Sunday, December 3, 2017

Hex/Quigley untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 8:14 (Amy) 


NYT 11:18 (Amy) 


WaPo untimed because a child closed Across Lite halfway through (Erin) 


Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Clothes Spin” – Erin’s writeup

WaPo solution, 12/03/17

Punny twist on words and phrases that end in articles of clothing:

  • 23a. [Confectioner’s jacket?] SUGAR COAT
  • 25a. [Hiker’s sports jacket?] TRAIL BLAZER
  • 38a. [Tour de France entrant’s shoes?] BICYCLE PUMPS
  • 60a. [Anchor’s underwear?] NEWS BRIEFS
  • 66a. [Construction worker’s hat?] DEMOLITION DERBY
  • 79a. [Lumberjack’s swimwear?] TREE TRUNKS
  • 97a. [Silhouette’s underwear?] SHADOW BOXERS
  • 113a. [Vegetarian’s shawl?] LETTUCE WRAP
  • 116a. [Vampire’s neckwear?] BLOOD TIES

Not knee-slapping hilarious, but simple and pleasant. BLOOD TIES is the only entry containing the plural form of an article of clothing that is usually singular. Also, the Tour de France entrant isn’t going to get very far in those shoes, thank you very much.

Other things:

Boy wearing green shirt and girl holding pink coin purse, both of which say “Milano”

  • 109a. [Group of ’60s activists whose name is one letter off from another group of ’60s activists] YIPPIES. Members of the Youth International Party, not the result of when a hippie and a yuppie procreate.
  • 123a. [Sauce that’s 80 percent vowels] AIOLI. Besides 80% vowels, aioli is required to contain garlic and olive oil. It often contains egg yolk, which can make distinguishing it from mayonnaise confusing. This article helped me figure out the difference.
  • 32d. [City that’s almost 300 miles from Roma] MILANO. My mother met a woman who lives in Milano on a Walt Disney World message board. They meet up when she is in the States, and she’ll occasionally bring gifts for my children. Here they’re modeling a shirt and coin purse she brought them.
  • 53d. [Molecule made up of three identical, simpler molecules] TRIMER. I cannot remember ever seeing this in a crossword before. Most of the crossings are easy enough, but I’m not sure about SUPINE because I’m used to hearing it. I don’t think it’s used that often in grids. Did anyone have trouble here?
  • 77d. [Longhaired breed of rabbit] ANGORA. SO. RIDICULOUSLY. FLUFFY! Look at these pictures. I want to hug them all.

Until next week!

David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword, “Shell Game”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, “Shell Game”—12 3 17

This is one of those puzzles where you can finish the whole thing without actually seeing what the theme is, which typically makes for a less satisfying solving experience if you’re used to seeing the theme along the way (or if you know there’s a meta). It’s the “Shell Game,” with a rebused PEA (where 12d and 31a meet) getting shuffled around beneath three nut shells: The circled letters form “shells” and spell out WALNUT, CASHEW, and ALMOND in the top and again (shuffled into a different order) in the bottom. (Note: Cashews do not grow inside shells. Their “shell,” such as it is, is really more of a poison-filled coating and/or fruit. Good luck playing a shell game with cashews!) I didn’t even notice what two of the bottom shells were. Assorted cross-referenced theme clues/answers are needed to make sense of it all. Let’s see if I can even find where those all are (and yay! who doesn’t love the slog of wading through 100+ clues to find the x-refs when one is already done with the puzzle?):

  • 65a. [The clue for 128-Down, if this shell game weren’t a scam], ARCTIC EXPLORER. 128d is FRY, but if you put that rebus PEA where the circled F is, you get Arctic explorer Peary. (Oh, hey, Peary was a bit of a colonialist Roy Moore.)
  • 86a. [The clue for 127-Across, if this shell game weren’t a scam], ATTACK WITH A PAW. First off, that’s one terrible-looking entry. 127a SWIFT becomes SWI{PE A}T with a rebus PEA. SWIPE AT is a shabby sort of entry, in my book (too many {verb + AT} phrases are).

