Monday, March 12, 2018

BEQ untimed (Laura) 


NYT 3:10 (Amy)  


LAT 1:41 (erik) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


John R. O’Brien’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 12 18, no. 0312

I never saw the two-part revealer till 5 minutes after solving. It consists of two 3-letter entries in the middle of the grid, and out of order: 32a. [See 39-Across], EYE / 39a. [With 32-Across, what the answers to the starred clues each have], ONE. Can’t help thinking it would have been better to just mention the one eye in each of the theme clues rather than splitting a revealer in two weird spots. (They’re symmetrical, but easy to miss.) Mythological POLYPHEMUS, entertainer SAMMY DAVIS JR., a JACK OF SPADES, and BAZOOKA JOE are the themers. Bazooka Joe has one eye? Huh, an eyepatch—zero recollection of that from childhood.

There’s so much crusty fill in this puzzle, and it’s meant to be solvable by newbies since it’s a Monday. AGORA EERO AGAPE RANI (if you’re not Indian) UVEAS ESAI NENE VERSO ASP EGAD ERES and HEMAL? H-less O SAY? Contrived I CAN HELP? If you find your grid contains such vocab, start over. If you used auto-fill, don’t do that anymore. If you filled manually, raise your standards for what you’re willing to put in your grid. Many of the entries I’ve listed here are things that might perplex a typical college-educated person who’s new to crosswords.

It’s late and I’m tired (I forgot that pannonica’s laptop is kaput, and I forgot to line up a sub), so that’s it from me. 2.5 stars.

Craig Stowe’s Los Angeles Times crossword—erik’s write-up

LA Times crossword solution, 3 12 18

SMART PHONE, FAST ONE, BRIGHT SIDE, QUICK BREAD, SHARP CURVE – the first word of each theme answer is a synonym for the word “intelligent.” serviceable monday theme, not much to talk about.

supporting fill i definitely didn’t know back when i was a novice solver: ERG, RUR, DELE, ITEN, ESSA. (notice how those last two appear in the same corner, constrained by the theme density in BRIGHT SIDE and MENSA in a fairly wide-open area.) the crossings of BASRA/RUR and LORRE/ERG could be tough for some.

on the plus side: STREISAND!

i’m trying to think of more stuff to say, but now i’m just fixating on stuff like why the clue for SIX reads [Number of sides on most game cubes] – is “game cube” a thing, outside of the console? also, are cubes not definitionally six-sided? also, wait, did someone hear the phrase “never say die” once and take it super literally? my laptop battery is in the process of hitting zero, so i will wrap this up and spare you further such observations.

to play us out… PIPS.

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

BEQ - 3.12.18 - Solution

BEQ – 3.12.18 – Solution

Five things, because even though I only lost an hour of sleep, this morning is turning out to be brutal (I’m a bit of a LATE RISER), and HOLD IT — we’re getting another Nor’easter tomorrow.

  • [1a: Advertising icon whose first commercial was called “Park Bench”]: AFLAC DUCK. I heard that the agency that made those ads approached Ben Affleck to be in a new series of commercials, but he wasn’t having it. Relatedly, the term spokesduck is inherently funny.
  • [12a: Long and small hybrid dog]: CHIWEENIE. A cross between a chihuahua and a dachshund, one assumes.
  • [50a: 1987 Randy Shilts book about AIDS, with “And”]: THE BAND PLAYED ON. Shilts was a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle. He won the Stonewall Book Award for And the Band Played On. His last book, published just before he died of AIDS in 1994, was Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf.
  • [40a: Encoded series of transactions used in cryptocurrency]: BLOCKCHAIN. That’s the most succinct and clear definition that I’ve read so far. ICYMI, BEQ collaborated with the Fiend’s own joon pahk on a recent American Values Club puzzle with a similar theme.
  • [3d: The Black ___ (Americana group that took its name, supposedly, from flowers)]: LILLIES. I listen to a lot of Americana, alternative country, “roots music,” what have you, and I hadn’t heard of them. They’re pretty good!

Celia Smith’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Riverfronts” — Jim’s re-cap

The puzzle posted late, and I’m getting to it late, so this will just be a quick thematic re-cap.

Our theme today consists of phrases whose first word can be re-clued as if it was part of a river.

WSJ – Mon, 3.12.18 – “Riverfronts” by Celia Smith (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [Set of rules governing a river’s start?SOURCE CODE.
  • 21a [Sentry watching over a river’s end?MOUTH GUARD.
  • 37a [Engineers who relocate the course of a river?CHANNEL CHANGERS.
  • 57a [Purse snatcher on the side of a river?BANK ROBBER.
  • 63a [Group policing the end of a river?] DELTA FORCE.

Cute enough theme, I think, for a Monday. The clues didn’t hit my funny bone, but it works.

That’s a lot of theme material, so the grid is heavily sectioned off. With nothing longer than six letters in the Down direction, there’s not a lot of sparkle.

