Monday, 3/8/10

LAT 2:58
NYT 2:31
CS untimed
BEQ untimed

Stanley Newman’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 8The final Down clue, 64D: ‘TIS/["__ the season to be jolly"], has a little echo of the Four Seasons theme. Two places, two people, four plurals of the seasons of the year:

  • 16A. COLORADO SPRINGS is the [Home of the U.S. Air Force Academy]. The town was recently in the news for cutting standard city services rather than raising taxes.
  • 27A. Buffy! I love Buffy. BUFFY SUMMERS is the name of the [Vampire slayer of film and TV]. I’ll bet all across the land, non-Buffy fans will pitch a fit because they don’t know her last name—but when the other theme entries end with SPRINGS, FALLS, and WINTERS, can there be any uncertainty?
  • 45A. [City in 21-Across] means [City in Texas]. What is WICHITA FALLS doing in Texas? Why isn’t it a suburb of Wichita, Kansas? Totally relied on the crossings here.
  • 60A. JONATHAN WINTERS is clued as the [Comedic inspiration for Robin Williams]. Am I the only one who’s had trouble distinguishing between Jonathan Winters and Dom Deluise?

Eight more clues:

  • 1A. [Capitalized, as a noun] means PROPER.
  • 7A. Is CASSAVA, the [Tapioca source], unexpected in a Monday crossword?
  • 67A. RETASTE? Meh. When I [Take another sip of] something, I don’t say that I’m retasting it.
  • 10D. “SUITS ME” suits me. It means ["I have no problem with that"].
  • 12D. Did you know that VEGA was a [Bright northern star]? I kinda wanted Jim Carrey here.
  • 26D. Does anyone named Amy not like the word AMIABLY? It means [In a cordial way].
  • 42D. SHA NA NA was the ’50s throwback [Musical group with its own 1977-81 TV show]. I think they were riding on the Fonz’s coattails.
  • 57D. B’WAY is a famous [Street through Times Sq.], but Chicago’s North Side has a street called Broadway too.


Updated Monday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Character Study”—Janie’s review

We all have our theme-type preferences and faves. Not everyone is likely to [Be a fan of] ADMIRE every construction. Quip puzzles (and step-quotes…) definitely have their detractors. But (as I’ve said before…) I wouldn’t be one of them. Think of the “characters” on your keypad as you decipher the title, and work on the Downs if you need a nudge with filling in the three-part theme-fill, which responds to the main clue [Sign that you're addicted to texting...]:

  • 20A. WHEN THE CHARGE
  • 38A. ON YOUR CELL PHONE
  • 60A. BILL HAS A COMMA.

Yep. That’d be a sure sign that it’s time to get yourself a new “favorite pastime.” I know how to text, but Luddite that I am, have approximately zero interest in texting as a primary means of communicating. Unless I’m placing a call, my cellphone is never on. And it doesn’t have a QWERTY keyboard. So, all in all, the expedience/advantage of texting is lost on me.

Over all, I found Patrick’s cluing to be a bit more challenging to crack than usual. This is a compliment. [Bundled off] for SENT, [Differently] for ELSE, [Work with] for USE, and others all had me scratching my head some.

As far as “mini-themes” go, I found a couple of ‘em. First, there’s a “menagerie” motif as suggested by:

  • BREED [Dog show classification]
  • BOAR [Sow wooer] (a “ha-ha” funny clue to say aloud, and even to see on the page)
  • “ROAR!” [Lion's "Back off!"], which lies below both boar and the rhyming OAR…
  • OXEN [Yoke-wearing pair]
  • STIMPY [Ren's cartoon companion], a Manx cat; and
  • RAMS, though today these “butters” are clued verbally as [Tries to batter].

Still, rams in its clued sense gives me the segue to the next “mini-,” which I call “Anger Management & Villains” (who need it…), which also includes:

  • MAUL [Injure severely]
  • ANGERED [Made mad] (first entered ENRAGED here…)
  • SNEER [Scornful smile]
  • DARTH [First name in sci-fi villainy]; and
  • ALTER-EGO [Hyde, to Jekyll], as Hyde was someone you definitely didn’t wanna mess with.

Loved seeing CARTHAGE [Ancient African city] in the grid, ditto YEARBOOK [Alumnus's keepsake] and especially the lovely PROMENADE [Strolling site].

Fave cross makes reference to a pair of heroes (offsetting those villains): [GI Joe company] HASBRO and [Spider-Man creator Lee] STAN.

Smartly done!

Nancy Kavanaugh’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 9RIFLES hold the key to this theme: 47D: [Weapons in which you can find the starts of 17-, 31-, 46- and 62-Across]. The four rifle components are found here:

  • 17A. CHAMBERMAID is a [Hotel room cleaner]. What a horribly antiquated-sounding word. On the Disney cruise a year ago, the chambermaids were mostly men on our corridor.
  • 31A. The HAMMERLOCK is an [Arm-twisting wrestling hold].
  • 46A. The BARREL RACE is a [Rodeo event with obstacles].
  • 62A. [Without prior inspection] clues SIGHT UNSEEN.