I guess that’s it. So if this shell game weren’t a scam, those clues would tell you the PEA is under the walnut shell? This underwhelms me. And the CHAMOMILE/TEA cross-referenced clues add to the x-reffy vibe and should perhaps have been dispensed with, as they’re a distraction. The long PINT MEASURE (also a shabby entry, if you ask me) and LINCOLN LOGS (fun) aren’t thematic; nor are the Down answers ZAGREB, CROATIA and the weird “AMAZING, ISN’T IT?”

The northwest SEA WAR/ALCOPOP/ACCUSALS corner launched my sense of solver unease. That vibe continued with COACT, FTS, EPODE, AGRI-, EMO-RAP, OMOO, GO LAME, plural ALOES clued as [Lotion ingredients] (go ahead and look up which non-vera aloes are commonly used in cosmetics—would’ve been better, perhaps, to clue this via A Lesson From ___).

What else?

Singer on The Lawrence Welk Show. Lyrics: “And by yon bonnie braes where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond…”

  • 92d. [Loch on the border of the Highlands], LOMOND. Imagine my surprise when my husband tuned in a non-Chicago PBS channel from Indiana and it was showing Lawrence Welk’s show (which I think Chicago’s Channel 11 quit airing in the ’80s). Bonus BRAE sighting!
  • 82d. [Verb often said three times in a row], NAG. As in the generally sexist-sounding “Nag, nag, nag!” I hate this clue.
  • 5d and 40d are plural interjections, ERS and HIS. Not sure why these aren’t clued as emergency rooms and the possessive pronoun.
  • 26a. [Suburb of Chicago], OAK LAWN. Not one of the suburbs I’d expect people from outside the area to have heard of. Oak Lawn’s Chuck E. Cheese restaurant closed this year because it was a hotbed of violence. Did you know that Chuck’s full name is Charles Entertainment Cheese?
  • 54a. [The “K” in Kmart], KRESGE. Kresge! When I was growing up, there was a Kresge discount store in the Park Forest Plaza, complete with a lunch counter. I think my mom might have taken us there for grilled cheese sandwiches sometimes? There was also a Sears restaurant (yes, really, on the main floor of the three-story department store) where we could order grilled cheeses. We are not a lactose-intolerant family. I assume a lot of solvers have just about no idea that the name Kresge ever existed in American retail, and that AKC crossing ([Grp. with lots of pointers], meaning the dogs known as pointers, in the American Kennel Club) probably led to some cursing.

3 stars from me for this 22×21 puzzle.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “Sitting Room” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 12/3/17 • “Sitting Room” • Quigley • solution

Puns! About furniture made for sedent use. Some will lap it up, others won’t stand for it. Because puns.

  • 23a. [Regal roller coaster seat?] THRONE FOR A LOOP (thrown …).
  • 39a. [Things needed for unlocking a love seat?] KEYS TO THE SETTEE (… city).
  • 46a. [Hilarity involving an ottoman?] DIVAN COMEDY ([The] Divine …). Both ottoman and divan are of Turkish/Ottoman origin.
  • 67a. [Where the Patriots QB sits on the sidelines?] BRADY BENCH ([The] … Bunch).
  • 69a. [“This sectional is AMAZING!”] SOFA SO GOOD (so far, …).
  • 87a. [Yankee stadium seats?] BRONX CHAIRS (… cheers).
  • 94a. [Basic seat?] ELEMENTARY STOOL (… school). nb: Not alimentary stool. You’re welcome.
  • 114a. [Davenport you wouldn’t want to sit on?] DEADLIEST COUCH ([The] … Catch).

So. No clue-answer dupes in wording. Three of the answers that are titles are lacking the definite article without mention of the omission. True, these are well-known titles that are often evoked casually without the definite article, and true, it would make the cluing more unwieldy to acknowledge them, but it’s irksome nonetheless.

I say “meh” on the theme, docked further because of the two (2!) baseball references. Some will see that as a bonus or a nifty flourish. Not me.

