Monday, October 26, 2015

NYT approx. 3:15 (pannonica) 


LAT approx. 3:15 (pannonica) 


CS 8:53 (Ade) 


BEQ 4:41 (Amy) 


WSJ 5:30 (Jim) 


BuzzFeed 3:28 (Andy) 


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

NYT • 10/26/15 • Mon • Haight • no 1026 • solution

NYT • 10/26/15 • Mon • Haight • no 1026 • solution

A 16×15 grid to accommodate the span of the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, a significant 42a [67-Across landmark]. And the referenced entry—the so-called revealer—is none other than the [So-called “Paris of the West”] SAN FRANCISCO.

  • 18a. [Nickname of 67-Across] CITY BY THE BAY.
  • 26a. [Island near 67-Across] ALCATRAZ. Under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The name is derived from the Spanish for ‘pelican’.
  • 52a. [Conveyance in 67-Across] CABLE CAR.

And not a -RONI to be found! Although, no -Ashbury either, alas.

52d [“The __ Kid” (long-running 1950s western] CISCO. What say you? Duplication or bonus? My opinion is duplication. Nasty, nasty duplication.

The long downs are in fact longer than the two shortest themers (which appear even shorter thanks to the extra-wide grid). 12d [One charging high runway fees?] SUPERMODEL, 30d [White hunters on a white landscape] POLAR BEARS.

Speaking of the “Paris of the West”: 15a [“Farewell, mon ami”] ADIEU, 16a [“Va-va-voom!”] OO LA LA, 10d [Mel __, voice on Looney Tunes] BLANC:

Wow, nothing like instilling the kiddies with greed, gambling, and violence, eh? Check out the mid-century modern art direction, though.

Plus, 34a [Instrument whose name means “high wood”] OBOE, to the extent that it’s a corruption of the French hautbois. Finally, the coup de grâce: 1d WACO [Texas home to Baylor University] is roughly 200 miles SSW (67d) of Paris, Texas.

Submitted without further comment: 44d [“Toughen up!”] BE A MAN.

62a [What to “take” in a Duke Ellington song] ‘A’ TRAIN. Come now, that’s the ‘A’ Train. Without the definite article it’s too easily seen as merely a train, right? Maybe I’m being too judgmental here. After all, GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE seemed okay earlier.

Happy to report that the grid is also RICE-A free.

Good, if rather lackluster, Monday.

Melina Merchant’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Field Day” — Jim’s write-up

It’s the run-up to Halloween this week and we’re starting off with a portentous puzzle. We’re counting the CROWs that Melina Merchant is hiding in her “Field Day” offering. (For the record, I think we’re looking at yet another Mike Shenk alias, but I haven’t been able to anagram it to anything meaningful. It could be “Incremental Ham” or “A Calm Thinner Me”.)

WSJ - Mon, Oct 26, 2015 - "Field Day"

WSJ – Mon, Oct 26, 2015 – “Field Day”

  • 18A [Zaps] MICROWAVES
  • 23A [Nashville area] MUSIC ROW
  • 37A [1957 Andy Griffith movie] A FACE IN THE CROWD
  • 49A [Held by a third party, as funds] IN ESCROW
  • 59A [Cola brand introduced in 1905] ROYAL CROWN
  • 67A [Field frequenter found in this puzzle’s five longest Across answers] CROW

I enjoyed this puzzle despite the fact that only one of the hidden words (well, maybe two if you count MICROWAVES) actually spans two words. The rest are all hidden within one word, which is less elegant, but I don’t mind it on a Monday (other people might). Even A FACE IN THE CROWD (which could be reduced to CROWD for the purpose of the puzzle) gave me an eerie, stalkerish feeling.

From Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train”

I liked the idea of the CROWs appearing one by one just as they did on the jungle gym in “The Birds”. Pretty soon, they’re all around us and we didn’t even realize it. Run!

Lots of other Halloween goodness abound in the puzzle. Here is everything I could find that is Halloween-related or has a Halloweeny clue: 1A MASK, 10A GLUM, 20A EEK, 21A SEGA [Maker of the Zombie Revenge game], 25A LEE [Christopher of many horror films], 27A BAD SIDE, 48A RAP [Ghostface Killah’s genre], 8D BRR [Chilling sounds?], 10D GRAVES, 21D SCARE, 31D BATH [Word after blood or mud], 33D BAYS [Howls, at the moon perhaps], 45D TREATS, 47D SEANCE, 53D WIDOW [Black ___ (deadly spider)].

