Sunday, March 5, 2017

Hex/Quigley untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 8:22 (Amy) 


NYT 8:26 (Amy) 


WaPo 13:53 (Erin) 


Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword, “It’s Elementary”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 5 17, “It’s Elementary”

The circled letters contain the chemical symbols for elements that pertain in some way to the longer word or phrase that contains each symbol:

  • 22a. {[Circled letters]-filled contraption}, WEATHER BALLOON. With helium. Given that all sorts of balloons have helium, I’d have liked to see a little more specificity in the clue. WEATHER was not easy to come by.
  • 30a. {World landmark built with [circled letters]}, EIFFEL TOWER. With iron.
  • 45a. {[Circled letters]-based drugs], MOOD STABILIZERS. Lithium.
  • 60a. {[Circled letters]-advertised establishment}, ROADSIDE DINER. Neon signs aren’t strictly for roadside diners, and not all roadside diners have neon signs.
  • 73a. {[Picture displayed on a [circled letters] surface}, DAGUERREOTYPE. Silver.
  • 88a. {[Circled letter]-consuming activity]}, AEROBIC EXERCISE. Oxygen.
  • 99a. {[Sports implement often made from [circled letters]}, BASEBALL BAT. Filled this one in with zero crossings in place! Aluminum bats.
  • 113a. {[Circled letter]-fueled device}, NUCLEAR REACTOR. Uranium.
  • 15d. {[Condition contributed to by a lack of [circled letters]}, TOOTH DECAY. Calcium.
  • 71d. }[Fabled [circled letters]-hiding trickster}, LEPRECHAUN. Pot of gold.

I’d prefer if all the chemical symbols had two letters, for consistency. But it’s not as if there are great phrases that contain SB and pertain to antimony, so …


Did not know:

  • 21d. [Seaman’s chapel], BETHEL. Huh?
  • 67a. [Chocolate-and-banana liqueur cocktail, CAPRI. Say what?
  • 6d. [Guerrilla leader in “For Whom the Bell Tolls”], PABLO. Not a Hemingway fan, except for his limericks.
  • I pulled together PEWEE for 1d. [North American flycatcher], but wanted it to be PEWIT (which is apparently not a flycatcher but rather, a lapwing that is rarely ever spotted in the Americas).

Didn’t care for the opening corner, where PEWIT and OTERI cross a plural POWS, which, no. You can pluralize a P.O.W./prisoner of war, sure. But I had to look at five dictionaries before I found one that includes this countable-noun [Big hits] type of pow. Everyone else has it as an interjection, and pluralized interjections are one of the crappiest classes of crossword fill there is.

3.7 stars from me.

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “No Strings Attached” – Erin’s writeup

WaPo solution, 3/5/17

The puzzle’s title refers to attaching “No”-strings, or adding different languages’ words meaning “no” to common words and phrases.

  • 23a. [Powerful weapon for firing bock at people?] BEER CANNON (BEER CAN + NON)
  • 28a. [Famous setting piece?] NOTABLE SPOON (TABLESPOON + NO)
  • 58a. [“Avoid letting guys know that for now”?] DON’T TELL MEN YET (DON’T TELL ME + NYET)
  • 83a. [“The moon is made of green cheese,” for example?] COMMON NONSENSE (COMMON SENSE + NON)
  • 114a. [Engraved artwork depicting comedian Hill?] BENNY ETCHING (BENCHING + NYET)
  • 125a. [“You don’t think, therefore you’re stupid, Descartes”?] RENE INSULT (RESULT + NEIN)
  • 15d. [Sign on the Batcave entrance that says Batman’s there?] WAYNE INSIDE (WAYSIDE + NEIN)
  • 71d. [“Get lost, lords and ladies”?] SCRAM NOBLES (SCRAMBLES + NO)

There are also four instances of [Language of two of this puzzle’s attached strings] for GERMAN, FRENCH, ENGLISH, and RUSSIAN.

I wasn’t sure what was going on until I saw NYET in BENNY ETCHING, which matched up with the RUSSIAN answer. Using a few different languages instead of adding the same string to each entry is a nice touch. The clue for RENE INSULT made me laugh out loud.

The fill didn’t do much for me this week. A lot of the proper nouns were new to me, such as TANIA Raymonde, ARI Hest, and AMEDEO (Modligiani is unfamiliar to me, but I celebrate Mole Day every year, and still did not know Avogadro’s first name, and even the Mole Day website spells it wrong). Other random fill musings: UNC and USC near each other isn’t great, either, but they are tied to the nearby NCAA.

  • I did not know SCUTTLE meant “abandon.” To me, SCUTTLE will always be the seagull from The Little Mermaid. 
  • [Arab leader] for REIN is lovely, and nice pairing with [Arab leaders] for EMIRS.
  • Nice props to MERL [Cruciverbalist Reagle]. It’s still strange to think of ACPT without him.

Until next week.

Jim Holland’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “In Other Words”—Amy’s write-up

LA Times crossword solution, 3 5 17, “In Other Words.”

This puzzle’s theme answers are made by taking familiar phrases with the form “X in Y,” dropping the “in,” and moving the X word(s) into the midst of the Y words. It’s uneven in that  sometimes the X entity is 1 word and sometimes it’s 2 words, and the flanking Y words include 1/1-, 2/2-, and 2/1-word splits.

