Monday, January 29, 2018

BEQ 5:46 (Laura) 


NYT 3:21 (Amy)  


LAT 1:49 (joon) 


WSJ untimed (Jim)  


Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 29 18, no 0129

Unusual theme layout: Four long answers going downward and an 8-letter revealer in the lower left. DOWNSIZE is clued as 62a. [Diminish the work force … or a literal hint to the answers to the four starred clues], and the sizes SMALL, MEDIUM, LARGE, and JUMBO appear in the quartet of themers.

  • 3d. [*”Crazy to run into you here!”], “SMALL WORLD.”
  • 6d. [*Newspapers or magazines], PRINT MEDIUM. That singular form looks weird, doesn’t it? I almost want the clue to be [A newspaper or a magazine], not the plurals.
  • 27d. [*Contest for an areawide seat], AT-LARGE RACE. Not a term I’m familiar with. Is this regional, perhaps? Just not a Chicago/Illinois thing?
  • 31d. [*Nonsense], MUMBO-JUMBO.

Lynn took pains to have the Down themers in order by clue numbers as well as on the left-to-right gamut. Slight inelegance in having small refer to size in 3d, while the other terms aren’t about size.

Five more things:

  • From

    14a. [Hedy in Hollywood], LAMARR. There’s a documentary about her that came out in November (here’s the short trailer). If you only know her as the old-time movie star, you should learn about her technical wizardry as an inventor. And if you don’t know who Hedy Lamarr was at all, well you should know that technical brilliance and being a gorgeous, glamorous woman aren’t mutually exclusive.

  • 15a. [Dessert topper from a can], REDDI-WIP. Know your oddball commercial spellings!
  • 48a. [Students’ simulation of global diplomacy, informally], MODEL U.N. I never participated, but I’m sure some of you did.
  • 49d. [Asian yogurt drink], LASSI. I assume there’s a restaurant somewhere that has Lassi Come Home on its whimsical menu.
  • 55d. [Poet ___ St. Vincent Millay], EDNA. I’ve never really read her work. Here’s “Ebb,” at right. Wow.

Four stars from me.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “So True!” — Jim’s review

Hidden word theme this Monday as revealed by 38a [“Anyone agree with me?” and a hint to what’s hidden in the starred answers]: CAN I GET AN AMEN? Yup, four of ’em.

WSJ – Mon, 1.29.18 – “So True!” by Zhouqin Burnikel

  • 17a [*Industrial Revolution power source] STEAM ENGINE
  • 26a [*Family time for Monopoly, say] GAME NIGHT
  • 53a [*Sing, in a way] NAME NAMES
  • 62a [*Voice of Elsa in “Frozen”] IDINA MENZEL

I love the revealer and the theme entries are all solid. I especially like the fresh find of IDINA MENZEL adding a contemporary feel to this tried and true theme.

A 13-letter central themer means the corners might feel some constraint. But our constructor is a pro and handles it with aplomb. Sure, there’s OTT and LAO, but the rest of the fill feels very clean. I didn’t spot any of the fun verbal phrases that Zhouqin often likes to employ, but we still get lively entries like TRASH CAN, CASANOVA, and AT STAKE down the middle.

Toughest entry for a Monday: 50d [“La Comedie Humaine” author] BALZAC. Got this from the crossings, but I have heard the name before, if only in crosswords. Lucky for me, otherwise it might have felt like getting hit in the BALZAC. CAN I GET AN AMEN?

Overall, a solid, clean puzzle to start the work week.

John Guzzetta’s LA Times crossword – joon’s review

LA Times, 29 Jan 2018

LA Times, 29 Jan 2018

the theme of john guzzetta’s la times puzzle is {Undesired medication consequence … and what can literally go with the end of 17-, 23-, 37- and 48-Across} SIDE EFFECT, as each theme answer ends with a word that can precede “effect” in a phrase:

  • {“Blueberry Hill” R&B singer} FATS DOMINO.
  • {Title passenger train with an “ever-lovin’ light”} MIDNIGHT SPECIAL.
  • {Cho-Cho-San story on which a Puccini opera was based} MADAME BUTTERFLY. have to be careful with the crossings here, as the italian title is MADAMA BUTTERFLY. but 39d is ERAS, not ARAS, so we’ve got the english version. while we’re here, i’ll note that i’ve only ever seen the character’s name spelled as cio-cio san, as in the italian version; apparently the original story was in english and did use the cho-cho spelling (and MADAME rather than MADAMA). the story is considerably less famous than the opera, but that’s a thoughtful editorial decision to disambiguate the spelling.
  • {Body of water bordering most of Connecticut’s coast} LONG ISLAND SOUND.

my only quibble with this theme is the “literally” in the reveal clue. SPECIAL, BUTTERFLY, and SOUND can indeed literally take a side EFFECT; but DOMINO is in the middle of the grid, not on the edge. maybe this is too petty. on the other hand, it doesn’t seem like it would have been hard to move FATS DOMINO to the right edge and its symmetric partner SIDE EFFECT to the left. that would have added a nice spatial element to the theme.

