Monday, 7/19/10

BEQ 4:35
NYT 3:06
LAT 2:27
CS untimed

David Blake’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 22I didn’t pay the slightest attention to the theme while solving this puzzle. Ah, Monday. Before you know it, boom, the puzzle’s done. I see now that it’s names and things ending with various spellings of the “mor” sound:

  • 17a. ["Yes, go on"] clues “TELL ME MORE.”
  • 24a. The [1969 Stevie Wonder hit] is “MY CHERIE AMOUR.”
  • 38a. JAY MOHR is the [Former host of TV's "Last Comic Standing"].
  • 51a. BENJAMIN MOORE is a [Big name in paint]. I have a few rooms with Benjamin Moore walls.
  • 62a. [Location in a Donizetti opera] is LAMMERMOOR, as in Lucia di Lammermoor.

I cost myself a good 20 or 30 seconds on this puzzle by dropping in ESTAS for 68a: [These: Sp.]. It’s ESTOS instead, and if I had merely glanced at the crossing clue I would have seen that MNA was wrong and MNO worked. Check those crossings, kids!

Top five answers:

  • 3d. POLEMICAL, or [Tending to cause an argument].
  • 4d. SILLY ME, or [Words before "And here I thought…"].
  • 5d. PLETHORA, or [Great deal].
  • 34d. STEVEDORE, or [Longshoreman]. There are pretty much no stevedore/longshoreman opportunities in Chicago.
  • 51d. BLITZ, or [Fast-moving attack].

Bottom three answers:

  • 22d. SAUER, [Like some Kraut], hooks into sauerkraut. The sauer part means “sour” and Kraut means “vegetable” in German. But severed from its -kraut, SAUER makes for an odd crossword answer.
  • 65a. [Actress Graff] is ILENE. She is the most famous actress named Ilene, but surely not among the most famous 300 actresses.
  • 25d. -ENCY is a [Suffix with depend]. So are ENCE and ABLE. Only the last of these three makes for a good Monday entry.

Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Here’s a BIRTHDAY theme, with four phrases that begin with words that can follow “birthday.” (This is not my least favorite type of theme to solve, but it is my least favorite type of theme to have to describe.) Let’s call it a BIRTHDAY gift for ACPT champ Dan Feyer, who celebrated his birthday Sunday. Here are the theme entries:

  • 18a. [Sure thing] is a CAKEWALK. I started to put some other answer here based on the CA beginning, but the NIKE crossing said no. I wonder what that other answer was. I have quite forgotten it.
  • 23a. [Official political philosophy] is the PARTY LINE. “Party line” is also that goofy shared phone line my grandparents had back in the day. You never knew when you picked up the phone if you’d have a dial tone or someone else’s call in progress.
  • 36a. [Now, with "the"] clues PRESENT MOMENT.  The phrase strikes me as somewhat redundant. “At the moment” or “at present” will suffice. (Not a knock on Gareth but on sloppy English usage.)
  • 52a. [Deck marker, maybe] is a CARD SHARP. CARD SHARK would also be valid, but the crossing said P as in AMP.
  • 58a. And a BIRTHDAY is an [Event for the first parts of 18-, 23-, 36- and 52-Across]. Bake me a cake, invite my friends to the party, give me a nice present or a card. August 15, people. It’s practically around the corner. A shiny new crossword puzzle always makes a thoughtful present, I find.

