Monday, 10/11/10

LAT 3:00
NYT 2:42
CS 7:55 (Evad)
BEQ 6:08

Robert Fisher’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 6I’m gonna make this short because it’s been a long day. Got up early and volunteered along the Chicago Marathon course, handing out water and cheering on the runners—including crossword whiz Stella (Daily) Zawistowski, who achieved a personal-record time. Then there was brunch, and a late lunch, and a partial purge of the linen closet. An hour and a half for two shelves? Man, there was a lotta crap in there. Threw out three wastebasketfuls of expired stuff, plus some diaper rash cream with no expiration date. (My son is 10 now.) So, the puzzle:

The theme is dishes—a plate, saucer, cup, and bowl making up the place setting—that appear at the ends of a zippy foursome of terms. There’s a TECTONIC PLATE, a FLYING SAUCER, the FIFA WORLD CUP (the FIFA part may have stymied some folks), and the HOLLYWOOD BOWL. I love that the theme entries have no connection to one another aside from the dish thing. The theme felt fresh and surprising, yet it’s completely straightforward.

The fill’s terrific, isn’t it? It starts up top with SLAM BAMA and gives you a FLOP and a LAMENT, OFFSHORE ODD LOTS, ANJELICA Huston, and a set of ANTLERS. Very little in the category of “omigod, not that again” repeaters like ARIA, OLIO, and EPEE, and few abbreviations. Good stuff.

Updated Monday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Breaking Par”—Evad’s review

IMG_0001 My third puzzle in the last 2 weeks from the inimitable Bob Klahn; nice to have him on a Monday this time around. Here, he “breaks par” literally, by separating the letters PAR between two words:

  • “Go bargain hunting” is to SHOP AROUND
  • “Jasper Johns or Peter Max” clues a POP ARTIST. Very familiar with Johns, but the only Max I know from contemporary art is Max Ernst. Below is his “Love” from 1968 which apparently set the Psychedelic revolution in motion.
  • RUPP ARENA is where the Kentucky Wildcats play. Not a big college football fan [edited: and even less of a basketball one!], but I do know this name from appearing in crosswords.
  • And the final entry, TAKE UP ARMS is to “Prepare for battle.” Well, arms aren’t usually helpful in my usual battles with this constructor, except maybe a poison pen. A little inconsistent that this last theme entry was three words instead of two, but the PAR was split across two words like the others.

As is typical with Klahn’s puzzles, there is some interesting cluing to add some zest to an otherwise straightforward theme:

  • Paired clues: “Moonstruck” above “Moonstruck Oscar winner” and “Barbados or Bali” next to “Rival of Bali and Lily in France”
  • Alliteration, rhymes and homonyms: “Type type,” “Tote tout,” “Mexicali milieu,” “Make a knot not,” “Nile nipper,” “Brazilian born booter,” “Balanced bridge bid, briefly,” “Munich memento,” “Highlight with a highlight,” “Brand new brant,” “Chick chaser,” “The line before mine,” “Dido devotee,” “Sadist Simon,” “Waterloo water,” “Where Putin put in time” (Putin and put in), etc. Great examples why his puzzles are unique and special.
  • A bit odd to have ALUM and ALUMNI in the same puzzle, but the former is clued as “Styptic stuff” instead of its more typical abbreviation of the latter.
  • When I saw “Lardner’s excuse maker,” I immediately thought of Twilight‘s Taylor Lautner and wondered which vampire made excuses in the movie sagas. Here, it’s the short story writer Ring Lardner who wrote in the early part of the last century.
  • As you can see from my solution grid, I had trouble with Kate CAPSHAW (I was thinking Kate Winslet first), and the “Stud driver,” where the L of LBOS instead of IPOS threw me off.

Kristian House’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 7Straightforward Monday theme—SPINS A YARN, SECOND STRING, COMMON THREAD, and CUT THE CORD are all used idiomatically without the last word literally meaning “synonym of twine.” (Most references to “cutting the cord” aren’t about newborns getting their umbilical cord cut.) The outer two theme entries are verb+article+noun while the inner pair are adjective+noun; it’s good to split the formats 2 and 2 rather than going 3 and 1.

Highlights in the fill include MADE PEACE, STEPDAD, and CORKSCREW. Overseas solvers (and there are some who get the puzzle online) might be put off by 1-Across being the U.S.-specific FICA. The “not that again” repeaters group includes ORR and the pileup of ARIA crossing AURAS and ADIT.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”

Region capture 8Good puzzle. Favorite bits:

  • 13d. The ENTER KEY clue, [It marks the end of a line, maybe], is great.
  • 15a. I like the opening double I in I IMAGINE SO.
  • 40d. Loved the tricky NICOTINE clue, [Parliament component].
  • 67a. ["This won't hurt a bit!"] clues HOLD STEADY. Gonna see about getting my kid a flu shot today. Would you believe he’s been reminding me? Yeah, he’s always had a high tolerance for pain.
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6 Responses to Monday, 10/11/10

  1. joon says:

    WEAL and INHERE are kinda surprising on a monday (i’d certainly expect the latter to be clued as two words), but overall i agree. terrific monday puzzle.

  2. Meem says:

    Evad: Rupp Arena is the 20,000-plus seat home of Wildcats basketball. Thought all three puzzles got the week off to a fast start.

  3. Evad says:

    Thanks Meem! I’m even less of a college bball fan than a football fan, and I guess it shows! ;) Looks like the gridders play at Commonwealth Stadium under the leadership of Joker Phillips.

  4. Zulema says:

    I thought this was the most elegant Monday NYT puzzle. Choice of fill and lack of slang probably led to my “elegant.”

    My avatar keeps changing. I like this mosaic, may I keep it?

  5. Gareth says:

    NYT: OK this is weird. I last slept 24h ago: for 2h, I’ve been “working” for the last 18h straight, and yet I shaved about 15 seconds off my fastest NYT Monday! And no-one else’s times seem to be that greatly improved: am flummoxed. Agree with Amy – Mr. Fisher used the theme to select a quartet of lively lovely phrases, which is what you want for a Monday – right?

    LAT: More normal time! Really liked CUTTHECORD!! Interestingly, there is something called FICA here in South Africa, but as far as I can see it’s a different thing… yours is the “Federal Insurance Contributions Act” ours is the “Financial Intelligence Centre Act” – weirdly managed to get the right answer off a couple of crossings though! Think they’re completely different entities!

  6. Gareth — The American version of FICA requires a 6.2% withholding from every paycheck to maintain its funding stream (double that if self-employed). I suspect that’s a bit different from your version :-).

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