okay, i lied: i have one more quibble. both SPECIAL and SOUND are much more commonly followed by “effects”
in the plural, to the point where the near-homophone “FX” is used as a standard abbreviation in these instances. i suppose you could still talk about a single sound effect, but i don’t know what would be meant by a single special effect.

some other things on the side besides effects:

  • {Fabric woven with metallic threads} LAMÉ. i’m happier to see this cluing angle than the distressingly common use of LAME to be an all-purpose derogatory term.
  • {Tatum of “Paper Moon”} O’NEAL. i initially entered O’NEIL and it took me a while to find my mistake,
    because BIND looked just fine on the crossing. actually, this gives me an idea for a terrible not-quite-schrödinger theme, where you could write a clue such as {Join (together)} that works for either BAND or BIND so that solvers would have to know whether it was O’NEAL or O’NEIL without help from the crossing. i have a distinct recollection, actually, of a crossynergy puzzle from years ago where O’NE_L crossed T_T clued, cruelly or carelessly, as {Part of an even exchange}, and i think i complained about it here. i believe that one was baseball great buck O’NEIL.
  • {Least active} IDLEST. this seems like a superlative i would have very little use for.

3.6 stars.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s themeless Monday crossword — Laura’s Review

BEQ - 1.29.18 - Solution

BEQ – 1.29.18 – Solution

O HAI [8a: LOLcat greeting], it’s a gateway puzzle! BEQ turned down the difficulty level in order to lure in new solvers. Then once they get addicted, they’ll keep coming back, and he’ll rake in … nothing but the adoration of his fans, since his website puzzles are free.

  • [27a: Place near Sundance?]: ETTA Place was the romantic/life partner of Harry Longabaugh (a.k.a. The Sundance Kid); she disappeared in 1909, and there are several theories regarding her fate. Katharine Ross played her in the famous movie.
  • [20d: Many pussy hat wearers]: FEMINISTS. I feel like pussy hats were somewhat more popular at last year’s Women’s Marches, but there were plenty to be seen last week. Here’s a pattern if you’d like to knit or crochet your own out of [34a: Loom string]: YARN.
  • [18a: Some Arp work]: DADA ART. As in Jean ARP, who appears in many grids. Is DADA ART redundant? Or an oxymoron? Dadaism was known in some circles as “anti-art.”
  • [11a: ’80s punk label that launched 40-Across]: SST Records was founded by Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn. Throughout the 80s and 90s, SST released albums by many bands I listened to in that era, including Soundgarden, Dinosaur Jr., and SONIC [40a: ___ Youth (punk rock icons)].
  • [16d: Singer with the 1998 hit “Save Tonight”]: EAGLE-EYE CHERRY. In heavy rotation on Q101: Chicago’s New Rock Alternative in the late 90s (as I recall), this catchy song from 1997 has held up pretty well. It also received the Rockbjörnen Award for Swedish Song of the Year.

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13 Responses to Monday, January 29, 2018

  1. Tim in NYC says:

    There’s a short biography of HEDY LAMARR by Richard Rhodes. Her first husband, in Austria, was an arms dealer who sold to the Italian and German governments. While the fascists and Nazis dined at her home, she played the lovely hostess while taking in the conversation about weaponry.

    It’s good that she lived long enough to be aware that she had become a geek goddess. I was in the tech industry and we all knew about her as an inventor.

  2. David L says:

    PRINTMEDIUM just seems wrong to me. We talk about ‘the media’ or ‘mainstream media’ as means of information delivery, but it’s a collective noun. I can’t imagine how you would use ‘medium’ in the same sense.

    And the clear seems to demand a plural, as far as I can see.

    Good puzzle otherwise.

  3. Noam D. Elkies says:

    I wonder how much longer 31D:MUMBO_JUMBO has before becoming the subject of a tabooing campaign due to its unsavory origin.

  4. e.a. says:

    the central answer in the burnikel puzzle felt off to me as an explainer of the theme, but in all other respects, this is what anyone writing a monday puzzle should aspire to.

  5. Demon says:

    I love the PATRIOT/EAGLE mashup in BEQ

  6. Penguins says:

    NE corner of the BEQ is a trivia trainwreck

    • LauraB says:

      Nah. Even if you didn’t know ANNETTE or DADA ART, all of the downs are gettable.

      • Penguins says:

        HAI, SST, ANNETTE, FILIGREE, DADA ART, YALTA, INDIAN, EAGLE EYE, SNEAKS. Yes, it’s doable, but it’s still trivia infestation.

  7. Tim in NYC says:

    Laura thanks for explaining the ETTA clue, which I found completely baffling.

    BEQ’s site is free, but he gladly accepts contributions, which I’m equally glad to give.

  8. Gareth says:

    Was looking at the 1:49 LAT from joon with wide eyes, but finished in 2:13 myself, which is about as fast as I’ll ever solve anything online… Still, the basic theme gave us flavorsome across answers, which is the main thing I ask for in a Monday puzzle. Maybe having MIDNIGHTSPECIAL as a long gimme made it play extra easy (Lead Belly fan!)

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