Monday, February 22, 2016

NYT untimed (pannonica) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


CS untimed (Ade) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


BEQ tk (Amy) 


BuzzFeed 2:12(Andy) 


Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 2/22/16 • Mon • Sessa • no 0222 • solution

NYT • 2/22/16 • Mon • Sessa • no 0222 • solution

Minor change-up for a Monday, with vertical theme entries, despite the very themey-looking long answers at 17- and 51-across. Said orientation is by necessity.

  • R22d. [Done in a quick but effective manner … or like the answers to the three starred clues?] DOWN AND DIRTY.
  • 4d. [*One “as lucky as lucky can be,” in “Mary Poppins”] CHIMNEY SWEEP. This would rhyme with ‘chim-chim-chi-ree’. See also 7d [Fireplace smoke escapes through them] FLUES.
  • 9d [*Showing at an adult film theater] X-RATED MOVIE.
  • 24d. [*Sudden, unprovoked slug] SUCKER PUNCH.

Three down answers, three different senses of ‘dirty’.

Those long acrosses are POKING FUN AT and UNITED FRONT, the latter which definitely APPEARs (46a) as if it could be the revealer for yet another ‘preceded-by’ theme.

  • 34a [When Presidents’ Day is always celebrated: Abbr.] MON. Quasi-meta.
  • 67a [Word following “If not now”] WHEN. Insert Tracy Chapman video here.
  • Oddest clue: 23a [Things “counted” when taking attendance] NOSES.
  • 11d [Native New Zealanders] MAORIS. ‘Native’ being a relative and anthropocentric term.
  • 52a [Miles per hour, e.g.] SPEED. Rate, technically, yes?

Nice theme. Mostly clean grid, with the stacked short fill being the most salient low points, if I can put it somewhat oxymoronically: RAD/ADD/KEY and OPT/ALI/MEH in the lower left and upper right, plus CLV and NEV bracing the the central KYOTO across.

Ray Hedrick & Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Delicious!” — Jim’s review

Really not much time to blog today, so this will have to be short (or at least stream of consciousness without much editing).

An APPLE a day keeps the doctor away. Hmmm. My wife’s a doctor. And I do eat apples often. Maybe I need to cut back.

Anyhoo, our theme revealer is at 68A: [“Hey Jude” record label, or what the end of each starred answer is]. Answer: APPLE. Interesting that our constructors went with the lesser known Beatles-started record label rather than the ubiquitous tech company. But be that as it may, here are the theme answers, placed with horizontal symmetry in our grid:

WSJ - Mon, Feb 22, 2016 - "Delicious!" by Ray Hedrick & Zhouqin Burnikel

WSJ – Mon, Feb 22, 2016 – “Delicious!” by Ray Hedrick & Zhouqin Burnikel

  • 17A [*Celebration that ends with a countdown] NEW YEAR’S EVE GALA. I figured out the NEW YEAR’S EVE part, but I wanted to put PARTY in there which wasn’t working. I think people typically have a PARTY more so than a GALA.
  • 23A [*Japan’s highest point] MOUNT FUJI. Easy clue without any crossers.
  • 28D [*Start of a conformist’s creed] WHEN IN ROME. Also a Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen film. (The more you know…)
  • 30D [*Andean realm] INCA EMPIRE. I’m not familiar with EMPIRE apples, so this one threw me.

I liked the theme fine for a Monday. It’s cute and makes for a nice variety of theme entries. Unfortunately, my favorite APPLE, the Russet, didn’t make the list. According to, there are nearly 100 varieties of apples grown in the States, but 15 of them account for 90% of production. What’s your favorite APPLE, faithful reader?

The grid is well-made, and I like the choice to go with horizontal symmetry, given that the themers are 15, 9, 10, and 10 letters respectively. It’s especially nice to have HEALTHY front and (nearly) center in the grid, along with APPLE-eater ADAM at 35D (though where’s EVE? Oh! She’s hidden in 17A! Super nice!!!).

I love NAME DROP, OH COME ON, SAYS ME, and NOGGIN. Oh, and GIRDLES CRAMPED. And oh again, NUTELLA crossing DIM SUM, if apples ain’t your thing.

Nice, fresh, early-in-the-week puzzle from C.C. and newcomer Ray.

