Monday, February 27, 2017

BEQ  5:51 (Jenni) 


CS untimed (Ade) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT untimed (pannonica)  


WSJ untimed (jim)  


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

NYT • 2/27/17 • Mon • Burnikel • № 0227 • solution

After initially thinking there was a grievous duplication, the realization came to me that it was part of the theme. Examine the paired long entries:

  • 17a. [Intimidates, in a way] STARES DOWN.
    63a. [On a lower floor] DOWNSTAIRS.
  • 34a. [Period between wars] PEACETIME. As Ambrose Bierce defined it, “In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.” Further, he begins his description of WAR thusly: “A by-product of the arts of peace.”
    45a. [Watch or clock] TIMEPIECE.
  • 11d. [Unlined sheets without any writing] PLAIN PAPER.
    28d. [Classroom missile] PAPER PLANE.

These aren’t spoonerisms wherein the initial sounds of nearby words are exchanged, but a transposition of word elements—full words, actually—is involved. Like the best spoonerisms, they rely on spontaneous homophony.

Nevertheless, there is a high percentage of duplication here. DOWN, TIME, PAPER. That works out to 26 of 58 theme squares: 45%

Addemdum: As per Patrick’s comment, one more pair: 13d [Get angry] SEE RED, 47d [MOses parted it] RED SEA. 32 of 60 theme squares: 53%

  • 38a [Circus animals that balance beach balls on their noses] SEALS. Ya, these are sea lions, otariids. Ringling Brothers is out of business, let’s keep up the good work as far as animal incarceration and cruelty goes. Oh, and let’s also not try to wipe out vast swaths of biodiversity, shall we?
  • 56a [Exercise in a pool] DO LAPS, not to be confused with dewlaps (notably possessed by ZEBUS, ANOLES, (i)GUAN(a)S; 58d [Do the breastsroke, e.g.] SWIM. Avoiding a ‘swim’ dupe, but committing one with ‘do’, which ordinarily would be overlooked, unless the two clues are so closely allied.
  • Spicy Monday clue! 69a [Ones in suits?] ACES.
  • Colloquial FEEL ME: 24d [“Understand?,” slangily]
  • 31d [Alternative to AOL or Yahoo] GMAIL. I don’t think these are parallel entities. AOL:Yahoo!:Google and AOL Mail:Yahoo Mail:Gmail. Yes?
  • 48d [Beautifully strange] EXOTIC. Why the positive qualifier?

Disappointed. Despite the interesting nature (3d [“Cool!” NEAT) of the three four paired words and phrases—and how they’re oh-so-conveniently of equal lengths, just itching for symmetrical placemet—it seems too insubstantial a collection for a full crossword theme, especially with the inherent duplications.

Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pow!” — Jim’s review

Today we get two-word phrases in which the first word is a synonym for slug. The second word’s meaning is also changed as an added point of consistency.

WSJ – Mon, 2.27.17 – “Pow!” by Dan Fisher (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [Beat up on some medical files?] HIT RECORDS
  • 24a [Beat up on some pawns?] SOCK PUPPETS
  • 43a [Beat up on Senator Bernie?] BELT SANDERS
  • 55a [Beat up on sports stadiums?] PUNCH BOWLS

None of these strikes me as particularly funny and they mostly seem nonsensical — especially the last one. As Nancy Salomon says on regarding puns, “If there’s no surface sense, as with HOARSE COLLAR, then there’s no mental image and no humor.”

There’s a lot of really nice fill, but the nonsensical parts of the theme soured me on the whole puzzle. Still, objectively speaking, CALIFORNIA and TOADSTOOL are great long Downs. I also like BREVITY, CEREBRA, SAINT PAT, and MANICURE. PERISHABLE and SPRINKLED are fine as well. The rest of the puzzle is remarkably clean as one would hope given that the four theme answers are only modest in length.

Here’s hoping this is just an appetizer for tastier treats to come this week.

The Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu

Since we have PUNCHBOWLS immediately followed by OAHU in the grid, I was reminded of the Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu. It is part of an extinct volcano and home to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. I was a kid when I visited there in the 70s, so I don’t remember much about it, but its beauty and solemnity is still impressed upon me all these years later.

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

LAT • 2/27/147 • Mon • Grabowski, Venzke • solution

  • 66aR [Medical adhesive strip … and a hint to what can precede the first word of 17-, 25-, 40- and 52-Across] SKIN PATCH.

I ask: Is this a theme anyone is excited about solving?

  • 17a. [Filled light pastry] CREAM PUFF.

Great, now I'm thinking about a cream puff—which is something I already don't like—filled with skin cream.

  • 25a. [Gronk’s position on football’s Patriots] TIGHT END.

Gronk. Now that's a hell of a name for a football player. His team, uh, won the Super Bowl this year. I heard.

  • 40a. [Magician’s hand movement] FLICK OF THE WRIST.
  • 52a. [Like some pizzas and apple pies] DEEP DISH.

Do not get me started on deep dish "pizza".

This puzzle isn’t bad-bad, but it’s hurting me.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Themeless Monday #405” — Jenni’s Review

I’m back, and staying put for a while. I’m also jet-lagged, so I was surprised to look up and realized I had one of my fastest times ever on a BEQ themeless. This played more like an NYT T/W to me.

The NW corner was the last to fall. 8a [Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts] was a gimme (it’s HAGRID) and I solved clockwise from there.