  • More personal peeves: 14a [Dig fragments] SHARDS—I will forever prefer sherd(s). 59d [Nostril botherer] ODOR—I maintain that odor (as well as quite a lot of other words) is not inherently negative and seeing such pejoratives reinforced time and time again in crosswords is a drag.
  • 31a [Viva voce] ORALLY, 48d [Likely to speak out] VOCAL. Too dupey.
  • 35a [Will-o’-the-__ ] WISP, 80a [ __-o’-shanter] TAM. Let’s hear it for contracted polyhyphenates! Hip-hip-o’-ray!! (*Artistic licence)
  • Enjoyed the symmetrical pairing of 52a [By itself] APART and 84a [In and of itself] PER SE.
  • 103a [Some dogs] FIDOS; 109d [Doing nothing?] IDLE. Editor: pls switch question mk for these clues.
  • 105a [Neighbor of Zam.] ANG. Sure, but where’s BIAOLA? Why, it’s in Guangxi Province, China, of course.
  • 2d [First MLB player in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, familiarly] ICHIRŌ (Suzuki). “The Japanese name “Ichiro” is often written 一, meaning ‘first son’. Ichiro’s name, however, is written with a different character, 一, so that his name roughly means ‘brightest, most cheerful’. He has an elder brother, Kazuyasu Suzuki, who is a fashion designer.” (from Wikipedia)
  • 15d [Put a jinx on] HEX. They’ll have the CRooked next week.
  • 18d [One stuck in the 60s] D STUDENT. Nice clue.
  • 32d [Terhune’s “__ Dog”] LAD: A, a 1919 novel (and 1962 film). Not to be confused with the Russian card brand Lada, manufactured by the super-Scrabbly AVTOVAZ.
  • 60d [They act on impulses] SYNAPSES. Clever clue, but I don’t feel it quite works. Synapses don’t really perform any actions. They act as conduits for neurons. What say you, Huda?
  • 118d [“Castle __ Cloud”] ON A. This is apparently a song from Les Misérables. Hope I can forget that posthaste.

Nora Pearlstone/Rich Norris’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Movers”—Amy’s write-up

LA Times crossword solution, 12 3 17, “Movers”

The “Movers” title means that R’s are moved to create each goofy theme answer, then clued accordingly. BARN FLAKES is made from bran flakes and clued with [Screwballs in the hayloft?], for example. Prep school into PERP SCHOOL, disc brakes into DISC BAKERS (a longer move of the R), fried clams into FIRED CLAMS, craps table into CARPS TABLE (I was parsing it as “CARP something,” and wondered what the heck a crap stable was, other than that mess Hercules had to clean out), pizza bread into PIZZA BEARD, broad-minded into BOARD-MINDED, and bumper crops into BUMPER CORPS (with another R in “bumper” that doesn’t get moved, which is inelegant). The FIRED CLAMS amused me a bit, but the other themers felt dry.

Felt like there were a lot of answers with prepositions in them. ON SAFARI, awkward partial ON ONE, LATE ON, TAP IN, TIE TO, ASK OF, LED UP TO, LOTS OF … these add to the dryness, as do crosswordese answers like ESTOP EELER OREL BETELS SSRS ACTA, etc. (CAME INTO is more of a lexical chunk than phrases like LATE ON and ASK OF are.)

Four more things:

  • 62a. [Strict diet restriction], NO CARBS. Could have been tweaked into a theme answer, [Doctor’s declaration after successful treatment for pubic lice].
  • 69a. [Feline named for an island], MANX CAT. My mind first went to the Canary Islands, named after dogs, rather than cats and the reverse relationship.
  • 95d. [Windy-sounding woman’s name], GAIL. We would also have accepted Flatulena.
  • 15d. [Former name of Benin], DAHOMEY. I tell you, this doesn’t come up nearly enough in trivia circles, which is a shame because I know it. Its neighbor Burkina Faso was previously called Upper Volta. Nearby Ghana was once called the Gold Coast.

3 stars from me.

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18 Responses to Sunday, December 3, 2017

  1. steveo says:

    You know what killed me? My refusing to believe that OAKpArk might be wrong. Despite the triple-check with the ALMOND shell. So better luck for me next time :)

    • artlvr says:

      I grew up in Oak Park , IL… Oak Lawn is the site of an old cemetery where many of the family were buried, now full.

