAL BAND. This puts me in mind of another crossworder’s video of his toddler this weekend—the kid was listening to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” via the TV, which displayed a picture of the band. “Are those ladies gonna take it?” the kid asked. (Note to those who don’t know: Dee Snider et al are not ladies. They are dudes with big hair.)

Eight things:

  • 28a. [Arab Spring year], MMX. No cue that the answer is a Roman numeral? I mean, not that a four-digit numeral would fit here, but…
  • 35a. [In the style of], IMITATIONAL. Uh, I think the word you’re looking for here is imitative. Have never seen IMITATIONAL.
  • 44a. [AA co-founder, familiarly], DR. BOB. Who? I know only Bill Initial.
  • 48a. [Removes, as a threat], DEFANGS. Pairs well with the ASP at 18a.
  • 55a. [Homers], GOES YARD. “I’ll take Unfamiliar Sports Terms for $800.” “Uh, Unfamiliar Sports for $1,000.” 6d. [Fans of the Olde Towne Team], RED SOX NATION. Never heard of “Olde Towne Team.”
  • 10d. [Chipped in?: Var.], ANTEED. Ouch. Been doing crosswords for 35 years, don’t recall seeing this spelling variant before.
  • 20d. [Complete unmitigated disaster], DUMPSTER FIRE. Haven’t heard this as a metaphorical term before. New?
  • 25d. [“For what matters most” medicine], TYLENOL. For some people, what matters most is their liver, and those people are not taking much Tylenol.

3.4 stars from me. More iffy fill than I like to see.

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Enough Already”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.21.15: "Enough Already"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.21.15: “Enough Already”

Hello everyone! Hope you all are doing well to begin your week. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, has three theme answers in which the first word of each is a gerund that also indicates a conclusion.

  • CLOSING ARGUMENT (20A: [Highlight of many a trial])
  • ENDING INVENTORY (39A: [Final count of goods or stock])
  • FINISHING SCHOOL (52A: [Place to learn the social graces])

I’ve been described over the years as very nerdy, but happy that I’ve been never called a DWEEB before (25D: [Dorky sort]). Very interesting to see the archaic form of Jesus, JESU, in the grid (29A: [Proper name in Masses]). I don’t I have seen that spelling since my elementary school days in Catholic school. Nothing really that really caught my eye in the grid. Solid, straightforward, and able to complete it in the time that I should complete this type of puzzle.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PACKER (49A: [Favre, for 16 seasons])  – The Green Bay PACKER referenced in this clue is Brett Favre, longtime quarterback in Titletown (nickname of Green Bay, Wis.) from 1992-2007. What most people forget is that Favre, despite being a longtime Packer, did not start his career in Green Bay. He was drafted in the second round of the 1991 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons.

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

Take care!


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19 Responses to Monday, September 21, 2015

  1. janie says:

    bruce’s puzzle may strike some as not very complex, just a bunch of two-word phrases each beginning w/ “s.” but not only are there 12 themers (all quite lively), just look at their interlock in the grid. holy cow. two of the verticals cross three themers, two cross two. and two pairs overlap each other. that’s pretty darned sweet in my book!


    • huda says:

      I agree, pretty impressive construction, with a deceptively simple looking puzzle. I think it would be an ideal puzzle for a true beginner…. ESAI and may be ERAT being the only non-standard everyday words…

  2. steveo says:

    Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a restaurant called Waco Taco in Texas.

  3. Ruth says:

    Really nice story from Bruce over at Xword Info about how crosswords saved his life!!

  4. Amy Reynaldo says:

    That SOUL SISTER clue is offensive on multiple levels. Is it really that important to remind black people and women that the default definition of “human” is white and male? Heaven forbid you just clue it as [Close friend] and let people who assume neutral = male/white be surprised that the language is more inclusive.

    The clue feels too close to “lady lawyer” and “black doctor” territory for my comfort.

    • pannonica says:

      I honestly didn’t want to engage with it.

    • Papa John says:

      I balked at that clue, too, but wasn’t certain why until I read your post. The notion you put forth is especially irksome when it’s pointed out that something is the first regarding gender or race, such as the first woman in space or the first black person to the Supreme Court. Such designations only serve to further distinguish (and exploit) the differences, for whatever reason.