Favorite clues and answers:

  • 4A. [Words of deliberation] are “LET’S SEE…”
  • 24D. THE NHL is the [Stanley Cup org.].
  • 13D. [Ten consecutive wins] would be an incredible STREAK at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. The record is Tyler Hinman’s five-peat.
  • 37A. An [Electric car's lack] is a GAS TANK. Given that I don’t park my car near an outlet, that’s not an option for me. But I have my eye on the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Anyone have any experience with that car?

Least favorite:

  • Three plural abbreviations: GIS (11D: [Audience for 1-Across]) qualifies as a real word, not an abbreviation, but it’s tied to the abbreviation USO (1A: [Support gp. for the troops]) and appears opposite CMS (69A: [Divs. on some rulers]). There’s also 1D: UPCS/[Lines on mdse.] and ICUS (49D: [Closely monitored hosp. areas]).
  • Non-plural abbrevs (NYU, ENE, SWM, CR) and word fragments (suffix -EST, prefix DYS-) abound, too.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Circling the Dates”

Region capture 10This puzzle’s a rerun from the music magazine Paste. The circled letters in the grid spell out the music festivals Lollapalooza, Coachella, and Bonnaroo…which would all be cooler as complete entries than broken into pieces as they are here.

Usually the Across Lite timer starts running as soon as I open a puzzle, and boom, I’m off to the races. If the timer doesn’t start itself, I typically don’t notice until I finish the puzzle and look to see how long it took me. Oh, well. No solving time today.

I can understand flat fill that intersects with the embedded festival names—see C-CLAMP, TO POT, ALLA, NOL—but the corners of the grid also had some clunkers. Too many, if you ask me. ATH atop LHO crossing VH-ONE, ERNES crossing TSETSE, D-TEN atop N-TEST in a corner with Italian NIENTE and German DER…meh to all, I say. And there are 44 black squares to boot.

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11 Responses to Monday, 3/8/10

  1. PocketRebel says:

    Always a lurker, but never make a comment. “RETASTE” is pretty much the worst NYT crossword answer I’ve seen in a very long time.

  2. joon says:

    i’m kind of curious: why WICHITA? NIAGARA has the same number of letters and is infinitely more famous. but yeah, BUFFY is great. we need to see XANDER in a crossword soon.

  3. Gareth says:

    Interesting Monday theme: four seasons = a very obvious theme. Adding an “S”, not so obvious!

    Totally not a Buffy fan, but still knew her surname was Summers. Of the 4 entries Jonathan Winters was my stumbling block, heard of Edgar yes, Jonathan no.

    I’m curious as to why Stanley Newman chose to send this particular puzzle to Will Shortz, as he fairly frequently runs his own puzzles in Newsday (under a multitude of pseudonyms.)

  4. HH says:

    I think I’d've clued RETASTE as “Vomit slightly”. But that might just be me.

  5. davidH says:

    Amy, I’m with you on the cell phone – no QWERTY keyboard for me and it’s almost always off – but I do text my kids because I know they read them, and are not always in a position to take a call. A row of teenagers in front of us at the movies were texting throughout the show – very annoying.

    Anyway – sow wooer? Really? I actually spent a week helping a friend on his hog farm when I was younger – it happened to be a week during breeding, and there was very little wooing going on. No canoes, no ukuleles -

  6. ArtLvr says:

    In the CS, I wasn’t sure of the first vowel in ST_MPY, I had to run through the possibilities — cell phone BELL? cell phone BULL? cell phone BALL? Aha… your BILL! Pretty funny.

    Liked Nancy K’s LAT very much — It wasn’t immediately obvious what the theme was!

  7. ArtLvr says:

    p.s. — Weird… I just saw an interview on TV with the inventor of the cell phone!!! We should expect he’ll be in a crossword one day too — Martin Cooper!

  8. joon says:

    davidH, the crosssynergy puzzles are blogged by janie, not amy. i happen to know that amy has a fancy-schmancy new droid phone with a qwerty keyboard.

  9. Amy Reynaldo says:

    My Droid phone is so cool, I can text, e-mail, tweet, and play Sporcle quizzes with my QWERTY keyboard. And when I am too lazy to capitalize the first letter in a sentence of a text message, the Droid capitalizes it for me so I don’t look lazy. I appreciate its attention to detail. I even used my phone to deposit some checks yesterday. I’m not inclined to get any crossword apps for the phone, though. (Unless any speed-solvers can recommend an app that doesn’t impede speed solving, that is.)

  10. Nina says:

    My husband loves his new Droid too, but battery life is pretty limited. We like the GPS feature for driving–we just used it in a rental car on vacation. But it did send us on a very wrong turn in Miami. And we should have had a car charger with us as the battery was running low.

  11. Alex says:

    Swap out WICHITA for NIAGARA, BUFFY for LARRY and COLORADO for SARATOGA and you’ve got a puzzle we’ve already seen. I like the fact that the seasons were in order in today’s puzzle, at least.

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