Monday, November 23, 2015

NYT untimed (pannonica) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


CS 8:18 (Ade) 


BEQ 5:57 (Amy) 


WSJ 6:33 (Jim) 


BuzzFeed 2:31 (Andy) 


Parker Lewis’ New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 11/23/15 • Mon • Lewis • no 1123 • solution

NYT • 11/23/15 • Mon • Lewis • no 1123 • solution

A generous 16×15 offering to begin the week.

There are five theme entries, and it isn’t until you get to the final two do you know which way the theme is going to break.

  • 17a. [1997 Bruce Willis sci-fi film, with “The”] FIFTH ELEMENT.
  • 23a. [Journalistic profession] FOURTH ESTATE. Also usually with a “the”.
  • 38a. [Saying about persistence paying off] THIRD TIME’S A CHARM. Aha, the raison for the 16 columns. Google Ngram confirms my feeling that the version with the definite article is more prevalent. A couple of viable alternatives with 15 letters: THIRD DEGREE BURN, THIRD STREAM JAZZ.

The moment of truth! Will it be ordinals or fractions, ordinals or fractions?

  • 48a. [Race just over 13 miles long] HALF MARATHON.
  • 60a. [Entirety, informally] WHOLE SHEBANG. Again, also usually with a “the”.

Fractions it is! And by way of confirmation, we get 27d [Subject with fractions] MATH.

  • cuccidati-newLongdowns are ALOHA STATE and STILL LIFES. [Hawaii’s nickname] and [Paintings with fruits and vases, often], respectively. No mention of EWERS, though. ICE CREAM (crossed by 34a pie À LA mode) and EDIT MENU are also in there.
  • The NYT’s questionable taste abides, with the obsolescent and freighted 67a [Wife, informally] MISSUS.
  • 44a [Sicilian volcano] ETNA, 45a [Sicilians used to spend them] LIRE. And then 46a [ __ Newtons] FIG. Not appropriate difficulty for a Monday crossword, but Sicilian figs are renowned for their quality. Cuccidati are a precursor of FIG Newtons.
  • 8d [Performs, in the Bible] DOETH. Yicky Monday fill. Makes me want to puketh a little.

Aside from wondering why it merited a special size dispensation, not much else I find remarkable about this pretty good crossword, so there you have it.

Clement McKay’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 11/23/15 • Mon •  McKay • solution

LAT • 11/23/15 • Mon • McKay • solution

This one exhibits some collapsed time and space. The grid is a mere 14×15.  Perhaps the universe is immediately compensating for today’s NYT offering.

As for the theme, 42-down helps reveal [With 53-Across, physics Nobelist who devised the formula that begins 17-, 22-, 34- and 46-Across] ALBERT / EINSTEIN (53a), whose theory of special relativity is popularly condensed to E=mc². (Simplistically, energy is equivalent to the product of an object’s mass and the speed of light squared.)

Each of the theme answers begins discretely with an element of the formula:

  • 17a. [Online matchmaker] EHARMONY (stylized as eHarmony).
  • 22a. [=] EQUALS SIGN. This one fudges it a bit. Not that “equals sign” isn’t a thing, but in that the equals sign is what appears in the formula (and the clue).
  • 34a. [“U Can’t Touch This” rapper] MC HAMMER.
  • 46a. [Looked ready to fight] SQUARED OFF. A better clue might be something like {Prepared to fight} or {Took a fighting stance}.

From the standpoint of the formula per se, it’s a bit weird to have the mc treated as a unit, but it more or less tallies how it’s parsed as people recite the thing: eequalsmcsquared. Fair enough, then.