      Aside: I think I posted a comment earlier, but I don’t see it. Was it expunged? (I say “I think I posted” because my head isn’t screwed on straight, this morning. No complaints – sometime I rather like that experience.)

    • janie says:

      too true. alas.


    • Gary R says:

      So, I should probably know better by now, but I’ll hang my middle-aged white male self out there and say I don’t see how this clue/answer is offensive on any level. My assumption was that both “black” and “female” were used to make this Monday-easy. To suggest that they imply that neutral=male/white strikes me as nonsense.

      There’s no specific term or phrase (that I’m aware of) that refers to a female lawyer or a black doctor. Soul sister, on the other hand (again, as far as I know) only refers to females and almost always to black females.

      If I wanted to pick a nit with this clue/answer, it would be that I don’t think the term “soul sister” necessarily refers to a “best friend.” Without the qualifiers (and absent crosses), how long would it take you to come up with this answer based on just the clue “Best friend”?

      • john farmer says:

        I’m with you, Gary.

        If someone were to make a demeaning and prejudicial comment about “soul sisters,” no doubt people here to call it a racist remark, and rightly so — the term has pretty deep roots in African American culture.

        I fail to see how using “black” in the clue is in any way offensive. It’s a neutral word, and accurate.

        soul (n.2)
        “instinctive quality felt by black persons as an attribute,” 1946, jazz slang, from soul (n.1). Also from this sense are soul brother (1957), soul sister (1967), soul food (1957), etc. Soul music, essentially gospel music with “girl,” etc., in place of “Jesus,” first attested 1961; William James used the term in 1900, in a spiritual/romantic sense, but in reference to inner music.

        • e.a. says:

          genuine question – when was the last time you saw the word “white” (in the racial sense) used in a clue? john? gary? anyone?

          • sbmanion says:

            Putting aside that the NYT crossword world would deem it too obscure, I wonder if it would be appropriate to clue Jason Sehorn as “white cornerback.” There hasn’t been a white cornerback in the NFL since 2004 when Sehorn played.


          • Gary R says:

            I’m sure it’s not common – but not unheard of. In the Sunday, July 7, 2013 NYT, MACKLEMORE was clued as “White rapper with two #1 hits.”

            In her post, Amy questioned the need for the word “white” in the clue, but did not cite it as offensive. Could be part of the punching up/punching down construct.

          • e.a. says:

            excellent examples, thank you both.

            in both cases, whiteness is visible because outside of the norm: rapping and cornerbacking are two fields dominated by black people.

            “black rapper” or “black cornerback” becomes redundant, because the mental image conjured by “rapper” or “cornerback” is, for most, already that of a black person.

            “white rapper” or “white cornerback,” on the other hand, narrows down your field of choices significantly. oh. it’s that one. the white one, or one of the very few white ones.

            keep all of that in mind as you consider this: what does it tell you when a term like “best friend” gets a racial modifier? when the clue writer thinks “friend,” what do you suppose is the race of that mental image?

          • Gary R says:


            I see your point, but I think it’s important to keep in mind that the mental image associated with “rapper” is likely to be black because it’s an art form dominated by black performers. “Friend” is a different matter – no such dominance, no such mental image.

            You could clue “soul sister” as just “Friend,” but the answer has a definite racial association and including the modifier helps the solver narrow the set of possible answers.

            “Amigo” has sometimes been clued as just “Pal” in the Times, but in my mind, that makes for a more challenging clue than something like “Pedro’s friend.”

          • e.a. says:

            what i’m getting at is that, just like rap is dominated by black performers, for many white people in america, social circles are dominated by other white people. the “black friend” (if there is one) is the “white rapper” of the group.

            this is not to say that specifying SOUL SISTER with a racial modifier is wrong in a vacuum. it’s a black thing. sure. but ask yourself: when blackness is routinely singled out by crossword clues, and whiteness is almost never acknowledged – whose worldview is being privileged? who is the crossword for?

    • sbmanion says:

      I did not see the reference as offensive. My favorite recent example of a truly soulful voice belonged to an Australian girl on the Voice:


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