In some cultures, CROWs and/or magpies and/or ravens are considered omens and the number of birds will predict the future in some way. Numerous rhymes exist, but here’s one example:

One for sorrow, two for mirth,
Three for a wedding, four for a birth,
Five for silver, six for gold,
Seven for a secret not to be told.
Eight for heaven, nine for hell,
And ten for the devil’s own sel’.

There are six CROWs in our puzzle today. In many of the rhymes six is associated with gold or wealth. Let’s hope this means we’re in for a wealth of good Halloween-related puzzles this week!

If you’re still looking for a costume idea, try this one:

Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 10/26/15 • Mon • Grabowski, Venzke • solution

LAT • 10/26/15 • Mon • Grabowski, Venzke • solution

Two-word phrases beginning with synonyms for ‘brilliant’. All are in the form of adjective–noun, with the adjectives ending in -ing.

  • 20a. [Carbonated beverage] SPARKLING WATER.
  • 25a. [Bright, photogenic grin] DAZZLING SMILE.
  • 41a. [Excellent year-end review, say] GLOWING REPORT.
  • 47a. [Epitome] SHINING EXAMPLE.

A very gentle, non-challenging theme to usher in the week. 74 words and a whopping 44 blocks; as you might imagine, that makes for a paucity of long entries, aside from the themers. A pair of 8s (ABERRANT, FOREMOST), a pair of 7s (UTILIZE, EPOXIES), four sixes (SPRAYS, PRO TEM, WAIT ON, INNING). Everything else is five letters or fewer.

  • 1d [Preschool lessons] ABCS, 19a [Pprocedures to learn, informally, with “the”] ROPES. 33a [Grazing area] LEA, 61a [Fleecy farm females] EWES.
  • 23a [Track section] RAIL. Interestingly, this works with either the kind of track associated with locomotives or that associated with horses, even though they look and function quite differently from each other.

Not much else to say about this one. Would be nicer with even less of the crosswordese ( e.g.OLEO), abbrevs. ( e.g.PPG), and partials ( e.g.ILL AT) than evidenced.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 10 26 15, "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 10 26 15, “Themeless Monday”

Solid 68-worder. Brendan said his seed entries all worked their way out of the grid, but what took their place is decent stuff. The grid’s good decent flow, too, though the NW and SE chunks have just two words feeding into each. (But two is better than one.)

Favorite fill: ROCK BALLAD (I restrain myself from linking to anything by REO Speedwagon or Styx here), GASTROPUB, DEEP THROAT, DUCK INTO, BOO RADLEY, the publishing combo of GO TO PRESS and TEARSHEET, and PAPER ROUTE.

Five things:

  • Did not know: 55a. [Single wave that retains its shape and speed after a collision], SOLITON. Never seen the word before. Etymology is solitary + the -ON ending of things like proton. I leave it to physicists to confirm the clue’s correctness.
  • Does anyone else basically have to look up LOATHSOME every time to make sure it doesn’t take an E after the H?
  • 6d. [Pizza slices, often], OCTAD. Better make it a hexad—I’m not hungry enough for eight slices.
  • 20a. [Puts down one’s John Hancock], INKS. A Facebook friend overheard someone saying she’d need to get someone else’s “Herbie Hancock” on the papers.
  • 33a. [2013 Best Picture], ARGO. Clues for Oscars and other award wins are so awkward. Argo‘s a 2012 movie named Best Picture in 2013. So is it a 2012 or a 2013 Best Picture? (This topic gets a surprising amount of discussion among crossword editors and their fact-checkers.)

4.1 stars from me.

Neville Fogarty’s BuzzFeed crossword, “Let the Game Begin”—Andy’s review

BuzzFeed Puzzle 10.26.15, "Let the Game Begin," by Neville Fogarty

BuzzFeed Puzzle 10.26.15, “Let the Game Begin,” by Neville Fogarty

Two weeks ago, Neville’s BuzzFeed puzzle was one of my faster solves; this week, his puzzle is my slowest Monday solve in years. Maybe I just need some caffeine, but I found this one particularly challenging (for a Monday, that is).