  • 48d [Coin toss call] EVENS. Say what? Twixt cup and lip, eh?
  • Appreciated the side-by-side 43d [Problem on the Caine] and 47d [Captain of the Caine] MUTINY and QUEEG.
  • Least favorite crossing: 9a [Nos. on beach lotion labels] SPFS and 9d [O.T. prophet] SAML. Feh = plural initialism + unusual namebiblical shortening.
  • 11d [Piano players?] FINGERS. That’s kind of fun.
  • 36d  [Like large reptiles, compared to smaller ones] SCALIER. Debatable. Other factors would include scale size, and percent of body covered (much different in, say, turtles).

Not much else to say. The fill overall is clean and the theme is solid.

Gary Cee’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Little Follow-Through” — Jim’s write-up

Head up! Legs apart! Eye on the ball! And…SWING!

Not that kind of SWING!

Gary Cee is here and encouraging us to get out there and hit a ball with our weapon of choice.  Let’s look at the themers.

WSJ - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 - "A Little Follow-Through"

WSJ – Mon, Nov 23, 2015 – “A Little Follow-Through”

  • 18A [Mammal with anticoagulant saliva] VAMPIRE BAT. Nice entry and bit of trivia. They feed solely on blood, so it helps to keep the juices flowing.
  • 26A [Account often depleted at the end of the year] CHRISTMAS CLUB. I thought we were going for some sort of holiday theme at this point with the first two entries. I’ve never heard of a CHRISTMAS CLUB but apparently they were all the rage in the early to mid 20th century.
  • 47A [Illegal lottery] NUMBERS RACKET. Basically, a state-sponsored lottery that’s not state-sponsored.
  • 61A [Try to hit, or what one can do with the ends of 18-, 26- and 47-Across] TAKE A SWING

So the theme is “things you can SWING,” presumably at a sporting event (baseball BAT, golf CLUB, tennis RACKET). Pretty self-explanatory, so let’s move on to other things.

Interesting non-theme entries: I liked seeing GIVE IT UP, BONSAI, STRUGGLE, CENSUS, MORELLO, EARWIG, and RHEIN (only because I was there this past weekend in the small town of Oberwesel).

Oberwesel on the Rhine (RHEIN)

I had a number of re-writes in the grid which slowed me down: AURA for 14A HALO [Ring of light], EGAD for 15A I SAY [“By Jove!”], ROWED for 33A OARED [Participated in a crew competition] *grumble*, LIRE for 41A LIRA [Italian currency before the euro].

Not sure why 46A SIR was clued as [Address for a superior officer]. There are many female superior officers (my wife being one of them, and I’m not talking facetiously…well, maybe a little). There is precedent for calling a female officer SIR (mostly on TV), but in reality, it just doesn’t happen. This is not to say that the clue implies all superior officers should be called SIR, but a “maybe” could have been appended to the clue for better effect.

Other than that, a good, solid grid. Little gunk and a fine theme. What more can you ask for on a Monday?

Neville Fogarty’s BuzzFeed crossword, “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing”—Andy’s review

BuzzFeed puzzle 11.23.15, "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing," by Neville Fogarty

BuzzFeed puzzle 11.23.15, “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing,” by Neville Fogarty

I love Neville, and I love this simple Monday puzzle.

The title references the classic Judy Blume book Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. If you hadn’t heard that Judy Blume just released her first novel for adults in 17 years, then you weren’t watching Alex Jacob dominate last week’s Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions. Congratulations, Alex!

The title is also an oblique reference to the theme today: four theme answers today reference four of the most famous TV fourth-graders ever — namely, the SOUTH PARK kids (61a — [Long-running satirical animated TV show whose four main characters can be found in the long answers in this puzzle… Oh my God, they killed 48-Across!]):

  • 18a, ERIC CARLE [Author/illustrator of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”]. Speaking of children’s authors! Knowledge of Eric Carle was very beneficial to Friend-of-Fiend danjan when she went on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?.
  • 28a, KYLE CHANDLER [He won an Emmy for playing Coach Eric Taylor on “Friday Night Lights”]. He’s also in the upcoming critically acclaimed Patricia Highsmith adaptation, Carol.
  • 38a, STAN LEE [Comic book genius who has a cameo in every Marvel movie, so is probably very busy]. I briefly misinterpreted this, thinking there was a comic book character with a cameo in every Marvel movie. Whoops.
  • 48a, KENNY CHESNEY [“She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” country music star]. During my time in Columbia Law School I was in a group called Law Revue that basically did law-themed parodies of popular songs. “She Thinks Contracts Are Sexy” was one of our more popular numbers.