  2. Craig Mazin says:

    I’m curious why we needed an “F” in the revealer square at all. Why not leave that one blank? Isn’t the idea of a shell game that you lift the shell you think the pea (or whathaveyou) is under, but it’s not there?

    Not that SWIT and RY are great fill… but they’re both clueable.

    Puzzled about that F.

  3. Ethan says:

    It could have been SWIT and MY or TY, or TWIT and RN.

  4. Nene says:

    I really tried to grow fond of this puzzle but I feel disappointed. Still don’t get the theme…

  5. artlvr says:

    WaPO — opposite of SUPINE: prone… I’ve always wondered why we also use it to mean”be likely to do something!”? It doesn’t seem at all likely!

    • pannonica says:


      Origin and Etymology of prone
      Middle English, from Latin pronus bent forward, tending; akin to Latin pro forward — more at for

      First Known Use: 14th century
      You can see how the two senses diverged from the root meaning,

  6. Penguins says:

    Very creative NYT with good fill. I would only say, as others have, that the circle in the F spot felt a bit off. Perhaps a black box could’ve been used instead. Still a nifty puzzle that I enjoyed.

    Humorous WSJ with good fill as well.

  7. JohnH says:

    I felt really lucky to finish, especially the pez, crack team, gag reel, moe, en bloc, pc game, eragon, zagreb block, but never cared for those entries like SHORT E much, and ECKO, say, was no fun either. (And not convinced that ART DECO is much in line with Cubism rather than a detour away from high Modernism.) With that fill, it’d have been nice if the theme were exciting and demanded a lot of compromise in the fill. Say, it’d have been nice if anything in that block that threw me were crossed by a theme entry.

    As it was, I ended up just scratching my head at what the F meant and, otherwise, sharing Amy’s feelings that it came too late to be an integral part of the puzzle and that it just wasn’t enough.

  8. Norm says:

    All that work for one little trick that I can’t even call a theme? And don’t get me started on ERAGON (FTW?) and EMORAP. Not a good puzzle.

  9. Sorry if TRIMER was a toughie. I wanted TREMOR there but I liked the resulting fill less. I probably could have done it with an extra black square, in retrospect.

    Though, possibly fun fact: If anyone has encountered the term “dimer” in a biology or chemistry class, it’s basically the same thing, except it’s made up of two smaller/identical molecules.

    • Jenni says:

      I’m familiar with “dimer” because there’s a commonly used blood test called “d-dimer.” I had never heard of “trimer” but did indeed figure it out by analogy. ETA: not sure if they use d-dimer in kids so not sure if Erin runs into it.

      • It wasn’t a problem for me. I was able to extrapolate it from D-dimer, and SUPINE was cake for me. I mentioned it because I wasn’t sure if non-chemistry or medical folks would have trouble.

  10. David Steinberg says:

    The original version of the puzzle I submitted did not have a circle around the F. There is no significance to this F, and in my opinion, the circle shouldn’t be there. Sorry for any confusion this caused! For more about the puzzle, please see my Wordplay/XWord Info constructor notes.

  11. huda says:

    NYT: I loved this puzzle. It made me smile and I thought it was a very nice departure from the usual pool of options on Sundays. Bravo for creativity.

    I got the theme early and wound up filling the circles as soon as I had one letter and could guess the nut… I also liked discovering that the bottom nuts were the same in a different order… I was not too bothered by the F… I assumed it was for fake or something like that…

  12. Noam D. Elkies says:

    So MIT’s 54A:KRESGE Auditorium is named after the K of Kmart? (Wikipedia confirms.) Learn something new . . .


  13. David says:

    This was the least favorite Sunday Times puzzle for my wife and me in the 3+ years we’ve been together. But the NAG clue didn’t seem sexist as it’s often said by and to both sexes (happily, not in the last three years!); I liked that clue.

    The puzzle definitely felt like a chore in many places and over all. We didn’t like SEA WAR, LPN, FTS, TYS, OAKLAWN, or PC GAME, which was next to ERAGON, a clue we never even saw till it was over. We did like KLEPTO, GAG REEL, and the other ones you liked. But over all, the cross-referencing was no fun, and the swapping of PEA for F made no sense.

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