Monday, November 9, 2015

NYT approx. 3:15 (pannonica) 


LAT approx. 3:30 (pannonica) 


CS tk (Ade) 


BEQ 4:53 (Amy) 


WSJ 5:37 (Jim) 


BuzzFeed 2:12 (Andy) 


Pawel Fludzinski’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 11/9/15 • Mon • Fluzinski • no 1109 • solution

NYT • 11/9/15 • Mon • Fluzinski • no 1109 • solution

61-across [Babies (aww …) … or an aural hint to 18-, 32-, 39- and 57-Across] CUTIES. That is, phonetically: Q-Ts, hence two-word phrases with those initials. Incidentally, via social media I’ve realized that quite a number of people spell the interjection I know as aww or aw as awe (see 65a [Blow away] AWE. This strikes me as bizarre. Is it regional?

  • 18a. [Period of undivided attention, as with a spouse or child] QUALITY TIME.
  • 32a. [Noted Max Planck contribution to physics] QUANTUM THEORY.
  • 41a. [Skill useful for handling an emergency] QUICK THINKING.
  • 57a. [1/24 of an octave] QUARTER-TONE.

Hey, it’s a theme.

  • Excellent pair of long downs: GIANT SQUID and GORGONZOLA. The latter seems to be echoed by both 63a [Ripens, as cheese] AGES and 64a [Disgorges] EGESTS, but it’s probably mere coincidence.
  • 25a [Very, in music] ASSAI. This is in Monday NYT? Really? That’s just too much.

    (Oh yes, quite far from his best work.)
  • Nice bit of trivia in the clue for 4d SEQUOIA, [Tree whose name contains all five vowels]. And at seven letters, it’s among the shortest of the so-called supervocalic words.
  • Uncharacteristic but very welcome playfulness in the cluing: 43d [Alternative to all] NONE, 30d [Alternative to All] ERA.
  • 36d [Actor’s prompt] CUE. Distracting. Had me wondering if there was a TEE lurking about the grid as well. The placement of the paired two-part AQUA | LUNG at 52d and 53d also led me to think (ephemerally) that there might be a relationship to the theme.

Not much else to say about this one. Just another Monday, about average.

Nancy Cole Stuart’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Hush!” — Jim’s write-up

Cute puzzle today from Nancy Cole Stuart. My first inkling when looking at the title was that a SHH sound was going to inserted or substituted into theme answers. But I was wrong. Instead, phrases that are synonyms for “Be quiet!” are taken literally, and the theme entries are items that satisfy that literal interpretation.

WSJ - Mon, Nov 9, 2015 - "Hush!"

WSJ – Mon, Nov 9, 2015 – “Hush!”

  • 17A [Put a cork in it!] WINE BOTTLE
  • 34A [Put a sock in it!] DRESSER DRAWER
  • 58A [Put a lid on it!] TUPPERWARE

Observant puzzlers will notice there are no quotation marks around any of the clue phrases. If they were meant to be verbal statements, they would have quotation marks.

Only three themers, but it’s so nice when there’s that consistency among clues. The “Put a {noun} {preposition} it!” consistency elevates the theme.

Of course, there are other ways of telling someone to “Be quiet!”. Here’s a quick stab at cluing some of them:

  • [Shut it!] FRONT DOOR
  • [Button it!] DRESS SHIRT
  • [Can it!] CHICKEN SOUP
  • [Zip it!] SANDWICH BAG

Can you think of any others? How about [Cram it!] or [Shove it!]? I had a few errors in the grid while solving: TOOL BELT for TOOL SETS (5D [Handymen’s kits]), MATURES for GROWS UP (48A [Becomes an adult]), DONE for OVER (33A[Concluded]) which led to ADAPTION (?!) for ADAPTIVE (11D [Like a chameleon’s color]).

The less-common use of a 13-letter entry in the center of the grid (DRESSER DRAWER) means the corners are going to either have a bunch of 6- or 7-letter Downs or else a lot of 3-letter Downs (depending on block placement). In this grid, our constructor gave us the former and filled them admirably for the most part. I especially like the SW with crunchy BAGHDAD next to DISRAELI (though that’s a tough entry for a Monday).

Clever cluing is always welcome, especially on a Monday. Today we get 21A [Clothing joint] for SEAM, 32A [In after having been out] for RETRO, and 63A [Reduced fare?] for DIET.