Janice Luttrell’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 2/22/16 • Mon • Luttrell • solution

LAT • 2/22/16 • Mon • Luttrell • solution

The four circled squares in each long theme entry makes it quite evident what’s going on, but to seal the deal there’s a two-part revealer bookending the proceedings: 1a [Nickel or dime] COIN | 65a [After 1-Across, pregame football ritual, and what’s literally found in this puzzle’s circles] TOSS. Yup, those four letters appear consecutively each time.

  • 16a. [“You almost had it”] CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR.
  • 24a. [“Mork & Mindy” or “Mike & Molly”] SITUATION COMEDY. Bonus for m&m flair in the clue.
  • 42a. [Event where many dress a Stormtroopers or Klingons] SCI-FI CONVENTION.
  • 57a. [What polar opposites have] NOTHING IN COMMON.

Good phrases, each 15 letters long and spanning the grid. The good kinds of consistency and variation: for the former, entailing more than one word, and for the latter employing four distinct letter permutations.

Those four spanners, especially in an entry-level Monday offering, obviate the possibility of the customary pair or two of long down entries, which is fine by me. The theme services and suffices just fine.

  • 23a [UPC-like product ID] SKU, Stock Keeping Unit. UPC is Universal Product Code, and PLU is Price Look-Up Code.
  • 39a [Dental suffix with Water] PIK. Don’t care for the clue. It’s a commercial invention suggesting the products’ application in dental hygiene. Is it even a suffix? The LOGO (10d) and branding stylize it as lower-case waterpik, but the company’s name is actually Water Pik, without even so much as a hyphen.
  • Oh look, NOSE comes right after PIK. >snort<
  • 49a [Malice] SPITE. As a child, used to play the multi-deck card game spite and malice with my grandparents.
  • 52a [Sans serif font] ARIAL. Right, there’s only what? ten, a dozen sans serif typefaces out there? Yes, I realize it’s well-known as the ubiquitous quasi-generic Helvetica alternative.
  • 30d [1964 Tony Randall role] DR LAO. Tough for a Monday, but I confess that on more than one occasion I’ve wished for the demonym LAO to be clued in this context, for a change of pace.
  • 40d [Japanese-American] NISEI. Specifically, second-generation Japanese-Americans. Their Japanese-born parents are ISSEI, and their children are SANSEI. The ordinals continue.
  • 51d [Chichén __: Mayan ruins] ITZA. One of my early exposures to the locality was in one of those choose-your-own-adventure books that were all the rage.
  • 25d [Greek column style] IONIC. Contains another {COIN} rearrangement; not part of the theme. I suppose that could be considered a minor flaw.

Not the most scintillating of themes, but significantly more than adequate, and well-crafted.

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Jay Walking”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.22.16: "Jay Walking"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.22.16: “Jay Walking”

Hello there, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well to begin the last full week of February. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, is fun with puns, as common phrases and/or proper nouns are the theme answers, but altered by the fact that they’re all missing the letter “J” in them.

  • SCIENTIFIC ARGON (17A: [Gas used in a lab class?]) – Scientific jargon.
  • AMES DEAN (28A: [Official at Iowa State?]) – James Dean. A good number of you might have come across this entry with the clue “Official at the University of Iowa.” A new version of the grid was emailed today with a revision of the clue, and I hope you were able to see that, which means you won’t have to get your Hawkeye feathers all ruffled!
  • IFFY LUBE (41A: [Questionable grease job?]) – Jiffy Lube.
  • TURNSTILE UMPING (53A: [Pastime for a judgmental subway rider?]) – Turnstile jumping

First thing that caught my attention was how much tougher it might be to fill in a possible clue for “toil” given that MOIL pretty much means the same exact thing and uses three of the same letters (35A: [Work hard]). Oh, and more people should say/use IN TOTO instead of the similar sounding “in total” (46: [Altogether]). Man, if only there was a way to add an extra few U’s to EXCUSE ME, given the way the clue was written (9D: [“Well, sor-ry!”]). Though the weather may still be a bit nippy in a few places, Spring Training is pretty much at full go in Florida and Arizona, and, given their success last season and the expectations coming into 2016, will this finally be the year the Chicago CUBS win it all again (60A: [Baseball team with a long World Series drought])?? If anything, having that clue intersect NEUROTIC was clever, even if not intended for that purpose of conflating Cubs’ fans angst about not winning it all since 1908 and that word itself (36D: [Tending to worry to an unreasonable degree]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LORDE (14A: [Grammy Award-winning singer of “Royals”])  –In a 2013 interview, LORDE explained that her initial inspiration for the title of her Grammy-winning song was a picture in an issue of National Geographic of Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame player George Brett signing baseballs. She said the word “ROYALS” emblazoned on the jersey stood out: “It was just that word,” Lorde said to VH-1. “It’s really cool.” Here’s the Nat Geo picture…

NGS Picture ID:220690

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

Take care!


