Sunday, October 29, 2017

Hex/Quigley untimed (pannonica) 


LAT tk (Amy) 


NYT 8:29 (Amy) 


WaPo untimed (Erin) 


Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Monster Mash” – Erin’s writeup

WaPo solution, 10/29/17

There’s a lot going on at this Halloween party! A bunch of scary creatures have paired up and grown cozy enough to squeeze into the same squares.

  • 14d.[Monster Mash, Part 1: Night of the Fleshless Lycanthrope] SKELETON / WEREWOLF
  • 39d. [Monster Mash, Part 2:
    The Bridge Guardian
    From Hell] TROLL / DEMON
  • 54d. [Monster Mash, Part 3: Attack of the One-Eyed Bloodsucker] VAMPIRE / CYCLOPS
  • 86d. [Monster Mash, Part 4: Undead Egyptian From Another Planet] MUMMY / ALIEN
  • 97d. [Monster Mash, Part 5: Terror of the Legendary Bullheaded Reptile] MINOTAUR / BASILISK
  • The clue for 20d. BEAST is [Monster], and for 111d. CRUSH is [Mash].

The number of theme squares is low, but any more and the quality of the fill would likely suffer, given the constraints of this theme mechanism. The constructor keeps everything squeaky clean here.

Other things:

  • 141a. [“Stranger Things” actress] RYDER. Season 2 was released on the 27th. We haven’t started it at my house yet for fear that we’d stay up all night watching.
  • 128a. [Bill of ___] ATTAINDER. Tech Law Journal defines it as “a legislative act that singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial.”
  • 5d. [Hermaphroditic creature] EARTHWORM. Earthworm reproduction is fascinating. In case not everyone wants to see diagrams, a description can be found here.
  • 44d./45d. [Beguiling character] SIREN and [Emulate a 44 Down] TEMPT. Apparently Temptin is the name of one of the earthworm sex pheremones. I wonder if this is a coincidence.

Ross Trudeau’s New York Times crossword, “Going Off Script”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 29 17, “Going Off Script”

Various famous(ish) lines from movies are paired with “[actor surname] LINE” answers that are familiar(ish) phrases unto themselves:

  • 22a. [“The Lion King”], “HAKUNA MATATA.”
  • 24a. [Pool divider, or a further hint to 22-Across], LANE LINE. Nathan Lane’s Lion King character said “Hakuna matata.” I thought the strung-up floaty things separating lanes in the pool were called lane dividers, but this site uses LANE LINE that way.
  • 42a. [“Jerry Maguire”], “SHOW ME THE MONEY.”
  • 59a. [Carnival, say, or a further hint to 42-Across], CRUISE LINE. Tom Cruise.
  • 76a. [“The Force Awakens”], “CHEWIE, WE’RE HOME.” We’re jumping over 61a since it is paired with the quote at 101a.
  • 99a. [F-150s or Thunderbirds, or a further hint to 76-Across], FORD LINE. Harrison Ford. “Ford line” doesn’t feel so in-the-language to me.
  • 101a. [“The Dark Knight”], “WHY SO SERIOUS?”
  • 61a. [Musical score marking, or a further hint to 101-Across], LEDGER LINE. Not being a musical type, I have never seen this term. Heath Ledger’s Joker, though, I know.

Fresh angle for a theme, certainly. Of mixed success, but in general, I like it.

Favorite fill follows: ALAKAZAM, which is also a Pokémon (it’s what you get when you evolve an Abra into a Kadabra and then take it one more level). THE CURE? I played the heck out of my cassette of their compilation album, Standing on a Beach, and always liked “Love Cats” (video below). Also liked the ROYAL WE, BONOBO (I encourage you to watch some bonobo videos at YouTube), and FATHER TIME. And PLUMS are delicious but they reach their fullest potential when they are cross-bred, as the clue says, with apricots (pluot, plumcot, Dinosaur Egg plum, whatever you want to call it—I will eat it).