Should point out that this isn’t Neville’s first South Park rodeo.

Not a lot of time to dwell on the rest of the puzzle, which was up to my usual high standards for Neville. LILY ALLEN and UP IN SMOKE are two lovely symmetrical entries, and I had no idea there was such a thing as a BUG BITE prophylactic bracelet until now. With just __L_WIT for 26a [“What has two thumbs and really screwed things up? This guy!”], I confidently plunked down HALFWIT. It turned out to be the much better “I BLEW IT.

I can hear Neville saying the clue for 1a, AGLET [The bit of plastic at the end of your shoelace, because yes, it has a name]. I’d say AGLET is a decidedly un-Monday entry, but the crossings are pretty fair, and now you learned something!

I like “threefix” in the clue for TRI-. I love Gilmore Girls and I appreciated the reference in the clue for 45a, INN [Independence ___ (place where Lorelai Gilmore worked her way up from maid to executive manager)]. Too many good things to mention. Would solve again.

Happy Monday. Go watch BALTO.

Ian Livengood’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Grade Inflation”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.23.15: "Grade Inflation"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.23.15: “Grade Inflation”

Good morning, everyone! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Ian Livengood, takes multiple-word nouns and alters them, through the use of puns, by replacing the letter B in the phrase with a letter A.

  • VERA PHRASE (17A: [Saying attributable to fashion’s Wang?]) – From “verb phrase.”
  • DUMA BUNNY (24A: [Easter figure in Russia’s governing house?]) – From “dumb bunny.” When was the last time you used the term “dumb bunny?” Maybe 1973?
  • LAMA ROAST (49A: [Good-natured ribbing for a Lhasa priest?]) – From “lamb roast.”
  • HERA GARDEN (59A: [Vegetable plot for the Olympus queen?]) – From “herb garden.”

Pretty good fill litters this grid, and my personal favorite is MANHUNTS (10D: [Fugitive searches]). Does anyone else think that LATKA was the precursor to Balki Bartokomous, the character of foreign descent from Perfect Strangers (49A: [Andy’s role on “Taxi”])? Almost can’t think of one of those characters without thinking about the other. There’s a little California soul in this grid as well, with both ANAHEIM (21A: [Angels’ location]) and LOS ALTOS (37D: [Silicon Valley city]). Speaking of California Soul, that is the title of the song that pretty much pops in my head almost every single time I get ready to travel to the Golden State, and it’s one of my all-time favorite tunes. Sadly, unless something changes in the last minute, I will go a whole calendar year without heading to Cali for the first time since 2006. Tear. Anyways, here’s Marlena Shaw, and I hope the tune UPLIFTS your day, even just a bit (25D: [Buoys])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ELENA (9D: [Tennis’s Dementieva]) – I’m surprised that I have not talked about retired Russian tennis player ELENA Dementieva in this space before. (At least I didn’t see any entry that I did of her while doing a search.) Regardless, just know that she probably is one of the five best tennis players never to win a Grand Slam singles title on the women’s side, as Dementieva reached the semifinals of every major at least once and lost in the finals of both the 2004 French Open and the 2004 US Open. (Lost both finals to fellow Russians, Anastasia Myskina and Svetlana Kuznetsova.) She achieved her greatest accomplishment on the tennis court in 2008, when she won the gold medal in women’s singles at the Beijing Olympics, defeating Serena Williams in the quarterfinals in the process.

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

Take care!