A few things:

BEQ 2/27 puzzle, solution grid

  • 17a [Nipple rings] is one of those answers I fill in except for the last letter, because it could be AREOLAE or AREOLAS, It was the latter in this case.
  • I’m not sure I understand 36a [Dicey situation in the health insurance market]. The answer is DEATH SPIRAL. Are we talking about the dicey situation of one who is dying, or the uncertain state of the US health insurance market? Either way, it’s a cool entry, and it’s not clued with reference to pairs figure skating.
  • I also liked LAWN PARTIES  and GETS A GRIP in a diagonal stack above 36a. Nice.
  • 42a [Cordwood measurement] is STERE, which is the only crosswordese that jumped out at me. Does anyone actually use this word outside of crosswords?
  • 28d [Had a late meal] is ATE SUPPER. I was raised in the NYC suburbs and we never ate supper. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I know in some regions people eat breakfast, dinner, and supper – or at least they used to. Regionalisms are dying out, or so I’m told.
  • 51a [Tainted] is CORRUPT. {political comment redacted]

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that BIG PAPI (David Ortiz) holds the single-season HR record for the Red Sox. I, um, don’t pay attention to the Red Sox.

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Nation Building” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.27.17: “Nation Building”

Good day, everybody! We’re almost at the end now. The penultimate CrosSynergy crossword puzzle was written by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, and we have six theme entries in this one. In it, common phrases or names are altered by adding one letter which, when adding that letter, will turn one of the words into a country.

  • OMAN FRIDAY (17A: [“Muscat by the end of the week!”?]) – Man Friday.
  • IRAN WILD (21A: [Desolate region near the Persian Gulf?]) – Ran wild.
  • IRAQ ACCOUNT (32A: [Memoir from Operation Desert Storm?]) – IRA account.
  • SPAIN RELIEF (43A: [Bailout in Iberia?]) – Pain relief.
  • MALI BABA (54A: [Rum-soaked cake from a landlocked African country?]) – Ali Baba.
  • CHINA MUSIC (60A: [Radio output in Peking?]) – Chin music.

So there’s all the nations being “built” in the grid, and then there’s PAKISTANI in there to top off the geographical references (11D: [Karachi resident]). Pretty much sloshed my way through this puzzle, and wasn’t too enthralled with the level of crosswordese in the grid. Definitely made me want to say NERTS (37D: [“Phooey!”]) every time I came across an ANSWER like that, including “nerts” (10D: [Get back to]). Honestly, not much more to say on my end about this grid, except for not believing that this is the next-to-last edition of CrosSynergy.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BONE (4D: [Tibia or fibula]) – Remember Ken Bone, the spectacled, red sweater-wearing, supposed average Joe from the second presidential debate in 2016? I’m sure you do. But you know that there’s a different Ken BONE that has notoriety for being an assistant coach on the top-ranked Gonzaga University men’s basketball team? Before that, Bone was the head coach at Portland State and Washington State, as he led the former to its first two NCAA Tournament appearances in 2008 and 2009.

See you all for the final time on CrosSynergy tomorrow!

Take care!


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13 Responses to Monday, February 27, 2017

  1. Patrick says:

    Also: REDSEA and SEERED.

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    I usually agree with Pannonica’s reviews, but the NYT theme did not feel insubstantial to me. Far from disappointing, I thought it was terrific. Congratulations to C.C. on a very enjoyable puzzle.

    • Papa John says:

      Sign me on with those who think the NYT is darn good puzzle with a snazzy theme.

    • Ellen G Nichols says:

      I concur. Thought it was a great theme for MONDAY. Remember, we want Monday’s to draw in new solvers. Ten years ago I started successly solving the syndicated Monday puzzles, and grew from there. Good job, C.C. Hope you see this.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: I think the response to the puzzle comes in stages– as I solved, I felt this was too duplicative, as if it were lazy. But once I took stock of the premise and how it was executed, with verticals and horizontals interwoven, I felt this was a pretty original take on a Monday theme and still very accessible to a new solver.

  4. Joe Pancake says:

    I thought the NYT puzzle was an excellent easy puzzle and very impressively constructed.

    It does get a substantial ding from me, however, for the SEE NOTE, SEE RED dupe. Normally this wouldn’t bother me in the least, but in this case it’s very distracting since SEE RED is a themer and one that is opposite another theme with a homophone to SEE (SEA RED).

    If this infelicity could have been avoided, this would have been close to a perfect Monday for me.

  5. JohnV says:

    Agree BEQ quite easy. NE last for me. Guessed right on HAGRID.

  6. sparto says:

    BEQ: 19A – “Material used in a circus ring” – TANBARK is a new one for me. A little googling shows that it’s the bark chips used in landscaping and on walking trails. M-W definition specifically references its use in circus rings. Who knew?

    28D – ATESUPPER – Grew up in Michigan and we usually used supper and dinner interchangeably for the late meal. However, on Sundays we called the midday meal dinner, I guess because it was the day’s main meal.

    • Ellen G Nichols says:

      Agree. In my Missouri home, supper was a light late meal on Sundays and holidays after a big midday meal. It was a simple meal, due to all the work of the big meal.

  7. Norm says:

    BEQ: I think stere is a common usage in Europe, not so much in the US, so maybe it needed a tricky qualifier to escape being crosswordese? I actually found the “cordword” in the clue rather odd, since we buy wood by the cord.

  8. Joan Macon says:

    Amy, thanks so much for giving us the Sunday LAT. You are a gem!

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