The theme is explained at 62a, MONOPOLY [Classic board game whose spaces include the starts of 16- 23-, 38-, and 50-Across]. The other theme answers:

  • 16a, GOFUNDME [Website where you can raise money for… yourself]. Appropriate that it’s first in the grid.
  • 23a, CHANCE THE RAPPER [Chicago-based rapper who wrote “Sunday Candy” for his grandmother]. He was on Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me a couple months ago, which inspired me to listen to some of his stuff, and I really liked it! (There’s some adult content in the lyrics, FWIW.) What I don’t really like is that “rapper” is in the clue. I think the only way you can get away with that is if there’s a tongue-in-cheek “rapper with a self-referential name” in the clue.
  • 38a, INCOME TAX REFUND [Reason to celebrate… until you realize you’ve been giving the government an interest-free loan]. The personal check is political.
  • 50a, BOARDWALK EMPIRE [HBO show in which Stephen Graham played Al Capone]. Boardwalk Empire’s series finale aired a year ago today, coincidentally. 

Another lovely Monday theme, I think. Lots of possible choices for this theme, and I think these four were well chosen. The grid struck me as unique when I opened the file; I can’t remember seeing too many puzzles with three grid-spanning theme entries with no theme between them.

As always with Neville, lots of interesting fill, and a clean grid. Some highlights:

  • 49d, J-POP [Puffy AmiYumi’s genre]. just added this to my word list. For those not in the know, the “J” in “J-pop” stands for “Japanese.” I’ll let you guess what K-pop is.
  • 31d, SCAMANDER [Newt who ostensibly wrote “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”]. This is a Harry Potter reference, and a somewhat deep cut at that. This is the kind of entry that makes BuzzFeed Buzzfeed. I loved it. The crossings are all extremely fair, but I suspect people who haven’t been in love with the pop-culturiness of BuzzFeed will reeeeally hate this entry.
  • 9d, STRIP CLUB [Entertainment spot for some singles with some singles]. If you’re going to have STRIP CLUB in your puzzle, this is how to clue it.
  • 54d, “I LOST” [“Time to die from this real-life duel!”]. If I ever find myself losing a real-life duel, I will now definitely say the latter and not the former.
  • 4d, ANN [“Beautiful tropical fish” Perkins on “Parks & Rec”]. You’re welcome.
  • 53d, KLOUT [Website that scores users based on their social media influence]. This is a really big thing that has not shown up in a lot of crosswords. Again, fair crossings, so no excuses about never having heard of it.

The only major hiccup I had in this one was that I started with AWaKE (as in Awake and Sing!) instead of AWOKE for 47d [Quit dreaming]. That left me with CaRAL, but the clue for CORAL at 58a was so long that it was impossible to read in Across Lite. In full, it reads [Creatures that can’t move but have sex by constantly and simultaneously ejaculating on a full moon once a year. It’s called “broadcast spawning” and there are videos and they are glorious], and it took me 15 seconds to read it just now, even already knowing what it said, because the font was so small. One of the very few lingering complaints I have about PuzzFeed is that the only way to enjoy these really long clues is to print the puzzles.

There was a ton of other really good stuff that I didn’t have time to mention here. Happy #MCM (Man Candy Monday), everyone!

Todd McClary’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Music Hath Charms”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.26.15: "Music Hath Charms"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.26.15: “Music Hath Charms”

Hey everyone! I hope all is well and that you had a fun weekend. To start the new ween in crossword, we have Mr. Todd McClary’s enchanting puzzle, with four real-life song titles fit for Halloween, at least when seeing the mysticism in the titles.

  • ABRACADABRA (17A: [Charming 1982 Steve Miller Band song]) – “…I want to reach out and grab ya…”
  • BLACK MAGIC WOMAN (27A: [Charming 1970 Santana song])
  • I PUT A SPELL ON YOU (43A: [Charming 1956 Jay Hawkins song]) – Wasn’t his stage name “Screaming” Jay Hawkins?
  • VOODOO CHILE (53A: [Charming 1968 Jimi Hendrix song])

Fun solve, and didn’t have any real trouble until I put in “child” instead of “chile” at the end of the grid, though NERD put an end to that trouble spot (54D: [Stereotypical Comic-Con attendee]). Speaking of Comic-Con conventions, I wonder how many times people would go to a convention dressed as GI JOE (22A: [Soldier in a toy chest]). I know I remember many of the characters when watching the cartoon growing up, but, if I dressed up as Cobra Commander or Flint, would people know where it’s from? I’m sure enough people would know. Actually, I think I know what I might dress as for Halloween…if I ever did that sort of thing. Can’t remember the last time I dressed up for Halloween. Don’t think it will happen this Saturday either.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: VERONA (12D: [“Romeo and Juliet” setting])  – Two of the 20 teams that currently reside in the top division of Italian soccer, Serie A, play in the town of Verona: A.C. Chievo Verona and crosstown rival Hellas Verona. After long stretches in the lower levels of Italian soccer, Chievo Verona were promoted to the top flight in 2008 and Hellas Verona were promoted in 2013.

