Monday, December 28, 2015

NYT untimed (pannonica) 


LAT unttimed (pannonica) 


CS 7:43 (Ade) 


BEQ 5:12 (Amy) 


WSJ 4:14 (Jim) 


At latest check, no BuzzFeed crossword has been posted today. This week, as I understand it, was expected to have 9×9 unthemed puzzles. If those do show up, we’ll skip blogging them. If there’s a themed or themeless 15×15, expect to see a write-up at some point.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 12/28/15 • Mon • Burnikel • no 1228 • solution

NYT • 12/28/15 • Mon • Burnikel • no 1228 • solution

Pssts, it’s over there, 63-down. [Aves … or the initials of 17-, 23-, 40-, 50- and 63-Across] STS. There are at least two things I don’t like about this revealer, aside from its location.

  • 17a. [Navy special force in the bin Laden raid] SEAL TEAM SIX.
  • 23a. [Sterling service for an afternoon break] SILVER TEA SET.
  • 40a. [“Arabian Nights” voyager] SINBAD THE SAILOR.
  • 50a. [Say something before immediately being proven wrong] SPEAK TOO SOON.
  • 63a. [Completely] STEM TO STERN.

No repeats, even among the little words. Five lengthy themers. Good.

Thing number one: There’s a discrepancy between the abbreviation of STreetS and its application here as S.T.S. for initialistic purposes. This really clangs. Also, in the Northeast, ‘STS‘ probably most readily evokes the automobile repair franchise, with its distinctive red-and-white branding.
Thing number two: In the iconography of New York City, and implicitly Manhattan (which I feel it’s fair to reference in context), streets and avenues are not interchangeable or synonymous; they are in fact strictly in opposition to each other. Perpendicular.

Felt as if there were a lot of crosswordy usual suspects—not all of them crosswordese, mind you—present. OBOE, ICE AXE, ESAI, ELSA and ILSA (sheesh! And one after the other, too), RELO, OLEOS, ELO, IRA, and more. Burdensome.

Least welcome fill in a Monday: 65d [Where Army brass is trained, in brief] OCS. That’s Officer Candidate School. Betting that isn’t on the tip of everyone’s tongue, or pen(cil), or fingers.

Long downs: TELLS TALES, which works that STS flavor, and Poe’s ANNABEL LEE, which most emphatically does not.

A small streak of clue alliteration in 28d [Train transportation] and 29d [Poe poem …].

61d [Two slices of a loaf of bread] ENDS. Weird. Maybe a ‘certain’ or ‘particular’ would have helped.

More than decent theme idea and construction, but substandard revealer. Probably shouldn’t have shoehorned one in at all.

Ted Nolan’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Oxy Music” — Jim’s review

A tasty morsel today from Ted Nolan. That’s not a name I recognize, so it’s either a debut or yet another pseudonym for editor Mike Shenk. It doesn’t anagram to anything meaningful that I could find, so maybe it’s an honest-to-goodness debut.

If so, it’s a good one. Just three themers, but they are nice finds, and the puzzle is very clean with good non-theme fill.

The theme is oxymoronic song titles with the first and last words of the titles being opposites. (Further, the middle words of each title are TO BE.)

WSJ - Mon, Dec 28, 2015 - "Oxy Music"

WSJ – Mon, Dec 28, 2015 – “Oxy Music”

  • 20A [Oxymoronic 1986 hit for Huey Lewis and the News] HIP TO BE SQUARE
  • 38A [Oxymoronic Rodgers and Hart song from “On Your Toes”] GLAD TO BE UNHAPPY
  • 53A [Oxymoronic 1979 hit for Nick Lowe] CRUEL TO BE KIND

I didn’t know the Rodgers and Hart song (nor even the musical it came from), but it was easy enough to get with crosses once the theme was revealed. And I didn’t recognize the name Nick Lowe, but I do remember the song.

Like I said, very nice finds including the fact that one is a spanner and the other two were pretty big hits in their day.

I love the title of the puzzle, too. It’s a play on the British band Roxy Music, but at first it made me think the puzzle was going to be about acne management. (Glad that it wasn’t.)