From the “What the…” Department:

  • 14d. [Eponymous Israeli gun designer], UZI GAL. Say what? Apparently he was born Gotthard Glas and changed his name to Uziel Gal in Israel. I’m fairly certain that Uzi Gal is not a household name among more than a tiny fraction of solvers.
  • 61d. [Pariahs], LEPERS. Insert frowny face here.
  • 82a. [Herb pronounced differently in the U.S. and U.K.], BASIL. So which people say bay-zil vs baz-il? My husband and I split down the middle on this one, and we’re both American so I’m confused.
  • Pick the numbers from 1 to 20!

    110a. [Language in which the first four cardinal numbers are ane, twa, three and fower]. SCOTS. Really! Somehow, all those language quizzes at have failed to teach me the Scottish number words … except that I actually played such a quiz this summer and nailed it. Although clicking through, I see that the Scottish Gaelic number names are waaaay different from these Scots ones, and I don’t know how I managed to puzzle them out.

Exceptionally blah fill includes LEHI and ELHI, KER-, OYS and EHS, ARTHURS, and ONE-A’S. Meh, I say.

Four stars from me.

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

CRooked • 10/29/17 • “First Shift” • Cox, Rathvon • solution

Initially thought that the title indicates that the first word in each of the theme entries is shifted around (read: anagrammed) but soon came to realize that it’s only the first letter that’s shifted to another spot in the word.

  • 23a. [New Orleans players in need of some pep?] ENERVATED SAINTS (venerated …).
  • 31a. [Prison job making lenses?] OPTIC SENTENCE (topic …).
  • 39a. [Neglecting to finish your prayer?] AMEN DROPPING (name …).
  • 61a. [Unappetizing dessert?] LUMP PUDDING (plum …).
  • 67a. [Signal to stop bidding?] AUCTION FLAG (caution …).
  • 92a. [Seeing who can cook green beans fastest?] HARICOT RACES (chariot …). Green beans are generally called haricot vert (haricots verts) while unspecified haricots typically refer to kidney beans or navy beans. These and many others are all cultivars of the same plant species, Phaseolus vulgaris. So clue is technically correct, but a bit weird.
  • 99a. [Pharmacist with a sneezy specialty?] ALLERGY DEALER (gallery …).
  • 111a. [Shifting ground?] EARTH TRANSPLANT (heart …). This final one’s meta, though not explicitly self-referential.

Not too excited by the theme overall, while still appreciating some of the niftier finds (chariot/haricot; venerated/enervated).

  • Must start at the most annoying spot: intersection of 10-across and 12-down. Yes, I get that this is a Boston-based crossword. I get that a lot of people enjoy baseball. But seriously, this? 10a [Kapler of the 2004 Sox] GABE and 12d [Fenway’s Mookie] BETTS. It’s fortunate that B was the most reasonable choice of letter for that square, but that’s a narrow-focus crossing to have in a puzzle.
  • More Bostoniania: 42a [View from the Charles] MIT, 47a [Jetsam of 1773] TEA, 69d [Sixer foe] CELT.
  • 20a [ __ branch] OLIVE followed by 21a [Harmonia’s father] ARES; that’s a deft touch.
  • 30a [Ransom of note] OLDS, 25d [ __ Martin of autos] ASTON.
  • 86a [Girasol, e.g.] OPAL. Sounds as if it could be a model of car, no? But the make is OPEL, named for the company’s 19th century founder Adam Opel.
  • 45a [Cup alternative] CONE. Had BOWL for some time; soup doesn’t work so well with a CONE.
  • 37d [Just above average] C-PLUS crossing 46a [Plus] ALSO. Really?
  • 66a [Chi preceder] TAI. In the Greek alphabet tau precedes chi (with upsilon and phi separating them). Snipped from Wikipedia:

    59d [Pi, e.g.] RATIO.
  • 115a [Something to do on 99 Down] WISH; 99d [“__ is Born”] A STAR. Is it kosher to cross reference to an abstracted answer but not its clue? (24a [Legit] VALID.)
  • 108d [“Nine” starter] ENNE. Anyone care to explain this to me? Without making too tenuous a connection?
  • A bunch of cutesy clues in the crossword. Most of them were OK and none were terrible.
  • Favorite clue: 70d [Well] NICELY.
  • 75d [Big pictures] EPICS, 106d [Quite a tale] SAGA.

