Monday, 5/24/10

BEQ 6:15
NYT 3:39
LAT 3:31
CS 6:59 (Evad)

Bob Johnson’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 13(Confidential to Linda M.: I have identified the level of margarita that definitely impairs crossword skills. It is half a pitcher from Cesar’s, where the margs are potent.)

The theme is some sort of cheeseburger, with the various components found in circled, sometimes noncontiguous squares in six rows of the grid:

  • 5A. [UCLA player] is BRUIN, hiding the top bun.
  • 17A. [Football alignment named for its shape] is a T FORMATION. I can’t find the photo I took of a tomato slice on a friend’s restaurant salad. It was a cross between pastel peach color and beige.
  • 26A. There’s a pickle in PICK OF THE LITTER, or [Top choice].
  • 45A. ["Light" dessert?] clues CHERRIES JUBILEE, which is lit on fire.
  • 58A. Here comes the meat. BUCK ROGERS is your [Sci-fi hero in the 25th century].
  • 64A. [To the point, ironically] clues BLUNT because something that’s blunt doesn’t have a sharp tip.

While the pickle and cheese and the top and bottom buns are centered, I think it’s appropriate that the cheese and tomato are shooting off to the sides.

There are a few words that seem out of place in a Monday puzzle:

  • 6D. RETINT is clued as [Recolor again, as the hair]. I can’t help thinking that neither Bob Johnson nor Will Shortz has ever been to a colorist. I have (this morning, in fact), and “tint” and “retint” have never entered into it.
  • 18D. MYRON is an [Ancient Athenian sculptor]. No famous Myrons since ancient Greece, huh?
  • 22D. APIA is the [Samoan capital]. If this town is new to you, learn it—it’ll keep showing up in crosswords.
  • 43D. AB OVO means [From the beginning: Lat.].

My favorite answers and clues:

  • 44D. VINEGAR is [The "sour"  in sweet-and-sour].
  • 47D. The rather archaic word JERKIN means [Sleeveless jacket].
  • 53A. VENTI is a [Starbucks size that's Italian for "twenty"].
  • 11D. COLLATERAL is [Property securing a loan].
  • 28D. CRIME SCENE is clued [It might be marked off with police tape].

Updated Monday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Making the Grade”—Evad’s review

cs524
Today’s CS/WaPo offers a report card of sorts, grading people (or companies) on something they should be good at:

  • [B for a genie?] GOOD WISHES – how “good” the wishes are depends less on the genie than on the grantee, no?
  • [A for Nana?] GREAT GRANDMA – would a GREAT GREAT GRANDMA be even better?
  • [D for magazine sales?] POOR CIRCULATION – the WaPo has the 77-year-old “Newsweek” up for sale, likely for this very reason.
  • [A+ for bullpen work?] PERFECT PITCH – our hapless Red Sox star closer, Jonathan Papelbon, has been far from perfect this year.
  • [C for Starbucks?] AVERAGE JOE – my favorite coffee is Peet’s, but I would give Starbucks a better grade than C. Maybe B+. Dunkin’ Donuts gets a D.

I first expected the grades to run from good to bad or v.v., but then again, most report cards I’ve received have grades in a random order. Let’s see what else we can grade in today’s puzzle:

  • “Capital of Greece?” ain’t ATHENS, or even EUROS (sorry, Germany!), but HARD G
  • Mexican actress Dolores DEL RIO dates back to the “Golden Age of Hollywood.” I see she was romantically linked with Orson Welles (who wasn’t?) and was one of the great beauties of her day.
  • Funny to see a 6-letter partial, “It’s ___” A STEAL. Did Merl Reagle take over editing duties?
  • POUF for “High hairdo” is unusual. Marie Antoinette’s hair was the epitome of this style.
  • Tea Party celeb SARAH Palin makes an appearance, clued by the names of her children Bristol, Willow and Piper. Sorry Track and Trig!

So what grade would you give yourself for Puzzle Solving?

John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 14I had the first and third theme entries, MISS MANNERS (20a: [Etiquette authority]) and MRS. MALAPROP (57a: [Sheridan's misuser of words]), and fully expected a famous MS. to appear in the middle. What?!? MISTER MAGOO? (a) He’s not a Ms. and (b) the 38a: [Cantankerous toon] character is Mr. Magoo, not Mister, and MR. MAGOO would look better in the same grid as MRS. MALAPROP. Tying these three together in a weird and beside-the-point way is M AND M’S, clued as 45d: [Mars mouthful; also, a hint to this puzzle's theme]. Now, if the theme entries were people whose initials are M.M., like Marilyn Monroe, this would make more sense. But who thinks of titles like Mr. and Mrs. as words that start with M? One last criticism of the theme: Constructors ought to stop including MANDMS in their grids. The candies are M&M’S, and the trademark holder does not spell out AND. (See also: Mr. Ed the TV horse, not MISTER ED.)

Favorite fill:

  • 29d. [Cure-all potion] is an ELIXIR. The elixir of life, of course, is Diet Coke.
  • 47d. A [Thingy] is a whatzit, gizmo, or DOODAD.
  • 21d. [Marshy tract] clues MORASS. I love this word, especially when used figuratively. For example, “That puzzle (not this one) is a morass of crosswordese.”
  • 37d. An IGUANA is a [Big lizard]. I prefer a wee little gecko. I like to keep my reptiles small.