Can’t think of a better way to end this post than with this:

Paolo Pasco’s Buzzfeed crossword, “I’m Jacked Up”—Andy’s review

BuzzFeed puzzle 11.9.15, "Fandemonium," by Paolo Pasco

BuzzFeed puzzle 11.9.15, “Fandemonium,” by Paolo Pasco

Really fun, fresh theme this week: Paolo takes groups of fans with portmanteau names, and he puts the group names into phrases in place of the non-fandom portion of their portmanteau. Clear as mud, right? Let’s look at the themers:

  • 17a, GLEEK SQUAD [Devotees of a certain musical TV show, collectively?]. Fans of Glee are called “gleeks” (from Glee geeks) + Geek Squad.
  • 31a, I’M A BELIEBER [Confession from a devotee of a certain Canadian heartthrob?]. Fans of Justin Bieber are called “Beliebers” (from Bieber believers) + I’m a Believer. I take issue with Bieber being called a “heartthrob,” but I’m not about to invoke the wrath of Beliebers.
  • 46a/64a, TWIHARD WITH / A VENGEANCE [With 64-Across, devotee of a certain supernatural romance series]. Fans of Twilight are called “Twihards” (from Twilight diehards) + Die Hard with a Vengeance.

Fun, interesting Monday theme. Plus, we’re treated to a ton of really good fill:

  • 30d, FAN FICTION [The incredibly bad story “My Immortal,” to the “Harry Potter” universe, e.g.]. I never thought “My Immortal” (truly the worst fan fiction of all time, I can say from embarrassingly extensive personal knowledge) would make it into a crossword. If you can stand it, read some of “My Immortal” here. For the CliffsNotes version, peruse this. This clue/answer combo automatically makes this a five-star puzzle for me.
  • 37d, KESHA [Musician who once changed the middle letter of her stage name to a dollar sign, but later changed it back to a boring old “S”]. If you were wondering why you haven’t heard much from Kesha lately, this is why. She has been involved in a particularly ugly contract dispute with Sony, who bafflingly refuse to let her work with any producer other than the man she’s suing for abuse, Dr. Luke, or release her from her contract.
  • 9d, TED TALKS [Computer outlets for some speakers?]. Super clever clue.
  • 18d, SLAM [Wrestling move for, say, JOOOOHN CEEENAAAAAAA *trumpets* *explosion sounds*]. This link should explain the clue (as much as it can be explained).
  • 33d, EATS IT [Gets rekt]. Learn about rekt!
  • 56d, EVIL [Like that guy who raised the price of AIDS medication by 5000%, likely]. Martin Shkreli still won’t talk to Congress about gouging the price of Daraprim, a drug that treats malaria and some infections in patients with weakened immune systems. :(

Loved the coincidental-ish KC ROYALS/THE METS back to back, and the cross-referential cluing on the BEAK/TAIL combo was cute. Not sure if there was any significance to choosing 10100110 for the BYTE clue, other than it’s a nice arrangement of 1s and 0s. It’s 166 in binary… does that mean anything to anyone?

Just a reminder that Paolo is only a sophomore in high school. The future of crosswords is looking bright, people.

Until next time!

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

LAT • 11/9/15 •  Mon • Grabowski, Venzke • solution

LAT • 11/9/15 • Mon • Grabowski, Venzke • solution

Category time! Each of the four theme answers ends with a, oh let’s call it filamentous, word. THUS (43d [In the manner indicated]):

  • 21a. [Close to defeat] ON THE ROPES.
  • 32a. [“Cool duds!”] NICE THREADS.
  • 41a. [Use one’s influence] PULL STRINGS.
  • 53a. [Membranes that vibrate] VOCAL CORDS. See also, 63a [Speak abrasively] RASP.

Modest theme, but well executed. The phrases are varied and interesting, and the consistency is fairly good. All four feature plural theme elements. The first three are metaphorical or idiomatic, while the last one is literal and seems flat in comparison.

  • eltopojodorowsky2d [Brownish gray] TAUPE crossing 23a [The brown one is Louisiana’s state bird] PELICAN.
  • Some livelier color—always welcome in early-week crosswords—in the clues for 25a PUN, [Mae West’s “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted” is one], and 45a [Where soldiers go?] LATRINES.
  • 34d [Play list] CAST, 35d [Play part] ROLE. The first one works better, but the effort is appreciated. 38d [Granola grain] OAT, 10d [Energy bar nut] ALMOND.
  • 51d [Like Santa Claus] OBESE. I recall a few years ago Australia made a concerted effort to reimagine him as a lean, LANK (6a) surfer dude, which I suppose makes sense in a place where Christmas falls in midsummer. They are quite far from the North Pole, after all.
  • Topical: 53d [November parade participants] VETS.