Six more clues:

  • 17a. [Won a game without knocking] clues GINNED. I never even saw this clue while doing the puzzle with the Downs in that section.
  • 26a. DRAKE is clued via [Donald Duck, e.g.]. Now, Gareth knows his zoology, but I am compelled to point out that this is incorrect. Donald Duck is not a male duck; he is, in fact, merely a cartoon character. (Sorry if this comes as a shock to you, Jeffrey the Canadian Disney Maniac Who Blogs Here.)
  • 29a. [Jeanne d'Arc, par exemple] is a SAINTE. Wow. We rarely get SAINTE in the grid, but its abbreviation, STE., is canonized regularly.
  • 60a. [Peace, in Arabic] is SALAAM. Its cognate, shalom, means peace in Hebrew.
  • 1d. [Its yolk is used in mayonnaise] refers to an EGG in this instance. Oxen’s yolk is used in plowing, of course.
  • 3d. The INNER EAR is your [Cochlea location]. I was just saying in my Sunday post that the INNER EAR gets a lot of play in the puzzle, thanks to those super-common letters.


Updated Monday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Homer Improvement”—Janie’s review

That’s “Homer” as in Simpson, and as Martin demonstrates by way of a three-part quote, if ever you’re in need of an un-motivational speaker, Homer is your go-to guy. Need proof? Here ’tis:

  • 20A. IF SOMETHING IS
  • 39A. HARD TO DO, THEN IT’S
  • 57A. NOT WORTH DOING.

I guess OBAMA [Biden's boss] missed class that day… Nice how that ALOHA [Maui greeting] drops from that first “A” in Obama, Hawaii’s native son.

Nicer still is all that bonus-fill that comes with this “Homeric” theme. There’s APU [Kwik-E-Mart proprietor], ["Diamond] JOE [" Quimby (Mayor on "The Simpsons"), CLUE [Classic board game with a Simpsons variant], BARTS [Homer's son et al.], and probably most characteristically, “D’OH!” [Cry from Homer Simpson]. While the roster of characters pictured here is hardly exhaustive, it’ll at least give you some idea of who’s who.

Check out the longer fill that Martin’s included. DIESEL OIL [Semi fuel] may be more functional than exciting, but it keeps really good company with GO TO SEED [Deteriorate], NEUROTIC [Woody Allen-like] and TRADING UP [Getting a more expensive car, say] or maybe a set of vintage wheels, like a MODEL T [Early Ford]. (The Model T was built on the assembly line; as for our human BODIES, [They're built in a gym].)

In this mod’ren [sic] age, we’re very comfortable corresponding with [Short cybermessages] E-NOTES. SNAIL mail (so named for the [Slow-paced critter]) seems almost quaint, but I do love it. Writers and editors still use it some, which is when an SAE becomes a necessity [Freelance writer's encl.]. Send it FedEx or UPS and it fairly ZOOMS to its destination [Goes in a hurry]. Send it USPS Express and (as experience has taught me) it may languish for days at the wrong location. Let the buyer beware!

While it’s far from Springfield, I do like the way Martin has incorporated a shout-out to the Northwest today, so we see not only ORO [y Plata (Montana motto)], but also IDAHO [Montana neighbor] and [State tree of North Dakota], the stately ELM. Smartly done. You betcha.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

Region capture 27I think Brendan needs a four-step difficulty scale because his themelesses range from Thursday to Saturday NYT difficulty. This one landed on Thursday for me, so I would call it medium, but if its themelessness places it in “hard,” then there ought to be something beyond that. Maybe “eleven,” per This Is Spinal Tap.

Favorite entries and clues:

  • MR. BURNS from The Simpsons is much better than MR. SLATE from The Flintstones, whom I’ve seen in two or three puzzles, because it’s more current.
  • THE RENT is a lousy entry, really, but I’m a sucker for the whole “I can’t pay the rent!”—”You must pay the rent!”—”I can’t!”—”You must!”—”I’ll pay the rent.”—”My hero!”—”Curses! Foiled again” scenario.
  • “WELL, DUH.”
  • Ooh, getting fancy with the literary stuff: Poe’s “TO HELEN.”
  • PASS GAS. It’s both fresh and, well, not so fresh.
  • IN THEORY and in practice, IN THEORY is a great answer.
  • [Nipple rings?] is a playful clue for AREOLAS.
  • PORN STAR. Well, you don’t see that every day in your crossword. Hard clue, too.
  • The VON TRAPP family gets its VON in the grid for a change.