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17 Responses to Monday, March 12, 2018

  1. Robert White says:

    TURANGALEELA (Futurama) would have been a nice replacement for SAMMYDAVISJR; also might have made the NE corner less of a mess!

    Not a big fan of this theme…but, would these revealers be OK?

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: my 10-year old granddaughter wants to try her hand at crossword puzzles. I was pulling dessert together after our Sunday dinner and so I suggested she grab the App with the Monday puzzle and try it on her own. This wasn’t her first time and she’s pretty smart so she made some headway- she even knew POLYPHEMUS.. But every few seconds she’d ask me about something … AGORA, ESAI, EERO, AGAPE. At first, I told her about crosswordese, and how you need some fill like that in every puzzle. But as she kept asking, I started to wonder if this was really a Monday puzzle. I decided to join her in the solve. When we got to ONE EYED and SAMMY DAVIS JR we both gave up. What an odd, disturbing theme. It would have been palatable if it had not included a real person.
    I’m hoping for a fresh start with her on a future Monday.

  3. DH says:

    Anyone here playing the HQ Trivia game these days? (It got a mention in last Monday’s BEQ puzzle …). Last night we got stumped on an easy question about a face card and the number of eyes it had. That one turned out to be the King of Diamonds.

    I had a very mild discomfort with the inclusion of Sammy Davis Jr’s disability as a theme entry. Just seemed a little wrong to me. (He actually had two eyes – just one of them was glass …) And does the fact that someone wears an eye patch necessarily mean they only have one eye?

    Like I said, though, it was a very mild discomfort. Although I am a rank amateur and clearly not a “speed solver” by any means, this one made me feel like a pro. I didn’t see the theme until after the fact either.

  4. David L says:

    I suppose it’s a sign of how accustomed I have become to crosswordese that I barely noticed the clunky fill in today’s puzzle. The one word that stood out to me as decidedly non-Monday was COZEN.

    Does Bazooka Joe have a glass eye, or is his eye-patch just for effect?

    I recall that jokes about Sammy Davis Jr’s one-eyedness were part of the whole Rat Pack schtick, so his inclusion didn’t cause me any unease.

  5. Paul Coulter says:

    I had an unusual mistake in the BEQ at 11D, which was HOCK/PONTA. I put in HUCK/PUNTA. No complaints – didn’t think of hock for “sell,” and I figured huck might be an archaic verb from which huckster derives. Punta is in many Spanish place names, of course, and I wasn’t aware it’s ponta in Portuguese. Now I know. Thanks, Brendan, but I’m glad this wasn’t in an ACPT grid.

    • LauraB says:

      Had the same mistake, and was a little miffed until I ran the vowels and got the happy pencil. HUCK is indeed a verb form of the noun huckster, so it seemed to fit better than HOCK, which I associate with pawning rather than selling.

    • David L says:

      Same here. The first meaning of ‘hock’ that comes to my mind is indeed to pawn. I wonder if there is some expansion of meaning by association with ‘hawk’ = sell.

  6. Burak says:

    Wow, I am surprised by the rating for NYT. It had some classic crosswordese in it, but I didn’t think it was to a level that deserved a rating below 2. NE region had some tough crosses, to be fair, but there were also fresh entries in it. I didn’t particularly like or dislike the theme, but I thought it worked. I’m again surprised to see that it didn’t pass the breakfast test for some. Interesting.

  7. placematfan says:

    Are David Steinberg’s (as editor) new venue really not going to be covered on Fiend? Come on.

  8. Jeffrey K says:

    Archie Bunker: When Sammy Davis Jr. gets here, whatever else you blab about, don’t say nothing about his eye.

    Edith Bunker: What eye?

    Archie Bunker: Now, Edith, let me tell you, see. One of them is glass. You’ll find out when he gets here which of them, see, but don’t talk about it, all right, will you remember that?

    Edith Bunker: Yeah.

    Archie Bunker: [after cautioning Edith profusely not to mention Sammy Davis Jr.’s glass eye] Now Mr. Davis, do you take cream and sugar in your eye?

  9. NonnieL says:

    Strongly recommend “And the Band Played On.” Ages ago, when I used to run on a treadmill, I listened to the audiobook narrated by Willem Dafoe. Riveting.

    • huda says:

      Wow, that’s a blast from the past. I remember reading it when it first came out! My brother is an AIDS physician and started at that time. It’s amazing to think back on how the treatment for that disease has evolved.

      • Jenni says:

        Huda: I stopped taking care of AIDS patients in primary care when the newer, more effective meds came out, because it was changing too fast for non-experts to keep up. That was a long time ago. I was stunned four or five years ago to hear an infectious disease doc say that AIDS is no longer a terminal illness because the meds are so effective. Of course, that’s only true when people can access and effectively use the meds….

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Another excellent book about the early days of the AIDS crisis is Abraham Verghese’s “My Own Country,” the doctor’s memoir of becoming the local AIDS specialist in eastern Tennessee as the virus took hold there.

      • Jenni says:

        Loved both of those books. I read “And The Band Played On” during a cross-country flight when I was in residency, and it haunted me. Still does.

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