Patrick Blindauer’s BuzzFeed crossword, “Epic Movie Curses”—Andy’s review

BuzzFeed Puzzle 02.22.16, "Epic Movie Curses," by Patrick Blindauer

BuzzFeed Puzzle 02.22.16, “Epic Movie Curses,” by Patrick Blindauer

If this is how Patrick Blindauer lets off some steam, I say he should do it more often. Here, Patrick gives us four movie quotes with evocative expletives:

  • 17a, DICKHEAD ASSHOLE [“You pompous, stuck-up, snot-nosed, English, giant, twerp, scumbag, fuck-face, ___!”: “A Fish Called Wanda”]. NSFW.
  • 31a, PENIS BREATH [“It was nothing like that, ___!”: “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”]. NSFW.
  • 42a, TWISTED FUCK [“Eat it ’til you choke, you sick, ___!”: “Misery”]. NSFW.
  • 59a, WARTHOG FROM HELL [“Gimme that baby, you ___!”: “Raising Arizona”]. NSFW.

There have been a couple other Monday PuzzFeeds with list themes, but this list is exceptionally well curated. The fill is, as you might expect, unimpeachably smooth — maybe the only thing not fit for a Monday here is ANKH. The four non-theme long entries are all really nice: ZEPPELIN, POWERADE, SMOOTHIE, ICE MAKER. OTTER gets the OtterBox clue it so richly deserves.

Totally new to me was an US-IE [Selfie with more than one person in it]. Is that a real thing? Someone young and hip please confirm/deny in the comments. I also was iffy on the NEON clue [Element in most flashing lights]. Is that true? Legitimately unsure, but it sounds like a generalization.

Just lots of really good stuff in this one. This is exactly what I expected/hoped for when BuzzFeed launched in October, and it’s really nice to see the puzzle hit its stride.

Until next time!

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14 Responses to Monday, February 22, 2016

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Excellent Monday, methinks… Nice twist on the theme, both the down orientation and the play on “DIRTY”.

    But I’m not so sure I agree with the definition of “DOWN & DIRTY” as clued. To me, it means competitive, unprincipled, nasty. I think if someone asked me if I wanted things quick and effective, I’d say sure. But down and dirty? Not so much…

    • pannonica says:

      It works idiomatically for me. As in jury-rigged. Slap it together, get it done, not caring about niceties such as appearance.

      I concede that it can also be applied, more racily, to sex acts.

      Merriam-Webster provides several senses, with the one employed in the crossword listed first.

  2. Martin says:

    Just a quick note to those who couldn’t solve the on-line Washington Post/CrosSynergy: many apoligies! This was due to a techical glitch that we were aware of and thanks to Bob Klahn, Jeff Chen and the Washington Post team, everything was corrected ASAP. Frustrating, nevertheless!

    By the way, it was printed in the actual Washington Post hard copy in the DC Area. So if this ever happens again, just hop on a quick flight to DC and pick up copy from the airport… and take the first flight back. I admit it may cost you (depending on where you live) up to $1000, but since you don’t have to leave the airport, think of the money you’ll save on taxi fare and hotels! A no-brainer!

    Seriously though, sorry for the inconvenience.

    -Martin Ashwood-Smith (CrosSynergy member)

    • rock says:

      Thanks Martin! And many more thanks for confirming Bob Klahn is still in the crossword business. I read about his wife and want to send my deepest sympathies to him. Do you think he will post a puzzle soon? I miss him so much.

      Now about that flight, is that first class?

    • P. Ulrich says:

      By the way it is Iowa State University which is in Ames, Iowa, not University of Iowa, which is in Iowa City. (28 across in CrosSynergy)

  3. pauer says:

    Whoever gave my swearing puzzle one star is a major #$(&@$#*&#@$! :)

  4. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Sad news today: I just learned that Marilyn Scholl, longtime Fiend commenter “Meem,” passed away last week. We’ll miss her.

  5. anon says:

    Not seeing the LAT on Cruciverb.

Comments are closed.