As Dave noted in the CS puzzle, 6-letter partials are busting out all over. Here, we have 51a: ["... my kingdom for __!"] A HORSE. No biggie.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword

Region capture 15I just blew a couple hours watching the Lost finale, and I’ve got some editing to do so I’ll be super-quick here.

Challenging clues, smart fill, no junk. Much more enjoyable than most themelesses with this sort of 7-heavy grid.

Somebody should tell A.O. SCOTT he’s in a crossword.

Fave entries: A.O. SCOTT, AESCHYLUS, Count CHOCULA, JUMBO CD and J.C. PENNEY, TSING TAO and CHEVRON with their unusual consonant pairings and ALOHA OE with its vowel run, double-Spanish EL PRADO and SI SENOR.

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15 Responses to Monday, 5/24/10

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    I’m torn on this one. I like the hamburger idea, but…well, this whole circles thing is getting out of hand, is it not?

    I predict Rex will have something to say about the circles today.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    I think this is a kosher use of circles, if a cheeseburger can be called kosher.

  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    Yeah Jeffrey, after I posted I started liking it a little better. I’m so anti-circles that sometimes I get carried away.

  4. joon says:

    i loved the clue for BLUNT. but what on earth is CHERRIES JUBILEE? how can it be not only a monday theme answer, but one with a punny clue that makes no sense to me?

  5. Gareth says:

    Yeah, I’m with Jeffrey – the circles are being used to make a cool, and somewhat offbeat puzzle.

    Two questions:
    Do American hamburgers not come standard with lettuce??? (Yes, I do realize an extra theme answer would’ve been pushing it, I’m just wondering in general.)
    Who eats pudding when it’s on fire anyway???

  6. LARRY says:

    Cherries Jubilee is some fancy French dessert with cherries and flaming brandy and, I think, ice cream. Makes quite a show and costs plenty. There are plenty of recipes available on Google.

  7. Anne E says:

    I’m also in the “loathe circles” camp, as well as “word that can precede/follow…”, which thankfully we seem to be seeing a lot less of these days. Some unusual Monday entries/clues, though, which was nice to see.

    I have a question for Across Lite/Applet solvers – do circles slow you down, or does it not make any difference? They didn’t appear to slow down Al, on paper, but me, always – I can count on losing at least 15-20 seconds on a Mon/Tues-level puzzle.

  8. Karen says:

    With all those circles I just consider it a Monday themeless. As an easy themeless it had some good long answers. (I forgot to look at the circles when I finished the puzzle.)

  9. Howard Barkin says:

    It depends if you want to play the meta-game and try to guess the theme while solving, or if you’re hard-wired for speed and just want to bust through the puzzle ala Kool-Aid Man (or Mr.T, pick your 80s pop-culture reference) running through a brick wall. As you don’t need the circles to solve many of these puzzles, you can solve as a semi-themeless (as Karen said) by just ignoring them. I find that it’s fun to try to see how early I can guess the theme as I solve – so you still have two challenges – the puzzle itself and whether you can figure out the circle theme while uncovering as few of the theme answers as possible.

    Were this a tournament, I would have played the part of ‘Kool-Aid Man’ though and floored it. By the way, Kool-Aid Man. He was a glass pitcher. How did he break through all those walls in those commercials without shattering, leaving a fruit punchy mess that would take at least 50 rolls of paper towels to clean up? But I digress, badly.

  10. HH says:

    “By the way, Kool-Aid Man. He was a glass pitcher. How did he break through all those walls in those commercials without shattering, …”

    Are you sure? When I was a kid I had a plastic Kool-Aid pitcher.

  11. Amy Reynaldo says:

    He may have been made of ballistic glass. Or a super-durable crystal-clear space-age polymer that merely looked like glass. Also, Howard, it’s possible that the walls were shoddily constructed. Did anyone check for compliance with building codes?

  12. Sara says:

    Amy, not if those walls were built in Wasilla, Alaska. According to today’s NY Times article about the Palins and their new megastructure, you don’t need a building permit in Wasilla!

  13. Howard B says:

    Hmm. Good point. I’m guessing since it was the 80s, that rules out nanotechnology and maybe some of the higher-grade polymers, although plastics are still possible. Maybe he was some mix of kevlar, plastics, and clear duct tape which made him nearly invincible.
    We had the plastic pitchers too, but I think they were just simple homages to the Kool-Aid guy. Besides, what do you expect for a bunch of UPC symbols and shipping/handling?

    Now the walls, that’s a good theory. But since they’re on a commercial set, they have to be real! Just like all that ‘real’ ice cream, cereal and milk in all those commercials! (sarcasm off) Damn that suspension of disbelief.

    Will do the other puzzles later tonight and prevent reading spoilers until then, so I’m kind of dodging puzzle discussion today.
    Have fun, all.

  14. pezibc says:

    I’m fine with the circles as ‘an extra’. I look at it as a nice themeless.

    Rexblog’s opinions detract from the site, IMO. I follow it because he gets lots of comments and I am interested in those. I prefer this blog because people have opinions – but don’t press them on others.

    Liked PICK OF THE LITTER, and especially CRIME SCENE.

    AB OVO – Every puzzle has clunkers to get the good stuff.

  15. Byron says:

    A.O. SCOTT was in the NY Sun puzzle once.

Comments are closed.