And since this is neither an epic nor a saga, I’m going to 109d [Knock off] and STOP here.

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16 Responses to Sunday, October 29, 2017

  1. Huda says:

    Following up on yesterday’s query, I looked up “so-called” just to be sure. Merriam-Webster gives two definitions:
    “—used to indicate the name that is commonly or usually used for something
    —used to indicate a name or description that you think is not really right or suitable”
    As Martin surmised, I meant it in the first sense. It’s weird that these two meanings can be almost contradictory!

    • pannonica says:

      Figures that I’m conversant only with the disparaging sense of this apparent autantonym!

      Now if you’d said soi-disant

  2. Thom says:

    Am I the only one who gets annoyed when people use “lectern” and “podium” interchangeably? They are not the same thing

    • Lise says:

      So true, and reminds me of an incident that happened when my son was playing in our local youth orchestra, and during an especially bouncy portion of the music, the podium broke and the conductor listed seriously to port but did not fall over, nor did he or anyone else miss a beat. That’s some good flow, there.

      Sadly, I think the podium/lectern difference ship has sailed.

  3. dook says:

    Cuba Gooding Jr. says Show Me the Money, not Tom Cruise. Perhaps Cruise also says the line in the film, but the line is strongly associated with Gooding. He was unknown at the time and that scene won him the Oscar.

    • Christopher Smith says:

      The whole scene is about Gooding cajoling Cruise to say, louder & louder until he’s yelling into the phone, SHOW ME THE MONEY. That may not make it a CRUISE LINE, but there’s no “perhaps” about it.

  4. anon says:


  5. Lisa says:

    I live in Israel and Uzi Gal is not a household name for us

  6. Norm says:

    Brilliant WaPo puzzle today. Reminded me of the “double feature” (probably not its real name) puzzle that Merl (I think) created some years back with movie titles doubled up in down squares. Found it very difficult in places (many of the across entries for 54D and 97D seemed pretty obscure — to me, at least), but it was definitely one of those puzzles where grokking the theme helped out. And happy Halloween to all the monsters out there. I really hope to see a young BASILISK at my front door on Tuesday (even if it will be able to take all the candy as I avert my eyes)!

    • Norm says:

      Actually, it was July 25, 2013 (a Thursday puzzle) by Patrick Blindauer that I was thinking of. Credit where credit is due.

  7. Phil says:

    Very annoying that Across Lite only recognized some of the rebus letters in the WaPo. Anyone else have that problem?

    • GlennG says:

      Yes. By my count, 12 of the rebus squares are not encoded properly in the PUZ file.

      • Across Lite is extremely finicky when there are 20+ different rebus squares. This one has 33, and none of them are the same. All 33 of them show up fine on my Windows computer if you complete the puzzle correctly, but those 12 squares won’t show up right if you hit Reveal Solution before figuring them out. And I’m told on some devices (maybe just iOS ones?), they won’t appear correctly no matter what you do.

        Anyway, I did try for a while yesterday to see if I could trick Across Lite into accepting those squares, and it’s a shame they won’t display properly for everyone. That said, if you could still complete the puzzle and know exactly what’s supposed to go in those rebus squares, then in my book you still aced the puzzle no matter what your device says.

        • GlennG says:

          Thank you for your response. FWIW, I made a try and got one that will show all the rebus squares on my copy of Across Lite.

  8. Joan Macon says:

    Amy, I’ll keep my copy of the Sunday LAT until you have time to post it, mainly because I want your take on the theme which I found not inspirational! Thanks!

    • Margaret says:

      I often don’t get to the Sunday puzzles until later in the week but didn’t even bother to finish the LAT this time, wasn’t really worth waiting for. “Not inspirational” is kind, I think. Sorry, I just dislike this sort of theme.

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