Good Monday.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 11 9 15 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 11 9 15 “Themeless Monday”


Ooh: SLOW JAM, PIXIE CUT, PECCADILLOS (though I prefer the peccadilloes spelling), MURDER CHARGE, “YOU DIDN’T KNOW?,” SHAKE A LEG, au courant HAMILTON. In clues, I liked 33a. [Frank Zappa’s “Sheik Yerbouti,” e.g.] for PUN and 42d. [Capital city once called “Last Chance Gulch”] for HELENA.

Meh: SIT UP AND BEG clued as  two [Obedience school commands], which makes it feel a bit like MILK AND TOAST. DEPOSER. ARIDER. ENROLLEE. Crosswordese TARN and ANI. Typo in 28a’s clue (“intially”). 58a. [Closes, as a laptop] for SLEEPS; I don’t sleep my laptop, I put it to sleep; the laptop does the sleeping, not me.

Windy City disgruntlement: 9d. [Restaurant to grab a Chicago Classic, informally], UNO’S. Did you know that the original Pizzeria Uno/Due locations in Chicago do not have a “Chicago Classic” deep dish on the menu? You can order a deep dish with sausage, sure, but they don’t call it that. “Uno Pizzeria and Grill” doesn’t exist in this city. That’s for suburban malls and out-of-staters. Furthermore, Lou Malnati’s is better and has far more Chicagoland locations (and is expanding to Phoenix soon!).

Difficulty: A bit easier than usual.

3.4 stars.

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8 Responses to Monday, November 9, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Aww… I’m such a pushover about little people, and therefore about this puzzle!

    But where are the Q-Tips? Which brings Maxine to mind (I love her!)- She said:

    ” If you’re not supposed to stick Q-Tips in your ears, what the hell are they for?”

    Something to ponder…

  2. austin says:

    I blame autocorrect for changing “aww” to “awe,” though I’ve never thought of the regionalism angle before. I see it all the time and it drives me bonkers.

    • DGKelly says:

      Autocorrect is a good explanation of ‘awe’ for ‘aww’ – regionalism doesn’t seem right and plain illiteracy may be too snooty. Another example is ‘woe’ for ‘whoa,’ although I think ‘whoa’ as currently used doesn’t quite mean ‘halt’ as it used to.

      • pannonica says:

        I see ‘woah’ a lot, and that can’t be laid at autocorrect’s door.

        • DGKelly says:

          Good point. And “woah” fills the need for a spelling that reflects that it doesn’t mean “halt.” Still looks a bit illiterate, though.

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    I thought Martin’s CS was quite good today, well worth a spin. It played like a themeless with his beloved stacks, which is impressive with five long theme entries. But it seemed a bit marred by having four of the five break the theme word in the same way, when there are many other possibilities for the outlier. Four stars from me.

  4. lemonade714 says:

    I am still amazed how many daily puzzles there are to choose from as well as the endless well of theme ideas. I was struck today by the NYT and the Q T theme as the four themers are identical to a SEPTEMBER 23 2014 LAT publication by Jeffrey Wechsler. Knowing how long the lag is from creation to publication in the NYT, I wonder which constructor came up with the gimmick first?

    With all the outlets, I am sure we will see these parallels even more in the future. I guess I like ONTHE QT better than CUTIE but they were both fun.

  5. Martin says:

    Well spotted Paul on my WP/CS puzzle. And yes you are correct, but at CS we are sticklers for theme consistency. For example, I did consider others but they would have needed to ballance out. Say, two breaking one way, two breaking another with only the center entry being an odd man out. Or five differnent break points would work. But 5 break points can be tough to find if you want them all to be good. So many other “candidates” were considered. Finally myself and the group felt that this was the best set. I didn’t notice the stacking possibilities at that time. So in other words these entries were not considered because they were stackable.

    Also, please remember that this is not intended to be overly complicated, in other words I wanted to seem to be clearly visible to the solvers. But still, point well taken!

    – Martin

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