Plenty of non-theme highlights like ON THE ROAD, SPEED DIAL, TEASPOON, and OFF STAGE. Even the shorter stuff is good with PULSAR, MOROSE, and SWAMIS.

George Halas

Very clean all around, but one entry sticks out: 11D [Chicago Bears founder George] HALAS. Whew! What’s that doing in there on a Monday? Honestly though, I didn’t even notice it as I filled in that corner with Acrosses mostly.

Favorite clues: 13D [Hit man?] for BOXER, although not all boxers are men (just ask Barbara BOXER). Also, 24D [We’re all in it together] for WORLD.

I rather like the fact that the WSJ puzzle routinely has only three themers thereby allowing for a cleaner grid. Given strong-enough themers, it makes for a satisfying puzzle, especially earlier in the week.

Enjoy this Sesame Street version of the Huey Lewis classic. (I considered embedding the scene from American Psycho, but it was a bit too…bloody.)

Warren Stabler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 12/28/15 • Mon • Stabler • solution

LAT • 12/28/15 • Mon • Stabler • solution

Minor theme here. Items with double-digit numbers, spelled out.

  • 20a. [19th-century military service revolver] COLT FORTY-FIVE.
  • 37a. [Steak sauce brand] HEINZ FIFTY-SEVEN.
  • 53a. [Highway originally from Chicago to Santa Monica] ROUTE SIXTY-SIX.

In ascending order. Unevenly spaced mathematically (not that that matters). Unrelated to the clue numbers—that’s asking for a lot—though there is a connection between 20-across and 45a [Robert E. Lee’s org.] CSA. Still, it’s a solid trio of long entries.

Before going any farther, I must call out 12d [IRS Form 1040 abbreviation] AGI, for adjusted gross income. That, that … that is not pretty. Nor is the Dept. of ENER. over at 62-across, but at least frequent solvers are more or less inured to that one.

Oh wait! I forgot that exacerbating the bad taste of AGI is that it’s right next to the resoundingly insubstantial cross-referenced partial, 13d [With 41-Across, Bronx ball club, familiarly] THE | YANKSReally? Excuse me. You might say I’m in a slightly FERVID (10d), 21a [Agitated state] FRENZY.

Longdowns: SHOT DOWN, LINE DRIVE, OIL BARONS, ENTRY FEE. Two-parters, every one, but they’re certainly solid enough.

There is some other fill that might be considered rough for a Monday offering, yet it’s a pretty good crossword, all told.

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Postscripts”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.28.15: "Postscripts"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.28.15: “Postscripts”

Good morning, everybody! Let’s count down the days until 2016 Only four days away. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, has five theme entries, and are puns in which phrases are altered by adding “PS” to the end of the phrase. Pretty good concept.

  • BEACH BUMPS (17A: [Challenges for dune buggies?]) – Beach bum.
  • COMPACT CARPS (24A: [Some small, strong fish?]) – Compact car.
  • GREENHOUSE GASPS (37A: [Reactions from shocked botanists?]) – Greenhouse gas.
  • CRYPTOGRAMPS (47A: [Relative with secrets?]) – Cryptogram.
  • HONEY BEEPS (59A: [Pages from one’s sweetie?]) – Honeybee.

It took me a long while to figure out what the clue for PINS was alluding to, only for me to kick myself once I knew – and think about the next time I want to go bowling in the process (10A: [Spare parts]). Rest of the grid fell pretty nicely, though I got hung up a couple of times, one being when I put in “company car” instead of the actual theme entry. I guess HIS OR HER is fine as well, even with the latter not being plural (30D: [Gender-neutral choice]). Seeing UPTILT reminds me of what I had to do every time I drove the family car after my father or my older brother, significantly shorter than I, drove the car (44D: [Adjust, as a steering wheel]). Now that I’ve had my own car for a while, all the settings are the way I like it…until I get finicky and adjust things, which is actually a regular occurrence.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BAMA (18A: [Ole Miss rival]) – In college football, the team that’s the betting favorite to win the College Football Playoff and the national championship is BAMA, as the Crimson Tide are playing Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl in the semifinals on New Year’s Eve. Alabama is 12-1 on the season, with their only loss coming on Sept. 19, a 43-37 loss at the hands of…Ole Miss.