Brendan Quigley’s 800th blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 11 23 15, "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 11 23 15, “Themeless Monday”

Congrats on your 800th self-published crossword, bud! (Not counting your diagramless and Marching Bands puzzles via Kickstarter.)

Highlights: POSTERIZE, LULULEMON, STEAMPUNK, IRAQI KURD, TEQUILA, GEEKDOM. Grateful that CABO was not clued in relation to TEQUILA (Sammy Hagar’s tequila brand bears the woeful name “Cabo Wabo”). OPEN NET in hockey (maybe in soccer, too? And other sports?) is also crisp.

Did not know: 29d. [Transparency printer used by tattoo artists for stencils], THERMOFAX. Also didn’t know the Raiders QB Derek CARR.

Favorite clue: 55a. [Rapper who played Wheelchair Jimmy on “Degrassi: The Next Generation”], DRAKE. Runner-up: 53d. [Calculus expert: Abbr.], DDS. Tartar build-up on your teeth = calculus. Honorable mention: 15d. [Club spot], DELI. Club sandwich, not nightclub.

Did not like: 43d. [Post-move woes] cluing baz. Sores are ulcerations of the flesh. Isn’t carrying furniture and boxes more likely to bring on muscle aches? Also, singular BAZOOM is a tad awkward; we usually use the plural. (And [Hooter] for the clue? Blech.) Typo in “anacrhonistic” in the STEAMPUNK clue. DAT’S, AS BIG, AM NOT, ERMA’S, and DO FOR also left me cold.

3.800 stars from me.

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16 Responses to Monday, November 23, 2015

  1. Joe Pancake says:

    No mention of the NYT author’s great name? I guess there aren’t a lot of Corin Nemec fans around anymore.

  2. Papa John says:

    Is anyone else not able to get the LAT?

    • anon says:

      Yes, also not able to get LAT from Cruciverb.

      • Papa John says:

        …or LAT site or Will Johnston’s site or this blog.

        • anon says:

          Will Johnston’s site and this site point to the files on Cruciverb – if the file doesn’t exist on Cruciverb (which is today’s problem), then those links are of no use.

          I’ve never seen the .puz file available directly from the LAT site. The LAT site does have today’s puzzle embedded in their applet.

  3. golfballman says:

    coin toss call, how about heads or tails. How do you get evens?

    • Norm says:

      If one coin is tossed, one person calls heads or tails. If each of two people toss a coin, one calls odds [different results] or evens [same result]. Just a variation on the theme. Could be regional.

  4. Papa John says:

    When I click on the “Play Now” button on the LAT site, I get a message saying I have adblock on my machine. I don’t. I don’t know if the .puz format is available at LAT because it’s the most reliable puzzle online from Kevin’s site and I can’t recall having to go to the LAT site, in the past. I don’t missing a Monday puzzle but, contrary to what Derek says, I like their puzzles and I think they’re getting better and better.

  5. ajuli says:

    I’ve been getting this error message the last few days. Can someone clarify what to do or is this a temporary issue? How are people printing the LAT puzzles?

    Not Found

    The requested URL /puzzles/lat/lat151123.puz was not found on this server.
    Apache/2.4.10 (Ubuntu) Server at Port 80

  6. Gary R says:

    Maybe I’m just being grumpy here, but I didn’t get much out of the theme in today’s NYT. I liked the “countdown” aspect (fifth, fourth, third, etc.) of it okay, but as for the ordinal/fractions part – that just didn’t work for me. I understand that the first three can be construed as fractions (though they would usually need a preceding number or an “a” to sound right), but they are all clued as ordinals, and the last two are clued as fractions, so – so what?

    Might have been more interesting if the first three had been replaced with “eighth” and “quarter,” with a revealer having to do with musical notes.

  7. Nina says:

    I was out of town and hadn’t done this puzzle till today.

    I have not posted here in a while, but I too was peeved with that ordinals/fractions thing. Be consistent!

Comments are closed.