Monday, February 13, 2017

BEQ 7:00 (Jenni) 


CS untimed (Ade) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT untimed (pannonica)  


WSJ untimed (Jim)  


Brent Sverdloff and Michael Blake’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 2/16/17 • Mon • Sverdloff, Blake • № 0216 • solution

Vowel progression time, in the form of H*LL.

  • 17a. [Rock and roll has one in Cleveland] HALL OF  FAME.
  • 23a. [Words of greeting] HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?
  • 36a. [1980s cop show that TV Guide once ranked as the greatest TV drama of all time] HILL STREET BLUES.
  • 46a. [James Earl Jones or Tommy Lee Jones] HOLLYWOOD ACTOR.
  • 58a. [Ruckus] HULLABALOO.

I kind of like that there are all sorts of word counts among the five, as well as the varied lengths of the containing words.

  • 12d [Houston player] ASTRO, 50d [Houston player, once] OILER.
  • Some beyond-Monday fill (even though they’re easily gettable via crossings and inference if one doesn’t know them): 15a [French department capital known in Roman times as Nemausus] NIMES, 7d [Former Italian P.M. whose name means “beloved”] AMATO (1992–1993, 2000–2001), 1a [Name of five Norwegian kings] OLAV (see also 6d Saks FIFTH Avenue). These are all located in the upper center-to-left section of the grid. REMOW is also there (8d).
  • Words after work or museum] OF ART. Despite the decent clue, this is terrible fill, and certainly something you don’t want to see top-center.
  • 13a [Poem like “The swallow flies up / Into a blue evening sky / Summer’s small herald”] HAIKU. Posted 31 Jan 2017 on reddit by Raingnome.
  • Kind of a whimsical clue in 45d [“Call me __!” “O,K., you’re …!”] A CAB, though I feel it should have had another blank rather than the ellipsis (despite the answer not being repeated).
  • 33d [Alternative to arbitrary governance] RULE OF LAW. It also has a darker connotation, distressingly brought once again to the fore after several decades of relative dormancy.

Sleep tight.

Kurt Krauss’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 2/13/17 • Mon • Krauss • solution

Another ‘starts of …’ crossword to start the week. This version goes like so: 61a [Players on the same side … and what the starts of the answers to starred clues can be] TEAMMATES, or TEAM MATES.

  • 17a. [*Track event with batons] RELAY RACERelay team is … barely at a remove from relay race. Stumbling out of the gate.
  • 25a. [*Romantic outing for four] DOUBLE DATE (double team). Okay, a bit better.
  • 36a. [*Romantic ideal] DREAM GIRL (dream team). Continuing apace.
  • 51a. [*Machinist’s hole maker] DRILL PRESS (drill team). Aha, finishing with a flourish.

Triple-stacked vertical sevens in all four corners. That gives us some tooth (see 39d [Firm, as pasta] AL DENTE).

Having trouble finding highlights in the mostly average grid. There are a few notable duds that don’t feel right for a Monday: 27a [“Romanian Rhapsodies” composer] ENESCO, 5d [The Once-__: “The Lorax” character] LER, 46a [Yellow Teletubby] LAA-LAA, 67a [Grain disease] ERGOT, 56a [Announcer Hall] EDD, 7d [Houston sch.] RICE U. They strike me as not being familiar enough to a plurality of solvers or being too clunky a formation.

  • 9d [The Congo, formerly] ZAIRE. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (also known as DR Congo, DRC, DROC, East Congo, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo) was formerly known as, in chronological order, Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville), Democratic Republic of the Congo, and most recently reverted to its current name from Republic of Zaire. With a population of over 80 Saint Ringo by xlizx on DeviantArtmillion, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated officially Francophone country, the fourth most-populated nation in Africa and the eighteenth most populated country in the world. –Wikipedia
  • 14a [Martinique, par exemple] ÎLE, 21a [“__ beaucoup”] MERCI, 59a [Black, in Burgundy] NOIRE, 66a [High season on the Riviera] ÉTÉ, 33d [Parisian pal] AMI. Quite the Francophone population here, too.
  • 30a [John, Paul and George: Abbr.] STS.
  • 3d [Fax forerunners] TELEXES. Factette: ‘fax’ is itself a shortened version of telefax, which in turn is an abbreviated version of telefacsimile.

That’s all I’ve got. Essentially an average Monday offering.

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Hard-Hitting Puzzle” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.13.17: “Hard-Hitting Puzzle”

Good morning, everyone. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, contains five long phrases/nouns that also happen to contain a word, at the end of each of those entries, that is a synonym to the verb “hit.”

  • ARGYLE SOCK (17A: [Hit in Scotland?])
  • HAWAIIAN PUNCH (19A: [Hit in Honolulu?])
  • BUSHWHACK (35A: [Hit by the 43rd president?])
  • WILDCAT STRIKE (55A: [Hit by a Kentucky basketball player?])
  • SAFETY BELT (59A: [Hit by an NFL defensive back?])