Thank you for the time, and I’ll see you tomorrow – most likely from LaGuardia Airport.

Take care!


Brendan 3-Down Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

BEQ crossword solution, 12 28 15 "Themeless Monday"

BEQ crossword solution, 12 28 15 “Themeless Monday”

I felt slow while solving this (been sick most of December, man) but my solving time isn’t bad so I guess it’s on the easier end of the BEQ themeless spectrum.

Likes: AZERBAIJAN, TAME IMPALA, EMMY AWARDS stack with smooth crossers (look at REY clued without reference to the Star Wars heroine!). AMAZON ECHO and RAVE REVIEW (that stacks’ crossers are a little rougher—BAPTIZER, PARI, O NEG). STIFF-ARM, MAKEOVER, IPAD APPS.

Rough stuff: JAWER, A HEN, OREL, RENA, ZERO G with a spelled-out numeral, plural LAS. Maybe THE AREA. I’m fine with the AZERBAIJAN/ZAMBIA cross, and the YALU. I like geography.

A Less Tame Impala

A Less Tame Impala

Hmm: 54a. [Hashtag used alongside pics of meals], FOODSPO. I think that -spo ending is short for “inspiration” but I’m not sure. I’m not an Instagram/Pinterest type.

3.75 stars from me for this one.

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16 Responses to Monday, December 28, 2015

  1. Jeffrey K says:

    In any dictionary or thesaurus, “street” is a synonym to “avenue”. There is a world outside Manhattan. This ranks up there with the silliest of nits.

  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Pannonica — but even in Manhattan, there is the famous intersection in Greenwich Village of 4th Street and 10th Street, (and they intersect at right angles, not an acute angle.)

    • pannonica says:

      True enough, so I shouldn’t have asserted with ‘strictly’, but the avenues are (essentially) uniformly longitudinal. I maintain the overall sentiment. And to Jeffrey I insist that I adequately stressed the contextual significance.

      • Bruce N. Morton says:

        Certainly “uniformly longitudinal” is true. It’s just that I was always fascinated by the anomaly of that intersection in the West Village.

        • Matt says:

          And, of course, in the ‘outer boroughs’ all hell breaks loose… I grew up in Forest Hills, on 68th Drive– and nearby there was also 68th Street, Road, Avenue, and Place.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Look up Sheridan Road in Chicago. It makes 90-degree turns, it stops and picks up elsewhere, it really messes with people. In Manhattan, it would be both a street and an avenue at times.

  3. I’m probably in the minority, but when I see STS, my first thought is Space Transportation System, i.e. the bygone Space Shuttle program.

  4. huda says:

    NYT: emerging (temporarily) from family marathon hosting…
    While I did this in record time, I somehow felt that it had features that were not Mondayish. All the crosswordese, for example. And while I’m very familiar with HOMS, have been there a few times and know many jokes about the people from there (Syrian equivalent of Polish jokes!), does everyone know Homs? Maybe nowadays because of that horrible civil war. I’m just wondering.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      No. I did not. It was the last answer I filled in and definitely not Monday-ish.

      I also thought “but streets and avenues are not the same in Manhattan!” I agree with pannonica.

    • Bruce N. Morton says:


      I have heard of Homs, but unfortunately mainly because of recent tragic events. I knew it at best vaguely before.

  5. xepia says:

    BEQ: My first guess was -SPO = expo … aren’t there some more -spo/-xpo portmanteaus out there? I couldn’t name any of them off the top of my head, tho.

    (Can’t help lovin’ that license plate, btw!)

    • xepia says:

      I stand corrected: -SPO = inspo, obviously. Not an Instagram/Pinterest type myself either, I wasn’t even aware of inspo as “Internet shorthand for inspiration(al)”, duh.

  6. pannonica says:

    BQE: 65a [Military meal: Abbr.] MRE.

  7. Rock says:

    Thanks Ade, like you I thought of company car and pins gave me the aha! But where is Bob Klahn?

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