  • 23a. [At center stage, literally], THE THICK RIGHT OF THINGS. Right in the thick/of things.
  • 36a. [Start the day cheerfully, literally], A GOOD WAKE UP MOOD. Wake up in a good/mood.
  • 70a. [Stinging rebuke, literally], THE SLAP FACE. Slap in the/face.
  • 104a. [Request reassignment, literally], FOR A PUT TRANSFER. Put in for a/transfer.
  • 121a. [Delivers, literally], THE COMES THROUGH CLUTCH. Comes through in the/clutch.
  • 35d. [Now and then, literally], A ONCE WHILE. Once in a/while.
  • 48d. [Pay no admission price, literally], FOR GET FREE. Get in for/free. Uh, “get in for free” isn’t at the same level of idiomaticness as the other base phrases.

There’s zero humor to the theme, as nonsense phrases like FOR A PUT TRANSFER don’t have any surface meaning and just look weird.

Five more things:

  • 93a. [Fills with cigarette output, as a room], SMOKES UP. How do we feel about that as a crossword entry? I’m leaning 80/20 against it.
  • 32d. [“__ piece of the rock”: Prudential slogan], OWN A. Awkward partial. For a long time, the slogan was the more famous “get a piece of the rock,” so you’re excused for not being current on your Prudential slogans.
  • 19a. [Cadenza, e.g.], SOLO. I used the crossings for this one. What the heck is a cadenza? Oxford defines it as “a virtuoso solo passage inserted into a movement in a concerto or other work, typically near the end.” Okay, then.
  • 97a. [Part of DMV: Abbr.], DEPT. Illinois has the zippy” Secretary of State Driver Services Facility” rather than anything called the DMV, but if you Google “Elston DMV,” you do indeed get info for the place where my kid got his driver’s license this week.
  • 59a. [Pic source], NEG. Raise your hand if you’ve used a film camera in the last five years. *looking around room* Not very many of you, huh?

Overall, the fill’s on the dry side, with fustier bits like BETEL KETT SRI SERE T.S.E. OGEE. 2.75 stars from me.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Confession Session” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 3/5/17 • “Confession Session” • Cox, Rathvon • solution

It’s a funny quotey thing.


I bet they don’t shake hands there either, or is that the Howard Hughes Appreciation Society?

The fill in general was solid. Couple of names I didn’t know (108d Cub great RYNE Sandberg, 116a French CAPET dynasty), a bunch of proximate cross-referenced pairs (ALPO/IAMS, HERON/EGRET, RIBEYE/T-BONE – 38a/50d, 100d/90a, 106a/99d), a trio of tepid is-that-crossworthy  entries (54a Stub A TOE, 107a VAULT OVER, 4d TEETER ON).

Only part of the crossword that gave me trouble was finishing up the northwest corner. Uncertainty sorting out 1a [Grass clump] TURF or TUFT and 23a [Pouty look] MOUE or MOPE made it difficult to realize what 3d [Ag club name] was about (something to do with silver?), especially considering its unusual hyphenless in-grid appearance: FOURH.

5d [Apt anagram of “statement”] TESTAMENT is nifty, but the answer is 4̷5 the same as the original, the -ment suffix unmoved; also, 53a [Suitable] is APT. Other longish answers are 46d RADIATION, 40d PITA BREAD, 81d PERCOLATE [Ooze or filter through].

85d [Gear for Mookie Betts] GLOVE. I’m going to guess—without searching—that he plays or played for the Red Sox. Localization also explains—but doesn’t quite excuse—14d [Patriot-ic group?] AFC.

Was unaware that 118a [Assists, to cagers] are DIMES. Is there a ‘ten’ connection for basketball assists?

Again, an average crossword, a pleasant way to spend some weekend minutes in pastime.

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5 Responses to Sunday, March 5, 2017

  1. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: Apparently Seaman’s BETHEL is a church in New Bedford MA referenced (although not by name) in Moby Dick. Ultra-obscure clue.

  2. David L says:

    BETHEL (according to at least one online dictionary) has a specific meaning of a seaman’s chapel — how that meaning originated I don’t know. BETHEL is far more familiar to me as a name of Jewish temples.

    I’m not aware of any evidence that calcium deficiency is a cause of tooth decay. The fairly extensive wikipedia entry doesn’t mention any connection.

    • arthur118 says:

      The first answer to a google search for “calcium and tooth decay”, (there are 1,250,000 other results listed), produces this response from

      Calcium is also an important constituent for our teeth. Thus, deficiency of calcium in the body affects the teeth as well. Tooth decay is another sign of calcium deficiency in the body.

    • arthur118 says:

      The first answer to a google search for “calcium and tooth decay”, (there are 1,520,000 other results listed), produces this response from

      Calcium is also an important constituent for our teeth. Thus, deficiency of calcium in the body affects the teeth as well. Tooth decay is another sign of calcium deficiency in the body.

      • David L says:

        I don’t know that that’s a necessarily reputable source. Here’s another statement, from this website (whose reputability I know nothing about either):

        Although calcium is an important component in teeth, there is not much research on calcium intake and tooth decay. One study, published in a 1984 issue of “Caries Research,” did not find a link between calcium intake and cavities in children. Another study, published in a 1994 issue of “Fluoride,” did find a greater incidence of cavities in children with low calcium intake. This study, however, was on children in India and was also concerned with fluoride levels in the water, so it is not clear if it applies to children in developed countries.

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