Some of the fill definitely caught my attention, and not in the best way possible. More than anything, PERKILY stood out since it just sounds clunky and is barely used in conversation (42D: [With a lot of spunk]). I’m saying it out loud as I type it and my tongue’s getting twisted at the moment. We have the crosswordese of both ERE (49A: [Bard’s “before”]) and EER in the grid, with the latter being OK to me if one was referring to the abbreviation of a supporter of West Virginia University athletics (51A: [Sonnet ending?]). Honestly, outside of the theme entries, nothing else really stood out fill wise, with TRAITORS probably coming the closest to doing that for me (5D: [Quislings]). Or maybe I’m just have a a case of the Mondays as well. Definitely possible as well.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ARENDT (21A: [Author/philosopher Hannah]) – Former professional tennis player Nicole ARENDT was a doubles specialist who played on the WTA Tour from 1991 to 2003. The American reached the semifinals of each of the four majors in doubles and, in 1997, partnered with Dutchwoman Manon Bollegraf to reach the Wimbledon doubles final. Arendt finished her career with 16 WTA Tour doubles titles.

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

Take care!


Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Themeless Monday #403” — Jenni’s Review

I’m back, at least for this week. Today’s BEQ is not really a themeless. The grid pops right out at you – see for yourself.

BEQ 2/13 puzzle, solution grid

You will notice a two-letter word in the center of the grid. Over at 28d, we have [Phrase said when talking about unlikely outcomes], which turns out to be THAT’S A BIG IF. It certainly is.

The novel grid gives us a vertical triple stack along the western edge of the puzzle, and I don’t remember seeing any of them before, which is unusual for 15-letter answers. There’s also one more 15 bounding the F in the grid.

  • 1d [Environmental equilibrium] is BALANCE OF NATURE. This isn’t a phrase I use every day, but it’s definitely in the language.
  • 2d [Pamphlet about serving children] is Jonathan Swift’s A MODEST PROPOSAL. For those who don’t know, “serving children” in this context is not helping the wee ones. It’s more like a second helping of wee ones…
  • 3d [Alaska Veterans Memorial’s site] can be found at DENALI STATE PARK.
  • 5d [Visually go “unh-uh”] is SHAKE YOUR HEAD AT. I initially had ONES instead of YOUR and NO instead of AT, which slowed me down a little.

The grid constraints also give us lots and lots of three-letter words, and there are a few duds in the bunch. 23a is [Elizabeth who was Winston Churchill’s secretary during WWII] – obscure but accurate. One of my pet peeves appears at 25d. [Thrice, in Rx’s] is a gimme, because it’s always TER. I’ve practiced medicine since 1986 and worked in healthcare since 1974. I have never, ever, ever seen a prescription with TER written on it. Not once. Any docs or nurses or vets or dentists who have? We sometimes write TID, which does indeed stand for “ter in die.” That’s not the same as writing “ter.” Doctors aren’t required to learn Latin any more; crossword solvers shouldn’t be, either.

A few other things:

  • 1a [Singer nicknamed “The Queen of Neo-Soul”] is Erykah BADU. Great artist. Great name.
  • I suppose the SOCCER MOM may have a few A STUDENTS in her car.
  • I actually knew the answer to 34a [“The Bridge at ___” (1969 WWII film)]. I must have seen it with my father at some point. He loved WWII films. Oh, the answer is REMAGEN. It’s a “highly fictionalized” story about something that actually happened toward the end of WWII.
  • 11d [Noah’s delivery] doesn’t have anything to do with the Ark. The Noah in question is Trevor Noah, and he delivers a MONOLOGUE.
  • I have been to the [City on the Humboldt River] that appears at 62a. ELKO is not far from the area in central Nevada where my husband did his PhD research in structural geology. By “not far” I mean “a bit over two hours.” David drove to Elko every five days to get supplies, do laundry, and call me. The rest of the time he lived alone in a tent, mostly happily.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the finale of CSI was called “Immortality.” I also didn’t know Erykah Badu’s nickname, but I already mentioned her.

I leave you with an Erykah Badu video. No, not that one. To see that one, you’ll have to look here (NSFW).

Harold Jones’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Play Grounds” — Jim’s review

Abbreviated post today due to time constraints.

Our theme answers are two-word phrases in which the first word is a sporting venue. The whole phrase is clued wackily.