Have a good rest of your evening!

Take care!


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16 Responses to Monday, October 26, 2015

  1. janie says:

    >Come now, that’s the ‘A’ Train. Without the definite article it’s too easily seen as merely a train, right?

    right! no, i can’t find proof, but to judge from folks who said they once saw it on youtube, it seems this is not simple “urban myth”:

    “And now we’d like to play the famous Duke Ellington theme song ‘TAKE A TRAIN’ ” —— Lawrence Welk introducing the famous Ellington classic “Take the ‘A’ Train”.

    was surprised not to see a (with “the”) attached to the clue. smooth solve otherwise.


  2. dgkelly004 says:

    Any other Puzzazz users having trouble? Puzzles load and solving is fine, but I can’t get the Leaderboard to come up on iPad – just get a screen with ‘Loading’ on it. Same thing happens when I tap ‘Contact Puzzazz’ under the settings gear on the main page.

  3. austin says:

    I saw the constructor name and groaned but this was an okay monday! BEAMAN was for sure problematic, and before people say “but it’s in the language!” so are a bunch of idiotic things. doesn’t mean they should be in crosswords.

  4. lemonade714 says:

    I enjoyed Bruce’s Monday effort and thought the Duncan Renaldo reference was witty. I do not understand what was “nasty, nasty” about the fill.

    I do think we all need this SONG to play in the background today.

    • Tracy B says:

      Pannonica wrote that the dupe of CISCO was nasty, nasty. I don’t read much slamming of the fill generally in that.

      • lemonade714 says:

        My comment was directed solely at the fill CISCO, seeking an explanation of why that was nasty.

        • Lois says:

          As Tracy B says, it’s a duplicate of two syllables in SAN FRANCISCO. Duplicates in crosswords are not enjoyed for the most part. I don’t know the origin of the Cisco Kid’s name.

          • pannonica says:

            It’s more substantial than mere repetition of syllables. ‘Cisco’ is short for the name ‘Francisco’, regardless of where the fictional Cisco Kid was from, or what his actual name supposedly was.

  5. Huda says:

    NYT:I love San Francisco, so happy with the theme. Agree with Janie about The A Train.
    I’d forgotten the Haut Bois-Oboe connection.

    And LOVE Jim’s CROW illustrations. Very evocative!

  6. Paul Coulter says:

    I do the NYT six weeks late in syndication, so I don’t usually comment on it, but since I teach Environmental Science, I’d like to point out an error in C. C. Burnikel’s cute Monday grid featuring crowns. It was a good puzzle and I liked the design, too, but the clue for SNOW – “Frequent Arctic forecast” is in fact opposite to the actual situation. This is no knock on C.C.’s puzzles , in which I usually find the clueing very good. No offense to Will’s editing, either — I’ve found most people make this assumption about the arctic climate.

    Both the Arctic and Antarctic are essentially frozen deserts. Precipitation is rare, but the ground accumulates snow and ice until it becomes very deep over the centuries. The major reason is that the evaporation rate in an arctic climate is extremely low. Now, however, there’s been a very serious problem with the summer melt rate. Global warming has caused this to be much higher than the historical average over the past several decades, leading to greatly accelerated loss of polar ice. The result is catastrophic for many arctic species, but also worldwide, due to reduced oceanic salinity, which again has greatly negative impacts on many aquatic species. For humans and other species inhabiting coastal regions, there are severe global effects, due to rise in sea levels and altered weather patterns, which lead to a host of problems.

    • pannonica says:

      Thank you for making that point. I really should have caught it at the time. Write-up for that crossword; the clue at issue is for 62-across.

    • Bencoe says:

      No. I was listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio today (was driving across Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama, and AM talk radio and country were the only stations in some parts) and he stated that there has been absolutely no loss of sea ice or polar ice and snow, and that global warming is categorically a lie perpetuated by the left.

  7. rm says:

    NYT: Living in San Francisco, this theme was very welcome!

    BEQ: I was thinking a fun clue for loathsome could be “Dislike a few?”. Maybe even a possible theme of single words split into two valid words to give a new meaning. Does anyone know if a theme like this has been done before?

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