German language alert: Brendan, German nouns are capitalized, so 8d needs to be [Die Sonne's home]. The lowercase S put my head in such a spin that I changed languages and plunked LA CIEL in there, though I think in French it’s supposed to be le ciel. HIMMEL is German for “heaven” or “sky.”

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14 Responses to Monday, 7/19/10

  1. Neville says:

    My esoteric mini-rant: In the American shipping industry, a STEVEDORE is not a longshoreman – he is the superintendent in charge of the company – the longshoremen are the laborers. STEVEDORE does come from the Spanish for longshoreman, but don’t call a stevedore a longshoreman – he won’t appreciate it!

  2. Evad says:

    Yeah, JAE MOHR looked good to me. I think of DEPENDENCE before DEPENDENCY.

  3. miguel says:

    Slept through the weekend and woke up on Wednesday. Hell, the capital
    and ?ammer Moor could be Ama ? ie in almost any combination. I don’t think I can take this any more. Jae for me too Evad, which I will wear as a badge of honor…that is not knowing crap about ‘Last Comic Standing’ and not even caring one whit. Sorry about the Sauer Grapes.

  4. Karen says:

    One of my favorite lines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer…’What’s a stevedore?’
    I stopped at the LAMMERMOOR/AMALIE crossing but guessed correctly, then had to hunt down my typo–I had BENJANIN MOORE.
    Hmm, August 15, isn’t that the day after Lollapuzzoola?

  5. Tuning Spork says:

    Same here, Miquel. The AMA?IE / ?AMMERMOOR crossing had me stumped. Went with H first, then spent over a minute doing the ol’ letter-roulette from left to right ’til I ended up at L.

    Seeing PLETHORA put The Three Amigos theme in my head, which may have slowed me down. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

  6. Gareth says:

    NYT: Suspect I need an American accent for this one! Last 2 I’d pronounce to rhyme with “tour.” In any case that’s a lot of ways to spell one sound! First entry made me think of Grease… If you know AMELIE and stop for a second to think about JAE vs. JAY it’s a pretty standard Monday difficulty, though.

    LAT addenda:
    I was grinning on Sunday when you pointed out INNEREAR.
    The theme, such as it is was conceived listening to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPe_wuV5YnA. (Language and potential annoyingness warning)
    My clue @ 43A read “Civil War icon…” – glad Rich Norris caught that!!

  7. Jeffrey says:

    Donald Duck is real! I’ve met him! And he’s not one of the Three Amigos, but he is one of The Three Caballeros.

  8. Tinbeni says:

    Amy, your times amaze me!
    Jeffrey: Thanks for filling in for PuzzleGirl. Was going to leave a comment but there was “Comment button” Oh well.
    Gareth: Nice Monday LAT except SOBER …

  9. Neville says:

    Gareth: Thanks for the day-early birthday present!

  10. Dan F says:

    Yeah, thanks for the day-late present!

  11. Tinbeni says:

    Amy & Jeffrey
    I meant to say: Over at the PuzzleGirl site there is NO comment button.
    Hey, cute Avatar, not anything like mine at Rex’s or PG’s site. LOL

  12. Jeffrey says:

    @tinbeni – not sure what is happening. If you click on the Monday July 19 heading so you get a window of the daily post only the comments appear, along with a post a comment button.

  13. joon says:

    nice puzzle, gareth. my first “published” puzzle, posted to the crosswordfiend google group (in the days before the forum and its island of lost puzzles), had this same theme, except the birthday words went at the ends.

    happy birthdays to dan, neville, and david segui.

  14. Meem says:

    Late in the day after dealing with clients. Got lucky on good guess with prate/plethora (they fit). Knew Amalie/Lammamore and Benjamin Moore. So for me the NWT was a cakewalk (thanks, Gareth)! Had fun with your puz, too.

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