WSJ – Mon, 2.13.17 – “Play Grounds” by Harold Jones (Mike Shenk)

  • 16a [Sequence of games where tennis is played?] COURT ORDER
  • 26a [Outermost fences where baseball is played?] DIAMOND BACKS
  • 43a [Team commander where football is played?] FIELD MARSHAL
  • 56a [Pioneer where boxing is played?] RING LEADER

I struggled to understand the theme because the clues didn’t make sense to me as I was solving. It wasn’t until I was writing this up that they started to become clearer. The focus in the clues is on the venue, but I feel it’s backwards and unnecessarily confusing. I’d have gone with [Tennis match sequence?], [Football game director?] and [Boxing match boss?], etc. Don’t know what I would have done with BACKS, because it doesn’t makes sense at all. (The outermost fences are referred to as BACKS?) Maybe I’d go with DIAMOND CUTTER [Baseball game ditcher?] with FIELD DRESSING [Football game uniform?] to match.


Great fill, but those theme clues were more a hindrance than a help (to me at least).

Switching gears, the WSJ unveiled a new online solving app on their website. What do you think? It’s definitely better than the previous Java-based version (now you can use your iDevices to solve the puzzle), but I do have some issues.

  1. You have to hit Enter to move to the next word. This should be automatic. It’s even worse on a mobile device where you have to tap the clue or the grid to get to the next entry.
  2. The crossing clue is not shown for any particular square.
  3. Relatedly, there is no keyboard command for switching from Across to Down or vice versa.
  4. On mobile devices (at least in my experience) the full grid is not shown. It would be better if I could resize it to suit me.
  5. Completed answers are not skipped. This is really annoying.
  6. No byline!!!
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21 Responses to Monday, February 13, 2017

  1. jim hale says:

    The call me “a cab” answer to the clue really threw me. Having it puzzle out to ACAB, I looked it up. It’s a pretty nasty acronym which I wish I had never discovered.

  2. Glenn says:

    WSJ: Today’s puzzle is now available along with a new Web interface. Take a look.

  3. Katie M. says:

    I did the WSJ on their website. The new interactive version is better, at least for weekdays. (On Saturday, I couldn’t see the whole grid at once). I still prefer AcrossLite.

    However, I don’t see the name of the constructor anywhere on the WSJ site.

  4. Paul Coulter says:

    Loved the BEQ’s payoff today. Totally worth the ride.

    • David L says:

      I did the puzzle and have no idea what the payoff is. Well, someone will explain, I guess…

    • Papa John says:

      It’s a big if that this puzzle is a big whoop. The punchline was good but I don’t think it excused the lackluster fill, extensive three-letter answers, the tortured clues or the typical BEQ esoterica. I will give it high marks for 2D: “Pamphlet about serving children” A_MODEST_PROPOSAL. On the learning side, I was surprised that TARTLETS are real things. (The spellcheck on this site doesn’t recognize it.) Aren’t tarts small to begin with? Are small are TARTLETS?

      • Papa John says:

        That should read, “How small are tartlets?”

        • Jenni Levy says:

          I made an apple tart last fall that was the size of a normal pie. Tarts have only a bottom crust and are usually not served out the pan they are baked in. Pies often (not always) have a top crust and are served out of the pain they are baked in. “Tart” does not denote size.

          There are constructors I don’t care for. I don’t do their puzzles (unless they show up in the NYT, because I am obsessive about doing the NYT). So that’s an option.

          • Papa John says:

            I think I know what you’re suggesting — not solve BEQ puzzles. Nah, his highs cancel out his lows, resulting in a usually good puzzle. I’m obsessive of doing all the puzzles available here, despite my cussing and fuming while I’m at it. Better than taking it out on the dog, no?

        • Martin says:

          Tartlet shells are usually about 2″ in diameter. A tartlet can be as small as a single bite, used as a canapé. A tart can be anywhere from three or four inches up to pie-sized like Jenni’s. They are too big to be finger food, unlike a tartlet.

          • Papa John says:

            In my household, Grandma made small pies, maybe 3″ across, and put them in Grandpa’s lunchbox. She called them tarts. Or not — we’re going back a half century, here…

            Live and learn. Cool.

  5. David L says:

    Seems to me that the vowel progression in the NYT doesn’t work, because the vowel in HALL is not a short a (as in ‘pat’), whereas all the other vowels are the traditional short vowels (as in pet, pit, pot, putt). HALLEBERRY or some such would have been better.

  6. Art Shapiro says:

    Anyone know the whereabouts of today’s LAT in AcrossLite format?

    • Papa John says:

      I’ve notified Kevin. It should be available anon. I think he has to reset some electronic clapper each Monday. Sometimes he forgets.

      Kevin, like the Litz Brothers, is another unsung, behind-the-scenes guy who provides us with so much entertainment, gratis. Ya gotta love these guys!

  7. sandirhodes says:

    OMG! I had a BEQ mega meta moment!

    Thought for a long time about 22A Words of understanding. Once I had the xxS, I was still stumped. Used crosses to get to OHS. I looked at it and said “OH!” out loud. Then realized what I did, chuckled for awhile, then wrote this post!

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